Home to the world-famous Cedar Point, as well as indoor water parks and ferries that whisk you to the Lake Erie Islands, Sandusky has been rated among the country’s best coastal towns. 

“Sandusky is really becoming the place to be,” says Jill Bauer of Shores & Islands Ohio, revealing some of the city’s newest and most popular hot spots, as well as a few old favorites.

Paddle Bar (paddleandclimb.com) is a fun hangout with a Key West vibe, while Everwild Spirits (everwildspirits.com) is Sandusky’s first bourbon distillery. In the mood for something more upscale? Check out J Bistro Downtown (jbistrodowntown.com) where you'll find steak, seafood and pasta, as well as starters like escargot and lobster flatbread. If you're looking to start the day right, stop by the recently remodeled Wake up and Waffle (wakeupandwaffle.com). 

“Jackson Street Pier is a hub of activity, from the special events hosted there to people just visiting casually to enjoy a sunset, fishing from the pier, swinging on the swings or watching the boats go by,” Bauer says. Step away from the shoreline to check out Lagoon Deer Park (lagoondeerparkohio.com), home to more than 200 animals — including elk, peacocks and emus — and four stocked ponds, making it a perfect place to reel in the catch of the day.

Turn a day of splashing around at the waterpark into a weekend-long affair at Castaway Bay (castawaybay.com), which offers a taste of island life with tropical-themed guest rooms. For those with larger groups, opt for the villas at Kalahari Resorts & Conventions (kalahariresorts.com/ohio). These two-level suites include seven flat screen TVs, five bedrooms, a recreation room with a full bar, pool table, fully equipped kitchen and the ability to sleep 11.

Head to Jackson Street Pier on Thursdays from June 30 to Sept. 1 for Party at the Pier (cityofsandusky.com), a free summer concert series that starts at 7 p.m. and attracts hundreds of visitors. Meanwhile, Festival of Sail Sandusky (sandusky.festofsail.com), which takes place the first weekend in July, brings entertainment,  festival food, a beer garden, tall ships and the World’s Largest Rubber Duck right to the city’s waterfront.