Put-in-Bay celebrates the 200th anniversary of Oliver Hazard Perry's victory at the Battle of Lake Erie with many events this year, but we also found plenty of other ways to enjoy the natural beauty and rich history of the area during a recent visit to this Lake Erie island community. Here are a few of my favorites:
Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial-Don't miss the birds'-eye-view of Put-in-Bay from the top of this 352-foot-tall monument. The trip to the top costs $3 per adult with a 40-step climb to the elevator that takes you the rest of the way up (we used our National Park pass to cover admission).
South Bass Island Lighthouse-The lighthouse sits next to the Miller Ferry docks and was our first stop on the island. The lighthouse, built in 1898, continues operation as part of Ohio State University's Stone Laboratory research programs. If you want to climb to the top of the tower, visit on a Tuesday during the summer when you can take the 42-step trek to the top with OSU students for $3 ($1 for children ages 6-12).
Lake Erie Islands Historical Society Museum-See the South Bass Island lighthouse's original Fresnel lens, artifacts from the Battle of Lake Erie, memorabilia from Put-in-Bay's time as a Victorian-era resort and more. Admission is $3 ($2.50 for seniors or $5 per family group).
Antique Car Museum-Skip Duggan collected antique cars and started Put-in-Bay's Sunday afternoon antique car parades. This collection of vintage vehicles includes a fully restored ice truck, motorcycles and, because they are the ubiquitous means of Put-in-Bay transportation, antique golf carts! The museum is at Perry Cave's Family Fun Center. Free museum admission.
Scheeff East Point Nature Preserve-A short trail loop around this 9-acre preserve cuts through meadows and tall grasses to the Lake Erie shore and back. Birds, butterflies and water snakes make their home here, plus I saw plenty of bunnies hopping along the trail during my early evening walk. Activities include bird watching and shoreline fishing, plus you can access the preserve by canoe or kayak. The dead end road by the preserve is a popular place to park and watch the sunset.
Lake Erie Islands Nature and Wildlife Center-We took an especially entertaining tour of the center's collection of mounted animals with an intern there (thanks, Devon!). The site also has 1.2 acres of woods, two cave sites, a bald eagle nest and a frog pond. Admission is $3.
Gibraltar Island tours-See Ohio State University's Stone Laboratory, Cooke's Castle (a home built by Civil War and railroad financier Jay Cooke) and stand at Perry's Lookout where the Commodore's men monitored the area in advance of their Battle of Lake Eire victory. Stone Laboratory is the oldest freshwater biological research field station in the United States. Two-hour tours with OSU students happen Wednesdays from mid-June through mid-August. Water taxi rides from Put-in-Bay are $6 per round-trip and the $10 tour cost ($5 for children 6-12) helps support student scholarships.
Bed-and-breakfast inns- The number of B&Bs housed in late-nineteenth century and early-twentieth century homes on South Bass Island surprised me. Consider staying at one of these inns if you want a more immersive experience in island history. Reserve early as most of the inns only have a few rooms and fill quickly during the summer.
Thanks to the Lake Erie Shores & Islands Visitors Bureau and Miller Ferries for sponsoring my visit to Put-in-Bay, providing lodging, ferry transportation, help arranging visits to South Bass Island and Put-in-Bay attractions for my review, with no further compensation. I was free to express my own opinions about the stay and experiences, and the opinions expressed here are mine.