Looking for things to do in Sandusky? We got you covered!
Ohio tends to fly under the radar when people think of planning vacations. After all, what is there to do besides maybe attend a football game at THE Ohio State University? But in reality, there are many charming cities and towns scattered among the cornfields that are worth exploring. One of these is Sandusky.
Now, some people might be thinking “isn’t that somewhere near Cleveland?” And those people would be correct. Others may think of beautiful Lake Erie shorelines. Others may think of Cedar Point, also known as “America’s Roller Coast.” Top Thrill Dragster might be the main draw for some, but guess what? There are tons of things to do in Sandusky, Ohio, after you’re done screaming your face off.
Voted Best Coastal Small Town in America, Sandusky is home to historic buildings, beautiful nature reserves, and many other activities. It’s easily one of Ohio’s best destinations, combining world-class attractions with a humble small-town vibe. So what are the best things to do in Sandusky, Ohio? We’ve got a few ideas for you.
Things to Do in Sandusky, Ohio
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This is probably the attraction that brought you to Sandusky in the first place. Cedar Point has made this small Ohio town a household name around the world. Top Thrill Dragster is no doubt the most famous roller coaster on the planet, running at a speed of 120mph. Cedar Point is home to 18 incredible coasters. Thrill-seekers and coaster enthusiasts will want to spend a day or two just taking advantage of the park.
Not to worry, though – Cedar Point also has rides and activities suitable for those not looking to pee themselves. With rides more suitable for the little ones and a waterpark, you’ll find something for everyone here.
This unique museum is a must-visit, as it’s the only one of its kind in the country. Established in 1990, this museum has been one of the most popular attractions in Sandusky ever since its opening. The museum is home to many unique and historic carousel pieces, including carved animals and tools used for making them.
You can take a tour to learn more about the history of carousels and how they’ve evolved over the years. At the end, everyone will enjoy a ride on the historic carousel that is the centerpiece of the museum. This particular piece was made by the Allan Herschel corporation in 1939.
The Sandusky Speedway hosts races between April and October, so if you’re here during this time be sure to visit. You’ll be able to catch a variety of racecars, including stocks and modifieds, participate in races on most evenings. The Sandusky Speedway is also home to the Rusty Wallace Driving Experience, which allows you to drive race cars. Whether you want to drive or not, you’ll love going to the speedway and cheering on your favorite drivers.
Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area
If you’re looking to escape the city, head about 20 miles down the road to Pickerel Creek. This is a restored wetland area that’s home to tons of native wildlife, so nature enthusiasts will love it. There are boardwalks that wind through much of the reserve so you can explore the area without getting too muddy.
Keep an eye out for white-tailed deer and migrating birds such as eagles, egrets, herons, and more. This serene piece of land is a welcome escape after spending a few days at Cedar Point.
Goodtime Lake Erie Cruise
If you’re visiting between May and October, take advantage of the opportunity to get out on the water. A Lake Erie cruise is the best way to explore the coastline. You can choose an evening cruise where you’ll be provided with entertainment, snacks, and a beautiful view of the sunset. Or, check out one of the daytime island-hopping cruises. These will take you to the islands around Sandusky like Kelleys Island and Put-In-Bay. This is arguably the best way to explore more of what Lake Erie has to offer.
The Kalahari Waterpark is one of the main attractions for visitors to Sandusky. The extensive indoor and outdoor network of waterslides, lazy rivers, and wave pools will keep the entire family busy. If you, or your kids, love water parks you owe it to yourself to visit Kalahari.
Kalahari also has many dry attractions such as the Safari Outdoor Adventure Park. This section includes climbing walls, ziplines, and a ropes course. With so much to do here, you may want to dedicate a day or two exclusively to Kalahari Waterpark.
Sandusky Maritime Museum
For history buffs, the Maritime Museum is one of the best things to do in Sandusky, Ohio. The museum features exhibits that will teach you all about the history of maritime activity in Sandusky Bay. You’ll learn about the commercial fishing industry, ice harvesting, shipwrecks, and pirate activity in the area.
The museum is also home to artifacts from Convict Ship, a former floating prison located in Sandusky Bay. The museum runs programs and events all year round, so be sure to check what’s on during your visit.
