Ohio : Safety by City
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It might seem odd at first glance that Sandusky, Ohio, is rated as a great beach town.
Once you learn more about this population vacation spot, you’ll understand
Sandusky’s story dates back to the early 19th century when it was built as a distribution hub.
Despite Charles Dickens once writing that Sandusky was “sluggish and uninteresting enough, was something like the back of an English watering-place out of the season,” it has since become a tourist destination.
Its waterfront location offers breathtaking views of Lake Erie, and the nearby Cedar Point amusement park, often referred to as the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World,” promises a thrilling experience.
Famous individuals associated with Sandusky include Thomas A. Edison, the inventor of the phonograph and the modern electric light bulb.
His birthplace in Milan, just a short drive from Sandusky, is open to visitors.
Notable incidents include the famous “Great Fire of 1888,” which devastated much of the city but ultimately led to its reconstruction, resulting in the picturesque downtown you see today.
Even with all the attractions and a city designed to bring people to visit, there are some safety concerns we need to discuss.
Warnings & Dangers in Sandusky
OVERALL RISK: LOW
Sandusky has a low crime rate topped with many things to do, giving it a low risk. Only a few pockets of crime concerns exist, but they are worth paying close attention to throughout this article.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Sandusky Transit System has plenty of options to consider if you don't want to use a car to get around. Taxis and rideshares are plentiful. For those who do rent a car, there's plenty of parking. This is another low risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
You're more likely to face a purse snatching than a pickpocket here, with an average of six happening each year over the past five years. While that's not a high number, it is by comparison to other Ohio cities of equal size. Treat this with a medium risk since there are so many large crowds here.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
This is another medium risk, with severe or disruptive weather possible throughout the year. Winter brings snow storms, blizzards, ice storms, and extreme cold. Spring can bring severe thunderstorms with damaging winds, hail, and intense lightning. Tornadoes are possible.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
This is a low risk, with rates far below the national average. It's still wise to use caution if you're out at night. Stick to well-lit, secure areas.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
There's no reason Sandusky would be considered a high-profile target for international terrorism. The Homeland Security Department issues regular Terrorism Advisory Bulletins to talk about regional risks. You can expect a low risk but still, report anything suspicious you see.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Scams here run the gamut but mostly focus on residents. You can review the local police department and county websites for trending scams. Any purchase that requires you to wire money or buy gift cards as payment is likely a scam.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Several of the amusement parks and water parks in the area have faced a trend of fights and sexual assault reports. It's important for any young adults or teenagers to use caution when visiting these places, paying special attention to new people they meet. Never go to a private house party with new people you meet. Stay in public places and with at least one other friend. The risk is low, but the topic has made enough headlines that it's worth mentioning.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. Ongoing bitterly cold temperatures and flooding would be two instances where there could be water issues, like busted pipes or water pressure issues. Your hotel should have that information in the rare chance it occurs.
Safest Places to Visit in Sandusky
The Sandusky tourism website is “ShoresandIslands.com,” which covers Sandusky, Put-In-Bay, and Cedar Point.
You can download a tourism guide without having to give personal information.
It helps to get a lay of the land here.
The region is split up into shores and islands.
- Central Shores: Sandusky, Bay View, Castalia
- North Shores: Port Clinton, Catawba, and Marblehead
- East Shores: Berlin Heights, Milan, and Vermillion
- West Shores: Elmore, Genoa, Port Clinton
- Islands: Kellys Island, Put-In-Bay (on South Bass Island), Middle Bass Island, and North Bass Island
Cedar Point Amusement Park is one of the main attractions in this region, offering a roller coaster enthusiast’s dream with its world-class rides and attractions.
Cedar Point also has a waterpark with plenty of hotels and campgrounds nearby.
Kalahari Resorts provides a tropical escape, boasting one of the largest indoor waterparks in the United States.
With a host of thrilling water rides and relaxing amenities, it’s a perfect family destination.
Just a short gallop away, the Merry-Go-Round Museum transports visitors to a bygone era with its collection of beautifully crafted carousels.
It’s a place where nostalgia comes to life.
Sandusky Maritime Museum immerses you in the maritime heritage of the area, delving into shipwrecks and boat-building history.
It’s a fascinating glimpse into the city’s nautical past.
Lighthouse lovers can walk the water’s edge in several spots along the shore to see the towering treasures. You can also take the “Mini Light House Trail.”
The lighthouse, with its classic red and white coloring, exudes a timeless charm, making it a popular spot for photographs and a pleasant walk along the bay.
Ghostly Manor Thrill Center caters to those seeking a spooky thrill with its haunted attractions, escape rooms, and a 3D motion theater. It’s a spine-tingling experience for the adventurous.
For a touch of island adventure, the nearby Lake Erie Islands, such as Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island, offer a scenic getaway.
Explore their natural beauty, historic sites, and outdoor activities, all accessible via a short ferry ride.
History buffs can visit the Thomas A. Edison Birthplace, a museum showcasing the life and inventions of the famous inventor.
You can step into the past and learn about Edison’s groundbreaking work.
If you prefer a more serene adventure, head to Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve, where hiking and birdwatching opportunities abound in a tranquil natural setting.
