2021 COVID-19 UPDATE: Put-in-Bay is open for business. I have reached out to many of the businesses, including Miller Ferry and everyone on the island is working very hard to offer a safe environment. Extra measures are being taken, such as the wearing of masks and constant cleaning.
I know what you may be thinking. Not sure about spending time on the island? There are so many great places to explore and enjoy on the Island while still being socially responsible. Rent your own golf cart or bike or bring your own bike. Get take-out at one of the island restaurants and enjoy a wonderful picnic in the park. With views of Lake Erie, how can you go wrong? Take an enjoyable ride around the island. Just getting out and exploring can be such great therapy. And with so many places to explore and enjoy outdoors, the island really can be a great COVID getaway.
For what is currently open visit the Put-in-Bay Tourism website.
Article updated for 2021
Beginning in the spring and all through fall, the population grows on this three mile long island located in Ohio. Thousands migrate over the summer months to Put-in-Bay to meet up with friends and family, explore, camp, enjoy water sports, the wineries, the food, and the Lake Erie breezes. Mostly to escape and relax.
This past summer, I became one of those who migrated. My day began with a relaxing 20-minute ferry ride to the island, courtesy of Miller Ferries. I then picked up my days transportation, a golf cart, at E-Carts just a few steps away from the dock. With camera in hand, I headed towards the center of town to begin my days exploration of the island.
Below you will find information about my trip, as well as a few #MyOhioFun Road Trip notes. I hope you find time this year to migrate to Put-in-Bay. It really is a relaxing and fun time.
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.
2021 COVID-19 update: The visitor center is open to the public. Masks are required. The Monument and observation deck are currently closed to visitors. The Visitor Center will be opening May 22, 2021.
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. Adults (16 and older) $10, Youth $0 (2019 pricing).
*2020 COVID-19 update: Currently the monument and observation deck are not open for tours.
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
Admission: Adults $10 | Children 6 to 12 $6 (2021 prices)
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.
Admission: Perry’s Cave Adults $10 | Children 6 to 12 $6 (2021 prices)
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 5th until late September 25th
Tours 11am-5pm | Sunday Noon – 5pm
Admission: Adults $10 | Children 6 to 11 $5 (2021 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 celestite 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.
Kimberly’s Carousel *
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. ($3.00| $5 all day pass – 2021 pricing)
* 2021 COVID-19 update: The Carousel has not been put together for the 2021 season. Updates will be posted when available.
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.
2021 COVID-19 update: The Aquatic Center is currently closed.
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
2021 COVID-19 update: The Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center is opening for 2021 season.
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 | website
Open daily late May – September. Check their website for 2021 updates.
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.
If are lucky enough to visit on a Friday, it wouldn’t be right to not visit the historic lighthouse located on the island.
South Bass Island Lighthouse
878 Bayview Dr., Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419.285.1800 | website
Tours: May 7-August 27, 2021 (Fridays)
Admission: $5pp Children 3 and under free. (1 child per adult)
COVID-19 update: The lighthouse grounds remain open to the public, with physical distancing protocols in place.
Lake Erie Islands Historical Society Museum
411 Catawba Ave., Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419.285.2804 | website
Open May – October | 11:00am-5pm
Historical Museum Admission Price
Adults & Children: $5.00 | Senior Citizens: $4.00 | Children 5 and Under: Free | Veterans: Free (2019 pricing)
The museum showcases island history. The museum also has a resale and thrift shop.
COVID-19 update: Heritage Resale Shop is open weekends, noon to 4 pm. Both open for the season May 14, 2021.
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
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.
Kayak the Bay
Bay View Ave., Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419.967.0796 | website
Seasonal and weather permitting.
COVID-19 update: Kayak the Bay will be open for the 2021 season, around Memorial Day.
They offer sit inside or sit on top kayaks. Guided tours are offered. See their website for additional information. If you hit the water, make sure you check out the Benson Ford Ship House.
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 Wiinery 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.
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.
341 Bayview Ave., Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419.285.3695 | website
2021 prices: Lobster Bisque Reg. Bowl – $10.00 | $13 for a larger portion in a Sourdough Bowl. Lobster roll sandwich $22 (Fresh Maine Lobster)
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.
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.
If only our time allowed to sample all of Put-in-Bay’s restaurants.
Additional area restaurants include:
- Mossbacks/The Fishbowl – upscale cuisine
- Pasquale’s Cafe – Italian and American dishes
- Put-in-Bay Brewery & Distillery
- Hooligans – The only Irish pub. Fish-n-chips, Reubens, and more.
- 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.
Are there really ghosts on the island?
Haunted Put-in-Bay Ghost Walk*
Meeting location: The Boardwalk Restaurant
341 Bayview Ave., Put-in-Bay, OH
Every Tuesday and Friday evening 7:30 pm (seasonal)
For more information visit website.
* Based on the book :Haunted Put-in-Bay” by William G. Krejci
COVID-19 update: Reserve your spot online. Social distancing and masks are required.
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
Don’t like crowds? Plan a trip for the middle of the week. I escaped to the island on a Tuesday, and enjoyed the less weekend atmosphere.
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 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)
Free parking available for your vehicle on the mainland.
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.)
Docks: Port Clinton and Sandusky
419.732.2800 | website
Port Clinton to Put-in-Bay – Adult $35 Round Trip | Children 12-16 $15 | 6-11 $6 | 0-5 Free
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.
The Jet Express is offering a special Lighthouse and Island Tour, September 26, 2021 . For more information visit their website.
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.
Erie Island Carts
1961 Langram Rd. and Put-in-Bay Airport, Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
419.285.5278 | website
See website for pricing. (Rentals begin May 17th for the 2021 season.)
Island Transportation Train Depot & Bus Stop
154 Delaware Ave., Put-in-Bay, OH
419.285.4855 | website
Open Memorial Day (5/29/2021) 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
Where to stay:
This trip to the island I did not stay overnight. But the island offers plenty of seasonal accommodations. For Miller Ferries’ lodging suggestions click here.
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. Please click here for COVID-19 restrictions and updates.
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.
You can follow us on Instagram at MyOhioFun.
Article and photos by: D. Rock, MyOhioFun.com
Editor’s note: Part of this story ran in 2019. We have updated our post to reflect 2021 COVID-19 updates. Any use of the above article or images without prior permission, will be in violation of copyright laws.
***Disclosure: MyOhioFun.com received two ferry tickets and a golf cart, courtesy of Miller Ferries for our 2019 day of exploration. In 2021, we received a ride on Miller Ferry and the Jet Express as part of a media day event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***