Weekend Getaway: Make a Quick Trip to the Lake Erie Islands
All islanders say the same thing. You can feel the stress wash away as you cross the bridge over Sandusky Bay into Port Clinton to catch an island ferry. Bill Boag first felt it after he and his wife, Alice, visited friends on Put-in-Bay in South Bass Island in 1981. The next March, the then North Olmsted residents came back and bought a one-bedroom cottage overlooking the water for weekend trips and summer stays. Their daughter, Mary, was 2 then and the boy in the cottage next door was 3. Those two got married in 2003 — on Put-in-Bay, of course — and have three kids. Now, the whole crew spends the summer in the five-bedroom house the Boags built in 2009 to replace the original cottage. They sail, swim, go out, stay in, listen to bands, bike, hike, take the kids to nature programs and visit the wineries such as Heineman Winery and Kelleys Island Wine Co. “The islands are whatever you want them to be,” says Boag, who serves as commodore at the Put-in-Bay Yacht Club. That island vibe is available to anyone willing to hop a ferry, whether it’s for a day, a week or, like the Boags, 34 years. “We never imagined how much this place would change our lives,” Boag says.
Hitch a ride to the L islands on one of these three ferries.
Price: $33-$48 round-trip Ride: 45-minute trip from Sandusky to Put-in-Bay; 25-minute trip from Port Clinton to Put-in-Bay; 25-minute trip from Sandusky to Kelleys Island Pro tip: The $48 island hopper ticket will take you to Kelleys Island and Put-in-Bay the same day. Why we love it: It drops us off right in the heart of downtown Put-in-Bay. 800-245-1538, jet-express.com
Miller Boat Line
Price: $14-$19 round-trip Ride: 20-minute trip from Catawba Island to Put-in-Bay; 40-minute trip from Catawba Island to Middle Bass Island Pro tip: For an extra $16-$21.50 each way, you can bring along your car. Why we love it: While it drops us off about 2 miles away from downtown, there are a handful of golf cart rental spots nearby. 419-285-2421, millerferry.com
Kelleys Island Ferry
Price: $20 round-trip Ride: 25-minute trip from Marblehead to Kelleys Island Pro tip: Cars are welcome for $16 each way. You can also scope out views of Marblehead Lighthouse or Cedar Point while you sail. Why we love it: It’s the only daily car and passenger ferry to Kelleys Island. 419-798-9763, kelleysislandferry.com
Island-ready tips on what to do, where to stay what to eat once you land on Put-in-Bay, Kelleys Island and Middle Bass Island.
Do: Take the elevator 317 feet to the top of Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial for views of the lake. 93 Delaware Ave., 419-285-2184, nps.gov/pevi
Eat: Goat Soup & Whiskey is set away from the bustle of downtown. Try the walleye Oscar ($30.95) or keep it simple with perch tacos ($5.95). 820 Catawba Ave., 419-285-4628, soupandwhiskey.com
Stay: BayShore Resort is the only lakefront hotel on the island and has a Tiki bar overlooking the water. $185 to $309 a night with a two-night minimum on the weekends. 328 Toledo Ave., 866-422-9746, bayshoreresortpib.com
Do: Check out the 6-acre outdoor sculpture garden at Chuck Herndon Galleries, with sleek, abstract stoneworks. 114 Laylin Lane, 419-746-2249, charlesherndon.com
Eat: Kelleys Island Wine Co. is big on small plates such as lemongrass chicken pot stickers ($8) and bacon-wrapped scallops ($18). Order a bottle of Inscription White ($19.50), and head for the pavilion. 418 Woodford Road, 419-746-2678, kelleysislandwineco.com
Stay: A Water’s Edge Retreat boasts a private beach and a sprawling veranda. $199 to $399 a night with a two-night minimum on the weekends. 827 E. Lakeshore Drive, 800-884-5143, watersedgeretreat.com
Middle Bass Island
Do: Rent a bike at the state park and pedal to the Kuehnle Wildlife Area to see the wading birds and Lake Erie water snakes. 1719 Fox Road, 419-285-0311, parks.ohiodnr.gov/middlebassisland
Eat: Dine on menu items ranging from fresh Lake Erie perch ($14.99) to vineyard flatbread ($11.99) with prosciutto, fig and goat cheese sitting next to the wading pool at J.F. Walleye’s. 1810 Fox Road, 419-285-2739, jfwalleyes.com
Stay: Pack a tent and stay right on the beach at one of the state park’s 20 primitive camping sites. $18 to $19 a night, 866-644-6727
Even golf carts have road rules to follow on the Lake Erie islands.
Golf carting throughout Put-in-Bay, Kelleys Island or Middle Bass Island is half the fun, but that doesn’t mean right-of-way goes out the window. Golf carts are motor vehicles, which means you need a valid driver’s license to rent one and open containers or drunk driving are a big no-no (Put-in-Bay police charge 20 to 30 people a year for doing so). If, and inevitably when, a car is behind you, just stay the course. Plus, pulling to the side of the road usually means you’re in the bike lane. “People cause more problems than they’re solving,” says Put-in-Bay police Sgt. Donald Dress. Want to annoy the locals? Park illegally, obsessively toot your horn or let your kid drive. “Lots of people do live on the island,” says Dress. “Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do on your own street at home.”
9:00 AM EST
July 22, 2016