Put-in-Bay, South Bass Island
Put-in-Bay, South Bass Island (MJCdetroit/

Lake Erie’s Shores, Islands Overflowing with Activities

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Ample natural gems await visitors to this part of the state. In addition to the state parks’ varied recreational activities, many parks highlight Ohio’s rich history and unique natural habitats.

And for many people during the sweltering days of summer, there is only one place to go: lakeside. Join the island hoppers and discover one of Ohio’s most popular spots for a weekend getaway, the Lake Erie Shores and Islands.

Several state parks are located along the peninsula that stretches into Lake Erie, including Catawba Island State Park in Ottawa County. The 10-acre park on the western side of the peninsula offers fishing, picnicking areas and a launching point for boaters. The lakeside park is also a jumping-off point for swimmers and a great spot for bird-watching.

Information: 419-734-4424,

On the eastern side of the peninsula is the sprawling East Harbor State Park in Ottawa County. The 1,831 acres are packed with outdoor recreation year-round for everyone in the family — including pets — from boating, camping and cabins to swimming and more. Located on wetlands, the park offers a window on wildlife with a scenic ecosystem harboring scaly reptiles, amphibians and an abundance of waterfowl viewable from a bird-watching platform.

Sports lovers can take pleasure in the volleyball, basketball and disc-golf courts, archery, horseshoes or hunting. Keep fit by hiking or biking the park’s miles of trails, or take a leisurely stroll on the boardwalk. Nearby is the historical Marblehead Lighthouse, a beacon that has directed boaters and sailors to a safe harbor since 1822.

Information: 419-734-4424 or

Known as Lake Erie’s Emerald Isle, Kelleys Island State Park is a gemstone in Ohio’s crown of nature destinations. The 677-acre park in Erie County is home to Glacial Grooves, claimed to be the world’s largest accessible glacial striations, which serve as reminders of the Great Lakes’ formation from massive ice sheets that caused deep depressions on the bedrock.

Located in Lake Erie’s Western Basin, it draws a diversity of fish as well as fauna. It embodies two nature preserves: North Shore Alvar and the North Pond. The alvar is a rare ecosystem founded on a limestone plain where prairie grasses and indigenous plants flourish. Hundreds of species of migratory songbirds and waterfowl are attracted to the water body. The island also offers boating, fishing, swimming and hiking activities.

Information: 419-746-2546 or

Middle Bass Island State Park, near the Canadian border, was recently added to the state’s park roster with the purchase of Lonz Winery, which is to be refurbished and reopened. Dubbed a boaters paradise, the park in Ottawa County has a 190-slip marina. It also offers a campsite and miniature golf.

Information: 419-285-0311 or

Nestled on the cliffs of South Bass Island State Park in Ottawa County, campers can pitch a tent right along the scenic lakeshore or opt for a more cozy stay in one of four cabents — a cabin-tent combo that has an airy tent roof — or rustic cabin. Its sister park, Oak Point State Park, offers public boat docks and views of Put-in-Bay.

Information: 419-285-2112, 419-734-4422 or

Back where mainland and water meet is Maumee Bay State Park in Lucas County. The site spans 1,336 acres and boasts flourishing wetlands and inland lakes.

It’s brimming with diverse diversions: sailing, canoeing, fishing, swimming, bicycling, hiking and child-centered activities. Hunting is permitted in the adjacent Mallard Club Marsh. An 18-hole, Scottish links-style golf course is located in the southwestern corner of the park.

A variety of overnight accommodations are offered, including a lodge and cottages. The park has a nature center, and an amphitheater in which musicians, magicians and other artists perform. With two neighboring wildlife refuges, it is a great place to spy bald eagles and other waterfowl.

Information: 419-836-7758 or

Just an hour west of Toledo is Harrison Lake State Park in Fulton County. Situated among dense woodlands, it offers hiking trails with scenic views of the woods and lake.

Stay overnight in a cabin or at one of 173 campsites. Anglers can hook largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, bluegill and bullhead catfish. Bird-lovers can catch a glimpse of the great blue heron wading in the lake’s western end, and other water-and songbirds.

