Summertime is prime time in northern Ohio, where a narrow span of Lake Erie separates America’s roller-coaster mecca in Sandusky from Kelleys Island and Put-in-Bay for the choice of serene or boisterous—sometimes in the same day. Check out our trip guide for what to do, where to eat and where to stay.

By The editors of MidwestLiving.com
Updated March 24, 2021
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Pandemic-related closures and restrictions may be in place. Please check destinations' websites before making travel plans.

Do

Cedar Point Amusement Park/Resort The 365-acre park in Sandusky moved its 150th anniversary to 2021 with a new nighttime parade and the debut of a Snake River Expedition riverboat ride. The amusement park's 18 roller coasters, live entertainment and themed kids' areas make it a destination for all ages. cedarpoint.com

Cedar Point
Cedar Point; photo courtesy of Cedar Point.
| Credit: Courtesy of Cedar Point

Kayak the Bay Ltd. Limestone formations highlight paddling trips from Put-in-Bay to Gibraltar Island. Rent a kayak and explore on your own or sign up for a guided experience that includes a walking tour on Gibraltar Island. kayakthebay.net

Kelleys Island State Park A 20-minute ferry ride from Marblehead ends at the island. Pitch a tent, laze on the beach, hike the rocky shoreline and gawk at one of the world's most accessible displays of glacial grooves. parks.ohiodnr.gov

Marblehead Lighthouse State Park The white Columbus limestone exterior of the oldest Great Lakes lighthouse in continuous operation appeals to photographers. Tours, expected to resume in 2021, end at the observation deck with views of Kelleys Island. parks.ohiodnr.gov

Marblehead Lighthouse.
Marblehead Lighthouse

Merry-Go-Round Museum Learn about the history and art of carousels (who knew that the Crusades inspired their creation?), plus ride on a 1939 merry-go-round and visit with a carousel animal carver in Sandusky. merrygoroundmuseum.org

Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial This monument in Put-in-Bay salutes War of 1812 hero Oliver Hazard Perry and the peace between the United States, Britain and Canada. When the observation deck reopens, ride elevators more than 300 feet up to lake views. nps.gov

Put-in-Bay Winery The pastel exterior of this Italianate home hints at the bright notes in many of the 11 wines made using local and California grapes. putinbaywinery.com

South Bass Island A bluff-top campground and lakeside picnic area offer escapes from the bustle of Put-in-Bay. visitputinbay.org

Eat

Berardi's Family Kitchen Chain restaurants crowd Sandusky, but Berardi's adds a dash of local flavor. Its thick-cut fries were served at Cedar Point from 1939 through 1978. sanduskyberardis.com

The Boardwalk A smorgasbord of dining and drinking options fills this Put-in-Bay lakeside spot, incorporating a cantina, fish stand and restaurant. shoresandislands.com

Crush Winebar Sandusky's fine-dining Crush stands out with exposed-brick walls, small plates and a variety of wine flights. sanduskywinebar.com

Crush Winebar and Kitchenbar
Crush Winebar and Kitchenbar

The Erie Social Shuffleboard Club and Bar Relax with a cocktail, such as the Lake Erie Splash or Float Your Boat, while playing cornhole and board games (free) or renting a shuffleboard court or table in Marblehead. The Erie Social Shuffleboard Club and Bar on Facebook

J Bistro Downtown Dark woodwork, high ceilings and soft lighting at the Sandusky restaurant set the mood for upscale fare, such as king crab and shrimp risotto. jbistrodwtn.wixsite.com

The Village Pump Try Lake Erie perch or bowls of Richie's Famous Lobster Chowder on Kelleys Island. Cap off the evening with a classic brandy Alexander. The Village Pump on Facebook

Stay

Anchor Inn Boutique Hotel One of Put-in-Bay's quieter lodgings offers 10 rooms and suites—plus a cottage—with luxe touches, such as towel warmers and rain-head showers. anchorinnpib.com

Kalahari Resorts Sandusky's sprawling African-theme resort is a kid's dream: indoor and outdoor water parks, zipline rides, a high-ropes course, mini golf, laser tag, and a 7-D theater. kalahariresorts.com

Kalahari Resort
Kalahari Resort

Kelleys Island Venture Resort A yellow exterior marks Kelleys Island's only hotel. The 31 suites have patios or balconies that look out over the pool, hot tub, Lake Erie and Cedar Point. kiventureresort.com

For more information shoresandislands.com