These eight great attractions located within Lake Erie Shores & Islands are free and fun, so be sure to check them out before summer comes to an end.

Lake Erie Love

  • Bird Watching: There are a number of parks and nature trails tailor-made for birdwatching. Bring your binoculars and stop by the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Old Woman Creek, or one of the Lake Erie Shores & Islands Welcome Centers for a list of area birding hot spots and a checklist of birds to look for.
  • Aquatic Visitors Center at Put-in-Bay: This historic fish hatchery is operated by The Ohio State University’s Stone Lab and offers free guided tours where you learn about Lake Erie ecology and view live fish and macro invertebrate displays. Kids 16 and under can even grab a fishing pole and fish for free off the dock.
  • Sandusky Underground Railroad Tour:Because of its location on Lake Erie, Sandusky was a major stop on the Underground Railroad. Since historic records on this topic are rare and many sites have since been destroyed, the remaining sites along with local people influential in this movement are highlighted in a brochure and self-driving tour of the area. Included on the tour are the Maritime Museum of Sandusky because of it’s Underground Railroad display and artifacts, the Second Baptist Church which was founded by a group of seven former slaves and freeborn blacks, and waterfront Facer Park which includes an Underground Railroad memorial statue and interpretive panels.
  • Beaches:Thebeautiful beaches are just one of the ways to experience Lake Erie. With a wide array of beaches, you are sure to find one that you love.

There's something for everyone

  • Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial Visitors Center:This 352-foot Doric column at Put-in-Bay is the third-tallest national monument. Learn about the Battle of Lake Erie and Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s September 1813 victory over the British through interactive exhibits and video. Go to the top and take in the view from the observation deck, which is free for ages 16 and under and $5 for everyone else.
  • Glacial Grooves:Did you know the world’s largest accessible glacial grooves, massive limestone curves cut by glaciers during the Ice Age, are located on Kelleys Island ? View the grooves from a surrounding walkway and stairs and marvel in the natural wonder which contains fossils that are up to 400 million years old.
  • Shores & Islands Lighthouse Tour:Lighthouses in Vermilion, Huron, and Marblehead are free to view. For an additional $3, visitors at the Marblehead Lighthouse can climb the 77 steps to the top for breathtaking lake views. The onsite museum and coast guard station are free to tour.
  • Visit free museums and historical sites:Learn a little bit about the history of the region at one of the area’s many museums. For example the Follett House Museum is a fascinating look at Sandusky-area history including exhibits on the Johnson’s Island Confederate Prison and the tourism industry in the region. The Keeper’s House in Marblehead is the oldest surviving home in Ottawa County and once housed those who were charged with operating the light at Marblehead Lighthouse. Or, take a break at the only public restroom to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places at Elmore’s Old School Privy. Get a complete list of area’s free museums and historic sites at the Lake Erie Shores & Islands Welcome Centers.
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