Summer vacation brings to mind sand, surf, and sun. Most of us Mid-Westerners probably dream of beachy locations – some exotic like the Caribbean, others a bit more feasible like Florida or one of the Carolinas.
But what if I told you that you CAN have an awesome beach vacation right here in our very own state? The drive time is minimal, the cost is lower, and you can make just as many amazing memories.
Sound too good to be true? Well, it’s not!
Let’s flashback for a minute, shall we? When my daughter was just over a year old, we took her to Hilton Head for our first vacation as a family of three. Simply put, the trip was a disaster. Between teething, a cold, terrible constipation, and an impending hurricane, the week was a bit of a catastrophe.
We were naturally nervous to do another family vacation last summer. With some cautious optimism, we decided to try something much closer to home. We figured the stakes were lower, the trip was shorter, and IF it was a complete failure, we would just cut our losses and drive home.
We spent 4 days on Lake Erie in Port Clinton, Ohio, and we all had a blast! We stayed in a vacation rental right on the water that had its own private beach. To a toddler, Lake Erie is the equivalent of the Atlantic (or Pacific) Ocean. She had the time of her life digging in the sand, building sand castles, and splashing in the water. We were able to go to the lake multiple times a day due to our close proximity, and we also discovered a lighthouse and a huge playground nearby.
Throughout the never-ending winter, our daughter – who has an impeccable memory – has mentioned how much she wants to go back to the beach on several occasions (lucky for girlfriend, I just booked our return trip for August!).
We didn’t take advantage of all the cool things we could have done in the area primarily due to our daughter’s age. However, there is a bevy of family-friendly activities along the Lake Erie coast, including amusement parks and wildlife parks. You can even island hop to Put-In-Bay or Kelleys Island. My personal recommendation? Tack on one additional night and stay a night at one of the many indoor water parks in Sandusky.
Now, I’m not saying I don’t dream of more lavish getaways to faraway places: seeing the glaciers of Alaska, walking the pink sandy beaches of Bermuda, even sailing the high seas with Mickey and the gang – but that’s not the season of life we are in right now. And that is 100% fine with me.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you are in the Bahamas, at Disney World or in good old Ohio. What matters is that you are with the ones you love making memories that will last far beyond the week.
Where are some of your favorite family vacation destinations?