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posted: 3/19/2014 5:45 AM

Ways to warm up at Lake Erie Shores & Islands

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  • Great Wolf Lodge is one of several area indoor waterparks that splash plenty of wet winter fun.

      Great Wolf Lodge is one of several area indoor waterparks that splash plenty of wet winter fun.
    Courtesy of SHORESandISLANDS.com

  • With the carnival season months away, the Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky may be the perfect winter escape.

      With the carnival season months away, the Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky may be the perfect winter escape.
    Courtesy of SHORESandISLANDS.com

  • Several species of majestic birds blankets this Ohio hiking trail.

      Several species of majestic birds blankets this Ohio hiking trail.
    Courtesy of SHORESandISLANDS.com

  • Isle of Saint George's historic 19th-century Firelands Winery is a haven for the winter weary.

      Isle of Saint George's historic 19th-century Firelands Winery is a haven for the winter weary.
    Courtesy of SHORESandISLANDS.com

  • Check out the Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky, Ohio.

      Check out the Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky, Ohio.
    Courtesy of SHORESandISLANDS.com

 
By Megy Karydes, TravelingMom.com

Maybe it's because we've had record breaking cold in Chicago and it's snowing, again as I write this, but I'm ready to consider going anywhere that my family and I can have fun without freezing this winter.

Lake Erie Shores & Islands in Ohio, a little more than four hours from Chicago, has plenty of ways to warm up and I discovered a few things to do that would appeal to everyone in our family:

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Dodge the snowflakes indoors at a museum

Merry-go-rounds, a popular Midwest invention and the object of so many children's dreams, are showcased in the Lake Erie Shores & Islands at the Merry-Go-Round Museum. While most are content just to spin around the historic original and rebuilt animals, you can also check out behind the scenes where craftsmen so meticulously bring these relics back to life.

The Tri-Motor Heritage Foundation and the recently debuted Liberty Aviation Museum located in the historic harbor town of Port Clinton, Ohio, gives visitors a chance to see the ongoing restoration process older dynamic airplanes.

• And if checking out key pieces of the Golden Age of Aviation makes you hungry, the authentic Tin Goose Diner will satiate your appetite and throw you even further back into history.

Hit a waterpark

Sandusky, the center of the Lake Erie Shores & Islands, is the must-stop summer destination for roller coaster lovers who consider Cedar Point theme park to be something of a coaster mecca. But the amusement park won't reopen until May. So for winter fun, head indoors to a waterpark park mecca: Kalahari.

Kalahari holds the title of nation's largest indoor water park, where things like learning how to surf indoors and sipping on daiquiris at a swim-up pool bar are normal.

As if the African-themed Kalahari wasn't enough, Sandusky brings other water parks into the mix. The Great Wolf Lodge, Maui Sands and Castaway Bay are three other resorts that will have your family saying it's always sunny and 72 degrees in Sandusky (at least indoors).

• Since Sandusky is very tourist heavy, you'll find several national food chains in the mix. If you want to try something a bit more local, head to Manny's Sports Tavern. The bar has a full lunch and dinner menu complete with soups and salads, burgers and flatbreads and the kids can order some hot chocolate to stay warm.

Take a hike

While it's true that walking around the scenic parks that surround the Lake Erie Shores & Islands is a bit easier in flip flops, changing your footwear from sandals to snowshoes can have its benefits.

Exercise aside, a white blanket of snow draped over Sheldon's Marsh near Huron, Ohio, makes a pristine park even more beautiful.

And just maybe you'll be lucky enough to spot a bald eagle on your hike, as they've been known to frequent the area along with other majestic species of birds.

Check out a winery

If you find yourself without kids, check out Firelands Winery. Since the first cellar of this historic winery was built in 1880, it has been taking advantage of this unique environment and harvesting the fruit from a place that enjoys a 200 day frost-free growing season, the Isle of St. George on the western basin of Lake Erie.

Megy Karydes, founder of Wandering Tastes, a travel and lifestyle website meant to inspire, excite & encourage exploring and seek adventure. She writes the Foodie TravelingMom blog for TravelingMom.com and regularly writes about food, lifestyle, health and nutrition for 10best.com/ USA Today, Natural Awakenings magazine and Chicago Health magazine.

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