Natural beauty surrounds the village of Put-in-Bay, a small community nestled on the shore of South Bass Island. A popular vacation and resort destination, this island is part of a group of three, along with its sisters Middle Bass Island and North Bass Island, which are tucked away in the southwestern corner of Lake Erie. Together, along with an assortment of smaller islands, they comprise the Township of Put-in-Bay.
Put-in-Bay derives its name from the local harbor, which was regarded by 18th and 19th century sailors as a safe place to drop anchor and wait for unpleasant weather to pass. The bay played a significant role in the outcome of the War of 1812, when it served as a staging point for the naval force of Oliver Hazard Perry as he sailed forth to defeat the British in the Battle of Lake Erie. His triumph and the subsequent end of hostilities are commemorated by the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, the largest Doric column in the world. Constructed from 78 layers of pink granite and topped by an 11-ton bronze urn, the memorial rises to a height of 352 feet, making it 47 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty.
South Bass Island was largely uninhabited until the 1830s, and the Put-in-Bay area still has fewer than 500 year-round residents. The local population increases considerably during tourist season, which typically runs from early April until late October. Rather than dealing with cars, most local residents prefer to use simpler means of transportation such as golf carts, bicycles, or mopeds when traversing the island. Ferries and private boats facilitate travel between islands, and the paved 2,870-foot runway and helipad at Put-in-Bay Airport provide another option for crossing the water.
Residents and visitors have numerous options for recreation, beginning with boating, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing, as well as camping, hiking, and biking at North Bass Island State Park. You can mine for gemstones at Perry’s Cave, or stroll through the gardens of its butterfly house. Another area cave, Crystal Cave, is the world’s largest geode, with walls covered by beautiful crystal formations. The Put-in-Bay area is also home to several wineries, and there is a designated American Viticultural Area in nearby Isle St. George. The museum of the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society provides a glimpse of the region’s rich history, and the rides and attractions of Cedar Point are only 20 minutes away by ferry.