Information: 419-237-2593 or

Nestled in the agricultural plains of northwestern Ohio is a serene retreat: Van Buren State Park in Hancock County. The park centers on its 45-acre lake, a source of game fish. Multi-use and bridle trails traverse the park, offering views of ravines, the lake and its scenic woodlands.

Among the park’s activity-focused areas is an 18-hole disc golf course, a butterfly gazebo and a nature center with animals and a bird-viewing window. The park is also a destination for hunting and camping.Pets are welcome.

Information: 419-832-7662 or

See why Ohio is one of the country’s top maple syrup producers at Malabar Farm State Park. Every spring during its Maple Syrup Festival, the park demonstrates Ohio’s agricultural tradition of boiling sap down to its sugary contents. The sprawling farmstead in Richland County centers around the Western Reserve-style mansion where Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were married 70 years ago this month.

Information: 419-892-2784 or

Lake Loramie State Park in Shelby County is a rural retreat composed of sandy beaches, baldcypress trees, islands, meadows and marsh plants. Water enthusiasts can rent canoes, kayaks and paddle boats. The park also has a nine-hole disc golf course and more than 100 electric campsites.

Information: 937-295-2011 or

Maumee Bay State Park
Maumee Bay State Park (

Here’s a sampling of popular summertime activities, compiled by Columbus Dispatch staff members:


Cedar Point, Soak City, Challenge Park

Descriptions: With more than 70 rides, including 17 roller coasters, Cedar Point has more rides than any park in the world; the 18-acre Soak City water park has slides, inner-tube rivers and a wave pool. Cedar Point and Soak City border Challenge Park, which features rides, go-carts and miniature golf. Castaway Bay, only minutes from Cedar Point, offers 237 rooms and suites and a large indoor water park that boasts a water coaster, body slides and a wave pool.

Location: 1 Cedar Point Dr., Sandusky (Erie County)

Open: daily, operating hours vary through Sept. 7; weekends only Sept. 13 through Nov. 1

New attractions: Rougarou — the Mantis stand-up roller coaster has been converted into a new floorless ride; the two-year renovation of Hotel Breakers is complete; the Sweet Spot candy shop, on the Main Midway, will be filled with caramel apples, fudge, hand-made chocolates and other sweet treats

Admission, Cedar Point: $62 for those age 3 and older, 48 inches or taller; or $39.99 for senior citizens 62 and older and those age 3 and older who are less than 48 inches tall in shoes; free for children 2 and younger; online, military, evening, combo and group rates available

Soak City: open daily, May 23 through Sept. 7, operating hours vary

Admission, Soak City: $34.99 for those age 3 to 61 who are 48 inches or taller in bare feet; or $19.99 for senior citizens 62 and older and those age 3 and older but less than 48 inches tall; free for children 2 and younger

Challenge Park: open daily, operating hours vary; call for details

Admission, Challenge Park: prices vary

Castaway Bay: indoor water-park resort open year-round

Admission, Castaway Bay: $29 day pass, or free for children 2 and younger; availability based on occupancy; call 419-627-2106 or visit

Parking: $15; $20 for oversize vehicles requiring more than one space; preferred parking $25 near the gate

Least-busy days: Tuesdays through Thursdays and the months of May and June

Information: 419-627-2350,

Great Wolf Lodge

Description: a 33,000-square-foot indoor water park, including slides, pools, a dumping bucket, a lazy river and an outdoor pool area

Location: 4600 Milan Rd., Sandusky (Erie County)

Open: year-round

Admission: must be a registered overnight guest; various rooms and suites available

Parking: free

Least-busy days: midweek May and September

Information/reservations: 419-609-6000, 1-800-641-9653,

Kalahari Resorts

Description: The indoor/outdoor water park includes a large wave pool, two indoor surfing attractions, a lazy river, tube rides, body slides, family raft rides, a swim-up bar, 12 restaurants, 900 rooms and suites and a luxury spa, as well as the Safari Outdoor Adventure Park — including rope courses, zip lines, climbing walls and an animal park with over 350 animals

Location: 7000 Kalahari Dr., Sandusky (Erie County)

Open: year-round, operating hours vary; water park availability to nonguests based on resort occupancy; call ahead

New attraction: added to the Big Game Arcade room: Crystal Rune’s laser tag; and an XD Dark Ride theater — choose from 12 scenarios on a 3-dimensional ride.

