(Last Updated On: January 23, 2023)

lighthouse behind the beach at Headlands Beach State Park

Boasting the longest natural beach in the state, Headlands Beach State Park is a popular day use park.

Located in the northeast part of Ohio, just a 30 minute drive from Cleveland, it receives a whopping two million visitors a year!

One of its main draws is the picturesque Lake Erie, the shoreline of which provides wonderful opportunities for swimming, sunbathing and hunting for beach glass. The sunsets are pretty spectacular here too, attracting many who have an interest in photography.

Boating and picnicking are other popular activities at this Ohio state park. There is also a lovely hiking trail to explore.

While those who enjoy fossil hunting will also love the chance to see a collection of archaeological treasures that reside in the area’s shallow waters.

Activities

The park is open from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

Here are some of the main recreational activities you can engage in whilst you are there.

Fossil Hunting at Headlands Beach State Park

There was a time when Ohio was completely covered by a shallow sea, as a result you can often dig up fossils at several different places within the state.

Headlands Beach is no exception. Throughout the year you’ll find many people digging around the sand to try and uncover a fossilized archaeology find.

If you fancy giving this a go, head on over to the creek picnic area, covered bridge or dam area. You may well find the likes of Bryozoans, Horn Corals, Crinoids and Trilobites.

While you are permitted to take what you find, you are forbidden from removing what is in the Nature Preserve area.

waves crash against the beach at Headlands Beach State Park

Boating and paddling at Headlands Beach State Park

Boating and paddling takes place on the shimmering waters of the 625-acre Lake Acton.

You will find a boat ramp in the park that will easily get you in the water. However you are only permitted to use it if your vessel is 10 HP or less.

There is also a marina where you can buy fuel or hire a vessel or watercraft like canoes and kayaks.

Swimming at Headlands Beach State Park

Despite being Ohio’s largest natural sandy beach there are no lifeguards present at Headlands Beach State Park.

While the water is very refreshing, especially on a hot summer’s day, you will need to exercise caution when swimming.

Inflatable devices are allowed although you are encouraged to put on certified life vests.

Fishing at Headlands Beach State Park

If you are into fishing you’ll love the opportunities to catch largemouth bass, yellow perch, steelhead and walleye the park provides.

This takes place mainly within a federal breakwall which can be reached at the east end of the park.

To fish there you will need either an Ohio or tourist fishing license. You will also need to abide by Ohio fishing regulations.

the lighthouse at Headlands Beach State Park during sunset

Trails at Headlands Beach State Park

For those who want to explore the park, there is a mile long track that runs through the entire park’s length.

This provides guests with convenient access to several different sections within Headlands Beach State Park as well as the conjoining Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve. The latter of which has more trails to explore.

Whilst traversing this path you will get to see the park’s diverse range of flora and fauna close up. Just be sure not to provoke or frighten any animals you see.

Picnicking at Headlands Beach State Park

Within the park you will find a scenic picnic area which will allow you to enjoy an al fresco meal.

This area comes with both tables and grills, so you should be able to cook up hot food for yourself.

If you are visiting the park with a larger group there is a shelterhouse pavilion available to book. This medium-sized facility can host up to 40 people. It is also equipped with picnic tables, two charcoal grills, preparation tables and has access to electricity.

The consumption of alcohol is forbidden in these picnic areas.

Winter Activities at Headlands Beach State Park

During the winter the park receives lots of snow.

Far from this being a hindrance to visiting it though, when the conditions are just right it turns into an excellent outdoor playground for sledding and cross-country skiing.

If the lake has frozen over to a depth of at least five to six inches, ice skating and ice fishing may also be possible too. Though as always you will have to exercise caution as this can be a dangerous activity to engage in.

Pets at Headlands Beach State Park

Pets are welcome to join you at the park although certain conditions in their presence do apply.

At all times dogs must be well behaved and kept on a leash. They also cannot be left unattended for more than 30 minutes and should be cleaned up after as soon as they make a mess.

For a full rundown of the park’s pet policy you should contact the park’s main office.

Camping at Headlands Beach State Park

Unfortunately there is no camping available at the park. However within three miles of it the city of Mentor offers a range of hotel and motel options. Similarly Cleveland has plenty of accommodation choices as well.

If you are specifically looking for somewhere to stay in an RV or trailer there are a couple of campsites within easy driving distance of it. These include the Thompson/Grand River Valley KOA Holiday park and the Geneva State Park Campground.

Between them, they offer a range of camping options including cabins, lodges and sites that come with electric hookups.

Depending on which campground you stay at, amenities might include hot showers, flush toilets, swimming pool, camp store, laundry and a dump station.

Park Location

Headlands Beach State Park
9601 Headlands Rd
Mentor, OH 44060
Phone: 440.466.8400

Park Website

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Headlands Beach State Park: