Put-in-Bay is a small island resort community located on South Bass Island in the western basin of Lake Erie. Put-in-Bay is the name of the tiny village on the island, but many islanders and visitors refer to the island itself as “Put-in-Bay”.
South Bass is the southernmost island of the three Bass Islands and is about 3 nautical miles from the mainland. The closest mainland municipality is Port Clinton, OH. Port Clinton is a port city located approximately 75 miles west of Cleveland, 45 miles east of Toledo and 120 miles north of Columbus.
Directions provided will take you to Port Clinton, OH where you will find both the Jet Express and Miller Ferry docks as well as the Erie-Ottawa Airport which provides air service between Port Clinton and Put-in-Bay (Put in Bay).
Small private aircraft pilots will find more information on Put-in-Bay Airport in a separate link.
You can check Road Construction on Ohio Highways before starting out.
ODOT Traffic Advisory
GENERAL DIRECTIONS: Once you are on State Route 2 in Ohio, you are just a turn or two away from a ferry boat ride to Put-in-Bay. If you’re coming in along the north coast from Indiana or Pennsylvania, we suggest you take the Ohio Turnpike. You want Exit 91 (Port Clinton/Fremont) if you’re coming from the west, and Exit 110 (Sandusky Route 4) if you’re coming from the East.
Exit 91 in Fremont is just 17 miles southwest of Port Clinton. You’ll head north on Fremont Road and if you follow it into town it will take you within two blocks of the Jet Express. Or you can jump on Ohio Route 2 East just before entering Port Clinton and get off at the Catawba Island Route 53 North Exit for the Miller Ferry.
To try to prepare you for something that may be confusing when you reach Port Clinton, we’ll let you know now that Route 53 North connects Fremont, OH to Port Clinton but the route actually joins Ohio Route 2 East just south of the city and then turns North at the Catawba Island exit and dead ends at the Miller Ferry Dock. So, yes, it’s possible you could be on Route 53 North heading to the Jet Express and/or the Miller Ferry.
Both ferry lines have directional billboards in the Lake Erie Shores and Islands area which will help you locate each dock. The Jet’s paid parking lot is adjacent to the terminal in Port Clinton. Miller Ferry has five free parking areas and paid lots within walking distance of the Miller Ferry Catawba Dock.
There are currently two ferry boat companies that service the island. The Jet Express passenger-only ferries run between downtown Port Clinton and downtown Put-in-Bay. The Jet also has mainland ports in Sandusky and Lorain, Ohio. Please check their website for directions to these mainland ports. The Jet Express is located on Perry Street at the foot of the Portage River Drawbridge. Perry Street is also State Route 163. We suggest you exit Ohio Route 2 at the Fremont Road exit. You’ll be turning left and heading north. Follow Fremont Road into Port Clinton and follow the Jet Express signs to their dock downtown.
The Miller Ferry carries passengers and vehicles and runs between Catawba Island Point (Port Clinton address) and the southern most point of the island. We suggest you take the Catawba Island Route 53 North exit if you plan to use Miller’s. When you exit Route 2, regardless of the direction you’re traveling, the exit ramp puts you directly on Route 53 North. From the exit it is about six miles to the ferry dock. Stay on Route 53 (also known as NE Catawba Road) until you come to the lake. The route actually dead ends at Miller’s Catawba Dock.
Keep in mind when reading road signs that Put-in-Bay is the name of the village on the island and the name of the island is South Bass Island so they are literally the same place. There is also Middle Bass Island. Miller Ferry operates between the mainland and both islands so make sure you purchase tickets for the right island when you get in line at the ferry dock.
Put-in-Bay is part of Ottawa County which is mainly rural.
Port Clinton is home to about 11,000 residents so you’re not going to get lost in the city. Local residents are friendly and if you think you’re lost, stop at a local service station or business and ask for quick directions. The two ferry services are only about 10 minutes apart.
Please keep in mind that Ohio Route 2 is extremely busy during the summer months and between Toledo and Port Clinton (Camp Perry) it is mainly a one-lane highway and has a lot of truck traffic. There have been many fatal accidents along this highway over the past 30 years. Please use extreme caution in this area.
From CHICAGO, IL
Approximate Miles: 277
Approximate Time: 4.5 hours
Indiana Turnpike (I-90) East to I-80/I-90 to Ohio Turnpike East. Exit 91 Fremont to Fremont Road North to Port Clinton.
From CINCINNATI, OH
Approximate Miles: 210
Approximate Time: 4.25 hours
Take I-75 North to Ohio Route 6 East. In Fremont you’ll take 6 to Route 53 North (Fremont Road). When you get to Route 2 stay on Fremont Road for the Jet or take Route 2 East to Catawba Island Exit 53 North for Miller’s.
From CLEVELAND, OH
Approximate Miles: 75
Approximate Time: 1.5 hours
Take either I-90 to Ohio Route 2 West or the Ohio Turnpike West. Take Exit 110 Sandusky Ohio Route 4. Turn left (north) on Route 4 to Ohio Route 2 West (Toledo). Take the Catawba Island Route 53 North Exit for the Miller Ferry or continue west and take either of the next two exits — Port Clinton Ohio Route 163 (Perry Street) and exit to the left or Port Clinton Fremont Road Exit and turn right for the Jet Express.
From COLUMBUS, OH
Approximate Miles: 125
Approximate Time: 2.25 hours
There are several ways to get to the area from Columbus, but we suggest you take Ohio Route 23 (High Street) North to Route 98 (Waldo) North to Route 4 North. Route 4 will take you to Ohio Route 2 and you will turn left (Toledo). See above for directions to boat lines.
From DETROIT, MI
Approximate Miles: 93.5
Approximate Time: 1.75 hrs
Take I-75 South to Toledo. Take I-280 East to Ohio Route 2 East (Oregon). Follow above directions for ferry boat docks.
From INDIANAPOLIS, IN
Approximate Miles: 276
Approximate Time: 4.5 hours
There are several ways to get to the islands area from Indianapolis. Although I-70 to I-75 North may look faster, you’ll shave nearly 30 minutes off your drive by making fewer turns when you head north on Indiana State Route 37 to I-69 (still on SR 37) North. Take Exit 148 Angola/Lagrange and turn right on the ramp for US 20. Turn east onto US 20 and follow it for about 15 miles to Ohio State Route 49. Turn right (south) onto Route 49 to the Ohio Turnpike I-80/I-90 ramp. Follow the turnpike East to Fremont Exit 91. Follow above directions to boat docks.
From PITTSBURGH, PA
Approximate Miles: 196
Approximate Time: 3.25 hours
Take I-76 (Pennsylvania Turnpike) west to Ohio. I-76 becomes Ohio I-80 (Ohio Turnpike). Take Ohio Turnpike to Sandusky Exit 110 Route 4 and follow directions above to boat docks.
From TOLEDO, OH
Approximate Miles: 45
Approximate Time: 1 hour
Take either Ohio Route 2 or the Ohio Turnpike East. Follow Directions given for Chicago to boat docks.