Guest Blogger: Malini Swank-Lakes and Lattes blog

When you think of an old-fashioned summer, what comes to mind? For me, it conjures up images of reading on the porch of a lake house, swimming in the lake, riding your bike to grab an ice cream cone, or fishing off the dock. But in today’s busy, always connected world, does that kind of summer still exist?

Confession: I’m a sucker for the movie Dirty Dancing.

In fact, my husband and I choreographed part of the sequence from “Time of Your Life” to dance together at our wedding. And I’m the girl who googles things like “does the resort from Dirty Dancing actually exist?” I’ll save you the time and inform you that yes, it does exist, and it’s actually called Mountain Lake Lodge – but it’ll always be “Kellerman’s” to me.

There’s something so nostalgic about spending time with your family at a resort.

The idea of disconnecting from technology and just relaxing and enjoying time with each other sounded so wonderful. So when I heard about Lakeside Chautauqua, in nearby Lakeside, Ohio (close to Marblehead), I couldn’t wait to check it out. We’ve had an exceptionally busy summer and really needed some time to unwind and relax together. My family is always on the hunt for weekend getaways in Ohio. I often feel like Ohio is underrated. We have so much natural beauty and there is so much to do in this state. Especially in the Lake Erie region! Wanna see why? Join along on our Lake Erie weekend getaway to Lakeside Chautauqua!

Have you ever heard of Lakeside, Ohio? It’s a small resort town on Lake Erie and something of a hidden gem. I was born and raised in Columbus and over the years, I’ve taken lots of weekend trips to Lake Erie with my family. I’d never been to Lakeside or even heard of it. You guys – it’s only two hours away!

So I packed my family into the car and off we went to Lakeside Chautauqua for our own Lake Erie getaway!

To get to Lakeside from Columbus, you take 23 North to Marion, and then get on Route 4 towards Sandusky. Long road trips can be rough (more for me that my 6 year old) but this was an easy 2 hour drive. I may or may not have subjected my family to listening to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack the entire way…

When we arrived to Lakeside Chautauqua, we got our day passes at the gate.

The first thing we noticed is that Lakeside is incredibly walkable. Many people opt to park outside the gates as the parking options are a bit limited inside the community, and then catch complimentary rides on golf carts that are circling around.

What I loved about this is that it keeps the roads at Lakeside Chautauqua pretty clear so kids of all ages are safe walking and riding their bikes all over town AND it really helps if you are vacationing with your whole family because little ones or grandparents who aren’t as mobile can easily grab a ride to wherever they’d like to go.

We had a full two days to explore, so here’s what we did:

We wandered around town and looked at the houses and shops. We found a lot of Fairy Gardens, and realized they had a Fairy Garden trail! Stop into one of the gift shops to ask for a map. My little one is “hashtag OBSESSED” with Fairy Gardens. (Ok. So is her mama…)

We strolled down to the dock, hand-in-hand as the six year old continued to roll her eyes at us. It’s so gross how Mommy and Daddy love to hold hands apparently. To get her back, we held HER hand, too. I think I caught a glimmer of a smile, but we’ll never know for sure.

Near the docks, there was a large city park full of teenagers playing basketball, parents helping their kids learn mini golf, and older couples playing shuffleboard. Can you believe there was no cell phone in sight??! Ok, except mine. Because, pictures, obviously. But everyone seemed present in the moment and it was refreshing to see.

My little one LOVED the playgrounds, and meeting new friends. There was even a sandbox to dig around in. This fenced in playground is supervised, so you are welcome to leave the little ones while you sneak off for a cup of coffee.

We spent a lot of time, barefoot, in the sandbox.

As we continued exploring, we kept seeing kids walking or riding their bikes everywhere. I loved how there weren’t many cars around so the roads were clear for the kids.

Then we made our way up to the pool and it was GREAT. Zero entry, with a fun kids splash area, a net for water volleyball, and two slides.

Alternatively, you could swim off the docks in the lake.

And our favorite – a gorgeous path along the water for a nightly walk.

Sooner or later even the biggest technology addict (me, myself, and I) got caught up in the moment and forgot to take constant pictures. So, use your imagination on the rest of the really fun activities, like:

Art Classes – there were a variety of classes and projects for all ages with varying prices. (Kids can paint their own rocks for $1!)

Lakeside Symphony Orchestra

Lecture Series – there were lectures available on a wide range of topics from the “Legacy of F. Scott Fitzgerald” to the origination of the “Little Library Movement” to “Artificial Intelligence.”

Family and Youth Worship Services – Lakeside Chautauqua offers several services each week, in addition to hosting a guest preacher each Sunday.

Live Concerts and Entertainment – when we were there Wynnona Judd was live in concert. (Concert was complimentary with purchase of a day pass!) Other highlights included Amy Grant and Brian Regan!

We had such a fun time disconnecting and recharging at Lakeside Chautauqua. We’ve already planned our return trip for next summer!