The smells of hay and freshly picked apples mingle with the shouts of children on the annual Erie Shores Farm Tour. An organized event between four very different, yet equally welcoming, farm facilities, the self-guided tour encompasses fall foods and a range of harvest-themed activities. Hillcrest Orchards welcomes visitors with attractions such as hayrides, a corn maze, and pedal carts, while staff at Dostall Farms lead their guests on a guided tour of their humane meat-processing facility, where animals are fed only grass or corn. The event ends with a prize drawing at Matus Winery, where staff also give a guided tour of the wine-making facilities, including the giant barrel where the winemakers sleep every night. To ensure participants don't lose their ways, Erie Shores Farm Tour provides a complimentary map and suggested travel routes between locations.
Customers at West River Kayak & Canoe take their pick from a fleet of kayaks, canoes, and standup paddleboards to cruise down the 27-mile Vermilion-Lorain Water Trail, a Class I–II waterway. Turtles, beavers, and deer make their homes along the banks and occasionally dart out to greet travelers as shale cliffs rear up in the distance. The shop's staff ensures that even boating newbies can wend their way through the picturesque scenery by offering introductory tutorials before each rental to impart the basics of paddling, from how to turn to how to rub two paddles together to make a fire for roasting hot dogs.
A 34-foot King Cat twin-hull catamaran sets sail on the waters of Lake Erie, its 900-horsepower engine churning up a frothy wake as it leaves port and enters the aqueous abyss. At Sara-J Sportfishing Charters, guests spend a sunny afternoon on the open water casting and reeling in the lake's bounty of fish. With more than 20 years of experience, captain Gary Carpenter is confident enough in his abilities that he promises that charters will either reel in fish by the end of their trip or passengers receive their money back. Tours set out in the morning or afternoon as captains pilot vessels towards schools of walleye, steelhead, or perch swimming beneath the surface. Passengers soak up the sun, nibble on snacks, and regale stories of reeling in their first bluegill or misplaced water-skier.
Line drives sizzle and skid across the facilities at Staton Sports, where ballplayers polish their skills and veteran coaches prep athletes to compete in a variety of sports. Backed by stints with three MLB organizations, the center's president and CEO, T.J. Staton, heads a staff of coaches who bring a combined 20-plus years of professional playing experience to each practice, game, and training session. The center's field also plays host to traveling teams, and inside two party rooms, visitors gather to celebrate birthdays or exalt an adolescent bat's aversion to the peer pressures of cork.
Jim has spent so much time on the waters of northern Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania that he knows all of the best fishing spots and the best times to reel in trophy fish. Fish with Jim Outfitters offers fishing trips to local lakes and rivers, with Jim taking time to show his guests the best fishing techniques, including center pin, spinning, and plug fishing. His students most always come back with a plentiful catch of Salmon, Trout, Steelhead and Smallmouth Bass from inland lakes, rivers or at the deli in local grocery stores.