Are you looking for something fun to do to end the summer or perhaps you want to make plans for a fall break vacation? I highly recommend planning a trip to Lake Erie Shores & Islands. Let me tell you why…
In August, my family and I drove from the Indianapolis area to Sandusky, Ohio. This road trip was just around four hours and required just one tank of gas there and back.
On our first day in town, we planned to visit a top Lake Erie destination called Put-in-Bay located on South Bass Island. We took the Jet Express ferry boat to the island. I can honestly say our boys loved the Jet Express. There are three floors on the boat, the main level, a middle level, and a sun deck level. Of course, our boys wanted to go all the way to the top and I am a sun person as well, so I agreed. I loved that the boat left promptly at the time we were set to leave, which was 2 p.m. The Jet Express is true to its name, once it turned around and headed toward South Bass Island, it took off, which in-acted a fierce breeze. The boys absolutely loved it. After about 15 minutes, we decided to go down to the second floor, which was partially enclosed. When I tell you the view was AMAZING, that is no understatement. As a bonus, the Jet Express provides a narrated tour of the surrounding islands during the 30-minute ride from the mainland to Put-in-Bay.
The moment you step off the boat you immediately notice cars have been replaced with golf carts (we did see a few cars, but not many). Literally, everyone is riding in a golf cart. It is an unusual sight, but very cool at the same time. We decided to take a 55-minute island tour train located at The Depot, which was just a short 2-block walk from the dock. The train takes you all over the island with a narrated history tour and makes several stops at major attractions.
We got off at Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center, which includes five different attractions: Perry’s Cave, the Butterfly House, War of 18 Holes putt-putt golf, Fort aMaze’n, and rock climbing (which was closed that day). There is also an antique car museum free for all ages. We choose 3 of the 5 attractions: Perry’s Cave, the Butterfly House, and War of 18 Holes. My favorite of the three was the Butterfly House. I absolutely love butterflies. Guests receive a butterfly guide to refer to when inside the Butterfly House. To enter, you walk through two doors and there is a short distance to another set of doors. In between, you can see an area that houses butterflies in their cocoon state, as well as some that recently made their way out of their cocoon. A truly mesmerizing sight. Once you go through the second set of doors you walk into this enchanted greenhouse: full of beautiful plants, sitting areas, walkways, and butterflies flying all around you. There is also an incredible gift shop in the Butterfly House. There is so much to choose from in there. I had to buy a few keepsakes to remember this trip.
Mike and the boy’s favorite attraction was the War of 18 Holes putt-putt golf. I mean who doesn’t like to play miniature golf. It had been a minute since they had the opportunity to play, so they took full advantage. Our third choice was Perry’s Cave, a registered Ohio natural landmark. This natural limestone cave lies 52 feet below the surface of South Bass Island. The tour takes about 15-20 minutes. We especially liked the humor of our tour guide. You could spend a whole day here with your family. We wanted to finish our tour of the island on the tour train and decided to board after experiencing Perry’s Cave. If you are a history buff or your littles love riding trains, this is the perfect thing for you to do.
During the tour, we saw a restaurant called The Boardwalk, located right on the lake with family-friendly dining options, and decided to eat dinner there after our tour. The kids picked a concession stand called The Little Galley for their chicken fingers and fries. The hubby and I went with Book’s Seafood’s famous lobster bisque in a sourdough bread bowl that was delicious.
After a fun day at Put-in-Bay, we were ready to check in to our hotel room and get some rest. The time we picked to head back on the Jet Express to the mainland was just when the sun was setting. The 30-minute ride back was so beautiful and relaxing.
We checked into Hotel Breakers at Cedar Point resort located right off the beach of Cedar Point shores and just steps away from Cedar Point amusement park. This hotel is truly stunning not only on the outside but on the inside too. The check-in process is easy and pretty quick. Once we received our key cards, we headed straight to our room. When we walked into the suite, we were all thrilled.
Not only was the room spacious, but it was nicely decorated (absolutely loved the bed headboards of a roller coaster), clean, and had a beautiful view of the beach. The room easily fit our family of five. I loved that the hotel included five places to eat including three restaurants, two bars, and a Starbucks. When I tell you that this hotel was huge, I am not exaggerating at all.
After a good night’s sleep, we woke up bright and early because we wanted to take full advantage of early entrance into the amusement park. Yes, when you stay at Hotel Breakers you receive access to the park at 9 a.m., which is an hour earlier than the public can get in. We grabbed breakfast at Starbucks and headed over to the park at 8:45 a.m. There was already a line, but to our surprise, they were already letting people in. I think we walked into the park a few minutes before 9 a.m.
