Put In Bay Blog

Top 10 Kid-Friendly Things To Do at Put-in-Bay

Put in Bay Sunset

The Top 10 Kid-Friendly Things to Do at Put-in-Bay

While Put-in-Bay is known for its nightlife and party scene on the weekend, the mid-week island vibe is incredibly kid-friendly.  Bringing your kids up to Put-in-Bay could be the affordable getaway your family has been dreaming of.  There is so much family friendly memories to be made here.  Here are the top 10 kid-friend things to do at Put-in-Bay.

  1. Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center

The Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center is a must do.  Once there you will find that you could spend two whole days there.  The most popular attraction here is the cave itself. Guided tours are offered and will take you down into the cave to take pictures, talk about how they were formed and the history behind the cave itself! Make sure you listen to the guide because there is a lot to learn.

You will also find the Butterfly House where you can walk through a room full of thousands of colorful butterflies.  Inside, you’ll also find a lot of signs with fun facts about the butterflies themselves.  Although you’re not allowed to touch them, they might come and land of your shoulder and say hello.

Other activities here include the War of 1812 Holes Miniature Golf, Laser Tag, Fort aMAZE’n, Rock Climbing, Antique Car Museum, gift shops and DanDee’s Snack Shack.  As previously mentioned, this is a must do.

  1. Rent a Golf Cart

The best way to get around on Put-in-Bay is by golf cart.  You can reach every corner of the island and check out everything it has to offer.  Besides, we’ve never seen a sad kid on a golf cart at Put-in-Bay.  The best golf carts are with Island Club Golf Cart Rentals.  So rent a golf cart and have yourself a blast with your family!

  1. DeRivera Park

Named after the founder of Put-in-Bay, Jose DeRivera, you can locate the park right in the heart of downtown.  It offers a great view of the harbor and includes a lot of fun things to do.  You can take a picture and check out the cannons from the war of 1812.  DeRivera Park also has a great playground lots of fun little games for the kids to play.  It is the perfect place for a family picnic!

  1. Aquatic Visitors Center

Operated by The Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Aquatic Visitors Center is a great place to bring your kids.  It used to be a fish hatchery up until 1988. It then became an educational facility with the OSU Stone Laboratory and OSU’s island campus on Lake Erie that focuses on marine biology research.

Inside you will find opportunities to learn about interesting research taking place and learn about Ohio’s fishing culture.  Kid activities include a wall puzzle, coloring sheets and fishing off the dock!  You find open tanks where you can see the fish close up and on Saturdays the center hosts kids programs. Make sure you check it out.

  1. Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center

The Wildlife Center on Put-in-Bay is another kid’s favorite. It offers a lot of information on the wildlife of the Lake Erie Islands, fun picture opportunities and a great little nature trail.  There is also a cute little frog pond in the back!

  1. Visit the Beach at the State Park

Putting the State Park as #6 on the list of kid-friendly things to do might be harsh.  It could easily be #1 or #2 on someone else’s list.  The South Bass Island State Park has a great little beach that’s perfect for skipping rocks and going for a swim.

If you plan to stay the night, they have a campground and small cabin.  There are also beautiful cliffs to look over.  Finally, the state park provides one of the best sunsets you’ll ever see!

  1. Perry’s Victory and International Peace MemorialPerrys Monument and Put-in-Bay

This is one is hard to miss. The Perry’s Victory and Peace Memorial is a homage to Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry who led a fleet to victory in a marquee battle of the War of 1812.  It stands tall at over 350 feet and can be seen from the mainland.

Take your kids up to the top of the tower and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to see Canada! Once on top, the views are spectacular where you can see all the Lake Erie Islands.  We seriously recommend you plan a visit!

  1. Put-in-Bay Tour Train

Consider taking the Put-in-Bay Tour Train to learn all out the island.  You’ll learn a lot about the history of the bay, the present-day island life, and what it is like to live at the Put-in-Bay all year round.

The price of the loop includes one loop around the island consisting of 5 different stops.  You can get out at each stop and hop on the next train which runs about every 30 minutes.  The 5 stops are Perry’s Cave and Family Fun Center, The Heinemann Winery & Crystal Cave, Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial.

  1. Put-in-Bay Candy Store

Located right downtown next to TJ’s Smokehouse the Put in Bay Candy Bar is like visiting heaven on Earth for those with a sweet tooth.  They have the best chocolate bar, an amazing selection of rock-candy, and an amazing ice cream store.  Be sure to check it out! The Candy Bar is a must when it comes to kid-friendly things to do at Put-in-Bay.

  1. Kimberly’s Carousel

Riding the Carousel downtown is a great way to see your kid smile.  The hand-carved and painted carousel is located right next to the Candy Bar and kids love it.  There is always fun music playing as well.  It is even fun for the parents to ride it too!



Jet Express Put in Bay

Jet Express Put in Bay

Jet Express Ferry Service is great for those wanting to visit South Bass Island.  Especially true for those wishing to stay later and experience the nightlife.  During peak season, the last boats leave the island just after Midnight.  Therefore, visitors have ample time to see all of the awesome Put-In-Bay Entertainers and fun Things to Do.

