Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores & Islands invited us to visit Port Clinton Ohio for a weekend to check out their activities. We received complimentary lodging and activities
Welcome to Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores & Islands!
Raindrops were bouncing off the minivan’ roof TA-DA-DA. I really should’ve checked the forecast before leaving home this weekend. Sunny summer days spoiled and tricked me into believing that clouds are on vacation. Not this weekend….
On the way from Chicago to Port Clinton, Ohio, we were in and out of the thunderstorms. Losing visibility on the highway due to the downpour is not my favorite thing, Therefore I enjoyed sitting next to my husband while he was fighting the storm. Kids were quietly watching a movie – there was no reason to worry them.
We finally came out of the rain right before we reached Lake Erie or so we thought. We parked on the lot next to the Marblehead Lighthouse in Port Clinton with a view at a Great Lake and tried ignoring a gray sky.
Rain Rain Go Away!
Maybe it will be ok? Marblehead Lighthouse in parking lot busy – people were coming and going seemed unaware of a light drizzle coming down on them. My 10-year-old daughter was already outside arguing with her 9-year old brother. However, as soon as I pulled my 3-year-old out of the car, light sprinkle turned into a rainfall.
Back in the car slightly wet, we looked into alternate options. Next on our list was an African Safari (rain of shine – billboards screamed). We were not sure if animals agreed with this philosophy and decided to try our luck with an Island Adventures Family Fun Center instead.
As we pulled onto the parking lot, we saw groups of people running from the building to the cars. A little white sign on the doors stated: “Closed due to Weather.”
Now what? I love planned activities, but suddenly my plan got getting washed out by the Midwest rain – what do we do?
“Let’s try Rain or shine Safari?” My son’s voice answered my rhetorical question. I bet his iPad was running low on battery.
African Safari Wildlife Park
Port Clinton, Ohio
The rain seemed to die out when we pulled onto the African Safari Wildlife Park in Port Clinton, OH – maybe the animals will cooperate with this kind of weather?
About African Safari Wildlife Park
The African Safari Wildlife Park opened for its first season in 1969. The African Safari Wildlife Park is a drive-through wildlife park in Port Clinton, Ohio. Visitors can drive through the 100-acre (40 ha) preserve and watch and feed the animals from their car. In good weather, we could easily spend a few hours here, observing and feeding the animals along with a drive through Safari Junction park.
Loaded with animal food pallets, we advanced into the park. Following a minivan, we took the only road through the park but soon came to a complete stop. Several alpacas were blocking the path. Like tollway attendants, there were here to collect the pay sticking heads into half-way opened windows. Their wet legs looked like fleece pants of my kids after they spend hours sledding.
A wet head appeared into our window and picked a treat out my daughter’s hand.
“I want to do it too!” My 3-year-old sitting on the middle had no direct access to the window, but couldn’t miss the excitement.
He grabbed a handful of treats from his sister’s hand and threw it in the direction of the window. It landed close to a window but inside of the car. The second one reached the window, bounced off the alpaca’s head, and flew back into the open window.
Surrounded by Animals
Next, we entered an area of Fallow Deer. Native to Eastern Europe and Western Asia, the Fallow Deer thrives in various climates and habitat types. They didn’t mind moody Ohio weather. Surrounding the minivan in front of us, they looked like raindeers following Santa’s sleigh.
Scottish Highlander carefully made his way to the window, got his treat and moved to the next window rocking his long horns.
Ankoles, Bisons, Bongos, Elks, Giraffe, Guanakos, Kudu, Llama, and Zebras were on the property as well. The weather couldn’t quite make up its mind if it was going to rain or shine and some animals stayed away.
Walk through the park wasn’t as easy to do without an umbrella – we stepped 50 steps away from the car toward the cages with animals as the drizzle once again turned into a downpour. We ran back to the car soaked screaming something about rain and how it really has to go away!
Ghostly Manor Thrill Center
Why didn’t we think of this place earlier? Hidden from the road the building looked like a castle with a Haunted house next to it. This place is a rain or shine kind of activity, and it has a lot to offer – golf, skate, theater, arcade, and a hunted house.
About Ghostly Manor Thrill Center
You’ve never seen an indoor venue like Ghostly Manor Thrill Center in Sandusky, Ohio. It’s no wonder the amusement center has been featured on The Travel Channel’s “Best Places I’ve Ever Been” series and recognized by Forbes magazine. A short drive away from the Cedar Point, Ghostly Manor and Thrill Center seemed like a fun place with a year-round haunted house.
There are also Wizard’s Journey indoor mini golf, Ghostly Manor Haunted House, a Laser Maze, Escape Room, XD 4D Motion Theater, roller skating, an arcade, bounce houses, and jungle gym.
