White caps curled and crashed on the shore, sunlight sparkled on the water — an almost tropical paradise, less than a four-hour drive from Cincinnati. We viewed the scene from seats atop the Miller Ferry, the boat that brought us, and our minivan, from Catawba, Ohio, to Put-in-Bay, one of several islands located on the western end of Lake Erie. Put-in-Bay served as a base of operations for Oliver Hazard Perry during the early 1800s. Today it’s a bustling getaway with all kinds of things to do.
We stayed overnight at the just-opened Put-in-Bay Condos. There are no elevators, but our trek to the third floor was worth it: Lake Erie was spectacular. The condos boast a large pool, and of course, the lake is right there.
ONTO THE FUN
Watersports are just a fraction of the fun Put-in-Bay offers. After enjoying the view from our balcony, we set off for “downtown.” We got tickets at the Depot and took the Tour Train. It circles the island and allows riders to hop on and off at attractions along the way. We enjoyed the ride and the commentary on the area’s history. Along with the laughs, the boys liked that the train’s speed allowed them to catch Pokémons!
Allow yourselves time to stop at the historic inns along the way and at the Ohio Division of Wildlife, a free aquarium featuring open-air tanks with fish, turtles and other aquatic animals found in the lake.
We hopped off at Perry Cave’s Family Fun Center where a package deal gave us admission to three of the five attractions at the center. We toured Perry’s Cave, accompanied by a 14-year-old tour guide. She was very knowledgeable, but when some kids (not mine) started heckling her, it visibly tested her stamina.
We visited The Antique Car Museum and had fun posing and taking pictures by the vintage automobiles from the early 20th century. After that, the boys did the Fort aMaze’n, while my husband I went to the Butterfly House — delicate creatures fluttered everywhere. Finally, we played mini-golf at the War of 18 Holes. The course sports lovely landscaping with bridges and waterfalls. We were having a delightful time, mostly shooting one or two over par, so we didn’t notice the dark clouds rolling in. Luckily, an employee told us to get off the course, and get to safety. The thunderstorm caught us on our way into the condo.
EATING BY THE LAKE
We went into town for dinner. We wished we’d rented a golf cart, because limited parking made it hard to squeeze our minivan into a spot. However, our meal at Mossbacks, a “causal upscale restaurant” made the effort worthwhile. From our corner table, I had a view of the lake while I ate a delicious turkey sandwich and my boys enjoyed gourmet burgers.
We had hoped to take in Perry’s Victory and International Peace Monument, but it had already closed by the time we finished eating — that just means we’ll have to return to Put-in-Bay!
IF YOU GO: PUT-IN-BAY