BY NICKI GORNY
Northwest Ohio is set for summer, with a diverse set of destinations that promise something for everyone.
Tug on some cowboy boots in Fort Loramie, where a three-day country festival brings big-name artists each summer, or sip a brew amid the same orchards that sourced its flavors in Port Clinton.
Cedar Point is a perennially popular summertime destination, and this year it introduces a themed experiential attraction: the Forbidden Frontier on Adventure Island.
There are also museums for the education-minded, minor league baseball games for the sports enthusiasts and a few fairs and festivals that make a trip to Pemberville or Put-in-Bay well worth it.
Cedar Point and Cedar Point Shores
1 Cedar Point Drive, Sandusky (Erie)
The Forbidden Frontier on Adventure Island debuts this summer at Cedar Point, the sprawling amusement park that itself is a summertime staple on the coast of Lake Erie. There are no rides in this experiential attraction, but a set of themed games and challenges that put visitors in the middle of an ongoing fight for ownership or the island – and its rumored hidden treasure.
The Forbidden Frontier joins 70 rides, including 18 high-thrills roller coasters like Steel Vengeance, which opened in Frontier Town in 2018. Meanwhile the adjacent water park, Cedar Point Shores, offers visitors a chance to cool off with exciting slides and gentle pools.
Admission: $73 for Cedar Point, $39.99 for Cedar Point Shores, with discounted rates for children and some ticket packages purchased online; plan on $20 for parking. The park is offering a special Wild Card pass for $59.99, which offers unlimited access through June 30. The pass is not valid for Cedar Point Shores.
7000 Kalahari Drive, Sandusky (Erie)
With slides, pools and splash areas that cover 200,000 square feet, Kalahari Resorts in Sandusky bills itself as the region’s largest indoor water park. Among the newest attractions is Bugs Burrow, an outdoor children’s splash area introduced in July. Giant bug and flower features are designed to give guests the feeling they’ve shrunk to ant-size.
There’s also plenty to do outside the waterpark, including the Spa Kalahari and Salon, the Safari Outdoor Adventure Park and two space-themed escape rooms ready to take on their first summertime guests.
Admission: Room rates vary; all-day waterpark admission for non-guests is $74.99 for adults, $65.99 for non-guests under 42 inches tall.
Toledo Zoo and Aquarium
2 Hippo Way, Toledo (Lucas)
The Toledo Zoo and Aquarium is opening its historic museum this spring (late May). The ProMedica Museum of Natural History will offer interactive education on biodiversity, including a two-story tropical greenhouse and an exhibit on venom featuring a pair of Komodo dragons. It’s all inside a facility constructed by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s.
But don’t spend all your time in the museum: There’s a polar bear cub named Borealis to check out in his first summer on display and a summer concert series (including Jim Gaffigan and Earth Wind and Fire) that’s worth a peek when you’re planning your trip to the zoo.
Admission: Non-resident admission is $21 for adults, $18 for those 60 and over and children ages 2 to 11; there’s a $2 discount for Lucas County residents. Nonmembers should plan on $8 for parking. Concert admission is separate.
Toledo Botanical Garden
5403 Elmer Drive, Toledo (Lucas)
You’ll find more than plants at the Toledo Botanical Garden. (But don’t worry if that’s your goal: You’ll find 60-plus acres of those.) The Toledo Botanical Garden is home to the Artisan Village, where artists work everything from roses to fibers to stained glass and host classes, demonstrations and other events throughout the year. The Blair Museum of Lithophanes, filled with porcelain artworks, is also worth checking out.
The Crosby Festival of the Arts returns to the Toledo Botanical Garden on June 28-30, bringing more than 200 juried artists to what’s billed as the region’s premier fine arts festival.
OUTDOOR MUSIC AND DRAMA
5773 Centennial Road, Sylvania (Lucas)
Centennial Terrace is an outdoor concert venue that’s hosting stars all summer. On this season’s lineup: Dwight Yoakam on May 31; Billy Currington on June 21; Dark Star Orchestra on June 30; Get the Led Out on July 6; Ted Nugent on Aug. 4, and Scotty McCreery on Aug. 10. There’s also the annual Summer Disco Party on June 28 and Star-Spangled Celebration on July 3.
Looking for other outdoor venues in northwest Ohio? Check out the Promenade Park, right along the Maumee River in downtown Toledo, where the ProMedica Summer Concert Series brings acts on Fridays.
Admission: varies; plan on $5 for parking
7103 Ohio 66, Fort Loramie (Shelby)
Where do you find some of the biggest names in country music? Rural Shelby County, Ohio, where a summertime music festival has been gathering fans since 1981.
Country Concert returns to Fort Loramie on July 11-13. Headliners Kid Rock, Chris Stapleton and Thomas Rhett stand out on a lineup of more than 25 acts who’ll play two stages on the 500-acre facility. Park a camper, pull out a lawn chair and make a weekend of it.
Admission: Three-day general admission is $239, free for children under 10; single-day general admission is $105 to $113.
1 Discovery Way, Toledo (Lucas)
From the High Wire Cycle, where a massive counterweight lets you ride a bicycle along a cable suspended 20 feet above the ground, to the Extreme Science Theater, where scientists lead daily interactive demonstrations, there’s plenty to see and do at Imagination Station.