If you’re a wine connoisseur, you won’t want to leave Sandusky without visiting Firelands Winery. This is famous for being one of the best wineries in the state of Ohio. Established in 1880, it’s also one of the oldest wineries in Ohio, so they really know what they’re doing. Take a guided tour to learn about the local grapes and wine production and walk through the vineyards. Afterward, sample as much wine as your heart desires while enjoying a beautiful view from the outdoor patio.
Looking for another way to get out on the water? Check out the Air1 Airboat cruises. A Coast Guard-certified captain will take you out on a 40-minute ride around Lake Erie. You’ll get a whole new perspective on Cedar Point and some of Sandusky’s other main attractions, as well. If you’re looking for a longer ride, there’s also an option to take a 2-hour evening cruise.
On the evening cruise, you’ll get to watch Sandusky light up at night from the water. These boats go pretty fast, though, so hold onto your belongings as you zip through the water. This is also a prime opportunity to see some wildlife, including eagles, so keep your eyes peeled during the ride.
Eleutheros Cooke House and Garden
This historic house was built in the 1840s by Eleutheros Cooke, the first lawyer to work in the Sandusky area. Built in the Greek Revival style, the house itself is beautiful inside and out. It’s home to a lot of history as it has been renovated and rebuilt several times. Today, the Ohio Historical Society maintains its historic charm. You can take a free tour to learn about the history of the house and the city of Sandusky itself.
Sheldon Marsh Nature Preserve
This is another great option for those looking to escape the city for a day or just a few hours. Sheldon Marsh Nature Preserve is great for hiking and bird watching along the shoreline of Lake Erie. This wetland area makes up a large portion of the undeveloped land along the lake.
The nature preserve is famous for its wildflowers and it attracts over 300 species of birds. Keep your eye out for great blue herons, woodcocks, owls, hawks, and more. This is a great place to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the serene landscape during your trip to Sandusky.
Ghostly Manor Thrill Center
If you’re looking for an indoor escape from a rainy day, Ghostly Manor Thrill Center is your spot. With so many activities, it’ll keep the entire family busy for the whole day. Visit their Escape Room to solve mysteries with your group. Head to the Wizard’s Journey mini-golf course to putt your way through waterfalls and other bumps in the road.
If you’re in town during the Halloween season, you’re in for a treat. Haunted houses are Ghostly Manor Thrill Center’s specialty, so you’ll have to make sure to visit. Otherwise, you’ll also find an arcade, a roller skating rink, and a 4D theater at this adventure center.
Follett House Museum
This is a great place to learn more about the history of downtown Sandusky and the people that lived there. Located in a beautiful Greek Revival style building, this museum is operated by the public library. It includes exhibits on what life was like for different groups of people from all walks of life. This includes military members, prison inmates, business owners, and families. You’ll also learn about how tourism in the city has evolved over the years.
Home to many historic local artifacts, you’ll learn about the Battle of Lake Erie and Johnson’s Island Prison. And finally, you’ll have a panoramic view of Sandusky from the widow’s walk in the building. Admission is free, but you’ll need to book your slot ahead of time.
Where to stay in Sandusky
Now that you know the best things to do in Sandusky, Ohio, you’re probably wondering where to stay. Sandusky isn’t a huge city. No matter what you choose, you’ll be within a fairly short driving distance of most of the attractions.
However, if your priority is Cedar Point, check these out:
- Cedar Point Hotel Breakers: This beachfront hotel is a 2-minute walk from the park, giving you easy access to both the shoreline and coasters.
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Sandusky: Just a short drive away from Cedar Point, this hotel is also close to Kalahari Waterpark.
If you’re interested in being closer to downtown, consider these options:
- Wolf Inn Hotel: This hotel is centrally located between Cedar Point, the Sandusky Mall, and the Sandusky Speedway for your convenience.
- La Quinta Inn by Wyndham: Just over a 5-minute drive to the downtown area, this hotel is also located near several shopping centers and restaurants.
Now you know all the best things to do in Sandusky, Ohio. Come for the coasters, stay for the beautiful views of Lake Erie and the history lessons. Sandusky has a lot to offer to visitors, so be sure to take advantage of your time there!
As always, happy travels all! We hope to see you on the road!