Sandusky is a city in north Ohio that is located on the shores of Lake Erie. It has always been frequented by day trippers but more recently it has become known as a destination for a longer vacation. Here are the top twenty things to do in Sandusky for first timers.
20. Firelands Winery
Firelands Winery began life in 1880 as Mantey Vineyards and quality wine has been made at this location ever since. Self guided tours of the winery are available and this can give you a good insight into everything that goes into wine production. The staff are very friendly and happy to answer any questions you may have. At the end of the tour there is a tasting bar that you can stay and enjoy. There is sometimes entertainment held at the bar and they also serve pizza if you want some food to go with your wine.
19. Toft's Ice Cream Parlor
Toft Dairy has been a part of Sandusky since 1900 when Matilda and Chris Toft used to take milk to the people of the city on a horse drawn wagon. They have been at their current location since 1985 and the site also features their ice cream parlor. Every flavor of ice cream that Toft's make are available at the parlor and there are over seventy flavors of ice cream as well as frozen yoghurts for sale. The ice cream parlor was completely remodeled in 2008 but the original seating and soda fountain were still retained.
18. Erie County Historical Society Walking Tours
There are a variety of different walking tours that the Erie County Historical Society offer around Sandusky and a complete list of these are available on their website. All of the tours are free and the routes can be downloaded from the website. You can take the tours at times that suit you and complete as much or as little of the route as you want. These walks are a great way to discover parts of Sandusky that you may otherwise have missed.
17. Ohio Veterans Home Military Museum
The military museum is located in the grounds of the Ohio Veterans Home. The home first opened in 1888 to care for veterans of the Civil War and it has been continuously open since this date. The museum is located in the original administration building for the home and was established by a resident in the 1980s. He had experience of running a museum before he came to the home and he collected artifacts that he began to place on display.
16. Ghostly Manor Thrill Center
Ghostly Manor is a haunted house and family entertainment center. There are seven different attractions that are available at the center and all entertainment is suitable for all ages. Skateworld is a rink that allows you to skate or use a scooter while the music is playing and the colored lights are flashing. There is also a mini-golf course that you complete in the dark, an escape room and even a 4D theater. One of the other highlights of the center is Hologate, a VR gaming experience where you can compete as a team or against each other.
15. Follett House Museum
Follett House was built by Oran Follett in 1827. He was a successful businessman who was one of the founders of the Republican party. Today it is a branch of the Sandusky Library, as confirmed by Ohio Traveler. There is an extensive Civil War collection at the museum which includes letters, diaries and photographs from the prison on Johnson's Island. There are also a number of artifacts relating to the Underground Railroad. While you are visiting the house you should also take a stroll along the widow's walk which gives great views of Ceder Point and Johnson's Island.
14. Johnson's Island Cemetery
Johnson's Island is a small piece of land that is connected to the mainland via the Cedar Point causeway. It was once a place where 9000 Confederate prisoners of war were housed. Over 200 of these prisoners were buried in the cemetery on the island. The cemetery is all that remains from this period in history as there is nothing of the prison itself which remains in place. Despite the fact that the prison no longer stands, Johnson's Island is considered to be the most significant Civil War site in Ohio.
13. Shoreline Park
As you may imagine, Shoreline Park is located next to the waterfront in Sandusky. It is a fairly small park but there is a beach there which is a good spot to sit and relax. You can get some great views of Cedar Point as you look across the bay. The park is a particularly good place to have lunch as there are plenty of picnic tables and grills here that you are able to use. There is a play area if you are visiting with children and there is also fishing available.
12. Lake Erie Cruise
The Goodtime I is a family owned boat that offers a variety of cruises between Sandusky Bay, Kelleys Island and Put-in-Bay. According to Vacation Idea, cruises have been offered by the family since 2007. Several different cruises are offered every day including family cruises during the day and adult only cruises in the evening with musical entertainment. The cruises all last for a few hours and they are a great way to explore more of Lake Erie beyond what you can see from Sandusky.
11. Kelleys Island Glacial Grooves
You can reach Kelleys island from Sandusky via a short boat ride. The Glacial Grooves are one of the most popular destinations on the island. The grooves are 400 feet long and 15 feet deep in some places. They were formed by the movement of the glacier which created the Great Lakes including Lake Erie and the islands within it. There are footbridges over the grooves which give you great views from above and you can also walk around the perimeter. Visitors come to Kelleys Island from all over the world to see this National Natural Landmark.
10. Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area
Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area is just a short drive away from Sandusky. The wildlife area is excellent for birdwatching and if you are lucky you may even see eagles sweep down to catch some fish from the water. There is a large observation deck with a great view of the wetlands where you will have the opportunity to see many different species of bird. There are also dikes that you can walk along to explore more of the creek. The wetlands show what the area of Sandusky would have been like before the swamps were drained to build the city.
9. Castaway Bay
Castaway Bay is a Caribbean themed indoor water park which is set over 38,000 square feet. According to their website the structure that houses the water park is five stories tall. Due to it being indoors, it is able to open all year round. There are many chutes and slides to go down, as well as wave pools and toddlers areas. There is also a 6000 square foot arcade, along with shopping venues and three restaurants. You could easily spend a whole day here and there is a lot to do for families.
8. Washington Park
Washington Park is located in downtown Sandusky and is a great place to sit and relax while enjoying a picnic lunch. The park was established in 1818 and it is surrounded by several historical buildings. It is beautifully landscaped and very well maintained with a relaxing and peaceful atmosphere. The Erie County Historical Society offer free guided tours of the park and surrounding area. It is recommended that you check their website for details of when these tours are taking place.
7. Eleutheros Cooke House and Garden
The Eleutheros Cooke House was built in 1844 as the home of Eleutheros Cooke. He lived in the house for twenty years after it was completed until his death. He was one of the first people to settle in Sandusky and was the first lawyer that the city had. The home was built in a Greek Revival style. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Today it is owned by the Ohio Historical Society and it is open to the public as a museum where people can explore the house and gardens as they would have been during the 1950s.
6. Airboat Tours
An Air1 Airboat tour will take you on a forty minute trip around Lake Erie. The airboat travels quite quickly and so there is a lot which can be fitted into a short time on the boat. Travel Savvy points out that these tours are a great way to see Cedar Point from a different perspective. It is also a good opportunity to see some of the wildlife that lives in this region in their natural habitats. If you are visiting in the winter, then ice fishing tours are also available which last for several hours.
5. Lagoon Deer Park
Lagoon Deer Park is a petting zoo that is home to more than 200 animals. All of these animals are very friendly and most will approach you as you walk around the park. You are given food for the animals as you enter the park and so are able to feed them as you explore. There is also fishing available in the lagoon which is a relaxing way to spend a few hours at the park. Lagoon Deer Park has been run by the same family for over sixty years.
4. Maritime Museum of Sandusky
The Maritime Museum gives you the opportunity to explore the influence that the maritime activity in the area has had on the city. Exhibitions in the museum feature everything from commercial fishing to shipwrecks and pirates. There are several interactive displays which allow you to get fully immersed in the maritime history of Sandusky Bay. One of the highlights of the museum are the artifacts from a floating prison known locally as the Convict Ship. There is also an Underground Railroad exhibit which has recently become a permanent fixture at the museum.
3. Merry-Go-Round Museum
According to Planet Ware, the idea for a Merry-Go-Round museum first came about in 1990, when a series of stamps that featured carousels was released by the US Postal Service. The museum was an instant success and still remains as popular today. Within the museum you will discover displays of restored memorabilia and painted horses, along with historical carousel artefacts that are sure to make you nostalgic. The museum features a working carousel from the 1930s which has been fully restored. There is also a gift shop where you can buy a memento of your day.
2. Kalahari Resorts
You can stay at the Kalahari Resort during your stay in Sandusky, but you are also able to use the facilities if you are not a guest. The resort has waterparks that are located both indoors and outdoors, so you can visit whatever the weather. Both parks have a range of slides suitable for all ages. You will also find wave machines and lazy rivers. There is also an outdoor adventure park which has a safari theme. You will also find an animal park here which is home to many different species of birds, as well as many other animals including camels.
1. Cedar Point
Cedar Point has long been one of the main attractions in Sandusky. It is best known for its thrill rides and is home to 18 roller-coasters. This includes Steel Vengeance, which is the tallest and longest hybrid roller-coaster in the world. However, there are also a lot of rides which are much tamer and so this is a popular destination for all the family. The park is also home to Cedar Point Shores Waterparks which is set over 18 acres. There are plenty of places to eat and drink around the park with great views of Lake Erie.
Written by Liz Flynn
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