Can you believe it is the middle of August already???? As much as I am ready for school to start, I am also sad that it flew by me so fast this year. I have been so busy traveling myself and getting settled into my new job that I blinked and summer is done ;( Maybe you are in the same boat as me, scrambling at the last minute to get in some fun before school begins, but you don’t have the time or the money to go too far from home. If you live in Western PA or Ohio, I have the perfect place for you…Lake Erie Shores and Islands
Being from Pittsburgh and having family that lives in Erie, PA when I hear Erie I of course think of Lake Erie in PA, Presque Isle and that area, but if you look at a map you will see that Lake Erie is HUGE and goes well beyond the PA side that I am familiar with.
This summer I was invited on a tour of the Lake Erie Shores and Islands Area in Sandusky, Ohio and was excited to see that such an amazing place exists so close to Pittsburgh. The area has a little something for everyone, boating, water sports, shopping, amusement parks, museums, beaches, and so much more which makes for a perfect family destination! Here are some highlights from my trip I would like to share with you.
Kelleys Island is located in the western basin of Lake Erie about four miles north of Marblehead and twelve miles from Sandusky on the Ohio mainland. The entire island measures more than four square miles and is the largest fresh water American island in Lake Erie.
During our quick visit to the island we got a taste of what it had to offer as we took a driving tour of the island. While cars are allowed most people travel around in golf carts and bicycles. There is a wide variety of lodging options available on the island, from hotels, to bed and breakfasts to camping in the state park which is right near the beach! There were some great shops on the main road just as we got off the ferry, and from what I heard, but didn’t taste, some of the best ice cream around.
Kellys Island is home to the largest easily accessible glacial groves in the world. While we were there we visited the groves and it was amazing to think that there are fossils in those groves that are 100′s of millions of years old! I’m a sucker for geology and history so I was fascinated to see this natural wonder.
We also had the chance to visit The Village Pump Restaurant for a quick taste of their famous Brandy Alexander drinks and the most amazing fish I have ever had in my life – Lake Erie Perch.
If you have heard of Put-In-Bay you may have also heard its reputation of being a “party” place not so great for families. Well, whoever told you that is WRONG! Sure, the island has a great entertainment strip perfect for people who put a few back and have some fun but there is so much more to the island than the parties. With each place we visited I found myself thinking more and more about how much my kids would enjoy a visit there. Put-In-Bay offers a wide variety of lodging choices including hotels, vacation rentals, campgrounds and bed and breakfasts. Here are a few highlights from my visit.
As I mentioned earlier I am a sucker for history and Perry’s Monument is packed with history. During the war of 1812 the Battle of Lake Erie was fought in this area and in the visitor center of the monument you can find out all about how the US Navy captured and defeated several ships from the British Royal Navy.
Crystal Cave and Perry’s Cave
You and your kids will have a great time exploring the worlds largest geode in Crystal Cave located under Heineman’s Winery or climbing down into the amazing limestone cave, Perry’s Cave. There are many other activities on these sites as well including a butterfly house, gemstone mining, miniature golf and an antique car museum.
There are lots of businesses on the island that offer water sports such as jet skis, canoeing, kayaking, and para sailing for the entire family. While we were there we had the opportunity to take a sunset kayak trip onto the lake…yes I managed to get my fat butt into a kayak, getting out wasn’t as easy but I was glad I decided to participate. Although it was a bit tough on my out of shape arms it was really enjoyable and relaxing to be sitting in the kayak at sunset surrounded by peace and the sounds of the lake.
This is just a very small glimpse of what Put-In-Bay has to offer, for more info including a calendar of fun activities each week, visit the Put-In-Bay Visitor Bureau
This is the place on the tour I was most excited about, the last time I was at Cedar Point was 15 years ago right after I got married I was interested to see how it had changed and check it out as a destination for a family getaway. I could go on forever about how awesome it was but I’ll try to keep it brief.
Cedar Point is located in Sandusky, OH on a peninsula jutting into Lake Erie.
The park is home to 75 rides including 17 roller coasters. Holy Roller Coasters Batman! (we will get to that in a bit)
For the 13th consecutive year Cedar Point was named the “Best Amusement Park in the World” in an annual poll conducted by Amusement Today
This year Cedar Point is celebrating its 141st anniversary. The park first opened in 1870!
Cedar Point Resort offers a variety of accommodations including beachfront properties, cabins, cottages, hotel rooms, and RV campsites sure to meet the needs of any family.
Rides, roller coasters and more rides! I am scared to death of heights, but there is nothing like the adrenaline thrill from a good roller coaster and Cedar Point has plenty of coasters to satisfy your inner thrill seeker. I rode a few (Gemini, Iron Dragon) I was disappointed that I was unable to ride a few due to my size (which has finally prompted me to get my but in gear and go on a diet). I was afraid to ride a few (the Dragster, warning possible wardrobe malfunctions are a side effect of this ride). The most amazing ride I rode was the new WindSeeker. This rides rises you up 301 feet into the sky and spins you around on a swing. The view was incredible but it spun around a bit too fast for me!
There are plenty of coasters for budding thrill seekers too such as the Gemini Jr, Woodstock Express, and the Wildcat.
In addition to the coasters and thrill rides Cedar Point also offers rides for the younger members of the family in the Planet Snoopy area. There are also plenty of family rides and water rides to cool you off on a hot day!
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t mention the food as part of my post right? Which may be why I had some trouble getting onto a few of the roller coasters. Anyway, Cedar Point has all the usual theme park favorites, funnel cakes, ice cream and fries. They also have restaurants if that is your fancy. For our lunch we visited the newly opened Pink’s hot dog stand. Pink’s has been a Hollywood icon for more than 70 years and now its part of the Cedar Point legacy as well!
Last time I was at Cedar Point, I think Soak City was in it’s infant stages, now it is an amazing full blown water park full of fun! I love that you can purchase tickets that allow you to visit the amusement park as well as the water park in the same day. My kids love water parks and I know this one would definitely be on the top of their fun list.
Plan Your Vacation to Lake Erie Shores and Islands
Are you ready to pack your bags yet? I am! Seriously, if you are looking for a great place to visit not too far from home you should check out Lake Erie Shores and Islands, there really is something for everyone. I can’t wait to take my family there, it’s not looking like we will make it this year but it will be on the list for next year. My kids are dying to go to Cedar Point.
If you would like to see more photos of my trip here is a slideshow I created on This Moment HERE
Disclosure ~ All expenses for myself and a guest were paid for for this trip by Lake Erie Shores and Islands Visitor’s Bureau. All opinions are my own.