Are you wondering what to do around Grand Lake St Marys Visitors Region in Ohio? I drove down to the area to find out!
Where To Stay
Most people who visit will stay on the east side of the Lake at Grand Lake St Marys State Park or at a nearby hotel. Alternatively, you may stay on the west side (i.e. the Beach Club Escape) or just drive in for a day. Whatever way you choose, we will start exploring from the state park campground.
What To Do at Grand Lake St Marys State Park
Whether you are staying overnight at Grand Lake St. Marys State Park campground (cabins, RV/trailer, or tents) or coming from elsewhere, you can park there during the day for free. You will find restrooms, showers, a laundry, shelter houses, a new pool and splash pad, a boat launch, an oversized game board, a swimming beach (for campers), a camp store, bike rentals, mini-golf, a small dog park, horseshoes, basketball, volleyball, and a playground. And if that’s not enough, there are nature programs with movies. My favorite part, pets can roam all around the campground (except for the cabins). Nearby, there is a roller skating rink, GRAND LAKE SKATE U.S.A (open Sept-May), and the City Of St. Marys Public Aquatic Center / Pool (open June-Aug).
Grand Lake St. Marys Visitors/ East Side
Across the street, from the entrance sign to the state park campground there is the Redwing Hiking Trail, a 0.65-mile loop. You can exit halfway along the loop and come out in front of the Grand Lake St. Marys Visitor Center (open during the day on weekdays). Here, you can ask questions and get information. For example, upon inquiry, the lady at the visitor center told me dogs could go on the beach as long as no one else was around (got it!). You can ask about boating, hunting, and fishing opportunities.
Be aware, there are signs on the beaches warning beach-goers not to swallow the water due to algae. They are taking steps to clean the water, but it’s a work in progress.
In addition, there is a much nicer dog park (than the one inside the campground) and a nice bike path just around the corner from the beaches. You can find the East Bank Dog Park and East Bank Bike Path by clicking here.
From East Bank Park, I followed the bike path towards the fish hatchery and the free, unattended archery range (on the left). Across the street (on the right), I thought it was interesting to see the homes around the Otterbein St. Marys SeniorLife Community, they were located on waterways that stood in place of streets (a little Ohio Venice). You can see them here.
Backtracking, a little, your next stop should be the town of St Marys. I really enjoyed walking around Memorial Park. This is where you can find The “Belle of St. Marys” Canal Boat, a 1902 Clock Tower, the Memorial Covered Bridge, Gazebo, Veterans Walkway, and Grotto. A paved path goes under a bridge and leads to the Miami Erie Canal & Bike/ Walk Path passing Lock 13, a shelter, and a new splash pad. There are interesting historical markers around the area. If you want to enjoy more nature and trails try the Dr. Elizabeth Kuffner Nature Preserve, Heritage Trails Tow Path Trail, the .40-acre pond, Lock 14 park (17225 Schillinger Rd), and the Bloody Bridge Trail (read the history here). Deep Cut Trail is just a bit north in Spencerville.
The next spot of interest is K.C. Geiger Park. Here you will find a very nice miniature golf course, tennis, volleyball, basketball courts, and a a disc golf area. Varsity Lanes bowling is nearby with a little nature park, an old cemetery, and a small trail around the back.
Recommended dining includes Beer Barrel Pizza & Grill, JT’s Brew and Grill, Xcaret Mexican Restaurant, and Guarnieri Pizzeria. St. Marys Square is a great place to go shopping. Check here for local festivals.
The first thing you will notice about New Bremen is that it is really clean and well-kept. Places of interest include the Kuenning-Dicke Natural Area trails/pond and the Miami and Erie Trail. Bremenfest Park (swimming pool, tennis, basketball, pickleball, disc golf, shelter houses, restrooms, and playgrounds), Speedway Lanes, and a small dog park.
The biggest draws include The Bicycle Museum of America and the upscale restaurant next door, 17 West. From the museum, you can walk along the historic main street. Turn a corner and you will find Lock One and Komminsk Legacy Park (splash pad, embankment slide, musical instruments, sun-shade structure, amphitheater, lion sculptures, swings, NEOS 360). See New Bremen Events here.
There are a variety of trendy, modern breweries in this area. They all have some food offerings, such as food trucks, a full restaurant, or a snack bar. If you don’t drink, they offer soft drinks and water. Live music, outdoor patio games, and/or a fire pit are offered.
Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics and The Land of the Cross Tipped Churches
This is where you will find the land of the historic Cross Tipped Churches built by German emigrants, as well as Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics (Catholic chapel, museum, sculptures, and gift shop). It is fun to see some of the large gorgeous churches in the center of the small rural towns.
After driving through the countryside passing the towns and churches, you will find yourself at Fort Recovery, Ohio. This town played a very significant role in history. You can read about Fort Recovery and what there is to do there in my post here. If you like to watch car races, the famous Eldora Speedway is also in this area.
Heading back, you could make a stop in Coldwater. The main points of interest here are the Baker Woods Nature Preserve (old-growth forest, no pets), the Celina Coldwater Bikeway (Park on East Vine Street), Coldwater Nature Preserve, and Coldwater Memorial Park (swimming pool and park with some public art structures). There is also Pla-more Adventure Golf and Bowling. See the photos below to see what else you will find in the town of Coldwater.
Grand Lake St Marys Visitors/ South Side
Back at Grand Lake, we are now technically in Celina, Windy Point offers another trail, swimming beach, playground, restrooms, and picnic tables. I think this is the nicest place on the lake. Not far from here you can explore the 6.5 mile Franklin Township Greenway Trail which links to the 1.3 mile Prairie Creek Wetlands Trail. Gilliland Nature Preserve (2.65-mile looping trail) is another great stop on your way to Bayview Sun and Snow Marina to rent or purchase recreational equipment for your trip. You can see your first lighthouse at nearby Behm’s Restaurant. A second lighthouse can be seen via boat directly across the lake from there. Bayview Pub, Behm’s Restaurant, and Shocker’s Bar & Grill are the places to grab a bite on the south side of the lake.
Where to park for trails: Franklin Township Trail – Zuma Park and the former Franklin elementary school (state Route 219 in Montezuma), Strassburg Park on state Route 219 at Club Island Road, Gilliland Nature Sanctuary on Club Island Road; a lot on Harrison Road between state Route 219 and 219A, Franklin Township Nature Park on Karafit Road north of state Route 219, and Windy Point state park on the lake.
Grand Lake St. Marys Visitors/ West Side
Making our way around the lake, West Bank Park in Celina is a great stop. It contains my favorite dog park- West Bank Rotary Dog Park. The West Bank Park has a wonderful trail along the water. The Boardwalk Grill is a fun place to eat nearby. Check out their roof dining! The next place of interest is the forty-foot working Rotary Lighthouse with an observation deck you can climb up to. Casual dining in this area with great water views includes Bellas Italian Grille, Boardwalk Grill, and Pullman Bay.