Why Kelleys Island MUST Be on Your Bucket List

*We were hosted by Lake Erie Shores & Islands.  Please refer to our disclosure policy for more information.

I know most people do not think of the Midwest, especially Ohio, as having the hottest travel bucket list items. Honestly having grown up in Ohio, I used to agree with that. I guess it is more since you know, well at least you think you do, everything there is to do in your state. It is the Midwest, so it is boring. You know the grass is greener effect?

The older I have gotten, I have realized that sometimes the most amazing hidden gems are right in our own backyards or within a day’s drive. I finally have gotten to the point that not always do we have to jet off somewhere or be in the car for a 1k mile drive to create memories. Sometimes they are close by, just waiting for us to discover them!

Having grown up in Ohio, I knew where Lake Erie was. I had been to the Lake Erie several times as we always went to Cedar Point. I had heard about the Islands, but we never went there. We were like three hours away from the lake.

In the last few years we have been making it a priority of taking our girls to Ohio and show them all that we can about where their parents grew up. One of the areas we have been concentrating on has been the Shores and Islands. Have you ever been to that area in Ohio? If you have not, you really must add it to your bucket list!

The fact that an island getaway is just a few hours away by car is more reason you must go! No passport is needed! No plane ticket is needed! I know, before you say what you are thinking, I get it. Yes, the Winter is not the best time to go to Ohio for an island getaway. However, get it on your bucket list for the Summer!! Once you board the ferry and the wind is sweeping through your hair and you are watching the waves as you head to the Islands you will be saying to yourself, why did I wait for so long! Unfortunately, during our visit, we dealt with a lot of rain. But hey, that does happen and that is why you adapt your plans and still have fun! When there was a break in the weather, we went to the beach at the State Park and the kids had a wonderful time in the water! My girls are water babies and always have been.

After our visit to Kelleys Island, I thought I would compile a list of reasons why the Lake Erie Shores & Islands simply must be added to your travel bucket list!

Why You MUST visit Kelleys Island:

1. The Jet Express – a great ferry to take to the island.
2. Inscription Rock Petroglyphs
3. Kelleys Island State Park – beach anyone?
4. Rent a Bicycle or Golf Cart to tour the island!
5. Shopping and Dining
6. Glacial Grooves Geological Preserve
7. Scheele Preserve
8. Fishing and Fishing Charters
9. Kelleys Mansion
10. Bird Watching


Now, let’s talk about these reasons you must visit:

The Jet Express 

This is such a fun way to get to the island! Once you load the ferry at their Sandusky lot, you will make a stop at Cedar Point, then you will head over to Kelleys Island. It is about a 20 min trip. It’s honestly a great way to relax and get in the Island state of mind!

Inscription Rock Petroglyphs

If you have ever wanted to see a petroglyph up close, now is your chance! Inscription Rock is located on the south side of the island. The actual age of the inscriptions isn’t known. The Lake Erie region was home to many Native Americans so researchers believe that this inscriptions are the work of the tribes that were in the area about 1,000 yrs ago. Many of the inscriptions are faded due to the weather, however, you really must check out this rock! It’s hard to imagine they carved these markings so long ago without the tools we use today.

Kelleys Island State Park

This state park takes up a large majority of the northern third part of the island! There are hiking trails, ruins of lime kilns (these are really cool), a quarry, campground and a sandy beach! This are bathroom facilities here, so you can get dressed before/after your time at the beach.

Rent a bike or golf cart to tour the island

We chose to rent a golf cart since we had our beach stuff. As soon as you get off the ferry, the rental place is right there.

Shopping and Dining

There are several small little shops and restaurants on the island. You will find a treasure that you will simply have to buy!  We had lunch at Bag the Moon.  It was very tasty!  I loved the fish!

Glacial Grooves Geological Preserve

My husband can remember studying about the grooves when he was in school. I can honestly say I do not. So, a trip to visit this preserve has always been on his bucket list. The grooves are on the north side of the island (actually very close to the state park).

These grooves are the largest and most accessible grooves in the world!! The grooves are 400 feet long, 35 feet wide and in spots are 10 feet deep! When you stand there and look at this breathtaking site, you must remind yourself that ice carved these! You must see these glacial grooves! You will never see anything like it again!

Scheele Preserve

This is a beautiful area to just walk around and unplug!  It is also a fabulous place to watch birds!

Fishing and Fishing Charters

There are numerous fishing spots and fishing charters!  For the fisherman in your life, they will love this opportunity!

Kelleys Mansion

This mansion is currently being repaired.  I can only imagine what it looked like in it’s glory and what it will look like again!

Kelleys Island Venture Resort

We are planning to come back sometime and stay here.  The grounds are amazing and the views would be fabulous!

To plan your bucket list adventure at Kelleys Island, head over to Lake Erie Shores & Islands!  They have a site that is full of wonderful information!!

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