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I’ve lived in Ohio my entire life and yet I’ve always believed that there is nothing to do here. Whenever commercials would come on TV advertising Ohio and all the cool stuff there is to do here, I would yell (sometimes mentally, sometimes out loud), “LIES!” The past couple of years, though, I’ve realized that there is plenty of interesting stuff to do in Ohio! (The problem is that there’s nothing to do in my hometown; I have to actually drive to the fun stuff.) We have awesome zoos, fun amusement parks, cool museums, a beautiful waterfront (even if it’s not the ocean), and, my most recent find, an ISLAND. Why didn’t anybody tell me Ohio has islands???
Put-In-Bay, located on South Bass Island, has a long history, dating back to the War of 1812 when Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry used it as a base of operations. Commodore Perry and his team managed to gain control of Lake Erie from the British, which gave the Americans a foot up in the war, aiding in the eventual victory. Today, visitors may learn about the importance of Put-In-Bay and Perry by visiting the memorial site, the Perry Peace Memorial and Visitors Center, which includes the 352-foot structure, dedicated by Franklin D. Roosevelt as a National Monument.
Today, Put-In-Bay is filled with awesome activities for visitors. While visiting last month, I got to visit Perry’s Cave, a cave 50+ feet underground, discovered by Commodore Perry and his men during the War of 1812; see beautiful butterflies imported from all over the world at the Butterfly House; challenge my family to a game of mini-golf at War of 18 Holes; visit the North American Wildlife Museum; and tour the Antique Car Museum. We also visited Perry’s Monument (although we didn’t take the tour).
My favorite part of my trip to Put-In-Bay was probably Perry’s Cave – even if I did have to climb down a narrow set of stairs to get there and duck so I wouldn’t bump my head. It was very cool seeing the beautiful, nature-made feature (I especially enjoyed seeing the stalactites and stalagmites!). Ask the tour guides about the things they see in the cave – like lions, eyes, crocodiles, and even the USA!
I am absolutely awful at mini-golf, but I had a ton of fun at War of 18 Holes. After all, laughing at your mistakes with family and friends is part of the fun! (And look how pretty the course’s landscape is!)
The North American Wildlife Museum is an awesome place to go to, especially if you have children. You might think seeing a bunch of taxidermied animals is creepy, but it was actually very interesting, and the lady there was full of fun factoids. For example, she taught us the difference between a gray fox and a red fox (and it isn’t that one is red and one is gray!).
I loved seeing all of the beautiful butterflies at the Butterfly House – one of them even landed on my brother’s pant-leg and wouldn’t get off for a good five minutes!
There’s a ton of other stuff to do on the island, including riding a chicken, cow, pig, or “Pete the Perch” on Kimberly’s Carousel; touring the Chocolate Museum and learning the history of chocolate making (and enjoy delicious chocolates!); parasailing and golfing; and visiting Crystal Cave (the world’s largest recorded geode).
Since Put-In-Bay is on an island, you can’t exactly drive there. You have to take the Miller Boat Line Ferry across roughly 3 miles of Lake Erie. The trip takes approximately 20 minutes, and there’s a ferry at the dock about every half hour. You can either drive your car on to take it over with you, or you can go on foot (or bike!).
My family took the Miller Boat Line ferry to Put-In-Bay, and we went on foot. Put-In-Bay consists of about 400 acres, so it’s not unreasonable to get around on foot. However, if you aren’t partial to walking from fun activity to fun activity, you can rent bikes or a golf cart. We rented a 6-passenger gold cart from E’s Golf Carts, which is located adjacent to the ferry dock, up the hill and to the right. Besides having trouble getting started (“Wait, how do we do this? How do I make it go? Why doesn’t it sound like it’s running? Do we have gas?”), renting a golf cart was pretty simple, and it was a good investment for our party. You can find out more about bike and gold cart rentals here.
