Art and Energy Fill Lake Erie

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Let’s call this a follow up to my post from July 2015.  This past weekend, the Tall Ships came to Fairport Harbor thanks to the Fairport Harbor Heritage Foundation.  Historic ships, Lake Erie, and the threat of pirates? We definitely wanted to go and check it out.

The weekend’s activities included music from local and regional bands, historic Viking displays, walk-aboards, sailing, and the Pirates of the Rusty Cutlass.

“Welcome aboard Th’ Rusty Cutlass, sister ship t’ th’ Inferno, crewed by th’ grandest band o’ scallywags yew’ll eva cross paths wit’. Prop up yer peg, grab yerself some refreshyments an’ let us tell ye th’ tales o’ arrr adventures, mate.”

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Crowds swarmed and many of Fairport Harbor’s businesses offered park-and-rides to accommodate the large visitation.  Thanks to an insider tip, we knew just when to arrive and which routes to take. We also learned the path to walk out onto the boardwalk. It gave us the perfect view for the ships as they sailed in and out of the channel, right past Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse.  On normal weekends, it’s still a great place to watch the boats, look for freighters, and gaze on the lighthouse without having to worry about rock climbing.

We were lucky to get a parking space in front of Village Hall right in the main downtown area. Having parked, our first stop was (of course) shopping. We walked into AW Brick & Mortar and instantly fell in love with their shipwrecked-artsy-beach house theme. The shop was a mixture of a variety of artists, recycled goods, and antiques. I personally loved mandala rocks and beautiful antique decorations.

We made our purchases and continued to the main drag where we shopped in three other boutiques and enjoyed the artistic flair of the window paintings (even on the Beachcombers Salon) and teal-trimmed buildings. Artists were working on new pieces, jet skiiers and tubers were donning their gear, and visitors were walking out with new lake-inspired flair for their homes.

I was particularly excited about the brand new ice cream store at the top of the hill where I sampled their blueberry cheesecake waffle cone while viewing the Fairport Harbor lighthouse. I will definitely being go back again once their full menu is up and running – they estimated about a month.

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Certainly the tall ships were the draw for this past weekend, but what impressed me the most was the identity forming in Fairport Harbor. We saw it begin last year with The Gravel Pit and now the shops and restaurants are embracing their lakeside advantage and turning into a quaint, boutique shopping area. You can undoubtedly spend an afternoon shopping, visiting museums, exploring the lighthouse, and talking an easy stroll out onto the boardwalk into Lake Erie. For those more adventurous, rent a kayak or jet ski and stop by the surf shop to get your gear.

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Fairport Harbor is a town that is growing. Their new marketing, “Life is Better in a Beach Town” lists,

  • 19 specialty shops
  • 2 lighthouses
  • 4 restaurants
  • 2 pubs
  • 3 parks
  • 2 museums
  • 5 mile bike lane
  • 2 salons
  • 7 marinas

The area is making a concerted effort to increase their tourism and retail options. Visit the Tourism Council’s website (link above) and get their schedule of summer concerts, walking maps, and FAQs. I’m calling it now while there are still storefronts and studios available – artists, brewers, gallery owners, and clothing boutiques head to Fairport Harbor! The newest trend will be by the lake.