With miles of rich coastline, 15 scenic communities along Lake Erie and several unique islands, Shores & Islands Ohio is a sports & vacation destination in one. Known as America’s Sports and Family Fun Capital®, the region is full of top-notch venues, attractions & inviting local communities that can turn any tournament into a family vacation.
The Shores & Islands Ohio team provides high-touch service to event organizations, participants & visitors at every point of the event. “Everybody is involved from the start to finish when a sporting event comes to the Destination. We are able to make key connections with an Event Organizer, whether they are looking for discounts, assistance with restaurants, hotels, marketing, and more, we are here to support them and connect them with the community. We have incredible venues, but it’s the attractions we have in our Destination that sets us apart. we are surrounded by Lake Erie, we have all these really cool attractions – like Cedar Point Amusement Park and our coastal communities,” Chris Lewis, Marketing & Sales Director at Shores & Islands Ohio shares.
Shores & Islands Ohio aims to grow the region’s economy through promoting and increasing visitation to the Shores & Islands region. Shores & Islands Ohio is not just a place…It’s a feeling. It’s the memories people have from unforgettable experiences here that live their hearts for a lifetime. Boundless adventures and discoveries await. Shores & Islands Ohio embodies the excitement felt from the very first time you visit, to becoming a season regular or part of the community. It’s where you find your Lake Erie Love.
Cedar Point Sports Center – With 145,000 square feet of indoor space, 10 full-sized basketball courts and 20 volleyball courts, Cedar Point Sports Center is a standout venue in the region. Opened in 2020, the venue features a championship arena, entertainment center, and event spaces, and plays a large role in hosting events & enhancing sports tourism in the area.
Sports Force Parks – Right next door to Cedar Point Sports Center, Sports Force Parks is a top-notch outdoor venue with ten synthetic turf fields, five fields with lights, is ready to host baseball, softball, soccer, and lacrosse tournaments. The park also features a Sky Bounce Bungee Trampoline, Sky Trail High Ropes Course, Putt-in-Bay Mini Golf, and two playgrounds for the family to enjoy.
Kalahari Resort and Convention – Kalahari Resort and Convention is the largest convention center in the region with over 215,000 square feet of flexible space. With state-of-the-art technology, lighting and sound, and the ability to host 5,000 people, this is the perfect choice for larger-scale sporting events.
The Islands – Don’t overlook the Lake Erie Islands as your next event host! Islands such as Kelleys Islands and Put-in-Bay can host a range of unique sporting and tourism events, from vintage car racing to beach volleyball and soccer tournaments. “It’s a very cool spot to hold your sporting event, because you get to be out on an island and offer a unique experience to participants,” Lewis says.
This past July, Shores & Islands Ohio hosted the inaugural IRONMAN 70.3 Ohio in the City of Sandusky. Located in northern Ohio along Lake Erie’s scenic shoreline, Sandusky has been named the Best Coastal Small Town in America. Athletes began the race by hopping off the Kelleys Island Ferry for a 1.2 – mile swim in the Sandusky Bay. The only IRONMAN race where all the athletes start by jumping off a boat. The swim is followed by a rolling 56-mile bike through scenic Erie and Sandusky Counties, and a 13.1 – mile run along the shoreline of Lake Erie capping off with a thrilling finish in downtown Sandusky. Over 1,500 athletes who competed were represented from over 40 different states and two dozen countries.
The IRONMAN Village was hosted at the Jackson Street Pier throughout the weekend prior to the event and served as the central hub for all things leading up to race day such as athlete registration, gear check-in, bike service station and featured the official IRONMAN store and vendors. Jackson Street Pier was also the start and finishing line for the IRONKIDS Ohio Fun Run, where hundreds of children between the ages of 7-14 years old got to test their skills in a one-mile run.
The 2022 race was a successful event with the support of multiply communities, residents cheering on the athletes, and local business support. The race will become an annual tradition with dates already set for July 23, 2023 and July 21, 2024.
Cedar Point Amusement Park – The second oldest amusement park in the US, Cedar Point Amusement Park is a top attraction in the region & nation at large. The park features 70 rides, kids areas, live shows & festivals, overnight accommodations & more. Check out Cedar Point Amusement Park during your stay to see why this is one of the top amusement parks in the world.
Indoor Water Parks – Take an excursion to one of the Shores & Islands indoor water parks to enjoy some indoor family fun. From Kalahari Indoor Waterpark to Great Wolf Lodge to Castaway Bay there is no shortage of options in the Sandusky area. Especially in the winter months, this is the perfect activity to enjoy with family, friends & teammates.
Explore the Islands – Especially in the summer months, a trip to the islands is a unique, scenic excursion by ferry or small plane. Choose the right fit for you between Kelleys Island, Middle Bass Island, North Bass Island and Put-In-Bay. For a scenic downtown, lively restaurants & resort community amenities, check out Put-In-Bay. For a more remote camping or nature experience, discover Middle Bass & North Bass Island. Kelleys Island’s Glacial Grooves is a popular attraction to discover the area’s beautiful landscape & its history.
Wineries – The Shores & Islands region is home to 12 impressive local wineries. Try following the Cheers Trail, a collection of 20+ craft breweries and wineries in the area. If you visit more than five locations, you can collect prizes!
Lake Erie – Of course, Lake Erie is a huge draw for visitors. “People come here to see the beaches, and recreation fishing is really popular here. We are in the western basin of Lake Erie, so we have lots of walleye and bass fishing year-round in our Destination as well,” Lewis notes.
The Destination is conveniently situated between Cleveland and Toledo. If flying in, whether you arrive in Toledo or Cleveland, the Shores & Islands region is just a 40-minute drive away off the Ohio Turnpike. Choose from over 8,000 hotel rooms across the Destination, ranging from hotels and bed & breakfasts mostly concentrated in the Sandusky area. For a unique stay experience, campgrounds & RV blocks are a popular choice, as well as vacation rentals like Airbnb.
“During my time with IRONMAN I have had the great opportunity to work with several outstanding host communities, creating many strong partnerships across the United States. Our passionate Host City partners continue to be the key to the success of the events we produce and play such as important role in keeping our communities engaged and creating world class experiences for our athletes and supporters. Of all the various partners I have worked with over the years, I can honestly say that I have never worked with individuals more passionate about their city and destination.
City of Sandusky and Shores & Islands poured themselves into making sure every detail was carefully thought through and planned accordingly, to ensure a successful experience for our team. Everyone went above and beyond with the work and key reason we had an amazing inaugural year of IRONMAN 70.3 Ohio in the City of Sandusky.”Eric Atnip, Regional Director, IRONMAN
To learn more, or to inquire about hosting your next event in Lake Erie Shores & Islands, visit their Playeasy profile here!
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