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Where to Go, What to Know

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Travel staffer Christina Talcott recently had her bones shaken on the roller coasters of Cedar Point, in Sandusky, Ohio. Here's her reporter's notebook.

FLYING TIME

1 hour 15 minutes

DRIVE TIME

About an hour

COST

$592 -- Airfare: $188 Rental car: $224 Hotel: $88 Park and parking: $92

GETTING THERE

Continental, Southwest and US Airways fly to Cleveland's Hopkins International Airport out of BWI. Continental, Delta, Northwest and United fly there from other area airports. Cedar Point is an hour's drive west of the airport.

WHAT TO DO

Cedar Point can easily fill a week, especially if you want to hit all 17 coasters plus the nearly 60 other rides at the park. If you get park fatigue, the resort towns on the Lake Erie Islands are nearby; from Sandusky, or from nearby Marblehead or Catawba Island (both are about 30 minutes northwest of Sandusky), you can catch a ferry to Kelleys Island or the isle of Put-in-Bay, where you can rent kayaks or bikes or just explore by car or on foot (call 419-625-2984 or 800-255-3743, or visit http://www.lake-erie.com).

If, on the other hand, Cedar Point only fuels your jones for amusement parks, close by there are several indoor water parks (Great Wolf Lodge, Castaway Bay, Kalahari Resort) and the African Safari Wildlife Park.

WHERE TO STAY

Booking online, we chose the All American Inn in Norwalk, about 20 minutes down U.S. Route 250, because it was less than $90 and had a continental breakfast, pool and fitness room (415 Milan Ave., Norwalk, 419-663-1922 or 866-554-5152, http://www.sanduskyhotels.com). The hotel's mini-gym had only a stair stepper, stationary bike and weight machine, and we were so exhausted from walking around the park that we never used it. We did, however, gorge on the danishes and toast and cream cheese at breakfast.

The easiest lodging option is to stay at the park, and it can be the most economical, especially for a group (419-627-2106, http://www.cedarpoint.com). There are three properties at Cedar Point, including the 100-year-old beachfront Hotel Breakers and two hotels outside the park. All Cedar Point properties offer a variety of package combinations. Ride and Slide lodging packages, which include two-day dual-park entry tickets for four people and a room with two or more beds, start at $400 per night; a room with no tickets ranges from $139 for the off-site Breakers Express to $280 in peak season for a six-person cottage at Lighthouse Point.

WHERE TO EAT

In sleepy little downtown Sandusky, we fueled up for a long day of coaster riding with warm slices of homemade quiche at Mr. Smith's Coffeehouse (140 Columbus Ave., 419-625-6885). A few doors down, and close to Sandusky's waterfront, Daly's Irish Pub (104 Columbus Ave., 419-625-0748) has classic pub grub (wings, burgers, reubens) that hit the spot at day's end. But no matter what, you've got to save room for hot dogs, ice cream and funnel cake at Cedar Point. Come on, you'll walk it off.

INFORMATION

Cedar Point and Soak City's daily schedule lasts only through Sept. 1, but Cedar Point remains open Friday-Sunday through Nov. 2. Call 419-627-2350, or visit http://www.cedarpoint.com for more information.

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