Another great feature of the Jet Express is the drop off location.  Their downtown Put-In-Bay dock places you right in the middle of the action.  Many of the best island attractions, restaurants and shops are within a stone’s throw.  Also, the lovely DeRivera Park beckons guests to take a break from the action.  This lakefront park was a gift from the islands founder, Jose de Rivera.


Port Clinton Ferry to Put-in-Bay

The Jet Express Main Dock is located at 3 Monroe Street in Port Clinton, Ohio.  From this location, passengers can purchase tickets for boat transportation to Put-In-Bay.  Trips depart approximately every 45 minutes to one hour in peak season.  The last boat typically departs the island of Put-In-Bay at 12:15 AM.

Ferry to Put in Bay from Sandusky

In addition to the Port Clinton Ferry Boat Service to Put-In-Bay, the Jet Express has another facility in Sandusky, Ohio.  Here, passengers can board on the Jet Express Catamarans for the destinations of Kellys Island and Putinbay.  Guests can even opt to purchase an island hopper ticket and see both islands.

Jet Express Put-In-Bay for a Play Day!

Play Day at Put-in-Bay


Come early and take in some of the great sights and attractions.  Head up to the top of the Observation Tower at Perry’s Monument and be awestruck at the view.  Taste some of the local favorites like the famous Lobster Bisque at the Boardwalk Restaurant.  Buy that stylish dress you’ve had your eye on at Lovella Fashion and really go all out during your Put-In-Bay Getaway.

And when the sun goes down, the party goes on!  The Late Night Service with the Jet Express Put in Bay ensures the fun won’t end so soon.  Listen to the legends of island entertainment and forget about the worries left on the mainland.  You are on island time now and the rest just doesn’t matter!



Put-in-Bay Pyrate Fest

Put-in-Bay Pyrate Fest


The year is 1818 and you and your family are infamous pirates that plunder the Great Lakes. News reaches you of a Pyrate Fest that is half a days journey to the east. You hear how it is an event filled with family fun activities and other fellow pirates.

You raise the sails and set course immediately for Put-in-Bay! Upon arrival you raise the Pirate Flag in DeRivera Park and walk the streets to experience all that is Pyrate Fest.

Put-in-Bay Pyrate Fest Cannon

To your surprise there are magicians, fire jugglers, and educational tales that immediately capture the children’s attention. You and the misses grab a drink and share tales of your Great Lake excursions with other fellow Pirates.

After 2 days of fun events, great food and drink, and very convincing magic tricks you decide to join the annual 5K to get that pirate booty back in shape! As you and your family set sail you can’t wait for next years festival.

Put-in-Bay Pyrate Fest



Join the family fun of Pyrate Fest as pirates invade the Put-in-Bay harbor from June 21-23! Dress in your best pirate costume and join the island invasion! In addition, You could win the pirate costume contest. There is plenty to do this weekend from history re-enactments with cannon fire to pirate parades!

There are plenty of free educational activities for the kids and on Sunday you can end the weekend with the annual 5K run/walk.

It all starts on Friday with the hoisting of the Pirate Flag in DeRivera Park and subsequently the search for treasure! The event starts at 10:00 am on Friday through Sunday at 6:00 pm so make reservations for hotels and lodging now to ensure you don’t miss out on the Put-in-Bay Pyrate Fest activities.

Put-in-Bay Pyrate Fest




4:30pm – Put-in-Bay Pirate Flag Raising and Opening Cannons! Pirate Stage in Downtown DeRivera Park & Harbor.
5:00pm – Pirate Pub Crawl. Starts at Red Moon (21 and over only).


10am to 5pm – Pirate Camp and Marketplace open. East end of Downtown DeRivera Park.
10am to 1pm – Costume Contest Registration for both the adult and kids costume contests. Pirate Market Place Information Table.
10:30am – Enlisted 1812 Soldiers Black Powder Demonstration. Cannon Firing Area.
11am to 2pm – Captain Jack Sparrow and His Crew host kid’s activities. Stage and Surrounding Park Area.
11am to 4pm – Meet a real mermaid! Pirate Camp.
11am to 5pm – Faire Wynds Circus. Pirate Camp.
11am to 5pm – Black Powder Demonstrations with Cannon Master Bob Gilmore. Center of Downtown DeRivera Park Cannon Firing Area.
2pm – Kids Pirate Costume Contest. Immediately following the Walk Like A Pirate Parade! Downtown DeRivera Park Stage.
3pm – Pirate of the Year Adult Costume Contest. Immediately following the Kids Costume Contest on the Downtown DeRivera Park Stage.
4pm – Captain Jack Sparrows Treasure Hunt! Meet in DeRivera Park Picnic Area.
4:30pm – Enlisted 1812 Soldiers Black Powder Demonstration. Cannon Firing Area.
6pm – Adult Buccaneer Bash at Reel Bar. Costume Contest (registration starts at 5:30), Music, Drink Specials and more for the 21 and over crowd.


