Over the past five years, my husband and I have nested in, rested in, and explored the magical city of Port Clinton, Ohio. This harbor gem serves as a unique nautical porthole to the “Key West of the Midwest,” better known as “The Erie Islands.” Port Clinton serves as the County Seat for Ottawa County. This charming area is so brimming with history that you can actually feel it.
Think sandy beaches and waterfront dining: lazy days and evenings and easy access to lakeside piers and breathtaking breakwalls. Go ahead and catch a few yellow perch, walleye, small mouth bass, channel catfish or freshwater drum. In fact, there are over one-hundred miles of majestic coastline in which to sink your line, drift your dinghy or set up your lounge chair.
Two major ferry lines carry excited visitors to famous Put-in-Bay, home of Perry’s Monument, Perry’s Cave, the International Peace Memorial, and much more. Enjoy the Put in Bay Island Fun Pack and take in Perry’s Cave, the Butterfly House, War of 18 Holes Mini-Golf, Crystal Cave and the Antique Car Museum. Dine on lobster bisque at the Boardwalk, and don’t forget to stop off at Heinemann’s Winery or have a drink at the World’s longest bar. Quieter revelers often prefer to take in nature’s beauty and ferry over to Kelley’s, North Bass or the Pelee Islands.
Visit downtown Port Clinton’s Chamber of Commerce for a schedule of upcoming events. Here is a short list of 25 free happenings every season within Port Clinton and its neighboring communities:
- Attend multiple summertime Port Clinton Arts & Crafts Festivals and Flea Markets.
- Relive history at the Ottawa County Historical Museum on West 3rd Street. Museum Facebook Page
- Attend ceremonies at Camp Perry Training Site and National Rifle & Pistol Matches! See details.
- Explore the many local orchards, wineries, farm markets, galleries, marinas and historical sites.
- Take pleasure in birding, swimming, picnicking and hiking.
- Experience Community Garage Sale Days, sightseeing and shopping experiences, restaurants and pubs!
- Take part in the Annual Memorial Downtown Classic Car & Truck Show and the Annual Ottawa County Airport “Fly-in”.
- Enjoy the Weekly Summer Classic Car Show at Bassett’s Plaza.
- Experience the Red Tail Squadron’s “Rise Above” Experience at Erie Ottawa Regional Airport. See the 2013 event
- Enjoy world-class sports fishing in Port Clinton, “Walleye Capital of the World” – Fish from your own boat, a charter boat or from shore!
- End the workweek with weekend evening summer Concerts in the Park.
- Take in the Apple Festival in Oak Harbor, and the annual Port Clinton Autumn Harvest, Perch and Walleye Festivals.
- Visit the Annual Boat Show on neighboring Catawba Island.
- Encounter East Harbor State Park – THE Largest Campground in Ohio’s State Park system.
- Enjoy the serene Catawba Island and Crane Creek State Parks.
- Take advantage of dedicated launch ramps provided for trailer boaters desiring access to Lake Erie.
- Encounter “Christmas in July” – an annual event in neighboring Downtown Marblehead.
- Participate in the Annual Peach & Lighthouse Festivals in Marblehead and Marblehead Lighthouse State Park.
- Anticipate the yearly arrival of the TALL SHIPS.
- Spend the day at McGee Marsh Wildlife Area & Migratory Bird Center and visit McGee Marsh – Recognized as one of the Top Bird-Watching Sites in North America! http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/Home/ExperienceWildlifeSubHomePage/where_to_viewwildlifelandingpage/SportsmensMigratoryBirdCenter/tabid/17599/Default.aspx
- Revel in Walleye Madness at Midnight on New Year’s Eve! (See “Wally Walleye” drop!)
- Drive to nearby Johnson’s Island – Confederate Military POW Camp – Prison Cemetery and Forts available to tourists. See details…
- Visit Historical Ida Rupp Library.
- Enjoy the local RV parks, campgrounds, motels, cottages and B&B’s’
- Stop over at the Lake Erie Shores & Islands Free Welcome Center. See details!
Those with a few vacation dollars in their pockets may want to check out:
- Nearby Cedar Point (Sandusky Ohio) Amusement Park Plus Several Indoor Waterparks
- Ghostly Manor Thrill Center (Also in Sandusky)
- Sandusky Maritime & Merry-Go-Round Museums See list of Sandusky attractions!
- Miller Ferry or Jet Express to Put-in-Bay, Kelley’s, Middle Bass or South Bass Island. http://www.sbresort.com/ohio-attractions/middle-bass-island.html
- Put-in-Bay Tour Train featuring Perry’s Cave, the Butterfly House, Winery and more.
- Kelley’s Island Glacial Grooves
- The Liberty Aviation Museum & Tin Goose Diner in Port Clinton – Witness the resurrection of the Ford Tri Motor! See Facebook page!
- Beachfront Tiki Bars
- Art & Watercolor Classes & Yoga Classes on the Beach!
- Golf-Cart Racing and Charter Boat Fishing
- The Gated Community of Lakeside – The “Chautauqua of Lake Erie”
- Drive-Thru African Safari Wildlife Park. See details!
- World-Famous Cheesehaven! http://www.cheesehaven.com/
- Sunset Lake Cruise or Island-Hopping or Special Wine-Tasting, Lunch or Party Cruises.
If you want to really EXPERIENCE and become part of a charming city, do it here, in picturesque Port Clinton!