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23 Fun Things to Do at Put-in-Bay with Your Kids

Put-In-Bay is more than just a party island! There are plenty of things to do with kids at Put-in-Bay, making the island a great idea for a day trip or overnight trip with the family!

Our family loves Put-in-Bay! I’ve lost count of the number of times we have visited! My kids ask to go back every year! They love taking the ferry to the island and they especially love riding around Put-in-Bay in a golf cart!

You’ll see in this blog post our pictures throughout the years! As the kids have grown and we have continued to visit, I have continued to updated this post with more kid-friendly things to do at Put-in-Bay, places to eat and ideas for where to stay!

This post was updated on June 18,2024.

Two boys in front of the Welcome to Put-in-Bay, Ohio sign.

Is Put-in-Bay Kid Friendly?

I’ve received a few raised eyebrows when I say we took our kids to Put-in-Bay while on our vacation to Lake Erie. A lot of people think that Put-in-Bay is just a party island, but I’ll have you know that there is plenty of family-friendly fun to be had!

We have been to Put-in-Bay with our kids many times. By our second trip with kids, experience (and some great input from Lake Erie Shores and Islands) had taught us a few things and trip three was probably the smoothest and most fun up to that point!

We’ve returned to PIB with our kids multiple times since then and continue to find new things to love about the island as a family! (P.S. if you’re looking for more Lake Erie island life, check out all the fun things there are to do on nearby Kelleys Island!)

Two boys in front of a sign at Put-in-Bay Island in Ohio.

Getting To Put-in-Bay:

To get to Put-in-Bay, you must take a ferry from either Port Clinton or Catawba and there are two options, Miller Ferry and Jet Express.

We’re kind of partial to Miller Ferry – I don’t know, it must be the name! 😉 We’ve always taken Miller Ferry to the island probably because, besides the name, it’s also, by far, the cheapest.

Two boys standing in front of the Miller Ferry dock on Put-in-Bay.

Taking the ferry is part of the experience, for the kids! Mine loved the boat ride and looked forward to it as part of our day! Miller Ferries run generally every half hour during the summer season. You can see the schedule here.

Two boys riding the Miller Ferry.

Getting Around Put-in-Bay:

When you get to the island you’ll probably want to take some form of transportation (besides walking) to get to downtown Put-in-Bay. Options include a taxi, golf cart, bikes or the Lime Kiln bus, which is what I would recommend if you don’t plan on driving a golf cart around all day!

The bus is $3/person. This was also part of the fun for my kids since they don’t get to ride a school bus! You can board the bus at the top of the hill after exiting Miller Ferry. Cash only!

The Lime Kiln Dock and bus at Put-in-Bay.

The Lime Kiln Bus will drop you off at The Depot in Downtown Put-in-Bay, and from there, most people travel around by foot or golf cart. Cars are allowed on the island, but golf carts, bicycles and feet are the most common methods of transportation. 

For a couple of years now, we have partnered with Miller Ferry to visit the island and they graciously offer us a golf cart from E’s Put-in-Bay Golf Carts! I think riding around in the golf cart might be my kids’ favorite part of the trip!

A family on a golf cart.

Downtown Put-in-Bay is full of restaurants, bars, shops and a few attractions, and, on our first two trips, this is the majority of what we saw. Jill at Lake Erie Shores and Islands offered us passes for the Put-in-Bay Tour Train for one of our trips and this tour train is what made our third trip to the island the best! I cannot recommend it enough!

A few of the activities I’m going to list here are stops on the Put-in-Bay Tour Train which makes it a convenient way to get to kid-friendly things to do at Put-in-Bay!

15 things to do (and eat) with the kids when you get to Put-in-Bay:

I’ll start out this section of the blog post with kid-friendly Put-in-Bay attractions and then will end it with family-friendly places to eat at Put-in-Bay!

1. Put-in-Bay Tour Train

  • Address: 154 Delaware Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456
A family taking the Put-in-Bay Tour Train.

The best thing about the tour train is, maybe obviously, the transportation. You’re simply not going to be able to walk all of these places with kids, and with the tour train, you get an education along with your transportation!

Back view of the Put-in-Bay Tour Train.

We learned so much history about the island as well as what island life is like in the present day. We saw the school, the only 2 churches on the island and got a snippet into daily life as a Put-in-Bay resident. I compare this with our first two visits where we didn’t see much of the island and had no idea what other things there were to do there, and the difference is night and day.

put in bay island train

When you take the tour train, you pay for one loop. You can get off and back on at each of the stops, but you can only go around once. So look at the map and make sure you don’t miss a stop because you will not be allowed to circle back around to it again. The trains run every 30 minutes so keep an eye on your watch while you’re enjoying your stop.

A view of the Put-in-Bay Tour Train driving on the road.

The Put-in-Bay Tour Train currently makes 4 stops:

• Perry’s Cave and Family Fun Center
• Heineman’s Winery
• Perry’s Victory and International Peace Monument
• Lake Erie Island Nature and Wildlife Area

2. DeRivera Park

  • Address: 341 Bayview Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456

DeRivera park is named for the founder of Put-in-Bay, Jose DeRivera. It’s a beautiful, shady area with lots of picnic tables and a large fountain.

The fountain at DeRivera Park on Put-in-Bay.
Two boys sitting on animal statues at DeRivera Park.

Within the park is Will’s Playground which has two play structures, one for older and one for younger kids. This park is a great place to come back to throughout your day to rest and regroup. There are also public rooms and showers here.

Will's Playground at DeRivera Park.
Will's Playground at DeRivera Park on Put-in-Bay, Ohio.
A boy on the playground at Put-in-Bay.

3. Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center

  • Address: 979 Catawba Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456

Perry’s Cave and Family Fun Center is one of the best Put-in-Bay attractions for families! Options for activities here include Perry’s Cave, Gemstone Mining, The Butterfly House at Put-in-Bay, War of 1812 Holes Miniature Golf, Gotcha Laser Tag, Fort aMAZE’n, Rock Climbing Wall, Antique Car Museum, gift shops and DanDee’s Snack Shack.

The climbing wall at Perry's Fun Center.
Perry's Cave Fun Center at Put-in-Bay.

The Tour Train offers one general stop at Perry’s Cave and all of the activities are within a short walk of the drop off. I’m going to tell you about a few of the things we have done there  . . .

4. Antique Car Museum

  • Address: 979 Catawba Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456

Housed in a large barn at Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center, the Antique Car Museum is free! There are rare Ford Model T’s and A’s, a popcorn truck, and other auto-related memorabilia!

Antique Cars at the Museum at Perry's Cave Family Fun Center.
Antique cars at Perry's Cave Family Fun Center.

5. Butterfly House

  • Address: 979 Catawba Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456
The Butterfly House at Perry's Cave Family Fun Center on Put in Bay.

We chose to do the The Butterfly House at Put-in-Bay as our main activity at Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center. We all enjoyed the Butterfly House which was FULL of butterflies! The brochure says “hundreds of butterflies” and I believe them!

Though no touching is allowed, it was not uncommon for butterflies to land on us and we were able to see them up close. In addition to walking among the butterflies, there is a large gift shop with educational gifts and lots of butterfly souvenirs.

Butterflies eating fruit.
Butterfly House on Put-in-Bay.

6. Fort Amaze’n Giant Maze Challenge

  • Address: 979 Catawba Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456
Maze Passport at Fort Amaze'n

In this maze challenge you must find the letters M-A-Z-E on paper punches hanging around the maze. You also stamp your passport when you start and when you end. If you finish the maze in 5 minutes you win a special prize. (When we were there it was a free ice cream cone.) We didn’t come close to finding our way out in 5 minutes but the kids did get to pick a prize when exiting!

Fort Amaze'n at Perry's Cave Fun Center

7. Perry’s Cave

  • Address: 979 Catawba Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456

Perry’s Cave is an Ohio Natural Landmark and you can climb down 52 feet below the surface to tour it and see the underground lake! The temperature inside the cave is always round 50 degrees so you may need to bring a sweatshirt! Cave tours take place every 30 minutes on a first come, first served basis. Kids 5 and under are free! 

people going down the steps of Perry's Cave
Cave formations Inside Perry's Cave


  • Address: 360 W Shore Blvd, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456

The AVC is currently closed due to a major renovation! I will update this post when it is reopened!

