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7 Lake Erie Vacation Ideas That Are Perfect for Families

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Lake Erie is a perfect vacation spot for families! This list of Lake Erie vacation ideas will help you plan your next Ohio vacation on the Lake!

The shores of Lake Erie have been a favorite vacation spot for our family time and time again! Ohio’s Vacationland is a comfortable driving distance from our home in Columbus, Ohio and there are plenty of fun things for families to do!

Marblehead Lighthouse on the Marblehead Peninsula at Lake Erie

Marblehead Lighthouse

If you’re looking for an Ohio road trip that includes beaches, fun parks and playgrounds, gorgeous scenery, family-friendly entertainment and even some educational opportunities, look no further. This list of Lake Erie Vacation ideas will be a great starting place to spark inspiration for your next trip!

boy driving a pretend boat in Lakeview Park playground in Port Clinton, Ohio

Lakeview Park in Port Clinton, Ohio

If an Ohio beach sounds up your alley, try Vermilion, Port Clinton or Lakeside. If an African Wildlife Safari is up your alley, check out the list of things to do near Sandusky!

If the weather calls for indoor fun, check out the amazing indoor play area in Bellevue or spend a day at Castaway Bay! Geneva-on-the Lake is a cute lakeside town where you can swing through the trees on a Lake Erie Canopy Tour or enjoy food and games on The Strip along Lake Erie.

My family has enjoyed doing many of these things year after year! The beach at Vermilion is a place we ALWAYS visit when we go to Lake Erie! We always plan for lunch at Jolly Rogers in Port Clinton and we always take Miller Ferry to Put-in-Bay for a day of family-friendly fun! (Yes, Put-in-Bay CAN be family-friendly!)

7 Exciting Lake Erie Vacation Ideas for Families

Take a look at this list of family friendly Lake Erie vacation ideas and pick and choose activities that fit your family to plan your next Ohio vacation!

Many of the things on this list can be done within one vacation. In fact, ambitious families could potentially do a majority of these things in a full week vacation to Lake Erie!

We’ve had a lot of fun exploring Lake Erie as a family and just looking through this list is making me want to go back soon! I hope this list has inspired you to plan a getaway to see it for yourself!

deRivera park in put-in-bay, ohio.

DeRivera Park in Put-in-Bay, Ohio

Here’s to enjoying all the fun things there are to do in Ohio and making lots of memories with your family on your next vacation at Lake Erie!

Lake Erie Vacation Ideas for Families

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Lake Erie Vacations for families in Ohio

 


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Lake Erie: 15 Fun Things to do with Kids Near Sandusky, Ohio

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Ohio’s Vacationland features roller coasters, beaches, lighthouses and more! Take a trip to the Sandusky area of Ohio for your perfect Lake Erie vacation!

Since we’ve had young kids, our vacations have been largely within driving distance of Columbus, Ohio! We’ve come to love vacationing on Lake Erie and have done so year after year since our second child was born! We’ve spent a lot of time in the Sandusky and Port Clinton areas of Lake Erie.

boats in Sandusky, Ohio

Did you know that this western part of the Lake Erie shoreline is officially called Vacationland? That sounds like some place I want to be! If you’re looking for an affordable and close Ohio beach vacation, you can find a lot of things to do on the shores of Lake Erie! Here are some of the most popular (and some of our favorite) family-friendly attractions in and around Sandusky, Ohio:

Family Friendly Things to do in and around Sandusky, Ohio:

1. African Safari Wildlife Park

  • 267 S Lightner Rd., Port Clinton, Ohio 43452

This drive through safari gives you the chance to get up close to exotic animals like giraffes, camels, zebras, llamas and more! The African Safari Wildlife Park is a seasonal activity – open spring through fall.

giraffe at the African Wildlife Safari in Port Clinton, Ohio

You will receive a cup of food to feed the animals. They eat directly from the cup!

walkable zoo area at the African Wildlife Safari Park in Port Clinton, Ohio

There is also a walk-through experience included in your ticket price that includes an albino alligator, birds, kangaroo and other animals in a zoo-like exhibit. Also in the walk through area is a playground, gift shop, snack shop and the opportunity to take a camel ride!

2. Port Clinton City Beach

  • 1100 E. Perry St., Port Clinton, Ohio 43452

boy on the public beach in Port Clinton, Ohio

This free, public beach in Port Clinton is a great place to spend a day in the sun. There are picnic areas, restrooms and changing area, and an ice cream shop near by! And the beach is at the end of a great park you will read about next.

