Less than two hours from Cleveland or Detroit, there’s an area on the southern shores of Lake Erie that has been attracting vacationers from around the world for two centuries. With a series of islands and lakefront locations, recreation opportunities abound. Families come to experience the world-renowned amusement park, and then discover there’s so much more nearby.
Sitting at the end of a slender peninsula, Cedar Point amusement park has been thrilling families since 1870 and is the second oldest amusement park in the country. 2013 will feature their newest roller coaster, The GateKeeper, bringing their total coaster count to 16. With over 70 rides, this historic park features attractions to delight all ages. Tickets are available for one or two day visits as well as season passes at http://cedarpoint.com.
Just across Sandusky Bay sits another historic location – Lakeside, Ohio – one of four remaining Chautauqua communities. After paying a gate admission fee to enter, most of the activities are free or very low cost. As a gated community, this is wonderfully safe place to relax and experience real family fun. Free shuffleboard, tennis, swimming, concerts and fishing are great ways to catch your breath after the adrenalin pumping adventure of Cedar Point.
Hotel Lakeside was built in the late 1800’s but sports modern amenities now like air-conditioning and elevators. This historic hotel invites relaxation with its wide, wooden, wrap-around porch offering lakefront and park like vistas. In the guest rooms, visitors are taken back in time with each room’s Victorian era furnishings. Wide, wooden hallways and stairs are like none you’ll find in hotels built today.
Get over to the Hoover Auditorium each evening for free entertainment. Before or after the show, be sure to stop in Sloopy’s – the Lakeside version of a sports bar. No big screen TV’s, but lots of pennants from surrounding high schools and colleges. Be adventurous and try their award winning “Home Fry” pizza with bacon, cheddar, mozzarella, French fries and ranch dressing. Yes – French fries on the pizza – outstanding!
Known as the Key West of the Midwest, Put-In-Bay is a small island about three miles north of Catawba Island (which isn’t really an island at all.) Visible from Lakeside, Put-In-Bay is home to the country’s third tallest monument – Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial. Learn more about this great lookout location while taking the Tour Train or one of Poe’s Pedicabs. 2013 will see some major reenactments of the famous Battle of Lake Erie fought here in 1813.
Getting to Put-In-Bay is a short ferry ride via Miller Boat Line from Catawba Island, Ohio. You can bring your car on the ferry, or leave it in their huge parking lot and then rent a bike or golf cart when you arrive. The whole island is only two miles wide and four miles long.
Two delightful wineries offer tours and make a great afternoon or evening stop. The Put-In-Bay Winery at the Doller Estate has an enlightening tour of the mansion and ice house out back. Heineman’s Winery offers fascinating tours of their Crystal Cave, the world’s largest recorded geode. Across from Heineman’s you’ll find Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center with cave tours, a large butterfly house, miniature golf, climbing wall and panning for gold.
Adult nightlife overflows all around the large Perry Park in downtown Put-In-Bay. Restaurants and bars are plentiful for waterfront dining. Check out the Beer Barrel Saloon, home of the world’s longest bar according to Guinness World Records. Live entertainment can be found just about every evening during the summer. Dozens of motels and B&B’s are available, but can fill during the summer. Advanced reservations are always advisable.