8am to 9am – Stein Hospice Pirate 5K Fun Run Check In. Racers are to check in with race officials at the start line.
9:30am – Stein Hospice Pirate 5K Fun Run Starts! Catawba Ave Downtown Put-in-Bay.
10am to 5pm – Pirate Camp and Marketplace open. East end of Downtown DeRivera Park.
11am to 2pm – Captain Jack Sparrow and His Crew host kid’s activities. Stage and Surrounding Park Area.
11am to 4pm – Meet a real mermaid! Mermaid Tami will be available for photos. Pirate Camp.
11am to 5pm – Faire Wynds Circus. Pirate Camp.
11am to 5pm – Black Powder Demonstrations with Cannon Master Bob Gilmore. Center of Downtown DeRivera Park.
2pm – Enlisted 1812 Soldiers Black Powder Demonstration. Cannon Firing Area.
3pm – Captain Jack Sparrows Treasure Hunt! Meet at the Stage area in DeRivera Park.
3:30pm – Antique Car Parade. Downtown.

Put-in-Bay Pyrate Fest



Joshua L.

“Pyrate Fest has become a Family Tradition! If you have kids, we highly recommend this family fun time!”

Kirsten B.

“We love Pyrate Fest!! One of the best events of the summer!!!! Thank you again for an amazing weekend!! And as my kids would say, Arrrrr! Matey!!!!”

Tami B.

“Wonderful Vendor and so many things to do! Even though it rained, there was still a great turnout! The Pirate Captain and all the pirates were amazing and they had Mermaids this year!! Can’t wait till next year!”


Put-in-Bay Pyrate Fest Ship


The Earliest Put-in-Bay Settlers: South Bass Island Before 1812

Put in Bay Harbor

Many travelers and residents alike know that Put-in-Bay’s rich history is one of its grandest features. but not everyoneknows about the original Put-in-Bay Settlers. For starters, it has a fascinating legacy of hotels and lodging. Additionally, the island played a significant role in the War of 1812, and the famous Victory Monument stands as a testament to this fact.

Perrys Monument Put in Bay

Put-in-Bay, which is also known as South Bass Island, is a premier travel destination along the Lake Erie Islands. Visitors come from all over the globe to experience the island’s wonders. From the earliest Put-in-Bay Settlers to the current family and corporate groups. Tourists extend their stays over multiple days so they can explore all the riches that South Bass Island offers.

The War of 1812 marked a turning point in American – and Put-in-Bay – history. After the war, developers truly began to cultivate the island. But, many wonder…what about the years prior to 1812?

Lake Erie Islands

Indian Roots on Put-in-Bay

History suggests that the Erie Indians were among the first Native Americans to live in Ohio. As such, they were the first people to visit Put-in-Bay and the rest of the Lake Erie Islands. Scholars believe that the early Indians traveled north and south along the Warrior’s Path, which connected Lake Erie with the Ohio River. (This route is also known as the Sandusky-Scioto Trail and still exists today). The Indians would follow the trail from the south up towards Port Clinton. From there, they would paddle eastward along the shoreline toward Niagara Falls, or they would head west toward the Detroit River, island-hopping along the route. When unpleasant weather would arise, say, in the early spring or late fall, the Indians would find shelter on Put-in-Bay while they waited out the storm. During the winter, when the lake would freeze, many Indians would come to South Bass Island to hunt raccoons.

Scioto Trail

In the mid-1600s, the Iroquois Confederation defeated the Erie Indians, and they began to frequent the islands as well. By the 1700s, the Shawnee, Miami, Wyandot, Delaware, Ottawa, Seneca, and Tuscarora tribes all migrated to Ohio. Because of the various artifacts (arrowheads, axes, mounds, and skeletons) found on Put-in-Bay, it’s safe to claim that all these people groups visited South Bass before 1800. But, none of the Indians truly settled there.

Lake Erie Indians

Europeans Arrive on South Bass Island

In 1669, Louis Jolliet, a French fur trader, became the first non-Indian explorer to discover Lake Erie. A few years later, pioneer Robert de La Salle built a ship (the Griffon) and sailed along the lake with Louis Hennepin, a Franciscan missionary. Records indicate that Hennepin performed a Mass on Put-in-Bay, making him and La Salle the first Europeans to set foot on Put-in-Bay.

itinerary of de la salle

In 1685, the first British explorer made his way to Lake Erie. Johannes Rooseboom and a group of fellow traders made their way along the islands before skirmishes with the French and Indians forced them to halt their endeavors.

The Next Century: From Pudding Bay to Put-in-Bay

History isn’t clear as to what the next 100 years held on Put-in-Bay. We do know that in July 1789, an unknown group of European adventurers sailed along the Lake Erie Islands. During their journey, they made charts of the different islands, and they named one of them “Pudding Bay” because the harbor’s shape resembled a bag of pudding. Over time, the name evolved into its current “Put-in-Bay” moniker.

Put in Bay Sunset

South Bass Island Receives an Owner

While the early 1700s largely remain a mystery for Put-in-Bay, we do know that the states of Virginia and Connecticut (which were British colonies at the time) had claimed certain territories further west. Were they the original Put-in-Bay Settlers? This area was known as the “Western Reserve,” and it included the Lake Erie Islands. After these states declared their independence from British rule during the American Revolution, they ceded ownership of the islands to the newly-formed federal government.

In 1807, the government created the Connecticut Land Company and sold Put-in-Bay (and other islands) to congressman and judge Pierpont Edwards, who also happened to be the son of renowned theologian Jonathan Edwards.