Admission: varies, check website for availability; Safari Outdoor Adventure Park admission: $29.99

Parking: free; valet parking $12 a day

Least-busy days: weekdays

Where to buy tickets: for nonguests, online (highly recommended) and at the water-park entrance when available

Information: 419-433-7200, 1-877-525-2427,\oh

Maui Sands Resort & Indoor Waterpark

Location: 5513 Milan Rd., Sandusky (Erie County)

Description: an indoor tropical setting within the Maui Sands Resort, featuring Maui Wowie Bowl Slide — a bowl-shaped tube slide in which riders reach up to 45 mph; MakaMaka Treehouse featuring dump buckets, water cannons, racing and body slides; and Coconut Cove activity area featuring a swirl pool and water basketball

Open: daily, June 11 through Sept. 7, operating hours vary, check website for details

Admission: $39.99 for those 42 inches and taller, $12.99 for those less than 42 inches tall, free for children younger than 3; $10-a-day spectator pass; after-4 p.m. discounts available

Parking: free

Least-busy days: Mondays through Wednesdays

Where to buy tickets: on-site

Information: 419-621-7357,

Monsoon Lagoon

Description: a three-story slide, lazy river, adventure treehouse, go-carts, miniature golf course and bumper-boat pond are among the park’s attractions

Location: 1530 S. Danbury Rd. N., Port Clinton (Ottawa County)

Open: daily, operating hours vary; call for details

Admission: water park, $18, or $10 for senior citizens 62 and older, free for children 2 and younger; Do-it-all passes available

Parking: free

Where to buy tickets: at the gate

Information: 419-732-6671, 1-866-732-6671; www.monsoon


Country Concert

Description: Country and camping converge on a 500-acre wooded property about an hour’s drive north of Dayton

Location: Hickory Hills, 7103 Rt. 66, Fort Loramie (Shelby County)

Performances: July 8 (6 and 9 p.m.): Old Dominion; (7:30 and 10:30 p.m.): Dallas Smith; July 9 (6 p.m.): Frankie Ballard; (8 p.m.): Chris Young; (10 p.m.): Florida Georgia Line; July 10 (4 p.m.): the Cadillac Three; (6 p.m.): Chase Rice; (8 p.m.): the Band Perry; (10 p.m.): Jake Owen; July 11 (noon): Jon Pardi; (2 p.m.): Neal McCoy; (6 p.m.): Eli Young Band; (8 p.m.): Justin Moore; (10 p.m.): Carrie Underwood (10 p.m.)

Parking: $6 to $11

Tickets: $89 to $586 ($74 to $529 for camping)

Information: 937-295-3000,

Centennial Terrace

Description: an intimate venue with a seating capacity of about 1,000

Location: 5773 Centennial Rd., Sylvania, near Toledo (Lucas County)

Performances: June 12 (8 p.m.): Rob Zombie (sold out); June 27 (8 p.m.): Get the Led Out; June 28 (7:30 p.m.); Three Days Grace; July 10 (8 p.m.): Chris Young; July 16 (8 p.m.): REO Speedwagon; July 17 (8 p.m.): 1964 — The Tribute; July 26
(7 p.m.): Colbie Caillat, Christina Perri; Aug. 2 (7 p.m.): Under the Sun Tour featuring Sugar Ray, Better Than Ezra, Uncle Kracker, Eve 6

Parking: $5

Tickets: $20 to $67.50 at or Toledo’s Stranahan Theater box office: 419-381-8851

Information: 419-882-1500,


Armstrong Air & Space Museum

Description: A museum chronicling Ohio’s contributions to the history of space flight, including the accomplishments of Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon.

Location: 500 Apollo Dr.,

Wapakoneta (Auglaize County)

Open: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays

Admission: $8, or $7 for senior citizens 60 and older, $4 for children 6 to 12, free for children 5 and younger

Parking: free, onsite

Information: 419-738-8811,

Imagination Station

Description: The hands-on science-and-learning center also features a simulation theater.

