A Social Distancing Island Vacation In The Midwest

Thanks to Miller Boat Line for inviting my family to visit Put-In-Bay for a social distancing vacation and for providing ferry service and a golf cart for us to use on the island.

A few years ago I discovered Put-In-Bay, Ohio while I was putting my trip to (nearby) Cedar Point together. It seemed like a fun place to visit so we went for an afternoon of fun before we headed home from Ohio to Illinois where we lived. My family absolutely loved the island and back in 2018 I called Put-In-Bay “one of my favorite vacations to date”. That still rings true today. Riding around on the golf cart and living on “island time” you feel like you’ve left the midwest for the day and are visiting the coast or an island somewhere in the Caribbean.

When I was invited back for a visit this summer I knew that I really wanted to visit the island again but, to be honest, I didn’t know if I was ready to go anywhere. I am at high-risk health wise so we’d been staying home since mid-March and hadn’t even gone into a grocery store so I wasn’t really sure I wanted to head to another state on vacation. But then I started thinking about all the outdoor things the island offered and how easy it would be to go on a social distancing vacation there. After figuring out a few logistics we decided to head there for a day, leaving before the sun came up and heading home in the dark of night, and I’m so glad we did.

You can read all about our first trip in 2018 here where I share my favorite things to do with kids in Put-In-Bay but in today’s post I wanted to share more about the outdoor things families can do and specifically how we were able to socially distance from others. When I was sharing about my trip earlier this week I had a number of people message me and ask about that particular topic. I think a lot of people want to get out of their homes but are still wary of being around crowds so I am really excited to share about our trip and help other families take a safe, social distancing vacation during this time!

First of all, we went to Put-In-Bay on a Tuesday to avoid the weekend crowds since I had heard Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were the slowest days on the island. I was pleasantly surprised to discover no crowds at all, even in the downtown area. I am sure Put-In-Bay is not as crowded on the weekends as it was a few years ago- with many opting out of vacations this summer- but I still felt like a day early in the week was the best choice.

Next, we thought about transportation to the island. We loved riding the Miller Boat Line ferry last time we went to the island but I was worried about social distancing on a boat. I checked out their website and was pleased to see a variety of safety guidelines in place including requiring masks on board for ages 6 and up, social distancing reminders, and limited capacity on the ferries.

Since I didn’t know how crowded the ferry would be we elected to take our van over to the island. This allowed us to remain in our vehicle on our trips to and from the island. (Note: The only way to take a vehicle on the ferry over the weekend is if you have an overnight accommodation so keep that in mind if you are wanting to bring your vehicle.) I felt most comfortable with this plan before our trip but while we were on the boat everyone was wearing masks and social distancing so if you choose not to take a vehicle I’d recommend staying on the bottom deck where you could spread out more along the edges of the deck.

Once we got to the island we found the E’s Put-In-Bay Golf Carts just north of the dock where the ferry dropped us off. We parked in the lot next to it and then rented a 6-person golf cart. I was happy that they offered a car seat for us to use with our toddler. She absolutely loved riding in the golf cart as you can see by the video above!

My favorite thing to do on the island is just ride around in the golf cart talking and exploring the island with my family. Looks like our dog-baby loved it as well!

We went to some of the places we had gone to before but here’s a list of 25 things you can do outdoors in Put-In-Bay:

