Lake Erie Islands - Relax: Lake Erie

One huge old house on a couple acres of land overlooking the lake. Three couples. Two Jet Skis. It was a pretty uncomplicated formula for a week of fun at Put-in-Bay. Given that our house was on the party island, you’d think we’d have been in town every night. We weren’t. Days were spent lounging near the water or Jet Skiing around. Meals were prepared and eaten together at the picnic table out back. Twice we went into town — once for some fishing supplies and once to sit outside at one of the quieter bars. It was an island pace and we managed to accomplish what none of us were able to do back on the mainland — pretty much nothing. Without ever feeling antsy or guilty or bored. There was a wide and beautiful view. We were with friends. That was enough.

Book Your Own Place: Which agency you use depends on where you’d like to stay:
• Lake Erie Vacation Rentals works largely with homes and condos on the mainland, Port Clinton and Catawba, but also represents properties onPut-in-Bay. (419) 732-1111;
Lakeside: Read “Other Great Options” on page 90.
Put-in-Bay: Book a cabin at the Island Club or condos at the South Shore Beach Resort: Call the Island Club Rentals at (216) 898-9951 or visit or
• Renting on Kelleys Island is easy and organized as it’s all done through the chamber of commerce, including homes, condos and bed-and-breakfasts. (419) 746-2360;
• Cabins and cottages at Cedar Point are a nice place to unwind after a day of thrills. (419) 627-2106;

• Where To Stay •
Our Top Picks: The Grout House
. (232 Mike’s Drive, Put-in-Bay, 216-671-1525; Built during the Civil War, this historic house has four bedrooms and two baths. But it’s the grounds that will make your trip — two acres of grass and trees right on the lake. $1,850 a week in high season.
The Shores. (1801 E. Perry St., Port Clinton, 419-732-1111; This 90-unit condo complex in Port Clinton has it all — sandy beach, heated pool, hot tub, sun decks, tennis court and putting green. Ask for Unit 36, a one-bedroom with a vantage referred to as the “seasick view.” It goes for $1,125 a week during high season.

Other Great Options: Some of us like to relax — but still rough it just a little. For the rusticity of camping without all the effort, book a week in a yurt on Kelleys Island or a cabent on South Bass Island (all of them sleep six people and must be booked by the week, Sunday to Sunday):
The Yurts: These two large, round, heavy-duty tents perched on the edge of the campground, overlooking the sandy beach, contain an efficiency-style living space with a separate kitchen and bathroom. You’ll be able to hear birds chirping through the canvas walls, or catch the news on the supplied TV. $625 per week.
The Cabents: Four wooden spaceship pods are nestled into the woods near the entrance of the park. The first time I saw them, I knew my life wouldn’t be complete until I stayed in one. Because they’re basically a cabin with a tent-style roof (hence, “cabent”), I felt secure from the elements but still one with nature. There are two separate bedrooms, with a kitchen in the main living space and a private bathroom. $563 per week. 1-866-644-6727;

Sand and Sun Index, The beach list

Bay Point Resort Beach. More than a mile of sandy beach on the tip of the peninsula. Unfortunately, it’s private —you have to rent one of their cottages. If you plan on spending a lot of time in the area, buy a family summer pass for $345. 10948 E. Bayshore Road, Marblehead, (419) 798-4434
Cedar Point Beach. For a wide, open feel, this mile-long beach is hands-down the nicest in the area. Open to resort guests only. Behind the Hotel Breakers at the amusement park, (419) 627-2350
East Harbor State Park. More than 2 miles of sandy beach (1,500 feet of which is watched by lifeguards), as well as picnic areas, hiking trails and fishing. 1169 N. Buck Road, Marblehead, (419) 734-4424
Lakeside Beach. All paths lead to the beach in this village. It’s small, but has a buffered swimming area and piers to jump off of. See page 90 for info on Lakeside gate fees. By the pavilion, 1-866-952-5374
 Port Clinton City Beach. Across the street from Lakeview park and perfect for wading, this quarter-mile sandy beach is great for kids. Perry Street, just east of downtown Port Clinton, (419) 734-5522
Sandy Beach, Kelleys Island State Park. This 100-foot sandy swath of waterfront abuts the campground, so you’ll find plenty of families enjoying one of the best beaches to be found in the chain of Lake Erie islands. 920 Division St., (419) 797-4530
South Bass Island State Park. It’s compact, it’s rocky, it gets deep pretty quickly. But hey — it’s a beach! Wear your water shoes and resign yourself to laying towels out on the grassy area on the bluff. 1523 Catawba Ave., (419) 797-4530Sand-and-Sun Index

