A great beach is a great beach, even when the water isn't the ocean. Such is the case with the Lake Erie Islands off the coast of northern Ohio. On shore, Sandusky's Cedar Point is a haven for thrill-seeking, roller coaster lovers; offshore Kelleys and South Bass Island offer a quite and calm respite from everyday life. This area is a perfect choice for families who like a little bit of everything.
Kelleys Island--year-round population 200--is the largest American island on Lake Erie. It is a calm laid-back, country island where cedar-shaded lanes are the primary by-ways. Actually, golf carts and bicycles are the main forms of transportation. There are camping facilities available on a first come-first serve basis. Cottages, bed and breakfast homes, and apartment rentals are also available. The Village Pump, and the Kelleys Island Wine Company are two of our favorite kid-friendly restaurants. Boat charters are also available, too. To get a complete listing of accommodations, dining and entertainment options, call the Chamber of Commerce at 419-746-2360 or visit their website at: www.kelleysislandchamber.com and request a copy of the Kelleys Island Fun Finder. You'll see listings for rentals there. Some family-friendly options include:
Sunset Point: This complex offers one-bedroom units and lakefront efficiencies. For more information, call 419-746-2498 or visit their website: Sunset Point.
Kelleys Island State Park: Families who enjoy camping will want to check out this state park with 129 spots for tents along the North Bay section. For more information, call 419-746-2546.
South Bass Island is situated several miles from the mainland, and has a little more "action" than Kelleys Island. The crowds are bigger, and there are plenty of T-shirt shops to keep aficionados happy for days! Like Kelleys, campsites, cottages, condos, B & B rooms are available. The center for activity is Put-in-Bay. Here you'll find shops, bike rentals, restaurants, and more. There's a tour train that makes stops at the islands highlights, which is really convenient for families with little ones. South Bass Island is accessible by ferry from Port Clinton or Catawba Island. For more information, call the Ohio Parks at 419-285-2112 or visit their website: South Bass Island Oak Point .
Cedar Point Amusement Park, located in nearby Sandusky, requires a full day -- if not two. We used the first day to sample all of the rides, and we used the second to re-visit our favorites. Those people who aren't into that "thrill ride-thing" can enjoy lounging at the nearby beach for day. There's lots to do for everyone in the expansive park: the amusement area with the rides and coasters, the water park which is perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day, and the Berenstain Bear Country which is excellent for young children. For more information, visit: www.cedarpoint.com.
If you're going to stay in Sandusky, take a look at the following options:
Sandcastle Suites Hotel offers families spacious two-room suites. You can enjoy playing tennis here or relaxing at the hotel's private beach on Lake Erie. For more information, call 409-627-2106 or visit their website: Sandcastle Suites Hotel.
Hotel Breakers is an opulent 1905 hotel laden with stained-glass windows and wicker galore. Other amenities include a nice beach, a swimming pool, and an ice cream parlor. For more information, call 419-627-2106 or visit their website: Hotel Breakers.
Breakers Express is a more moderately priced option for families. It features 350 rooms with two queen-sized beds in each room, an outdoor pool, spa, and game room. For more information, call 419-627-2106 or visit their website: Breakers Express.
Camper Village is a part of the Cedar Point complex. This RV campground with over 400 sites offers guests picnic tables, grills, electricity, water, showers, and a laundromat. For more information, visit their web page: Camper Village.
For more information on the area and other lodging options, call the Sandusky Chamber of Commerce at 419-625-6421. There's an extensive ferry system between the islands and the mainland. If you're interested in more information on the Lake Erie Islands area, call Erie County Visitors and Convention Bureau at 800-255-ERIE (3743) or 419-625-2984 or visit them online Sandusky Erie County Visitors Bureau or www.buckeyenorth.com.