things to do on middle bass island in ohio
Ohio,  Travel,  Weekend Trips

Middle Bass Island: The Ultimate Guide For Planning A Girl’s Getaway

Spread the love

Planning a trip to Middle Bass Island? Our guide covers what you need to know about Middle Bass Island and Put-in-Bay, Ohio. 

Unknown to many, the state of Ohio is home to a set of islands in Lake Erie. This Northwest Ohio area features a group of islands that surprise tourists with island vibes, a carefree feeling, and scenic landscapes.

Ohio's Islands are an perfect getaway.
Ohio’s Islands are a perfect getaway

With a handful of islands to choose from, along with navigating transportation to and from the islands, it can be overwhelming to start the vacation planning process. That is why we created this helpful guide to assist you in planning an epic getaway to Ohio’s Shores and Islands.

We thank Shores & Islands Ohio for hosting some of our experiences. As always, opinions are our ownThis post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission at no cost if you make a purchase through a link. For more info, see disclosure.

About Ohio’s Islands

There are four Lake Erie Islands in Ohio where guests have the opportunity to stay overnight. Three islands have a ferry service that takes guests to and from the island. Each island has its own unique vibe, catering to a different type of traveler. 

Middle Bass Island State Park Interpretive Panels
Middle Bass Island State Park Interpretive Panels

To get to any islands, guests will need a personal boat or a ferry. Miller Ferry only services Put-In-Bay and Middle Bass Island. The ferry service to Kelleys is called the Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Line and it travels between Marblehead and the island.

South Bass Island

South Bass Island is best known as Put-In-Bay. It is the most popular of Ohio’s islands, offering a variety of restaurants, resorts, bars, and attractions. It is best known for its nightlife, party scene, and golf cart rentals.

Roundhouse Bar on Put-In-Bay, Ohio
Roundhouse Bar on Put-In-Bay, Ohio

Middle Bass Island

Middle Bass offers a tranquil escape with just the right amount of adventure for those who enjoy a slower pace while traveling. The island is home to beautiful nature preserves, a handful of restaurants, and plenty of areas to catch a stunning sunset over Lake Erie.

Kelleys Island

A great mix of the South Bass Island and Middle Bass Island is Kelleys Island. As Ohio’s largest island, Kelleys Island offers a great combination of state parks, historic sites, wineries, and restaurants.

North Bass Island

North Bass Island is one of Ohio’s many islands; however, it is only accessible by private boat or plane ride, as the island has a tiny airport. The state owns a lodge that you can rent on the island to stay overnight.

Rattlesnake Island

Rattlesnake Island is only accessible to the members of the Rattlesnake Island Club. The club consists of people who own private homes and lots on the island. The name came from the rattlesnakes that formerly inhabited the island.

A  perfect girlfriend getaway in Ohio is to Ohio's Shores and Islands
A perfect girlfriend getaway in Ohio is to Ohio’s Shores and Islands

Why I Choose Middle Bass Island

For our girl’s getaway, we opted for Middle Bass Island for various reasons. The first reason is that the group of gals I was going with is more laid back. While we enjoy a good party scene, however we also value our sleep and relaxation time.

Another aspect is that it was more budget-friendly to stay on Middle Bass Island. We stayed at the St. Hazard’s Resort in a villa that was a fraction of the cost of a villa on South Bass Island.

Overall Thoughts: I found Middle Bass perfect for a group of middle-aged moms looking for a fun weekend away. Chartering between the Put-In-Bay and Middle Bass sealed the deal for us.

How To Get To Middle Bass Island

Your adventure to any of Ohio’s Islands will begin with a trip on the Miller Boat Line. Depending on the island you are visiting, ferries depart every 20 minutes to 2 hours. Check their schedule to plan out your trip.

Miller Boat Line
Miller Boat Line

There is a Middle Bass ferry every two hours, so getting to the ferry on time is imperative if you want to get to the island as planned. If you miss it, there are plenty of nearby wineries to visit while you wait.

Tips For Riding The Miller Ferry

  • Plan ahead. If you are taking a vehicle or camper, reservations must be made TWO WEEKS ahead of time.
  • Check ferry departure times for the island you are visiting and try to arrive fifteen minutes ahead of time. The ferries leave ON TIME. You will have to wait for the next one if you miss it.
  • You can bring all of your luggage on the ferry, including coolers, wagons, and food!
  • There is free parking for the ferry. There are multiple lots along the lakefront. There are also lots in which you can pay to park. Especially if you are in a rush to catch the ferry.
  • There are potties on the ferries and at the mainland dock.
  • You can buy tickets online or there. I recommend buying online.
  • If you have any questions about the ferries, call and ask. The Miller Boat Line staff were so helpful and assisted me in getting the information I was looking for.

