Most people leave their cars on the mainland and walk onto one of the ferries. We urge you to not bring your car to Put in Bay unless you have to. Beside the hassle of getting your vehicle to the island (which includes paying $40 for it to go on the ferry and then waiting in line with other cars for up to 4 hours to get it on to the ferry), parking is extremely limited on the island. Once you get to the island, a car isn't even really necessary because everything is close to each other. The island is only about 1x2 miles big. Most destinations are within walking distance, but there are also plenty of taxi shuttles that will take you anywhere you need to go, as well as golf carts, bikes and mopeds to rent downtown.
Golf carts are treated as licensed motor vehicles on the island because they all have license plates. This means that all driving laws apply such as drivers license requirements in the State of Ohio. Don't forget the open container laws and drinking and driving which can be quite embarassing on a golf cart (and just as expensive as getting caught in a car). Delaware Carts downtown rents to licensed drivers 18 years old and up. If you are under 18 but have a valid license, a parent or guardian can rent a cart for you to use pursuant to Ohio Revised Code.
Neither one accepts reservations! Both ferries can transport up to 300 people per trip, which lasts about a half hour. If you plan on taking your car across, make sure you get there early. The lines can get quite long, especially on holidays. Ticket costs and ferry schedules can be found on each of their websites.
We recommend that you plan ahead and DO NOT miss the ferry! The last Jet Express leaves at varying times but usually around midnight on weekends. Last-minute lodging can be very difficult to find and there are laws in place that deter you from sleeping in public or in the parks. Book your hotel room or rental home before you come to the island!
Most people book their Put-in-Bay reservation at least 2 months in advance. Island rentals book up very quickly, especially for weekend stays, so it is suggested that you make your hotel or condo or rental home reservation as early as possible. Example: Christmas in July books up completely usually by the end of February! Call us at either 888-PIB-STAY or (216) 898-1105 or visit our accommodations page to book a property.
Each private hotel or home rental has a different minimum length of stay requirement. Generally, weekends require a two-night minimum; and holiday weekends such as Christmas in July require a three-night minimum. For hotels, there is no minimum requirement for midweek stay (Sunday through Thursday nights) when Sunday is not part of a holiday weekend, but larger home and condo rentals always have a two-night minimum.
While some locals live on the island year-round, the tourist season is considerably smaller. The "open" season begins April 1 and ends on Halloween weekend. However, the "high" season is June, July, and August. There are guests who visit the island during the off season and go ice fishing for walleye and perch and there is one hotel open in the winter called Bay Lodging Resort.
Bring any personal items that you may need, such as: bed linens, bath towels, your favorite snacks, beverages, food to grill out, lawn games, pool towels, corn hole boards, etc. Bachelorette groups bring even more fun items to decorate their houses and condos!
Most bars on the island close at 1:30 AM. For late night beverages, visit Mr Eds which stays open until 2 AM and usually allows you to finsih your drinks up until 2:30 AM before people are swept outside. Then make sure to order your favorite pizza before they close!
It is not recommended to have open containers! Just like anywhere in the State of Ohio, there is an open container law and you WILL be arrested, cited, and/or fined by the police. No alcoholic beverages may leave a bar on the island that has a liquor permit, it's the law. This law is very strictly enforced and people get arrested every weekend for simple silly behavior like this! Just wait until the next bar and buy another one!
All of the hotels listed on our site allow you to bring alcohol to your room. All the house rentals featured on here also allow you to bring beverages to your rental home (and use the full size refrigerators!). However, make sure you leave the alcohol at your home or in your hotel room before you head out because it may not be brought in to island bars or pools. It's not like Vegas or New Orleans. Each pool deck is considered part of the liquor permit premises downtown, so they don't allow you to bring them in either. There is no liquor store on the island, but beer and wine can be purchased at the Beverage Center for prices that are comparable to those on the mainland.
Everyone has a favorite and they aren't afraid to share it with you! There are all kinds of diverse and different foods to choose from on the island. Most Put-in-Bay restaurants either post menus in their windows or will let you stop in and glance over them to see if they have what you're looking for. We recommend Mr. Ed's for lunch, the Old Forge for breakfast, and PIB Pizza Co for late night pizza pies.
It's always beautiful at Put-in-Bay! The weather on Put in Bay island is about the same as other communities on Ohio's north coast. A jacket or sweatshirt is suggested for late fall and early spring evenings when it chills down. Current weather and a 10-day forecast are available online at weather.com. One thing to remember is that no matter what the weather is like outside, it never rains inside our great restaurants and bars!
Not quite a Walmart but yes indeed! There is a full-service general store down on Catawba Avenue and a drive-through beverage store that has beer and wine and light munchies on Hartford Avenue next to the Boathouse Bar and Grill. Prices are definitely higher than mainland, so we recommend you bring your own goodies from home.
Yes, and in fact it has the only school on the Lake Erie Islands! There is a K-12 school downtown that caters to students from Middle, North, and South Bass Islands and some even from the mainland. In the winter, they get to school by "school plane" and in the summer they come over on the "school boat".
Some people actually NEVER leave the island except in case of emergency or family gatherings! When it ices over and the ferries stop running, there are several charter airlines that fly in and out of Put in Bay airport during the day (no night operations). A few hearty souls will risk driving their snowmobiles or 4-wheelers across the lake to party-hop to other islands during cold winters and there are always ice-fishing shantys out on the ice.