We’re so excited that winter is almost on its way out. In just a few weeks Put-in-Bay will be welcoming its first visitors of 2020. We believe that this is going to be the best year ever for our little island, and we can’t wait to get started. So in honor of the upcoming 2020 season, here’s a little peek at incredible Put-in-Bay, Ohio, Sesame Street style, from Bay to Z!
A is for Airport
This may not seem like the most exciting place to start, but this is no ordinary airport! The Put-in-Bay Airport is home to bi-plane and helicopter rides, letting you soar above the Lake Erie Islands and see the island in all its beauty. Not only that, but the Put-in-Bay Airport is home to Bash on the Bay! This annual country music event brings tens of thousands of people to the island every year. In 2019, Kid Rock took the event to a new level, drawing record crowds. 2020’s performers will be announced very soon!
B is for The Boardwalk
One of Put-in-Bay’s most famous restaurants, and definitely its most visible, the Boardwalk grants visitors incredible views of the downtown harbor to go along with their world-famous Lobster Bisque. There are actually 5 different restaurants in the Boardwalk complex, all offering something a little different, so your entire group will be satisfied!
C is for Caves
Not one, but two of the Midwest’s most incredible caves reside on Put-in-Bay. Perry’s Cave takes you 5 stories below the surface where you can see an amazing underground lake. The water levels rise and fall with Lake Erie. Perry’s Cave has incredible history, having been discovered by Commodore Perry during the War of 1812. And just across the street you will find Crystal Cave, which is actually a single geode, and is in fact the world’s largest!
D is for DeRivera Park
Considering that space is at a premium on South Bass Island, right in the heart of downtown Put-in-Bay isn’t where you’d expect to find a magnificent green space open to the public. But DeRivera Park is just that. An incredible place for people watching, picnicking, and more, DeRivera Park is a testament to the desire of Put-in-Bay’s residents to keep their island beautiful.
E is for Entertainment
The art of live entertainment seems to be mostly lost from the mainland. Sure there are concerts from big name acts, but going into a bar or restaurant and finding someone performing live to enhance your evening just isn’t the norm anymore. At Put-in-Bay, we think that’s a shame, and downtown Put-in-Bay’s bars and restaurants fight back with live music every weekend. You can stroll down Delaware Ave. and hear live music coming from every other bar. Some performers have been playing at Put-in-Bay for decades, like Mad Dog, Bob Gatewood and more. To see a list of all of the various bars and who will be performing when in 2020, view our Put-in-Bay entertainment schedule! Keep in mind that not every bar has gotten to us with their 2020 entertainment schedules, so this list is just the start!
F is for Ferries
One of my fondest memories of Put-in-Bay as a kid doesn’t actually come from Put-in-Bay itself, it comes from the ferry rides to and from. There are two main ferry lines to get you to the island, the Miller Ferry and the Jet Express. The Jet Express has a great air-conditioned cabin and reaches higher speeds. The Miller, meanwhile, transports vehicles, and more importantly, has an open air area where you can stand and enjoy the mist from the wake as you zip along to your island vacation. You’re a quarter of the way from Bay to Z!
G is for Golf Carts
People who have come to Put-in-Bay before know that the island has a certain charm that just can’t be replicated on the mainland. The golf carts are a big part of that. At Put-in-Bay, licensed, plated and street-legal golf carts share the road with cars every day! The use of golf carts actually began for practical reasons, to decrease the space taken up by parked vehicles on our tiny island, but it has grown far beyond the practical into a Put-in-Bay tradition that visitors remember for the rest of their lives!