Preacher Jonathan Edwards

French Squatters and Some Development on Put-in-Bay

When Pierpont Edwards sent an agent, Seth Done, to Put-in-Bay to canvass the island, he couldn’t believe what he discovered: There were a few French families living on South Bass! How they arrived…when they arrived…and how long they had stayed there…no one knows. But, Done brought laborers to the island in 1811 and cleared over 100 acres of land, effectively forcing the families out and becoming Put-in-Bay Settlers.

That same year, he brought 400 sheep and 150 hogs to Put-in-Bay, where they fed on the bounty of acorns and hickory nuts. This attempt to truly settle the island failed, however, when the War of 1812 began the following year, and the British arrived and began destroying wheat and other resources.

Experience a Taste of History on South Bass Island

Put-in-Bay boasts a remarkable history. We’re proud to promote its legacy of progress and hope. So, come stay with us at the Put-in-Bay hotels, Put-in-Bay cabins, Put-in-Bay Condos, and the Island Club and experience a taste of history on South Bass Island.

Put-in-Bay Condos


Put-in-Bay History

Put-in-Bay Colonial Hotel

Located in the shallow western end of Lake Erie is a group of 20 or more islands rich in Put-in-Bay history. One of these, alternately called Put-in-Bay or South Bass Island, served as a base of operations for Oliver Hazard Perry. It was from the harbor called Put-in-Bay that Perry sailed to defeat the British fleet under Robert H. Barclay during the war of 1812. The American victory in the battle of Lake Erie gave the country and the United States Navy a memorable slogan of positive accomplishments, “We have met the enemy and they are ours…”

put-in-bay history festivalToday there stands at Put-in-Bay a beautiful Greek Doric column, the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. This 352-foot granite shaft commemorates not only a naval battle but a peace which has lasted for more than 150 years. The 3,987-mile boundary between the United States and Canada is the longest unguarded international frontier in the world.

The brigs, ships, and sloops with their long guns and cannonades are gone. Their place has been taken by yachts and sailboats. Many captains of these pleasure craft plot a course for Put-in-Bay seeking relaxation from the tensions of the city. Others — yacht-less landlubbers — board the ferryboats or fly their airplanes to the Put-in-Bay Airport for their trip to an island in Ohio’s Lake Erie vacation-land. Urban and rural tourists have been coming to Put-in-Bay for over 100 years. From the top of the Perry Memorial, the visitor can observe the site of the Battle of Lake Erie. He can also probe the depths of the caves, bicycle around the island, or sip locally produced wine or grape juice.

Earliest Visitors to Put-in-Bay Island

The earliest visitors according to Put-in-Bay history were the American Indians. Many Indian arrowheads, stone axes, and other implements of blue and white flints were turned up during construction. Indians visited Put-in-Bay when ice conditions allowed the crossing to hunt raccoons and other animals.

The French explorer and fur trader Louis Jolliet was the first white man to travel on the lake. An unidentified group of explorers sailed among the islands in July of 1784. They made charts of the islands, naming one of them Pudding Bay because the shape of the harbor (or Put-in-Bay) resembled a pudding bag. Likewise, other log books referred to the harbor as Puden Bay. The Lake Erie Islands were included in the tract of land claimed by Connecticut and which is known as the Western Reserve. The earliest white inhabitants known to have occupied the Islands were the French.

Seth Done brought a number of laborers who cleared over 100 acres of land and planted wheat in the summer and fall of 1811. He also imported 400 sheep and 150 hogs to graze on the acorn and hickory nuts which were abundant on the island. The first effort to settle on Put-in-Bay ended with the coming of the war of 1812. The workers were busy threshing grain when British soldiers drove them off in fall of 1812 and destroyed the remainder of the crop.

The War of 1812

put-in-bay history boatingWestern Lake Erie and the surrounding land areas on Ohio, Michigan and Canadian Ontario were the scenes of skirmishes and battles during the War of 1812. The American cause suffered a series of humiliating defeats at the outset of the struggle. General William Hull’s invasion of Canada failed, and Hull, in disgrace, surrendered Detroit to the British in August 1812. The force under General James Winchester was annihilated at the River Raisin (Monroe, Michigan), in January 1813. British and Indian invasions of Ohio at Fort Meigs (Perrysburg) and at Fort Stephenson (Fremont) were repulsed in May and August.

The turning point of the war in The Old Northwest came with Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory over the British fleet in the Battle of Lake Erie, 10 September 1813. The naval victory made it possible for General William Henry Harrison to invade Canada and defeat the British and Indians at the River Thames in October 1813.

Put-in-Bay Harbor

Put-in-Bay Harbor was used by Perry as a base of operations. From the Bass Islands, he could quickly sail to Sandusky Bay for conferences with Harrison or scout the British forces at Fort Malden (Amherstburg, Ontario), in the Detroit River. When the men and ships were not so engaged, there were training duties such as preparing the ships for actions and gunnery practice. The American fleet had sailed from Erie, Pennsylvania, on 12 August 1813 and arrived off Sandusky Bay on the sixteenth. Perry conferred with Generals Harrison and Lewis Cass regarding the next step to take in prosecuting the campaign. The British fleet under Captain Robert H. Barclay was sighted by a lookout in the masthead of Perry’s flagship, the brig Lawrence, at 5:00 a.m., Friday, 10 September 1813.

