Traveling with kids can be expensive – especially as they get older and start to cost adult prices. Oye! We love saving money wherever we can, especially when we’re on the road. A day or weekend at Put-in-Bay doesn’t have to break the bank! Here is a list of inexpensive (cheap!) or free things to do at Put-in-Bay with kids.
Thanks to Miller Ferry for providing our family with ferry tickets and a golf cart rental. Miller Ferry is the MOST inexpensive way to get to Put-in-Bay. Adult tickets (age 12+) are $8 and kids 6-11 are only $1.50. Parking at Catawba Island is FREE. As always, all opinions are my own!
Cheap or Free Things to do at Put-in-Bay
Enjoy the view from the top of Perry’s Victory & International Peace Monument
Perry’s Victory & International Peace Monument is the most imposing structure on South Bass Island. Constructed in 1936, the monument pays homage to the US victory over the British at the Battle of Lake Erie, during the War of 1812. It’s hard to believe that Put-in-Bay was once the site of a deadly Naval battle. Step away from your family fun to consider what that day may have looked like.
The Observation Deck is the perfect place for the family to get an idea of where Oliver Perry made famous the phrase, “Don’t give up the ship!” Five miles away is our now ally, Canada.
Admission to the Observation Deck is FREE for kids under 15. Adult tickets are $10.
Visit the Lake Erie Nature Center
The Lake Erie Nature and Wildlife Center is the place for kids (and adults) to learn more about local and national wildlife. There is also an on-site nature trail. Looking for educational programming Wild Tuesdays happens each Tuesday during summer break and feature a science topic for kids to explore in-depth.
The cost for a family is only $8. Instagram-worthy photos with Mr. Bear are included with admission.
Enjoy a quiet moment at one of two state parks
South Bass Island is home to two state parks – South Bass Island State Park and Oak Point State Park. South Bass Island State Park offers camping and boating rentals, but our kids enjoyed a quick stop to throw some rocks in the water. On a warm day, this would be a great spot to let little ones dip their toes in and cool off (Note: the beach is very rocky).
Oak Point State Park would be a pretty spot for a picnic. From this vantage point, there’s a view of downtown Put-in-Bay, Perry’s Monument, and Gibraltar Island. You’ll feel like you’re a world away on a tropical island. A tropical island with lots of Canadian Geese, that is. 😉
Ohio’s State Parks are FREE. Just park your golf cart and enjoy.
Get a scoop of ice cream – or two
My secret to traveling with kids in the summer? Always bribe with ice cream! Repeat after me, “If you are good and do ______, I will get you ice cream.” My husband also uses this with me. Ice cream is universal bribery. Ha!
Places to get ice cream at Put-in-Bay:
We love Toft’s ice cream – locally made in Sandusky, Ohio. Both the PIB Candy Bar and the Chocolate Cafe serve Toft’s.
Make a merry trip on the Carousel
Kimberly’s Carousel is one of the oldest Carousels in the USA. Constructed in 1917, a ride on this nostalgic Carousel is fun for young and old. Pay attention to the eclectic cast of characters as you spin around and around- Petey the Perch is one of the most beloved.
Rides are $3/pp – making this another inexpensive thing to do at Put-in-Bay.
Lock-in your family love
On our last visit to Put-in-Bay, we set off to explore more of the island and just happened upon Captain Alfred Parker Park. The small local park is located on the Northeast side of Put-in-Bay and has an obstructed view of the Benson Ford Shiphouse.
Not only would this be the perfect place to catch a sunset, but visitors can also “lock in” their bond to each other, AND Put-in-Bay, by placing a lock on the fence. While padlocks are used to symbolize romantic love, I like the idea of using them to show family commitment, too!
Disclaimer: I don’t know if this is legal or not?!? Add a lock at your own risk!
Take a hike at Massie Cliffside Reserve
Massie Cliffside Reserve offers a free hike that ends with a great view of Lake Erie and over to Middle Bass Island. This .3-mile hike is located about halfway between the Perry Victory Monument and Scheeff East Point Nature Preserve. This free attraction is perfect for kids, because the hike is not too long, and is mostly flat terrain.
Need more ideas for Put-in-Bay? Check HERE.
Have you been to Put-in-Bay? What’s your favorite thing to do?
*All prices are valid at the time this was written. Not responsible for changes in pricing. Post contains affiliate links.*