The AVC is operated by The Ohio State University in partnership with Ohio Department of Natural Resources. It was a fish hatchery that closed in 1988 and became an educational facility which includes the OSU Stone Laboratory, OSU’s island campus on Lake Erie!

The outside of the Aquatic Visitor's Center on Put-in-Bay Island.

If you take a walk through the center, you can learn about Ohio fishing, research projects and view the live fish in open tanks. 

A family looking at fish in a tank at the Aquatic Visitor's Center.

There are always various activities for kids all throughout the building including things like puzzles, coloring sheets, books, and more!

A boy putting a fish puzzle together at the Aquatic Visitor's Center on PIB.
Activities inside the Aquatic Visitor's Center at Put in Bay.

There’s really a lot to see, learn about and interact with here at the Aquatic Visitors Center! It’s a lot of fun for kids! And, it’s free!

A boy looking in a microscope at AVC on Put in Bay.

Kids under age 16 can go out onto the dock to fish for free! Though they didn’t catch anything and my husband nearly dropped his phone off the side, this was a highlight! 🙂

Kids fish for free at the Aquatic Visitors Center on Put-in-Bay.

As you can see, we come back every time we visit to go fishing at the OSU Aquatic Visitors Center on Put-in-Bay!

Kids fishing at Put in Bay.

9. Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center

  • Address: 255 Meechen Rd, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456

The Nature and Wildlife Center houses what was once a private collection of mounted wild animals, many from Alaska. In the back of the property, there is a frog pond and a nature trail that will take you in a complete circle.

Two boys at the Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center.

The Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center is best reached by golf cart or by the Tour Train. It’s a pretty long walk from downtown! But it’s definitely one of the best Put-in-Bay attractions for kids, so don’t skip it if you have kids who love animals and nature!

Mounted animals inside the Lake Erie Islands Nature and Wildlife Center.

The center recently underwent a remodel and some new areas were added. We were able to see the new look on our latest visit! The Turtle Pond (pictured below) is a great addition!

Kids and dad looking at turtles at the Lake Erie Nature & Wildlife Center.

There is a small fee to visit the Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center. As of 2022, adults are $4 each and kids are $3. Children 5 and under are free! There is a family rate of $10 which will save most families money!

Two boys looking at a beehive.

Don’t forget to go outside, behind the center for the Nature Trail!

The Nature Trail at Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center.

10. Kimberly’s Carousel

  • Address: 160 Delaware Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456

Kimberly’s Carousel provides musical accompaniment to much of the downtown area and is lots of fun for kids and adults alike! Purchase tickets inside the nearby Carriage House.

Kimberly's Carousel at Put in Bay.

11. Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial

  • Address: 93 Delaware Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456
Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial.

You can’t miss Perry’s Memorial from most of the island! The grounds and Visitor’s Center is open to the public. You can purchased timed tickets for the observation deck in the Visitor’s Center. There are 37 steps to the elevator which will take you to the top.

A boy walking the grounds at Perry's Monument on Put in Bay.

We finally went to the top in 2024! It was SO cool! It’s definitely worth going to the top just for the great view of PIB and the surrounding area!

A family at the top of Perry's Monument at Put-in-Bay.

And make sure to allow time to spend at the Visitor’s Center as well!

Inside the Visitor's Center at Perry's Monument.

12. Cooper’s Woods Preserve

  • Address: intersection of Langram and Thompson Road, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456
A sign for Cooper's Woods Preserve on Put in Bay island.

At Cooper Woods Preserve, they have a Storybook Trail! Follow the path through the woods while reading the story posted on signs along the way! The trail is an 852 foot looped path. There is a parking lot, but the story begins at the corner of the preserve just down the street.

Boys walking the Story Trail at Cooper's Woods Preserve.

13. South Bass Island State Park

  • Address: 1523 Catawba Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456

South Bass Island State Park is becoming one of my favorite places to visit on Put-in-Bay Island! This State Park is small but mighty! The new addition of the Put-in-Bay sign is lots of fun! This is a definite stop for a fun photo op!

Boys in front of the Put-in-Bay sign at South Bass Island State Park.

