Things To Do in Sandusky

Cast a Line in Lake Erie

July is the best month to catch walleye in the western basin of Lake Erie. We hear that summer walleye fishing is Lake Erie's best-kept secret! (But given that the lake is known as “The Walleye Capital of the World,” a few other people may know about it.)  Need help booking a fishing charter? Visit the Sandusky Charter Boat Association’s website for a list of local captains. Because Lake Erie is so shallow, the conditions can change quickly, so you want to be on the water with an experienced crew.

walleye_lake erie_credit Captain John

Binge Watch the Birds

Drop the remote and grab your binoculars – we have better things for you to binge watch than season one of “Stranger Things” or “Westworld.” The marshes off Lake Erie offer an eyeful for bird watchers.

Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve, one of the last undeveloped stretches of shoreline in the Sandusky Bay region, attracts nearly 300 bird species. Summer residents include great blue herons, red-tailed hawks, black-crowned night herons, wood ducks, great horned owls, and numerous songbirds. Perhaps you’ll catch the spectacular blooming of cardinal flowers in the woodland swamp while you’re there.

A short drive northwest, Magee Marsh Wildlife Area is known as the place for bird watching during spring and fall migrations. But there is still plenty to see in the summer, including herons, egrets, pied-billed grebes, and ducks in the marsh as well as migrating shorebirds feeding in the mudflats. Keep your eyes open for the bald eagles that frequent the marsh! A 42-foot observation deck offers a birds-eye view of the area, and the Sportsmen’s Migratory Bird Center provides a comfortable space to learn about the area’s history.

egret_sheldon marsh_credit Jen Goellnitz

Go Island Hopping

You don’t need a passport to cruise the islands this summer. You’ll find Catawba Island, Kelleys Island, and South, Middle, and North Bass Islands just off the shore of Sandusky. (Catawba is really more of a peninsula, but we’re not going to argue with Ohio about the name!)

South Bass Island is known as the “Secret Midwest Playground” for its vast range of attractions and activities, from wineries and cave tours to kayaking and golf. It’s also a great place to go fishing! While you’re there, visit Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial, which commemorates one of the most significant naval battles of the War of 1812. (Don’t give up the ship!)

Gibraltar Island, located just off South Bass, hosts Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory, which is (the oldest freshwater biological research field station in the United States. The university also owns what is now called Cooke Castle – the island summer residence built by Jay Cooke, who raised almost $1 billion to support the Union during the Civil War. Gibraltar Island is only open for tours from late June through early August.

Budding geologists and students of history will enjoy a visit to Kelleys Island, where you can explore the largest accessible glacial grooves in the world (embedded with 350- to 400-million-year-old fossils) and study Inscription Rock, a limestone boulder with petroglyphs carved by Native Americans hundreds of years ago.

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Lake Erie Shores and Islands logo

Stroll Through the Past

Take a walk back in time at Historic Lyme Village, which depicts 100 years of early life in the Western Reserve. Tour an 1836 farm home, log homes, a one-room school, a general store, and more. Architecture buffs will enjoy the John Wright Mansion, a Second Empire Victorian home built between 1880 and 1882, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The John Seymour House, an 1836 Greek Revival house, was a stop on the Underground Railroad. The village is also home to the Schug Hardware Museum and the National Postmark Collectors Museum and Research Center.

Get Your Thrills

Known as the Roller Coaster Capital of the World®, Cedar Point offers 17 roller coasters plus a host of other family-friendly rides, including an immersive dinosaur experience and live entertainment. Check the Cedar Point website for the height, speed, and “thrill level” of each coaster before you get in line.

Find historic thrills at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums. Hayes was a Civil War general and Harvard-educated lawyer who served three terms as Ohio’s governor before he ran for president. Hayes lost the popular vote, but the electoral votes were contested for months. How was the “most fiercely disputed election in American history” decided? You’ll have to visit the museum to find out!


Discover Bright Ideas

Marblehead Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes, is one of Lake Erie's most-photographed landmarks. Strike a pose, then enjoy a stroll along the walking trails or climb the 77 steps for a birds-eye view of the lake and nearby islands.

At the Thomas Edison Birthplace Museum, learn about the man whose inventions include the incandescent light bulb, motion picture camera, and universal stock ticker. Learn why the phonograph was Edison’s favorite invention – and how he used polka music to get more people to try it!

marblehead lighthouse_credit cmh2315fl

Make Waves

Although Lake Erie is the smallest and most shallow Great Lake, more than 1,400 ships have perished in its waters. Lake Erie shipwrecks are favored among divers due to the lake’s shallow waters and how well fresh water preserves the ships (although shallow waters can also cause wrecks to break up in storm conditions).

The Maritime Museum of Sandusky offers artifacts recovered from shipwrecks in Lake Erie as well as exhibits on boatbuilding, ice harvesting, commercial fishing, pirates, the Underground Railroad, and more.

Want to experience the thrill of NASCAR racing? The Rusty Wallace Racing Experience might be just your speed.