“When is the best time to visit Put-in-Bay?”
Weekdays! I especially like the middle of the week. There are plenty of things to do and you avoid the weekend crowds.
Below you will find information on how to enjoy a weekday trip to the island, as well as a few My Ohio Fun Road Trip notes. I hope you find time this year to migrate during a weekday to Put-in-Bay. You will not be disappointed.
Getting to the island:
There are three ways you can get to the island. By plane, private boat, or ferry. Ferries are available from Catawba Island, Port Clinton, or Sandusky.
Ferry options include:
Dock: 5174 E Water St., Port Clinton, OH 43452
419. 285.2421 | website
Adult: $8.50 each way (Ages 12 and up)
Child: $1.50 each way (Ages 6 – 11)
Young Child: Free (Ages 5 and under)
Bicycle: $2.50 each way (Fare does not include passengers)
Motorcycle: $16 (Fare does not include passengers)
The island makes a great place to spend time with your pet. Did you know you can bring your dog on the ferry? (Check their website for rules.)
My Ohio Fun’s preferred transportation method:
I find that Miller Ferry offers the most affordable way to get to the island. They offer free parking for your vehicle on the mainland and their ticket costs are very budget friendly. The staff is also super helpful.
2190 Langram Road, Put-in-Bay
419.285-7300 | website
Located on the Miller Ferry Dock Put-in-Bay, the gift shop offers a nice selection of P-I-B wear, island jewelry, nautical decor, art pieces, snacks, books, and more. The perfect place to pick-up those souvenirs before leaving the island or grabbing a few items you may have forgotten to bring.
Docks: Port Clinton and Sandusky
419.732.2800 | website
Port Clinton to Put-in-Bay
The Jet Express offers a drop off in Downtown Put-in-Bay and a late night ferry service. If you have bags they staff are available for assistance.
Getting around the island:
Do you need to ferry your car over? Not at all. Throughout the island you can find golf carts and bikes to rent. There is also an Island Tour Train. My favorite way of touring the island is in a golf cart. Please note that many golf cart establishments require you to reserve your cart 24 hours in advance. You will also need a valid drivers license.
E’s Put-in-Bay Golf Carts
2190 Langram Rd., Put-in-Bay, OH
419.285.5553 | website
Visit their website for pricing information and requirements.
Note: They do offer a Miller Ferry/Golf Cart Combo.
My Ohio Fun’s preferred method of enjoying the island:
I will normally reserve a golf cart ahead of time at E’s. I like E’s because they are located a short walking distance from Miller Ferry’s dock, allowing for easy pick-up and drop-off. Reservations are always suggested.
After departing Miller Ferry you will need to walk up a slight incline and then about 30-40 yards to pick-up your cart. If you have trouble walking, you can make arrangements with Miller Ferry to assist you E’s. You will need a valid driving license to rent.
Erie Island Carts
1961 Langram Rd. and Put-in-Bay Airport, Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419.285.5278 | website
See website for pricing.
Island Transportation Train Depot & Bus Stop
154 Delaware Ave., Put-in-Bay, OH
419.285.4855 | website
Open Memorial Day through Labor Day
The train offers a one-hour narrated, historical tour. Stop-off privileges are available at various locations. Visit their website for tour prices.
Island Club Taxi Service
419.285.5466 | website
Boathouse Cart and Bike Rental
Hartford Avenue, Put-in-Bay, Ohio 43456
419.285.2113 | website
Things to do on Put-in-Bay
Once arriving on the island, and after securing your mode of transportation, my suggestion is you start your adventure by heading towards the tallest structure on the island and the third tallest national monument. Standing 352 feet above the water, the world’s most massive Doric column can be seen from miles away. Constructed from 1812-1815, the “Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial is dedicated to telling the story of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s Victory over the British fleet during the War of 1812.”
Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial
Managed by the National Park Service
93 Delaware Ave., Put-in-Bay, Ohio 43456
419.285.2184 | website
Admission: Free of charge to the visitor center.
The visitor center offers a wealth of information about the war and about the monument. Throughout the summer season the National Park Service employees put on demonstrations, special tours, and special events.
