A Quiet Island Getaway in Lake Erie

Glacial Grooves left on Kelleys Island by the Ice Age
Glacial Grooves left on Kelleys Island by the Ice Age

The Lake Erie Islands are almost a “must” each summer for people in northern Ohio looking to get away for just a day or a weekend.

 One of my personal favorites for a quick relaxing weekend is Kelleys Island.

 Although the largest island in American waters, it’s a much, much quieter place than nearby Put-In-Bay on South Bass Island.   With a smaller shopping and tourist area Kelleys Island is much more laid back and relaxing, lacking the hustle and bustle and nightlife of South Bass Island.  You can rent bikes and golf carts here. If you get tired of exploring take time out to look at the glacial grooves, purported to be the finest example of glacial markings in north America or inscription rock, where ancient native Americans left messages.  There are historic old homes that are sometimes open for tours and even a winery.  During the summer there are several delightful Bed and Breakfasts on the island.  Also the Island is only fifteen minutes by ferryboat from downtown Marblehead on the mainland.

 Kelleys Island Chamber of Commerce, Division Street, PO Box 783-F, Kelleys Island, Ohio, 43438,  419-74…, www.kelleysislandchamber.com

 The State Park on Kelleys has been updated and modernized in recent years.  There is now a free double boat launching ramp, a stone pier for fishing and a sandy beach for swimming and sunning.  For campers there are now over 125 shaded camping sites and they also offer the popular rent a camp sites, in which the tent, and camping equipment is all provided by the state, all you have to do is bring bedding and food.

 More and more attention is being paid to their massive six hundred acre nature preserve that includes an old limestone quarry.  There are trails through the preserve and it’s a great place to watch all the different wildlife that calls Kelleys Island home.  It’s been said that there are more deer than permanent residents on the island.  And thanks in part to Zebra Mussels the lake waters are much cleaner now.  So clean in fact that on a calm day near the island you can see ten or fifteen feet down into the water.  By the way, Kelleys Island is now home to the state’s first Underwater Shipwreck Preserve.  There are over one hundred known shipwreck sites in western Lake Erie and several of them are very close to Kelleys Island.  At the state park offices you can see a model of one of the ships that sank just off of the island.

 Lake Erie Islands State Park, office for all islands, 4049 East Moores Dock road, Pt. Clinton, Ohio 43452,    419-797-4530   , www.ohiodnr.com/parks/parks/lakeerie.htm

 While Kelleys Island doesn’t offer as many choices for dining, you won’t go hungry.  One of the fixtures on Kelleys is the Village Pump Restaurant, which has recently enlarged its patio, and is still a great place for fresh Lake Erie Perch or Walleye.

 The Village Pump Restaurant, 103 Lakeshore Drive, Kelleys Island, Ohio, 43438,    41…