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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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Guernsey County: An Ohio Road Trip Full of Surprises

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Ohio is full of surprises! A family-friendly road trip to Guernsey County, Ohio includes zebras, walks on the beach, glass blowing, donuts and so much more!

This post was written in partnership with Ohio. Find It Here. and Guernsey County.

The summer of 2020 probably hasn’t turned out the way anyone thought it would. Our original vacation plans to two big cities were put on hold and we began looking for ways to get away that felt safe but also special. When Ohio. Find it Here. invited us to visit Guernsey County, we looked over the itinerary and found a list of things we felt excited about (and safe) doing!

About 1.5 hours from Columbus, Guernsey County is the birthplace of John Glenn and William Boyd (aka Hopalong Cassidy), the location of over 36 sightings of Bigfoot, and home to the largest wildlife conservation center in North America AND the world’s most extensive glass collection! Surprised yet?

Family-Friendly Attractions in Guernsey County, Ohio:

Guernsey County is a largely rural county and driving from one end of the county to another can take up to an hour, depending on where you are going! Make sure to take a look at the map as you plan out your trip! Whether you want to visit for a day or spend a night or two, pick and choose from some of these options to choose your own Guernsey County adventure!

(Please remember that all individuals in Ohio must wear facial coverings in public at all times when: at an indoor location that is not a residence, or outdoors when unable to maintain six-foot social distance from people who are not household members.)

1. The Wilds

two rhinos laying back to back at The Wilds in Guernsey County

This was our first visit to The Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio. I have wanted to go to The Wilds ever since moving to Columbus! The Wilds is truly “in the middle of no-where”! This isn’t your typical rolling rural farmland of Ohio – it’s more like Australia or the Yukon! It’s easy to pretend that you have really gone somewhere exotic! 

You will need to make your reservation ahead of time for an Open-Air Safari. Open-Air Safari tours are 2 – 2.5 hours long and take place in an open air bus. This summer, riders are seated with a seat in between parties and there is a lot of open air flow! As you drive through the almost 10,000 acre park, animals are free to come up close to your safari (but no touching)! 

a camel coming up to the open safari at The Wilds in Ohio

The first stop on the tour is at Lake Trail and you can take a short hike down to the lake to feed catfish! There is also the option to feed birds in an enclosed aviary.

The second stop on the tour is the Carnivore Center where you can see wild African dogs, cheetahs and more! There is a boardwalk taking you through the area where you can look for each animal within its habitat.

cheetahs at The Wilds in Guernsey County Ohio

The tour guides are very knowledgeable and share a wealth of information about how The Wilds came to be, how animals have been saved through their conservation efforts and even little tid bits of information about the individual animals you may come across on your journey! We were lucky enough to see the new baby Rhino, Rohini, who was just moved out to the summer pasture a week before!

Tips for visiting The Wilds:

  • It is advisable that you follow the directions on The Wilds website as opposed to the directions that you will be given if you just type “The Wilds” into a map app! Plus there is virtually no cell phone service once you reach a certain part. This is definitely the time to go old-school and follow written directions! 
  • There are two stops along the tour that include a restroom and one stop that sells food. But no food or drink is allowed while you are on the safari tour.
  • The tours take place rain or shine so dress appropriately and bring sunscreen!
  • If you’re looking for a place to have lunch or dinner, the The Overlook Cafe is available before or after your safari trip! The Terrace Grill is located at the Carnivore Center (in the middle of the trip) and there is a Safari Snack Depot near the ticket window. 
  • At the Wilds, masks are required indoors and outdoors when you cannot social distance. On shuttles and safari, seating will be limited with social distancing between seats. 

2. Seneca Lake

boats and docks at the marina at Seneca Lake

After visiting The Wilds, we spent an afternoon on a pontoon boat on Seneca Lake! It was such a great, relaxing time as a family! At the Marina you can rent a pontoon boat or fishing boat and purchase a fishing license if you’d like to fish! Life jackets are provided. If you have your own boat, courtesy boat parking is provided at the Marina for up to 2 hours.

The Marina service is available at a walk up window where you can rent a boat, purchase your fishing license and/or bait. You do not need to go inside to make these transactions!

father and son fishing at Seneca Lake Ohio

My boys had a great time fishing! They love putting the minnows (available for purchase at the Marina) on the hook and waiting to see that bobber go under! Jaden was the only one who caught a fish that afternoon and he was very proud of that fact!

