As a life-long, proud Northeast Ohioan there are a few things I have yet to do in my home state that I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I have not done. I was able to check off one of those things recently - Put-in-Bay.
Miller Boat Line invited us to the island last summer but with the Hubs crazy schedule and, well, life it never happened. I was not passing it up this year and when I found an opening in our schedules I took Miller Ferry up on their offer to provide transport and they threw in passes for Perry's Cave Family Fun Center!
Miller Boat Line's has the lowest fares and are the only ferries that can take you and your car out to the island, but if you don't take your car, they also offer free parking at their port. Since we were also given a golf cart to use for Friday, we figured we would take our chances without our car.
Once off the ferry, it was a quick walk, uphill, to waiting taxis and buses willing to drive passengers to their final destination. Quite honestly, I was expecting this to be expensive but it was pretty reasonable.
It never fails that when we plan anything it will rain, so instead of exploring the town after we checked into our condo, we ordered pizza from Cameo's, indulged in a bottle of wine from Heineman's Winery, the kids were treated to Heineman's concord grape juice, munched on salt water taffy from Put-in-Bay Candy Bar and relaxed.
It was fantastic to sit on the balcony, looking out to the lake and read my book. Well, until the wind changed directions and the rain forced me back inside. Still, I continued to read.
Luckily, the rain did not last long and we had clear skies the following day to play tourist and that is exactly what we did after we picked up our golf cart from E's Golf Cart Rental and checked out.
First on the agenda was breakfast and we headed into town to Pasquale's Café.
I wish I would have thought to take a picture of my breakfast but alas you will just have to imagine my tomato, bacon and cheese omelet with fresh strawberries (trying to stick to low-carb while on vacation). The oldest had a waffle which was a decent size and was gone in a matter of minutes. The little one enjoyed her pancake and bacon while the Hubs had something referred to as the kitchen sink. Still not sure what it was but it was covered in gravy and he didn't share.
After breakfast, we headed to the park across the street to let the kids run off their breakfast before walking over to Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial.
This 352-foot Doric column (47-feet taller than the Statue of Liberty) memorializes the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812, lead by Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, that took place near South Bass Island. The memorial also commemorates the lasting peace between Britain, Canada, and the United States that followed the war.
You can see where the battle was won from the top of the monument. The view is just breathtaking.
From there we headed to Perry's Cave Family Fun Center for mini golf and cave exploring. The fun center also has a butterfly house, a maze and rock climbing, but our goals were to see the famous Perry cave and golf.
The kids have never played miniature golf before and I learned two things, why my father hated to play with us as kids and not to keep score. My five-year-old has to win at all costs and the nine-year-old has to follow rules, this is not a good combo when learning something new so we just tried to enjoy the time together.
The Perry cave tour gave us all an opportunity to cool down. The cave is 52 feet below South Bass Island and is a constant 50° year-round. The tour was about 20 minutes long and lead by an amusing teenager who was very knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor.
When we first started the tour the Hubs and I both questioned why we were doing this tour. I hate small places with no immediate exit and he is six feet five inches tall. Once we moved through the narrow parts we stopped at places that he could stand easily and the tour spread out so I didn't feel so trapped. I'm glad we did the tour because it really was interesting. Besides, I can say I've gone spelunking now.
Before leaving, we bought a bag of dirt from The Shop at the Top so the kids could mine for gemstones. It was one of my favorite things to do when we went to Cedar Point so I was super excited to share it with the kids. Corny, I know but shifting through the dirt for treasure is pretty awesome.
What I did not anticipate, and should have, was the meltdown the little one would have when her brother had gems she wanted. Oh, how she cried! It was also a sign that it was time for lunch time so we got back in the golf cart and motored down to The Goat which happens to be above the South Bend Chocolate Cafe.
The Goat was recommended by a friend from work but to be honest it was the Chocolate Cafe that made us stop.
The food was great, the restaurant was relaxed and fun with indoor and outdoor seating but what endeared me to this place forever was the people and especially our server who helped put a smile on the little one's face and forget her troubles which made for a more enjoyable meal for all of us.
Downstairs is the South Bend Chocolate Company Chocolate Cafe. They serve Toft's Ice Cream which is local to Sandusky and, of course, chocolate.
While waiting we checked out the museum of chocolate featuring the history of chocolate, a collection of antique chocolate collectibles and get your picture taken with Lucy and Ethal in the chocolate factory.
It was so hard to leave the island so we headed back downtown so the kids could play in the park one last time and to see if we could spot some pirates who were in town for the annual Pyrate Fest.
We can't wait to go back again, but we'll wait till the mayflies leave and when we can spend more than a night.
Our lodging was through Lake Erie Shores and Islands and we stayed at the gorgeous Put-in-Bay Condos. The photos on their website just doesn't do them justice so please come back on Thursday to see more of our visit to Put-in-Bay!
More photos on Instagram...!