Kelleys Island is a beautiful island on Lake Erie to spend a weekend (or more) in the spring, summer, or fall. With lots to do like swimming, hiking, biking, sailing, golfing, and much more, plus a very close proximity to Cedar Point Amusement Park, this Lake Erie island is a favorite summer destination for locals and travelers alike. Read on to learn how to get there, where to stay, what to do, and why we love it!
How to Get There
Kelleys Island, Ohio, located in Lake Erie, just across from Cedar Point Amusement Park, is reachable by ferry. Drive, bike, or walk onto one of the Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Lines Inc. boats that regularly depart every (weather permitting) to catch a ride to the island. Click here for the ferry schedule. As of 2019, ferry tickets are $32 round trip per vehicle, $20 round trip per adult, and $6 round trip per bicycle.
Getting Around the Island
How to best get around Kelleys Island depends mostly upon how you arrived. If you brought a car, driving around is easy, convenient, and fast, as there are paved roads around most of the island. If you brought a bike, biking the paths and roads of Kelleys Island is a wonderful experience and allows for slower travel. Of course, walking is always an option, but since the island is 4.5 square miles, it could take awhile to get from point A to point B, depending upon your destination.
Rent a golf cart or e-bike to get around at Peddler Carts, or rent traditional bicycles from Caddy Shack Square to make getting around the island a breeze.
Things to Do on Kelleys Island
Camp, hike or just spend a day at Kelleys Island State Park, one of Ohio’s most beautiful state parks. My husband and I camped here when we were newlyweds and had so much fun biking and hiking around the island, and drinking wine overlooking the lake as the sunset at Kelley’s Island Wine Co. If you love the outdoors like we do, you’ll also enjoy visiting Scheele Nature Preserve, checking out the limestone grooves caused by massive glaciers 10s of thousands of years ago, and the Charles Hendron Sculpture Garden and Galleries.
If you enjoy swimming, there are a few places to do so around the islands as well as opportunities to kayak and paddle board in the calm waters of Lake Erie. Click here for rental options for kayaks and paddle boards.
The island has several great wineries, which I’ll mention below, so if you’re a fan of wine, you’ll know that Kelleys Island’s wines are famous all across the nation as some of the tastiest and most carefully handcrafted wines to come from the midwest.
While we were on the island, we asked around for recommendations about what to do, and almost everyone we talked with raved about the island cruises available from Goodtime Island Cruises. While the weather during our last visit didn’t permit us to go on a cruise ourselves, we were told they’re lots of fun, and they offer both 21+ cruises, as well as family friendly cruises, and even youth cruises geared towards families with young children. Check out their website to learn more about departure times, rates, and special events.
Where to Stay
During our most recent visit to Kelleys Island, we stayed at the Red Fern Inn, which while technically in Marblehead, OH and not on the island, is only a a short bike ride or drive away from the Kelleys Island ferry docks. The inn was very spacious, clean, and the staff were tremendously welcoming. They even gave us some of the wine made at Rocky Point Winery (located on the ground floor of the inn) as a welcome gift.
The inn had a beautiful view from our room of Lake Erie and the winery, plus we were so close to Kelleys Island, Sandusky, Cedar Point, and Marblehead that it would be the perfect base camp for anyone wanting to explore Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores & Islands.
Where to Eat
Kelleys Island residents had a lot to say about the food scene on the island, and were very excited to give us their recommendations on where to eat, when to visit each restaurant, and the best watering holes on the island.
The Village Pump was the first place people recommended to us, and they were very excited to do so. The fish, like perch and walleye, are caught fresh from the lake, and prepared using a family recipe with local ingredients.
Kelleys Island Wine Co. is our personal favorite place to eat on the island and offers cheese plates and charcuterie style dishes, as well as fresh soups, salads, and pizzas. They also serve homemade burgers, and seafood, plus they have a great dessert menu. Of course, they also have an extensive wine list as well. If you have food allergies, or follow a gluten free or vegan diet, this is the best place to eat on the island.
Another great place to eat on the island is Dockers Waterfront Restaurant. They serve fresh seafood and lake caught fish, like fish tacos, shrimp scampi, lobster tails, and crab cakes, plus homestyle dishes such as perogies, macaroni & cheese, reuben sandwiches, and so much more.
Safety on Kelleys Island
Kelleys Island itself is an incredibly safe community. Since it is near water, there is a need for increased caution when recreating on the water, especially if you have young children with you. If you’ll be boating, ensure that everyone with you has taken a boater’s safety class and is wearing a life vest. Give way to boats, and know that if you’re swimming or even canoeing, paddle boarding, or kayaking, ferry boats and sailboats may not be able to see you or move out of your way.
As I mentioned above, the island is directly across from Cedar Point amusement Park. In fact, it’s possible to see the rollercoasters from the southern shore of the island. Click here to read my guide to Cedar Point Amusement Park.
Other day trips from Kelleys Island include:
Ann Arbor, MI
Have you ever visited Kelleys Island before? Let me know in the comments below!
Thank you Lake Erie Shores & Islands for sponsoring this post.
As always, all opinions are entirely my own.
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