3. Mosser Glass

boy watching glass being made a Mosser Glass

Our family took a factory tour at Mosser Glass to learn about the process of glass making! We were able to get up close to the glass making process and watch as the craftsmen each completed their part of the process! You can stop in any time during business hours for a tour and shop for a gift or souvenir in their beautiful gift shop!

the gift shop at Mosser Glass in Cambridge, Ohio

4. National Museum of Cambridge Glass

woman giving a tour at Museum of Cambridge Glass

The Cambridge Glass Company produced their first piece of glass in 1902 and the factory operated until 1958, producing everything from stemware to vases, changing colors and styles many times throughout the years. The museum pays homage to the company by displaying over 10,000 pieces of Cambridge Glass.

group of people getting a tour at the Museum of Cambridge Glass

Here you can watch a short video about the history of Cambridge Glass, get a guided tour of the collection, try your hand at etching and learn how artisan glass pieces were made! 

two boys and father doing etchings at the Cambridge Glass Museum

Make sure to check out the Hollywood display where there are pictures of Cambridge Glass pieces spotted in famous movies and TV shows! There is also a formal dining room display that offers a glimpse into life in a bygone era. The tour was interesting and the hands on activities made it fun for the kids, too! Some hands on activities may not be available at this time. 

5. Salt Fork State Park Beach

boy on the beach at Salt Fork State Park in Guernsey County, Ohio

Salt Fork State Park is Ohio’s largest state park! This is evidenced by the fact that upon entering the park, it is a 10-15 minute drive to most in-park destinations! My family enjoyed spending two nights at the lodge, but you don’t have to stay there to take advantage of all the park has to offer!

The park is home to 12 scenic trails, shelter houses and picnic areas, a golf course, an archery range, dog park, bridle trails, boating and swimming!

two boys on Salt Fork State Park Beach in Ohio

Specifically, here I want to mention the beach! When you think of Ohio, you don’t often think of beaches, but during this summer in particular, you might seriously want to consider a trip to Salt Fork’s public beach! One of Ohio’s largest inland beaches, anyone can visit for free! The beach area is pretty big – enough for spreading out – and there is also a strip of grass with trees and picnic tables for your enjoyment! 

Family Friendly Restaurants in Guernsey County:

1. Georgetown Tavern

brick oven pizza at Georgetown Tavern on the Hill

If you’re looking for a meal with a view, this is it! During the summer of 2020, only the patio is open for dining and what a patio it is!

Brick oven pizzas are made to order as well as a special selection of wines, craft beer and adult slushies! Georgetown Vineyards wines are produced on site and the patio offers a beautiful view of the vineyards while you eat! 

patio at Georgetown Tavern in Cambridge, Ohio, Guernsey County

I have to add that we had an issue with Google Maps on getting here! I would recommend typing in and choosing the actual address of the restaurant, NOT typing in the name of the restaurant into Google Maps! If you find yourself driving up a steep, one way gravel hill leading to a cell phone tower, you are probably on the wrong end of the road!

2. The Dockside Restaurant 

boy eating food at the Dockside Restaurant at Seneca Lake Marina

If you’re spending the day at Seneca Lake, The Dockside Restaurant is at the marina and has two large patio areas. The view of the harbor adds to the lakeside experience! If you don’t have time to eat a full meal, there is also a window where you can order ice cream! Everyone needs ice cream after a day on the lake, right?!

3. Kennedy’s Bakery

glazed donut outside of Kennedy's Bakery in Guernsey County, Ohio

After visiting the National Museum of Cambridge Glass, we walked a couple of blocks to Kennedy’s Bakery! This bakery has been a staple in town since 1925! If you’re looking for a baked good, stop here for decorated cookies, donuts, creme sticks, cakes, baklava, pepperoni rolls, garlic bread, cupcakes and so much more!

people waiting in line inside Kennedy's Bakery in Cambridge Ohio

My kids opted for cookies decorated with a fishing theme and my husband and I chose a donut and creme stick (or long john, depending on where you’re from)! I was happy with my choice of a classic glazed donut! Yum!

