Lake Erie Shores and Islands at a Glance
Location: Northern Ohio on Lake Erie
Access: Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport or Toledo Express Airport, both about one hour away
Major Meeting Spaces: Kalahari Resorts and Conventions, Lakeside Chautauqua, Cedar Point’s Castaway Bay
Hotel Rooms: 8,000
Off-Site Venues: Bowling Green State University Firelands Campus, Colonnades Banquet Facility, Erie County Fairgrounds
Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores and Islands
Whether your group is searching for waterfront fun or water park and amusement park memories, the charming northern Ohio communities along Lake Erie’s shores deliver.
Though Sandusky is well known for its famed Cedar Point Amusement Park — the self-proclaimed Roller Coaster Capital of the World, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this summer — the region boasts much more than just thrill rides to explore.
“We are a great value destination,” said Amanda Smith Rasnick, director of group accounts for Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores and Islands. “We’re just outside Toledo and Cleveland and not too far from Chicago. It’s a good central meeting point, whether you’re coming from east or west, since we’re located right on the Ohio Turnpike and other major routes.”
The family-friendly destination’s premier convention space, Kalahari Resorts and Conventions, features 210,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and 1,000 guest rooms, as well as Ohio’s largest indoor water park.
And though the indoor water park offers guaranteed fun, no trip to the region would be complete without a visit to Lake Erie itself, where opportunities for outdoor water fun abound.
From fishing or sailing to lazy afternoons exploring the area’s many lighthouses and beaches, Lake Erie is a water lover’s paradise.
Beach lovers can tip their toes in the sand at one of the region’s nearly 30 beach access points, like East Harbor State Park Beach in Marblehead. For a fun lakeside daytrip, consider an excursion to see any of the six Shores and Islands area lighthouses visible from shore. Or book a boat tour to see one of the two area lighthouses — the Green Island Lighthouse and the West Sister Island Lighthouse — visible only from the water.
Anglers that flock to Lake Erie find it easy to get out on the water via one of the area’s 25 full-service marinas.
Even a simple stroll along the lake can offer a breathtaking opportunity for bird-watching, since Lake Erie is lauded as the Warbler Capital of the World.
Take a 20- to 30-minute ferry ride from Sandusky or Marblehead to explore picturesque Kelleys Island or the quaint lakeside village of Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island for an authentic Great Lakes daytrip.
“On those Lake Erie islands, you’re going to find caves and wineries and shops and restaurants, and it’s just fun to be whisked away — almost as if you’re not in Ohio anymore,” Smith Rasnick said.
Ferries typically run every half-hour between the islands and the Ohio mainland during peak season.
With a history that dates back to the 1880s, Firelands Winery in Sandusky offers award-winning wines and engaging wine tours, including a deluxe tour and tasting package for groups of 25 or more with advance notice. Guests to Chateau Tebeau Winery in nearby Helena can taste its celebrated rhubarb wine while enjoying live music during weekends on its picturesque grounds.
Cap off a daytrip to Put-in-Bay with a stop at either Put-in-Bay Winery, where you can relish a glass of pinot while strolling the grounds of the restored, Italianate-style Valentine Doller Estate, or Heineman Winery, the oldest family-owned winery in Ohio.
Meetings Made Easy
Staff at the Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores and Islands CVB work with group travel planners to make coordinating meetings in the region simple and stress-free.
In addition to Kalahari Resorts and Conventions, the area also has several other hotel-based convention centers, including Cedar Point’s Castaway Bay Indoor Waterpark and Hotel, which is undergoing renovations this year, and Hotel Breakers at Cedar Point, which is within walking distance to the amusement park.
For groups that want to fully embrace the Lake Erie island experience, Kelleys Island Venture Resort is a full-service resort hotel that offers 31 luxury suites and a conference facility that can seat 50 for banquet-style dining.
Or, in nearby Put-in-Bay, the Put-in-Bay Resort and Conference Center features 4,600 square feet of meeting space and a poolside deck for outdoor functions. Another South Bass Island option, the Niagara Event Center at the Grand Islander Hotel, features a full-service conference center that can accommodate 590 people in its Grand Meeting Room.