3. Lakeview Park

  • 1100 E Perry St., Port Clinton, Ohio 43452

playground area at Lakeview Park in Port Clinton, Ohio

Lakeview Park in Port Clinton is an amazing accessible playground with a nautical theme! This park has a lot of fun things to do that are not found in your typical park or playground! If your kids like boats, you’re in luck because the main play structure looks like a large ship!

4. Cedar Point

  • 1 Cedar Point Dr, Sandusky, Ohio 44870

view of Cedar Point from across Lake Erie

America’s Roller Coast is a destination for kids of all ages! Growing up in Northeast Ohio, I went to Cedar Point at least once every year of my life through college. It’s been a while since I’ve been lately, but Cedar Point has never disappointed when it comes to amusement parks!

5. Miller Ferry

  • 5174 E Water St., Port Clinton, Ohio 43452 

boy watching the ferry at Miller Boatline

Miller Ferry is our favorite way to get to Put-in-Bay. If you’re looking for a ferry to take you to Put-in-Bay or or Middle Bass Island, Port Clinton is where you will catch your ride. My kids love riding the ferry just for the sheer joy of riding a boat! It’s an event in itself!

6. Lagoon Deer Park

  • 1502 Martins Point Rd., Sandusky, Ohio 44870

I’m including this on the list because it is something I have seen every year and wanted to do but have not actually done! One day we will make it to this park where you can hand feel deer and animals from all over the world.

There are also 4 ponds for fishing and camping is available on Friday and Saturday nights.

7. Marblehead Lighthouse

  • 110 Lighthouse Dr., Marblehead, Ohio 43440

Marblehead Lighthouse in Marblehead, Ohio

If you’re in the Sandusky area, you must drive out to Marblehead Lighthouse State Park. The park has a great shoreline view, picnic tables and the oldest continually operating lighthouse on all of the Great Lakes! In season it is possible to climb the tower of the light house and visit the museum.

8. Merry Go Round Museum

  • 301 Jackson St., Sandusky, Ohio 44870

Visit the museum in downtown Sandusky to see carousel artifacts, learn the history of carousels and ride an indoor carousel! On your tour of the museum you can meet with a carver who is experienced in carving and restoring carousel animals.

Hotels with Indoor Water Parks Near Sandusky, Ohio:

9. Castaway Bay

  • 2001 Cleveland Rd., Sandusky, Ohio 44870

indoor waterpark at Castaway Bay in Sandusky Ohio

This hotel with an indoor water park is an all-inclusive experience for families! No matter the weather outside, it’s always 82 degrees at Castaway Bay! Sleep, play, swim and eat without having to leave the property! My kids loved the wave pool and I was a big fan of the outdoor hot tub!

10. Kalahari

  • 7000 Kalahari Dr, Sandusky, Ohio 44870

Kalahari offers indoor and outdoor water parks, mini golf, a zip line, a 7-D Motion Theater, mini-bowling, escape rooms, laser tag, a spa and salon, restaurants, fitness center and more! Day passes are available or you can spend the night with one of their lodging options.

11. Great Wolf Lodge

  • 4600 Milan Road, Sandusky Ohio 44870

Great Wolf Lodge is a family-friendly resort with an indoor water park, an arcade, Build-A-Bear Workshop, restaurants and special activities for families! Day passes are available or you can book a room to stay! 

Fun Places to Eat Near Sandusky, Ohio:

12. Jolly Roger Seafood House

  • 1737 E. Perry St., Port Clinton, Ohio 43452 

boys watching the Breading Pit at Jolly Roger in Port Clinton Ohio

This is one of our go-to lunch spots when we visit Lake Erie. This is a great location for Lake Erie Yellow Perch and Walleye. You can watch the perch be hand-breaded (is that a word?) at the breading pit window!

seafood dinner at Jolly Roger in Port Clinton, Ohio

They will be moving to a new, nearby location in 2020 so double check the address above before you visit.

13. Toft’s Dairy

  • 3717 Venice Rd., Sandusky, Ohio 44870 

Toft's Dairy in Sandusky Ohio

While you can find Toft’s Ice Cream in the dairy case and at smaller shops around town, the Toft’s Dairy and the Toft’s Ice Cream Parlor is a must-visit for the whole experience.  

large ice cream cone from Toft's Dairy in Sandusky, Ohio

The ice cream is amazing and the portion sizes are huge! The ice cream parlor offers over 70 flavors of ice cream and frozen yogurt!

