While Sandusky has plenty to offer landlubbers along the shores of Lake Erie, great times are only a boat ride away on both Kelley’s Island and South Bass Island, home of Put-In-Bay. If you happen to be a boater yourself, you can simply cruise a little bit north out of Sandusky. Or if you’re looking to hitch a ride to either island, you can check out the various ferry services that launch directly from downtown Sandusky. Miller Boat Line offers the only passenger and vehicle ferries to both islands; the speedy fleet of the Jet Express will get you to either island in a flash; or you can grab the Goodtime I for either a ferry tour of the nearby islands, or their more adult-themed trips to Kelleys Island’s nightlife.
From the adventurous to the relaxing, Put-In-Bay and the rest of South Bass Island offer a myriad of options for fun for all ages. One of the first things you’ll notice as your boat pulls up to South Bass Island is Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. This monument honors soldiers from the War of 1812, and it stands over 350 feet high! That’s taller than the Statue of Liberty! And from parasailing to kayaking to exploring the wonders of the island’s state park, South Bass Island offers plenty of other natural excitement for outdoor thrill seekers. However, there is also plenty of indoor fun to take in on the island, as well.
South Bass and specifically the town of Put-In-Bay annually host special events during the summer like the fire department’s Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournaments and the 5-Iron Golf Classic. There’s even a pirate invasion every June! Fun for the whole family abounds throughout the summer on South Bass Island.
Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center also has a little bit for everyone. From the cave itself to a butterfly house to miniature golf and even an antique car museum, Perry’s can entertain every member of your clan. For visitors with more adult tastes, Heineman’s Winery offers tastings, as well as a tour of its own Crystal Cave. Put-In-Bay also offers a very popular bar scene during the summer months.
With tons of different entertainment and outdoor activities, Put-In-Bay and the rest of South Bass Island are guaranteed to be a good time for the whole family. Check out the numerous cottages, campgrounds, bed and breakfasts, and hotels on the island here!
While South Bass Island and Put-In-Bay are more popular for the nightlife there, Kelleys Island is a perfect, more family-friendly alternative.
Kelleys Island allows visitors to get more of a taste of nature on Lake Erie, as opposed to its more bustling counterpart, South Bass. The state park on Kelleys Island takes up close to a quarter of the island, and offers camping, hiking, kayaking, and up-close views of the island’s famous Glacial Grooves. After taking in the natural wonders of the state park, you can take advantage of even more of the scenery of the island at the Kelleys Island Country Club. Far from your average country club, the golf course on Kelleys Island lets you take aim at the scenic backdrop of the island and try to hit a golf ball into an abandoned quarry with an empty toilet as a target!
Of course, Kelleys Island also offers unique shopping and dining opportunities, like the always-fun Kelleys Island Brew Pub. The tasting room at the Kelleys Island Wine Co. is one of the many attractions of that particular place, which also includes horseshoes, volleyball, a winery viewing room, and a full restaurant and dining room. Kelleys also hosts the Annual Spring Wine Fling every April, and an annual Homecoming every August.
Looking for a little more than a day trip? Kelleys offers plenty of bed and breakfasts, cottages, and resorts to facilitate your stay. So grab a ferry over to Kelleys Island (there’s even a ferry during the winter!), bring your bike, or grab a golf cart once you arrive to explore the island while you’re here, and find out for yourself that in Sandusky, the fun doesn’t stop at the mainland!
The Hotel Victory, South Bass Island's last resort
Remembering the battle for Kelleys Island
Aerial photos from the Ford Tri-Motor over Port Clinton and Put-In-Bay
Photo galleries of Pyrate Fest at Put-In-Bay
Anniversary of the beginning of the War of 1812
Perry Group, U.S. Navy to commemorate War of 1812
Goodtime I celebrates six years of daytime island hopping cruises
A voyage to the islands used to look like this