Whether you pronounce it Men-ner, Men-tore or Men-ter, this bustling Lake County suburb first settled in 1797 is one of the area’s largest at 26 square miles, and its main thoroughfares are home to a hub of small businesses, independent restaurants and big-box stores. But look closer to its Lake Erie shores for can’t-miss outdoorsy experiences.
Slice Of Life
From TJ's On The Avenue to 1969-founded Longo's Pizza (try the smashed meatball pie), Mentor has a lot to offer Italian food lovers. But the cozy Pastina Rustic Italian Kitchen, complete with a stone fireplace and glittering string lights, sets the scene for everything from date nights to family dinners. Owned by the same family as Longo’s, the scratch kitchen churns out stone-oven flatbreads, pastas and more. Whether it's celebrating a high school win or catching college or pro matchups on TV, gameday revelers can head to the Happy Moose Bar and Grill, a sports bar with local flair (look for the Mentor High School Cardinals and Lake Catholic High School Cougars helmets). Tryst Salon and Spa offers haircuts, blowouts, skin care and more — and they’re great with kids.
Mentor Window offers installations of sheds, windows, siding and roofing services, while the do-it-yourself crowd can find supplies and more at the 1922-founded Mentor Lumber & Supply Co. If fun in the sun is more your speed, Headlands Beach State Park offers the longest beach on Ohio’s Lake Erie shoreline at nearly a mile, and the 800-acre Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve and nearby Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve & Marina is home to birds, fish and diverse native plant species. One of Mentor’s hidden architectural gems, the 1908-built Tudor-style estate Wildwood Cultural Center & Park is home to gardens, hiking trails and an annual winter craft show.
Each Tuesday during the summer, the Mentor Rocks concert series blasts the 9,500-capacity crowd at the Mentor Civic Amphitheater into rock-, pop- or country-infused revelry. Catch cover and tribute bands such as Escape, Uptown Funk or Ultimate Aldean all season at the family-friendly event, which also features food trucks, beer and wine. Not to be outdone, each August, Mentor CityFest each offers fun inflatables, food, a beer garden, bands and a can’t-miss parade.
In 1880, the U.S. Presidential Campaign came to Mentor. Moreland Hills-born teacher and Civil War general James A. Garfield bought a home here in 1876 and used his front porch to greet well-wishers during his successful campaign for the presidency. Now, visitors to the James A. Garfield National Historic Site can tour the 29-room home, which still houses many artifacts from the 20th president’s family. Drop the puck at the Mentor Ice Arena, which offers open skate, figure skating and hockey, and is home to the Mentor Ice Breakers of the Federal Prospects Hockey League.
Everyone from young professionals to families and empty nesters can spread out in Mentor. While it’s home to hundreds of retail, service and restaurant businesses, as well as more than 300 manufacturers, its leafy residential streets still feel quiet and secluded, and its proximity to the lake provides outdoor fun and draws in tourists. Its thriving business scene continues to grow, with the new City Market shopping center at the corner of Center Street and Tyler Boulevard. On the education front, the school system’s autism-specialized Mentor CARES school offers parents an in-district option for students who learn differently.
About The Writer: Tim Richards
As co-host of Cleveland Star 102’s Jen and Tim Show, Tim Richards is often seen out on the town at a variety of Northeast Ohio events such as the Cleveland Auto Show, riding in the VeloSano fundraising bike ride and more. But he loves to return home to his Mentor community, where he’s lived with his wife and kids for six years.
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