  • Visit South Bass Island Park and swim in the lake! It’s a pebble beach but they have plenty of grassy areas you can sit as well.
  • Visit Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial and learn about the Battle of Lake Erie.
  • Grab ice cream at the Chocolate Cafe and enjoy it on their patio area outside. (For adults, there is also a beer garden there….)
  • Walk along the lake.
  • Play in DeRivera Park.
  • Ride bikes around the island.
  • Learn about the island aboard the tour train.
  • Bring a tent and go camping at one of the campgrounds.
  • Play at the playground downtown or in South Bass Island Park.
  • Ride a jet ski.
  • Play mini golf at Perry’s Fun Center.
  • Go on a ghost tour.
  • Take fido to run around the dog park.
  • Watch the sunset.
  • Have a picnic in the park with takeout from a restaurant. (The lobster bisque from the Upper Deck on the Boardwalk is delicious!)
  • Play a round of golf at Saunders Golf Course.
  • Go parasailing.
  • Adults can enjoy a wine tasting at one of the islands two wineries.
  • Go hiking on one of the trails in the nature preserves.
  • Go to the Aquatic Visitors Center and fish off the dock.
  • Mine for gemstones at Perry’s Fun Center.
  • Go kayaking.
  • Hit some balls in the batting cages at the Adventure Bay Amusement Park.
  • Eat at one of the many restaurants with an outdoor patio.
  • Take a ride on the carousel.

There’s more but this list above could keep you busy for a whole week :) Make sure to check each attraction’s website or Facebook page as you plan your schedule since some places are closed certain days or have adjusted hours right now.

Overall, I think that if you are in the Midwest and looking for a social distancing vacation spot, Put-In-Bay is a great choice. There is plenty to do outdoors for both families and couples and everyone we encountered was very thoughtful when it came to the six feet social distancing guideline. There is also a mask mandate in Ohio which is fairly new so I found that comforting as well and most people I observed wore masks when in close proximity to others.

Have any other questions about my experience or visiting the island? I’d love to answer them! Feel free to message me on social media and I’ll do my best to help :)

Guide To Visiting Put-In-Bay With Kids

Last summer we went to Cedar Point and decided to spend an extra day exploring Put-In-Bay, Ohio, before we headed home to the Chicago suburbs. I am so glad we decided to extend our stay because that has been one of my favorite vacations to date. Put-In-Bay provides an atmosphere much like one you’d find in the Caribbean and it was just a nice family getaway spent relaxing and enjoying “island time”. If you need a break from busy sports schedules and the hectic daily grind, this is the place for you!

To get to Put-In-Bay you need to take a ferry. We took a Miller Ferry from Sandusky, Ohio where we were staying. You can take a car along on the ferry but I’d suggest leaving it behind and just renting a golf cart to get around. It was pretty affordable and not only is it convenient, it’s fun to drive around in.

Here are the things you’ll want to do with your family when you visit:

Aquatic Visitor’s Center (Historic Fish Hatchery and Education Center)

We loved this FREE activity! Families can learn more about Lake Erie by exploring its rich history and experiencing science up close at the Aquatic Visitors Center. Afterwards, borrow some fishing poles and bait and go fishing off the pier! Learn more here.

DeRivera Park

Any place with a playground is a “must visit” in my kids’ minds! DeRivera Park is a large shaded park right in the heart of the little downtown area. Children will love the large playground while parents will love the water views. There are also some historic landmarks in the area that are interesting to learn about.

 Eat at The Keys Restaurants

It’s no secret that sitting near the water, eating on an outdoor patio, is one of my favorite things to do so when I saw this adorable, colorful patio area I just knew we had to stop for lunch. Waterfront views, delicious food, and music that makes you feel like you are vacationing in the Florida Keys makes this place top of my list for mealtime.

Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center

Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center has enough activities to keep a family busy for almost a whole day. From exploring a cave to gemstone mining to playing mini-golf to visiting a butterfly house to checking out antique cars, the whole family will find something they love! My boys favorite activity there was Fort aMAZE’n, a giant maze they enjoyed racing the clock to find their way out of. Learn more about all Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center has to offer here.

Walking around town

Walking along the lakefront was a relaxing way to spend the morning and I enjoyed going into shops that were around the middle of the town as well. If it’s hot out make sure to stop by Dairy Isle for a cool treat to enjoy while you walk around town!

Chocolate Museum & Cafe

Those with a sweet tooth will want to visit the Chocolate Museum and enjoy a treat from their cafe which they can enjoy outside in the picnic area. I thought it was interesting to walk around the museum area but the boys just wanted to hurry through to check out the array of chocolatey goodness that they offered in their cafe.