The memorial is open to the public.* You will need to climb the outside steps leading to the monument and then 37 additional steps to the elevator. Once at the elevator, there is an admission charge for taking the ride to the top. * Check website for any changes.
From the top you will have a wonderful view of the island and on a clear day you may even be able to see Canada. There is a park ranger at the top who can answer all of your questions.
The Butterfly House at Put-in-Bay
979 Catawba Ave., Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419.285.2446 | website
Open Memorial – Labor Day
Step inside the 4000 sq. ft. aviary and enjoy over 50 different types of exotic butterflies as they take flight around you. The Butterfly House also offers an additional area for shopping. If you love butterflies, this is your store.
Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center
Catawba Ave., Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419.285.2283 | website
Open May through mid-October | 10am-5pm
Go down under and view a natural limestone cave 52 feet below the surface, then take in a little rock climbing, go gemstone mining, play a round of 18-hole miniature golf, or find your way out of the giant maze. There is even an Antique Car Museum. The perfect place to take kids.
Additional admission required for other attractions. You can purchase combo and super combo tickets which are all-inclusive and include The Butterfly House. See their website for more details.
978 Catawba Ave., Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419.285.2811 | website
Open early May until late September
Tours 11am-5pm | Sunday Noon – 5pm
Admission: Adults $12 | Children 6 to 11 $7 (2023 prices)
This is a combo tour or the Crystal Cave and Wine Cellar that includes a 5oz glass of the wine or grape juice of your choice.
Crystal Cave is the world’s largest geode and is about 12 to 15,000 years old. The cave is covered in celestine crystals. The tour includes history of the cave and an explanation of how the crystals were formed.
To view a video about the cave click here.
160 Delaware Ave., Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419.285.2212 | website
Built in 1917, and restored to it’s glory by Islander George Stoiber, this Herschel carousel is the country’s oldest original carousel. Tickets can be purchased at the Carriage House next door. Check website for updated hours.
Aquatic Visitor’s Center
878 Bayview Dr., Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
Open mid June thru mid August | 10am-5pm
The center offers guided tours of the historic fish hatchery. Learn about Lake Erie, view live fish, and for kids 16 yrs. and under there is an opportunity to fish.
Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center
255 Meechen Rd., Put-in-Bay. OH 43456
419.285.3037 | website
Open Weekends in May (Saturday & Sunday) Noon – 4pm
June – August | 11am-5pm
Admission: Adults $3 | Children 6 – 11 and Seniors $2
Children 5 and under free if accompanied by an adult
Family Rate $8
Self-guided or narrated tours are offered of this indoor collection of over 240 North American fish, mammals, and birds. Located also on the grounds is a butterfly garden, frog pond, and nature trail.
Chocolate Cafe & Museum
Catawba Avenue, Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419.734.7114 | Facebook
Open daily late May – September.
If you are in need of a chocolate fix, this is the place. Fine chocolates, coffee, desserts, and a selection of ice creams are available. The museum offers free tours in the chocolate museum.
South Bass Island Lighthouse
878 Bayview Dr., Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419.285.1800 | website
Every Thursday, from June 29 – August 17, 2023, you can grab the water taxi to the Island. Tours meet at the Boardwalk Restaurant dock 15 minutes prior to the start time. The water taxi to Gibraltar Island charges $8 per round-trip, payable to the boat driver in cash only.
10 a.m.-12:00 p.m. 1 p.m.-3 p.m.
For more info visit website.
Lake Erie Islands Historical Society Museum
411 Catawba Ave., Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419.285.2804 | website
Seasonal. Check website for updated hours.
The museum showcases island history. The museum also has a resale and thrift shop.
While traveling around the island, make sure you take a minute and visit Put-in-Bay’s original school house. It was established in 1855. Admission is free.
140 Thompson Rd., Put-in-Bay
Explore the outdoors:
There are two Ohio State Parks located on the island, as well as hiking and wildflower trails.