Grill a Feast
Island dining is all about getting great local ingredients onto the grill. Chef Lorenzo Pytlik, who runs Lorenzo’s Culinary School in Lakeside, has a plan to help you do just that — in a gourmet way. 
The Shopping List
Shrimp Wrapped in Pancetta
16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 pound pancetta or thinly sliced Italian bacon
16 fresh sage leaves
Fresh cracked black pepper

Grilled Veggie Pizza

4 10-inch pizza crusts (to make your own using chef Lorenzo’s recipe, visit
Aluminum foil
Olive oil
1 cup of fresh, grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese per pizza
5-6 Roma tomatoes
1 green pepper
1 medium sweet onion
1 small zucchini
1 garlic bulb

Corn on the Cob

Corn, 1-2 ears per person
1 stick butter
1 handful cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Grilled Peaches
Freestone peaches, one per person
1/4 stick butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
Dash of cinnamon
Splash of rum or vanilla, if available
Soft serve vanilla ice cream from the Dairy Dock

1. Gather: As you drive west over the Edison Bay bridge on Route 2, get off at the Lakeside/Marblehead exit (Route 269 north). Bergman’s Orchards (708 S. Bridge Road, Marblehead) is your first stop. In late August, the Red Haven peaches are succulent, sweet and perfect for grilling. Also buy veggies for your pizza toppings — Roma tomatoes, sweet onions, garlic bulbs, green peppers, mushrooms and zucchini. Don’t forget sweet corn. The rest of your shopping list is at Bassett’s IGA (3994 E. Harbor Road) just west on Route 163. Your last stop is east on Route 163 at Brown’s Dairy Dock (706 W. Main St.) in Marblehead for soft serve vanilla ice cream. Throw it in a cooler.

2. Prep: Cut Roma tomatoes in half lengthwise. Remove tops and seeds from green peppers and cut into 1-inch rings. Peel and slice onions into thick rings, then separate the rings. Cut zucchini lengthwise into quarter-inch-thick pieces. Place all veggies in a bowl and liberally drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

3. Grill:  Slice the head off the garlic bulb and place in an aluminum foil ball with enough olive oil to fill halfway up the ball. Crush the foil to seal, and roast until garlic is soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, cool and squeeze garlic pulp into a bowl with an ounce of olive oil. Oil grill well before placing veggies on the rack, or steam the veggies in a foil pouch on the grill. Place shucked corn (with stems still on) directly on the grill and rotate until all sides are toasted. Dress in cilantro butter (whip a handful of cilantro with a stick of butter; salt and pepper to taste). 

4. Appetizer: Place each shrimp on a slice of pancetta. Add a sage leaf on top and season with fresh, cracked pepper. Wrap the pancetta around the shrimp. Place shrimp on oiled grill. Cook on each side until pancetta is crisp. Serve immediately.

5. Pizza: Brush crusts with olive oil and warm on grill. Add grilled veggies, cheese and drizzle with garlic/olive oil mixture.

6. Dessert: Slice peaches in half through their natural divide. Melt 1/4 stick butter with half cup brown sugar, dash of cinnamon and a splash of rum or vanilla, if available. Brush peach flesh with the butter mixture and place face down on a well-oiled grill. When caramelized, remove with tongs and place two halves in a bowl with a scoop of Dairy Dock ice cream on top.

7. Relax: “The only thing left is to sit back and enjoy one of our beautiful sunsets,” Pytlik says.

-- Order a Feast --
For some, cooking is fun. For others, it’s just work. If that’s you, here’s who to call.

Avery’s Café.
The catering menu includes clam bakes ($17.95 per person) and barbecued ribs and chicken ($12.95 per person). Two weeks’ notice is required. 306 W. Main St., (419) 798-1700
Mutach’s Food Market. It does offer some subs, but the big draw is that it’ll deliver groceries (steak and beer, for example) for $5. It’s known for its meats and produce. 505 W. Main St., (419) 798-5203

Sloopy’s Sports Café. Delivers pizza, pasta and sandwiches. 218 W. Second St.,(419) 798-4457
Kelleys Island: Kelleys Island Brewery. The catering/takeout menu features everything from a bacon, ham and sausage breakfast casserole that serves six ($30) to a dozen chocolate cloud cookies made with artisan Belgian chocolate ($10) to dinner for 200 people (order at least five months in advance for large groups). 503 W. Lakeshore Drive, (419) 656-4335

Put-in-Bay: Taste of the Party. Full-service catering for family picnics and parties. (419) 285-4321

The Crescent Tavern. Offers catering, as well as takeout from the restaurant menu. 198 Delaware Ave., (419) 285-4211

The Crew’s Nest. Although it’s a private club, it will cater small parties/picnics for nonmembers —anything from barbeques to plated dinners. Call a week ahead and ask for Melinda McCann. 480 Bayview Ave., (419) 285-3625

Frosty Bar. Great pizza, sure, but you can also have subs and salads delivered for $3. 240 Delaware Ave., (419) 285-3278
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