From museums to wineries: Things to do in Sandusky, Ohio, besides Cedar Point
What to see in the home of the famed roller coaster park
Cedar Point isn’t the only attraction in Sandusky, Ohio
With museums, activities along Lake Erie and more amusement parks, there’s something for everyone
No one can deny the main attraction of Sandusky, Ohio, which is Cedar Point. However, there are things to do besides Cedar Point in the city, which runs for 26 miles along Lake Erie. From activities on the water to unique museums, here’s how to occupy your time in the city—once you’ve ridden all the roller coasters at Cedar Point, of course.
Visit historic homes and museums dedicated to unique topics
Sandusky’s unique Merry-Go-Round Museum opened in 1990 in an old post office building (on the National Register of Historic Places) to preserve and celebrate the craftsmanship and history of these revolving animal-themed rides. The idea came about after the U.S. Postal Service issued carousel stamps, including one that depicted a Cedar Point merry-go-round animal, according to the museum’s website.
Now, the museum features carousel animals, carving tools used to make the animals, and a working carousel. Visitors can also learn from an artisan who specializes in making and restoring carousel animals. For those who like the spookier side of things, there’s been paranormal activity reported in the museum, linked to the history of the building itself and specific carousel animals.
Those more drawn to the water can visit the Maritime Museum of Sandusky, which is all about the history of sea commerce, boating, and more in the area. Visitors can view various boats on display and even board some. They’ll learn about the craft of building boats, the history of shipwrecks and ice harvesting on Lake Erie, and more.
Fans of historic mansions can visit the Eleutherus Cooke-Dorn House and Garden. It was the 1800s-era home of the first lawyer in Sandusky, who was also part of the U.S. Congress. It’s now preserved as it was in the 1950s when members of the wealthy Dorn family lived there.
In addition, the Follett House Museum shares the history of Sandusky and Erie County in a Greek Revival style mansion that was the home of Oran Follett, an editor, and publisher known for publishing the Lincoln-Douglas debates.
Relax with a glass of wine or walk along Lake Erie
Those who think no trip is complete without tasting some wine should head to Firelands Winery, which dates back to 1880. Tasting and tours are available for visitors year-round to try reds, whites, rosés, and sparkling wine.
Sandusky also has various parks along the water to take a walk, have a picnic, and enjoy nature. Pipe Creek Wildlife Area has trails along the wetlands where visitors may be able to spot birds and other wildlife. Shoreline Park, which is also along the lake, has a playground and grills.
Pipe Creek Wildlife Area has trails along the wetlands
Water activities along Lake Erie that are based in Sandusky include airboat rides. These are 30-to-40-minute fast and fun rides that also allow passengers to see wildlife, according to company Air1Airboats. Cruises along Lake Erie also depart from Sandusky. The Goodtime boat has various routes, including a daylong cruise to various islands in the area, sunset cruises, and Friday night party cruises for adults.
Seek out more thrills at amusement parks and a local raceway
Cedar Point isn’t the only place that offers exciting rides and activities in Sandusky. The Ghostly Manor Thrill Center is an indoor amusement park with different family-friendly activities, including an escape room, mini-golf, a laser maze, virtual reality games, a roller-skating park, a haunted house and more.
Those who think no trip is complete without tasting some wine should head to Firelands Winery.
Sandusky also has indoor waterpark options besides Castaway Bay, which is part of Cedar Point. The Sandusky location of the Kalahari Resorts waterpark chain has the biggest indoor waterpark in the state, according to its website. Great Wolf Lodge, another indoor water park and resort chain, also has a location in Sandusky.
Sandusky Speedway is a half-mile auto racetrack that has races on Saturdays. Visitors can also book the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience, which allows them to drive by themselves on the track. Ride-along experiences are also available.
Overall, whether you’re seeking adventure, are a history buff, or want to relax near water or with wine, there is something for everyone in Sandusky, besides Cedar Point.
A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:
Visitors may want to head to Cedar Point in the fall for its festive HalloWeekends
Social media can help you plan your trip, whether to Sandusky, Ohio, or another location