South Bass Island State Park
1523 Catawba Ave., Put-in-Bay. OH
Park Office: 419.285.2112 (seasonal) | East Harbor: 419.734.4424
Reservations for camping: 866.644.6727
Not only can you view beautiful sunsets from the State Park, you also take a photo next to the new Put-in-Bay sign located in the park. The perfect spot to grab a sunset selfie photo.
Oak Point State Park
Western end of Put-in-Bay Harbor, Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419.285.32112 | website
Oak Point State Park is the smallest of Ohio’s State Parks. It is however a great place to enjoy a picnic and take in the views. Public restrooms are available. The park also offers facilities for boaters to dock their boats at a daily rate.
Catawba Ave., just west of Concord Ave.
Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
If you are looking for a nice area to take a hike, Cooper’s Woods offers hiking trails through its 18-acre park.
Village of Put-in-Bay Beach
East end of Delaware Ave., Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
This park overlooks the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. If you want to enjoy a little toe time in the water, at this sandy beach you will find access to the water and a picnic area.
Additional outdoor island areas include:
- Jane Coates Wildflower Trail
- Massie Cliffside Preserve
- Scheef East Point Preserve
- Dodge Woods StoryWalk Trail
- DeRivera Park – Downtown
Get close to the water.
Put-in-Bay Watercraft Rentals
1523 Catawba Ave., Put-in-Bay
419.285.2628 | website
Kayak the Bay
Bay View Ave., Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419.967.0796 | website
Seasonal and weather permitting.
Enjoy a winery.
329 Bayview Ave., Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419.285.3343 | website
Open April – October – weather permitting
Located in the historic Valentine Doller Estate, this winery offers wine tasting, and beautiful views of the harbor from the front porch and front patio area. There selection of wines include a variety of dry and sweet wines.
978 Catawba Ave., Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419.285.2811 | website
Open April – October | 11am-7pm | Sunday Noon – 7pm
Heineman’s Winery has been producing wines since 1888. Their selections include red, white, sparkling, desert wine, and even grape juice. So if you are bringing the kids along there is something for them too. The winery offers tastings, and a cheese plate to enjoy with your wine. There is indoor seating and outdoor seating in their wine garden. The winery is also home to Crystal Cave. (see above for information about the cave)
Can’t forget about the island food.
341 Bayview Ave., Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419.285.3695 | website
For many a pilgrimage to the island would not be complete without a bowl of “The Boardwalk’s Lobster Bisque”. If you love seafood this is your spot. Other selections include, Lake Erie Perch, Live Main Lobster and Alaskan King Crab, as well as other seafood. If seafood is not on your menu, located on the main deck level you will find additional concessions that include hamburgers and hot dogs, deli sandwiches and wraps, as well as salads and chicken strips.
234 Delaware Avenue, Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419.285.4595 | website
The Chicken Patio is known for their wine basted BBQ chicken. Dinners include potato salad, sweet corn, and a dinner roll. Great place to pick up a picnic.
240 Delaware Ave, Put-in-Bay, OH
419-285-8600 | pasqualescafe.com
One of my favorite stops to enjoy breakfast. Their breakfast sandwiches are perfect to enjoy on a park bench across the street. Please call ahead to confirm open times. They are normally closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, but they are sometimes open July through August.
227 Bayview Ave., Put-in-Bay
419-285-5397 | thekeyspib.com
Casual waterfront dining with a tropical decor. Menu includes seafood, flat breads, burgers, chicken sandwiches, entrees, tacos, specialty drinks, and more.
Hooligans Irish Pub
421 Co Rd 215, Put-In-Bay
The only Irish pub on the island. Fish-n-chips, Irish nachos, Guiness burger, Piggy Melt, Shepard’s Pie, meatloaf and more.
Round House Bar
228 Delaware Ave., Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419.285.2323 | website
The bar is open everyday at noon.
This bar opened in June of 1873 as a restaurant, then later converted to a bar. The Round House Bar has been serving Put-in-Bay patrons for over 140 years. Live entertainment is provided at select times. View their calendar for additional information.
Additional area restaurants include:
- Mossbacks/The Fishbowl – upscale cuisine
- Put-in-Bay Brewery & Distillery
- The Goat, Soup & Whiskey – original Perch Taco, soups, and garden selections.