If you’re looking for a swimming beach on Put-in-Bay this is where you will find it! South Bass Island State Park has a rocky beach and swimming is allowed here. The swimming area is marked off by buoys. Be warned that we have seen snakes in the water here. In fact, there are signs in the area letting you know that Lake Erie Water Snake is welcome!

The rocky beach at South Bass Island State Park.

There is also a playground here at the park. It’s a great place on Put-in-Bay for kids to get out some excess energy! There is a public restroom in the park and kayak rentals, too.

The playground at South Bass Island State Park on Put-in-Bay.

14. Oak Point State Park

  • Address: Bayview Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456
Oak Point State Park on Put in Bay.

If you have a goal of visiting all of the State Parks in Ohio, make sure you also stop at Oak Point State Park on the north end of the island. It’s very close to the Aquatic Visitors Center. It’s also a very small Ohio State Park, but worth a visit for a great view of Lake Erie and Perry’s Monument!

15. Scheeff East Point Nature Preserve

  • Address: 1159-1107 Columbus Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456
Concrete wall at Sheeff East Point Nature Preserve.

Scheef East Point Preserve is a natural habitat on the island that is home to many native birds, plants and of course the Lake Erie Watersnake. (I haven’t seen any here myself.)

The beach are at Scheef East Point Nature Preserve on Put-in-Bay.

There is a small parking lot here and a hiking path around the perimeter of the park. We haven’t hiked the path, but we do always walk beyond the concrete barriers and to the beach area.

Where to Eat on Put-in-Bay with kids:

16. Last Resort Ladder Co 4 & Fire Engine Pizza Co.

  • Address: 432 Catawba Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456

If you really want to eat somewhere fun on Put-in-Bay, how about eating on a fire truck?! Last Resort Ladder Co. 4 is a full bar with a patio built around a fire truck! Next door, you can order pizza from the Fire Engine Pizza Company and eat it on one of the picnic tables on the patio!

Eat dinner on a fire truck at Last Resort Ladder Co. 4.

We really liked the pizza here and eating it on the fire truck was an extra bonus for my two boys!

Pizza from Fire Engine Pizza Co at Put in Bay.

17. Rita’s Cantina

  • Address: 341 Bayview Avenue, Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
Outdoor patio at Rita's Cantina on Put-in-Bay Island, Ohio.

We enjoyed eating lunch at Rita’s Cantina which is part of the Boardwalk group of restaurants. Tacos, nachos and bowls are on the menu here. This is probably a location that will feel like more of a party scene on the weekends, but on a Tuesday afternoon it wasn’t super busy and it was nice to eat on the upstairs patio!

Tacos, chips and salsa at Rita's Cantina.

18. Dairy Isle

  • Address: 213 Bayview Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456
The front of the Dairy Isle with picnic tables.

Dairy Isle has a full menu of food items like burgers, hot dogs, chicken tenders and crazy fries! But we stopped here for an ice cream treat! The boys got Root Beer Floats and I got an espresso with ice cream!

A boy eating a root beer float at the Dairy Isle on Put-in-Bay.

Dairy Isle has a lot of cold treat options like smoothies, sundaes, flurries, banana splits and more!

19. PIB Candy Bar

  • Address: 170 Delaware Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456

The PIB Candy Bar is a fun stop for a sweet treat! You’ll find hand dipped ice cream and lots of candy! There are new and unique candy items as well as some nostalgic favorites from the past!

PIB Candy Bar.

I don’t think you can visit Put-in-Bay with kids and not go to the PIB Candy Bar! My kids LOVE it here, of course!

candy for sale in side The Put-in-Bay Candy Bar

If you love ice cream, they do serve Toft’s Ice Cream on the side patio! You’ve got to have Toft’s when you come to the Lake Erie area!

A chocolate ice cream cone outside of the Put in Bay Candy Bar.

20. Frosty Pizza

  • Address: 252 Delaware Ave, Put-in-Bay, OH 43456

Frosty Pizza is an easy, family friendly stop for lunch or dinner. We got the Family Deal which included a large pizza, salad, breadsticks and 4 drinks. I didn’t see that on the menu when we visited most recently, but you can build your own pizza or order one of their specialty pizzas.

