Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Lake Erie & Cedar Point, Day 1: A Get Away That Isn't So Far Away

My family has never had a real "family vacation." Sure, we've been to Great Wolf Lodge a few times, but it felt more like a retreat than a full-out vacation.

Our reasons are ones that many families today probably face: finances are tight, so we need the best value for the money, and we don't have a lot of time off from work, so we don't want to waste a lot of time traveling. We need a vacation close to home. Of course, given the choice, we also wanted a vacation with fun and excitement, and I certainly wouldn't mind a little time on the beach.

Turns out, we can get all of that right here in Ohio.

We had the opportunity to spend this weekend up on the shores of Lake Erie and couldn't have had a better trip. Our work schedules afforded us just two days for a vacation, but those two days were so packed full of fun that they felt much longer.

Our trip started very early on Saturday morning with the drive up to Sandusky, Ohio, home to Cedar Point, one of the best amusement parks in the country. We arrived shortly after the park opened, with our first stop being the measuring station outside the gate. Kids can get measured once and are then given a wrist band to wear for the day so they know which rides they can and can't go on. (I wish every park used a system like this!)

Ummm...when did my little girl reach 48" tall? *sob*

Cedar Point has been voted World's Best Amusement Park for 13 years, and it's easy to see why. With over 150 rides, shows and attractions, there's something here for everyone and plenty of room to fit a lot of people! We were here for just one day, but you could easily fill two or three days in the park and the attached Soak City water park.

We spent a lot of time in Camp Snoopy, the children's area of the park, where there were few lines and plenty of rides appropriate for both of our girls.

But out of nowhere, my six year old with a sensory fear of new things decided she was ready for something larger, and begged to go on the Mine Ride roller coaster. Amazingly, she LOVED it! She then asked to go again, and soon a roller coaster junkie was born. She later rode the Gemini and then at the end of the day rode the Iron Dragon. (Which proved to be a bit too much for her, but she was tired by that point. I'll make her love that coaster some day - it's one of my favorites!)

 Cordy after her first roller coaster ride!

It was a hot, busy Saturday, so you'd expect long lines, but really there wasn't much of a wait to get on most of the rides. Sure, the newest and flashiest coasters had longer waits, but with two small kids we weren't planning to ride those. Thanks to such a wide variety of rides at the park, we had the chance to experience a lot of different spinny, whirly, stomach-churney fun throughout the day.

 Riding the racing horses of Cedar Downs

It was hot. Please excuse my sweaty face.

The girls also had the chance to meet and dance with Snoopy and friends. Cordy loved dancing along with the characters, and of course wanted a hug from Snoopy at the end.

Everyone loves Snoopy.

Saturday ended with Aaron winning stuffed animals for Cordy and Mira, and then a quick drive to our hotel for the night, where we ate dinner and all promptly fell asleep from happy exhaustion. (Be sure to check out my separate hotel review of the Best Western Plus Sandusky, too!)

That was just half of our vacation, though. Check out what we did on Sunday!

Full disclosure: I was invited by Cedar Point and the Lake Erie Shores and Islands group to visit and experience all they had to offer. My family was provided complimentary tickets to Cedar Point, the African Safari Wildlife Tour and the Merry-Go-Round museum. All other expenses, including food, parking, gas, souvenirs, etc. were not included.

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