Explore Put In Bay Ohio With Your Family


butterfly butterfly house

Family Fun When You Visit Put In Bay

Put In Bay is in Ohio and is one of my favorite Midwest islands to visit in Lake Erie. When it starts to get warm and I start planning our vacations, my kids ask when ‘When are WE going to Put In Bay?” It is a place we fell in love with; vacationing on South Bass Island (found in the Lake Erie Islands), about 10 years ago. We try to visit Put In Bay every year, and my still love going to0 – even as teens. Thanks to Miller FerryE’s Golf Cart Rental and Perry’s Cave and Family Fun Center for getting us the opportunity to share our trip to Put-In-Bay Ohio with you.

While Put In Bay has a louder crowd on the weekends, we enjoy the slower pace for our family during the week. In my opinion, Monday – early Friday afternoon, Put In Bay, is relaxing and family friendly to take your kids. Plan your trip with our without crowds/kids, the island welcomes everyone!

Catching a Wave on the Ferry

From Catawba Ohio, take the Miller Ferry.  The Ferry ride is just an 18 minute ride over to the island.  Enjoy the breeze in your hair as someone else drives you across Lake Erie. For a small fee you can bring your vehicle, motorcycle or a bike with you. It is the most economical way to get to the island and Miller Ferry, is the only ferry service that lets you bring your vehicle.

Go up the stairs on the ferry and enjoy the view of arriving and leaving the island.  You can also stay in your vehicle and  watch from there.  There is no seating on the main area of the ferry and it’s not a super long ride, so enjoy the wind in your hair.  You’re on island time now.

golf cart on the south bass island

How Do you Get Around South Bass Island?

Getting around Put In Bay is easy with a golf cart. There are plenty of other options for getting around the island. You can walk or bike, take a golf cart, or even rent a taxi. There is also a tour you can take of the island. You can also take your own vehicle using Miller’s Ferry services.
I have found it easier to navigate the island using a golf cart. If you get hot, tired of walking or riding a bike, the golf cart will get you where you want easily.

YouTube video

Our preferred method is a golf cart rental from E’s Golf Carts while on the island. With online reservations, it’s easy to snag a cart and enjoy the island at a leisurely pace.

You can take your vehicle and many people do.  When it is busy, it’s easier to scoot around and find a parking spot downtown small enough for a golf cart.

Where Is Put In Bay?

Put In Bay is an island located off Catawba in Port Clinton Ohio.  It is in the gorgeous Lake Erie Great Lake.  It’s west of Sandusky & Cleveland Ohio.

atop perry's monument
See the entire island from atop of Perry’s International Peace Memorial & Visitors Center. Gorgeous views and photo opportunities.

What Can You Do at Perry’s Victory International Peace Memorial?

Bring a picnic and enjoy the view at the base of the Perry’s Victory International Peace Memorial.  You can take an elevator ride up to the top of the worlds largest Doric column and see the entire island.  You will need to walk up 2 small flights of stairs to get to the elevator.  Bring your credit card to pay for your ride as well. Look for the park rangers to answer any questions you have on the history.

Visit the Perry’s Victory International Peace Memorial Visitor’s Center. This is free. You can talk to the park rangers here as well about the Battle of Lake Erie.  There is a tourist area to purchase gear as well.  This memorial honors the Battle of Lake Erie and naval commander Oliver Hazard Perry, who fought the British in the Battle of Lake Erie.

What Can you Do at Perry’s Cave: Family Fun Center?

Very popular activity for families is visiting Perry’s Cave. Perry’s Cave is a natural limestone cave located on the island. You can purchase a combo ticket to do various activities at Perry’s Cave.

Visitors can take a guided tour of the cave, which lasts about 45 minutes. The tour is educational and fascinating, and it’s a great way to cool off on a hot day. Wear shoes that are good for traction (not crocs or sandals).  The surface is wet at slippery in places.  Consider bringing a jacket as it’s a cool 50F degrees in the cave.

butterfly butterfly house

For something truly unique, take the family to Put In Bay Butterfly House. This attraction is home to hundreds of butterflies from all over the world. Visitors can walk through the butterflies and see these beautiful creatures up close.

butterfly house

Play a round of mini golf on the 1812 golf course. You will see live birds and squirrels more than likely around the course.  We have not had any of them steal our golf ball.