Where To Stay On Middle Bass Island

Outside of condos and private vacation rentals, the St. Hazards Resort is the only place you can stay on Middle Bass Island. Even at St. Hazard’s, guests can reserve villas, cabins, chalets, or a spot at the campground.

St. Hazards Resort Villa
St. Hazards Resort Villa

We opted to rent a villa at St. Hazards through Airbnb, so we didn’t have to bring bedding. The villa was fully furnished and included access to St. Hazard’s tiki bar, restaurant, pool, and hot tub. Pulling up to the brightly painted villas adorned with fake palms and tropical decor made us feel we were on an tropical island.

St. Hazards Resort pool area on Middle Bass Island
St. Hazards Resort pool area

Here are a few helpful tips when planning a visit to St. Hazards Resort

  • St. Hazards has the only shuttle on the island. It is $3 per person each time you ride it. This includes going to another restaurant or place on the island.
  • If you did not bring your car over to Middle Bass, you would need to call the shuttle to pick you up to take you to the resort.
  • The shuttle will drop you off at your villa. Once there, you can opt to rent a golf cart from the resort. You rent them by the restaurant. After doing the math, it’s cheaper to bring your car over.
  • St. Hazards has the only bar on the island that is open till 2 am. That means if there is live music, you will hear it in your villa till 2 am. We encountered this one of the two nights we stayed. 
  • Bring stuff for meals. The villas all have kitchens. With few restaurant options on the island, having a few meals at the villa will help with the budget.
Tiki bar at St. Hazard's Resort
Tiki bar at St. Hazard’s Resort

Things To Do On Middle Bass Island

The residents of Middle Bass are the true gems of the island. Each resident we had the pleasure of meeting was incredibly kind and full of hospitality. A lovely lady and her husband even invited us over for drinks on her gorgeous patio for a breathtaking sunset. Sitting around getting to know the two of them and hearing about life on the island was one of the top experiences during this trip.

Middle Bass Island sunset over Lake Erie
Middle Bass Island sunset over Lake Erie

In moments like those, I fall in love with traveling all over again. Unplanned experiences are often the most memorable, especially when it involves getting to know the locals.

Middle Bass Island State Park

Middle Bass Island State Park is home to a fabulous marina and harbor master’s building. The park also offers walking trails with interpretive panels on how the bass islands were formed, how the islands become know for their wine, details about historic Lonz Winery, and more.

Middle Bass Island State Park
Middle Bass Island State Park

Fun Fact: French explorer Robert de LaSalle first named the island “Isle de Fleures,” or Island of Flowers in 1679 because of its many wildflowers.

Check Out The Glacial Grooves

Middle Bass Island sits in the western basin of Lake Erie, the 12th largest freshwater lake in the world. It was formed when giant glaciers gouged and scoured the bedrock leaving deep depressions which filled with meltwater, creating the Great Lakes. Where Middle Island is located, the area is shallow with an average depth of only 25-30 feet.

Glacial Grooves on Middle Bass Island
Glacial Grooves on Middle Bass Island

You can see the glacial grooves that were formed during the glacial period at Middle Bass State Park in a small area near the picnic shelter. Don’t miss out on visiting the historic Glacial Grooves on Kelleys Island.

Lonz Winery

In the 1850s, the Lake Erie islands were purchased for grape production, giving them their nickname, “wine islands.” The Golden Eagle Winery opened in 1866, followed shortly in 1884, when an island resident, Peter Lonz, established Lonz Winery on Middle Bass Island.

The Historic Lonz Winery
The Historic Lonz Winery

Golden Eagle Wine Cellars quickly became one of the largest wine producers in the United States, however, they were destroyed in a massive fire. The Lonz family then merged businesses with what was left of Golden Eagle Winery. Despite the nationwide prohibition of alcohol and the onset of the Great Depression, the Lonz business survived by selling bottles of grape juice with instructions for fermenting the juice at home.

Lonz Winery
Lonz Winery

The winery was placed on the national register of historic places in 1986. It remained a popular tourist attraction until a fatal collapse of a crowded terrace in 2000, forcing the winery to close. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources purchased the remains of the old winery along with 124 acres on Middle Bass.

Tour the wine cellars of the old Lonz Winery
Tour the wine cellars of the old Lonz Winery

Today guests to the historic Lonz Winery can take a self-guided tour of the remaining wine cellars, see artifacts from the days of wine production and learn all about the rich history of winemaking on the islands.

