Recently, my family and I visited Sandusky, Ohio and while I have already shared our wonderful experience at Kalahari Waterpark Resort, I have many more family fun experiences to share about Cedar Point as well as Lake Erie area attractions!
Sandusky, while it’s a small town, offers big time family fun in terms of indoor waterparks! Kalahari is home to America’s largest indoor water park, but the area also boasts Castaway Bay where we spent a couple of nights.
Castaway Bay is a Caribbean-inspired themed waterfront hotel where your indoor waterpark admission is included with your room. The waterpark is a tropical setting with a wave pool, water coaster, slides, kiddie play areas and other children’s activities including visits from Snoopy and his PEANUTS friends.
If the waterpark isn’t enough, check out the state-of-the-art arcade and retail shops. If you are including Cedar Point as part of your trip, then a stay at Castaway Bay (a Cedar Point property) offers the best ticket values as well as early park entry.
Castaway Bay has some 237 rooms and ours was perfect! Roomy for a hotel setting, we had a clean space with a little balcony looking over the water. Free Wi-Fi rounded out our needs…and there was ample parking closeby.
Another feature we loved about staying with Castaway Bay was its close proximity to Quaker Steak & Lube restaurant…so close that we thought they were one! Steps from the resort, we enjoyed two meals at this northern franchise that was new to us. If you guessed that the theme for this award-winning wings eatery was race cars, Quaker State and lube, then you were right! The wings were meaty and offered with a variety of sauces…and the Mac and Cheese Hamburger was scrumptious as well. We had so much fun with the ambiance of this restaurant and will definitely be looking for them more often in our travels.
Cedar Point Amusement Park
If you’ve ever watched the coaster specials on the Travel Channel, then you’ve likely seen Cedar Point – the Roller Coaster Capital of the World. Cedar Point features 17 coasters including Millennium Force, voted the number one steel coaster on the planet!
There is also a new for 2015 coaster, Rougarou, a floorless coaster that takes riders on an epic journey with feet dangling just inches above both the track and the waters below…thrilling to say the least! My family’s favorite coaster was the Dragster blasting off at massive rates of speed and headed straight up and straight back down right out of the shoot!
Aside from coasters, Cedar Point offers over one hundred rides and attractions with expansive kids’ areas (like Camp Snoopy). Snoopy and the gang also perform and make appearances to meet their young fans. Musical shows and entertainment round out the experiences at Cedar Point. **TIP** Starbucks at CP offers the same menu prices as normal Starbucks, so this is a great place to grab coffee, a refresher and perhaps a snack and save a little money!
Island Hopping around Lake Erie
Luckily, I had the forethought to seek help from the folks at Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores & Islands Convention and Visitors Bureau to plan my stay so I wouldn’t miss out on anything super fun! The website has lodging options, help planning your itinerary and so much more, so definitely take the time to explore it. They insisted that my traveling party should visit the islands surrounding Lake Erie, and I am so glad! We had one free day to do just that, so we split it between Kelleys Island and Put-In-Bay…I wish we had spent a full day on each one, but sometimes you take what you can get!
We took the Jet Express to Kelleys Island from Sandusky (obviously, you cannot drive). Jet Express offers high-speed passenger ferry between Kelleys Island, Put-In-Bay and the mainland (Sandusky or Port Clinton). Jet Express is comfortable with covered areas and open-air decks. They are on-time and highly efficient.
Our first stop was Kelleys Island, Ohio’s largest island with 600 acres of state park lands, 17 miles of coastline, nature, trails, quarries and wetlands. The most common ways to explore Kelleys Island are by foot, bike, kayak or golf cart. We decided on a golf cart for the four of us and chose Portside Marina to rent from, where Jeni not only made the process very simple, but also highlighted a route on an easily-navigable map showing us just where to stop for photos and such.
Our golf cart tour took us to the state park area, Glacier Grooves National Natural Landmark and beautiful spots in between. There are many historic homes and buildings on Kelleys Island earning them a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. We saw lots of these on our self-guided tour. Lunch was at The Village Pump (an island favorite right on West Lakeshore across from the marina) where we had awesome choices like penne pasta, Lake Erie perch, lobster chowder and more.
Back on the Jet Express, we headed over to Put-In-Bay on South Bass Island, a Victorian-era village where visitors flock annually for family-fun activities, outdoor recreation and more! Again, golf carts are an excellent mode of transportation, but we opted instead for the narrated, hop-on hop-off tour train (Put-In-Bay Island Tour Train officially). We hopped off at Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center for a guided cave tour and a stroll through the Butterfly House. Both are great family activities.
After the butterfly fun, we walked across the street to Heineman’s Winery where bottled wines are labeled like this: Sweet Red Concord. Order a bottle with a cheese plate and go sit outside in the gardens…it’s perfect!
Put-In-Bay is just the place to walk around and see the one-of-a-kind shops and establishments such as: the carousel, Round House Bar, The Park Hotel (boutique-style lodging), miniature golf, gem mining and so much more! **TIP** You can plan much of what you want to do simply by visiting the website of the tour train.
No matter what your taste is, the summer resort village of Put-In-Bay will likely have something for you from art galleries to music, dining and pubs.
If you are yearning for a different sort of vacation filled with memory-making opportunities and unique adventures, take a look at Sandusky, Ohio! Your family will thank you!
This water park is so great it is also featured on this article: 19 Epic Indoor Water Parks You Will Want To Visit This Year!
My visit to Sandusky was complimentary for the purpose of this review. Opinions are 100% my own.