The Put in Bay is a charming village recognized for its festive nightlife on South Bass Island in Lake Eerie, located in Ohio. The small island has a lot to offer for its visitors of all ages, making it one of the most desired vacation destinations for many tourists. During the summer season, almost a million visitors flock to the island from all around the globe, especially the US and Canada, and enjoy the wide range of attractions the island has to offer.
Also referred to as the Key West of the North for its island vibes and the Caribbean feels, spending a few nights on the island is the perfect way to relax the spirit. The ideal family vacation spot, the island is a vibrant tourist resort. It is a nature’s playground when it comes to sightseeing activities and boasts a booming nightlife. Whether you want to explore a cave, rent a kayak or jet ski, or only wander around the town on foot, this Ohio island is the place to be for the perfect weekend getaway.
With so many fun-filled activities, it can be tough choosing what to do and fit everything into one trip. We have put together a few must-do things to help you make the most out of your vacation. Also, we have included some useful recommendations about how to get there, where to stay, and some of the best places to dine.
How to Get There
The Put in Bay island is located just a short drive away from Cleveland, Sandusky, and Catawba and has no attached roadways. Getting there is a fun experience in itself. Since the island is surrounded by water on all sides, you have to take a ferry service to reach there. You can choose between the Miller Ferry or the Jet Express.
The Jet Express is the fastest ferry to the island and the only option if you are taking a late-night trip. The ferry takes around half an hour to reach the destination and roughly costs $15. You can then grab a cab and proceed. You do not need to have your car on the island, as the primary way to get around the island by renting golf carts.
Getting Around Put in Bay
Golf carts are the most popular way of transportation to get around the island as cars are discouraged, and there is limited parking. Besides the convenience they offer, they are a fun way to explore the village during your stay. You can locate many golf cart rentals around the island available for rent by the hour or the day. As far as golf cart rentals go, we recommend booking them ahead of time to avoid any last-minute disappointments, especially if you visit during weekends in the summers or around a holiday. You may book yours in advance at Visitputinbay.org. Whether you need to get downtown for a hearty lunch or stop by the chocolate museum, your getaway can surely not be the same without stumbling upon the breathtaking waterfront views on a golf cart, so make sure to grab one, and you will not regret it.
What to Do in Put in Bay
There are plenty of exciting things to do in Put-in-Bay during your weekend getaway. You may even find it hard to cover everything over one weekend. From nature and water activities for outdoor enthusiasts to historical sites for history buffs, there is something to do for everyone. Let’s take a look at the top attractions Ohio Island has to offer you.
Take the Put in Bay Tour Train
Enjoy the island breezes on this open-air trolley that runs from the Downtown bus terminal. The tour train offers a one-hour guided tour that gives a snapshot of all the major attractions the island has to offer. It runs every 30 minutes and allows you to get off at points of interest you wish to explore further. You may then catch the next train after you are finished and ready to proceed to the next location. The fare for the tour train is approximately $10, and it is a great way to kick off your tour.
Visit Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial
One of the first things to catch your eye as you head towards South Bass Island from the mainland is Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial. The 352-foot tall monument commemorates the Battle of Lake Erie, one of the most important naval engagements in the War of 1812. Dedicated to the warriors who took part in the battle, it serves as a powerful symbol of perpetual peace between Canada, the United States, and Great Britain.
Take the elevator to the top of the tower and go up the observation deck, where you can experience scintillating views of Put-in-Bay and Lake Erie, which is one of the best experiences. You may even get to see Canada on a clear day. Go inside the visitor center, where you can get information and exhibits on the history of the monument. Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial is one of the tallest towers in the United States, and while it may be the island’s main attraction, there is still a lot to explore.
Spend a Day at Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center
As the name suggests, this iconic attraction is indeed a fun place to be. Featuring dozens of fun-filled activities to involve yourself in, the Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center is a designated Natural Landmark in Ohio offering a thrilling cave tour in Perry’s Cave. The limestone cave is 52 feet underground the surface of Put-In-Bay and is a must-see. It has a climbing tower, a fort maze, an antique car museum, and a gift shop for you to explore. Also, you can take a tour of the butterfly house home to 55 different species of butterflies.
The cave was discovered by Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry during the War of 1812, as he was desperately in search of water. As such, the 208 feel long cave is also home to an underground lake full of freshwater. Whether you are family or a group of friends, this magical place has something to offer for all ages.