Location: 1 Discovery Way (Summit and Adams streets), Toledo (Lucas County)

Open: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays

Admission: $10, or $9 for senior citizens 65 and older, $8 for children 3 to 12, free for children 2 and younger

Parking: nearby surface lots

Special exhibits: “4th of July Science”— celebrate the holiday with weeklong activities (June 30-July 5); “Rocket Science” — use Newton’s third law of motion to propel objects high into the sky (Aug. 4-9)

Information: 419-244-2674,

Toledo Museum of Art

Description: The museum covers 41/2 acres on two levels, with 45 galleries; the Glass Pavilion features five galleries.

Location: 2445 Monroe St. at Scottwood Avenue, Toledo (Lucas County)

Open: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays

Admission: free; fees for some special exhibits

Parking: $5

Special exhibits: “The American Civil War: Through Artists’ Eyes”— featuring almost 50 objects, including the painting of the Battle of Cold Harbor by Gilbert Gaul (through July 5); “Play Time”— celebrating the art of play, visitors are engaged in multisensory, interactive installations throughout the museum’s 36-acre campus and select locations in the city (May 22 through Sept. 6)

Information: 419-255-8000,


Toledo Mud Hens

Description: The Detroit Tigers’ triple-A affiliate is an International League rival of the Columbus Clippers.

Location: Fifth Third Field, 406 Washington St., Toledo (Lucas County)

Home games: May 18-20 vs. Gwinnett; May 21-24 vs. Buffalo; June 5-7 vs. Columbus; June 8-10 vs. Syracuse; June 18-21 vs. Norfolk; June 29-July 1 vs. Durham; July 2-3 vs. Indianapolis; July 7-9 vs. Columbus; July 10-12 vs. Louisville; July 16-19 vs. Indianapolis; July 27-29 vs. Rochester; Aug. 3-6 vs. Lehigh Valley; Aug. 7-9 vs. Scranton; Aug. 14-16 vs. Charlotte; Aug. 17-18 vs. Gwinnett; Aug. 24-26 vs. Columbus; Aug. 29-30 vs. Indianapolis; Aug. 31-Sept. 3 vs. Louisville

Admission: $12, or $10 for senior citizens and children 3 to 12; free for children 2 and younger

Parking: nearby lots

Tickets/information: at the Mud Hens office, 419-725-4367; at the park; or online,


Marathon Classic

Description: A showcase for some of the best female golfers on the LPGA tour.

Location: Highland Meadows Golf Club, 7445 Erie St., Sylvania

Dates: July 13-19

Admission: weekly grounds admission, $60; daily tickets Monday through Friday, $15; Saturday and Sunday, $20; free for those 17 and younger with accompanying adult

Parking: $5 daily, or $10 weekly parking pass; Lot B located at Centennial and Brint

Tickets/information: 419-531-3277;


Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

Description: A comprehensive motorsports facility, Mid-Ohio features a permanent road-racing circuit with a 2.4-mile, 15-turn and a 2.25-mile, 13-turn circuit.

Location: 7721 Steam Corners Rd., Lexington (Morrow County)

Events: June 26-28: Mid-Ohio Vintage Grand Prix; July 10-12: AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days; July 31-Aug. 2: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio; Aug. 14-15: Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200

Admission: $20 to $70, depending on event; free for children 12 and younger when accompanied by an adult

Parking: free, non-infield

Tickets/information: at the track office, 1-800-643-6446, or online; 419-884-4000,


Toledo Zoo

Description: More than 6,000 animals representing 500-plus species live on the 74-acre grounds.

Location: 2 Hippo Way, Toledo (Lucas County)

Big attractions: Toledo Zoo Aquarium — after almost three years of renovations, the aquarium has re-opened and is home to more than 3,000 aquatic animals — everything from tropical fish to sharks. Visitors can touch a stingray or interact with a diver inside the reef.

Open: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays until Memorial Day weekend; until 5 p.m. daily thereafter

Admission: $17, or $14 for senior citizens 60 and older and children 2 to 11, free for children younger than 2, military discounts available

Parking: $7, or $15 for vehicles that take more than one space

Information: 419-385-4040,