Island Grind

Directly next to the Lonz Winery is the island’s coffee shop, the Island Grind. Grab a cup of java and a chair on the winery’s patio overlooking the scenic lake. The Island Grind offers more than coffee drinks; they serve a variety of wines, beer, cocktails, and food. On select nights they have live music to enjoy out on the patio while sipping your favorite beverage.

The Island Grind quickly became one of our favorite spots on the island. Low-key vibes and good coffee were what we needed. 

East Point Nature Preserve

You will find the East Point Nature Preserve at the far end of the island. The preserve is a wildlife refuge in which you will see various animals. We saw the lake Erie water snake, tons of birds, and an abundance of wildflowers. Bring bug spray, as the bugs are nasty and bite!

East Point Nature Preserve.
East Point Nature Preserve. Had to get a photo with my sister!

There is a small parking area that is perfect for golf carts. Follow the trail to the concrete pier overlooking all the different islands.

Tip: Try to catch a sunset here!

Get A Selfie With The Big Bass

On your way out to the East Point Nature Preserve, stop for a selfie with massive bass! You can’t miss it!

Big Bass Selfie
Big Bass Selfie

J.F. Walleye’s

One of the few restaurants on the island is J.F. Walleye’s. Serving up traditional pub fare, J.F. Walleye’s has a beautiful outdoor space featuring a swimming grotto, outdoor games, and plenty of live entertainment.

Grab A Pizza At The Middle Bass General Store

Did you forget something at home? The Middle Bass General Store has your go-to items from pantry stables, to personal hygiene, hardware, and more. They also have a small restaurant where the locals go.

Planning Tip: Order pizza from the General Store. 

Middle Bass General Store
Middle Bass General Store

Get Your Parks Passport Stamped At The State Park Office

If you have an Ohio Parks Passport book, you can get it stamped at the State Park Office. The office also has a small gift shop, selling souvenirs and snacks.

Ohio State Parks Passport for Middle Bass State Park
Ohio State Parks Passport for Middle Bass State Park

Plan A Day Trip To Put-In-Bay

Ohio’s Islands are a boater’s paradise with a massive lake, a variety of islands to visit, and easy access to restaurants and marinas. Those without a boat will have to rely on charters or ferries to get to the different islands.

Getting To Put-In-Bay From Middle Bass Island

Typically the easiest way to get from Middle Bass Island to the town of Put-In-Bay was by the Sonny S Ferry. The ferry would charter guests back and forth from Middle Bass to the boardwalk of Put-in-Bay.

NOTE: As of this article, the Sonny S Ferry is undergoing repairs and is not in operation. Check the Sonny S Boat Line for updates.

Inter Island Charters
Inter Island Charters

During the time the Sonny S Ferry is undergoing repairs, guests can still get to Put-In-Bay via Inter Island Charters. The charter will run out of the same area as the Sonny S Boatline. It is in the same area as the Miller Ferry, only on the opposite side of the building.

A Few Tips About The Charter: 

  • They take cash or Venmo only. Buy your ticket at the window. The cost is $10 per person each way.
  • The charter boats are smaller than the Sonny S Ferry. Therefore not as many people can fit inside the boat, meaning lines do form. Get there early on weekends.
  • Each trip takes roughly 7-10 minutes to get to the other island.
  • Check their Facebook schedule for updated operation times. The boat will run in continuous intervals during these times.

Top Things To Do In Put-In-Bay

Put-In-Bay is known for its party scene, however, the party starts heating up after 6:00 pm. If this is not your scene, I recommend catching the ferry back to Middle Bass for a more peaceful evening. For those seeking a more lively evening full of entertainment, stick around the island and catch the later charter back to Middle Bass.

Rent A Golf Cart

One of the top things to do on Put-In-Bay is to rent a golf cart. It is awesome! Feel the wind in your face as you see the sights of the island, all while going a whole 10 miles an hour. Exploring all the entertaining areas of the island via golf cart is part of Ohio’s Island experience.

Rent A Golf Cart From Boathouse Cart and Bike
Rent A Golf Cart From Boathouse Cart and Bike

Boathouse Cart and Bike rents 2-passenger, 4-passenger, and 6-passenger golf carts at hourly or daily rates. They also rent bicycles. We rented our golf cart from Boathouse Cart and Bike, which is located a short walk from the boardwalk.

The golf carts are easy to use, and after a quick lesson, you are off exploring.

Note: You must have a valid driver’s license to rent and drive a golf cart.

Planning TipReserve your golf cart as soon as possible, especially larger ones. Weekends are popular on the island, as they will often be sold out of golf cart rentals.

Tour The Heineman Winery and Crystal Cave

Heineman Winery is a fifth-generation winery founded in 1888 and is the oldest family-owned and operated winery in Ohio. Tours are available to see the winery and learn how wine is produced and bottled. Guests can also add in a tour of the spectacular crystal cave.

