Rider’s Inn, Painesville, OH: History Near Lake Erie

Rider's Inn outside

Rider’s Inn in Painesville, Ohio, just 2.5 miles from the shores of Lake Erie, blends history with a bit of quaint quirkiness. We headed to Painesville for a weekend celebration with friends of ours. Rider’s Inn was the right fit for our getaway. We wanted a unique stay near Lake Erie and found it.

The inn, in operation since 1812, was on the stage coach route between Cleveland and Buffalo, NY. It was also a stop on the Underground Railroad and a resting spot for Civil War soldiers. This rambling inn has retained the vibe of its roots along with the eclectic tastes of innkeeper owner Elaine Crane who has owned Rider’s Inn since 1988. The feel is more like a B&B where guest rooms feel like bedrooms. Each is different from the other.

Dining room at Rider's Inn

Along with the eleven guestrooms, there are two dining rooms and a pub. The décor is a mix of period pieces that hearken back to the post colonial era. In the mix are stained glass window art created by Crane’s late husband who passed away in 2009.  This is where there’s also items about the inn’s past.

Rider's Inn pub

I was particularly interested in the history of African Americans of the area. This part of Ohio was an important section of the Underground Railroad. As slave escaped to their freedom, they found refuge in the inn’s basement. For Crane, the inn is a way to stay connected to the community and Painesville’s uniqueness. Live music and open mic events are back on. So are spirited sleepovers where guests learn more about Rider’s Inn ghosts. COVID-19 restrictions put these events on hold. 

African American History at Rider's Inn

During our September stay, we made use of the warm weather and the expansive wooden patio-deck. Libations started with arrival right after check-in. The pub-style bar serves as the check-in counter so pairing a drink with a room key is easy. The deck was a perfect place to regroup before an afternoon walk along Lake Erie’s shores at Headlands Beach State Park.

Deck at Riders' Inn

Afterwards, we gathered on the deck with where we visited with other guests with plenty of room to socially distance. On Crane’s recommendation,  I ordered the potato leek soup, a Rider’s Inn signature dish. It was quite good.

In the morning, the deck was our breakfast spot. Crane serves up conversation along with fresh baked muffins and choices of egg and meat dishes depending upon the day. I’m a crispy bacon fan and was not disappointed.

Breakfast at Rider's Inn

As for our double bed room, the bed was comfortable and if one remembers that light sockets can be in odd places in buildings that are more than 100 years old, it was fine. The bathroom is updated and clean. I did fold up the afghan that was on the wooden trunk at the foot of the bed. The trunk is cool piece of furniture. The stuffed animal on the bed seemed like an odd choice. I think for some guests, this may be friendly. For me. Not so much.

Guest room at Rider's Inn

Although the room is not big, it wasn’t cramped and I liked that it wasn’t like any other room I’ve stayed in before. As for the TV, it is an older version but it worked. So, if you need a TV, it’s there. There are plenty of books from which to choose to read, and I saw board games for guests to use. 

If you’re interested in historic places with a bit of quirkiness, the Rider’s Inn is an interesting option in this part of Ohio.

Room rates range start at $110. WiFi is free and works well. You can call the hotel directly  at 440/354-8200 or make reservations through Priceline

Post and photos by Jamie Rhein

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