The Battle of Lake Erie began at 11:45 a.m. and ended a few minutes after 3:00 p.m. British supremacy on the lake came to an end with the capture of the entire enemy fleet of six vessels. The conflict began eight miles northwest of Put-in-Bay and reached its climax at West Sister Island, fourteen miles away. Finally, the triumphant American captain dashed off a short note on the back of an old letter to William Henry Harrison, making Put-in-Bay history:

U.S. Brig Niagara, Off Western Sister Island head of Lake Erie, Sept. 10, 1813, 4 p.m.

Dear General —

We have met the enemy and they are ours; two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.

Yours with great respect and esteem,

O.H. Perry

Post War Put-in-Bay History

After the War of 1812, Aschell (Shell) Johnson lived on Put-in-Bay for three years. The next settlers were Henry and Sally Hyde who came in 1818. The Hydes brought 500 head of sheep to the island. A.P. Edwards then began to develop Put-in-Bay, bringing in laborers to erect the necessary buildings. John Pierpoint built a dock in Put-in-Bay harbor and another one known as the West Dock.

However, the first permanent settler to come to Put-in-Bay was Philip Vroman in 1843. He settled on the island and remained on the island until his death 68 years later. In 1845 Gibraltar Island in the harbor was occupied by a group of government surveyors and engineers who were engaged in making charts of the lake. They found it necessary to cut a strip 45 feet wide running through the woods of Put-in-Bay so they could site the instruments properly. The strip was used as a road by the islanders called “Sight Road”. Today it is referred to as the airport road, officially it is Langram Road.

The Jose DeRivera Era

put-in-bay history downtownIn 1854 a Spanish merchant name Joseph de Rivera bought South Bass, Middle Bass, Sugar, Gibraltar, Ballast and Starve Island for a price of $44,000. He began to develop the islands, building a saw mill and a starve mill in the fall of 1854. He had the county engineer survey the area in 10-acre lots. In the first ten years, de Rivera sold 42 parcels of land in South and Middle Bass. He sold a quarter acre of land to the South Bass Board of Education for a dollar, the cheapest in Put-in-Bay history. The park downtown is named de Rivera Park in his honor, and a trust is responsible for the park and other land still today.

The grape-growing and wine-making industry began in the Lake Erie Island in the 1850s, and Put-in-Bay’s attraction as a historical island resort was being developed. Large celebrations were held in 1852, 1858, and 1859 honoring Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory over the British in 1813. Similarly, Put-in-Bay was becoming known for its delicious grapes and excellent wines. It was also a place where the vacationist, via the steamboat, could “get away from it all” for a few hours. The population grew as farmers came to the island to plant vineyards and as others became involved in the resort business. About 500 persons were permanent residents of Put-in-Bay by the early 1860s.

In 1866 a story in the Sandusky Daily Commercial Register told of the growth of Put-in-Bay township. Islanders owned 103 horses, 165 cattle, 206 hogs and one mule. The fields were planted in wheat, oats, buckwheat, rye, barley, potatoes, sorghum, tobacco, hay and clover. The vineyards were a main source of income. Over 72 acres of vines had been planted in 1865 to bring the total to 422. Grape production for 1865 totaled 1,117,801 pounds and 33,805 gallons of wine were pressed. The future looked bright for island farmers.

South Bass Island Goverment

Local island government was now desired and to this end, John Stone, Simon Fox and others from the three Bass Islands petitioned the Ottawa County commissioners for permission to organize Put-in-Bay township. On June 22, 1861, the electors selected their town trustees marking a first in Put-in-Bay history. In May of 1876, 15 years later after the three islands were organized as a township, a portion of South Bass was incorporated as a village which we now refer to as downtown Put-in-Bay.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was built in 1865 on land purchased by Jay Cooke from Jose DeRivera for $10.00 (the land for the school was sold for $1.00). The deed to the land stipulated it was for the construction of an Episcopal church. Islanders raised the initial funds to build a church and were financially assisted by Jay Cooke. Jay Cooke’s heirs gave the land to the Episcopal church in the early 1900s. In addition, Mother of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church was established in 1866. The Put-in-Bay Telegraph Company was incorporated in 1873, with a two and seven-eighth mile cable between Catawba Point and South Bass Island. In the 1930s, dial phones replaced old hand-cranked wall instruments. In May 1906, the street lighting system was converted to electricity.

The Steamship Era through Modern Day Put-in-Bay

In its heyday, around the 1850s to the 1900s, several steamships, some holding up to 1,500 passengers, serviced the island on a regular basis. Tourists were treated to a variety of hotels, including 300 x 600 foot Hotel Victory with 625 guest rooms, at that time the largest resort hotel in America featuring the first coed swimming pool. Elaborate ceremonies were planned for the laying of the cornerstone of The Victory. Seven steamboats brought 8,000 people to the island. The Beebe house with a wide hall running 500 feet through the center had a dining room that could seat nearly a thousand diners. The hotel could house over 800 persons. Unfortunately, the Victory Hotel caught fire and burned to the ground before it could be fully utilized.

