Put-in-Bay is a small city on South Bass Island, Lake Erie, that’s probably most well-known by the locals for its flourishing nightlife. However, visiting Put-in-Bay with kids has shown me that there are plenty of things to do for families on South Bass Island! We just returned from our third day trip to Put-in-Bay and here are my suggestions for visiting Put-in-Bay with kids.
#1 Take Miller Ferry to Put-in-Bay
Miller Ferry is an easy and affordable option to get to Put-in-Bay. As a cost-conscious family, a quick Google search revealed that Miller Ferry is less than HALF the cost of their competitor. It’s hard to justify paying more for a boat trip that only takes 20 minutes! We found the ferry terminal to be convenient and all-day parking was plentiful and FREE. Also, there are clean restrooms at both terminals.
#2 Rent a golf cart from E’s rental
Located just steps from the Ferry Terminal- E’s Put-in-Bay Golf Carts is a convenient option for a day trip to Put-in-Bay. Thanks to pre-arrival booking and insurance forms, it takes just a few minutes to pick up my pre-reserved golf cart. E’s has a large inventory of 2, 4, and 6-person golf carts.
Each golf cart is named, and our oldest child enjoyed reading all of the names to us! Next time I go, I’d like this one. 😉
#3 Check out downtown Put-in-Bay
I recommend doing this FIRST thing when you arrive. I’m not a prude, but there are some things I’m not ready to explain! We noticed that the crowd changed quickly around 4 pm. So head here for an early lunch, let the kids play at DeRivera Park – a pristine playground with water views, and take a spin on Kimberly’s Carousel.
Places to eat in downtown Put-in-Bay:
The Boathouse – Themed dining with a kid’s menu
The Boardwalk Main Deck – Waterfront dining in a cafeteria-style establishment. They have mac-and-cheese meals for kids.
#4 Visit Perry’s Victory & International Peace Monument
Families visiting Put-in-Bay, Ohio should not miss the Perry Victory & International Peace Monument. The 352-foot monument and Visitor Center commemorates the Battle of Lake Erie, which took place during the War of 1812. We were lucky enough to arrive just as a Ranger-led educational session was beginning, but the Visitor Center alone is a wealth of information on Put-in-Bay’s role in the war.
The International Peace Monument is the only Peace Memorial in the USA’s National Park Service. It commemorates the long-lasting peace between Canada, the USA, and the United Kingdom. These three flags still fly outside the memorial.
If you’re lucky enough to visit when the Monument is open to visitors, make sure to take the elevator to the top! From here, you can easily see Canada (Ok, Pelee Island isn’t really that far).
#5 Enjoy island views from numerous parks
South Bass Island offers two family-friendly State Parks- South Bass State Park and Oak Point State Park. Oak Point State Park is the state’s smallest state park at only an acre and a half, but it does pack some gorgeous views of Put-in-Bay and Perry’s Monument (even on a cloudy day). This would be a perfect spot for a family picnic.
South Bass State Park is a full-service park that offers camping and a public boat launch. They also have four cabents, which look like a cross between a yurt and a cabin. We’d like to go back and rent one for a weekend of family fun!
Want to spend more time outside? At the opposite end of the island is Scheff East Point Nature Preserve. This NE tip of the island offers great views of Middle Bass Island. We even saw some children swimming here (with lifejackets on).
Just down the road is Massie Cliffside Preserve. This .3 mile hike (one way) ends at its namesake – a Lake Erie cliff. This hike is flat enough that even the littlest legs should be able to do it! Once you reach the shore, numerous park benches allow for everyone to sit and enjoy the views!
#6 Learn and play at Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center
Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center has seven attractions to choose from! The most cost-effective way to visit the attractions is by purchasing a combo ticket that allows you to visit three of five attractions. In good weather, our kids’ favorite is the Fort Amaze’n! They also offer mini-golf.
On a rainy day, the best attractions are Perry’s Cave and The Butterfly House. However, doing both attractions will still only take an hour of your time! Perry’s Cave was discovered by Oliver Hazard Perry and includes an underground lake! Remember, it’s always 50 degrees in the cave, so pack a jacket!
Have you been to Put-in-Bay or South Bass Island? What things do you recommend for families to do? Here’s a list of cheap things to do at Put-in-Bay.
** Miller Ferry provided me with ferry transportation and a golf cart rental. However, all opinions are my own.**