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Lake Erie is for Wine Lovers

When thinking about wine in all it’s grapey magnificence, you can’t help but think about legendary regions of the country like Napa Valley or Sonoma, California…maybe even all the way across the pond in Bordeaux, France.  And that’s all well and good, but Ohio in it’s own right, has some really good wine, too.

The weather, mostly due to the fresh waters of Lake Erie, make this unique area of the country ideal for growing grapes.  While we’ve found that the sweeter wines tend to take precedence in the Heart of it All, the range of wines available is still quite impressive.  In turn, places like the Firelands Winery have been around for almost 140 years.  Did you see how we snuck that old Ohio tourism slogan in there? Course you did.

Since the first cellar of this historic winery was built in 1880, Firelands Winery has been taking advantage of this unique environment and harvesting their fruit from a place that enjoys a 200 day frost-free growing season, the Isle of St. George on the western basin of Lake Erie.  Our favorite? The Gewurztraminer — A sweet white with a passion fruit flavor and rose petal aroma.  Wow, we remembered how to spell it and took notes. Look at us!

Firelands Winery Facebook

And it’s not just Firelands that has been benefitting from this latitude and longitude.  In 1888 a man from Baden-Baden Germany (Say that three times fast), an area of that country known for it’s rich viticultural history, founded Heinemans Winery.  Located in the village of Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island, it has been producing fine wines for over 100 years.

As a bonus, especially if you go this weekend before it closes for the year, you can take a look at the Crystal Cave, the world’s largest geode.  Random we know, but awesome nonetheless. I mean where else are you going to see a three foot crystal?

Tasting tip: Go for the Lake Erie Pink Catawba pictured below.  It’s sweet, light pink in color as the name suggests and very easy to drink.  Just be careful, a bottle between two people goes down very quickly.  And by be careful, we mean order two bottles.

Since we’re focusing on wine, we’d be remiss not to mention one of our favorite island events, the Put-in-Bay Island Wine Festival.  Hop on the Miller Ferry on Saturday, October 7 and for just $6 you will get into the festival with a souvenir wine glass. Combine that with a $14/RT ferry ticket and you’re looking at a meager $20 total — Budget travel day! Of course to sample the more than 200 wines that are there, you’ll have to cough up $1 per ticket…how much is completely up to you, ya boozehound.

Heineman’s Winery Facebook

You can tell wine connoisseurs are starting to take notice of the region as well.  In the last decade newer wineries have been popping up like, well, grapes.  Quarry Hill Winery sits perched 834 feet above Berlin Heights, Ohio while the Paper Moon Vineyards nests in the historic harbor town of Vermillion, Ohio.

Quarry Hill Winery Facebook Page

While in Vermillion, be sure to visit the ludicrously delicious Wine Vault. With a newly renovated menu that’s focused more on a tapas style, it’s a refreshing style of nourishment. Try the prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, lobster bisque and delicious cheese plates.  Not sure while we’re giving you ideas of what to order, all of it is tremendous. You’ll see.

Wine Vault Facebook Page

So next time you’d like to hit the wine trail, skip the expensive plane tickets and head north.  France and California will always be there.

Have some other recommendations regarding wineries around Lake Erie? Let us know in the comment section or by tweeting @itsalwaysohio!

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These 8 Pizza Places in Ohio Will Melt Your Buds

These circular, sometimes square or rectangular cheesy pies from heaven are what we imagine the ancient Greek gods would eat.  Or wait, maybe Italian gods.  You understand what we’re getting at.  Pizza is life, which is why we’re here to give you our suggestions when it comes to finding this wonderful sustenance in the state of Ohio.

Cameo PizzaSandusky – Family owned and operated since 1936, this iconic Sandusky, Ohio establishment has been making pizza their way for a long, long time.  Talk to anyone from this boating town about pizza and you’ll immediately be inundated about why pizza should be cut in strips and not triangles — That’s Cameo’s doing.  Recently updated with an outdoor patio, new front facade and upstairs area called TopSide, Cameo is truly a staple on the north coast. Whether you’re riding rollercoasters at Cedar Point, island hopping or just cruising around Sandusky, it’s a must-visit. Need a place to stay? Check out one of our favorites, the rooftop-bar-equipped Hotel Kilbourne.