Finally, Put-in-Bay has been a summer resort for more than 100 years. Today, Put-in-Bay is a vibrant tourist resort complete with bars, hotels, boating, fishing, a national monument, golf cart rentals, caves and much more. For more information on the history of Put-in-Bay, we suggest you read Isolated Splendor by Robert Dodge. Most of the information for this brief Put-in-Bay history page was obtained from that book. Come visit the South Bass Island, or Put-in-Bay as it is better known, and see for yourself.


Breathtaking Footage – Tens of Thousands of Cormorants In Flight

You’d be forgiven for thinking that you were watching an episode of Planet Earth, but this is actually amateur footage taken from the Put-in-Bay Condos on Lake Erie. Tens of thousands of cormorants skim their way across Lake Erie on their way to, well, wherever it is they’re heading. The stars of this breathtaking video are the double-crested cormorant. The sight of them isn’t exactly welcome by everyone in the Lake Erie Islands community. We couldn’t get David Attenborough to do a voice over, so you’ll have to settle for a video. We will tell you a little bit about this fascinating fowl and the controversy surrounding it in the Great Lakes.

Once Threatened

While you would never know it based on this video, there was a time that the cormorant was in serious danger. They were the victims of population control from fishermen. Fishermen saw the cormorant and their pound-of-fish-a-day diet as a threat to their livelihood. The introduction of DDT and similar pesticides nearly finished the cormorant off. The chemicals entered the cormorants’ system through the fish they’d eat, and had devastating effects. The shells of the cormorant’s eggs were thinned by the chemicals, making them much more fragile. If an egg managed to make it long enough to hatch, the birthed bird would often be suffering from deformities. It is estimated that there were as few as 150 nesting pairs in the Great Lakes region in the early 1970’s.

Now Thriving

The tide turned for the double-crested cormorant in the ‘70’s. The federal government banned DDT, and included the cormorant in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. These two major developments allowed the cormorant to survive. The invasion of the alewife, a species of herring, allowed them to thrive. The alewife found their way into the Great Lakes in the 1980’s and their numbers exploded due to no natural predator in the water itself. However, they became the perfect food for the cormorant. The cormorant population skyrocketed and has continued to climb since, now numbering in the hundreds of thousands. You will see them all over Put-in-Bay, especially in places like According to some, this boom has had many negative effects on the local ecosystem.

Cormorants In Flight

A Subject of Local Debate

The debate over what to do about the cormorant continues today. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued permits to cull over 18,000 cormorants this summer across the Midwest. Proponents of these culls point to the danger the cormorants pose to the fish population. They also cite the economic impact on sport fishing. Furthermore, the cormorants’ guano is highly acidic, and damages cars and buildings as well as ravaging local flora. Those opposed to cormorant population reduction have concerns about the impact the culling methods have on other fauna, such as the heron. Heron eggs are knocked out of nests by people spraying cormorant eggs and are subsequently abandoned.

The reverse is true about the gull population. The gulls derive great benefits from the empty cormorant nests, and could potentially increase their numbers. This is a problem, as scientists believe the gull population is also already too high to support. Pop reduction opponents also dispute the actual impact the cormorant have on fish population in the region.

What’s next for the Cormorants?

We don’t know what the future holds for the cormorant in the Great Lakes. The sad but unavoidable truth is that their fate will almost certainly be decided by humans. It must be considered that what is good for the cormorant may not necessarily be good for the Great Lakes ecosystem as a whole. Ecologists must find answers to these questions. But in the meantime, we can certainly take a moment and appreciate the majesty of a legion of these beautiful birds gliding along towards their destination. And if you’d like to enjoy the view of the lake in this video, head on over to the Put-in-Bay Waterfront Condos website to make a booking for the 2019 season!

News, Weather

Put-in-Bay Historical Weekend Cancellations

Historical Weekend

Put-in-Bay Historical Weekend – Sept 7-9, 2018

It is with a heavy heart that we announce all events at Perry’s National Monument have been cancelled due to weather this weekend.

Historical Weekend at the Bay is a celebration of the Anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie. It is a celebration of history, art and music. We will remember and honor Perry’s Naval Victory and two centuries of peace shared by the United States, Canada and Great Britain.

founders day reenactment

Friday, September 7th 2018

Boy Scouts are Cancelled! Each year, roughly 1200 Boy Scouts come to camp on the Perry’s Monument east lawn for their annual camporee. They assist with National Park Service activities during their stay as part of their community service.

The Flag Retirement Ceremony Friday evening at Perry’s Monument has been Cancelled.

Historical Village

Saturday, September 8th 2018

The Art in the Park, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, has been Cancelled.

The War of 1812 Military Historic Encampment has been Cancelled! This is a much loved experience at Perry’s Monument with musical performances, black powder demonstrations, and a rustic old-fashioned “village” set up on the West Lawn.

Stone Lab has announced that there will be no trips to Gibraltar Island for their Open House. However, there will still be tours of the Aquatic Visitors Center, Put-in-Bay Lighthouse, & Stone Lab Research Center during the day.

The morning Memorial Service at Perry’s Monument has been Cancelled. Each year, during Historical Weekend, this event usually honors the men who fought and died during the naval battle (War of 1812).

