Kelleys Island & Put-in-Bay Trip Review

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Last weekend we had the wonderful opportunity to take a road/boat trip to the Lake Erie Islands. The first day we vacationed on Put-in-Bay. The morning of Day 2, we woke up early (since our 2 preschoolers think 7 am is sleeping in!), packed up our things, and stopped at Put-in-Bay’s beautiful playground before our trip to Kelleys Island.

After Kora & Logan burned off some energy and were done getting dizzy, we parked our car and got in line for the Jet Express.

The Jet Express ride was fast and fun, but also the perfect opportunity for quick some quick cat naps.

After we landed on Kelleys Island, we stepped off the Jet Express and picked up our golf cart.

Since this was our first time with the kids in a golf cart we didn’t actually have them ride backwards together except on the short jaunt through the parking lot after lunch to return the golf cart. While we weren’t comfortable with them riding backwards and alone, there were many other families who were. It’s all a matter of comfort and since it was new to us we opted to stay on the safe side.

As soon as Kora & Logan put on their seat belts in the golf cart they became the Kelleys Island Welcoming Committee. Wherever we drove they would wave and yell out, “Hi!” to everyone walking, biking, or golf carting by. It was really fun and made everyone, including us, smile every time.

We didn’t have a map and were feeling adventurous, so we aimlessly drove around the island at first. We knew of a few “must see’s” that we wanted to hit and soon we were able the Glacial Grooves off our list.

Kelleys Island Glacial Grooves

The Glacial Grooves were caused when a heavy glacial wall, with rocks and boulders embedded in it’s base, traveled through an area of soft limestone. It was a fascinating site to see and I’m glad we made the stop. Our visit to the Glacial Grooves lasted about 15 minutes and I would recommend them to anyone with young children. Kora & Logan were somewhat interested in the Grooves  and even said, “Wow!” which is more than I was expecting for preschoolers. They really enjoyed walking the trail that led around the Grooves and climbing up and down the small bridge that took us up and over them.

Next, we hopped back in the golf cart to do some more sightseeing with Kora & Logan waving all the way. We stopped at Caddyshack Square,  a cute shopping and entertainment area. We did a bit of window shopping, watched some mini-golf,  and took a break to play bean bag toss.

Kelleys IslandAfter working up an appetite throwing the beanbags around we headed out to find lunch.

It looked like it was going to rain and we had really wanted to find a place to eat outside, so we were thrilled to find The Casino Restaurant which was on the water. The restaurant offers plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a covered patio area with nice picnic tables. We felt like were sitting outside, but had no worries about the impending storm (which never came!).

The Casino Restaurant was a wonderful discovery. The food was delicious – Tired Dad Dave and I split the Crab Meat Nachos. And the music added the perfect touch to atmosphere – lots of Jimmy Buffet and other island/vacation tunes. If you’re visiting Kelleys Island, I highly recommend stopping in at The Casino Restaurant for a drink or a bite to eat, it will really get you in the vacation spirit.

After lunch, we returned our golf cart and boarded The Jet Express for our ride back to Put-in-Bay. Kora & Logan were tired and we wanted to squeeze in a quick swim at our new hotel before nap time.

Our hotel for Day 2, was The Islander Inn which bills itself as the “finest and largest Carribean style resort in Put-in-Bay.” The Islander Inn has a fun and festive atmosphere which Kora & Logan loved immediately. They couldn’t get over our brightly colored jungle/floral print bedspreads, the aquarium like picture hanging in our room, or the “red-eyed tree frog” on our light switch.

Put in Bay Islander Inn

They also loved our cute balcony, which allowed them to gaze over a lazy river and a waterfall complete with airplane crash and skeleton pilot.

Islander Inn

The Islander Inn is wonderful because it had options to please everyone. There are two buildings with exterior rooms overlooking the main pool and swim-up bar. The fun part about these rooms is the doors are painted in bright colors. The rooms in our building were all had interior hallways, which was nice because it really cut down on the noise level. Not that there was much craziness taking place on a Monday night, but when the kids go to bed at 8 pm, it’s always good to be in the quieter section of a hotel.

Islander Inn Put in Bay

We loved The Islander Inn for the many reasons stated above, but also for the simple reason that one area of the pool had a depth of 3 feet. This probably seems like an odd thing to be so excited about, but when you have two preschoolers who can’t touch bottom, swimming is often cut short because it quickly becomes exhausting for Tired Dad Dave and I.  So the kids spent part of our afternoon swimming, jumping into the pool, holding their breath and going underwater, and then thankfully napping!

While they napped, I had a chance to lay out at the pool for a bit and while the music from the swim-up bar was unnecessarily loud for 3 pm on a Monday, I was so tired I dozed anyway. After about 30 minutes, I went up to the room and sent Tired Dad Dave down to the jacuzzi, which is always one of his favorite things to do on vacation.

Once Kora & Logan woke up, we headed over to Pasquale’s Cafe for dinner.

Pasquale's Cafe

It’s an incredibly family friendly place with reasonable prices and great food. We had a nice dinner with Larry from Shores & Islands and Julene from the Miller Boat Line. It was fascinating and informative to learn more about island life and we thoroughly enjoyed their company.

After dinner, we had planned to head back to the hotel pool for another swim, but instead we stopped by Kimberly’s Carousel for one more ride.

Kimberly's Carousel Put in Bay

Kimberly’s Carousel is gorgeous and a must-do if you have small children. However, whether children are with you or not, be sure to take a minute to stop by the carousel and check out the amazing detail on this amusement ride. It is one of only 100 carousels in the U.S. with wooden horses and there are hand painted historical Island scenes adorning the top of the carousel. Also, there is no soundtrack, instead an automated “one man band” machine plays songs with drums, horns,  and a xylophone/bells. For $1.50 a ticket you can’t beat a fun historical ride like Kimberly’s Carousel.

Kimberly's Carousel Put in Bay

All that spinning made us hungry again, so we stopped for ice cream cones (flavor recommendation – Creme Brulee!) After which, we all had a huge sugar crash and were ready for bed. This turned out to be a good thing since we had to leave bright & early in the morning.

Overall, we had an incredible time on the Lake Erie Islands and I can honestly say I have no idea why it took me so long to get there. The good news is we hope to be back again and soon!

If you’re planning a trip to the Lake Erie Islands and have any questions please feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to answer them. If I’m unable to answer a question, I’ll be sure to put you in contact with someone who can. And if you enjoyed reading this post take a minute to read our Put-in-Bay Trip Review.

Thank you again to LESIPR for providing this trip for review. No compensation was received.

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  1. What a fun place! Am anxious for warm weather to arrive to visit places like this!

  2. We’ve never taken our kids but it looks like a lot of fun. I went to Put-in-Bay for a bachelor party some years ago and it looks a lot different at night. I didn’t know Kelley’s Island was like this, our kids would like it too. Great because its not that far away and probably reasonably priced!

  3. Sandy VanHoey says:

    You have made so many wonderful memories for your children. This place looks awesome. I have heard of it but once again, never been there.

  4. Looks like a fun place!

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