Most people know the area around Sandusky, Ohio for its amusement park, Cedar Point. A very popular summer attraction, it will gain even more visitors this May when it opens the Steel Vengeance—a world-record breaking roller coaster that stands 205 feet high, has a 90-degree initial drop, and reaches speeds of 74 mph. The tallest, fastest, and longest hyper-hybrid roller coaster in the world, it will join 17 other roller coasters—including fan favorites Maverick, Millennium Force, Valravn and the Top Thrill Dragster—at the Roller Coaster Capital of the World.
Even if you don’t like coasters, there’s a lot to do at this 148-year-old park, the second oldest in the nation. There are 71 rides across its 364 acres, with many designed for the smaller set so they don’t feel left out of the action. Younger kids can also enjoy Dinosaurs Alive! which features 50 animatronic dinos as well as a dig site for aspiring paleontologists. Cedar Point Shores Water Park provides a great way to cool off on a hot day, as well as the chance to scare yourself silly by falling six stories on the death-defying Point Plummet. Note that I said scare yourself—I’m keeping my feet on the ground.
And while visiting Cedar Point certainly offers its share of thrills, there’s a lot more to the Lake Erie Shores & Islands area than just a day at the park. One of my particular favorites is the Merry-Go-Round Museum, which houses a full-sized, fully restored Allen Herschell carousel, as well as a wide array of historical and modern hand carved animals.
Housed in a circular building that used to be a post office, this unique museum is fascinating for kids and adults alike. I was entranced by the artistry of the hand-painted horses and other animals, and learned a lot about the three different styles of carousel horse painting, which include Philadelphia Style, Country Fair and Coney Island—differences include the size of the animals and the amount of bling that each one displays. Depending on what day you visit, you might even get to see a volunteer carver bringing one of the animals to life!
In addition to getting to learn all about the history of this art form, your ticket also includes a ride on the carousel, which is a lot of fun, especially if—like in my case—you haven’t done it in years.
Visit the Islands
Sandusky is also close to a couple of really unique islands, and you can hop a ferry for a quick ride over to Kelleys Island or Put-in-Bay. Kelleys Island is pretty laid back, and a great place to rent a bike or a golf cart to go exploring. One of the really unique stops here is Glacial Grooves, a national natural landmark that has the largest, most easily accessible grooves caused by moving glaciers in the world.
The grooves, some of which are 400 feet long, 35 feet wide and up to 10 feet deep, can be seen from above by accessing a footbridge that arcs over the top of the formation.
Put-in-Bay is a great way to spend an afternoon, whether you want to rent a kayak to explore the waters or check out the butterfly house and underground cave at Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center. Nicknamed the “Key West of the North,” there’s a lot to do on the island, including a visit to the Perry Peace Memorial and Visitors Center. You can’t miss this 352-foot tribute to Commander Oliver Hazard Perry, who won one of the biggest battles in the War of 1812, and you can learn more about the war, or take in some amazing views by riding the elevator up to a 312-foot observation deck.
Perry’s Cave, named after the intrepid commander, is a cool stop if you like to explore underground. You can take about a 20-minute walking tour of the limestone cavern, an Ohio Natural Landmark, which is located under Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center, or stop into the Butterfly Museum next door to see 50 different types of exotic butterflies from around the world.
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