Exploring Put-in-Bay, Ohio, a Lake Erie island, with the family

During our epic summer road trip to Philadelphia, we stopped by the Lake Erie area in Ohio. Our destination for the day – Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island. Located in the western basin of Lake Erie, Put-in-Bay started out when Jose DeRivera began grape growing and wine making in the 1860s.  Today, it’s a popular getaway for visitors, especially families.  So when planning our itinerary, I knew we had to include a day on Put-in-Bay. So glad we did – it was one of our favorite parts of our road trip!

The fun began with our Miller Ferry ride to South Bass Island (read about it here), we were so excited to explore the island. Lucky for us, our golf cart rental, E’s Golf Cart, was just around the corner.

Our check-in was easy peasy. We just had to fill out a few forms and then we were off! Loved that the golf carts were named. The kids were pretty excited to ride on the “Polar Express.”

We could have literally spent the entire time driving around the island. It was too cool! But I knew that Put-in-Bay had too much to see and do, and would be a shame if we didn’t get to explore it as much as we could.

Our first stop – Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. Managed by the National Park Service, we learned more about this 352-foot iconic memorial dedicated as a symbol of peace between the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain. Unfortunately, the memorial was undergoing renovation so we couldn’t go to the observation deck. There’s always next time!

We stopped by the Visitor Center to learn more about Commodore Oliver H. Perry and his naval victory in the War of 1812. My oldest participated in the Junior Ranger Program. It was our first time trying and we learned so much! Don’t forget to bring your National Park Passport to get stamped.

But alas, it was lunchtime and one thing I remembered from our last visit with my husband was eating lobster bisque. You better believe that we were ready to dig in. So we parked and walked over to The Boardwalk.

See, the sign says it all.

And trust me, you don’t want to miss out on having lobster bisque. Tip: Get the lobster bisque in the sourdough bowl. Our bisque was overflowing and the sourdough + lobster bisque were a perfect pair. 

The kids needed a space to run around and we were glad to find De Rivera Park with their playground, swings, and plenty of green space to release their energy.

Afterwards, it was the perfect opportunity to walk along downtown on Delaware Street. We passed by Kimberly’s Carousel, only one of 100 wooden carousels left in the nation.

After a quick walk downtown and a little souvenir shopping, it was time to get back to our golf cart. After all, there was exploring to be done! We saw beautiful homes both old and new…

,…people enjoying the day fishing….


….found Instagrammable hotspots…

Words to the wise – Don’t Give Up. Cool art work, better views of two other islands. #lakeerielove #otheplaceswego

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Then we stopped by the family-friendly mecca, Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center. With gem mining, cave exploring, putt-putt golf, rock walls, a butterfly house, and a maze, an antique car museum our family could have literally spent the whole day here. Such a neat place!

Once we were back on the “Polar Express,” we decided to cruise around the island some more. We found more vineyards

…passed by the South Bass Island State Park with its watercraft rental and pebble beach.

And the South Bass Island Lighthouse. The lighthouse wasn’t open for tours (Monday and Tuesdays during the summer), but we were able to check out the grounds.

We had a blast exploring Put-in-Bay and South Bass Island. We will definitely be back in the area, and hopefully next time around this momma will get to sip on some wine!

Family fun on Put-in-Bay, Ohio, a Lake Erie Island.

Tips to Enjoy Put-in-Bay:

  • Get your planning done by visiting Lake Erie Shores & Islands Welcome Center (770 SE Catawba Rd., Port Clinton, OH) or online. Grab some brochures and coupons to save money on attractions, plus their website is super helpful.

We wish:

  • We had more time to enjoy many of PIB’s activities including a visit to the wineries and caves.
  • We could have stayed on the island.

Exploring Put-in-Bay, Ohio, a Lake Erie island, with the family

Fun Facts:

  • Put-in-Bay is three and a half miles long, about a mile and a half wide.
  •  Year round Put-in-Bay population is about 450 and Middle Bass is 45.
  •  Put-in-Bay School on Catawba Avenue is home to 78 students (2016-2017) with sixteen teachers. Five students from Middle Bass Island and 1 student from North Bass Island commute via motorboat or plane daily to Put-in-Bay for classes. The Senior class consists of 9 students that will graduate in 2017.

Want to see what else we did on our trip to the Lake Erie Shores and Islands? We explored Port Clinton a little bit, and highly recommend you do so as well! Read about it here.

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