4. Nothing But Chocolate

Nothing But Chocolate in Cambridge Ohio

On our way out of town we stopped at Nothing But Chocolate for our final sweet fix of the trip! We had heard rumors of excellent buckeye candies and we were surprised to find out they are made on the spot when you order them! Chocolate covered Oreos were also a winner! Definitely make a stop here for handcrafted chocolate treats, taffy and unique, edible gifts!

Nothing But Chocolate provides a sink and asks each person who enters to wash their hands before shopping, which we were thankful for after spending the morning walking around town!

Where to stay in Guernsey County:

Salt Fork State Park Lodge

Salt Fork State Park Lodge

Our family stayed at the Salt Fork Lodge for two nights. The boys loved the bunk beds in the room! The Lodge overlooks the Salt Fork Reservoir and each morning and night we had a family of deer appear in the yard beneath our room!

boys on a bunk bed at Salt Fork State Park Lodge

There are restaurants on site – we got our breakfast to go and sat out on the patio area! There is a great outdoor pool and kiddie pool. (The indoor pool is currently closed due to construction.) Check the outdoor pool schedule when you check in as it is closed for extra cleaning on a regular basis.

outdoor pool at Salt Fork State Park Lodge

If you’re looking for a stand-alone option, cabins are also available for rent (though they are filling up fast in the 2020 season)! Camping, fishing, boating and hiking, as well as other recreational sports, are available within the park so it can really be an all inclusive getaway!

a row of rocking chairs in the sun at Salt Fork State Park Lodge in Guernsey County, Ohio

As a fun side note, it is rumored that Bigfoot lives in Salt Fork State Park! Over 36 sightings have been reported in the park! So keep your eyes peeled and/or plan your trip to coincide with The Ohio Bigfoot Conference or Creature Weekend! 

2020 is a weird year, especially when it comes to travel. But with a trip to Guernsey County you can go on a wildlife safari, visit a vineyard and spend a day at the beach! Who knew this surprising getaway was just 80 miles from Columbus?!

Exploring Columbus with Your Kids

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Ohio Road Trip: Guernsey County


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8 Awesome Indoor Play Areas in Ohio

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These indoor play areas around Ohio will give you lots of options for things to do with kids when traveling around the great state of Ohio!

8 Awesome Indoor Play Areas in Ohio

When traveling around Ohio with our kids, we have often found ourselves needing to find indoor play areas for the kids to burn off some energy! Whether we have time to kill in our itinerary or we’ve needed to find a kid-friendly, halfway point to meet a friend, these spots have come in handy over the last few years! Any of these play areas would also make for a fun road trip if you’re looking to do something new around Ohio!

INDOOR PLAY AREAS IN NORTHERN OHIO

1. Jungle Junction, Bellevue, OH

110 Cherry Blvd., Bellevue, OH 44811

jungle junction in Bellevue, Ohio

Jungle Junction is the largest indoor play structure in Ohio! The play area is designed for kids ages 12 and under and includes a separate area on the side just for toddlers.

Inside the Tree Top Play area there are climbing structures, slides and tunnels. There are also air cannons that shoot plastic balls all around the area. Kids must wear socks when playing inside and socks are available for purchase if you forget!

Admission is for the day, so you can come and go with a stamp on your hand. There is no charge for parents/caregivers or children under age 1 (as of May, 2017).

If you’re looking for more things to do while you’re in the area, check out: Exploring Ohio with Kids: Bellevue. There’s a great train museum in town, too!

Jungle Junction in Bellevue Ohio

2. Jump N SHOUT, Smithville, OH

877 W. Main St., Smithville, OH 44677

Jump N Shout in Smithville Ohio

This play area in Wayne County, Ohio offers something for all ages! On the first floor, the space is dedicated to the younger kids and includes a train table, puzzles, blocks, ride on cars balls, bouncy houses and more!

On the second floor, the space is geared toward older kids with larger bouncy houses, basketball arcade, inflatable darts, air hockey, foosball, a LEGO table and more! My kids’ grandparents live in Wayne County so they have been here several times and love this place! But I have to admit I’m also addicted to the basketball arcade here. 😉

A limited selection of snacks and drinks are available for sale, too and there is a small seating area where you can eat them.

