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23 Fun Things to Do in and Around Sandusky, Ohio

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!

boats in Sandusky, Ohio.

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
  • Website

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!

Walk through zoo at African Safari Wildlife 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!

Boys riding a camel at African Safari Wildlife Park near Lake Erie.

2. Port Clinton City Beach

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

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
  • Website
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
  • Website
A vintage Merry-go-Round at the Merry Go Round Museum in Sandusky, Ohio.

Visit the museum in downtown Sandusky to see carousel artifacts, learn the history of carousels and ride a fully restored Allan Herschell Carousel! Each admission ticket purchased comes with a token to ride the carousel.

More vintage carousel horses and animals at the Merry Go Round Museum.

On your tour of the museum, you may be able to meet with a carver who is experienced in carving and restoring carousel animals. There are a lot of interesting things to see in the museum including restored carousel horses and other carousel animals, signs, antique advertisements, and other carousel artifacts.

9. Cheesehaven

  •  2920 E Harbor Rd, Port Clinton, OH 43452
  • Website
Cheesehaven store in Port Clinton, Ohio.

If you love cheese, you’ll want to plan on checking out Cheesehaven in Port Clinton! There is so. much. cheese! And candy, smoked meats, taffy, drinks, toys and more! It’s definitely an experience!

Cheese for sale at Cheesehaven in Port Clinton, Ohio.

This would be a great place to pick up some snacks or a picnic lunch before heading to the beach! Cheesehaven is a seasonal business, so make sure to check their hours before planning a visit!

10. Shoreline Park

  • 411 E Shoreline Dr, Sandusky, OH 44870
  • Website
A fountain and suspended sculpture at Shoreline Park in Sandusky, Ohio.

If you’re looking for a nice spot to walk around Lake Erie in Sandusky, check out Shoreline Park which has paths up to the lake, a shelter house for picnics and a nice playground that kids will enjoy.

A playground for kids at Shoreline Park.

You can see Cedar Point across the bay and there are lots of boats parked in the nearby marina during the summer. There is also a snack shack in the park selling food and snacks.

11. Jackson Street Pier

A boy on a chair at Jackson Street Pier in Sandusky, Ohio.

Another Sandusky Park right on Lake Erie is Jackson Street Pier. This is the location of many public events and celebrations and it’s a great place to relax and enjoy the lake view!

Porch swings along Lake Erie at Jackson Street Pier.

Snap your photo next to the Sandusky Mural or on the Lake Erie Love chair and spend a few minutes swinging on the porch swings overlooking the lake!

12. Soda Pop’s

  • 209 W Water St, Sandusky, OH 44870
  • Website
Inside Soda Pop's candy store in downtown Sandusky.

Soda Pop’s is a fun stop in downtown Sandusky! Look for unique candy options, ice cream and even vintage toys! Kids and adults alike will enjoy finding their favorite candies and taking a walk down memory lane!

13. Floral Clock

  • 200 Washington St, Sandusky, OH 44870
  • Website
The Floral Clock in Washington Park in Sandusky, Ohio.

The Floral Clock in Washington Park in downtown Sandusky is quite a sight to see when you consider that the date is changed every single day! We happened to drive by on one of our visits when they were changing the date! It’s a fun thing to see whether you take time to walk in the park or are just driving by!

14. Sandusky Book Bar

  • 2101 W Perkins Ave, Sandusky, OH 44870
  • Website
Inside The Sandusky Book Bar.

One of the coolest places I have been in Sandusky recently is the Sandusky Book Bar! I didn’t have my kids with me, but you can totally bring kids here! They have a wide range of drinks from coffee drinks, to Italian sodas to teas, hot chocolate and alcohol.

An Italian Soda at The Sandusky Book Bar.

The Sandusky Book Bar has books for all ages and lots of seating so you can enjoy your drink and a book for as long as you would like! They also host events almost every day of the week including book signings and live music.

15. Marketplace at the Cooke

  • 133 E Market St, Sandusky, OH 44870
  • Website
Shops at Marketplace at the Cooke in downtown Sandusky.

Marketplace at the Cooke in downtown Sandusky is a collection of shops, restaurants and entertainment! Stop in here for baked goods, souvenirs, ice cream and axe throwing!

Hotels with Indoor Water Parks Near Sandusky, Ohio:

16. Castaway Bay

  • 2001 Cleveland Rd., Sandusky, Ohio 44870
  • Website
Indoor waterpark 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!

They also have an indoor arcade and several restaurants on site including Quaker Steak and Lube and a breakfast buffet.

Renovated hotel room at Castaway Bay in Sandusky, Ohio.

The hotel was renovated in 2022 and it’s so bright and fun! We enjoyed staying in the fun rooms and eating at the restaurants inside the complex! My kids love it here!

17. Kalahari

  • 7000 Kalahari Dr, Sandusky, Ohio 44870
  • Website

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.

18. Great Wolf Lodge

  • 4600 Milan Road, Sandusky Ohio 44870
  • Website

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:

19. Jolly Roger’s Seafood House

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

Jolly Rogers relocated just down the street, and to the waterfront in 2021! We were able to visit the new location in 2023 and it’s so well done! They have a great patio that faces the water and the inside is beautiful with lots more seating!

Outdoor patio at Jolly Rogers Seafood in Port Clinton, Ohio.

Don’t worry, they still have the breading station on view so kids can still enjoy that aspect of eating at Jolly Rogers!

20. Toft’s Dairy

  • 3717 Venice Rd., Sandusky, Ohio 44870 
  • Website
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!

21. Frosty Frog

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. 

22. Twin Oast Brewing

  • 3630 NE Catawba Rd. Port Clinton, Ohio 43452 
  • Website
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!

23. Wake Up and Waffle

  • 122 E Water St, Sandusky, OH 44870
  • Website
Waffles, eggs, potatoes and bacon at Wake Up and Waffle in downtown Sandusky, Ohio.

Located in downtown Sandusky, Wake Up and Waffle is a great spot for breakfast! The restaurant serves Liege Waffles, which are European waffles made with brioche dough. They are thicker than what we Americans think of as waffles and they have Belgian pearl sugar mixed into the dough. (No you haven’t lost a tooth, which is what we thought at first!)

A liege waffle with strawberries and whipped cream on top at Wake Up and Waffle.

You can get the waffles by themselves or as a side in place of bread! We all loved our meals here! My son got the strawberry waffle with macerated strawberries and whipped cream. I got the standard breakfast but substitute a waffle for the toast!

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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