Ohio's Hidden Attraction: Spend A Family Day at Put-in-Bay Island

A Family Fun Place

Ratings Best Travel Date Cost Length


May-October $100 6-8 hours

TLDR tips:

  • Golf carts are the superior choice compared to bringing your own vehicle or renting a bike
  • No need to reserve golf carts, plenty of rental in downtown
  • Buy combo tickets at Perry’s Fun Center to save money
  • Don’t recommend the butterfly house

Time Stamps:

  • 9:00 AM: Departure (2 hr)
  • 11:00 AM: Arrival at Miller Ferry
  • 11:30 AM: Boarded Ferry (0.5 hr)
  • 12:00 PM: Bus ride to Put-in-bay harbor (downtown)
    • Lunch at Put-in-bay harbor
  • 1:00 PM: Golf cart rental
  • 1:30 PM: Perry’s Victory & International Peach Memorial (1 hr)
  • 2:30 PM: Scheeff East Point view (0.5 hr)
  • 3:00 PM: Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center (2 hr)
    • Winery Tour
    • Crystal Cave
    • Butterfly House
  • 5:00 PM: Return Ferry


  • Ferry round-trip: $18 (per person), $40 (per vehicle)
  • Bus on the island: $5 (per person)
  • Golf cart rental: $50-$70
  • Lunch: $25 (per person)
  • Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center (Pick 3): $30
    • Winery ticket
    • Crystal Cave ticket
    • Butterfly House ticket
  • Total: $100

Two hours (100 miles) away from Columbus, Cleveland Ohio, and Detroit Michigan lies a peaceful island, Put-in-Bay, situated on Lake Erie (one of the Great Lakes).

It’s an ideal destination for a family day trip, offering a hassle-free and perfect nature getaway with serene landscapes of trees and water.

Here’s a link to their official website. for event information, locations, and transportation details.

Miller Ferry at Catawba Island

The Catawba Island Ferry is how you would reach Put-in-Bay island from the other side. It provides many parking spots just outside the boarding and ticketing area.

You can choose to board the ferry on foot or drive your own car (expect much longer wait times for vehicles since there aren’t many spots). The wait isn’t bad if you’re on foot, even if you see there’s a long line, don’t be discouraged as the ferry can fit a large number of passengers (although many will be standing). After a brief half-hour wait, we boarded the ferry, with passengers moving to the second floor.

Watching them load vehicles was quite interesting, and we enjoyed the 20-minute breeze on the lake as the ferry sailed.

Ferry to the island


Upon arriving at the island, you have a convenient bus taking you to downtown Put-in-Bay. Alternatively, you can rent a golf cart. Unfortunately, there was limited availability for golf cart rentals near the dock (there are plenty of golf carts available in the downtown area).

We had lunch at “The Boardwalk”, located right by the lake near downtown. The food was decent, although a bit pricier than we would have expected from a little island. After lunch, we took a leisurely walk along Bayview Avenue exploring local shops and sweets.

Golf Cart Rental

We initially thought all golf carts were rented out because people on the bus were checking for availability and finding none. However, simply walking around, we discovered more rental options. We ended up renting one for $50 for 4 hours (also no driver’s license needed).

Driving the golf cart was straightforward, but we soon realized it was missing a windshield. This made our drive a bit cooler, but it wasn’t a big deal.

There’s very little regular vehicle traffic on the island, making it easy to navigate. Golf carts are quite versatile and can be parked almost anywhere. Compared to bringing your own vehicle, or even renting a bike, golf carts are the superior choice.

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial

Our first stop was Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, a monument where you can spend around 30 minutes relaxing and enjoying the lakeside views.

Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial

People chilling next to the monument

Driving the golf cart to the northeastern corner, we reached Scheeff East Point View. As mentioned earlier, the island has minimal traffic, allowing you to park and go wherever you like.

Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center

The main attraction on the Put-in-bay is Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center, it is a hub for different smaller attractions such as mini-golf, winery tour, cave tour, butterfly tour, and gemstone mining (and many more).

During our limited time, we only visited a few, but it’s an excellent place to spend a full day. Just be sure not to miss the last ferry back to the mainland, which departs at 5:00 PM.

Tickets range from $9 to $12 each for different attractions depending on whether you purchased separately or as combo tickets (e.g., choose any 3 out of 5 attractions).

Fun Center attractions

Winery Tour

Put-in-Bay hosts a winery that distributes its own wines across the states. Enjoy a tour of the winery, covering the entire winemaking process from raw grapes to a packaged bottle in just 30 minutes. You also get to learn different kinds of wines and have a final tasting after the tour. It was a pretty refreshing for me.

Crystal Cave

The crystal cave (Perry’s Cave) is the main attraction where you get to go 50 feet underground to explore the cave that is hallowed out from a single crystal geode, an impressive sight. I estimate it is around 800 square feet in sizes. The tour is self-guided, not a lot to see since it’s just one cave, but fair for its price.

Crystal cave size (Credit: Miller Ferry)

Butterfly House

I don’t recommend the butterfly house, for $10 price you only get to spend at most 10 minutes as there are nothing really to see in this small and humid room (no more than 1000 square feet). The variety of butterflies is limited, and it’s not very captivating. Unless you have children who are particularly fond of butterflies, spending time just in the gift shop area should suffice.

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