H is for Heineman’s Winery
Heineman’s Winery is a Put-in-Bay institution. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that the winery’s history is the island’s history. Heineman Winery was founded in 1887. At the time, Put-in-Bay had over a dozen wineries. Lake Erie provides a stabilizing effect on the island’s climate which permitted grapes to be grown for a much longer period of time than on the mainland, so wine became a calling card of the island. Then prohibition struck, forcing every other winery on the island to shut down. Heineman’s Winery managed to survive this period of American history by producing grape juice and selling tours of the aforementioned Crystal Cave on the property, two traditions that continue to this day. A sip of Heineman’s Wine is a sip of Put-in-Bay, as the entire winemaking process, from seed to bottle, occurs on the island!
I is for the Island Club
Put-in-Bay is known for big group outings like bachelor and bachelorette parties, family reunions, corporate retreats, and sometimes simply big groups of friends gathering to spend a weekend together just because. When you come to Put-in-Bay, it’s usually in a group, and the Island Club is the best group lodging on the island, bar none! They get everyone together under one roof, so their guests can focus on the true purpose of their trip, enjoying great experiences with people they care about!
J is for Joe’s Bar
It’s the best dive bar on the planet, what more do you want to know? Joe’s Bar may have given itself that moniker, but it earns it every Put-in-Bay summer weekend! There’s a reason why so many yearly Put-in-Bay visitors make it their first stop when they arrive on the island. It’s separated from the crowded downtown area if you’re looking for a watering hole that’s just a little more relaxed. And if you’ve got a taste for a Bloody Mary, Joe’s has the best one on the island.
K is for Kimberly’s Carousel
An incredibly rare slice of early 20th century Americana resides in downtown Put-in-Bay. Kimberly’s Carousel is one of less than 100 remaining functional Allan Herschel wooden carousels. Built in 1917, these were the height of amusement for young people of the time. Thanks to an incredible labor of love by Put-in-Bay’s Stoiber family, this carousel has been restored to its century-old glory!
L is for Lake Erie
What would Put-in-Bay be without Lake Erie? Well, not an island for starters! But Lake Erie means so much more to Put-in-Bay’s residents and visitors. In the springtime it means walleye, so much walleye in fact that it’s the Walleye Capital of the World! Anglers from all around America visit Put-in-Bay every April to scoop up more walleye than they know what to do with. In the summertime, Lake Erie plays host to all of the thrilling water activities that round out a great weekend getaway. Jet-skiing, kayaking, parasailing, or just a good old fashioned splashabout!
M is for Mr. Ed’s
Our favorite downtown bar, Mr. Ed’s has it all! On the first floor you’ll find outdoor seating, a small dance floor, a dining area and Cameo pizza for some eats to go with your drinks. If you head upstairs you’ll be in the Green Room, Put-in-Bay’s best nightclub. Attached to the Mr. Ed’s complex is MIST Pool Bar, our favorite swim-up bar on the island. There’s no shortage of great bars in downtown Put-in-Bay, but when someone asks us to recommend just one, we always tell ’em Mr. Ed’s! It’s halfway from Bay to Z!
N is for Nightlife
One of the things Put-in-Bay is most famous for is the incredible nightlife in the downtown area. There are literally dozens of bars and restaurants within walking distance, many with live music. There’s something to fit everyone’s tastes, but some of the most famous and popular are the aforementioned Mr. Ed’s, the Round House Bar (more on them later, but not on the letter you’d expect!), and the Beer Barrel, which is home to the world’s longest bar! That’s just the start though, and you’ll find that an evening at Put-in-Bay just kind of organically becomes a little mini-bar crawl, because there are too many cool spots to choose just one!
O is for Oak Point State Park
One of the great hidden gems of Put-in-Bay, Oak Point is the smallest park in Ohio’s state park system. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in sights! At Oak Point, you can see an incredible sunrise, as well as sweeping panoramas of downtown Put-in-Bay and the harbor. It’s a very popular spot for island weddings!
P is for Perry’s Monument
Officially named Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, Perry’s Monument is the 5th tallest monument in America, which is enough to make it stand out. But the fact that it’s on a little island makes it impossible to miss! It stands tall as an icon that represents Put-in-Bay on a global scale. There’s so much to say about this monument that we could write a whole blog about it (and we just might do that) but in short, it’s incredible. It might be the most essential attraction to visit while you are at the Bay!
