If you’ve been following me for some time now, then you most likely know that I have a thing for adventure. I love traveling…seeing new places, new people, new things. Often times, when people think of travel, I feel confident in saying that most think of venturing far away from home…a whole other country or perhaps states away. What I think is most interesting about my sense of wanderlust is the desire to venture to unique places that are near me! Yup, you read that correct…near me. I’m the gal who marvels over a weekend staycation! I’m also the gal who is crazy about routine. So while in theory, traveling somewhere far away sounds nice, I do hate how it throws off my normalcy…the post-trip catch up drives me nuts. Ok, I digress.
Since becoming an Ohioan, I’ve been obsessed with discovering the gems that make up this great state! There’s no doubt about it, Sandusky, OH is one of those gems. Last Fall, I had the unique opportunity to experience the charm of this darling micro city (and I even wrote a little blurb about it HERE) and knew that Jason and I had to go back for a weekend away from the City. Growing up in a smaller town, I have such an appreciation for the beauty, slow pace and overall sense of community pride and comradery of micro cities! While I am definitely a city gal now, I find it important to consistently remind myself of how and where I was raised.
With the holidays in full motion (and I have yet to truly do any shopping), I can’t help but think about unique approaches that I might be able to apply to gifting this year. Don’t get me wrong, there’s something magical about receiving a physical gift. But what about gifting experiences? Like a trip to Sandusky for you and a close friend or you and your spouse? Without question, that experience is bound to be much more memorable than unwrapping just another gift. Ya know? So, now that I’ve got your wheels turning about Sandusky, I feel that it is only fair that I give you the lay of the land…where to sleep, what to do and where to eat.
Ooh, before we delve in, a couple of important to-knows:
- Sandusky is about 2.5 hours away from Columbus, OH, making it a SUPER doable weekend adventure.
- In terms of tourism, Sandusky is a resort town! Situated on Lake Erie, the city is truly up and running May – October. Naturally, things slow down a bit when it gets a little colder!
Ok, I think those are the two most important details you need to know…so yeah…let’s do this travel guide thang!
I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again (against my better judgment), ya girl is pretty particular about her hotel situations! Charming and boutique style is always at the top of my hotel criteria list…just ask Jason! For our 48 hour weekend away from the 614, we stayed at Hotel Kilbourne, which is perfectly charming and most definitely boutique style! Located downtown, this hotel has a stunning waterfront view and is conveniently located near everything you might need in downtown Sandusky! We stayed in the Luxury City View King Suite. An exposed brick wall and all the essentials we needed, including a pretty fanciful coffee maker that I used at least twice a day. In addition to the overall charm of this boutique hotel, I most loved the proximity to everything. We did walk a good bit, which was a nice change of pace in comparison to our usual lifestyle! Also, I must mention the rooftop bar, which has a spectacular view of the water.
What is there to do in Sandusky? Where does one even begin?! THERE’S SO MUCH TO DO! Perhaps the most important thing one should understand about Sandusky is that it is a part of Lake Erie Shores and Islands, which is comprised of north, central, west and east shores, as well as a few islands (such as Kelleys Island, Put-in-Bay and Middle Bass Island). So not only are there amazing things to do within Sandusky, but one is truly surrounded by a variety of possible options! We knew going into this trip that we wanted to spend some time in Sandusky, but also venture over to the islands…so we split our time. On Day #1, we stayed on the mainland, spent Day #2 hopping over to Put-in-Bay and concluding our trip on Day #3 back at Sandusky. Since we had both been to Sandusky a time before, we focused our efforts on new activities/experiences for the both of us. However, please note the following as must do experiences when you visit Sandusky :
Here are some things we experienced together for the first time:
- Escape Rooms by Franknicky– I’m a total chicken and would not normally do an escape room, but this was an outdoor escape room! Also, I apologize that there are no photos to document our experience, but we were too busy trying to beat the clock. This outdoor escape room situation was majorly fun, as it took us around the city, uncovering historical truths about Sandusky. I love any opportunity to learn! This adventure took us about an hour to complete and I highly recommend it.
- Explore Put-in-Bay– On Day #2 of our quick trip to Sandusky, we took the Jet Express over to Put-in-Bay Island. The list of to-do’s in this quaint island town is LOOOOONNNNGG. I mean, we did not even get to check off all of our to-see’s, but we did make some strides. We managed to do a helicopter ride around the island, see some historical sights (Perry’s Monument and South Bass Island Lighthouse) and an amazingly scenic beach view from South Bass Island Park. In addition to that, we scooted over to DeRivera Park, Kimberly’s Carousel and took part in the Put-in-Bay Foodie Trail. I pretty much ate my way through the Island…from the Candy Bar to funnel cake fries from Dairy Isle to coffee from Forge, I was pretty much in foodie heaven! Once again, I have a very important side, we got to scoot around Put-in-Bay in a golf cart…yassss! It’s the little things, I tell ya!
