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Pictured above are a few of our favorite outdoor activity spots on the island. The top left and right are two gems located at the South Bass Island State Park, the rock beach with kayaks, jet skis and boat launch and the children’s playground. Bottom left is a view of the grounds at Perry’s Monument. Bottom right is a view of DeRivera Park, which features two playgrounds, multiple swing sets, many picnic tables and a few charcoal grills. Come see all the great outdoors all the islands have to offer!
Get Outside, Breathe Deep and Experience the Islands
Anyone who wants island fun, can have healthy island fun! The experts tell us that the great outdoors is much safer than indoor activities during the Coronavirus epidemic, and where can you have plenty of healthy fun? Put-in-Bay and the other Lake Erie Islands are the answer.
Here are some of the great outdoor activities we recommend for some really healthy and memorable experiences as you visit the Lake Erie Islands.
Just about every trip to the islands starts with a ferry ride. There’s plenty of excess fresh air and UV light from the abundant sunshine to go around, plus a goal of experiencing the great outdoors that the islands offer, we guarantee you’ll discover more than you ever thought possible.
Renting a golf cart is a great way to see the island. The breeze going through your cart is enough to blow any ball cap or sun hat off. You can also rent a bike, electric bike or moped to get around the island.
We suggest stops at some of the many parks on the island. On South Bass, you can take walks through the Dodge Woods with its StoryWalk, the 9-acre, waterfront Scheeff East Point Preserve at the tip of East Point, the 11-acre Massie Cliffside Preserve with its great sunset views, or the Jane Coates Wildflower Trail & Ladd Carr Woods. You also might want to check out the trails in Cooper’s Woods, the home of “Coon Man.” Ask any islander to tell you about this island legend. At the South Bass Island State Park, check out the remaining ruins of the famous Hotel Victory that burned 101 years ago. On Middle Bass, the State Park property and the preserve at the end of East Point are both popular for exploring. If you visit Kelleys Island, one of the neatest hikes on any of the islands is through the woods on the north shore just west of the Glacial Grooves.
Some of the other fun outdoor things to do are playing mini-golf or doing some gemstone mining at Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center.
Among our favorite outdoor activities are swimming in the lake, kayaking, jet skiing, canoeing, sunbathing and looking for beach glass, pretty stones and driftwood along the shore. And don’t forget there’s fishing, too, both along the shore or with a fishing guide. If you crave real adventure, try parasailing. These are all activities where one can easily social distance.
We highly recommend the “Lake Erie Islands Water Trail” for kayakers and canoers. There are five separate water trails for paddlers that have rest spots along the shorelines of North Bass, Middle Bass, South Bass and Kelleys Island. Instead of seeing the lake from the islands, see the islands from the lake.
Even though you can’t go up in the Monument, the grounds at the memorial are wide open. There are great opportunities to see some of the reenactors, learn a little about our nation’s War of 1812 history and take some fun photos.
If your thirst needs quenching, we suggest visiting one of the two Biergartens, one in the front yard of the Goat and the other by the Boathouse downtown, or sipping wine in the outdoor venues at either Heineman Winery or the Put-in-Bay Winery. Another popular outdoor spot is the island’s only 5-star dive bar, Joe’s Bar near the State Park.
If you get hungry, you’ll be happy to know there is plenty of outdoor seating for lunch or dinner at many of the island restaurants, plus you can get carry-out from the restaurants, the bakery and the pizza and ice cream shops. There are also picnic tables in the downtown park if you decide to bring a picnic lunch.
While downtown, take the kids and let them play in the playground in the park. There are plenty of photo opportunities in DeRivera Park with its stump statue of island pioneer Jose´ DeRivera or sitting on top of the cannons which face the harbor.
If you’re planning on spending the night in the great outdoors, the South Bass Island State Park has beautiful campsites overlooking the lake. Bring plenty of marshmallows to roast over the campfire. If you are into primitive camping, check out North Bass Island. Kelleys Island State Park has 129 campsites spread across a gorgeous lakefront, with a great sand beach on the north side of the island. You can also visit the Glacial Grooves nearby. The best thing of all is that you can wake up to the birds chirping when you camp on any of the islands.
Are you lucky enough to own your own boat? The islands are the perfect place for a boat during the pandemic. There are docks on Put-in-Bay, Middle Bass and Kelleys Island, plus there are plenty of spots to throw an anchor and enjoy some time in the water or exploring an out-of-the-way beach. Tubing and waterskiing are always fun, too.
As you can see, there are plenty of outdoor activities on the islands. Be sure to wear your masks and social distance when other people are in abundance. Just in case you feel the need to visit the shops and other island attractions, island employees are wearing masks and shops are asking customers to wear them, too. So be sure to wear your mask as conditions dictate, and help stop the spread.
Please Wear a Mask!
Before the governor began lifting restrictions at the end of May, there were no cases of Covid-19 on the island. Everyone knew that as visitors began to arrive, the risk of Covid-19 coming to Put-in-Bay was inevitable.
Unfortunately, most visitors arrived maskless and weren’t terribly adept at social distancing, and by the last week or so of June, several cases were traced back to the island. With the Covid-19 testing of almost 1,000 island employees and residents on July 10th and 11th, reality really struck home. The island is no different from any other place! Just under 7% of those tested were positive, a shade higher than the overall state rate.
The governor recently announced mask and social distancing guidelines, and like all communities, we islanders want to keep our island safe and healthy, too. We’d also like for our visitors to enjoy the island and go home healthy. To do this, it is imperative that everyone wear masks, social distance and clean their hands regularly per the mandates whether you like them or not.
Think of it this way. As new cases continue to increase in our state and country, would you welcome several dozen strangers into your home without masks? Would you want them to tease and tickle your kids, cough, sneeze or talk loudly in your direction, or sit down and have an intimate chat with grandma or grandpa? Better yet, would you like them to have them use your bathroom, maybe not wash their hands and go around touching everything in your house? Hopefully, you get the message.
We can all have fun if we take precautions! We can put the island’s 80 school-age students and their teachers back in the classroom this fall, and we can get our several dozen senior citizens back to the normally busy Senior Center that has been closed for the last several months if we all work together.
It’s up to both you and us to keep everyone healthy! Please do your best to help the islanders, the island employees, your fellow visitors and yourself safe and healthy when you come to Put-in-Bay. We can all enjoy what the islands have to offer, if we call act responsibly.
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