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A Family Friendly Getaway to Put-in-Bay

Tonya Prater, Owner

A Family Friendly Getaway to Put-in-Bay

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

    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.

Perry's Victory and International Peace Monument

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.

Put-in-Bay Tour Train

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?

PIB 131

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.

Bay Lodging Resort in Put-in-Bay

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

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.

Kelleys Island public beach

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 on Put-in-Bay

The butterfly house at Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center

We stopped back in our room long enough to eat a delicious slice of Cameo Pizza before heading downtown to satisfy our sweet tooth at the Chocolate Bar. Chocolate covered Twinkie, anyone?

Chocolate Covered Twinkie  from the Candy Bar at Put-in-Bay

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.

Snake handling at Stone Lab

 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.

Conch Fritters at The KeysWe’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.

View from South Bass Island light house

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.

Put in Bay

Vicky Wigle

Monday 27th of August 2012

Tonya, I'm glad all of you had a good time paddling around the limestone cliffs with Kayak the Bay, Ltd. It really is a family friendly island Sunday through Thursday. It's hard to get that word out when most people only come here on the weekends. They think this is the way it is all the time. I guarantee you-if it was-NO ONE would live here. During the week-it's wonderful to hear the church bells ring and sea gulls squawking. It's quite peaceful now through October. Most of the bargains start in September. If there is a good day-grab it. You never know how the weather might change. Come back and and kayak to Middle Bass Island for a nice lunch and walk the glacial grooves behind Lonz Winery. We have several fun destinations to paddle to. Have a great time in your journeys.


Wednesday 22nd of August 2012

What a fabulous place to vacation. Thanks for sharing on Tuesdays Travels!


Sunday 12th of August 2012

I enjoyed this post! I live in SW Ohio, and go to Put in Bay at least once a year, more often if I can!!! Like you, we visit there during the week, Friday and Saturday nights bring out the party crowd, which was more my speed many years ago! lol! Now I enjoy the island when it is more quiet during the week. There are so many wonderful places to travel, but honestly Put in Bay is my favorite place in the world to go. As soon as you board the ferry, you feel like you have traveled to another world. On your next visit, you might enjoy the Lake Erie Islands Museum, and lobster bisque at the Boardwalk! Yum!!!! I am so glad you enjoyed Ohio's best kept secret!!! :)


Saturday 11th of August 2012

What a great family getaway. Except for maybe the snake, but I think the chocolate Twinkie more than makes up for that. Thanks for sharing such a cool place to visit!


Saturday 11th of August 2012

This looks like a great family destination. That first photo of you and your husband is a keeper! You look great together. Protection Status
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