Escape to an Ohio Island

If you want to escape to a place that will make you feel that you have really left home, then may we suggest a little Island exploring on Put-in-Bay. Located in Lake Erie, Put-in-Bay is just one of four Islands. Put-in-Bay is home to the third tallest national monument as well a very popular destination for friends and families to enjoy a little Island paradise.

There are different ways to get to the Island during the summer. By private boat, plane or ferry. On our journey we chose to take Miller Ferry. A 20 minute ride over to Put-in-Bay. Whether you want to walk on the ferry, take a bike, car, camper or motorcycle, Miller Ferry can accommodate. We decided we would leave our car at the dock in the provided free parking area. (Miller Ferry departs Catawba End of Rt. 53 North, off Rt. 2. For GPS enter: 5174 East Water St. Port Clinton, Ohio, www.millerferry.com, 800-500-2421)

Once off the ferry we opted to rent a golf cart for our day’s exploration of the Island. We made our selection at E’s Golf Carts. E’s is a family-owned business located at the top of the Miller Boat Dock. They offer 2-4-6 and 8 passenger gas powered carts. They were extremely friendly and answered all
our questions. (419.285.5553)

If golf carts are not your idea, then Put-in-Bay also offers bicycles, taxis and an Island Train. (For more info see “Getting Around the Islands“.)

1st stop:
Perry’s Cave and Family Fun Center

(979 Catawba Ave.)
Perry’s Cave and Family Fun Center offers a wide arrange of things to do, such as Fort aMaze, Rock Climbing wall, 18-hole miniature golf, antique car museum and what we came for Perry’s Cave.

Perry’s Cave was originally discovered by Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry during the War of 1812. The underground lake that is shown to the right was a resource for fresh drinking water for the troops. The tour of the limestone cave lasts about 20 minutes and is not handicapped accessible.

Butterfly House
(1/2 mile from downtown Catawba Ave.)
The butterfly house located next door to Perry’s Cave is a 4,000 sq. ft. aviary. Here you will experience butterflies flying all around as well as on you. There is an educational presentation available at no extra charge. Attached to the aviary is 5,000 sq. ft. gift shop filled with everything butterfly, garden gifts, nature gifts and more.

2nd stop:
Heineman Winery & Crystal Cave

The winery was founded in 1888 by Gustav Heineman. Besides the delicious wine created here, the Winery is also known for it’s Crystal Caves. The world’s largest geode was discovered in 1897 while the digging for a well. The walls of the cave are covered in strontium sulfate, a blueish mineral called celestite.

3rd stop:
Perry’s International Peace Memorial and Visitor’s Center

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial was erected on Put-in-Bay to honor those who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie, during the War of 1812.

During our visit we were fascinated by the all the history located within the visitor center. Throughout the warmer season the visitor center offers various events such as free concerts and firing and living history demonstrations. The day we visited we were treated to a battlefield troop cooking demonstration.

4th stop:
The Boardwalk

(located on Bay View Ave, downtown)
All this touring can really work up an appetite. And one place that is a must stop on the Island is The Boardwalk. If you love seafood, then a bowl of their Famous Lobster Bisque is a must have. Another of our favorite dishes is the perch. If you do not like seafood they offer hamburgers and fries, nachos, salads and more.

If The Boardwalk does not interest you there are plenty of other wonderful places to dine.

5th stop:
Put-in-Bay Winery on the Doller Estate

(392 Bayview Drive)
Home tours and wine tasting.
Not only can you taste and enjoy the wine created at the winery you can tour the Doller House. This historic Victorian Italian ate Doller Mansion was home to Valentine Doller, one of the Island’s wealthiest and most influential citizens. During your tour of the home you will learn about island living and how the home evolved. Outside in a separate building you will get to see the last remaining ice house and a display of how winter travel across the ice evolved.

The Put-in-Bay Winery also offer an exhibit that follows the grape from its seed state to in the bottle. After your tour of the winery, visitors are welcome to a wine tasting and/or to shop their gift shop. You may also enjoy a glass of wine in their area garden or the panoramic front porch which offers a spectacular view of Lake Erie.

6th stop:
Stonehenge Historic Home Tour

(808 Langram Rd., Put-in-Bay)
During the 1800’s many grape growing farms and wineries prospered on the island. This beautiful historic landmark is just one of those estates that has been preserved and made available throughout the summer months to the public to tour. The stone home and wine press cottage are both listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of the items you are able to view include island memorabilia and antiques from a time gone by. There is also a gift shop located on the premises where you will find many unique items.

7th stop: South Bass Island State Park
Catawba Ave. 419.285.2112

If you are looking to spend a little time with nature may we suggest the South Bass Island State Park? This beautiful campground includes 120 non-electric tent camping sites and eleven full service RV sites with electric and sewer hook-ups. Pet camping is permitted on designated sites. The park also offer the following amenities; a children’s playground, waterfront campsites, pier fishing, a pebble swimming beach, jet ski and watercraft rentals and snack and coffee shop.

Additional things to know:

  • If you plan on staying on the island overnight, many of the local accommodations require a two night stay on the weekends.
  • You will need a State Driver’s License for any Golf Cart Rentals
  • Check out Miller Ferry’s website for coupons.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes!
  • Make sure you check the ferry schedule for last departure.

Our future Put-in-Bay Island to do list:

  • Parasailing
  • A ferry jaunt to Middle Bass Island
  • Learn about the famed Hotel Victory that once stood where the State Park now resides. Lake Erie Islands Historical Museum off Catawba Ave., downtown
  • Kayak the Bay
  • Jet Ski the Bay
  • Take the tour Train
  • Check out the Chocolate Museum

For additional information about Put-in-Bay please see our Lake Erie Island page.

For additional one day trip ideas click here.

1855 Original Put-in-Bay School House

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