Jump N Shout in Smithville, Ohio

3. Kidsplay Indoor Fun, Avon Lake, OH

32864 Pin Oak Pkwy., Avon Lake, OH 44012

Kidsplay in Avon Ohio

This indoor play area is specifically for kids ages 6 and  under and it features  kid-sized roller coasters, a ball pit, rock climbing wall, blocks, a train table and lots of opportunities for imaginative play!

There is also a “coffee area” where adult can sit with a full view of the play area. Snacks are not allowed in the play area but there is a separate room used for parties where you can eat food that you bring in or you can purchase snacks and drinks on site.

Kidsplay in Avon, Ohio


INDOOR PLAY AREAS IN CENTRAL OHIO

4.The Naz Playplace, Grove City, OH

4770 Hoover Rd., Grove City, OH 43123

The Naz in Grove City Ohio

This is a large indoor playground in Grove City and the best part is, it’s free! There is a large climbing area and also a small sectioned off area for babies and toddlers! You must remove your shoes to play and wear socks. Socks can be purchased for $1 if you forget.

There is a story time with crafts one morning a week (check the link for details)! You can also register online before your first visit to save time. Outside of the play area, there is a cafe where you can purchase food or eat your own packed lunch. There is lots of seating!

Looking for more indoor play areas in Columbus? Check out: Over 20 Free Indoor Play Areas in Columbus

The Naz in Grove City Ohio

5. Scoops and Chutes Playground, Columbus, OH

2136 Bethel Rd, Columbus, OH 43220

This play area is located inside one of Ohio’s most famous ice cream shops: Graeters! The indoor play area includes a large slide, a merry-go-round, a toddler area an ice cream truck and more! You must remove your shoes to play and wear socks. Socks are available for purchase here if you forget.

This new location was opened in 2019 and has an updated party room for rent for kids’ birthday parties.

Need more ideas for Columbus? Check out: 6 Free or Cheap Indoor Places for Kids to Run Wild in Columbus

Scoops and Chutes Play Place in Columbus, Ohio

6. Fun in the Jungle, Sunbury, OH

345 McGill St., Sunbury, OH 43074

Fun in the Jungle in Sunbury Ohio

Inside Fun in the Jungle there is a large indoor play area that includes a soft play zone for toddlers. For older kids, there is  mini bowling, virtual reality games and arcade games. There is also a cafe here where you can get food and drinks. Check the link for toddler time hours and prices if you have younger kids!

Interested in play cafes in Central Ohio? Check out: The Complete List of Columbus Play Cafes

Fun in the Jungle in Sunbury, Ohio


INDOOR PLAY AREAS IN SOUTHERN OHIO

7. Pogo Play, Blue Ash, OH

10870 Kenwood Rd., Blue Ash, OH 45242

Pogo Play in Blue Ash, Ohio

This is a huge indoor play area just north of Cincinnati that includes several different play areas! There is a large climbing gym, a space with LEGOS, a space with blocks, a separate area with a play kitchen and a space for life sized building blocks.

Each area is sectioned off by theme by short divider walls and there is a completely separate room just for toddlers!

There is a coffee shop cafe here with a seating area and there is also a really large seating area for parents.

Pogo Play in Blue Ash, Ohio

8. EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OH

7379 Squire Ct., West Chester, OH 45069

EnterTRAINment Junction in West Chester, Ohio

Inside EnterTRAINment Junction is Imagination Junction, a play area for kids! There is a large climbing structure, a train to play on, an electric train to ride and two small model train displays. There is also a play structure with a slide and a separate area just for toddlers.

Socks are required to play here and are available for purchase if you forget! This play area is included with admission to EnterTRAINment Junction, which is home to the largest train display in the world! EnterTRAINment Junction is a destination in itself! Read all about it here: Fun for the Whole Family at EnterTRAINment Junction!

Make sure to check out 6 Super Fun Things to do with Kids in Butler County, Ohio while you’re there (including the Butler County Donut Trail)!

EnterTRAINment Junction in West Chester, Ohio


Feel free to list any other great indoor play areas that you and your family enjoy around Ohio to share ideas with other readers!

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20 Free Indoor Play Areas in Columbus

ICYMI: Over 20 Free Indoor Play Areas in Columbus

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8 Awesome Indoor Play Areas in Ohio


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