Kish hails from Vermilion, Ohio. It’s a town located right on Lake Erie, about halfway between Cleveland and Toledo. By virtue of its location, it’s got strong ties to water and boating — there’s a yacht club, the local water tower has an anchor painted on it, and the high school team name is the Sailors, for example — but I’ve always thought of it just as Kish’s home town, and not as a coastal tourist destination.
Recently, Vermilion got some nice national recognition. It’s been named one of the 10 best coastal small towns in America by the USA Today Reader’s Choice Awards.
Vermilion placed fourth after evaluation by experts — which makes me wonder how you become an “expert” on cool coastal towns, and how I can sign up for that gig — and readers. The text on Vermilion says: “Vermilion, located on the south shore of Lake Erie, feels more like a New England seaport, complete with a historic lighthouse and rich nautical heritage. Popular in the warm summer months, Vermilion’s walkable streets feature small boutique shops, art galleries, ice cream parlors and local restaurants, and summer evenings often involve concerts on the green.”
I’ve been visiting Vermilion since the ’70s, and I’ve always thought it was a nice place. But, like most of the laid-back, reserved Midwest, Vermilion doesn’t really blow its own horn. It’s got that nice “boats on the waterfront” feel, but without the alcohol-fueled craziness that you find in Put-in-Bay and other waterfront locations. The downtown area. which is a short walk from the Lake Erie shoreline, has a vintage Americana vibe, and there are good places to eat, too.
Kish still has family in Vermilion, and I know from our recent visits that the people up there are working hard to make their nice little town even better. I’m glad to see that their efforts have been rewarded. If you’re in the Midwest and want to check out a cool coastal town, Vermilion is worth a visit.