Island native Charles “Skip” Duggan began collecting Model Ts and other vintage cars in the 1970’s. His collection is now on display at the Put in Bay Antique Car Museum at the Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center. Many of these vehicles and others like them can be seen every Sunday afternoon about 2 pm during the weekly Sunday Afternoon Car Parade that Duggan started in the 1990’s. There are more than 100 vintage and classic cars on the island and many participate in the weekly parade that winds through the downtown area. Admission to the Antique Car Museum is free.
AQUATIC RESOURCE CENTER
Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
Island Map 1
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources operates the state’s Aquatic Resources Visitor Center. There are live fish exhibits and hands on aquatic displays. The center offers a free fishing program for kid’s, including free bait and tackle. Kids have the opportunity to try their hand at fishing from the center’s large pier that overlooks the downtown harbor and Gibraltar Island. Admission to the center is free 10 am to 5 pm, Memorial Day through Labor Day. Closed Sundays and Mondays. Tour groups should call ahead to make an appointment.
Put-in-Bay’s Butterfly House at the Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center offers visitors a unique viewing experience of hundreds of different exotic butterflies in their beautiful atrium filled with plants, fountains and sculpture. The butterflies on display are not native to the United States and precautions are used so they cannot escape their home in the atrium. Visitors walk amongst the butterflies. The Butterfly House also has a movie on butterflies and butterfly specimens can be purchased.
Crystal Cave, the world’s largest recorded geode, is located on Catawba Avenue directly beneath Heineman Winery. A tour of the cave is included with a tour of the winery. The walls of Crystal Cave are covered in celestite crystals, used in the manufacturing of fireworks. The cave was discovered in 1897 by workers digging a well for the winery. Tours of the cave and winery are given from the first of May through the end of September, beginning at 11:15 and ending at 5 pm Monday through Saturday, and from 12:15 to 5 pm on Sundays.
Heineman Winery was established in 1888 by Gustav Heineman. Gustav’s grandson, Louis, great-grandson, Edward and great-great-grandson, Dustin, continue to operate Heineman Winery today. A combined tour of the winery and Crystal Cave are given daily from the first of May to the end of September. A complimentary sample of wine or grape juice is given after the tour. Wine and juice is sold by the glass or by the bottle. You can enjoy a glass of wine, and a platter of cheese, fruit, and crackers in Heineman’s wine garden. Heineman wines are made from grapes grown on the island, and have consistently won awards in many categories. They currently produce more than 21 different wines, including an ice wine.
The Lake Erie Islands Historical Society offers a glimpse into Put-in-Bay’s past. More than 6,000 square feet of display area features the original sprawling resort hotels such as the Hotel Victory, wine making, a movie on the island’s history, and artifacts from the old Put in Bay Car Races. You’ll also find examples of island memorabilia (Put-in-Bay souvenirs), and I-LYA (Inter-Lake Yachting Association) artifacts. Located off Catawba Avenue behind the Put-in-Bay Town Hall on Town Hall Lane. Watch a free history film and view a collection of model ships and ferries, some made by island craftsmen. Adult admission is $2. Kids, 50 cents. Open daily from the first of May through September.
The Lake Erie Islands Nature and Wildlife Center opened in 2008. Formerly the Alaskan Bird House Wildlife Museum, this facility features a variety of animal and water fowl mounts that are native to the islands and Ohio. The center also features a nature trail filled with native plants, that offers an excellent vantage point for bird watching. There also also activities for kids.
Paratus Air offers a bird’s eye view of Put-in-Bay and the Bass Islands and offers vacationers two different island tours, and the ability to customize a tour. Located at the Put-in-Bay Airport on Langram Road, the helicopter tour company can accommodate up to three passengers. Paratus’ licensed commercial pilots give a 12-mile tour of South Bass Island (Put-in-Bay), and also offer a longer tour that includes South Bass, Middle Bass and North Bass islands. Both tours require a minimum of two passengers. The South Bass Island Tour is $59.99 per person and the longer tour of all three islands is $89.99 per person. A map of both tours is on Paratus’ website.
Historical documents show that men under the command of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry discovered this limestone cave 40 feet underground during their occupation of the island in 1813. Perry used the underground stream in Perry’s Cave for drinking water during the hot summer prior to the “Battle of Lake Erie”, fought on September 10, 1813. This pivotal naval engagement was fought during the War of 1812. The water in the stream is a consistent 50 degrees year-round. Narrated cave tour is $7.50 for adults, $4.00 for kids 6-12. Children 5 & under free (with an adult).
Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial is a symbol of the long-lasting peace enjoyed by the United States, Great Britain, and our Canada. The 352-foot Doric column has an observation platform that offers a 360 degree view of the surrounding islands and mainland. The column reopened on July 3 after being closed for restoration the past three years. The Perry Memorial Visitor Center, located on the grounds, offers a 15-minute free movie on the War of 1812 and Battle of Lake Erie. The visitor center also has a display of artifacts, including a British musket, a scale model of the US Brig Lawrence–Perry’s flagship–and a large flat hull diorama of the Battle of Lake Erie as Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry crossed through cannon fire to reach the US Brig Niagara and change the course of the battle. Kids programs are offered daily and Ranger Programs are offered every Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. Ranger talks and black powder demonstrations are held every Friday through Sunday.
Put-in-Bay Winery at the Doller Estate is part historical home tour, part museum and part wine tasting room and retail shop. Learn about the historic Doller Estate owned by Put-in-Bay Mayor Valentine Doller and his impact on Put-in-Bay in the 1800’s. You’ll also see one of Put-in-Bay’s original “ice houses” where ice, cut from the frozen waters of Lake Erie each winter, was stored for the summer resort season’s visitors. The island’s original fire truck is also on display. You can sample a selection of Put-in-Bay Winery’s select vintages, and purchase full bottles of their wine and some others to take home.
Quite possibly the best kept secret on Put-in-Bay, Stonehenge Estate is an excellent example of family farms and wineries that prospered on the island in the mid to late 1800’s. This family preservation project has been open to the public for over 20 years and both the stone Farmhouse & Wine Press Cottage are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Self-guided audio tours take visitors inside both buildings (each filled with antiques, photographs and island memorabilia) as well as the beautiful grounds and unique outdoor displays. Stonehenge Estate offers a true taste of island living from yesterday and today. Free golf cart visitors shuttle available from downtown. Call for availability.
First time visitors to the island will find the Put-in-Bay Tour Train is one of the best ways to learn about Put-in-Bay’s past, and a great way to see the island aboard an open-air tram. Enjoy the ride & a 55-minute narrated tour that stops at Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center, Heineman Winery, and Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. Adults, $10 and kids, 6-11, $3. Download and print a $1 discount coupon for every adult in your group on their website. The Tour Train is also available for groups, and is part of the Family Fun Pack available from Island Transportation.