Island fun starts with the ferry

Put-In-Bay Harbor and Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial

Looking to get away to an island this summer; but the Caribbean is too far? Fret not and regret not — there’s tons of fun to be had in Put-In-Bay on South Bass Island, and Miller Ferry will get you there.

Kayaking fom South Bass Island State Park

Feel free to bring whatever you want — for a day, a week or all summer. Whether you’re walking, riding a bike, driving a car or bringing your moving van, Miller Ferry can accommodate everyone and all size vehicles on the ride to Put-In-Bay. Reservations are not needed or accepted. Just get in line when you arrive at the dock, and pay as you board.

Kids (of all ages) are fascinated by driving onto a ship and watching as they sail away from shore. For the approximately 20-minute ride, you can stay seated in your car or RV, or get out and walk around. Be sure to climb the stairs and get a birds-eye view from the upper deck during your trip. It’s an ideal location for selfies.

80 miles west of Cleveland and 50 miles east of Toledo, set your GPS for Miller Ferry; 5174 E. Water Street; Port Clinton, OH. 43452. The ferry sails typically every half-hour for the summer and fall months, but to be sure, check the ferry schedule or better yet, download it.

Parking is free in five separate parking lots near the Catawba dock on the Mainland, so you needn’t take your vehicle to the island if you don’t want to. When you arrive on the island, there are all sorts of options — walking, renting a bike, renting a golf cart, or catching a shuttle bus.

It’s about two miles from the Miller Dock to downtown Put-In-Bay, so it’s certainly walkable, but to really enjoy the island, we always recommend getting a golf cart. E’s Put-In-Bay Golf Carts is just to your right as you walk up the hill after getting off the ferry. They have dozens of carts available, but reservations are suggested here, as they can sell out on busy weekends. Two, four, six and eight passenger carts are available — by the hour or by the day. Presently, you can use code = Save5 during checkout to save $5 on an online reservation.

Music Fest

We timed our trip this year to enjoy the first annual FREE Music Fest on the lawn of the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. The weather was perfect and it couldn’t have been a more enjoyable event. The huge lawn at the Memorial meant everyone had plenty of space to spread out blankets and chairs. Lake Erie cooperated with refreshing cool breezes all day. Cornhole boards were in abundance for adults and kids, as well as lots of other games for all ages — hoola-hoops, giant checkers and tic-tac-toe boards.

The National Park Service had a number of living history displays out that captured a lot of attention, complete with costumed reenactors who could explain the amazing Battle of Lake Erie for anyone who was interested.

Eight bands performed. We heard six of them, and they were all excellent. Music ranged from ballad to blue-grass to zydeco to R&B. Bands performed from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Wine, beer and food were all available so you never had to leave the park grounds. Everything was so convenient, many people and families made a day-long event out of it like we did. And we even have our official P-I-B Music Fest tee-shirts to prove we were there.

Music workshops were offered in a tent nearby, so attendees could learn drumming, ukulele and Zydeco dance moves. There was even a Guitar-Hero contest for the more digitally inclined.

Other favorites

Going to Put-In-Bay always requires stops at some of our favorite spots. They are scattered across the island, which is why we love the convenience of having an easy-to-park golf cart to get around. Here are a few of our favorite ‘senior-approved’ dining, wining and reclining spots which we always recommend.


GOAT — With an unlikely name, this place serves great food (especially their Lake Erie Perch Tacos) and great drinks. Downstairs, feast on terrific ice cream or dozens of chocolate concoctions.

Boardwalk — A great assortment of sit-down, stand-up or grab-n-go eateries all in one place. Everyone raves about their “world famous” lobster bisque. We love the Upper Deck, their large sit-down dining room/bar and outdoor deck overlooking the harbor, where you can watch the boats come and go while you dine.


Heineman’s Winery — Grab one of their uber-reasonably priced ($12) bottles of wine and relax out back in the vineyard. Before you go, grab a ticket and visit their underground Crystal Cave — home of the world’s largest geode.

Put-In-Bay Winery — Situated across from the harbor, the winery is located in the historic Doller House. Combine a tasting and a tour of the Island Life Museum. I was amazed at the historic ice house and how long they could preserve ice even during the summer months.


South Bass Island State Park Campgrounds — Beautifully maintained campgrounds overlooking Lake Erie. All their sites are already booked for the 2017 season on weekends, but great sites are still available on weekdays. A boat launching area is available and is extremely popular with kayakers. A few campsites allow pets and there are four cabents (combination cabin with tent roof) available.

More Information

There’s a wealth of information available online, so check these links before you go:

Visit Put-In-Bay

Miller Ferry

E’s Golf Carts

PIB MusicFest

Ohio DNR — State Parks

And ENJOY, all the island has to offer.

Disclosure: We were provided ferry passage and cart rental to enjoy the 2017 Music Fest. All opinions are as always, totally our own.

Originally published at Doug Bardwell.