Cameo Pizza Facebook

Avalanche PizzaAthens – Turn around and head far south to the home of Ohio University and you’ll find Avalanche Pizza, which is home to some phenomenal creations like the Veggie Garden and the K-2.  Really want to go big? Try the pizza that won “Best Pizza in the USA” at the World Pizza Championship in Saggiamore, Italy — The Godzilla.

Avalanche Pizza Facebook

Harvest PizzariaColumbus – While this operation has three spots all around Columbus, we’ve only tried Harvest right next to Curio, a high-end cocktail bar we also thoroughly enjoyed. Striving to use only the finest, locally sourced ingredients, Harvest puts out some unbelievably tasty pies.  Somehow both crispy and chewy, yet thin enough to hold all of the toppings, their crust is the real deal — Almost positive you could eat it with zero toppings.  Please however, add toppings.  Three words: Ohio Double Bacon.

Harvest Pizzeria Facebook

Coccia HouseWooster – Upon first glance, the Coccia House looks like a personal residence masquerading as a restaurant and that’s because, well, it is. Back in 1958, Domenica “Minnie” Coccia did just that, turned her home into an Italian restaurant. This old school gem, aside from a few additions, hasn’t changed much and that’s a great thing. Truth be told, this place is so cool that the pizza tasting fantastic was just a bonus — And if you don’t believe us, this stuff is so good, they have shipped it all over the world to places like Papa New Guinea and Iraq.  Want to look like a Wooster local?  Order the Pepperoni Bread that’s not on the menu.

Coccia House Facebook

A TavolaCincinnati – This innovative, communal gathering spot meant to replicate an Italian Trattoria started in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood and has since then expanded to the suburbs in Madeira, and that’s for good reason: This place is just cool.  From the atmosphere and vibe to the thing that we’re here to talk about, pizza.  I mean, the pizza oven apparently came from Naples, Italy, so there’s that.  Do we even need to say more? Seriously though, it’s quite possible the best Neapolitan Thin Crust Pizza we’ve ever had, and that’s something.

A Tavola Pizza Facebook

Frosty BarPut-in-Bay – There’s something about pizza on an island, we’ll admit that.  Simply, yet delicious, the pizza at Frosty Bar isn’t going to knock your socks off the first time you have it, but we’ll guarantee you’ll want more.  Perhaps that’s partly because of our affinity for this island, but it’s mostly about the sweet, tomatoey goodness that’s stealthily hidden underneath a thick of layer of melty cheese. Is there better pizza around? Maybe. Is any of that pizza on Put-in-Bay? Probably not. Need to get over to the island on a budget? Check out the Miller Ferry where the R/T tickets are a mere $14.

Frosty Bar Facebook

Scotti’s Italian EateryCleveland – We’re going to keep this short, mainly because we’re still out of breath from attacking the Meat Lover’s pizza here.  Ready for this?  A huge piece of pie with pepperoni, ham, salami, bacon, chicken sausage, meatballs, house Italian sausage and ridiculously thin sheets of prosciutto. Game. Set. Match. Scotti’s – 1. It’s Always Ohio – 0.

Scotti’s Italian Eatery Facebook

Marion’s PizzaDayton – For 52 years, Marion’s has been firing out delicious, handmade pizza.  With nine locations, this Dayton staple has expanded, yet stayed true to its values by serving the same “Dayton-style” thin crust pizza that’s cut into squares, instead of slices. Lightly cheesed, heavy on the toppings and just the perfect sized square so that you can just keep popping them in your mouth. Feeling a bit wild? Try their Super Cheese…it’s exactly what you’re imagining.

Marion’s Pizza Facebook

As we say, listing our favorites is always tough because there are so many choices out there. We could’ve easily thrown Bar Cento in Cleveland on there or even thrown a shout out to the legendary Myle’s Pizza in Bowling Green — R.I.P.

