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By: Jacob Tumminello
Put-in-Bay is a small village located on South Bass Island just north of Sandusky, Ohio. The town was constructed in 1830 and originally named for only the bay in Lake Erie. Although the name may imply a man-made creation, the islands were naturally created by the geographic evolution of the earth. I had the privilege of exploring this strange little island getaway on a trip with my family and was surprised by how much there is to do in such a condensed place.
After stepping off the ferry that took us from Sandusky to the island, my family and I were handed the keys to our golf carts, the preferred method of transportation for residents, and set off to explore this secluded little piece of land. During our stay, we experienced many of the same tourist attractions you would find visiting beaches in the south, and many were tied to the picturesque value of the landscape.
We rode wave runners on scenic routes around the Island traveling two miles off shore for stunning views. A lighthouse and observation building at the west end of the Island offered a beautiful, cliffside view out into the bay. Other ways to view the landscape included boat, helicopter, and plane rides as well as parasailing tours and guided hikes.
Put-in-Bay proudly displays a monument created to honor the island’s history. Standing 352 feet over Lake Erie sits Perry’s Victory, a monument constructed to honor three soldiers killed in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. As someone who fears heights, I watched in horror as workers scaled scaffolding to perform maintenance on the structure.
As a fisherman, I was excited to discover that Put-in-Bay is known as “Walleye Capital of the World”. Anglers from all over the world flock to the waters of Lake Erie and the coast of South Bass Island to search for the tasty and plentiful trophy fish.
I personally could only devote a small portion of my time to fishing and was restricted to a small pier outside our condo, but I saw catfish, drum, and plenty of baitfish swim by. Unable to reel in my own trophy catch, I took the time discuss the fishing scene with some locals and was politely informed that boats are the preferred method to fish the bay.
After the sun sets and night blankets the Island the downtown streets come alive. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and other shops and even a small boardwalk with many high-quality seafood eateries. We discovered that the town is a bustling music spot, with nearly every bar housing a stage, and performers ranging from full bands to solo open mic and karaoke performances. The town regularly holds music festivals and attracts big time names such as Toby Keith, who is set to perform at the airstrip on August 31.
Although we planned only a brief three-day trip to Put-in-Bay, we were convinced that the island offers enough activities and attractions for at least a week-long adventure. It is truly an escape in the backyard of America, and those who decide to venture to the secluded spot may find it hard to believe that they’re in Ohio, and not on a tropical island.