I've lived in Northwest Ohio my entire life (well, except for those 18 months when I lived in Florida and the six months I'd rather forget in Pennsylvania).
But it wasn't until I had kids that I really started to appreciate the Lake Erie Shores and Islands and all the family fun they have to offer.
Sure, I visited Cedar Point every year when I was a kid, but honestly since I'm not a big coaster fan, I don't feel the need to visit that amusement park every year. Or every 3 years.
However, I do love to take a day and head to Put-in-Bay or Marblehead.
I'm going to admit - I never went to Put-in-Bay when I was "younger" - which means I never visited the island to drink. (I went to Ohio University...I had enough to drink there. ha!). The first time I visited PIB was when we took the kids ... about seven years ago.
Now we like to make it an annual summer day trip. We hop on the Miller Ferry and rent a golf cart on the island and spend the day driving around, soaking up "island life." And we did just that a few weeks ago.
If you are making plans to visit PIB I strongly suggest (1) reserving a golf cart before you arrive OR (2) arrive before noon if you don't make a reservation. On busy summer weekends the golf carts go quickly and believe me, you don't want to walk from one end of the island to the other. (There are buses near the Miller Ferry dock that will take you "downtown"...if you can't get a golf cart).
This year's visit was fun - even if Liv was nursing what would end up being a chipped bone in her foot. We arrived early, drove around for a while, and decided to stop at the Perry Monument. Sadly, the monument had been struck by lightning the day before so we couldn't take the elevator to the top.
The rest of our day consisted of lunch (PERCH!) at The Keys, a new-to-us place with a cool Jimmy Buffet vibe; traveling down to Perry's Cave at the Family Fun Center; a stop at the Heineman Winery; and ice cream!
People always seems surprised when I say I take my kids to PIB. I don't understand why - it's not like we're bar hopping with the kids. ;-)
The island is full of fun, family-friendly things to do. I always recommend visiting PIB during the summer and/or early fall - our favorite time is actually AFTER Labor Day when most of the boats and weekenders have gone and the weather is cooler. One of the best visits we've had was a few years ago when we went in mid-September. It was perfection.
But really, just about any weekend during the summer and early fall is a good time to visit. And you can always check out the upcoming events to see what kind of fun stuff is going on!
Another favorite spot to visit is Marblehead, Ohio. We hadn't driven out there in about three years, so today we packed a picnic lunch and hopped in the car for a nice day trip.
On our way to Marblehead we stopped at Cheesehaven. I'm going to put
this out there: if you love cheese (like I love cheese) you MUST stop at
Cheesehaven. This fun store has 100's of kinds of cheese, cheese
spreads, and some really fun retro candy (gum cigarettes, anyone?). They
also have a nice selection of wines - many from the island wineries. [Also? You can sample many of the cheese spreads. Seriously. Sample them! Except for maybe the Ghost Chili cheese. Or the chocolate and walnut cheese spread.]
After a couple hours in Marblehead we decided to take the "scenic route" home, driving through Port Clinton and then home on Route 2. (Not my favorite route home, but I did it for the kids).
All-in-all we've had two great Sundays visiting the Lake Erie Shores and Islands this month. If you're ever looking for a fun day trip or even a short "staycation" you should check out the Shores and Islands - there is something for everyone. We even found a few things we want to do next year at PIB, but we're going to visit on a weekday this time!
Disclosure: Miller Ferry Line provided me and my family with round-trip tickets on the Miller Ferry, a golf cart rental, and a family fun pack for Perry's Cave. All opinions in this post are mine. Miller Ferry did not ask me to write about my experiences.