Going back a decade or so, I recall a rather dull drive through downtown Sandusky, Ohio.  On my latest visit, I couldn’t believe the change.  Cool looking buildings, nice parks, and great places to eat and to play. Nice going Sandusky – you’re definitely a hip place to visit once again.

Sandusky is only minutes from the world famous Cedar Point, but most park goers probably pass right by on their way to the park. Whoops, your bad.  You are missing a great place to visit with some cool attractions and some great restaurants, even a speakeasy.

You gotta visit

Dozens of buildings, even blocks of buildings have been restored and are currently filling with a host of new businesses.  As I walked with Jason Werling, chief photographer and director of multimedia for the Sandusky Register, he pointed out new businesses, one after another.  Sure, some old ones are still here, but the vibe is new and exciting once again.

Highlight of the visit was a trip to the Merry-Go-Round Museum where expert woodsmiths and painters painstakingly and lovingly restore some of these past relics to better than new condition.  Did you know there are three distinctly different kinds of merry-go-round horses? With a working carousel in the center of the museum, anyone who appreciates the memories of these fun rides is certain to love a slow wander around the dozens of pieces collected here.

You gotta eat and drink

Brand new back in June when I was there was the Small City Taphouse.  With a most impressive wall of taps, you can select from dozens of draft microbrews.  They also have wine for those who prefer the bigger bottles.  And, be sure to try their appetizers – just awesome.  They’ve taken what was rumored to be one of the worst building interiors and turned it into a lively place filled with locals.

We stopped for dinner later at the Zinc Brasserie.  No less lively, it’s a bit quieter here and the emphasis is on really great French-inspired food.  There’s a full bar, a great wine list and a couple dozen entrees to select from on the menu.  I had their version of surf and turf and it was amazing.  I’ll be back for sure.

Capping off the night, as the sun begins to set over Lake Erie, find your way to Volstead, maybe the city’s first legal speakeasy.  But you gotta know the code. Either go to their website www.volsteadbar.com or look at their front window for some green lights.  It they are illuminated, there are that many seats available.  If the lights are off, you’ll have to try back later.  But, do try back – it’s worth the visit.

The Volstead used to be Dorn Winery and later, the Green Door Brothel (but that’s another story.) Now, it’s a bar downstairs and home to Green Door Mediaworks, a PR firm upstairs. Drinks are hand crafted and there’s two pages to pick from.  They also have reds, whites and sparkling wines.  Once you’re in, you won’t leave thirsty.

You gotta play

You don’t head to this Lake Erie Shores and Islands’ part of the country without thinking about having some amusement/water park fun and there’s nothing like Cedar Point.  Acknowledged around the globe as the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World,” you won’t find anything else even close to this amazing park.

With over 70 rides and their world-record roller coasters, this is the place to go for family fun activity. You can easily spend a day in the sun or you can find enough to do in the shade that every single person in your party is going to go home happy.  With over a mile of sandy beach, parasailing & water ski rentals, a marina and Soak City Waterpark – if water’s your thing, they’ve got you covered.  If you want to just wander and eat – three dozen food vendors will fill every last inch in your stomach.  Want to be entertained while you don’t move a muscle – there’s almost a dozen live entertainment venues. There’s a reason it’s been voted “Best Amusement Park in the World” for the past 16 years by Amusement Today readers.

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You gotta sleep

There are two ways to spend the night at Cedar Point –with very different vibes.  Check them out on the website. Plus, there are three more places operated by Cedar Point, all within minutes of the park that include discounted tickets to the park.

I spent a night at Castaway Bay and was quite delighted with this combination hotel and indoor waterpark.  Perfect for families with kids, they can run all around and you’ll be happy to know they are somewhere within the same four walls where they started. With giant water tube slides and a huge wave pool, the water park is perfect for little ones or teens. Multiple food outlets within the facility mean you’d never have to leave.  Yet, the rooms are quiet and quite spacious.  It’s a great place to spend a night or a long weekend.

You gotta GO

Quit reading – make plans to get to Sandusky – now.  You’ll be glad you did.



Also published on Medium.