It’s hard to believe it’s August and summer is coming to an end. Vacations are beginning to wind down as families begin to prepare for the back to school rush of buying school supplies and clothes, attending classroom meetings, and kicking off practice for fall sports. But for those of us in Ohio and in the surrounding Midwest states, you’ll find one final family getaway destination close to home- Put-in-Bay.
Put-in-Bay is located on South Bass Island on Lake Erie. Known as the home of the World’s Largest Geode and the World’s Most Massive Doric Column, you’ll find much to do on the island.
Getting to Put-in-Bay
Transportation to South Bass Island is via private boat, plane or ferry. The most affordable option is Miller Boat Line which runs service from Catawba Island. You can leave your vehicle in one of their many free parking spaces, or pay to take it to the island, though I must warn you- the main mode of transportation on the island is golf carts and finding available parking for a vehicle is a bit difficult at times. If you choose, you may pay to take your bicycle across to the island as well or if transporting them is not convenient, bike rentals are available on the island.
Once on the island, the Tour Train offers a great overview of your surroundings with hop on/hop off access at the islands most popular attractions for families. Including Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center, the Heineman Winery and Crystal Cave, Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial and the Lake Erie Island Nature & Wildlife Center. (Tours run Memorial Day- Labor Day)
Activities for Families on South Bass Island
There are several short trails that you can enjoy with your family once you are on the island. The Scheeff East Point Nature Preserve offers a short walking trail with access to the shoreline. Keep an eye out for Purple Martins who may be nesting as well as the Lake Erie Water Snake, a non-poisonous snake that the Ohio State University studies on the island.
The Jane Coates Wildflower Trail is a ½ mile trail that is popular in the spring for wildflower viewing and in the fall for spotting migratory birds.
The newest trail on the island is the Massie Cliffside Preserve which offers views of the waterside cliffs and the historic Lonz Winery on Middle Bass Island that recently re-opened for tours.
In addition to the walking trails, you’ll also find a stone beach with swimming access at South Bass State Park Campground. Kayaking and paddle boarding rentals are also available on the island at various locations.
You’ll also find gem mining, putt putt golf, and a maze at Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center, as well as indoor activities that include Perry’s Cave, a butterfly house, and a free antique car museum.
Downtown Put-in-Bay features souvenir shops, restaurants, a historic carousel, and DeRivera Park park for kids to play and parents to rest. You’ll also find a candy shop with nostalgic candies, giant sweets, and plenty of chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Speaking of chocolate, the small, but free chocolate museum on the island offers insight in to how the tasty treat is made and before you leave you can sample their fudge or buy an ice cream cone.
The Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center provides fun photo ops while promoting conservation of the flora and fauna of the island. The Aquatic Visitors Center allows visitors to the island to learn about the fragile ecosystem of Lake Erie and the Great Lakes as well as conservation of the Lake Erie Water Snake and research that is currently being done by the Ohio State University at Stone Lab on Gibraltar Island.
My personal favorite attraction is Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial which tells the story of the Battle of Lake Erie which took place during the War of 1812.
You’ll find coupons for places to eat, things to do, and places to stay at the Miller Boat Line website.
You can learn more about Put-in-Bay and South Bass Island in these posts I’ve written previously:
Traveling to Put-in-Bay via Miller Boat Line
A Family-Friendly Getaway to Put-in-Bay
Spend the Day at Put-in-Bay
Kayak the Bay for Active Family Fun
Crystal Cave: the World’s Largest Geode
Take a Ride on the Put-in-Bay Tour Train
Plan your Summer Escape to Put-in-Bay
Things to do in Ohio: Put-in-Bay
A Delightfully Lazy Day on Put-in-Bay
A Girl’s Day Out on Put-in-Bay
Educational Family Travel: Visit Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial
Needle’s Eye: one of Ohio’s Natural Wonders