Sandusky, Ohio is a small city on the shores of Lake Erie that has a ton to offer families! Sandusky is well-known as the home to Cedar Point, but most people spend a day on the rollercoasters and then leave town. However, there are so many reasons to stay and play in Sandusky. Here are my suggestions for 5 things to do in Sandusky, Ohio with kids!
#1 Enjoy Sandusky’s top-notch museums
I would not have thought of Sandusky, a city of only 25,000 people, having two fantastic museums! I learned so much at both the Maritime Museum AND The Merry-Go-Round Museum! These are also indoor attractions – for the rainy days you may have in Sandusky.
The Merry-Go-Round Museum is situated in the old Sandusky Post Office. The circular building made for the perfect place to house a full 1920s Carousel. I learned so much about carousels- Did you know that every carousel has a lead horse where the ticket taker would know to start and stop? Did you know that British carousels go clockwise, but everywhere else they are counter-clockwise? Or that carousels date all the way back to the 12th century? Someone sign me up for Jeopardy, this museum was a goldmine!
Kids will enjoy getting to ride on the historic Carousel (included in admission) that travels 9 mph! If you’re weak in the stomach, I don’t recommend coming right after a very filling hotel breakfast. Haha!
The Maritime Museum of Sandusky was another welcome surprise. Sandusky’s location on Lake Erie makes for a history brimming with nautical mystery and drama. The location wasn’t just known for shipping and ferries though, in the late 1900s, Sandusky was the largest ice producer west of New York City! Children can also learn how Sandusky played a role in the Underground Railroad. This was the last stop before former slaves could catch the ferry over to Canada.
Lastly, kids will love this interactive pirate ship! Yes, Lake Erie even had her share of pirates!
The Maritime Museum gives a family discount, offering immediate families admission for just $19. This is a great deal- allot 90+ minutes to spend here.
#2 Hit the water
You can’t be right on the shores of Lake Erie and not enjoy some water activities! Kids of all ages will enjoy Sandusky’s Goodtime I. We took a sunset cruise and enjoyed both scenic views and Cedar Point. Food and beverage can be purchased onboard- for adults that’s a full bar, for the kids, there is pizza. This is a relaxing way to end a day in Sandusky, and prices are affordable.
Looking for a day trip from Sandusky that’s somewhat unique? How about exploring one of Ohio’s islands and spending the day at Put-in-Bay? The Jet Express leaves from downtown Sandusky, or visitors can drive to Catawba Island and catch the Miller Ferry! Once on Put-in-Bay, visitors can rent a golf cart and explore the nooks and crannies of South Bass Island. Even though Put-in-Bay has a reputation as being a place to party, visiting during the week offers lots of fun for families. Here are some more ideas: Put-in-Bay on the cheap, Put-in-Bay things to do with kids
#3 Fill your tummies
If there is one thing that Sandusky shines for, it’s the number of local restaurants in such a small town. Sandusky has no shortage of fantastic places to eat!
Wanting a lakefront lunch? Try the Dockside Cafe. Not only does the cafe offer up gorgeous vistas of the lake, but the food is also casual, kid-friendly fare. (Open seasonally).
Looking to affirm your sweet tooth? Toft’s Dairy is a Sandusky institution for all things dairy- including their famous ice cream! Visit their parlor on Venice Road to try the many flavors. I love the story behind Toft’s family business, including the fact that all of their milk comes from farms located within a 50-mile radius.
Celebrating a special occasion whilst in Sandusky? Try J. Bistro. This downtown Sandusky bistro offers indoor and outdoor dining and a seasonal menu.
#4 Sandusky has 3 indoor waterparks!
Sandusky is lucky to have three indoor waterparks for families! Great Wolf Lodge, Kalahari Resorts, and Castaway Bay are all located on the outskirts of downtown Sandusky! While Cedar Point is only open seasonally, these waterparks bring the fun indoors for the winter.
Great Wolf Lodge is a 30,000-sq.-foot indoor water park offering fun themed rooms like the “wolf den.” This resort is probably better for younger families.
Kalahari Resort is over 173,000-sq.-feet! It’s huge! It also has an outdoor waterpark area that is open in the summer. Kalahari is best for families with older kids who like a bigger thrill! Here are my thoughts on the Kalahari day pass.
Castaway Bay has just been newly reopened by Cedar Point! This facility has a 37,000-sq.-foot waterpark and 237 newly renovated rooms. Guests can enjoy a 100,000-gallon wave pool and 10 waterslides. When Cedar Point is open, guests at Castaway Bay enjoy special park benefits like early entry!
Looking for more indoor fun in Ohio? Check out my list of Ohio’s indoor attractions for families.
#5 Play it up
When we pulled up to Ghostly Manor, I wasn’t so sure what to expect and didn’t know if I’d recommend it as THE thing to do in Sandusky! My 7-yr old is afraid of simple Halloween decorations, so the giant dragon at the door isn’t exactly what you’d expect for a kid-friendly playhouse.
Once inside, I could see why this is the perfect place for the whole family to hang out. From a roller skating rink to an Escape Room, kids of all ages will be happy. There is also a haunted house, blacklight golf, a jungle gym, and arcade games. Our group of adults did the Missing Deed Escape Room, which was much harder than I expected, we needed various clues to help us get out!
Ghostly Manor is a place you could visit in Sandusky again and again. I’d consider taking my young ones there if traveling with older children that wanted to be at Cedar Point or nearby Haunted Houses.
Looking for an outdoor park or playground? I recommend Osborn MetroPark near Huron, Ohio. This is just a short drive from downtown Sandusky. My children enjoyed the large play equipment and the Children’s Forest – a play area designed using natural elements. The Children’s Forest would be great for a hot day because it is in the woods and well-shaded. Osborn MetroPark just opened a Discovery Trail with educational panels on bees, butterflies, trees, and fungi that we need to check out.
So here are my Top 5 things to do in Sandusky, Ohio with kids! Have you been to Sandusky?? Were you like me and chose to hit up Cedar Point and then call it a day? I urge you to add more time to your stay! Want to spend the night” Check out these Sandusky hotels!
* I was hosted by Lake Erie Shores & Islands on a media trip. All opinions are my own.*