Lifestyle, Travel

Island Camping in Ohio

Show of hands– how many of you clicked on the blog today in total disbelief that island camping was actually a thing in Ohio?!  I know, I was pretty skeptical at first.  Much to my happy surprise, it is a thing, and I’m excited to share some of the highlights with you.

So why no DIY today?  Travel and the great outdoors are something I have always had a passion for, and often provide an escape from the stress of work and life.  My husband would say I have been burning the candle at both ends, and everywhere in between. Currently I am juggling a demanding full time job, learning and growing this blog, and working on interior makeovers for 3 different clients.  While I love every bit of the craziness that is life right now, I was long overdue for time away to relax and hit the reset button.

Lucky for me, I have an amazing husband who took the reigns and planned a 3 day adventure that didn’t cost much, didn’t require hours of driving, and allowed us to relax and set up camp right next to the waters of Lake Erie.

Last week we made the short, 2 1/2 hour drive from Columbus to the Miller Ferry Boat Line, which runs ferries to Put-In Bay (South Bass) and Middle Bass Island.  We drove our truck onto the ferry and 45 minutes later arrived at our destination of Middle Bass Island.


As the ferry draws closer to shore, the first thing you see is the beautiful facade of Lonz Winery.  The building has set empty for 17 years following the tragedy in 2000 when a terrace collapsed, killing 1 and injuring 75 others.  The state of Ohio purchased the property and spent years restoring portions of building.  This June the state opened the space as a park, allowing tourists to walk the grounds and learn about the history of wine making on the island.


Middle Bass Island is one of the lesser known Lake Erie islands because of the limited amenities in comparison to Put-in Bay.  Two small bars and restaurants, a general store, camp office, campground, and that is it.


The camp office has a beautiful front porch where you can look out to the boats docked and watch as they come in from the lake.  I always find inspiration in new places, and here I love the color palette formed from the white hydrangeas and the very nautical blue and grey of the camp office building.  The bold yellow umbrellas found on the patio add a fun pop of color.

You could say both my husband and I are creatures of habit.  At home I decorate and he cooks.  Our camping routine is much the same– when we reached our campsite I set up our tent and bedding while the hubby unpacked his master camp kitchen.

We didn’t have the best campsite, but I have to admit it was still pretty spectacular.  The view of the water is great, and the beach area is just steps past those trees you see in the photo.  If you plan to visit and camp, request campsite #2 or #8– each are situated on larger plots and feature premium access to the beachfront with no trees to block the view!


Master of the kitchen, Mike brought more kitchen utensils than what most people probably own.  Who brings Himalayan sea salt as well as cutting boards, cast iron skillets, and multiple kitchen knives for 2 nights in the woods?!


If you haven’t noticed, I do not share many photos on the blog with myself in them.  For one I don’t like selfies, and secondly, most often I am found stuffing my face with food.  You could say I like eating as much as my husband loves cooking.  He made steak tostadas and they were absolutely AMAZING.  As long as this is the food I get while camping, I won’t complain about all the kitchen gadgets we have to  haul around.


One of the best parts of the trip was sitting on the beach watching the sun set.  A beautiful sky, listening to the waves, and no where to be.  What could be more relaxing?


After some excellent camp food, exploring all of the island, and watching sunsets, we realized this might be too relaxing… neither of us are capable of sitting still for more than a couple hours so the morning of day 2 we decided to hop a ferry and check out one of the more famous islands, Put-in Bay.

If you aren’t familiar with Put-in Bay, it is most known for it’s party scene.  There are over 20 bars, and the island is only 4 miles long and 1 1/2 miles wide…

All aboard the Sonny-S!  This little ferry costs $6 (cash only) and it takes about 10 minutes for the ride over to Put-in Bay.


We lunched at The Old Forge cafe, offering a menu as rustic as their decor.  The paninis were excellent and their Mojitos aren’t for the faint of heart.  I guess that should go without saying, given the stereotype of being a drink and party heavy island…


I loved their wooden sign backed by the wall of ivy.


These framed succulent gardens are so cute!  I would love to have these as wall art at the house, but I’m thinking fake plants might be a better option for me.  My green thumb hasn’t quite developed enough to keep succulents alive more than a few weeks…

It isn’t advertised nearly as much as the bars, but there is a National Monument on the island of Put-in Bay.  Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial was built to honor those who fought the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.  I didn’t know we even fought for Lake Erie!  Clearly history is not my strongest subject.  While the park office is open and full of interesting artifacts and a timeline of the battle, the memorial itself is currently closed for cleaning and restoration.  I’m definitely looking forward to another trip next year so we can climb up into the column to access the observation deck.  I can only imagine what an amazing view it would offer!


Leave it to me to find the single antique shop on the island.  I love visiting antique and resale shops during vacation, but it’s always a crap shoot.  Sometimes they are really good and other times they are a total waste of time.  This one had promise when looking at the outside wall.  Sadly, the inside was lacking– mostly odds and ends junk that wasn’t worth a haul home.


Possibly my favorite part of Put-in Bay is the winery.  It was once the home of Valentine Doller, one of the most influential and wealthiest inhabitants of the island.  I highly recommend taking the winery tasting tour.  5 wines are poured, each in a separate room of the home and winery grounds.  Our tour guide shared so much about the many families to live here, and a glimpse at island life in the 1800s.


The winery grounds are beautiful– an excellent place to enjoy the afternoon.  mikewinery

One last sunset before packing up and taking the ferry home.


Our 3 day island getaway was one of the most relaxing trips we have taken in quite some time.  It is so hard for me to sit still and slow down, but a place like Middle Bass is filled with so much natural beauty that it’s impossible not to stop and enjoy.

If you are in Ohio and looking for a fun, relaxing trip I highly recommend the Lake Erie Islands.  Combining both Middle Bass and Put-in Bay gives you the chance to explore and learn more about the island history, but also escape the crowds and find some time for peace and quiet.

I hope you enjoyed a look into one of the many ways I find to relax and hit the re-set button.  Travel always gives me a fresh perspective and I come back feeling inspired and more creative than before.

What about you– how do you relax and hit the re-set?  Are you up for an Ohio island adventure after seeing our photos?  Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!






1 thought on “Island Camping in Ohio”

  1. Thanks so much for taking us with you on your close to home adventure! I had no idea there was island camping so close to home. P.s. Everyone brings special sea salt on a camping trip! Lol!

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