Q is for Quick To Get To
When most people fantasize about an island getaway, they usually don’t start by thinking of Ohio. But that’s a mistake! If you’re from just about any major city in the Midwest, you can get the Key West experience without even getting onto a plane. When you don’t have to worry about booking flights, suddenly you can stretch your vacation budget a lot farther! All you have to do is hop into a car and head to Port Clinton to board a ferry to the Bay!
R is for Real Estate
For most, Put-in-Bay is a vacation destination, but for some, it’s an investment opportunity. And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t love to own a summer vacation home on the island? Whether for personal use, or to use as a vacation rental investment property, there are all sorts of potential gems on South Bass Island. If you want to know a little bit more about this particular facet of island life, click here!
S is for Swim-up Bars
Another uniquely Put-in-Bay experience is the swim-up bar. I mean, you could go to Key West or the Caribbean and visit a swim-up bar. But we’re in the Midwest! Live in Cleveland? What about Chicago or Detroit? If you want to visit a swim-up bar and don’t want to fly halfway around the world to do it, Put-in-Bay is your only option! We’ve got a few here but our runaway favorite is MIST Pool Bar.
T is for Taxi Rides
On the mainland, a taxi ride is usually nothing to write home about. But things are a little different at the Bay. Our big bubble top taxi vans are like having your own party bus! For just $3/person, you can go anywhere on the island, chauffeured by one of our high energy taxi drivers singing along to great tunes being blasted from the sound system! It’s a party unto itself!
U is for Unforgettable Events
From massive musical acts to amateur sports tournaments, historical re-enactments to 5k’s, and a massive party for just about every summer holiday, Put-in-Bay always has something special going on! Our fireworks show is famous all over Ohio, people come from all over the nation for specialty events like PyrateFest, and some of the world-famous performers that have played on the island include Kid Rock, Rascal Flatts and Toby Keith. We’ll have to add a couple more names to that list in 2020, as Bash on the Bay 4 will be headlined by two of the biggest names ever to come to the island!
V is for Views
Everything is more beautiful on the island side! You haven’t seen a sunrise or a sunset until you’ve seen one at Put-in-Bay. The way the colors dance and play on the water and the horizon is unlike anything you can hope to see on the mainland. Our favorite spot for a sunrise is from the balcony of a Put-in-Bay Condo, and as for the sunset, you can get a great view at the South Bass Island State Park.
W is for the Whiskey Light
As you may know, Put-in-Bay is a 3 season destination. The island’s businesses close up shop for the winter and it becomes a sleepy town of about 150 full-time residents. So as you can imagine, the start of the tourism season is a big deal, and for decades Put-in-Bay has commemorated this occasion at the Round House Bar downtown with the lighting of the Whiskey Light. This is one of the favorite events of island residents and long-time visitors. The Round House turns on their neon whiskey sign, and the party begins!
X is for eXperiences…
Okay, it’s a stretch, but cut us a break. A through W should show you just how much there is to do at the Bay, but it is only just about three square miles. We don’t have any X’s, sorry!
Y is for a Year-Round Home
Some people may not realize this, but there is actually a year-round population that lives on South Bass Island. It’s a unique way of life as you can imagine. On a summer weekend, their hometown is as densely populated as a big city, but in the winter, the entire community is only about 150 people. If you want to know a little more about what this is like, read our blog about life for island residents.
Z is for ZERO REASON NOT TO COME TO PUT-IN BAY!
Now that you know about everything that Put-in-Bay has to offer, you’ve just got to visit us in 2020! putinbay.com is your best resource for all the information you need to plan your trip, and if you have any additional questions, you can call us at 216-898-9951. Our friendly island staff will be able to help you find the best place to stay! There you go, your Bay to Z!