I loved every minute we spent in Put-In-Bay, Ohio and am so glad we made the trip over to the island. Have you ever visited? I’d love to hear what other things your family enjoyed doing if so!

Summer Fun At Cedar Point

Thanks to Cedar Fair for sponsoring this post and providing this great mini-vacation to Cedar Point for our family.

Happy 4th of July! Summer is in full swing which means our days are spent trying to get in as much outdoor fun as possible. We love going to theme parks and recently visited Cedar Point for the first time. We had such a great day at the park and I wanted to share about it before I headed out to enjoy some music and fireworks with my family.

Located in Sandusky, Ohio, Cedar Point is a 364-acre park with over 150 attractions, including 70 amazing rides. The park is home to 17 world-class roller coasters which is why many call it the “rollercoaster capital of the world”.

My boys loved riding the rollercoasters, especially Lucas my little dare devil! He is the kid on the rides with his hands in the air and a smile upon his face who was so thrilled he was finally tall enough to ride the bigger rollercoasters and was able to ride his very first “upside down” rollercoaster (the Corkscrew). I just loved hearing the excitement in his voice as he shared about the rollercoaster we went on.

My favorite coaster was the Magnum XL-200, a coaster that gave us beautiful views of the park and the lake as we went up to the top of this 205 foot tall coaster. With speeds up to 72 MPH this coaster is one of the extreme thrill rides in the park!

There were a lot of other fun rides the boys enjoyed like “Joe Cool’s Dodgem Driving School” bumper cars, “Ocean Motion” the rocking ship, and the “Tiki Twirl” spinning ride.

As a family we enjoyed going on the “Giant Wheel” Ferris wheel, “Sky Ride” cable cars and the Cedar Point train, all of which gave us fabulous views of the whole park.

Cedar Point has much more than rides though! Check out the Dinosaurs Alive exhibit, meet Snoopy and his friends, or catch a show. We really enjoyed the All Wheels Extreme show featuring stunts performed by talented bikers, skaters and gymnasts from all over the country.

We also liked checking out all the animals in the Cedar Point Barnyard. This year they are even offering pony rides which Lucas was so excited to do because he loves horses. 

On hot summer days you won’t want to miss a visit to Cedar Point Shores Water Park! New for 2017, guests of the park can enjoy 18 acres of splish-splashin’ fun, featuring four new water attractions- Point Plummet, Portside Plunge, Lemmy’s Lagoon, and Lakeslide Landing.

Beach lover? Yeah, Cedar Point has that, too! Take a dip in the lake or just relax on Cedar Point Beach and watch as the kids build some sand castles. It was the perfect way to spend some time before we went to dinner.

The fun doesn’t end when the sun goes down! When it gets dark the park lights up. End your day at the park with Luminosity, a show featuring high-energy dancers, live music, aerial artists, pyrotechnics and so much more. Then, stay a little longer as the DJ spins your favorite songs. This all-ages celebration is the only way to end your day!

Overall we had a great time. There’s plenty to do at the main park and the water park that you could easily spend a few days exploring the park. If you aren’t local make sure to stay in a Cedar Point hotel to get access to the park an hour before everyone else! (We stayed off property at the Cedar Point Express which I’ll be sharing about soon!) As far as lines go, I was surprised to find that the lines for rides and food weren’t long which was nice because we were able to do more than I thought we would.

(Disability Information: For those families who are coming to the park with someone who has a disability, the park does offer accommodations. With Lucas on the Autism Spectrum, he often has a hard time and becomes overwhelmed at theme parks because of the crowds and waiting. Cedar Point has an Alternate Access pass which lets guests with disabilities or special needs get a boarding pass that allows them to rest in a comfortable spot, away from the crowds, until the boarding time and then enter the ride via the Alternate Access Entrance. Depending on how Lucas is doing there are days when passes like this are the only way we can spend a day at a theme park. Thankfully though, since Lucas was having a good day and the park wasn’t too crowded, we only had to use this pass a couple times throughout our day.)

Have you ever been to Cedar Point? What is your favorite thing to do there?