- Explore Kelleys Island– Visiting Kelleys Island was not on our planned schedule. But we managed to accidentally take the Goodtime I Boat instead of the JetExpress over to Put-in-Bay. Due to our lack of paying attention while boarding, we managed a trip over to Kelleys Island, which included a bit of wandering. Overall, Kelleys Island is much quieter than Put-in-Bay, but is still worth a visit if you have the opportunity! Lots of little shops, restaurants and a spectacular water view. If you enjoy the low-key kinda vibe, I think you will love Kelleys Island!
- Marblehead Lighthouse– About 20 or so minutes from downtown Sandusky is Marblehead Lighthouse! We ventured to see this sight on Monday prior to leaving town. Unfortunately, there was a crazy downpour of rain that prevented us from getting out of the car, but we saw it! Definitely, a sight to see. I am hopeful we can go back this upcoming summer and see it in all of its GLORY at either sunrise or sunset!
- Paddle & Climb– Located in Sandusky, Paddle & Climb is a retail shop located on Water Street. You can rent your water essentials for stand up paddle boarding or kayaking. There is also a rock climbing wall located inside the retail shop! Jason swears that I made him a city boy, so he was super jazzed to just spend time in Paddle & Climb to look around and all that fun stuff.
- Sandusky Community Happenings– Perhaps one of the most charming things about resort towns (or truly any smaller community) is the sense of comradery! During our visit to Sandusky, the city was celebrating it’s BiCentennial and we got to attend a community event that was comprised of food, music and much more! In general, the City of Sandusky is great about keeping the community informed on what’s happening around the city, so be sure to check out the community calendar and see what’s happening. Jason and I were thrilled to have an opportunity to experience life with the l0cals.
There’s one thing for certain, I AM A FOODIE! Like honestly, I was a self-proclaimed foodie before “foodie” was even a thing! When we travel out of town, I make it my PRIORITY to consume as much local food as I possibly can! Again, since this was not my first rodeo in Sandusky, I had already knocked off a couple of must-try places from my list, including:
- Barra– Nothing speaks to my heart like casual Mexican dining! Barra is located downtown and is amazingly chic! The menu consists of tacos, sides and cocktails (or in my case, mocktails…nondrinker here). We met up with Jason’s childhood best friend and his family for dinner at Barra and it was perfect. We shared guac, queso and ordered plentiful amounts of tacos! I’ll leave it at this…I had a taco with bacon and my life has never been the SAME!
- Boom Town Coffee– Local coffee is a must for any trip that I take. Boom Town Coffee is located on Water Street, just down the way from Hotel Kilbourne and close to the temporary Welcome Center for the City. Open from 6:30 AM to 4:00 PM, be sure to visit earlier in the day! And oooh, they have a great assortment of breakfast options.
- Cameo’s Pizza– We were told, you can’t visit Sandusky without trying Cameo’s Pizza! While at the community event, there was a Cameo’s Pizza food truck, so we ordered a pizza! It was perfectly tasty. I love the way they cut their pizza and the size of the pepperoni equals PERFECT!
- Landmark Kitchen & Bar– A short walk from Hotel Kilbourne, Landmark was a lunch spot for us! We both got a burger and fries and it was sheer perfection! We also shared a plate of hummus that was amazingly delicious! I loved the atmosphere of this spot.
- OH Taco– I’ve never met a taco I did not like. Also, OH Taco is conveniently located next door to Hotel Kilbourne…DEAD. During my last visit to Sandusky, OH Taco was under construction, so it was super nice to see the space completed and try out the menu!
- Put-in-Bay Foodie Trail– While over on the Island, we managed to eat a lot of good things! In fact, we may have eaten too much. I listed a few of our stops above, but if you are looking for more specifics, check out the Put-in-Bay Foodie Trail. The site will give you a full rundown on all the possibilities! Just be sure to go to Forge! You’ll thank me…coffee and crepes!
And there you have it my fine friends! The full rundown of our time in Sandusky. As you can see, this most definitely makes the perfect kinda experience gift…just saying! For details about Sandusky and the surrounding areas, check out Lake Erie Shores and Islands. And if you have specific questions for me regarding our experience, feel free to drop a quick line at firstname.lastname@example.org
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This post is kindly brought to you by Lake Erie Shores and Islands. All thoughts and opinions remain my own.