After we got back from our vacation last week, Scott and I still had a few days off before going back to work. So we decided it was the perfect opportunity to take a trip a little closer to home.
On Thursday we made the short drive over the Edison Bridge to Catawba and caught the Miller Boat Line to Put-in-Bay.
Last fall we visited the island for the Put-in-Bay Wine Festival. Although we packed a lot into that daytrip, we still had a long list of things we wanted to do. After being invited back to stay over for the night, this was the perfect opportunity to cross some things off that list.
When we’ve visited Put-in-Bay in the past, we’ve rented a golf cart to get around the island. This time we were in a more energetic mood and wanted to try our
hand legs at biking it.
Although we could’ve brought our own bikes with us, renting a pair from Island Transportation (the same place we get our golf carts) was much more convenient, especially because they have a location right where Miller Ferry drops off AND one on Bay View Avenue in the main part of town. If you need anymore convincing, an all-day bike rental only costs $15 including tax.
Neither Scott nor I bike often so our first stop was breakfast for a bit of fuel for the first half of the day. After trying out their freshly made crepes at the Wine Festival, we knew where we’d be heading: The Old Forge Cafe and Creperie.
Located on Catawba Ave., they offer a great selection of sweet and savory crepes made with fresh ingredients. They also feature a waffle of the day during breakfast. One look at the menu told me what I would order: the smoked salmon crepe.
The crepe was stuffed with succulent smoked salmon, arugula, red onion and guggisberg swiss. The poached egg that topped it was a great addition, especially after I soaked the silky thin crepe in the broken yolk. The side of plump blackberries and blueberries offered a refreshing burst of flavor.
After breakfast we were on our way to Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. We’ve always enjoyed their Visitor Center next door. It features great displays about the Battle of Lake Erie. However, the last few times we’ve been to Put-in-Bay, the monument was either under construction or closed for the day.
This time we were determined to go to the top and arrived as soon as it opened. The elevator ride costs $3 per adult, which is worth it for the beautiful views you’ll see on the observation deck.
Despite an overcast morning, we had gorgeous views of Put-in-Bay and its neighboring islands. Even the fog rolling over the lake was beautiful to look at. The monument and its surrounding park boasts a lot of photo opportunities.
We got in a few more photos of island scenery by biking to Put-in-Bay’s East Point. Out that way you’ll pass a number of homes and bed and breakfasts until you get to the Scheff East Point Nature Reserve. It’s a very relaxing trek and the trail is a nice place to check out the wildlife – especially if you’re looking to escape any party animals back on main street.
While it was fairly smooth riding, Scott and I were a little tuckered out by the time we got back into town, so our next stop was the Put-in-Bay Winery and Doller Estate for more leisurely activities. When we were at the Island Wine Festival, we had a taste of the winery but missed out on a tour of the estate.
Our tour guide Russell walked us through the Doller’s historic house, the farm buildings and beautiful grounds. Unlike a lot of other winery tours, this one focused mainly on the history of the estate and island, which I actually preferred.
Even better, we were served 5 tastings of the Winery’s wine throughout the tour. For only $10, the quality of wine, size of the pours and history lessons we learned were an excellent value. The estate also faces the lake, offering some fantastic views while you sip.
We continued up the hill out of town to Goat Soup and Whiskey Tavern. This restaurant had come recommended by more than a few people so we were overdue for a visit.
Upstairs from the Chocolate Cafe, the Goat has a rustic patio and restaurant tucked into the Put-in-Bay woods. After spending much of our day along the lake, it was a nice change of scenery.
I tried their signature Perch Tacos with a cup of soup. Their tangy “Pali Wali” taco sauce gave some nice heat to the fried Lake Erie perch, cabbage and green onion without overwhelming it.
Because the Goat is known for its soup, I was definitely going to try a cup of something. Keeping in mind that I’d need to get on a bike right after lunch, I played it safe and opted for their Chicken and Spaetzel which had a very comforting flavor. I’m looking forward to returning so that we can try their Chicken and Green Chili soup.
Refreshed we continued our bike ride to Perry’s Cave. Named after the Commodore who is credited with discovering the cave during the War of 1812, Perry’s Cave offers an underground journey for amateur spelunkers. A combo pass will also get you access to your choice of rockclimbing, mini-golf, a tour of the Butterfly House and Fort aMAZE’n, among other highlights at the Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center.
By this point the sun had finally come out. The weather was perfect for a round of War of 18 Holes mini golf. I liked how as you play through each hole, you learn a bit about the Battle of Lake Erie. Although the match was a draw, I’ll confess that neither of us did particularly well.
Afterwards we stopped in at the Butterfly House and then made friends with a cute cat while drinking Pink Catawba at Heineman’s Winery.
As our afternoon wound down, we stopped back at Put-in-Bay Winery to order our two favorite wines: their Celebration sparkling moscato and Bicentennial Chardonnay. Being able to pick the bottles up at the Miller Ferry dock the next morning was very convenient. I can’t even imagine balancing my bike with those bottles in hand.
Down the street we checked into the Islander Inn for the evening. Because it was a Thursday in September, the hotel was very quiet, which was my preference; however, I know from previous trips to Put-in-Bay that the hotel, its pools and swim-up bar are typically packed
We had a balcony room with a nice view overlooking the pool. Although the room was simple, we weren’t in Put-in-Bay to spend much time there. It was clean and provided us with a comfortable night’s sleep. The friendly staff and setting brought up fond memories of trips down to the shore in New Jersey.
We had dinner at the Put-in-Bay Brewing Co. Scott and I typically order their Guinness Onion Soup, which we really enjoy. This time we tried the Beer Cheese soup and weren’t as big of fans of it; however, the fried cheese-and-bacon-stuffed mac bites were delicious.
After dinner we planned on enjoying downtown Put-in-Bay but the weather had other plans for us. Storms had been holding out all day and we even had clear skies for a few hours; but a cold front moved in while we were dining.
With it came blustery winds, so we ducked into Hooligans Irish Pub for a Jameson and Ginger and then were off to bed.
We were both ok with this because we were exhausted from all of that biking and needed to wake up early to head home. Although the waves were incredibly choppy the next morning, the Miller Ferry navigated them smoothly and dropped us back in Catawba where we had started just 24 hours before.
Just because summer is over, there are still many reasons to hop the Ferry and head to Put-in-Bay. Businesses and attractions are still open, even if you go in the middle of the week.
I especially recommend visiting during this time of year if you prefer a more low-key experience. We had an excellent day and night exploring the island without a crowd.
If you prefer a party, though, there are a slate of fun events now through the end of October. Check out Put-in-Bay’s fall events at www.millerferry.com/events/put-in-bay.