The IDEA Lab Tinkering Space, in particular, lets visitors get hands-on with activities that change monthly. In June, tinkerers can design and build boats, then test their models on stormy seas. Catapults and trebuchets are up in July.
Admission: $13 for adults, $12 for those 65 and over and $11 for children ages 3 to 12; there’s a $2 discount for Lucas County residents.
201 College St., Findlay (Hancock)
The Mazza Museum at the University of Findlay boasts one of the largest and most diverse collections of children’s picture books in the world. It’s home to an estimated 13,000 original images, more than 300 of which are on display at any time in the museum’s six galleries. They covers a wide variety of media, with particular attention to award-winning artists.
The Summer Conference, July 15-17, offers an opportunity to interact with some of the top authors and illustrators in the picture book industry
Toledo Mud Hens at Fifth Third Field
406 Washington St, Toledo (Lucas)
Take the family out to a ball game at Fifth Third Field in Toledo. The Toledo Mud Hens play in the heart of downtown, making it easy to grab a bite or a beer before the game.
The Hensville Live! concert series continues the fun after each Friday and Saturday home game through Labor Day. Expect fireworks and live music at the outdoor stage in Hensville, located just outside the stadium. Concerts are free and open to the public.
Admission: $13 to $16 on weekdays, $16 to 18 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
7721 Steam Corners Road, Lexington (Richland)
Spectators fill the stands each summer at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, where the Honda Indy 200 is slated for July 26-28 and Nascar’s Xfinity Series is slated for Aug. 9-10. Americas Rallycross puts a different spin on the racing June 8-9, while a Vintage Grand Prix in June 21-23 and Vintage Motorcycle Days July 5-7 turn back the clock.
Mid-Ohio is one of several tracks in the region that welcome spectators: The Toledo Speedway in Lucas County, Fremont Speedway in Sandusky County or Attica Raceway Park in Seneca County are among the others.
Admission: varies; children 12 and under are admitted free with paid adult.
FESTIVALS AND FAIRS
Pemberville Free Fair
The Pemberville Free Fair, Aug.14-17, stands out amid the run of county fairs that begin in mid-July. The village of less than 1,500 has been putting on the free fair – one of the last in the state – for more than 70 years. Admission is free, as are many of the attractions.
The Pemberville Free Fair is not so flashy as the Fulton County Fair, Aug. 30 to Sept. 5, which ranks among the biggest county fairs in the state. But its carnival rides and “grand parade” promise a certain charm.
Put-in-Bay Pyrate Fest
Put-in-Bay, South Bass Island (Ottawa)
Land, ho! Swashbuckling pirates descend on Put-in-Bay for the island’s 11th annual Pyrate Fest, June 21-23. Visitors can join the re-enactors in donning their best pirate garb for children’s and adult costume contests. There will also be parades, cannon demonstrations and a pirate market and living village.
Board the Miller Ferry in Catawba or the Jet Express in Port Clinton or Sandusky to get the Put-in-Bay.
About 4 miles north of Marblehead (Erie)
Kelleys Island is a mellower counterpart to Put-in-Bay, a little more hiking, biking and kayaking than all-day bar-hopping. The glacial grooves, an impressive 400 feet long, 35 feet wide and 10 feet deep, are a particular landmark for the outdoorsy visitor.
For those who like to kick back with a drink or a meal, there’s the Kelley’s Island Wine Co. and Kelleys Island Brewery.
Admission: The Kelleys Island Ferry leaves from Marblehead, with one-way adult fares at $10; plan on $10 for parking. Jet Express leaves from Sandusky, with one-way adult fares at $20 and free daily parking. Information and departure schedules: jet-express.com, kelleysislandferry.com.
15 locations in Lucas County
Metroparks Toledo boasts more than 12,000 acres of protected natural land to explore – and hike and bike and kayak and more. Jerusalem Township’s Howard Marsh Metropark is the latest addition, joining the sprawling system last year with miles of hiking trails that might particularly appeal to bird-watchers.
For a more urban atmosphere, try Toledo’s Middlegrounds Metropark, with a 1.5-mile path that meanders along the Maumee River. Swanton’s Oak Openings Preserve is at the opposite extreme with about 5,000 wooded acres. The Canneley Treehouse Village there won’t quite be ready for the summer.
BREWERIES AND WINERIES
Twin Oast Brewing
3630 NE Catawba Rd., Port Clinton (Ottawa)
Port Clinton’s Twin Oast Brewing has been operating on a “farm-to-fermenter” model since it opened in 2018. Its menu is big on home-grown produce, including a set of light summer brews that focus on tree-ripened fruits like apricots and peaches.
A 60-acre farm estate complements the experience, with patrons able to enjoy a brew by stone fruit orchards, natural caves and cozy fire pits. Come on a Friday or Saturday, and add live local music to the mix.
917 Bardshar Rd., Sandusky (Erie)
Sandusky’s Firelands Winery sources the grapes for its award-winning wines locally, building on a heritage that stretches to the establishment of the “Firelands,” as locals call the region that became home to Connecticuters who were burned out of their homes during the Revolutionary War. When those transplants arrived, they brought along their penchant for making and enjoying fine wines.
Today Firelands is one of the largest producing wineries in the state. Stop by for a glass, a tour, or, in the summertime, an evening of live music on Fridays and Saturdays.
Good Times: Northwest Ohio Attractions
BY NICKI GORNY