South Bass Island home to Put-in-Bay. CONTRIBUTED

10 ideas for family fun this summer in Northwest Ohio

NORTHWEST OHIO: Coasters, island adventures, animal safaris and more fun for all ages near Toledo, Sandusky, Lake Erie.

With its mix of national attractions and local favorites, family-friendly fun is easy to come by in northwest Ohio.

Several destinations are introducing new features this summer, adding freshness worth experiencing.

>> OHIO SUMMER TRAVEL: 50 ideas for family fun this summer

Here are 10 to check out before school is back in session:

Cedar Point is the perfect destination for thrill-seekers of all ages. Enjoy breathtaking views on coasters as you’re about to plunge on a coaster. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ALEXIS LARSEN
Photo: Staff Writer


1 Cedar Point Drive, Sandusky (Erie County)

The amusement park reinvented and expanded its water park, formerly Soak City, as Cedar Point Shores this year.

The 18-acre park boasts four new attractions to appeal to both thrill-seekers and young splish-splashers alike. Among them: Point Plummet, a six-story-tall, four-person body slide that sends guests on a free fall when the floor drops from under them; and Lakeslide Landing, a family slide complex that includes a lounge and sun deck.

The theme park, meanwhile, offers it share of thrill rides, including its famed roller coasters.

Admission: $45 to $67 for Cedar Point, $40 for Cedar Point Shores; discounts available online and for children, evening or combination tickets; parking: $20.

Information: 419-627-2350,

>> MORE: What to do, see, experience at Cedar Point 

Kalahari is just one of a few Sandusly area hotels that serve up wet-and-wild fun. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: The Blade


7000 Kalahari Drive, Sandusky (Erie County)

The state’s largest indoor water park boasts five new water slides — including Stingray, a raft slide that ultimately drops riders into a five-story funnel; and Tornado Alley, which boasts sudden drops, high-banking swings and zero-gravity moments.

Guests who don’t want to get wet can check out the adjacent Safari Outdoor Adventure Park, which features zip lines, a ropes course, a climbing wall and an animal park.

Admission: free water-park admission for resort guests; day passes, $35 to $75, available based upon occupancy; free parking.

Information: 419-433-7200,

>> COOL OFF: 7 waterpark adventures a short drive away

South Bass Island, home to Put-in-Bay. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Staff Writer


South Bass Island (Ottawa County)

Families can cool their heels at South Bass Island State Park, which boasts 33 acres of scenic views along Lake Erie and spots for swimming, fishing, picnicking and boating.

While there, you won’t want to miss Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center, which offers a butterfly house, miniature golf, a 25-foot rock-climbing wall, gemstone mining and an antique-car museum.

The gem of the center is Perry’s Cave, 52 feet below ground, where visitors can view stalactites, stalagmites and cave pearls on the walls, ceiling and floor.

And drivers needn’t be 16 to speed around the Put-in-Bay Raceway: Its remote-control cars are the fastest vehicles on the island.

Hint: The island is very family friendly on weekdays.

Note: The popular Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial will be closed this summer for updates.

How to get there: Two ferry companies run to Put-in-Bay. Call or visit websites, below, for details.

Admission: fees vary per activity; check websites for details.

Information: Jet Express: 1-800-245-1538,; Miller Ferry: 1-800-500-2421,; Perry’s Cave: 419-285-2283,; Put-In-Bay,

>> MORE: 10 must-see attractions at Lake Erie

Get up-close with the animals at African Safari Wildlife Park. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: The Blade


267 S. Lightner Road, Port Clinton (Ottawa County)

From alpacas to zebras, nearly 500 animals roam this park, where a drive-through safari puts visitors nose to nose with some of the friendliest creatures.

Admission also includes a walk-through safari, educational programs and a camel ride for children weighing 100 pounds or less.

Admission: $13.95 to $21.95, free for children 3 and younger; parking: free.