Have a favorite pizza place in Ohio that you think is the best? Let us know!

 

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Put-in-Bay’s First Music Festival Looks Awesome and You Should Go

Once in a while you’ll find two things that go together to form a perfect, harmonious balance otherwise unseen in ordinary combinations.  Ham and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, Jordan and Pippen…we all know the classics.  One such marriage, one we consider to be among the classics, is Put-in-Bay, Ohio and music.  The two have always worked together, delighting locals and visitors alike with tunes from fantastic bands hailing from all across the country.  This is why when we found out that the already live music-laden island will be putting on the inaugural Put-in-Bay Music Festival, we were stoked.

Some of the best parts about the festival?  Just a $7 ticket on the Miller Ferry to Put-in-Bay gets you in and once you’re in, the fest takes place in front of one of the most picturesque backdrops on all of South Bass Island — Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial.

In true Perry’s Victory style, the Put-in-Bay Music Festival is all about two other things that go very well together, peace and music.

Seven stellar bands will perform including the Flyin’ Jays, Emily Keener from The Voice, MC Bob Gatewood, JP and the Chatfield Boys, Mo ‘Mojo, Strung Like a Horse and the Floorwalkers. Legendary performer Pat Dailey just recently agreed to perform his new song during the day-long festival.

The music line up is tentatively set (times are approximate and subject to change):

11:15am – Flyin’ Jays

12:15pm – Emily Keener

1:15pm – Bob Gatewood

2:00pm – JP and the Chatfield Boys

3:15pm – Mo ‘Mojo

4:15pm – Pat Dailey

5:00pm – Strung Like a Horse

6:45pm – Floorwalkers

Free music workshops will be given during the day. Mo ‘Mojo will give a workshop on zydeco dance, and a second on drumming. Islander Dick McCarthy will also give two workshops on playing the ukulele, one for beginners and a second for those with some experience. There will also be a “Guitar Hero” competition in the workshop tent.  There will also be two cornhole tournaments, so bring your “A” game.

To plan your island visit to the June 10 Put-in-Bay Music Festival check out the following websites; pibmusicfest.com, millerferry.com, & visitputinbay.com.

Want more music? Toby Keith is performing at Put-in-Bay on Thursday, August 31.  Thats right, Toby Keith. Well played PIB, well played.  More details soon…

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Free Ride to Put-in-Bay? Miller Ferry Salutes Active Military & Veterans

As if there wasn’t enough reason to take a trip over to Put-in-Bay already, Miller Ferry is saluting the U.S. military by offering up a pretty sweet deal.  And by pretty sweet, we mean FREE!  Active U.S. Military Personnel and American Veterans are invited to ride aboard Miller Ferry at no charge Saturday, May 27 through Memorial Day, May 29.  Miller Ferry asks that Military Personnel and Veterans identify themselves at the ticket booth to obtain free passenger ferry passage.

After getting over to the island without paying a dime, the savings continue.  While we’d like to give a nice description of each place that’s giving a discount, we’re going to be completely honest here, we don’t have enough time and you’d stop reading — It’s so, so many places.  So instead, we’ll just list them. Below are valid from:

Saturday, May 27 through Memorial Monday, May 29

Boardwalk Main & Upper Deck 10% off any food item (does not include alcohol).
Cameo Pizza $2.00 off a large and $1.00 off a medium pizza.
Candy Bar 10% discount.
Carriage House Gift Shop 20% discount.
Chicken Patio $5.00 off a chicken dinner.
Country House Gifts 10% discount.
Dairy Isle
10% off any food item.
E’s Golf Carts
 $5.00 off daily cart rental.
Heineman’s Winery 50% off combo tours. Pay only $4.00 for a winery tour, cave tour and a glass of wine or juice.
Hooligan’s 10% off any food item (does not include alcohol) .
Island Bike & Cart Rental $5.00 off daily golf cart rental.
J.F. Walleye’s (Middle Bass Island) 50% off vacation rentals, golf cart rental and breakfast buffet.
Lime Kiln Bus free transportation & $1.00 off for adult family members.
Miller Ferry free transportation to Put-in-Bay or Middle Bass Island.
Park Hotel Golf Cart Rental $5.00 off cart rental (day rate only).
Pasquale’s Cafe 25% off mean (does not include alcohol).
Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center free admission to Perry’s Cave & $1.00 off for adult family members.
Put-in-Bay Brewing Company Free souvenir pint glass with any purchase.
Put-in-Bay Surf Shop 25% discount.
Put-in-Bay Tour Train free tour & $1.00 off for adult family members.
Reel Bar 20% off total food bill (does not include alcohol).
T & J’s Smokehouse 15% total off food bill (does not include alcohol).
The Bucket Shop 10% discount.
The Butterfly House free admission & $1.00 off for adult family members.
The Keys 10% off any food item (does not include alcohol).

Memorial Day Only – Monday, May 29

Boardwalk Main & Upper Deck Free bowl (one) of lobster bisque.
Mossbacks
 50% off any food item.

We were right, right?  So many discounts.  For more information visit www.millerferry.com. We’ll see you on the island!

5 Things in Ohio She’ll Love on Mother’s Day

It’s pretty simple, you owe a lot to your mother.  It’s not really up for debate, she was the one who created you — Literally.  And that’s no offense to dad, because clearly he played a very important role, but let’s be honest…she had it a little bit tougher don’t you think?  It’s for this reason among a litany of others that you should probably think about doing something special this Sunday.  Luckily for all us Ohio residents, there’s no shortage of fun and unique things to do.  While there’s way, way more than five, we’re going to give you just a few of the activities we like best.

Annual Mother’s Day Tea at The Culinary Vegetable Institute — If you haven’t already been, Mother’s Day is the perfect excuse to visit this Ohio gem.  Highly renowned chef’s from all over the world gather here to focus on how they can benefit from the unique, sustainable vegetables grown right here in Ohio.  What’s that mean?  Super tasty food is what we’re guessing and that’s awesome because mom loves food and when you take her to the serene setting of the Chef’s Garden, she’ll love you forever (Even though she already does).  At the Mother’s Day Tea event you’ll sip on sumptuous tea while enjoying a lavish spread of decadent sweets and savory offering with a contemporary twist amidst a rustic, springtime decor.  Enjoy!

Culinary Vegetable Institute Facebook

Take the Miller Ferry to Put-in-Bay for a Day — Our affinity for Put-in-Bay has already been well documented, which is precisely why we think you should take your mother there.  She’ll not only appreciate a tasty lunch at the Reel Bar or maybe even a quick adult beverage at the Round House, but really enjoy the zen-like ride aboard the Miller Ferry on the way over.  At about 20 minutes long, it’s the perfect time to chart your own course for the day and chat about how much you appreciate everything she does.  Pro Mom Tip: Grab a golf cart from E’s after sauntering up the hill and head out out Scheef Park for some alternate island perspective.

Explore the New Hiking Trails at Hocking Hills State Park — From up north at Put-in-Bay to down south at Hocking Hills, we’re all over the place and we know it.  It’s fine though, just hop in the car and drive…nowhere in Ohio is that far.  Especially when we’re talking about this place because it’s 100% worth this trip.  They’ve also just opened a two new beautiful trail systems, something they haven’t done in 50 years.  One of which will take you to the second-largest cave in Ohio.  So you can help navigate your way to the freshly cut trails when you arrive, look for the names Whispering Cave and Hemlock — the two new monikers for the bridge trails connecting to the Old Man Trail System. Since we let you in on this cool news, all we ask is that you take pictures and share with us.  Sound good?  Perfect.

Unplug and Create Scented Soy Candles at Manitou Candle Co. — So, this place is seriously cool and your mom will not just like it, she’ll love it.  This mellow, yet somehow vibrant space in the Columbia Tusculum neighborhood of Cincinnati is the perfect spot to shut off your phone and just do something different.  Not only will your learn the art of making scented soy candles at Manitou, but leave with some really unique tangible memories.  Learn well and smell good my friends.

