Sitting pretty on the shores of Lake Erie is the historic town of Sandusky, Ohio. Home to Cedar Point amusement park – the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World” – Sandusky is experiencing a renaissance as it approaches its bicentennial celebration in 2018. So if you’re planning a visit, don’t miss all the other things to do in Sandusky (and nearby) when you need some time off from the roller coasters!
Relax and Renew
- Goodtime I Cruises: Offering a variety of relaxing cruises, the Goodtime I can take you island-hopping, wine-tasting, or sunset-watching. There’s a bar on board and food is offered on many cruises. Private charters are also available. I took the sunset cruise and enjoyed live music, wine, pizza, and of course a gorgeous sunset over Lake Erie. Check out their upcoming Halloween Party Cruise or their Cleveland Browns Tailgating cruises every Sunday through the end of October!
- Sandusky State Theater: The State Theater was recently renovated and is celebrating its grand reopening with a full slate of theater performances, music, comedy, and special events. Just a few of the upcoming events include Oktoberfest, the Nutcracker ballet, and Lip Sync Battle! This gorgeous, historic theater is a 1,500-seat national landmark.
- Lighthouses: Take a self-guided tour of the Lake Erie Shores & Islands lighthouses and enjoy their beauty, history and heritage. The lighthouse at Marblehead State Park is a must-see, and I hear it’s especially beautiful at sunrise if you’re an earlybird! And don’t miss the lighthouses at Huron, Port Clinton, and Cedar Point.
- Lake Erie Shores & Islands Wine Trail: Surprised to hear that northern Ohio has a ton of great wineries? I was, too! The warm waters of Lake Erie keep the nearby land hospitable to vineyards, so there are many to explore. Definitely plan a visit to Firelands Winery and their new Osteria Gusto exposition kitchen. The wine and food were out of this world!
History and Tours
- Merry Go Round Museum: Take a ride into the past on the antique carousel! (Surprise – it moves pretty fast for an antique!) You’ll love seeing all kinds of ornate – and sometimes creepy – carousel animals. Guided tours offer an in-depth look at the history of the merry-go-round and a fascinating demonstration on how the horses are carved, put together, and painted.
- Maritime Museum: Did you know that Sandusky was once poised to be the largest city in Ohio? Learn all about the history of this famous port through interactive exhibits and educational programs. Some fun hands-on stuff for kids, too!
- Underground Railroad Tour: Because of its proximity to Lake Erie and many railroads, Erie County was a major terminal on the Underground Railroad. While historic records on this topic are rare and many sites have been destroyed, you can still learn about a few of the remaining sites and people influential in this movement. Brochures and maps for a self-guided tour can be obtained from the Lake Erie Shores and Islands Welcome Center.
- Follett House Museum: Learn about Sandusky’s history from pre-War of 1812 to the present. The Museum’s four floors contain exhibits on domestic life, leisure time activity, business and industry, and tourism. The Follett House, built in the Greek Revival Style, features a widow’s walk, where visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Sandusky with Cedar Point and Johnson’s Island in the distance. And admission is free.
Adventure and Outdoors
- Air1 Airboats: Tour the east bay of Cedar Point on an exciting, fast-paced airboat adventure. Captain Tony is a wild and crazy guy and will have you holding on to your seat and laughing out loud! I loved seeing the beautiful homes along the bay, a close-up view of Cedar Point amusement park, and local wildlife. Just be prepared to get wet!
- Sandusky Segwave: If you’re a segway veteran, this is the perfect way to enjoy an introductory tour of Sandusky. And if you’ve never tried a segway, you really should! Part scooter, part hoverboard, a segway takes a little balance and coordination to master, but owner and tour guide Jim Ervin spends plenty of time helping you feel comfortable. At first I felt like I had to be continually “on guard” to keep my balance, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly and enjoyed it. Jim’s love for Sandusky and passion for the community shines through in his tour.
- Ghostly Manor Thrill Center: This multi-attraction, family entertainment center has been named on many “best haunted houses” lists. You can brave the haunted house year-round, or play at one of the other attractions. There’s a bounce house, 3D blacklight mini-golf, roller skating rink, laser maze, 4D motion theater, climbing structure, and an escape room. I tried the escape room with some friends and we had loads of fun. I’ll just say that there’s nothing quite like it to challenge your puzzle-solving skills!
- Water Sports: The Lake Erie Shores & Islands area naturally has tons of options for water sports enthusiasts. You can jet ski, kayak, paddle board, parasail, or go tubing or knee-boarding at one of many recreation outfitters.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of things to do in Sandusky and the Lake Erie Shores & Islands area. As they celebrate their 200th birthday in 2018, so many exciting events are planned. Be sure to check out their web site and plan for more than Cedar Point when you visit Sandusky!