It’s funny, Kalahari Sandusky opened over 10 years ago, but this year was my first visit. I liked it so much I’ve been there three times since March! Let’s back up a little bit… I’m a self proclaimed ACEr (American Coaster Enthusiast), so when I make the drive to Sandusky from Columbus, you know where I’m headed (CEDAR POINT, BABY!) I’ve passed Kalahari a zillion times, it’s pretty hard to miss. With the exception of the gas station across the street, it sits on a relatively empty plot of land and truly makes you feel like you’ve found an oasis in the desert. On my first visit, I pulled into the massive complex on a cold, rainy day. I was so glad I was going somewhere I could lock myself inside – it was not pretty out! TJ was with me and I was there for a conference, but we extended our trip to enjoy the water park. The second trip was all conference and I skipped the water park, as the calendar was jam-packed with not a lot of water-time! Those two trips happened before the blog came about, so I was excited for my third trip when I could document the awesomeness that is Kalahari.
I was hosting a meeting, so luckily I had a lay of the land because on your first trip, you definitely need a survival kit and a map. When I tell you this place is huge, double whatever you’re picturing in your head.
So at this time, I’ve been to Kalahari for three meetings. Everytime, I’m always impressed with the service, the food, and of course the venue. When was the last time your cocktail reception features Ostrich Skewers or Ceviche? They always make an effort to incorporate authentic African cuisine into your menu. As a Certified Meeting Professional, it gives me a little bit of anxiety because so many people are SO PICKY! But, the traveler in me loves it. I enjoy trying new things and I can always count on Kalahari to create an epicurean adventure I’ve never tried before. So, if you find yourself here for a meeting, just try it. Everything they make is an experience and something to be savored.
If you aren’t here for a meeting, or you are able to enjoy any of the other amenities – check out the water park. When I first visited, TJ and I made it a point to get there early to beat the masses. We rode all of the slides, the lazy river and the “dump buckets” as I call them. You know, those water vortex things that spits you out a funnel? This is a fantastic place for families. It’s safe and there are a zillion different things to do for all ages. But for us, we didn’t have kids and once the kid:adult ratio started to tip out of
our favor, we high tailed it to the adults-only hot tub. You heard that right! Complete with swim up bar and indoor-outdoor connected, child free hot tub. It was perfect. Back in March, there was still a winter nip in the air and the outdoor hot tub was the perfect place to sit back and close your eyes. For the record, it sounds like I will need to make another trip, because they’re opening a new outdoor slides section in 2017. Because I’ve only visited when it’s cold and raining, I haven’t been able to appreciate all of the outdoor hot spots – water slides, a zip line course, and animals! There is a mini zoo!
We wrapped up our day at the slides and decided to go out for a night on the town. I heard you snicker. “Out on the town? Halle, you’re in Sandusky – there’s nowhere to ” go out” to! Right?” WRONG. Sandusky is revitalized, my friends. You heard it here. You need to get there and soon, before everyone else figures it out. There are two amazing places that I have had the pleasure of patronizing. One is Crush Wine Bar, where we started the evening for a glass of wine. They serve food too – I would check it out on another trip, for sure! We had dinner reservations around the corner at ZINC brasserie and “Oh, my!” Our food was phenomenal. This is ‘big city caliber’ fine dining, folks. TJ had the duck and I went beef. We started off with a beef carpaccio that was to die for. (apparently I was in a beef mood!) And the dessert? A perfect Creme Brulee, toasted to perfection – one of my favorite things on earth. Since we’ve been to downtown Sandusky, they have added a slew of restaurants, a speakeasy and a brand new, boutique hotel, Hotel Kilbourne. I think the Sandusky shores of Lake Erie will be pulsing with even more travelers come next summer with all of these hot additions!
Not to be overlooked however, would be the numerous restaurants Kalahari has to offer its guests. If my memory serves me right, there are six restaurants/cafes outside of the park and plenty of variety in both atmosphere and food. If I were there for leisure travel, I’d say you have more options than you need! The pizza is a great choice, out of the Cafe Mirage/Pizza Pub area. Actually, that’s one of my favorite things at Kalahari (shhh, don’t tell!)
So whether you’re there for a meeting, splashing around in the water park, relaxing in the Spa Kalahari & Salon or restaurant hopping, take some time to check out the detail of this place. If you’re in just the right spot, at just the right time, they might just have you convinced that you were transported to the African countryside.
“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck