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.
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.
You will receive a cup of food to feed the animals. They eat directly from the cup!
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
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
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
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
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 feed 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
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
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!
- 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
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!
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
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.
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
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
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:
- Exploring Ohio with Kids: Bellevue
- Exploring Ohio with Kids: Lakeside
- How to Have the Perfect Day at the Beach in Vermilion, Ohio
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