The boys and I already had a game plan on which rides we wanted to hit first. By 10:30 a.m. we had already been on four roller coasters. Be sure to check out the list of rides open for early entry. If you have children that differ in age like our children do, you will want to make sure everyone can ride in the early hours. After Jayden, Chase, and I rode two roller coasters, which had less than 5-minute waits, we went to Kiddy Kingdom so Kaleb could ride a few rides. Then, the boys and I headed to two other nearby roller coasters. I highly recommend that you download the Cedar Point app. There were times that we decided to go to a different ride after seeing the wait time on the app. This allowed us to maximize our time at the park and not just wait in line for hours throughout the day.
We stopped to have lunch at Johnny Rockets. OMG! The bacon cheese fries were so good, and the burger was tasty too. We had to grab a couple of shakes to go and were ready to tackle the park again. If you have little ones, you could easily walk back to the hotel and chill out in the room for a bit, even let them nap while the big kids stay at the park. I also recommend renting a double stroller for $20 with a $5 deposit (deposit returned once you return the stroller). The park is huge! Although Kaleb doesn’t use a stroller anymore, there is a lot of walking and he needed to be able to take breaks. If you are a huge amusement park fan like my family, then you will be at the park from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. when they close. Closing times differ depending on the time of the year that you visit the park.
Once we walked back over to our hotel room, we quickly switched into our swimsuits and headed out to the beach for Cedar Point Nights that kicked off at 7 p.m. and went to 11 p.m. I put our name on the T.G.I. Friday’s list on the way. We were all excited about experiencing the nighttime glow beach party. My husband got a glimpse of it the night before when he worked out at the gym inside the hotel. He came back and told us that there was a big party going on down at the beach. There was a DJ playing the latest hit songs along with fire pits and lounge chairs and glow-in-the-dark huge blow-ups. Not to mention you are right on the beach and can see the waves coming in as the sun goes down. Our two youngest boys played in the sand and made a sandcastle. We had a great time and were ready to eat when we received the text that our table was ready. T.G.I. Friday’s is a great place to eat for our family because it offers a nice selection for the kids and the adults. We enjoyed our meal, but dessert was the real star of the night. We had to try the 6 layered rainbow cake by Cake Boss. It was sooo good. The buttercream was perfect! After dinner, we headed to our room to shower and call it a night.
On our final day in town, our two oldest boys were excited to conquer their fears and go parasailing for the first time. We woke up early and headed back down to the beach where the parasailing and jet ski rental was located. Jayden had been looking forward to parasailing since before we left for vacation. I was nervous about it, but my son said, “Mom, you only live once.” That sentence convinced me to let him parasail. Our middle son, Chase, decided to do it too, which really surprised me. Mike, Kaleb, and I decided to watch from the boat. I’ve seen people parasailing off in the distance so many times I can’t even count. It is a much different experience when you are right there up close and personal. Once we all got on our life jackets, we got onto a boat that took us out to the boat that would take Jayden and Chase parasailing. Another guy was part of our group and he went first. The fact that his experience went off without a hitch made Mike and I feel much better about the boys parasailing.
When it was the boys’ turn, they jumped up and did exactly what the guy told them to do and within seconds they were parasailing. It was truly one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had, and I didn’t even do it. I wish I had after the fact. I told my family the next time I have the opportunity to parasail, I’m going to do it. When the boys came back down and landed on the boat. I could see the excitement in their faces. They conquered their fears, well at least Chase did, Jayden said he was never scared. The next thing I heard out of Jayden’s mouth was, “I want to go skydiving now.” Wow!!! That kid is not afraid of heights at all. Overall, Mike and I were extremely proud of our boys. I have no doubt that they will forever remember the first time they parasailed on vacation with their family.
Once we were back on land, we returned the life jackets and headed to our room to check out. Our last stop of the day was one I had been truly looking forward to. I am an animal lover and I love going to the zoo. When I saw that there was a drive-thru African Safari Wildlife Park not too far from the amusement park, I knew we had to take the boys. Once you pay admission, you drive up to the entrance of the African Safari. An employee asks you if you want to buy food to feed the animals. We bought $15 worth of food, which included a large cup of carrots, a large cup of romaine lettuce, and two large cups of animal feed. They do tell you to try and save the romaine lettuce for the giraffes because it is their favorite. The moment we drove into the safari, we had Alpacas quickly approach our car to get some food! I think we were all surprised at how unafraid they were of humans. They would stick their heads all the way into your car to get some food. One llama was determined to get a carrot out of Jayden’s cup. It is a good idea to switch back and forth with keeping one side of the car windows up. There were a couple of times that we were looking another way; next thing you know an animal had its head in the car and you weren’t expecting it.
There were so many animals to see including bison, camels, elk, sika deer, fallow deer, and many more. But the coolest animal to feed of course was the giraffe. We let Kaleb feed the giraffe the cup of lettuce and you could see the excitement in his eyes. Overall, it was a very cool experience and I highly recommend it.
Our three-day, two-night visit to the Lake Erie Shores & Islands area was action- packed and we made memories that will last forever. Be sure to visit shoresandislands.com to get the Shore Savings Card and access some great discounts on many of the activities that I mentioned in this blog.
I truly hope you enjoyed reading this blog!