Pizza and a salad at Frosty Bar.
Frosty Bar is a kid-friendly place to eat on Put-in-Bay island.
Inside Frosty Bar at Put-in-Bay.
Frosty Pizza at Put in Bay.

In 2023, we spent the night on the island for the first time and we happily discovered that Frosty Pizza serves breakfast! It seemed like a lot of the restaurants on Put-in-Bay that serve breakfast were only open Thursday through Sunday, but Frosty Bar is open daily for breakfast from 7:00 AM – 11:00 AM.

Breakfast at Frosty Bar Pizza & Subs.

21. The Goat Soup and Whiskey

  • Address: 820 Catawba Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456

This is another great family-friendly restaurant option while visiting Put-in-Bay! We fell in love with the patio and grounds here. There is a great kids menu and the kids got popsicles with their meals which was definitely a hit! I could have sat out on that patio forever!

boy and father coloring on the kids menu at The Goat

The GOAT is a super popular restaurant at Put-in-Bay and we recently (and sadly) discovered it very difficult to get a seat without a reservation the last time we visited!

Boy sitting at the table at The Goat on PIB.

22. The Chocolate Cafe and Museum

  • Address: 820 Catawba Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456
The Chocolate Museum outdoor area

If you’re looking for another option for ice cream, coffee or a sweet treat, check out Chocolate Cafe! This shop is in the downstairs area of The Goat mentioned above. There is outdoor and indoor seating. The museum portion was not open when we visit so we’ll have to save that delicious experience for next time!

ice cream at Chocolate Cafe in Put in Bay

23. The Keys

Address: 227 Bayview Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456

In 2024 we ate at The Keys for the first time! I’d always noticed the fun vibe but I wasn’t sure if it was kid friendly or not! I would say this is an area that is probably more of a party destination during the weekends but it was great for a fun lunch on a weekday and they do have a kids’ menu! Of course, my son got chicken fingers! I personally had a hamburger and it was so good!

Sitting on the patio was a lot of fun. I totally felt like I was on a tropical island and they had live music even on a Tuesday!

Where to Stay on Put-in-Bay:

If you’re staying near Lake Erie or on the northern half of Ohio, it’s definitely doable to take the ferry to Put-in-Bay Island, spend the day and then take the ferry back. That’s what we have done for most of our visits. But in 2023 we spent the night on Put-in-Bay and it was a totally new experience! We loved it!

BayShore Resort

  • Address: 328 Toledo Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456
  • Website

We were invited to stay at BayShore Resort on Put-in-Bay Island and we loved it here! It’s so great to know of a good place to stay on Put-in-Bay! Each room has view of Lake Erie.

Hotel room at BayShore Resort on Put in Bay.

Each room faces the pool and the lake. The second and third floor rooms have screened balconies. Let me tell you, a screened-in balcony is a game changer! We loved keeping the sliding door open and listening to the waves hit the shore!

Boy sitting on the screened deck at the BayShore Resort.

BayShore Resort has a Saucy Brew Works Coffee Bar inside and a Tiki Bar outside! There are two pools and a 30-person jacuzzi tub! I can’t wait to stay here again!

The pool at the BayShore Resort on Put in Bay.

Are you surprised there are so many family-friendly things to see and do at Put-in-Bay? 🙂 All of these activities give you plenty of options to enjoy the island with your kids!

If you’re planning a trip to Lake Erie Shores and Islands, make sure to check out my post 7 Lake Erie Vacation Ideas That Are Perfect for Families for more ideas or check out one of these posts featuring more Lake Erie ideas!


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Kid Friendly Put-in-Bay


Wednesday 20th of October 2021

That is a lot of fresh ideas, Julie. Thank you!


Saturday 12th of June 2021

My kids will love this place. concrete driveway repair


Friday 1st of January 2021

Wow looks like a lot of fun. Always looking for new ways to spend time with my girls!

Katrina Watson

Tuesday 28th of January 2020

So many fresh ideas, Julie. Thank you!

Greg Escaper

Saturday 7th of September 2019

You can do these 11 things with your kids whenever you want, and you will have a great time with them. That's what I have learned, and so that's why I like hanging out with my kids so much now. It's just amazing!