How to Spend 3 Days in Shores and Islands Ohio: a Perfect Weekend Trip From Cleveland, Ohio
I recently went on the perfect weekend trip from Cleveland, Ohio to the Shores and Islands Ohio region with my friend Alanna aka Periodic Adventures. This area can sometimes fly under the radar but it is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Ohio. Between the islands and the charming towns along Lake Erie’s coast, I’m going to share how to spend 3 days in Shores and Islands Ohio. Thank you to Shores and Islands Ohio for hosting us on this fun adventure!
Shores and Islands Ohio 3-Day Itinerary
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During your 3 days in Shores and Islands Ohio, you will want to choose a place to stay in a convenient and centrally located area so that you can get the most out of your weekend trip from Cleveland. I have stayed at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Port Clinton Waterfront two times and it has been a great spot to stay with beautiful Lake Erie views.
Day 1 – Port Clinton
Shores and Islands Ohio is easily accessible from Cleveland via I-90 W and OH-2 W. It takes just over an hour to get there. Once you arrive in Port Clinton and check in to the Fairfield Inn & Suites, take a short drive down the street to Waterworks Park to enjoy lakefront views, beach access, see the “lightkeeper” statue, and of course, the Port Clinton Lighthouse. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day you can take a guided tour. Don’t forget to check out the Shores and Islands Ohio photo-op at Waterworks park too!
Another short drive will bring you to your next destination, the Main Street Port Clinton Entertainment District. This area is a great place to eat, drink, and shop. Most of the street has recently been designated as a DORA (Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area). You are now able to bring your drinks along with you as you shop and hang out outside in the designated area.
While you’re there, you can have a meal at Rosie’s Bar & Grill or Clinton House and shop around for a while at some of the cute local shops. If you aren’t ready for a big meal yet, a pastry and coffee around the corner at Coffee Express. One of the best things to do in Port Clinton, Ohio is to enjoy live music in the evenings so you might also want to come back later in the evening if you’re around on Thursday-Sunday nights.
Another option is to make your way over to Catawba Island and hang out at Twin Oast Brewing. We loved it there! It is especially lovely on a nice day because they have an extensive back patio and outdoor area. The food here is very good as well. This is what Alanna and I decided to do for dinner our first night in Port Clinton.
Day 2 – Put-in-Bay & Catawba Island
On day 2 of your 3 days in Shores and Islands Ohio, enjoy breakfast at your hotel before catching the Miller Ferry to Put-in-Bay. The ferry is located on Catawba Island and has free parking lots nearby to make your trip over easy. Take in the stunning Lake Erie views while making your way to Put-in-Bay.
The easiest way to get around on Put-in-Bay is to rent a golf cart. I would recommend booking ahead of time online and then making the quick walk to E’s Island Golf Carts after arriving to the island. The carts have names like The Mandalorian or Black Panther and can be rented for 4, 6, or 8 passengers.
Once you’re set up with a golf cart, drive straight for Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. This monument memorializes the people who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812 and signifies the peace between the USA, Canada, and Britain.
A quick drive away you will find Lake Effects Boutique which has super cute clothing, accessories, and gifts. You will definitely want to stop there! There is also a great candy shop located next to Kimberly’s Carousel. It was built in 1917 making it one of the countries’ oldest carousels. It is super cute!
Next up, you will probably be ready for some lunch! On this trip we went to Hooligans which is a great Irish Pub & Restaurant. We ordered the Shepherd’s Pie and a Reuben. Both were delicious! On a previous trip, I also really enjoyed eating at The Keys. The ambiance and food are really great, especially on warm, sunny days.
After lunch, take another ride on your golf cart over to check out the Chocolate Cafe and Chocolate Museum. Learn a little about the history of chocolate and take home some sweet treats while you’re at it. We ordered mochas and they did not disappoint! On the same property you will also find Goat Soup & Whiskey which has a great beer garden outside if you are in the mood for a drink.
See The World’s Largest Celestite Geode
Once you have your fill of chocolate, it’s time to visit Heineman Winery and Crystal Cave. It is such a unique experience! Heineman Winery is a fifth-generation business and has been around since 1888. Beneath their building and tasting room you will also find the world’s largest celestite geode during your tour of Crystal Cave. Tickets for a cave tour and winery tour with a wine tasting can be purchased for $12 in their gift shop. This was a really fun experience even if you aren’t a wine drinker! They also sell grape juice for non-drinkers and underage people to test out.