Enjoy a Picnic by the South Bass Island State Park
Escape the hustle and bustle of downtown to enjoy a picnic at this picturesque lakeside park. The South Bass Island State Park offers visitors incredible views of the Lake and the sunset, creating the perfect relaxing atmosphere. It features a boat launch ramp that provides access to Lake Erie. Even if you do not have your private boat, there are several affordable watercraft rentals available like powerboats, fishing boats, kayaks, and jet skis at your convenience. The family campground has over a hundred non-electric sites and about ten full hookup sites, making it the perfect place for a unique camping experience in Ohio.
The small pebble beach provides a lovely spot to dive into the clear waters of Lake Erie. However, as there are no lifeguards around, you must be extra cautious while swimming. The park has a wooden campground and several cabins for rent that provide rustic and cozy accommodation for your family. It is also pet-friendly, which makes it even more enticing for an exciting, adventure-filled day.
Whether you want to play on the beach and enjoy some water activities or immerse yourself in the panoramic views of Lake Eerie, this scenic landmark will make your trip to the island one that you will never forget.
Experience the Thrill of Water Sports
As the majestic Lake Erie surrounds the island, it is no surprise that water sports take all forms and are a big draw for many. Be it parasailing to experience a bird’s eye view or boat rentals, you can find it all here.
The Put-in-Bay watercraft rentals are the best way to dive into Lake Erie and experience the picturesque beauty. You could paddleboard and explore the lake at a slightly slower pace than powerboats while getting a workout, or parasail over to have a fun-filled adventure on the island. One may also ride the exhilarating jet ski in the mighty Lake Erie and explore the beautiful region. Also, Kayaking is one of the favorite ways to see the breathtaking sights of the island.
What else to do?
Want more ways to enhance your visit to Ohio Island? Don’t worry, we have got you covered. The village may be condensed, but it has unlimited attractions with never-ending fun. While this is not an exhaustive list of the activities you can indulge in during your stay on the island, there will always be something left to explore along the shores of Lake Erie. You may also consider experiencing the following :
Take the scenic Put in Bay helicopter tour and soar high above the Lake Erie Islands while enjoying the incredible sights of Put-in-Bay. It is an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you will be back with some mesmerizing photos and great stories to tell about it.
Explore the rich history of Lake Erie and learn about its complex ecosystem first hand at the Aquatic Visitors Center. You will get to observe Lake Erie’s diverse fish species ranging from walleye, sauger, whitefish to herring, yellow perch, and chinook salmon. You will also examine how the fish hatchery operated as the State Fish Hatchery at Put-in-Bay from 1907 to 1988. The Aquatic Visitors Center has various interactive exhibits and hands-on activities. It is the perfect spot to take your children and get an insight into topics like fish biology and aquatic invasive species.
Take a tour of the crystal cave, a geological treasure located nearly 40 feet below the historic Heineman’s Winery. Your trip would not be complete without a trip down under to experience this stunning limestone cave. Home to the world’s largest geode, the cave was discovered back in 1897 while miners were digging a well for Gustav Heineman’s winery. Heineman found that its walls had large and well-developed tabular crystals that turned out to be almost pure celestite. While many of the celestite crystals got mined to manufacture fireworks, Heineman stopped the mining activities and turned the discovery into a tourist attraction that we know today.
Where to Eat?
Since Put-in-Bay is small, you will always be near restaurants, bars, and cafes. There are plenty of eating establishments to check out. Have lunch at The Goat Soup & Whiskey, known for its flavorful and crisp perch tacos, or stop by Topsy’s Turvy to try out their Cuban Sandwich for an evening snack. Perhaps the most iconic dining option in Put in Bay is The Boardwalk, which is the most favored choice for traditional and fresh seafood on the island. Dine at the upper deck and enjoy the breathtaking waterfront views of Lake Erie.
Also, make sure to visit Frosty’s, an island tradition that serves the best fresh fruit margaritas and specialty cocktails. The island is a paradise for food lovers, and you will never be out of options for good restaurants to eat.
There is a large selection of accommodations to stay on the Bay. The island’s hotels, vacation rentals, waterfront condos, resorts all offer something unique and different. They are all centrally located and close to the island’s major landmarks. Some of the top places to stay in Put in Bay include the Commodore Resort, Anchor Inn Boutique Hotel, Waterfront Condos, and the Victory Station Hotel.
There are many unique things to do in Put in Bay that make it an exciting place to visit for everyone. The beautiful village is more than just a party destination and offers a refreshing escape from the hustles and bustles of daily life. Whether you want to relax and connect with nature by immersing yourself in the gorgeous lake views or indulge in some adrenaline-rushing outdoor activities, put in bay is the place to be for a welcoming getaway.