Put-in-Bay, located on South Bass Island, just north of Sandusky and Port Clinton Ohio, is Ohio's Lake Erie playground. Cut off in the winter, the island comes alive in the summer with antique stores, a vibrant marina, lots of lively bars and restaurants, and a home-grown brewery and historic winery. Put-in-Bay belongs in every Clevelander's summer plans.
About the Island:
Put-in-Bay is the only village on South Bass Island.
The island, home to 128 permanent residents according to the 2010 census, is three miles long and one mile wide. During the summer, the population sky-rockets as mainland visitors and hotel, restaurant, and marina workers flock to the island.
Getting to and around Put-in-Bay:
South Bass Island is reachable by Miller's ferry from Catawba and Port Clinton and by Jet Express' jet-powered catamarans from Catawba. The ferry runs regularly from late May to late November. Jet Express runs from May to October. You can also reach the island year-round by small aircraft, weather permitting.
Once on the island, there is a $2 shuttle from the dock into town or you can rent a bike or a golf cart. The walk isn't bad, either; it's only about 1 1/2 miles.
Perry Victory and International Peace Memorial:
The Perry Memorial commemorates Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's victory against the British in the War of 1812's Battle of Lake Erie.
The memorial, a national monument, is a 352-foot Doric column. From the observation deck at the top, you can see all of the Lake Erie islands, the mainland, and Canada.
Winery and Brewery:
As small as the island is, it still boasts its own historic winery and modern brewing company and brew pub. Heineman Winery, family owned since its inception in 1888, produces wine from 50-acres of island vineyards.
Visitors can tour the winery and sample wine and grape juice in the tasting room. The front lawn makes a nice picnic ground.
Put-in-Bay Brewing Company, founded in 1996, makes a variety of beers, including Lighthouse Lager and an Oatmeal stout.
Other Put-in-Bay Attractions:
Other island attractions include the Put-in-Bay historical museum, a vintage wooden carousel, the Antique car museum, the butterfly house, and the Crystal Cave, home of the largest recorded geode.
Sport enthusiasts will enjoy fishing, boating, and kayaking in Lake Erie as well as the 9-hole golf course on the eastern side of South Bass Island. There are several small beaches, but they are mostly rocky.
Put-in-Bay is known for its fun, casual eateries. Among them are:
- Book's Seafood - On the boardwalk near the marina; serves lobster, mussels, crab, shrimp, and their famous lobster bisque in a casual atmosphere.
- Frosty's Pizza - An island tradition; family-friendly during the day; an island party spot in the evenings. The pizza is good, too.
- Skyway - By the airport; Put-in-Bay's version of a fine restaurant; serves walleye, steaks, chops, and local wine.
Put-in-Bay comes alive in the evening. Hot night spots include:
- The Roundhouse - A 130-year-old circular bar, always packed, with live entertainment and lots of beer.
- Beer Barrel Saloon - The island's largest entertainment venue and home of the "world's longest bar." Island favorite singer, Pat Daily performs here throughout the summer.
Hotels on South Bass Island:
Hotels on South Bass Island include the quaint Victorian Park Hotel, located in the heart of downtown Put-in-Bay and the new 60-room lakefront Bayshore Resort, the island's only lakefront hotel. The island is also dotted with numerous privately-owned bed and breakfast inns, a charming way to get to know the island and its people.
Camping on South Bass Island:
South Bass Island State Park, on the eastern side of the island, has 135 campsites, 10 with electric, water, and sewer hook-ups. Facilities at the campground include shower and restroom facilities, a boat launch, picnic shelters, and a small stone beach.
Reservations, particularly on summer weekends, fill up quickly. Call 1-866-OHIOPARKS for reservations or visit the Ohio parks website.