No-charge Activities You Can Do Now in Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores & Islands

February 02, 2018

Don’t let the cold weather keep you hibernating at home. There are plenty of activities offered in Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores & Islands year-round. Yes, even now! Don’t worry if your wallet is still recovering from holiday shopping and tax time. We’ve put together a variety of fun, and free, ideas that are perfect for a date night, hanging out with friends, or spending quality time with the family.

Winter Lighthouse Tour
Did you know that Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores & Islands is home to eight coastal lighthouses? While the island lights are less accessible right now, these beacons of lights make Instagram-worthy photo-ops in the winter. Lighthouses tend to be some of the most photographed attractions on our shores. Winter provides an entirely different backdrop and drama. If you want to learn more about our area lighthouses and nautical history in general, you could add a low-cost visit to Sandusky’s Maritime Museum.

Get Back to Nature
Local nature areas and parks host many free activities for all ages. Erie MetroParks hosts a number of guided walks and hikes along with fitness programs. You can also learn a new skill, such as archery or paddling, or participate in an arts program for kids. Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge is known for its free activities as well. Kids’ programs and refuge tours (see eagles!) are especially popular. Bundle up and head out to Magee Marsh where you can walk the boardwalk, find an array of different winter birds, or walk along the beach. This time of year there are amazing sounds coming from the lake shore from ice melting, breaking up, refreezing, and being shoved toward the shore. Don’t forget to enjoy area sledding hills or the ice skating rink at Wightman-Wieber Park before things begin to warm up!

Look to the Sky
Did you happen to catch the amazing super, blue, blood moon at the end of January? How do these once-in-150-years night sky events occur? Learn about our amazing solar system and the entire night sky with free Sunday programs at Sandusky’s Sidney Frohman Planetarium. Located behind Sandusky High School, the planetarium is featuring the program “Fabulous Winter Sky” through February 18.

Get Cultured
Do you know about our amazing, no charge contemporary art gallery? Also located at Sandusky High School, the Sandusky Cultural Center provides educational and entertaining exhibits that stimulate an interest in the fine arts, provide a focus for multicultural awareness, and introduce complex issues and challenging concepts. Check out the Milt Hinton, jazz legend, photography exhibition on display through February 11. Or visit beginning February 18 for a new exhibit, Metamorphosis, which will continue through March 25. The museum is closed Saturdays, holidays, and school snow days. Other free art exhibits can be viewed at Sandusky’s Brick Gallery and Carrington Arts, or Vermilion’s Artseen and the Vermilion Art Guild’s display at the Main Street Vermilion office.

Walking History
The Erie County Historical Society is an organization dedicated to telling the fascinating stories of the history of our region. Their website, features five different walking tours including tours of downtown Sandusky, Washington Park, and one with a focus on sites related to the Underground Railroad. Walk in the footsteps of our forefathers while following along on your smartphone. Directions and historical information are provided online so you can learn something and get a little fresh air.

Celebrate Sandusky!
If you haven’t heard (and who hasn’t?) 2018 is Sandusky’s Bicentennial year! So many wonderful activities are planned as part of the year-round celebration. This month, don’t miss one more week of Greenhouse Yoga on Feb 10 or two installations of the “Bicentennial Banter” series at the Sandusky State Theatre. On Feb 7 learn about Black History Month, presented by the Sandusky NAACP, and on Feb 21 hear all about Sandusky as a destination on the Underground Railroad, presented by the Erie County Historical Society. Be sure to follow for a year full of special events!

Looking for more fun and free activities? Be sure to check the events calendar at for special programs, events, and fun things to do this February.

Tagged: family vacation on a budget, lake erie vacation on a budget, ohio vacation on a budget