- Margaritas on the Rock – full bar and specialty tacos
- Frosty Bar & Family Pizza – known for the famous island pizza
- Dairy Isle – burgers and veggie burgers, sandwiches, crazy fries, and ice cream in homemade waffle cones.
- Reel Bar – burgers, sandwiches, and a selection of draft beers.
- Boat House Bar & Grill – burgers, sandwiches, flatbreads and southern-style food like po’boys.
- The Goat Soup & Whiskey Tavern
For a list of open times for the restaurants visit Put-in-Bay’s Tourism site.
Where to stay:
This year, I had the wonderful opportunity to stay at Ashley’s Island House. This historic Bed and Breakfast is located just one block from downtown Put-in-Bay and offers a delightful front porch for people watching, spacious breakfast area and wonderful hosts.
The home was built around 1863 and was once known as the Doller Cottage, after prominent citizen John Doller. The cottage became a popular boarding house for ships officers. In 1993, Bob & Judy Bransome renamed the home the “Ashley Island House”, and operated a bed and breakfast. In 2017, current owners, Laurie and Dave Schafer purchased the property and to this day operate it as a bed and breakfast.
During our visit I stayed in the Lighthouse Room. This first floor bedroom was very spacious and we had our own bathroom. Dave, the owner, was there to welcome us, share a little history of the property, as well as give us a tour of the home. Breakfast included morning coffee and a delightful assortment of breakfast options.
Ashley’s Island House
557Catawba Avenue, Put-in-Bay
419-285-2844 | ashleysislandhouse.com
Guest are invited to stay from April 1st thru November 1st. All reservations are made by phone. There is also a guest house located on the property. Golf carts are available onsite for rental. Arrangements can be made for ferry pick-up and drop-off.
For Miller Ferries’ lodging suggestions click here.
MY OHIO FUN ROAD TRIP NOTES:
Before you go:
If you are planning to visit the island, I would suggest you download any coupons that are available online. Places where I have found discounts include: Miller Ferries website, Lake Erie Shores and Island – Shore Savings Card; and the Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce has an app you can download called “PutinBay” which also includes coupons.
If you need visitor assistance, there is the Lake Erie Shores & Island Visitor Center on the mainland and about 6 miles from the Miller Ferry dock. There is also the Put-in-Bay Official Tourism Bureau office located right on the island.
Put-in-Bay Official Tourism Bureau
148 Delaware Ave., Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419-285-2832 | visitputinbay.com
W-Sun (thru Memorial Day) | Open 7-days during the season.
Lake Erie Shores and Islands Welcome Center
770 SE Catawba Rd, Port Clinton, OH 43452
419.734.4386 | shoresandislands.com
Things to remember:
If you are utilizing a ferry, make sure you check final departure times. Allow time for returning any rented golf carts or bikes, and give yourself plenty of time to board. Arrive about 1/2 hour early. If it is going to be a busy weekend for tourists, plan accordingly.
Wear comfortable shoes. Dress for weather. Sometimes island breezes can be cool.
If you enjoy shopping, you will find plenty of unique shops to explore. Offerings include nautical gifts, Put-in-Bay merchandise, boutique merchandise, specialty shops, and more.
Most places accept Visa and Mastercard, but it is always good idea to carry some cash.
For those who can not live without their phones, I found only a few parts of the island that I had difficulty with cell service.
For additional travel information visit the Put-in-Bay’s Tourism Bureau website.
Should you have any additional questions, or need help with an itinerary, please reach out.
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Disclosure: I received compensation for this article from Miller Ferry. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.
Article and photos, unless noted by: D. Rock, MyOhioFun.com
Diane Rock is the owner and editor of MyOhioFun.com and the Tea Cup Rescue Society. She is an avid baker, gardener, Little Free Library owner, who loves to read and travel. She spends most of her days sharing her love of things to do in Ohio, as well as creating destinations and itineraries for group tours and individual travelers.
Editor’s note: Any use of the above article or images without prior permission, will be in violation of copyright laws.
***Disclosure: My Ohio Fun receives compensation from advertising banners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***