Manitou Candles Facebook

Explore a Small Town — Honestly, this one is tough because Ohio is chock full of really unique small towns.  So instead of focusing on just one, we’ll rattle off a few.  Yellow Springs is easily one of our favorites and it’s not just because Dave Chapelle lives there.  This cute town has a super mellow, almost hippy vibe that we really dig.  Stroll downtown and visit Dark Star Books, Dino’s Coffee Shop or the Yellow Springs Brewery.  Next up, Wooster.  We’ve talked about this one before, but it’s definitely worth a revisit.  Bustling with energy and what seems like a new restaurant opening every few months, this charming town is perfect for a day visit with mom.  Our recommendations?  Lunch at the newly renovated Spoon Market & Deli followed up by coffee and Hungarian pastries at Tulipan.  If you feel like you need more time, stay in lavish quarters of the St. Paul Hotel, which just added new four new rooms for added vacancy.  And last but not least, Oberlin.  Of course you kind of have to hit up the Frank Lloyd House, because it’s the Frank Lloyd House.  You’re going to want to grab your bike as well — Oberlin’s numerous bike trails lend perfectly to this mode of transportation. Where to eat?  Try the Italian Hash N’ Eggs for brunch or The Feve Burger with pickled jalapeno at The Feve.  Anything that’s pickled is fantastic.  You can take that to the bank.

Spoon Market and Deli Facebook

Have something you’d like to add to this list?  Let us know!

PS. We love you mom.

“Island Green Week” Showcases Natural Beauty of Lake Erie’s Bass Islands: First-ever Island Green Week events August 6 – 13, 2016

July, 2016 — Put-in-Bay, South Bass Island, Ohio —  Island Green Week on Put-in-Bay and Middle Bass Islands August 6 – 13 will make you remember most about the islands as a kid – water, rocks, cliffs, caves, kayaking, meteor showers, moss, moonlit nights, beach bonfires, cozy camping, swimming, beach combing, cottaging with your family, ferry rides, overnight stays on the lake and nature.

Each day during Island Green Week has its own theme and island destination. Be part of a dedication of the newest Put-in-Bay lakefront nature preserve, savor the ultimate outdoor date at the Stargazer’s Cruise aboard a ferry, tour and hike rarely explored island sites, stand inside the world’s largest geode – Crystal Cave, explore Stone Lab and Gibraltar Island, enjoy live entertainment at an island style pig roast, tour a lighthouse, aquatic center and fish hatchery, join a nature photo walk, kayak for prizes.

Perry's Monument Put-in-Bay

Island Green Week is geared for all ages. Some events are free, others carry a nominal fee. Restaurants, island transportation and some attractions will also offer special prices for registrants.

Island Green Week events include:

•    Aug. 6 – Middle Bass Island Poker Kayak Day – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Rain date Aug. 7) Fee $10.

•    Aug. 7 – Dedication and Celebration at the new Put-in-Bay Massie Cliffside Preserve on East Poiint – 1 p.m.  Activities include hiking, fishing, birding and guided nature tours.- Free.

•    Aug. 8 – Tour a Great Lake Lighthouse – Put-in-Bay, South Bass Island. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free.

•    Aug. 9 – Wild Tuesday, topic “Something’s Fishy” at the Nature & Wildlife Center, Meechen Rd. – Put-in-Bay – Free.

•    Aug. 10 – Island Preserve Ramble & Eco-Tour highlights natural areas including sites rarely seen by visitors – Put-in-Bay, South Bass Island – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Includes special activities at each preserve, printed souvenir booklet and guide and light lunch. Fee $40 per person. Tickets available at the Put-in-Bay Village Town Hall, Catawba Ave. the day of the event or reserve tickets by calling Kendra Koehler at (419) 341-2725.

•    Aug. 10 – The Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center’s Annual Pig Roast at 6 p.m. at The Goat Restaurant. A relaxing outdoor picnic with  Entertainer Ray Fogg performing, plus a silent auction fundraiser. Fee $15 for dinner.

