North Bass Sportsmans Lodge

9 Spots for Food and Fun on the Lake Erie Islands

Whether you’re looking for family fun, foodie finds or island adventures, here are nine ideas to get you exploring.

Island Adventures

North Bass Island State Park Lake House
When there is a full 17-person occupancy at the North Bass Island State Park Lake House, there are more visitors on the island than there are full-time residents. The 3,065-square-foot lodge, which opened in 2018, is becoming a favorite getaway for fishermen, boaters, wedding parties and families. The Lake House features four bedrooms, six bathrooms and large common areas. “There is a pretty beach with swimming and 593 acres of public land on the island,” says Scott Sharpe, Ohio Department of Natural Resources northwest district manager, parks and watercraft.Fox’s Marsh Wildlife Area is home to nesting eagles, several species of turtles and songbirds.” Accessible only by private boat or plane, The Lake House offers Wi-Fi but has limited mobile phone reception. 551 Kenny Rd., Isle St. George 43436, 419/237-2593,

South Bass Island State Park, South Bass Island
This 33-acre state park offers a serene oasis that’s only a 25-minute walk or a 5-minute golf-cart ride away from Delaware Avenue, Put-in-Bay’s tourist strip. South Bass Island State Park is an ideal place to camp and picnic and has earned a well-deserved reputation for being one of the best spots in the country to watch for migrating songbirds, monarch butterflies and waterfowl. Access to Lake Erie is a breeze with plenty of opportunities for boating, fishing and swimming, and a shelter can be reserved for up to 50 guests. If visitors wish to extend their stay, four cabents — a cross between a cabin and a tent — are overnight options. “The cool breezes off the lake make it a premier spot from which to watch the sun set,” says park manager Matt Miller. 1523 Catawba Ave., Put-in-Bay 43456, 419/285-2112,

Glacial Grooves Geological Preserve
Glacial Grooves Geological Preserve, Kelleys Island
The powerful glacial sheet that dragged rock and soil across North America about 18,000 years ago left its impression on Kelleys Island. Deep grooves and 350-to-400-million-year-old marine fossils can be seen in the Devonian limestone at Glacial Grooves Geological Preserve, which provides a snapshot of prehistoric life in Ohio. In 1972, efforts were made to uncover the entire grooves, which are 400 feet long, 35 feet wide and up to 15 feet deep and designated a National Natural Landmark. The grooves are easily accessible from the parking lot, and a walkway passing above the rock offers visitors a closer look at this rare phenomenon. The attraction is free and open daily during daylight hours. Located at the intersection of Division Street and Titus Road, Kelleys Island 43438, 419/746-2546,


Family Fun
Great Wolf Lodge
Great Wolf Lodge, Sandusky
Kids love to take home mementos, and what’s better than a souvenir they design? Last fall, Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky added a Build-A-Bear Workshop with plush characters exclusive to Great Wolf Lodge, including Wiley Wolf, Brinley Bear, Sammy the Squirrel and Violet the Wolf. Of course, the indoor waterpark’s slides and pools are the reason most families flock to the resort, but there’s also plenty of dry fun. The Cub Club offers crafts and games, while MagiQuest encourages guests to explore the lodge. The Northern Lights Arcade offers plenty of video game fun, while appearances by some of Great Wolf Lodge’s famous characters keep the little ones entertained. Mom and dad can also opt for a Wine Down service with a bottle of wine or prosecco and their choice of chocolates, cheeses or meats. 4600 Milan Rd., Sandusky 44870, 419/606-6000,

Merry-Go-Round Museum, Sandusky 
Gentle enough to be safe, but fast enough to thrill, the merry-go-round is both a rite of passage and a work of art. Sandusky’s Merry-Go-Round Museum celebrates that fact with a menagerie of carved creations and a working 1939 Allan Herschell Co. carousel. “The merry-go-round brings back so many memories of being a child for our older riders. And for the younger riders, it will always be that ride that any age or height can ride,” says Kurri Lewis, the museum’s executive director and curator. “It is the universal ride that all can enjoy.” The museum, which opened in 1990, is housed in a former post office building that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. 301 Jackson St., Sandusky 44870, 419/626-6111,

African Safari Wildlife Park
African Safari Wildlife Park, Port Clinton
A python may not be as cute as a baby kangaroo. But the world is full of strange and wonderful animals, a variety of which visitors can see or feed at African Safari Wildlife Park. The animals here trace their roots to several continents, but the “safari” concept is in full effect as visitors drive through the park. There’s also a walk-through option that offers a more traditional zoo experience. “Our newest attraction, the Aviary Adventure, is home to over 400 budgies. They really love interacting with our guests,” says Elizabeth Hunt, who works in operations for the park. “We also have kangaroo feeding, African crested porcupine feeding [and] camel rides.” 267 S. Lightner Rd., Port Clinton 43452, 419/732-3606,


Foodie Finds
Zinc Brasserie's Berkshire Pork
Zinc Brasserie, Sandusky
When chef Cesare Avallone began tossing around restaurant concepts, he was thinking maybe an Italian family restaurant or a contemporary American bistro. But when pressed by a local journalist to put a label on his new establishment, the chef quickly thought of his French culinary training. “We started playing off that idea,” Avallone says, “and now you get most everything that is available in a French brasserie.” That includes truffle French fries, wood-fired oysters, escargot, duck Wellington, steak au poivre, and a dish of which Avallone is very proud: duo of duck — pan-roasted duck breast, crispy duck leg confit, butternut squash risotto and sour cherry sauce. Zinc Brasserie is actually a multifaceted dining and drink emporium under one roof, featuring a main tavern, lounge and wine cellar. 215 E. Water St., Sandusky 44870, 419/502-9462,

Brewed Awakening, Vermilion
How’s a nice coffee shop like Brewed Awakening doing selling tea? Quite well actually, even surprising owner Sherry Miller-Francis, who opened the shop in 2018 with her husband, Chris Francis. But high-quality teas and specialty coffees beg for companion goodies. When regional bagel-makers didn’t want to deliver to Vermilion, the coffee shop owners went right to the source. A New York company flash-freezes bagels for freshness and sends them to Brewed Awakening to be baked. “We have customers who came from the New York and New Jersey areas who say we have real bagels that remind them of home,” say Miller-Francis. Brewed Awakening also offers bagel sandwiches, soups, salads, homemade granola bars and cupcakes. 5485 Liberty Ave., Vermilion 44089, 440/963-9334,

Canoe Club Wine Bar, Marblehead
The cozy Canoe Club Wine Bar offers 90 different wines, but what’s happening here goes beyond grapes. Many hungry guests opt for the pizzas cooked in a brick oven imported from Italy. Weekly pizza specials include creations such as steak and mushroom and crab and artichoke. The wine bar, which opened in 2011, lives up to its name, with old wooden paddles lining the walls. Musicians perform on Sunday nights, and an on-site gallery features works by local artists. 5831 E. Harbor Rd., 419/960-7030, Marblehead 43440,