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T H E GROUP G G R R O U P TRAVEL LE ADER T H E all available for sampling. Inventive flavors of fudge, such as chocolate with a chewy praline layer, are made several times each week. Visitors can buy fresh peanut butter made four ways, pies baked in Ohio, raw honey, and local cookie and pancake mixes. The store also stocks farm-fresh produce, candles made locally, hand towels, rag rugs and other kitchen items. L A K E E R I E S H O R E S A N D I S L A N D S Upon arriving in the Sandusky area, I checked into Sawmill Creek Resort on the shores of Lake Erie. This 232-room property offers a private beach, charter fishing for perch and walleye, a Tom Fazio golf course and the delight- ful Sawmill Shops, former barns filled with a variety of clothes, jewelry and home decor. Even in the Midwest, island hopping and sandy beaches are within reach on a narrated Goodtime Lake Erie Island Cruise. Rented golf carts and bicycles made getting around the islands easy. From Sandusky, we cruised past Cedar Point and stopped at Kelleys Island first, before heading to Put-in-Bay. On laid-back Kelleys Island, the only hotel is the Kelleys Island Venture Resort, with lovely gardens and water views. The island's North Shore Loop Trail skirts a rocky shoreline, and the picturesque state park beach offers a half-moon of sand and waves, plus kayak rentals. Nearby, the island's glacial grooves rank as the world's largest, excavated display. It's worth taking the trail that overlooks the 396-foot-long and 30-foot-wide grooves. On the way back to the pier, we picked up a to-go lunch of traditional fried-perch sandwiches, fries and house chowder at second-generation-owned Village Pump. In contrast to relaxed Kelleys Island, Put-in-Bay, nicknamed the Key West of the Midwest, bustles with restaurants, bars and shops. Tram tours offer an island overview, and they're a one-stop shop that's especially fun for groups. Near town, Perry's Cave Family Fun Center offers cave tours, a rock-climbing wall, miniature golf, a butterfly house and mining for gems. Groups touring the area should be sure to visit Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial, which commemorates the Battle of Lake Erie that took place in the surrounding waters. The visitor center details this significant battle during the War of 1812. Perry's Monument observation deck rises 352 feet above Lake Erie with panoramic views. The island has numerous eateries, and a mid-afternoon ice cream cone at the Chocolate Café hit the mark. F I R E L A N D S W I N E RY, S A N D U S K Y Award-winning Firelands Winery, the state's largest producing and dis- tributing winery, is proof that Ohio can make great wines. The winery's name O H I O ' S S P R I N G M I G R AT I O N I f you have bird-watching afi cionados in your group, they likely already know about the Biggest Week in American Birding, a 10-day event that takes place at several observatories and wildlife ref- uges in northwest Ohio. But even travelers who have never spied a bird through binoculars will appreciate the signifi cance of the area if they visit for this spring celebration. The event takes place at the peak of the spring warbler migration in the marsh region around Lake Erie. Known as the Warbler Capital of the World, this area features many other migrating songbirds as well. Experts offer guided trips to birding hot spots, as well as birding workshops, keynote presentations, and parties with regional food, wine and music. The 2017 Biggest Week in American Birding will take place May 5-14 and is headquartered at the Maumee Bay Lodge and Conference Center in Oregon, Ohio, about 10 miles east of Toledo. Other sites include the Black Swan Bird Observatory, the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. WWW.BIGGESTWEEKINAMERICANBIRDING.COM Artwork by Donia Simmons Courtesy Tuscarawas Co.CVB sampling. Inve Inve nt iv e fl fl av av v or or or or or s s s s s of of of of of o f f f f ud ud ud ud d ud ge ge ge ge ge , , , , su su su su u s ch ch ch ch a a s s c c ayer, are made se ve ra ve ra l ti me me s s s ea ea e ch ch h w w w ee ee ee ee e k. k. k k. V V V is is it it it o made four ways, pies baked in O ed in Oh Oh O Oh h Oh Oh O Oh io , ra a w w ho h ho ne ne y, a ixes. The store also stocks f ar m- - fr fr fr fr f esh produce f h pr od uc e w els, rag rugs and other kit ch en en en en en i i i i te te te te te t ms . I E S H O R E S A N D I S L A N D S n g in the Sandusky area, I checked into S S aw aw w aw w w m i o f Lake Erie. This 232-room property o ff er er s a fo r pe rc h an d wa ll ey e, a T om F az io g ol f co ur se