Sandy bottom bars with swinging chairs, a colorful boardwalk filled to the brim with shops and restaurants, a kids’ playground overlooking a picturesque harbor and tons of people riding around the tree lined streets on their own personal golf carts – you could be in only one place: Put-in-Bay, Ohio. Come see why this tropical-esque vacation spot is quickly growing in popularity with not only adults looking to escape for the weekend, but also with families looking for an adventure.

Photo Credit Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

Put-in-Bay Island. Photo Credit: Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

Put-in-Bay, Ohio

Summer unfortunately is almost over as everyone is heading back to school, but there might still time to take in one last end of the summer weekend trip to an island – especially when this island is located in the Midwest! Yes, you heard me right – Ohio has its own island which holds countless opportunities for escape, family fun and wild adventures.TMOM disclosure graphic

Fun Things to Do in Put-in-Bay

Put-in-Bay is full of fun things to do for both adults and children alike – and surrounding this fun is a beautiful island setting complete with a natural lake side landscape and salt-free/shark-free water to enjoy. But if you are heading to Put-in-Bay in search of adventure, be sure to check out these family fun activities while you are there:

Perry’s Cave – Just slightly outside of the main strip is a small village of its own which includes Perry’s Cave, Gem Stone Mining, Fort Amaze’n, the Butterfly House and the Antique Car Museum. We ended up spending about an hour here during our trip allowing the kids to enjoy each of the many activities available.


Mom Tip: Tickets to each activity may be bought separately; however, if you buy all of them at once you get a discounted price! 

Inside Perry's Cave. Photo credit: Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

Inside Perry’s Cave. Photo credit: Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

Our favorite thing to do at this location was Perry’s Cave. Here we were able to take a walking tour into a damp underground cave full of stalagmites and stalactites. It was both a beautiful and educational sight, but this adventure also came with very low ceiling heights, slippery and wet walkways and the chill of 50 degrees year round.

Mom Tip: Wear tennis shoes and be prepared to walk hunched over. If your kids are not old enough to walk on their own, you may want to skip this adventure because of the low ceilings and slippery/uneven floors. My seven year old loved it, however, my four year old cried and wanted to leave immediately because he was scared of bears (there aren’t any here, but he thought there might be). 

Perry’s Victory & Peace Memorial – No trip is complete without a visit to a historic sight or National Monument, at least in my book. Plus Perry’s Peace Memorial is easy to find as it towers 352 feet over Lake Erie. When we arrived at the memorial we found that there were staff dressed in historic garb ready to answer our questions and tell us more about life during the war of 1812. This stop did not take us very long, but was very informative and worth experiencing up close.

2 PM Antique Car Parade – Being the Retro TravelingMom, one thing I always look for on a trip is retro nostalgia – and vintage cars count! This is why my family was super excited to find out that the island has its own antique car parade in the downtown area every Sunday throughout the summer. How fun is that?

Mom Tip: If you have a retro car that you want to bring to the island, you can! The ferry also brings cars over with every pedestrian trip.

Photo Credit: Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

Photo Credit: Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

The Boardwalk – Shopping & Eating – We ended up spending most of our time wandering around the downtown area, browsing the stores and enjoying the sights of Lake Erie as we took a rest on the grassy knoll overlooking the water. This is also where we found a candy shoppe that had retro candy which the kids adored!


What to Expect During Your Visit

Miller Ferry Line – Since Put-in-Bay is an island, you must take a ferry over to it from the mainland. We took the Miller Ferry Line from Port Clinton and it was easy to navigate with friendly and helpful staff. Plus Port Clinton has wonderful hotel options and its own fun adventures to share. Just be sure to remember to check the times for the last boat off the island – when we visited the last boat left at 9 pm.

Prepare to be lost – If this is your first visit to the island it is very easy to feel lost upon arrival. The docking and unloading area is not within eye sight of the main downtown area and you will arrive to what looks like an empty natural island. My advice is to make reservations ahead of time with Erie Island Carts – a golf cart rental company. By making reservations ahead of time, Erie Island carts will have a “taxi” pick you up at the dock and transport you to your very own personal golf cart to use for the day. You will then be free to discover the island on your own terms – but if you want to head downtown, simply turn right out of their parking lot and drive straight until you reach the fun.

Also, remember that this island is big and spread out. You will need some sort of transportation from the docking area to the downtown area – whether it be a bike, car or golf cart. Walking downtown might take up most of your day that you wanted to use exploring the island and having adventures.

Photo Credit: Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

Photo Credit: Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

This island had so much more to discover and we found that our one day set aside to navigate it just wasn’t enough. Be sure to plan for an entire day or a couple day’s when visiting to be able to truly experience Put-in-Bay.

Have you ever visited Put-In-Bay Island? What would your recommendations be for must see things/things to do? Share your recommendations in the comments below.

Be sure to check out what other adventures await in Ohio or read about visiting Put-In-Bay without the kids!