If you have time, across the street you will find Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center. It boasts another cave, butterfly house, gemstone mining, an 18-hole mini golf course! Afterwards, head over to South Bass Island State Park for a fun photo-op at the Put-in-Bay Sign. This photography stop has a beautiful view out at Lake Erie.
After getting our photos taken and exploring the park for a while, we decided to hit the road and return our golf so that we could catch the next ferry back to Catawba Island. Keep in mind that the ferry varies based on the day, the season, and special events. Be sure to check online and plan ahead for when you want to head back for the day. You should also try to be there a little bit early just in case because lines to form sometimes.
After arriving back at Catawba Island on Miller Ferry, take a quick drive over to Gideon Owen Wine Company for dinner and drinks! This place is gorgeous and very large so there are plenty of options to choose from as far as the vibe you are looking for. Gideon Owen has a large outdoor patio which is perfect for summer and a cozy indoor restaurant for cooler days. They also have live music to enjoy which is super fun!
We were a little chilly as it was a somewhat rainy day (but it didn’t ruin our fun!) so we sat inside and there was a lovely fire roaring. It was the perfect place to transition from the end of summer into the beginning of fall. I ordered a wine flight of dry wines and they were all very good. Ohio is known for its sweeter wines but Gideon Owen has some lovely drier wine offerings as well.
We also ordered the walleye bites appetizer because Alanna had never tried walleye before! I told her that she just could not leave Shores and Islands Ohio without trying walleye. After all, Port Clinton is known as the walleye capital of the world! Of course, she loved it and it was probably the best walleye I have tried. For our entrees we ordered pizza and pasta which were both delicious as well.
More Ideas For Night Owls
We ended up staying for quite a while chatting and were ready to head back to the hotel for an early bed time at this point. If you are stronger than us, Twin Oast Brewing and The Coop Bar are very close by as well if you want a night cap in a dreamy setting.
Day 3 – Marblehead and Lakeside
After a good night’s rest at the Fairfield Inn and Suites Port Clinton, have breakfast at Tin Goose Diner and visit the Liberty Aviation Museum. While there you will be transported back in time to the 1950s at this fully restored stainless steel diner. The breakfast was delicious, the music and ambiance were so much fun, and you’re also able to watch planes come and go from the neighboring Erie-Ottawa International Airport.
Once you have had your blast from the past, you should drive over to Marblehead Lighthouse. This is one of my favorite places that I have visited in Ohio. It is so pretty and it almost feels like you’re oceanside. During sunny days the water is so blue and it’s a lovely place to just sit and enjoy, go fishing, or during peak season you can take a tour of the lighthouse.
There are also some nice local shops to meander through on the Marblehead Peninsula. I would suggest The Pink Perch, Marblehead Soap Company, Christi’s Just For Ewe, and Ferguson Gallery. If you want a quick treat, stop by Pickle & Chip’s Field Trip (bakery), and if you are a winery person, make time for a stop at Rocky Point Winery – it is super charming on the patio!
Next, don’t miss out on exploring Lakeside Chautauqua. Take a walk along Ohio’s Magnificent Mile which is a lovely trail alongside Lake Erie. There are also some cute shops and restaurants here too but make sure to check hours before making plans. My favorite thing was the life size chess game and just walking around admiring the adorable cottages. I will definitely be returning just to stay in one of these quaint homes in the future. This whole area is a hidden gem in Ohio and the Shores and Islands region.
If by this point you may not have been to Orchard Bar and Table yet. This is an excellent place to have a meal before you head back home. There is a higher end restaurant as well as a more casual space with a cafe menu called the Farm Stand depending on how you’re feeling. The Farm Stand also has a gift shop with many unique and local food and gift items and home decor. We enjoyed an amazingly delicious dinner at Orchard Table and would absolutely recommend it. My steak was cooked to perfection!
Overall, this barely scratches the surface of all the exciting activities there are to do in Shores and Islands Ohio. If you want even more suggestions, check out my Kelleys Island weekend itinerary. I hope you enjoy your 3 days in Shores and Islands Ohio!
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