Information: 419-732-3606,

>> MORE: Dayton Summer Bucket List: 50 things to do this summer


5403 Elmer Drive, Toledo (Lucas County)

With more than 60 acres to explore, families can experience the beauty of nature while meandering through roses, perennials, vegetables and more.

The venue is enhancing its usual sights and scents with a new feature for little ones this year: The interactive Garden Discovery Trail winds past five “playable moments,” inviting children to craft poems in a “word garden,” imitate the music of cicadas or toads, and more.

Try planning a visit around a one-day camp, some of which invite the whole family to participate. Topics include urban farming and the “olden days.” Details and registration are available online.

Admission: free; parking: free

Information: 419-536-5566,


22611 state Route 2, Archbold (Fulton County)

The living-history museum allows families to step back in time.

Demonstrations, exhibits and carriage rides are among the attractions that paint a picture of Ohio from 1803 to 1920.

Be sure to stop by Grime Homestead, in particular, for a taste of the short-lived fads and crazes that characterized the 1920s.

Children can sit down for a game of mah-jongg, a game of skill popular at the time, or try their hands at yo-yo tricks. (The yo-yo was introduced to the United States in the ’20s and improved upon in 1929 by Donald Duncan, whose company still makes yo-yos today.)

Admission: $11 to $17, or free for children 5 and younger; parking: free.

Information: 419-446-2541,

>> RELATED: 7 must-see sights in driving distance of Dayton


14 locations in Lucas County, covering more than 12,000 acres

Middlegrounds, a 28-acre green space along the Maumee River that opened in September in downtown Toledo, awaits its first summer. Try renting a kayak there or at another park, Farnsworth in Waterville.

If you want to stay off the water, the park system offers 120 miles of trails for hiking and biking. Oak Openings, a 5,000-acre preserve in Swanton, is a popular spot for bird-watching.

Admission and parking: free

Information: 419-407-9700,

>> RELATED: 12 roadside attractions in Ohio for your next road trip adventure

Musuem visitors watch balls move to the center of a swirling pool of water at the Imagination Station in Toledo. THE BLADE
Photo: The Blade


1 Discovery Way, Toledo (Lucas County)

Hands-on fun awaits at the science center. A newly opened exhibit, “Dinosaurs Around the World,” features 13 full-scale dinosaurs, including Tyrannosaurus rex and a velociraptor. Young paleontologists can try some of the techniques scientists use in the field, such as rubbing out a two-dimensional fossil imprint or uncovering fossils from shale.

Admission: $9 to $11, free for children 2 and younger; parking: lots nearby

Information: 419-244-2674,

>> FREE EVENTS: 20 things to do with the kids this summer


2445 Monroe St., Toledo (Lucas County)

Families can get in touch with their artistic side with a stroll through the museum. Exhibits include “Framing Fame: 19th- and 20th-century Celebrity Photography” through June 4, and “The Berlin Painter and His World,” an exhibit of ancient Athenian vase-painting by the artist known as the Berlin Painter, July 7 through Oct. 1.

Inspired by the exhibits, children can visit the Family Center, located in the education wing of the museum, where they can make their own works of art in line with the theme of the day.

Admission: free; parking: $7

Information: 419-255-8000,


406 Washington St., Toledo (Lucas County)

Root, root, root for the Mud Hens at their hometown field. A new series — Hensville Live! — will cap Friday and Saturday games with music and fireworks from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

And parents can sign up their little ones for Muddy & Spike’s Kids Club, where children can run the bases and snag autographs from the players at Sunday games.

Catch the Clippers there June 30 through July 3, July 13-16 and Aug. 21-24. Upcoming home series include June 5-8 vs. Indianapolis and June 16-18 vs. Durham

Admission: $12 to $15 on non-fireworks nights, $15 to 17 on fireworks nights; parking lots nearby.

Information: 419-725-4367,

>> RELATED: How to make the most of a Dragons game

When the weather is 💯 and the Hens are home. 😄

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