Sadly, the big Grand Parade which includes all the Boy Scouts and classic cars, has been Cancelled.

The evening Toledo Orchestra Brass Quintet has been also Cancelled. It was to be held on the Perry’s Monument Visitor Center back porch.

The biggest sadness of the weekend is the Cancellation of the Lights of Peace Harbor Illumination. If you’ve never seen it before, it is a mile long experience along the shores of Lake Erie in front of the Perry’s Monument. This impressive light display honors friends and loved ones and will hopefully return in 2019.

Boy Scouts

Sunday, September 9th 2018

The second day of the War of 1812 Military Historic Encampment has also been Cancelled!

The Park Service has announced the Cancellation of the Musket Firing, the Carronade Firing, and the Combined Musket and Carronade Firings.

Ever seen the Old Fashioned Baseball sponsored by Miller Boat Line? If not, you will have to wait until 2019 because this has also been Cancelled.

For more detailed Cancellation information, please call the park service at 419-285-2184 and they can provide you with up to date information.

Events & Gatherings

Hotel Victory:  Put-in-Bay’s “Grandest” Memory

Hotel Victory

Put-in-Bay, or South Bass Island, is known as the crown jewel of the Lake Erie Islands. Ever since Commodore Perry stationed his fleet here in the harbor and defeated the British in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812, Put-in-Bay has symbolized freedom, joy, and peace.

The island offers a rich history, and tourists have been visiting Put-in-Bay for more than 200 years.  After the war, many sightseers came to the island to attend celebrations and festivals that commemorated the Battle of Lake Erie.  Others would pack lunches and picnic along the waterfront, making sure to leave the island by nightfall, as there were no hotels or lodgings on the island for tourists.  In fact, it wasn’t until approximately 50 years after the War of 1812 that the first overnight accommodations were born.

Perhaps the most famous—and certainly the “grandest”—hotel to ever occupy the island is known as Hotel Victory.

Hotel Victory
Hotel Victory


A Luxurious Put-in-Bay Opportunity

Although a few small hotels grew (and burned to the ground) from 1860 to 1880, visionaries began to see Put-in-Bay as the land of opportunity.  So, in 1887, a group of investors, spearheaded by J.K. Tillotson, sought to build a luxurious, grand hotel on the island.  When it was completed, Hotel Victory stood as the largest hotel in the United States at the time.

The financiers chose to build Hotel Victory at Stone’s Cove in South Bass Island State Park.  The hotel site covered 100 acres. Twenty-One acres were reserved for the hotel, while the remaining 79 were divided into 475 villa lots that were sold to interested parties.


A Cornerstone and a Celebration


As with other elaborate, island ceremonies that commemorated the anniversary of Perry’s Victory or celebrated construction of the Put-in-Bay Monument, the first major gala for Hotel Victory was a grandiose event.  At the Battle of Lake Erie’s memorial celebration in 1889, seven steamboats brought 8,000 people to the island to laud the placement of the hotel’s cornerstone.


Construction Begins on the Monument

An architect from Toledo, E.O. Falls, designed the plans for the hotel.  His vision was to have the hotel shine like a beacon from miles away as travelers approached the island.  The idea was a majestic, English, baroque construction that emulated structures during the reign of Queen Anne.  His blueprints included towers, brickwork, porches, and a host of other intricate details.

Without question, this project was a massive affair.  Builder George Feick (of Sandusky) had to assemble his own sawmill, dining hall, and dorms for his men to complete the project.  He employed 75 carpenters at one time in to create the largest hotel in the country.


The Grand Opening (and Even Grander Details)

Hotel Victory opened on June 29, 1892.  Yet, 275 men continued to work until all the details were completed four years later in 1896.  Upon completion, it was the “grandest” hotel in America.

Its main building was 600 feet long, 300 feet wide, and surrounded a courtyard.  A giant lobby connected the main building to the dining room, kitchen, and the servants’ living areas.  The two dining rooms could serve 1,200 guests at once.

The hotel featured a 30-foot long bar where cocktails flowed late into the evening (and early morning).  The estate featured 625 guest rooms and 80 private baths.

One mile of carpet decorated the halls, and 20,000 yards of carpet accentuated the rooms.  This incredible Put-in-Bay hotel included 16.5 acres of flooring, 1,700 doors, and 2,500 windows.

The property’s landscape was equally impressive.  The grounds championed a beautiful bridge that stood above a ravine.  A marvelous fountain captivated visitors’ senses, and, a few years later, so did an enormous swimming pool (100 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 8 feet deep) that featured a roof to protect from the sun.  More than that, an opulent boardwalk connected hotel guests to the shore.  In total, the hotel cost over $1 million, which is equivalent to about $30 million dollars today.


Financial Troubles and a Resurrection

Predictably, given the extravagant expenses, two months after Hotel Victory’s grand opening, the business couldn’t pay for its expenses.  Creditors pushed the hotel into receivership, and, to make matters worse, a few months later, the stock market crashed, and the hotel closed until 1896.

Business steadied the next few years…until a smallpox outbreak on the island in 1898 prompted a quarantine. The famous Put-in-Bay hotel was sold again in 1898 and the new owners hired the visionary Thomas McCreary as new manager.

