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.
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Cedar Point Sandusky Ohio
Credit: Courtesy of Cedar Point

Do

Cedar Point Amusement Park

The 365-acre park in Sandusky celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2021 with the debut of a Snake River Expedition riverboat ride. The amusement park's 17 roller coasters, live entertainment and themed kids' areas make it a destination for all ages.

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. 

Kelleys Island State Park 

A 20-minute ferry ride from Marblehead ends at the island and 677-acre state park. 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.

Marblehead Lighthouse Lake Erie Shore Ohio
Marblehead Lighthouse

Marblehead Lighthouse State Park

The white Columbus limestone exterior of the oldest Great Lakes lighthouse in continuous operation appeals to photographers. Tours end at the observation deck with views of Kelleys Island.

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 in Sandusky.

Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial Ohio
Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial
| Credit: Kevin J. Miyazaki/Redux

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. Ride elevators to the observation deck more than 300 feet up for spectacular lake views.

Put-in-Bay Winery

The pastel exterior of this Italianate-style winery hints at the bright notes in many of the 11 wines made using local and California grapes.

South Bass Island State Park

A bluff-top campground and lakeside picnic area offer escapes from the bustle of Put-in-Bay.

Eat and Drink

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.

The Boardwalk

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

Crush Winebar and Kitchenbar Lake Erie Shore Ohio
Crush Winebar
| Credit: Kevin J. Miyazaki/Redux

Crush Winebar

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

The Erie Social Shuffleboard Club and Bar 

Relax with a cocktail, such as the Lake Erie Splash or Float Your Boat, at this Marblehead club while playing cornhole and board games (free) or renting a shuffleboard court.

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.

The Village Pump

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

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. 

Kalahari Resort Sandusky Ohio
Kalahari Resort
| Credit: Kevin J. Miyazaki/Redux

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.

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. 

For more information shoresandislands.com