•    Aug. 12 – Visit the Aquatic Visitors Center and Fish Hatchery. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Free.

•    Aug. 13 – Middle Bass East Point Preserve Photo Walk – 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. – Free.

  • Aug. 10 – Gibraltar Island Tours – Water Taxi from Boardwalk at 10:45 a.m., tour island 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. $10 per adult for tour plus water taxi fee.. 419-285-2341.

•    Aug. 11 – Stargazer’s Cruise aboard a Miller Ferry. Departs Miller Ferry downtown dock, Bayview Ave., Put-in-Bay 8:30 pm, returns approximately 10:45 pm. Enjoy the sunset afterglow, then cruise to escape ambient light and become blanketed under the stars. Refreshments included. Tickets available at the Lake Erie Islands Nature and Wildlife Center, call 419-285-3037. Fee Adults $18, Children $10.

Take time to explore other island treasure’s including the caves, limestone beaches, State Parks, wineries and Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial.

Sponsors of Island Green Week are The Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center, Lake Erie Islands Conservancy and the Put-in-Bay Township Park.

Lodging and transportation information is available at visitputinbay.com or visit SHORESandISLANDS.com.  For additional Island Green Week details and savings visit lakeerieislandswildlife.com or phone 419-285-3037.

EcoTour_Poster Island Green Week

General Patton’s Historic Personal Yacht Coming to Put-in-Bay, Ohio July 4th Weekend

 

Those looking for a once in a lifetime ride aboard an iconic  vessel need look no further than Lake Erie.  This Fourth of July weekend the stunning schooner When and If, General Patton’s personal yacht, will tie up at Put-in-Bay where it will be available for day sails Friday, July 1 – Monday, July 4.

When and If @ Sunset

 

The When and If will dock at the C-Dock outer wall in Put-in-Bay harbor and hold approximately 4 sails per day, ending with a fireworks sail the night of the island’s spectacular pyrotechnics display.

At 63 feet and 5 inches in length, the John Alden designed schooner was built in 1939 for then Colonel General George S. Patton and his wife, Bea.  With another world war looming on the horizon, Patton’s plan was to sail the schooner should he survive his service abroad, then stating “When the war is over, and if I live through it, Bea and I are going to sail her around the world.”

When and If on a Clear Day

Long after the General’s untimely death in 1945, the When and If sailed on and was maintained in impeccable condition, remaining in the Patton family until 1972 until it was gifted to the Landmark school in Massachusetts where she was the centerpiece of a sail training program for dyslexic children.

Crew WorkingAfter a bad storm drove her onto the rocks causing severe damage, albeit not structural, the When and If passed back into private ownership and was painstakingly rebuilt — However it wasn’t until 17 years later in 2012 when the schooner was fully returned to all her glory.

Day Sails will last approximately 90 minutes and cost $65/person, apart from the Fireworks Sail on July, 4th which will cost $150/person.

The historic schooner yacht When and If will arrive at Put-in-Bay on Friday, July 1, 2016.  For additional information When and If Aerialplease visit the event’s FaceBook page or purchase tickets through TicketFly.

For the quickest and most affordable transportation to the islands visit www.millerferry.com.

Miller Ferry’s 2016 Season Commences Tomorrow

  • Miller Ferry to tentatively start daily schedule for the 2016 year on Friday, March 4, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. 
  • Schedule is subject to change – early season is weather dependent. 
  • First boat leaving Put-in-Bay will be at 2:00 p.m. while the first boat out of Catawba will be 2:30 p.m. 

Miller Ferry Catawba Dock – March 4, 2015 – Spring hasn’t exactly sprung quite yet, but for Miller Ferry and the popular destination of Put-in-Bay, the beginning of the 2016 season is about to be in full swing.

Miller Ferry will tentatively begin service to Put-in-Bay on Friday, which in comparison with last year, is a much earlier start.  Poised for a very busy season that includes a number of large construction projects, Miller Ferry and the local island businesses welcome the chance to begin operations.

