Kelleys Island – Lake Erie Ohio

Perfect Ohio Lake Erie Vacation Getaway

Kelleys Island lies in Lake Erie, just north of the popular Ohio vacation region centered on Cedar Point. It is a perfect spot for a quiet family vacation.

Kelleys Island, the largest of the American Lake Erie Islands, is arguably Ohio’s top vacation secret. It’s a quieter spot, without the party atmosphere of nearby Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island. A great place for fishing, exploring, or just relaxation, Kelleys Island is a perfect family vacation destination.

The island is accessible only by boat or plane. The Kelleys Island Ferry provides car service from Marblehead and is the most popular ferry servicing the island. Lake Erie freezes during most winters, making air service the only way to reach the island.

The island is named for the Kelley family, who played a large role in developing the island’s quarry and wine-making industries in the 19th century.

Things to do on Kelleys Island

Kelleys Island is obviously home to many water-based vacation activities, including fishing, boating, and kayaking. Hiking opportunities are limited, but simply walking around the small island reveals many scenic delights.

The Glacial Grooves, on the north part of the island next to the state park campground, is the largest accessible example of glacial activity in the world. This National Natural Landmark is worthy of a stop when visiting the island.

The quaint downtown area of Kelleys Island is home to a few gift shops and a small grocery market. The market is generally overpriced, so long-term vacationers should plan on bringing groceries from the mainland.

Places to Stay on Kelleys Island

Most of the lodging options on Kelleys Island include cottage and home rentals. The Southbay Lodge features a stunning view of the sunset on the island’s southwestern shore. Its six bedrooms and full kitchen make it a perfect option for a large family.

The Kelleys Island Venture Resort recently opened as the first hotel on the island in years. The resort, located on the south shore of the island, has 31 luxury rooms.

Where to Eat on Kelleys Island

Dining options on Kelleys Island are limited to a few establishments primarily serving bar food, but when that bar food includes Lake Erie Perch, the eating is good.

The Village Pump is arguably the best place to dine on the island. Their hand-cut Pump Fries are almost as good as those from Berardi’s in Huron, OH. The Pump’s fried perch and pizzas are also top-notch. The fact that the establishment is also a WiFi hot spot is merely icing on the cake.

Kelleys Island is one of Ohio’s secret vacation treasures. While worthy of a day visit when staying at Mohican State Park, a full weekend stay is needed to take in the best of the island.

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