While our trip to Cedar Point could have been a vacation in itself, we didn't want to waste our chance to see more of the area while at Lake Erie. So on Sunday we checked out of our hotel and took a short 20 minute drive to Port Clinton to see the African Safari Wildlife Park. This 100 acre park is home to more than 400 exotic animals that you can visit from the comfort of your own car. Never before have I been able to get this up close and personal with a wild animal!
This guy? LOVES carrots.
I've never been to a drive-thru wildlife park, so this was a new experience for all of us. At the gate we were given our free cup of food for the animals (you can also purchase more - trust me, you'll want to purchase more!) and instructions on how to feed them. The animals showed no fear and were happy to stick their heads into the car to check for more food.
Hey there, got any food?
You have to have a firm grip on the feeding cups - some of the animals have learned the trick of pulling the cup out of your hands to get all the food for themselves.
Turns out, feeding the animals is a LOT of fun. How often can you say you had a bison's head in your car?
There's also a walking portion of the park, where kids can ride a pony or a camel, see a white alligator, and feed the fish. Educational animal shows are held daily as well.
Our next stop was the beach at East Harbor State Park. It was a gorgeous view. And thanks to Ohio weather, it was just as hot and humid as any Florida beach.
Cordy wanted to look for "treasure" so we spread out our blankets and walked along the shoreline, looking for anything that might wash up in front of us. The sand was amazingly soft and felt so good between our toes.
The haul for their treasure hunt was a very shiny piece of a shell, two tiny round shells, a hard black rock that was either coal or petrified wood (I have no idea, really), and a small piece of "driftwood." Cordy declared the treasure hunt a success and we moved on to our next stop.
Cordy insisted I take a photo of the treasure.
Our final stop for the day was back in Sandusky at the Merry-Go-Round Museum. This museum houses an impressive collection of carousel horses and other animals, as well as an on site workshop for woodcarvers who specialize in making carousel animals.
Carousel cow, anyone?
Horses in various states of completion
All four of us enjoyed seeing the different types of animals that were created for carousel rides. Mira liked the cow and the lion. Cordy was a purist, preferring the horses. My favorite? The shark:
I bet the Old Spice guy chooses a shark when he takes a carousel ride.
A spin on the indoor merry-go-round was included with admission, and the girls loved one last ride before we needed to start the journey home.
She only looks nervous because I'm not holding on to her at the moment.
Our weekend vacation was just long enough for us to reconnect as a family and create some lovely memories without growing too tired of each other. More than once, Aaron looked at me and said, "I'm really glad we did this." So often we're all coming and going so quickly in our house that we forget to slow down and enjoy the company of our family.
I'm glad we took the time to get away without going too far away. Compared with a vacation to Florida or California, our trip to Lake Erie still contained all of the fun you'd find far away (beaches, amusement parks, etc) with less travel time and less expense. It was also fun to explore some of the exciting attractions we have right here in Ohio.
There were still more sights we wanted to see around Lake Erie, but that only gives us an excuse for a return trip, right?
Want to plan your own trip to Lake Erie? Visit the Lake Erie Shores & Islands website to start planning your own perfect vacation with lodging packages and discount savings available with the Shore Savings Card! When you're in the area, stop by one of the two Lake Erie Shores & Islands Welcome Centers for advice from their helpful staff, maps, brochures and discount coupons.
Another satisfied customer
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.