Tour Heineman Winery
Tour Heineman Winery

The Crystal Cave is a fascinating part of the winery, discovered while digging a well in 1897! The Crystal Cave is the world’s largest celestite geode and one of three places on earth you can step inside a geode!

Tours of the crystal cave are roughly 10-15 minutes long as the cave is not that large. Keep in mind that guests must descend steps to get into the cave.

Crystal Cave In Put-In-Bay, Ohio
Crystal Cave In Put-In-Bay, Ohio

Planning Tip: Purchase the winery and cave tour combo. It even comes with a 5oz wine sample!

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Monument

The memorial was established to honor those who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie during the war of 1812 and to celebrate the long-lasting peace between Great Britain, Canada, and the United States. Guests can take an elevator to the top of the 352-foot column for spectacular views of Lake Erie. On clear days you can even see Canada.

Perry's Victory and International PEace Monument
Perry’s Victory and International PEace Monument

Planning Tip: Purchase your tickets in advance, especially if visiting during a weekend. They tend to sell out quickly.

Scheef East Point Preserve

On the far eastern end of the island is a gorgeous lakefront preserve that is a perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of downtown Put-In-Bay. Sit on the shore watching the waterfowl, listen to the waves lap upon the shore, or take a stroll along the trail.

Massie Cliffside Preserve

Get off the beaten path to see the best of the island. That means come prepared to do light hiking. We stopped at the Massie Cliffside Preserve and did a quick hike in flip-flops to one of the island’s most peaceful and scenic spots. The preserve offers gorgeous sunset views of Middle Bass Island.

Massie Cliffside Preserve
Massie Cliffside Preserve

Grab Lunch at the GOAT

We hopped in our golf cart in hot pursuit of the best culinary delights on the island. After quizzing the Middle Bass locals about the best spot to eat on Put-In-Bay, the Goat Soup and Whiskey came up numerous times. Good fortune was on our side as we did not have a reservation but could get a table at this popular restaurant.

Goat Soup and Whiskey
Goat Soup and Whiskey

Everything we had at the Goat was fabulous. Deviled eggs, Walleye Fries, Perch Tacos, and custom cocktails were just a few of the many menu items we ordered. The menu is upscale with items you will likely not see elsewhere on the island, such as Escargot, Lollipop Lamb Chops, and Oysters Rockefeller.

Planning Tip: The Goat Soup and Whisky does take reservations! If you plan on visiting during peak dining times, make a reservation.

Tour The Chocolate Museum

A small chocolate museum and cafe are directly underneath the Goat Soup and Whiskey. The chocolate cafe offers fresh-made candy and ice creams! The chocolate museum is free to the public and is home to various antiques showcasing the history of chocolate.

The Chocolate Museum on Put-In-Bay, Ohio
The Chocolate Museum on Put-In-Bay, Ohio

South Bass Island Lighthouse

Point your golf cart south and head off to see the South Bass Island Lighthouse. Explore the lighthouse grounds, bring a picnic, or take a tour. The lighthouse was not open for tours during our visit, but they are offered through Ohio Sea Grant.

South Bass Island Lighthouse
South Bass Island Lighthouse

Grab A Drink At The World’s Longest Bar

Currently holding the world record for the longest bar is the Beer Barrel Saloon in Put-In-Bay, Ohio. Guests to the bar can go up to order all types of drinks. However, they are known for their Jell-O shots mainly because their Jell-O shots are served in a syringe! Grab a beer to enjoy on their massive patio, enjoy live music, or belly up to a portion of the longest bar in the world.

Beer Barrel Saloon
Beer Barrel Saloon


An iconic staple on Put-In-Bay is Frosty’s. Known for its out-of-this-world pizza, Frosty’s also serves up a variety of fresh fruit cocktails and frozen drinks. Sit out on their patio, enjoy a spot inside the bar or simply come for the pizza!

Frosty's Outdoor Patio and Bar
Frosty’s Outdoor Patio and Bar

After a full day exploring the island, we chartered back to our villa on Middle Bass. There were still tons of places on South Bass Island that we didn’t get to check off our list. That means we must plan a return trip to Ohio’s Islands.

Things to do on middle bass island in ohio

Exploring Ohio’s Islands is only the beginning of the fun you can have along the Lake Erie coastline! Check out these related articles for more fun things to do!

Helpful Tips For Visiting Kalahari In Sandusky

15 Things To Do While Visiting Maumee Bay 

Save this for later

The Ultimate Guide For Planning A Girl’s Getaway To Middle Bass Island

a guide to visiting middle bass island and put in bay
things to do in put in bay, ohio and middle bass island