“Getting off to an early March start is key for the entire island this year,” states Miller Ferry owner Julene Market.  “There’s so many exciting new projects and so much that goes into them. Whether it’s supplies or workers, we’re very happy to help further the progress.”

While winter in northern Ohio may have been a roller coaster this year, the barometer now
seems like its pointing in the right direction – towards Put-in-Bay.

For up-to-date schedules and more information please visit www.millerferry.com.

MillerLine

Put-in-Bay, Ohio Has an Outdoorsy Side and it’s Beautiful

It’s no mystery that the village of Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island has a legendary food and nightlife scene, as evidenced by the amount of people that show up on any given Saturday flooding the streets of Delaware Avenue.  From munching on mouth-watering perch tacos at the Goat to sipping on minty mojitos at Mojito Bay, there’s more than enough to go around.

SunsetBetween

That being said, the island’s unique location in the western basin of Lake Erie coupled with the fact that its limestone foundation was carved from glaciers thousands of years ago make for some awesome outdoor experiences.  Worthwhile for a visit on nature’s merits alone, a trip to Put-in-Bay in not really complete without scoring some of this gorgeous Great Lakes scenery.

AboardMiller

Getting there — Unless you have a private plane, which sadly most of us do not, taking the Miller Ferry is the next best thing.  Very affordable with a transit time of under 20 minutes, it’s easily the most efficient way of getting to the islands and perfect for checking things out on the way in.  Once docked, taxis are a modest $3.00 and will take you right into downtown Put-in-Bay where you then can determine your mode of transportation.  While golf carts are the preferred method, bikes, mopeds and walking work well too.

GibraltarCliffs

Speaking of alternative modes of transportation, there’s some fantastic kayaking.  At Kayak the Bay, which is about a 10-15 minute walk from downtown Put-in-Bay, you can rent a kayak with quick access to some of the area’s best spots.  Gibraltar Island, which is home to some really neat limestone cliffs, has a tiny hidden sand beach as well and also what’s called the Needle’s Eye —One of Ohio’s few remaining natural arches and perhaps the only one you can paddle through.  The Benson Ford Ship House, a freighter that’s been converted into a island home, is another cool attraction to check out, albeit much further of a paddle.

BensonFromKayak

Kayak and jet-ski rentals are also available at another great spot, South Bass State Park.  While the park is certainly a great place to camp and scope a Lake Erie sunset, the unique stone beach is the perfect spot to get your feet wet…plus the smooth, round stones feel really nice on your tootsies and keep the water crystal clear.

SBStatePark

Heading past Perry’s International Peace Memorial to the opposite side of the island you’ll find some often overlooked plantations.  Though mostly private, you can see a lot from the comfort of your golf cart and catch a unique glimpse into some of Put-in-Bay’s early history.

Plantation

Travel just a bit further and you’ll find yourself at the Scheef East Point Nature Preserve, which has some wonderful hiking trails as well a few points of beach access that look out towards Middle Bass Island and Ballast Island.  And for the extra adventurous, you can wade through ankle-knee deep water across a shallow reef to catch a glimpse of a little remote island on Buckeye Point.

WaveCrashWestShore

Switching directions again to the west side of the island visitors will find what locals refer to as the “West Shore.”  Filled mostly with private island homes and residences, there’s a few hidden spots that face west away from the lights of downtown and are perfect for mellowing out to an island sunset.  And if you happen to be strolling through on a windy day, you might be lucky enough to catch some of Lake Erie’s fury crashing up against the rocks.

West

While we’ve only just touched the surface of what Put-in-Bay has to offer, it’s certainly a good place to start for first timers or maybe even a new outlook for a wily island veteran.  Of course after all that exploring, you’ll need a cocktail or two afterwards to relax.  Or three.  Who knows?  Maybe we’ll see you over there next summer at RoundHouse…you’re buying!

Have another spot you’d like to see on this list, please share below or on Twitter @ItsAlwaysOhio.

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