#FHroadtrip: Kelleys Island
We're getting out of the office - and touring Ohio - with our #FHroadtrip travel series. Tag along as we explore what there is to see, do and eat across the great state of Ohio!If you're looking for a super fun, family-friendly day trip from Columbus this summer, look no farther than the easily accessible island getaway of Kelleys Island, Ohio.For a long time, Lake Erie's shores and islands have been on our travel wish list. I'd heard all about "the lake that's almost an ocean" and the fun that can be had visiting Ohio's offshore islands. One weekend last summer, we finally decided to head north and see for ourselves. It was just the kind of weekend getaway that we love - one that makes you feel as though you had a mini-vacation and actually "traveled" to a faraway place, if only for a day.Kelleys Island highlights included racing and feeding seagulls from the ferry boat, renting a golf cart (dubbed "dune buggy" by my daughter Zoe) and cruising around the island to see the sights - including stops at the Glacial Grooves national park and deer-watching along the shady, wooded island roads. Alas, there was a water advisory the day we went so we were not able to swim. That would have truly been the icing on the cake of a sunny, fun day. I highly recommend researching the water conditions and going on a day when swimming is an option!
What to DoYou know the expression "getting there is half the fun?" That's definitely true for Kelleys Island. We headed north from Lewis Center at 9 a.m. on Saturday and made it to the ferry a bit after 11 a.m. We chose to go with the Kelleys Island ferry boat line, which leaves from Marblehead, Ohio (a pretty lakeside destination in its own right). Other ferry options are also available, but we were happy with our choice.
You can either take your car over to the island by ferry ($32 per car in addition to the per-person ferry fare), or you can park your car for $10 and head onto the ferry on foot. That makes it easy to justify renting a golf cart on the other side - part of the fun of your island getaway!
We arrived at Kelleys Island after a lovely 20 minute ferry ride with scenic views and seagulls on all sides. We panicked for a moment upon disembarking, as we had no idea where to go, but we needn't have worried - the island is that small. It's easy to find your way around, everyone is exceedingly friendly and you can hardly take a wrong turn.
The marina rented golf carts, but they were all in use by lunch time. We asked for directions to the nearest alternate and walked about five minutes into "town" - a tiny hot spot with a few shops, restaurants and another marina. We rented the last golf cart at the in-town marina and soon were motoring around town. That's when the fun really began.
Where to EatAlthough there are gourmet restaurants on Kelleys Island, we were after casual fare. First, we found a lunch spot (pizza and subs freshly made at Caddyshack, right in the tiny heart of the Kelleys Island "downtown"). Later, we also enjoyed ice cream about halfway through our island cruise at a little roadside shop across from the Kelleys Island state park campground.
What to SeeOur goal for the day was to motor around the island by golf cart to take in the sights. This does not take long. We were given a handy map at the rental place and were told it takes about an hour and a half to putt around the whole island.
First, we headed for the Glacial Grooves Geological Preserve, the largest easily accessible site of its kind in the world. It was pretty neat to see the lines carved in stone made by glaciers all those ages ago. We looked for fossils but didn't see any - I didn't realize we should have been looking in the cliff walls themselves. Next time, we'll know! The fossils are from the Devonian age and are approximately 350-400 million years old.
On the pretty, wooded road to the Glacial Grooves, we noticed deer just inside the tree line so we stopped our golf cart to watch and count them. It was a peaceful moment, just us and four does. We kept a sharp eye out for fawns but didn't see any, though the does flicked their white tails a few times as if saying, "stay put, little ones!" We loved the relatively close (about 20 feet away) encounter with wild deer out in nature.
We were coming up on the two-hour mark for our golf cart rental, so we motored back to the marina and returned it ($14 per hour - but so much more fun than taking your own car over). Then we walked back to the ferry after picking up one souvenir I just had to have: a little blown glass mermaid ornament.From my perspective, the best part of Kelleys Island was the overall vacation/summer/island vibe and cruising around in our golf cart, waving at other folks and enjoying the sights of gorgeous sparkling water and beautiful island-style Victorian houses. The views those houses have... wow. I get why people rave about Lake Erie. As someone who grew up on the East coast and has salt water in her veins, a lake will never be the ocean, no matter how Great - but it's pretty cool in its own right.I'd love to hear your Lake Erie or Kelleys Island stories in the comments below - or over on Facebook. And be sure to keep an eye out for our future #FHroadtrip adventures.Related: #FHroadtrip ClevelandA version of this blog post originally appeared on Lara's personal blog, Lara-Mom.com.