Finding places to travel that satisfy both my kids need for play and my lust for retro memorabilia can be difficult . That is why our recent trip to Port Clinton, Ohio left us all seeing stars. While some might consider Port Clinton to be just a port to the touristy area of Put-In-Bay island – we now believe that Port Clinton has a right to stand on its own two feet. See for yourself with these six fun things we found to do in Port Clinton, Ohio with kids (some are retro too!!).

African Wildlife Safari - Port Clinton, Ohio. Photo by Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

African Wildlife Safari – Port Clinton, Ohio. Photo by Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

 

Port Clinton, Ohio

Port Clinton most notably stands as the port city to the popular Ohio tourist attraction Put-in-Bay Island. However, we found that Port Clinton and its surrounding area of Marblehead also hold several fun attractions that the entire family can enjoy. There’s so much to see and do that if you’re planning a trip to the island, we suggest adding on another day or bench-marking an entire day to spend solely on the mainland. Let’s take a look at the top six things my kids named as the most fun to do in Port Clinton, Ohio and surrounding areas.

Feed Animals Their Breakfast at the African Wildlife SafariTMOM Travel Disclosure

As a mother, I wasn’t sure how this drive-thru wildlife park was going to go – would by kids scream, cower and keep the windows rolled up, leaving me to feed an entire cup of food to the animals myself? Or would they enjoy this experience so much that I would kick myself for not buying the extra cup of food at the beginning? And then there was my third question – would a bison eat my side view mirror?

With all of these questions running through my head, we pulled in through the gates and were immediately surrounded by tons of alpacas, deer and bison. As I rolled down the back windows for the moment of truth, my kids stuck the food out and laughed harder than I’ve ever heard them laugh.

Things to know about the park:

  • My two kids shared a cup of food and were able to make it last throughout the park – but they also took turns being scared and brave so that may have made it last longer.
  • Before you arrive to the giraffe section of the drive thru park, they will have someone selling bags of carrots to feed them, so keep in mind that you can buy more food at that time.
  • Our car ended up being completely covered in animal food and animal slobber by the end.
  • After you drive through the park, there is also a walk through park which is included in your ticket price (and a gift shop).
  • There are staff members throughout the park to make sure the rules are followed and the animals are safe.

Make Penny Souvenirs at the Marblehead Lighthouse

Yes, this was my kids favorite part of the lighthouse tour – turning the crank to the machine that popped out a little pressed penny. But that’s ok because it kept them happy and mom was able to enjoy the real beauty of the Marblehead lighthouse along the rock covered shores of Lake Erie. At the lighthouse we were able to tour the operators’ house, which is now a museum, and take a tour up to the top of the lighthouse for a spectacular view of the area.

Photo Credit: Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

Photo Credit: Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

Things to keep in mind at the lighthouse:

  • The museum is free; however, tickets to the top of the lighthouse cost $2 each.
  • There are 77 steps to the top of the lighthouse – just throwing that out there.
  • There are picnic tables available on the grounds as well as public restrooms – this makes it a nice place to stop for a picnic lunch.
Marblehead Lighthouse. Photo Credit: Mary Moore / Retro TraveligMom

Marblehead Lighthouse. Photo Credit: Mary Moore / Retro TraveligMom

See Retro Roadside Attractions

Didn’t know Port Clinton had its own famous roadside attraction? To be honest, I didn’t either! Along the side of State Hwy 163 we found a giant man (waiter) holding something, which I later found out used to be a tray of food. His name is Handless Jacques and he is one of the famous roadside attractions left over from the 1950’s.

Handless Jacques - Photo by Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

Handless Jacques – Photo by Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

Eat Lunch in the Tin Goose Diner

After spending the day in the sun, we decided to head over to the Liberty Aviation Museum to take a break from the heat. This is a large campus which holds several vintage planes, cars and even a boat that is being restored on site. The kids and I enjoyed walking around and seeing just how big the planes were up close. They really enjoyed checking out the museum’s fully functional 1950’s diner which still serves an authentic breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.

Tin Goose Diner. Photo by Mary Moore/ Retro TravelingMom

Tin Goose Diner. Photo by Mary Moore/ Retro TravelingMom

Things to look for at the Liberty Aviation Museum:

  • The Liberty Aviation Museum has several different buildings – make sure you visit them all!
  • Watch for dates when the museum has events happening – you might get to take a ride in a old Ford Tri-Motor!
Liberty Aviation Museum. Photo Credit: Mary Moore/ Retro TravelingMom

Liberty Aviation Museum. Photo Credit: Mary Moore/ Retro TravelingMom

Grab Ice Cream at a Local Favorite : Toft’s

When we decided to head to Ohio, everyone told us the same thing – Make sure to get some ice cream from Toft’s. So we did.

Toft's Ice Cream. Photo Credit: Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

Toft’s Ice Cream. Photo Credit: Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

The ice cream at Toft’s is smooth, creamy and really easy to find. Being that Toft’s farm has been located in Ohio since the 1900’s, everyone knows the name and can quickly tell you where to find the nearest parlor. We were happy to find one parlor located across the street from our hotel – the Holiday Inn Express in Port Clinton.

Swim in the pool at the Holiday Inn Express

When I asked my kids to name off their favorite things about our trip, I somehow knew this was going to be one of them. It almost never fails that when you go on vacation to somewhere wonderful  the kids beg to go swimming in the pool almost the entire time. Luckily for us, we stayed at a hotel with a really nice indoor pool so I didn’t mind it so much. It was a welcome chance to relax while the kids had fun.

The pool at the Holiday Inn Express - Port Clinton. Photo by Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

The pool at the Holiday Inn Express – Port Clinton. Photo by Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

Do you have a favorite place in Port Clinton, Ohio or nearby? Share your favorites with us in the comments!

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