Of course, all of the excitement is going to bring on some major hunger pangs, but don’t worry! There are plenty of places to eat. When we were there, my family and I ate at Pasquale’s. My brother and grandma got salads, my mom and grandpa got sandwiches (with AMAZING beer-battered French fries), and I got pancakes. As you can tell, we tasted a wide variety of their menu. Everything was delicious! (Especially the fries!) A table behind us got pizza, and it looked really good. Put-In-Bay has a wide variety of dining options, from sit-down restaurants to grab-n-go places. You can find out more about dining here.
Planning Your Trip
The first thing you’ll need to do after deciding that you’re going to visit Put-In-Bay is figure out how you’re going to get there. Ferry? Jet Express? Private boat? Plane?
- Miller Boat Line Ferry fares: Adult $14, child 6-11 yrs $3, child 5 yrs & under free, car $30, bicycle $4.
- Jet Express tickets [from Port Clinton]: round trip is $33 for adults, $6 for kids (6-12), and free for 5 and under.
- Docking: There are various docks (both public and private) and each has their own fees. You can check out all the options by clicking on the link.
- Plane: If you own a plane – or know someone who will let you charter theirs – you may use the Put-In-Bay Airport, which “is serviced by small commercial carriers located at the Port Clinton and Sandusky air fields as well as a local island air service.”
Once you figure out how you’re going to get to Put-In-Bay, you need to figure out how you’re going to get around. Do you want to go on foot? Do you want to ride a bike? If you brought your car over on the ferry, you may drive around the island, but if you don’t want to worry about parking, pedestrians, and bikers (and golf cart drivers), you can either go on foot, ride a bike (one you brought on the ferry or a rented one), or rent a golf cart. There are various places to rent a golf cart, and you can view the list here. We got our cart from E’s Golf Carts and it was great. Their fares vary depending on the season, though, so you should call ahead to check. Some places also offer reservations.
If you don’t want to go on foot, ride a bike, or drive a golf cart (or car), you can take a bus or the Tour Train. The Tour Train is a 55-minute narrated historical tour of the island, and it makes stops at several of Put-In-Bay’s attractions. Purchase tickets at the ticket booth located at the Depot. Tickets cost $10 for adults, $4 for children (6-12), and are free for children 5 and under. Bus tickets cost $2.50 one-way, and children under 6 ride free.
How long would you like to visit Put-In-Bay? One day, like my family and I did? Two days? Three? If you’re interested in staying at Put-In-Bay overnight, there are plenty of overnight places to choose from. There are B&Bs, inns, hotels, resorts, homes, cottages, condos, and even tent and RV camping. We didn’t stay overnight, but we did see a lot of cottages as we drove around the island, and they looked darling! (Yes, I’m 20 years old and I used the word “darling.”) One of the island merchants suggested the Bird’s Nest Cottages, which come with fully equipped kitchens, 3 bedrooms, living rooms with color TV, screened porches with tables and chairs, a swimming pool and play area, and a grill (and fish cleaning facilities if you need it). You can find out more about island lodging here.
What Will You Do?
I told you above how much fun I had going to Perry’s Cave, mini-golfing, seeing the butterflies at The Butterfly House, and visiting the North American Wildlife Museum, but what do YOU want to do? Do you want to go parasailing? See the top of Perry’s Monument? Take a nature hike on Jane Coates Wildflower Trail? There are so many fun things to do on the island. We didn’t even do half of them, yet we were busy all day long!
Prices vary depending on the activities, but for Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center (Perry’s Cave, The Butterfly House, War of 18 Holes Mini Golf, Fort aMaze’n, and Rock Climbing) you can purchase a combo ticket ($19 for adults and $11 for kids 6-12) that allows you access to 3 of the 5 activities, or a super combo ticket ($26 for adults and $18 for kids 6-12) that allows you access to all 5. Individually, all of these attractions cost about $8 for adults and $4.50 for kids. Find out more about Perry’s Family Fun Center (including prices) here. See all of the fun tours and activities here and the recreational activities here.
Finally, enjoy your time at Put-In-Bay! And let me know in the comments below what you did and how you liked it.
Head Blogger at A Bibliophile’s View: Fitness, Food, and Faith