Of course, the water provides ample activities in the summer, with boats, paddle sports, and fishing charters available for rent.
In most winters, the lake does freeze over, opening the door for ice fishing.
If you haven’t done that before, be sure to get a guide to help you.
Places to Avoid in Sandusky
Sandusky is one of those tourist places where the highest crime rates are in the heart of the tourist district.
That makes sense, given how many people visit.
If you want to stay away from the crowds, avoid hotels near Cedar Point.
Stay to the west or east of the city.
Despite an assumed logical connection, Upper Sandusky is a town 55 miles southwest of Sandusky.
Do not consider Upper Sandusky as a place to stay for a trip to Sandusky.
If you head to the islands, you should know that Put-In-Bay is known for its rowdy crowds on weekends.
If that’s not what you’re looking for in an island experience, check out Kellys Island.
Put-In-Bay proudly says it is family-friendly during the weekdays.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Sandusky
- Sandusky does have its own police department. To stay updated, follow them on Facebook @sanduskypolice. The phone number is (419)627-5980.
- If you have more specific questions, you can email the city through the “Ask Us” form on the city’s main website. You can request to be contacted by phone or email.
- Use the Ohgo website or app to get real-time traffic information around Sandusky or the state. With so many scenic drives spanning from Sandusky, road trips are popular. You just want to avoid traffic troubles, construction zones, or places where the weather conditions are poor.
- Anglers need a fishing license from the Ohio Department of Fish & Game. That goes for ice fishing as well as warm water fishing. The license can be purchased online; just be sure to get the non-resident license.
- Cedar Point offers a free app to plan your trip and have several useful tools while you’re there. From GPS marking the location of your parked car to mobile food ordering to check the wait time for popular rides, this is a go-to app to make the adventure easy and safe.
- There are four sections of Cedar Point designated for small children, offering a great way for the kids to feel safe without missing out on the fun of the amusement park. Sign up for Kid Track when you enter to help find a lost child. Nobody thinks it will happen to them, but it’s worth taking the time to register.
- When considering the island adventures, you should know that Pelee Island is part of Ontario, Canada. You will go through the same Customs and Border Patrol checkpoints as you would going into any other country. Bring your passport. The islands we mentioned above are all in the U.S. and won’t require a passport review.
- Short-term parking is free in downtown Sandusky but adhere to the time limits. If you are taking a ferry to one of the islands, use the designated parking lot or garage for that ferry. Do not take up street parking for this.
- Sandusky does have a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, which means an outdoor area where those over 21 can carry around alcoholic beverages. This does NOT include the entire span of the waterfront, so check the city’s website for a map and rules.
- Spring and early summer visitors should expect extra construction projects on the streets. Winters can really tear up the roads and leave potholes. The city does a great job of posting upcoming projects. Follow them on Facebook @cityofsandusky.
So... How Safe Is Sandusky Really?
On the surface and statistically, Sandusky looks safe.
The violent crime rate is 70% lower than the state average and 77% lower than the national average.
That rate is only calculated using the number of crimes vs the population.
Once you add in the thousands of visitors each year, that risk goes lower.
In addition, over the past five years, just 10% of violent crimes happened against strangers.
That means the risk is even lower for visitors.
The theft rate is at the national average, with 17% of all thefts being related to car break-ins.
It’s always necessary to lock your car and remove personal items, but it’s paramount if you’re parking your car for an extended period of time or taking a ferry for the day.
A brawl at a waterpark in the summer of 2023 was started by someone trying to move ahead in a long line.
It ended up being one of the most viral videos of the summer, showing young people fighting and one girl being thrown to the ground and knocked out.
A local news investigation showed dozens of accusations of sexual assault connected to Cedar Point and dorms where workers live.
It’s worth reading the latest on that investigation, but it doesn’t make the park inherently dangerous.
As with any busy place prone to adventurous activities, just use caution and leave any situation that is tense or troublesome.
Using common sense and basic safety practices will go a long way in Sandusky and Cedar Point.
How Does Sandusky Compare?
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|La Paz (Bolivia)||52|
International visitors need a visa or visa waiver, but you can only determine your eligibility for those by reviewing the rules on the U.S. State Department website. A passport that isn't within six months of expiring is required as well.
The U.S. Dollar is the only currency you can use here. I strongly recommend not carrying a lot of cash with you and paying for as much as possible with a credit card. You'll still be able to use the USD currency while getting better fraud protection. Cedar Point is a cashless location, meaning you'll need to have a credit card to make purchases. You can also use Google Pay or Apple Pay.
Summers will be warm to hot and pretty humid. Wear clothing you can get sweaty or wet at the water parks. Sunscreen and bug spray are needed during the warm months. Winter requires many layers of clothing with an insulated and waterproof outer layer.
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is just an hour east, and that's the largest airport in the area. Toledo's airport is also an hour away, but it's much smaller. You can consider Detroit's Wayne County Metropolitan Airport, about 90 minutes away.
Travel insurance just makes sense for a tourist destination like Sandusky and Cedar Point. Please review the policy about weather cancelations or rental car accidents to make sure you're covered.
Sandusky Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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Ohio - Safety by City