South Bass Island and Put-in-Bay, Ohio

On a recent adventure day, Mom and Dad and Tom and I headed for South Bass Island and the town of Put-in-Bay.  We had been enjoying the beautiful summer weather of our previous adventure days, but this day was the first day of fall weather.  Instead of sunny and 70’s to 80’s, it was overcast, very windy, and in the 60’s.  Still, any day is a good day to go to an island!

The only way to get to South Bass Island is by boat or airplane.  I made reservations ahead of time for the golf cart / Miller’s Ferry combination.  During September, the ferry runs every half hour most of the day, so it gave us a lot of choices on when we would arrive and depart.  Just the ferry ride part was funny because everyone else in the car kept talking about the Jet Express and I kept talking about Miller’s Ferry.  Jet Express leaves from downtown Port Clinton and Miller’s Ferry leaves from the point of Catawba Island.  Tom drove us to Jet Express and when I pointed out that wasn’t what we were taking, we took the scenic route to Miller’s Ferry.

Despite the cold and gray, the ferry was still a very busy place.  Lots of people were heading to the island for the weekend.  The water on the lake was very choppy, which made for a bumpy half hour ferry ride to the island.  Tom, Dad, and I headed for the top deck and couldn’t even stand up without serious support once the ferry started.  Mom, who gets seasick more easily, stayed on the car deck where the boat wasn’t swaying as much.  Rocking back and forth and watching the land recede in one direction and get closer in the other was wonderful.

Once on the island, the ferry offered Mom and Dad a golf cart ride up to the golf cart station.  Tom and I walked up the hill, passing by the old lime kiln at the ferry landing.  We picked up our golf cart and took off for an afternoon of exploring South Bass Island.  Each of the golf carts has a number and a name, to make it easier to find yours among the hundreds on the island.  I wonder how many times people have returned the wrong golf cart at the end of their stay?

We headed for Perry’s Victory and International Monument first (tomorrow’s post).  When we were finished there, we were hungry, so we checked out a couple of restaurants close to downtown Put-in-Bay.  Only 150 people live on the island year-round, so downtown is mostly restaurants, hotels, and tourist shops.

It turned into a beautiful day
Wildflower Trail
Gazebo and Perry’s Monument
Enjoying our chariot
So many golf carts!
Old lime kiln
Waves on Lake Erie
More stable sitting down

After our delicious lunch we took a golf cart tour of the island.  There are lots of little houses tucked away all over the place.  Driving around reminded us a lot of San Juan Island, although South Bass is definitely a smaller scale.  The island is only 3.7 miles long and 1.5 miles wide but it has a nice selection of parks and rocky shoreline.  We saw the Ohio State Stone Laboratory and walked a little part of the Jane Coates Wildflower Trail.  We didn’t walk much of it because the wildflowers there bloom in the spring so it just looked like a path through the woods.

Our visit to South Bass Island concluded with a visit to the lighthouse, built in 1897.  Unlike the more typical designs of the day, the lighthouse consists of a large, two-and-a-half story, red brick dwelling with an attached, twelve-foot-square tower. The tower is 45 feet tall and crowned with a fourth-order Fresnel lens.  In 1962 the lighthouse was replaced by an automated tower.  Today the lighthouse is part of the Ohio State Stone laboratory and is the only lighthouse in the United States owned by a university.

During our afternoon of exploration, the wind died down and the sun came out.  It turned into an absolutely beautiful day on South Bass Island.  The ferry ride to the mainland was smoother than the one coming over, but still just as much fun.  We were glad we didn’t let the weather deter us from visiting this wonderful place.