Thunderous skies. Howling Winds. Raging Waves. Wet Sand.
I was a preschooler on vacation with my mom and dad. We were staying in a cottage in Marblehead. It stormed for our entire visit. I thought we were going to be washed away and I was terrified.
That is my first memory of Lake Erie.
When I awoke to storms this past Sunday, the day my own family was to leave for our Lake Erie vacation on Put-in-Bay, I had flashbacks of that scene many years ago.
My fears were unfounded.
By the time we’d driven nearly two hours from our home to Catawba, the skies had cleared, the lake had calmed and we were ready to board Miller Ferry for a family friendly getaway to Put-in-Bay.
On Miller Ferry on the way to Put-in-Bay
Our first stop on Put-in-Bay was Perry’s Victory and International Peace Monument. It’s no surprise to me that this was my husband’s favorite stop. He didn’t enjoy it because he’s a history buff, or because of the unparalleled views from the newly reopened Observation Deck located at 317 feet above ground. As a contractor, he marveled at the decorative touches and craftsmanship of the nearly 100 year old structure.
A glimpse at Perry’s Victory and International Peace Monument
After our tour, we headed across the street to the depot and hopped abroad the Put-in-Bay Tour Train where we received an historical overview of the island. The train makes stops at some of the most popular attractions on the island and though you’re welcome to hop on and off at a list of destinations, my family enjoyed the tour and tour guide so much that we stayed on the train for the entire hour.
All abroad the Put-in-Bay Tour Train
I smashed some pennies at the depot and then we jumped in our truck and headed off in search of ice cream which we found at the Chocolate Cafe. With over 30 flavors to choose from you’d think I would have chosen something more adventurous but my standard Butter Pecan is hard to pass up and didn’t disappoint.
Next stop on the agenda was to the famed Heineman’s Winery and Crystal Cave. Who were we to resist a step inside the world’s largest geode?
Climbing the steps from the Crystal Cave
By this time we were beginning to get a bit tired so we checked into our room at Bay Lodging Resort to take a break. We were impressed by the size of the two bedroom unit and quickly settled in with the kids sprawling all over the furniture. The space spoiled us.
Our 2 bedroom suite at the Bay Lodging Resort
We rested a bit, ate, watched a little bit of TV and then the kids and I walked downtown to see what the nightlife was like (or wasn’t).
Put-in-Bay has somewhat of a reputation of being a party spot. In fact, it was that reputation that lead my husband and I to avoid Put-in-Bay like the plague. What a mistake. Like many resort areas, I’m sure it can seem more like a big party from time to time but on Sunday night, with no festivals or events going on, things were pleasantly uneventful and family friendly.
Jet Express to Kelley’s Island
We awoke on Monday to another beautiful day. It seemed as though we’d chosen the perfect time to vacation on the island. We jumped on the Jet Express for a quick 15 minute ride to Kelley’s Island.
We headed to Portside Marina to pick up golf carts to we could easily explore our new natural surroundings in a relaxing environment.
The public beach at Kelley’s Island State Park
The glacial grooves, public beach area, and East Quarry hiking trail will leave you with an admiration of the outdoors while a trip to Docker’s Restaurant, located along the waterfront, will leave you with an appreciation for their signature Rib-Eye Steak Sandwich. Can I tell you that my mouth is still watering at the thought of that meal?
After lunch we jumped back on the ferry to Put-in-Bay. My husband and oldest son were tuckered out so I took my two younger teens to Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center. Depending on the age of your kids, you could really spend a lot of time panning for gemstones, climbing the rock wall, playing putt putt golf or meandering the twists and turns in Fort aMAZE’n to find the exit.
We were running short on time so a quick walk through of the Antique Car Museum, stop in the Butterfly House and a fun tour of Penn’s Cave was as far as we got.
The butterfly house at Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center
The Chocolate Covered Twinkie
Wednesday promised to be a full day so we got an early start with a peek inside the Stone Lab research facilities in Put-in-Bay and on Gibraltar Island. All I can say is if you want your students or homeschool teens to be excited about a field trip, take them to Stone Lab. Amazing.
Holding a water snake in the Stone Lab herpetology room
Next we experienced a family first when we went kayaking. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about jumping in a kayak on Lake Erie but it turned out to be an incredible experience, even if my husband may have tried to tip our kayak over. He’s kind of rotten like that.
My entire family loved kayaking at Kayak the Bay and can’t wait to go again.
We’d worked up quite an appetite so we headed to The Keys for lunch. This restaurant offers a relaxing atmosphere, spectacular views and amazing food. I had the best Jerk Chicken and we all shared the yummiest Conch Fritters!
With bellies full, we headed off for our last remaining stops to the South Bass Island Lighthouse, which I’m told is the best place on the island to view the sunset, and the historic Doller House and Put-in-Bay Winery.
Honestly, I was a bit disappointed when our tours ended and it was time to catch a ferry back to the Mainland.
This is one destination that we’ll be visiting again and hopefully soon.
Have you visited Put-in-Bay or any of the Lake Erie Islands? What are some of the attractions you’d like to see?
I’ll be sharing more details about our trip to Put-in-Bay in the days ahead. You can be sure you don’t miss any updates by subscribing to my RSS feed.
This post is linked to Friday Daydreamin’ with R We There Yet, Mom? and Travel Tuesday’s at the Zoo with Living at the Whitehead Zoo. If you’re looking for some travel inspiration, you’ll find this link-up a great place to start.
Disclaimer: Travel arrangements were made and provided by Lake Erie Shores and Islands. All opinions are my own.
© 2012 – 2016, Tonya Prater. All rights reserved.