Exploring Ghostly Manor Thrill Center
The exterior of the building is a castle with a giant, fearsome dragon bursting out of the facade. Perfect background for a selfie? I would agree!
We spent most of a day in the rain and were ready to kick back and relax watching children – they wanted to do everything!
Kids started with a maze, advanced onto the rollerskating rink, jumped into the arcade, showed again after watching a 4D movie, and asked if they can go to the haunted house.
“What’s next?” Kids asked when tired and sweaty they climbed in the car.
The day was over, and we were looking forward to a peaceful night. It was getting dark and the Holiday Inn Express & Suites looked terrific from the parking lot! Running lights in the lobby turned heads. I could’ve easily been my therapy. However, it was time to get some rest.
Holiday Inn Express & Suites
Port Clinton, Ohio
May I just tell you: I LOVE waking up in a hotel. Snow white bed sheets and remote on my bed is all I need to be happy. I am not in charge of the cleaning today, and there is a breakfast waiting for me a short walk away. By the time I woke up, my three-year-old was ready to start a day, and he was HUNGRY! We had to hurry and get everyone downstairs. Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Port Clinton, OH fully remodeled suite with two queen beds and a pull-out sofa was an excellent fit for a family of five with extra room to goof around
I have to note that my daughter took a very scientific approach to satisfy her hunger. The Hotel Breakfast options at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites were rather extensive. While I tried to figure out what to pick, my 10-year-old daughter filled five plates and soon after there were three eggs, an omelet, cereal, orange juice, bagel with cream cheese, apple, yogurt, and Cinnabun.
“Is this a personal breakfast challenge?” I asked.
I sat there and watched her consumer one thing after another until there was almost nothing left. WOW- is that what happens when they go through the growth spurts?
Cooler crispy morning on the shore of Lake Erie is something to look at. Yesterday the rain was long gone and morning by the Marblehead Lighthouse was busy. Nothing was going on here, yet there were plenty of couples jugging along the shorelines. Parents were chasing kids urging them not to go close to the water. And the kids pretended not to listen climbed boulders trying to get closer to the Great Lake. These were our people – people with kids.
“Hey! Wait for me!” My three-year-old couldn’t wait to get out of the car seat and chase his siblings.
Exploring Marblehead Lighthouse
Kids climbed on giant boulder trying to get close to the water and not get wet. My son dared Lake Erie to make him wet, and the lake responded with a generous wave that left soaking wet shivering in the morning chill. The 11-year-old climbed the rock that was hovering over the water. My three-year-old hopped and jumped and climber from one rock another. It was a morning to remember. And may I just tell you – this place is fantastic for Instagram worthy images.
Island Adventures Family Fun Center
Port Clinton, Ohio
The rain stopped us from coming here a day earlier, but we wanted to go back to the Island Adventures Family Fun Center. Why wouldn’t we check out what was it that makes it get its high scores on the Trip Advisor?
About Island Adventures Family Fun Center
Island Adventures Family Fun Center hosts a beautifully landscaped 18-hole miniature golf course. There are also fast go-karts, water squirting bumper boats, and sifting for gemstones and fossils. Island Adventures Family Fun Center is a fantastic place to spend a 2-4 hour. It’s open May through September. Everyone in my family loved the go-karts – my 3-year-old was both terrified and excited at the same time.
Water squirting bumper boats is a fantastic attraction for a family with a lot to say to each other using squirt guns. Did I go after my children and got them wet? Yes, I did!
Playing by the Rules
There is also something to be said about a mini-golf. I never have this wildly popular game, yet my 3-year-old insisted on playing, and I almost always listen to him – he is a smart kid. He set his own rules: he gets to go as many times as he wants to make sure the ball gets what we want it to go. This didn’t go too well with his older brother and sister as they insisted on playing the game as well. Needless to say, his ball always scored the hole first, even if he had to carry it there with his own hands.
While my older kids might disagree, great success in the game of golf could be achieved by laying on the middle of the course and not letting others play. Have you tried this technique?
An eventful day and a lunch at the Crossroads afterward tired my kids out, and they stayed quiet the entire drive home. While they slept and played on their iPads, I enjoyed a break from their arguing.
5 Things to do in Port Clinton, Ohio:
- Drive or Fly? Port Clinton, Ohio is a five-hour drive away from Chicago, but it is an easy drive
- How Long to Stay Here. This is a great weekend destination and there is enough here to do for a three-day-weekend
- Will you need a car to get around? Yes!
- Family ActivitiesMarblehead Lighthouse, African Safari Wildlife Park, Island Adventures Family Fun Center
. Cedar Point Amusement Park,
- Local food not to be missed. Casa Real (a great family friendly Mexican Restaurant), Toft’s Ice Cream Parlor (Ohio’s Oldest Dairy)