Under McCreary’s oversight, the Hotel Victory experienced its greatest popularity and success.  McCreary was an exceptional publicist, promoter, and host.  He touted the hotel as “the” place to stay on the island, and, for years, his words were accurate.

During his tenure, McCreary hired a German sculptor (Alfons Pelzer) to design the Victory Monument on the hotel grounds.  22 feet high, the monument featured a winged woman holding a wreath in one hand and a staff in the other.

When McCreary died in 1907, however, so did any significant future progress.  The hotel closed again in 1909, and, within two years, the structure was covered in decay.  Hotel Victory received one last push and was re-opened in 1918 and then sold again in 1919.  Forecasters predicted that the country would experience an economic surge now that World War I had ended, and investors hoped that that the hotel would, once again, return to glory.


Hope Burns Away for the Hotel Victory

That hope was smothered on August 14, 1919 when a massive fire started at 7:30 p.m. on the third floor.   Crowds gathered on the island as flames ascended 75 feet into the air and could be seen as far away as Sandusky and Detroit.  Within an hour, Hotel Victory, the most extensive undertaking in the island’s history, was lost.

The Put-in-Bay Fire Department was able to prevent the fire from spreading across the island, but the blaze burned for several days while thieves looted the property.

Old legend suspected investors of arson, but that theory was quickly discarded, as they didn’t have much insurance.  The cause was assumed to be a faulty light wire, and damage estimates ranged between $450,000 and $1 million.

Colonial Fire
Colonial Fire


A Put-in-Bay Landmark

In 1938, the state purchased acreage on the old Hotel Victory site and built a new public park.  It is now a campground called South Bass Island State Park.  There are a few signs commemorating the ruins of the old hotel, such as the swimming pool and the Victory Monument. Grab a Put-in-Bay taxi and go check it out for yourself when you visit.

Today, when tourists visit the island and vacation at the luxurious Put-in-Bay Condos or the Island Club, they experience a taste of that freedom, joy, and peace that Hotel Victory once represented, and what Put-in-Bay will always offer.


National Parks Bill to help Put-in-Bay

Perrys Monument and Put-in-Bay

A National Parks Service bill proposed by Sen. Rob Portman could address a $12 billion backlog of deferred maintenance at National Parks. It would bring more than $1.8 million to one of Dayton’s historical sites and millions elsewhere. Portman introduced the Restore Our Parks Act in the U.S. Senate last week, according to his office. If passed by both houses of congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump, the bipartisan bill would address a long backlog of deferred maintenance at the country’s National Parks.

Ohio National Monuments and Parks

Ohio’s eight national park sites would get more than $100 million from Portman’s bill.

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island would receive the most funding at $47.7 million. The 352-foot monument was established to commemorate the people who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.

You can read more by visiting: https://www.mydaytondailynews.com/news/national-govt–politics/ohio-national-parks-could-get-more-than-100m-additional-funding/rkBUR1jLBLPTp9IZshwMeI/


Labatt Beer – Drinking for Cleaner Water

Labatt Blue

Labatt USA Partners with Lake Erie Waterkeeper to Promote Local Water Stewardship in Ohio This Summer

Investment in local organization serves as part of Labatt USA’s larger partnership with the global Waterkeeper Alliance to protect and sustain drinkable, fishable and swimmable water

Labatt USA will partner with Lake Erie Waterkeeper to further its efforts to protect and sustain the Lake Erie watershed. They will make a $10,000 investment to support Lake Erie Waterkeeper’s efforts. This is part of a larger investment of more than $100,000 with Waterkeepers throughout the Great Lakes region.

The partnership and investments align with LUSA’s triple bottom line approach. The beer company prioritizes people, planet and profit. This includes measuring, reducing and mitigating its impact on the environment and society through investments, volunteerism and education.

“Not only is clean water required to make great beer, but it also means recreation on the water. By working to improve our water footprint, we’re also able to impact our communities to help ensure everyone can swim, boat and enjoy our local waterways throughout the summer,” said Lisa Texido, brand manager for the LUSA Family.

“Increasing public awareness of water stewardship is crucial to preserving, protecting and improving our watersheds” said Sandy Bihn, executive director for Lake Erie Waterkeeper and Lake Erie Foundation. “Partnering with Labatt USA is a terrific opportunity to connect with more people throughout the state of Ohio and keep our waters fishable, swimmable and drinkable.”

About the “Loving Ohio” Retail Program

This summer, Labatt USA will release limited-edition “Loving Ohio” graphic cans of Labatt Blue and Labatt Blue Light. They will feature popular summer water destinations in Ohio including Edgewater Park, Arch City, Put-in-Bay and Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Loving Ohio cans will be available in all locations that sell 24-packs of this fine Canadian beer. In-store signage promotes the partnership between LUSA and Lake Erie Waterkeeper to help raise awareness of the importance of water stewardship.

About Labatt USA

Proudly headquartered in Buffalo, New York, Labatt USA has imported Labatt Blue from Canada since 1951. Today, Labatt Blue is America’s top-selling Canadian beer. It has become the premier Canadian pilsener in the Great Lakes region and expansion markets across the United States. First brewed in Canada in 1847, Labatt continues to carry on the tradition and heritage of the great outdoors. Owned by Rochester-based North American Breweries.