Plan your trip to Put-in-Bay, Middle Bass Island and Kelleys Island with our guide to the perfect blend of history, natural wonders, relaxation and culinary delights.




Day 1: Friday

Morning

Catch a ferry to Put-in-Bay from Port Clinton or Catawba Island in Ohio. Choose between the Jet Express (jet-express.com) or Miller Ferries (millerferry.com), depending on your preference for speed, arrival and departure time and budget.

As soon as you arrive, rent a golf cart. It’s the most popular mode of transportation and allows you to easily access all of the attractions.

“You really feel like you’re ‘getting away’ when you go to the islands — something about the ferry ride to get there, the resort atmosphere and the golf carts for transportation, make you feel like it’s not Ohio — except it is!” says Jill Bauer, public relations manager for Shores & Islands Ohio.

Next, check into your accommodations. Several hotels and vacation rentals are available, including Park Hotel, featuring a Victorian era vibe, or the more modern Put-in-Bay Resort Hotel. Once you’ve settled in, embark on a historic adventure with a visit to Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, a 352-foot monument commemorating the Battle of Lake Erie. Climb to the top for extraordinary panoramic views of the island and beyond.

Afternoon

Lunchtime beckons you to The Boardwalk, a lively waterfront area filled with shops, bars and eateries. Grab a walleye or perch sandwich at The Fish Shak. Or, head to the Upper Deck to pair a stunning scenery with a bowl of the world’s best lobster bisque. Need a cool treat on a warm summer day? Stop by Sweet Siblings, a new ice cream shop with a jungle gym and outdoor seating.

Then, descend to the depths of the earth at Crystal Cave, home to the world’s largest geode, before enjoying a glass of local grapes in the beautiful outdoor garden at Heineman’s Winery. Nearby, Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center offers adventures for every age, from miniature golf and gem mining to a butterfly house and antique car museum. Nearby, Dodge Woods, an 852-foot looped trail through a former vineyard, offers a StoryWalk Trail, where 17 storyboard posts display laminated pages from children’s books.

Evening

For dinner, grab a seat at the Boathouse Bar and Grill Put-in-Bay. If you’re in the mood for German cuisine, check out the destination’s Biergarten, featuring an outdoor patio and games. For more upscale fare, make your way to Mossbacks.

Afterward, take advantage of the island’s nightlife and end the evening at the Roadhouse Bar, an iconic destination famous for live music and dancing. Or, snag an early meal and head to South Bass Island State Park for magnificent sunset views and a leisurely stroll. While you’re there, snap a photo at the Put-in-Bay sign.

Day 2: Saturday

Morning

Rise with a beautiful shine as eager islanders await to serve you a delicious breakfast at Pasquales Cafe, Frosty’s Bar, Noddi’s Java or Blue Marlin Bar & Grill, which opens at 6 a.m. Once you’ve filled up, head toward the state park to grab a jet ski, kayak or paddleboard from Put-in-Bay Watercraft Rentals.

After you’ve explored Put-in-Bay by sea, climb aboard the Jet Express to Kelleys Island. Rent a bike or golf cart and journey to the Glacial Grooves, the largest easily accessible such grooves in the world.

“For Kelleys Island, I always head out to the Glacial Grooves and walk around Horseshoe Lake — these are some of my favorite natural views,” says Bauer says.

Afternoon

For lunch, discover the flavors of the region at Kelleys Island Wine Co., where you can sample locally produced wine. In the mood for a margarita? The property also is home to the KI Cantina, the island’s first and only Mexican restaurant.

Next, immerse yourself in the island’s natural beauty. Relax on the sandy shores and take a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear waters at Kelleys Island State Park. Now you’re ready for a leisurely stroll along Division Street, which is filled with a variety of charming shops and galleries showcasing interesting treasures and local artistry.

“I love that there is something for every taste — nature lovers, adventurers, families, couples, foodies — you can find lots of action or quiet solitude,” Bauer says. “You just have to know where to go.”

Evening

Take a seat at one of the island’s hot spots, such as Dockers Waterfront Bar and Restaurant, The Village Pump or Peepers. For more upscale fare in a casual atmosphere, opt for the Island House. Or, make your way to West Bay Inn to witness a breathtaking sunset over Lake Erie. Here, take a pic at the new Lake Erie Love photo sign.

Grab a late Jet Express ride back to Put-in-Bay to settle in for the evening. Or, dive into the island’s night scene in the heart of downtown Put-in-Bay at destinations that include Mojito Bay, Mist Pool Bar, Joe’s Bar, The Fish Bowl, Reel Bar, Beer Barrel Pizza & Grill and the Green Room at Mr. Eds, each offering their own unique flair and personal island touch.

Day 3: Sunday

Morning

Start your day with a refreshing cup of coffee, pastry and sweet treat at the Chocolate Cafe and Museum. Take a short tour to see exhibits about the makings of chocolate before boarding the Sonny-S ferry to Middle Bass Island. If you’re an experienced kayaker, forego the ride and take the adventurous 1-mile paddle from Put-in-Bay to Middle Bass Island. Bring a bike (on the ferry) or plan to rent a golf cart upon arrival to make the most of your experience.

Here, a must-see first stop is the historic Lonz Winery, a castle-like structure with several exhibits that offer a peek into the island’s past.

Afternoon

For lunch, stop by the Island Grind at Lonz Winery for a drink and sandwich before exploring East Point Preserve and Kuehnle Wildlife Refuge, which are ideal destinations for birding, hiking and biking. Or, stay at the winery grounds and pay a visit to Prohibition, a speakeasy offering cocktails and small plates to enjoy the outdoors in a casual, relaxing atmosphere. For a true slice of island life, grab a basket of Lake Erie walleye bites to enjoy by the pool at J.F. Walleyes. Before you leave, visit the boutique to pick up some island souvenirs.

“People should visit [the islands] because there is such a great mix of history and culture, nature and wildlife mixed with fun attractions and recreation,” Bauer says.

Evening

Head back to Put-in-Bay and experience an unforgettable dinner at The Keys, which offers an island-inspired menu and breathtaking panoramic views of the water in a Caribbean-like atmosphere. Stop by the gift shop before making your way back to the hotel to pack your bags and catch an evening ferry back to the mainland. Now, you can start planning your next big island trip to Pelee Island in Canada, which boasts wide-open views best explored by renting a bike and looping around the island.   


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