Climb the rock wall or test your skills in Fort AMaze’n.

perrys cave mining

We’ve also purchased a bag of rocks and dirt and had the kids use the cool set up to mine the bag for their gems.  There is an amazing shop that you can buy all sorts of precious stones.  We leave a lot heavier every time we visit.

Smallest Park Put In Bay Ohio

What Can You Do in Put In Bay with Family?

You can enjoy a picnic at Ohio’s smallest park on the island.  You will have a beautiful view of Perry’s Memorial in the back drop.

winery vineyard

Another option is to go on a Put in Bay family winery tour. There are several wineries on the island, and they offer tours and tastings that are fun for the whole family. You can learn about the wine making process, taste some delicious wines, and even purchase a few bottles to take home.

Families can go hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, and more. There are several parks on the island that are perfect for picnicking and exploring. The lawn of the Perry’s monument is my favorite place to sit and relax. It’s away from downtown traffic and peaceful.

South Bass Lighthouse
See the South Bass Island Lighthouse on the far left

South Bass Light House is located on the Southwest side of the island.  The lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  You can take tours of the lighthouse (check for hours and prices).  There are some great photo opportunities to capture in the morning and as the sun goes down too.

South Base Island State Park – South Bass Island State Park is another great place to visit with the family. The park has a beach, hiking trails, and a playground.

Rent a bike and ride across the island.  I don’t have the knees or body for this, but as soon as you come up the ramp from Miller Ferry, there are the bikes to rent.  It is a nice slow pace to see the island. You can rent a golf cart if you turn right at the top of the hill, for E’s Golf Carts.

Other Put In Bay Attractions

Visit the many roadside attractions on the island.  There are some pretty cool looking things to see within the island.  I was surprised at how many there are in one area. One of Put In Bays attractions you may miss, is the largest geode.  It is located underground at Heineman’s winery. Another attraction is a house made from a ship (Benson Ford Ship House is a private residence on the island).

You can camp on the island!  Yes, you can bring your camper on the ferry.  Our bring your tent, if that is your thing.

Stay in a bed and breakfast or a Put In Bay hotel – You don’t have to go all rustic to stay on the island.  There are many places to stay and enjoy your time on the island longer. If a swim up bar is your thing, Put In Bay has it.

Enjoy the live entertainment, and many festivals and island attractions.  Check the schedule to plan your trip.

Where Can You Find Food on the Island?

chicken tenders reel bar
Reel Bar chicken tenders and fries were so good, you’ll come back to the island for them!

If you’re looking for places to eat, the Put In Bay restaurants, have lots to choose from. You can find everything from faster food to fine dining on the island.

Find a majority of the restaurants downtown Put In Bay.  There are restaurants as you head out of downtown as well. And don’t forget dessert.  Just about every way out of town, there is sweet treats too.

Frosty’s is great for pizza and they have many options.  Reel Bar has great food,  never disappointed by what I get there and the best fries (please send us fries if you go). The Boathouse – chicken n waffles is my favorite (they also have lots of fish dishes). Want breakfast?  Pasquales Cafe serves it all day (pancakes and bacon please!) There is great food to be found everywhere, we just haven’t visited all of the restaurants yet.

boathouse chicken and waffles
Enjoy chicken and waffles from the Boathouse.
Pasquales Cafe pancakes
Pasquales Cafe has some delicious pancakes, with breakfast served all day.

If you’re planning on doing some exploring, Put In Bay walking trails are a great way to see the island. The trails wind through some of the most scenic parts of the island, and they’re well-marked so you won’t get lost. There are also several places to stop along the way, so you can take a break and enjoy the views. Enjoy the wild flowers!

put in bay trails

No matter what you choose to see while visiting Put In Bay, you’ll  sure to have a great time exploring South Bass Island with your family.

Grab the family and head to Put in Bay Ohio. A nice Lake Erie vacation for the whole family Here's our favorites to visit.

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