14. Frosty Frog

  • 503 N. Washington St., Castalia, Ohio 44824

frosty frog in Castalia, Ohio

This is a family favorite I’m including on the list for those who like the idea of a small town dariette. This is a great little walk up spot for ice cream, snacks and food. 

15. Twin Oast Brewing

  • 3630 NE Catawba Rd. Port Clinton, Ohio 43452 

plate of nachos with Twin Oast Brewery in background

This is a beautiful location to get dinner and/or a drink! Twin Oast Brewing features their own craft beer, and a menu of pizza, burgers, sandwiches and tacos. The property has outdoor patios, picnic tables and yard games on a beautiful 60 acre estate. The brewery is close to Miller Ferry so it’s a great stop when you get off the ferry after a day at Put-in-Bay!

I hope we’ve helped spark some ideas for things to do near Sandusky and Port Clinton! If you’re looking for more things to do around Lake Erie, try one of these posts:

 

Things to do in sandusky ohio

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5 Beaches in Ohio to Visit this Summer!

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Beaches in Ohio?! Yes, it’s true! If  you’re looking for a beach getaway without having to travel far, check out one of these 5 Ohio beaches!

Every summer it seems I get the craving to vacation by water.  A trip to the actual ocean isn’t always a possibility, so we have found some work arounds for a day at the beach! Our family has gone to Lake Erie almost every summer for the past 5 years or so. Lake Erie is obviously Ohio’s largest body of water, but there are beaches in other areas of the state as well!

Enjoy a Day Out at One of these 5 Ohio Beaches:

These are all public beaches that are free to visit! Pick out one of these destinations and enjoy a day on the water: put your toes in the sand, build a sandcastle and don’t forget the sunscreen!

Disclaimer: please check with each location individually for changes during the 2020 season.

1. Alum Creek State Park Beach

  • 3305 S Old State Rd., Delaware, OH 43015 

Alum Creek Park Beach shoreline

Alum Creek is Ohio’s largest inland beach, measuring 3,000 feet of shore. Changing rooms are available and there is a playground area on the beach. The beach is open during daylight hours. Boating and fishing are also allowed on the water. 

2. Tappan Lake

  • 84000 Mallarnee Rd., Deersville, OH 44693

people on beach at Tappan Lake in Ohio

Tappan Lake is part of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District and is inside Tappan Lake Park in Deersville, Ohio. The beach is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Large inflatable toys and slides are permanently in the water. There are changing rooms and a concession stand on site. Check out this map for the exact location of the beach. 

3. Main Street Beach, Vermillion

  • Main St., Vermilion, OH 44089

people on Main Street Beach in Vermillion, Ohio

Vermillion is a beautiful city on Lake Erie. What is distinctive about this city is the canals that run through part of the residential neighborhoods! The beach is one of the smaller ones on the list but it is made up for by the charm of the city! 

Main Street Beach is is at the north end of Main Street and has a lighthouse and observation platform. The closest changing area and restroom is a couple of blocks south so keep that in mind! A shop that rents beach umbrellas and sells snacks and other items is onsite. 

Woodstock Cafe is our favorite restaurant in the town with a great outdoor patio and we always get ice cream at Main Street Soda Grill. Read about how we spend a perfect day at the beach in Vermilion, Ohio!

4. Port Clinton City Beach

  • 1100 E. Perry St., Port Clinton, OH 43452

boy digging in sand on Port Clinton City Beach, Ohio

The Port Clinton City Beach is at the end of a great park called Lakeview Park which has an amazing accessible playground with a nautical theme! There are picnic areas, restrooms and changing area, and an ice cream shop near by! 

5. Salt Fork State Park

shoreline at Salt Fork State Park Beach

Salt Fork State Park is Ohio’s largest state park! When you enter the park it will be at least a 10 minute drive to the beach! The beach covers 2500 feet and is relatively large! There is also a nice grassy area with trees and picnic tables adjacent to the beach. There are changing rooms and showers on site as well as a mini-golf course! (both are closed for the 2020 season.)

While you’re exploring Ohio’s beaches, check out some of these other posts for more inspiration for exploring Ohio:

Exploring Columbus with Your Kids

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