Eastern pilots: Looking for family fun on the way to or from EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin? Look no further than Sandusky, Ohio, on the southwest shores of Lake Erie between Detroit and Cleveland. Sandusky is best known for its amusement park, Cedar Point, which boasts the largest collection of roller coasters anywhere. Plus, water sports and water parks that provide a welcome break from hot summer temperatures. In town you’ll also find good restaurants, a quaint main street, B&Bs, museums, and wine tasting—enough diversions to please pilots with or without children in tow.
Erie-Ottawa International is your destination; if you fly over Lake Erie, be aware that Canadian airspace begins just 15 nautical miles offshore (closer to the northeast). The safest bet is to remain onshore; just keep in mind the Class B airspace around Detroit and Cleveland. On the field at Erie-Ottawa International, the Tin Goose Diner is good and even has an attached Liberty Aviation Museum.
There’s more fun in store at the Ghostly Manor Thrill Center. See who screams first inside the haunted house, where ghastly ghouls inhabit the body bag room. There’s also an XD 3-D theater, bounce house, arcade, roller skating rink, and miniature golf course with a dragon, wizard, and 3-D blacklight. More sedate fun can be had at the Merry-Go-Round Museum, dedicated to the history, design, and preservation of this unique art form. The Maritime Museum has exhibits on shipwrecks, ice harvesting, commercial fishing, the boats of Sandusky’s Underground Railroad, and the area’s maritime history. Next, ascend the 77 steps of the Marblehead Lighthouse, the oldest continually operating lighthouse on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes.
Sandusky’s accommodations come in all types: a quiet B&B, golf resort, or kid’s dream: the Kalahari Resort. This African-themed resort features both indoor and outdoor water parks; admission included for resort guests. A huge arcade also offers bowling and laser tag. At the Safari Outdoor Adventure Park you can try the zip lines, a ropes course, climbing walls, and then visit the Safari Adventures Animal Park to observe, touch, or feed a variety of wild animals. It’s not all kid stuff; grownups can treat themselves to a massage or body treatment at the full-service salon and spa. Browse the shops and then dine at one of several restaurants before you retire to your room, decorated in African style. By contrast, the Sawmill Creek Resort, set on 235 acres adjacent to the Sheldon Marsh Nature Preserve, provides both serenity and an 18-hole Tom Fazio golf course, along with tennis and volleyball courts, a marina, shops, indoor/outdoor pools, three restaurants, and a secluded lakefront sand beach. Rent a bike, kayak, or Jet Ski, grab a zip-line or wine tour, or savor the sunset from the water on the Sawmill Explorer cruise, every Saturday through Labor Day. For an even quieter stay, drive 10 miles to Huron and check in to Captain Montague’s Bed and Breakfast, an elegant Victorian home built in the 1870s. A quick walk from this charming Irish home gets you to the Lake Erie shore. Visit the park or pool or play the 1880 pump organ in the parlor while you make yourself at home.
Sandusky-area dining suggestions always include the historic Mon Ami Restaurant and Winery. Inside the converted barn, an enormous rock wall anchors the fireplace. There’s a huge wine list and varied menu, plus a Saturday seafood buffet, Sunday buffet brunch, and winery tours and tastings. Downtown, the popular Zinc Brasserie features French-inspired, locally sourced, farm-to-table food. Entrée selections change throughout the year in this fine-dining establishment with a casual atmosphere. Marconi’s serves authentic old-world Italian fare in a family friendly atmosphere. Choose from pizza, salads, chicken and veal dishes, beef, fish, pasta, and house specials. There’s something for everybody here, and we think you’ll find Sandusky that way too. It’s the perfect Oshkosh add-on.