How much do you know about the Great Lakes?
Maybe you know that they straddle the border between the U.S. and Canada. Perhaps you know that there are 5 of them. Maybe you can even rattle off their names: Superior, Michigan, Huron, Ontario, Erie.
But did you also know that the Great Lakes have islands? Because they do. Thousands of little ones, in fact, and a handful of larger ones that are actually inhabited.
I was actually just recently riding a bike on the Toronto Islands in Lake Ontario, but I have to admit that I'd never really had much interest in the islands closer to home. Lake Erie — which borders my home state of Ohio to the north — has some fantastic islands just a few miles off the mainland. But I had only ever been to one.
So, before I waved goodbye to Ohio for an extended period, I decided I had better get at least one more Lake Erie Shores and Islands visit under my belt.
And what better place to finally visit than Put-in-Bay?
Put-in-Bay is a village on South Bass Island, with a permanent population of right around 150. During the summer months, however, the population swells by 10- or 20-fold as young twenty-somethings and retired couples alike flock to Put-in-Bay to party and relax in equal measure.
Now, usually I wouldn't be interested in a place known for its party-resort atmosphere; I'm not a fan of being around people who are so drunk that they can't even form coherent sentences.
But Put-in-Bay is so much more than just drunk college kids.
It's got yacht clubs and crepe restaurants. It's got more golf carts than cars. It's even got a national memorial to commemorate a naval battle that took place on Lake Erie in 1813 (yes, really).
And yes. IT'S IN OHIO.
Despite being small, there's actually quite a bit to do on the island, especially in the summer months. Head over for a weekend, and you can do things like:
You can also visit a cave, enjoy a winery, go mini-golfing, ride an old carousel, go parasailing, or even rent a kayak for the afternoon. A trip to Put-in-Bay doesn't have to be all about drinking and partying (though there are certainly plenty of places to do that, too).
I'm almost ashamed that it took me this long to finally discover Put-in-Bay. It's a really great summer getaway destination, and I definitely plan to return in the future.
If You Go…
- Getting there: You can catch a ferry from either Catawba Island or Port Clinton. You definitely do NOT need a car on the island, though you can technically pay to bring yours over on the ferry. People-only ferry tickets start at $7 each way on Miller Boat Line from Catawba Island.
- Where to stay: There are quite a few options considering the size of the island. I stayed at the Islander Inn, which has a Caribbean theme and a distinct slant towards the party crowd. This probably has to do with the fact that the resort has 5 pools and swim-up bars. It was pretty fun, though.
- Where to eat: Check out the brand new Olde Forge Cafe and Creperie for breakfast, grab a fresh seafood lunch (perch and walleye are both local) on the Boardwalk, and have dinner at The Goat (a bit outside of the downtown area).
- Where to drink: There are plenty of bars and clubs in Put-in-Bay. A lot of them can be fun, but also crowded. If you want to avoid the drunk crowds and go somewhere more “local,” check out Topsy Turvey's on the waterfront. Bring an extra dollar bill with you to staple to the wall.
Is Put-in-Bay a place that YOU would like to visit?
*Note: Many parts of this trip were complimentary, but that in now way influenced my opinions of this awesome island.