Welcome to “A Day Trip to Kelleys Island”! Guess where you can go on an African Safari, take a daring boat ride, marvel at a lighthouse, see amazing geographical features, and lounge on a sandy beach? Would you guess Ohio? That’s right! Kelly’s Island is in Ohio and we decided to make a day trip out of it by exploring nearby attractions.
We started the day at the African Safari Wildlife Park in Port Clinton, Ohio.
We got our tickets through Groupon which was a good deal. Upon arrival, we were given a giant cup of food to feed the animals. The first part is a drive-through and the animals come right up to your car to get food. This can be quite exciting and a bit scary! Partway through we bought lettuce to feed the giraffes. We went around the loop twice just for fun. You can go around as many times as you want. After this, we parked our car and went into the walking portion of the wildlife park. The bird area was amazing! We also enjoyed many other exhibits. In addition, there was a little cafe shop that sold Toft’s ice cream. So delicious!
Next (about 14 minutes away) we visited the beautiful Marblehead Lighthouse in Marblehead, Ohio.
The grounds are in a picturesque setting with picnic areas and views of Lake Erie, Kelleys Island, Cedar Point, and Sandusky Bay.
Just six minutes away from the lighthouse, we took a 20-minute ferry to magnificent Kelleys Island!
The first ferry we caught was quite a ride with the waves bobbing it up and down. In contrast, our ferry home was quite calm. Upon arrival to the island, we had some difficulty renting a golf cart to get around (sold-out everywhere!). At first, we wished we had brought our car. Also, we discovered Kelleys island was more expensive than our trip to nearby Put-in-bay (for the ferry, the golf carts, parking at the ferry), but we felt it was worth the extra expense.
With optimism, we walked into town (about a 4-minute walk), stopping briefly at Inscription Rock, past the historic Kelley Mansion, while admiring the views of Lake Erie. We met lots of other dogs and dog owners along the way. Overall, I felt Kelley’s island was less commercial than Put-in-Bay but still had a lot of amenities to offer.
Luckily we were able to secure a golf cart from Kelleys Island General Store. We headed out and then pulled into the Kelleys Island History Museum/Old Stone German Reformed Church/Parsonage Resale Shop. However, we couldn’t go in with our dogs, so we looked at our map to see where we could go next. Our dogs didn’t know what to make of the golf cart ride! I felt that walking and using the golf cart was much more experiential than a car would have been. It was fun to drive around the perimeter of the island to see the sights with the wind blowing in our hair!
Next, we headed over to visit the Glacial Grooves. These were much cooler to see in real life than in the photos I had seen. I took lots of pictures!
Following that, we stopped at a little trail that jutted out into Lake Erie. It was very pleasant. Then we drove to the East Quarry Trailhead and started on the trail around the lake. The trail took us about an hour, so I suggest turning back partway if you want a shorter trek. If you want to hike a loop, take the small path that veers off towards the entrance, a bit past the lake, instead of continuing on straight. The scenery was wonderful! We didn’t feel like we were in Ohio at all!
After our hike, we stopped at Herndon Sculpture Garden and Galleries. Some of it felt like stumbling upon an ancient civilization. We didn’t stay too long here though because my family was hungry! There were a limited amount of eateries downtown that allowed dogs, so we chose the Casino Restaurant. The view and surroundings were perfect just as the sun was setting! Good times! Good company!
On my next visit, I would like to stop at Sheele Preserve and go to the beach to hang out by the shore. Pets are not allowed on the small beach, but they are allowed on the long beach. Without the dogs, I would visit the history museum, old church, and resale shop. I would also explore the shops downtown and some of the other restaurants such as Island House, Kelley’s Island Wine Company, or The Forge. It’s great to leave something to do for a return trip!
Thanks for reading, A Day Trip to Kelleys Island! Enjoy!