Chain restaurants crowd Milan Road in Sandusky, but Berardi’s Family Kitchen adds a dash of local flavor. Its legendary fries were served at Cedar Point amusement park from 1939 through 1978. That was before a steel skyline of roller coasters dominated the park (there are now 17 in all).
A tamer ride awaits inside downtown’s grand former post office at the Merry-Go-Round Museum, where eye-opening tours cover the history of carousels.
A few blocks away, classy Crush Winebar and Kitchenbar stands out with its Asian-fusion menu of kicky noodle bowls, sushi rolls and an impressive range of wine flights.
Save room for heaping portions of freshly prepared ice cream at Toft’s Dipping Parlor.
The 352-foot-tall Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial salutes War of 1812 hero Oliver Hazard Perry and the lasting peace between the United States, Britain and Canada. Ride an elevator to the top of the Put-in-Bay monument for sweeping views of the mainland.
Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial
Maui Sands Resort and Indoor Waterpark may not offer all the splashy amenities of its competitors down the road, but it’s a bargain, with room rates starting at $179, including free Wi-Fi and passes to its indoor water park.
The Jet Express ferry zips visitors from Sandusky to Kelleys Island, an idyllic hamlet with beaches, hiking trails and clapboard buildings.
Rent a golf cart and putter to the Glacial Grooves State Memorial, where gouges in the limestone testify to the glaciers that covered this area 18,000 years ago.
Tourists, locals and fishermen linger over platters of fried Lake Erie perch at The Village Pump.
In the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it downtown, Caddy Shack Square features an ice cream stand, a putting course that’s miniature by mini golf standards and a strip of beachwear shops.
More information: (800) 255-3743; shoresandislands.com
Bring the kids
Kalahari Resort Sandusky’s sprawling African-theme resort is a kid’s dream: indoor and outdoor water parks, zipline rides, a high-ropes course and photo ops with tiger cubs. Did we mention pizza? (419) 433-7200; kalahariresorts.com/oh