Thursday, August 16, 2012

Put-In-Bay Day

If you didn't grow up or live near Lake Erie, you may have never heard of Put-In-Bay. A few miles from Ohio's beachy coast (there's a sentence you don't hear often), sits South Bass Island. Put-in-Bay has somewhat of a party reputation and I believe if you're staying overnight, you can find yourselves all sorts of trouble to rouse. Don't be assuaged though; it's also a family destination with lots of activities for all ages to enjoy. One recent Saturday, John and I hopped aboard the Miller Ferry with my dad and stepmom to take in the sights and visit a place none of us had been to in a good 10 years or so. You can also take the Jet Express but it costs twice as much. Miller Ferry leaves Port Clinton every half hour during peak season and costs $13/person. Save a buck with the coupon on their site! A quick 18 minute ride and you're on the island, ready to explore!

The main modes of transportation on the island are golf carts and bicycles. You can rent both at many locations by each dock. We rented a 4 person golf cart for the day (which I never photographed!) It wasn't cheap, about $80. They also have hourly rentals. The ferry will transport your vehicle for you but where's the fun in that? John was our driver for the day as I'm not licensed to operate a golf cart.

Our first stop was Heineman's just before 11:00 am. We skipped the Crystal Cave tour (world's largest geode) because we've all done it before but it's worth seeing if you never have. Instead, we did what any normal folks do at 11:00am at a winery. Drink wine! My dad is not a wine fan but he was pleased with his Diet Coke. We shared a bottle of Gewurtztraminer (sweet and crisp) and this fancy cheese plate. Yes, those are plastic cups for our wine.

Dixies and saltines!

 I would have preferred a tasting but when I asked the staff (not super helpful) what the tasting situation was they said $2.00 for a 5 oz. glass or you can buy a bottle. We ended up with the bottle thinking multiple varieties of tastings wasn't the best deal. As it happens, the raucous crowd at the next table shared their Island Chablis and a red I can't remember with us as well. When on the islands, beware that tipsy folks are oftentimes happy and will come visit your table! Don't be alarmed. They were nice, and entertaining.

Back in the cart we headed on down the road. You can't really get lost here as there are only a few main roads with a lot of side streets. PIB has some year-rounders but it's mostly vacation homes and rentals. Lake Erie in December is typically not somewhere you'd want to hang out.

Check out that sky

The pinnacle attraction (for height and popularity) is Perry's Monument. I'm sorry. Its full name is Perry's International Peace Memorial and Visitor Center. This 352 foot monument was built to honor those who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. We were lucky that recent renovations were completed ahead of schedule so we could take the elevator to the top. We got in line just in time and had about a 20 minute wait for our turn. No bathrooms inside (you've been warned). $3 admission charge as well but the views from the top are spectacular!

You CAN see Pelee Island but that's not it

Busy Marina - we also ate lunch down there

Back down on the ground and much to my father's pure joy, a cannon was about to be shot off in a reenactment.

Thar she blows!


There is a visitors' center with artifacts and a movie but we didn't stick around there long. We were HUNGRY. There are a number of eateries to choose from in the main marina area of the island. We selected The Upper Deck at the Boardwalk. They are known for their lobster bisque but I had a perch sandwich. Yum!

We walked around a bit and popped into a couple shops but ultimately landed at the Put-In-Bay Winery. I regret that I took nary a picture here! I'm sorry as the grounds were lovely. Check out the link though, you can see it there. This joint was classy. Real wine glasses and everything. And true tastings, but pricier than our first stop. We sipped outside and enjoyed the vino. We also tried their Celebration drink with was lemonade, pomegranate and a bunch of herbs topped off with their sparkling moscato. The ladies loved it, the gents not so much. We purchased a couple bottles and went on our merry way.

I should note that we had an absolutely gorgeous day weather-wise. Up until that day, we had been slogging through upper 90's and suffocating humidity. Today started out a bit shaky as we drove through some rain on our way to the ferry. The lake was pretty choppy on the boat ride, white peaks and all. But, once on the island, the sun came out, the temps hovered in the low 80's and the humidity was almost non-existent.

We drove around a bit more and after having been on the island for about 6 hours, we decided it was time to go back to the mainland. There are other attractions, Perry's Cave, Butterfly House, etc. but we skipped those. I can't say enough about how perfect our day was. The weather, the sights, spending good, quality time with family. This was a belated Father's Day/Birthday outing for my dad and I think we delivered.

Lake Erie - smooth as glass

If you haven't ever been, you really ought to check it out! I think it would be fun to go for a weekend some time. An island getaway in Ohio!

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