Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial | GETTING THERE

Jet Express Ferry arrives at the dock in downtown Put-In-Bay

Jet Express Ferry arrives at the dock in downtown Put-In-Bay

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial is located on South Bass Island in Lake Erie. Commonly called Put-In-Bay (which is actually the name of the main town), the island is reached from the Ohio mainland by private boat, public ferry, or airplane. This article focuses on ferry travel. For those wanting to fly or arrive by private boat, see the Put-In-Bay Port Authority website.

Marinas in the Put-In-Bay harbor

Marinas in the Put-In-Bay harbor

Put-In-Bay is a major tourist destination, and the estimated 750,000 people who come to South Bass Island each summer are coming to shop and hit the bars and restaurants. They are not coming for Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, yet the park draws around 100,000 visitors from the time it opens in mid-May until it closes around Columbus Day. Why? It is impossible to miss the memorial tower, and everyone who comes to the island for the first time wants to go to the observation deck at the top. I doubt one in a thousand cares who Oliver Perry is.

There are two ferry companies that operate from the mainland: Jet Express and Miller Boat Line. The ferries typically run from May through the end of September on a daily basis, and on weekends in October. There is no service from November through April. If you need to get to South Bass Island in the off season, you will either have to fly or take your own boat (if the lake isn’t frozen).

If you are bringing a vehicle to the island, you’ll need to take Miller Boat Line, which departs from Catawba Island, an island connected to the mainland by a bridge. On Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, if you have a vehicle, you cannot come back the same day, and you must show proof that you have overnight accommodations. Unless you are one of the roughly 250 full-time residents, I can’t imagine any need for a vehicle on the island. There are taxis, buses, and golf cart and bike rental shops at the docks (golf carts are extremely popular). Even if you have to walk, it’s only 3.5 miles from one end of the island to the other, a distance most people can cover in a little over an hour.

Miller Boat Line also takes pedestrians, and there is free parking at one of five parking lots near the Catawba terminal. However, the ferry docks at the southern end of South Bass Island, a distance of 2.5 miles from downtown Put-In-Bay (and the Perry Memorial). Therefore, other than walking, you definitely must utilize one of the aforementioned fee-based modes of transportation.

Jet Express, on the other hand, docks right in the thick of things, so if you are on foot, this is the ferry to take if at all possible. Departures are from Sandusky (45-minute trip) and Port Clinton (30-minute trip), which is from where I departed. There is a parking fee at Port Clinton, whereas parking is free at the Sandusky terminal. Long-term parking is available at both facilities.

Jet Express ferry dock in downtown Put-In-Bay on South Bass Island

Jet Express ferry dock in downtown Put-In-Bay on South Bass Island

From the Jet Express dock, Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial is just a five-minute walk. You can see the tower from the dock, so just head out to the main road and take a left. If you plan on doing more on the island than just stopping at the Perry Memorial or hitting the downtown bars, there are golf cart and bike rental shops at the dock. You can also bring your own bike on the ferry for an extra fee.

View of Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial from the downtown Put-In-Bay ferry dock

View of Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial from the downtown Put-In-Bay ferry dock

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Last updated on May 17, 2024
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