2023 Best of Lake Erie: Family Fun

From skating and biking to birding and poolside fun, Lake Erie is chock-full of adventures fit for all ages.

Break: Cedar Point’s Grand Pavilion
You know how, as great the day at an amusement park, there comes a time when you just need a break? Cedar Point’s brand-new Grand Pavilion & Bar perfectly meets that need. Inside, you’ll find air conditioning, plus elevated food options (we still love you funnel cakes and fries!) like slow-roasted turkey breast, beer-battered fish and carved rotisserie sandwiches. But it’s the upstairs that has us swooning — a waterfront bar with unbeatable views of Cedar Point and the shoreline. cedarpoint.com/dining

Skating: The Ribbon
It’s a new 1,000-foot-long loop trail on which you can ice skate in the winter (reserve a private cabana with fire pit to stay warm) and roller skate in the summer. And it’s just one part of Toledo, Ohio’s Glass City Metropark, which aims to be the best riverfront park in the country. Poised on the east side of the Maumee, the $200 million dollar project opened in 2020 with a glass pavilion for private events, sledding hill, on-site restaurant and a boardwalk along the river. Little ones will love the 41-foot-tall play tower and the mini-Maumee water play area — all set against the backdrop of glass sculptures and colorful murals. metroparkstoledo.com

Best Seagull Search: Geneva-on-the-Lake Family Fun Trail
Sandy the Seagull is all over Ohio’s first summer resort — and kids can explore the Geneva-on-the-Lake strip with their trail cards to find the mascot in 14 different spots around town. Don’t miss Mary’s Kitchen for a bite, Grumpy’s Lemonade for a refresher, Eddie’s Grill for a malt, and Madsen Donuts for a classic sweet at a throw-back bakery. The scavenger hunt starts at Geneva-on-the-Lake’s Welcome Center and includes plenty of active stops, too. Play a round of mini golf, check out the Sports Center Arcade and explore Bula Coast Water Sports. Just turn in completed cards to enter a drawing to win a family pass to Lake Erie Canopy Tours. visitgenevaonthelake.com

Best Biking: Presque Isle State Park
Biking, beaches and a couple of stops at concession stands for snacks — that’s all you need for a top-notch family day at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pennsylvania. If you don’t want to haul bikes, you can rent them at the park’s Yellow Bike Rental Co., including tandems, surreys and trailers for kids. Then, hit the 13.5-mile paved loop trail that passes the more than one dozen pristine beaches in the park. presqueisleyellowbikerental.com

Best Farm Animals: Purple Goat Gardens
Learn, play, explore — and wander with a gaggle of goats. This sustainable northeast Ohio farm in Austinburg, Ohio, offers hands-on summer farm tours with opportunities to milk mama goats, feed hens from your hand, help with farm chores, plant a seed to take home and hike the surrounding trails. Make a day of it and save some down time for the Boardgame Barn that’s stocked with more than 220 games for all ages. Seem overwhelming? Then, ask the self-proclaimed Happy Hippies on the farm for a suggestion. You can reserve a campsite and check out the nine-hole disc golf course on site. Mark your calendar for the Oct. 14 fall festival. purplegoatgardens.com

Best New Pool: Kalahari Resort
Known as an indoor waterpark, Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio, has taken the fun outside with its new 3-acre Zambezi Outdoor Waterpark. Among the new items is a 15,000-square-foot pool featuring a zero-depth entry on one side. The pool has tanning ledges on the other three sides, including lounge chairs set in about 8 inches of water. Looking for more thrills? You can zipline overlooking it all. And if it’s rainy? Just head indoors. kalahariresorts.com/ohio