LivingTravelKelleys Island from Lake Erie

Kelleys Island from Lake Erie

Kelleys Island, the largest of the Lake Erie islands, sits just off the coast of north central Ohio, accessible by frequent ferries and small planes.

The island is a summer favorite. Less crowded than its cousin, Middle Bass Island and Put-in-Bay, Kelleys is known for its restaurants, wineries, Victorian houses and its glaciers, remnants of the Ice Age.


Kelleys Island was once completely covered by glaciers. As these ice sheets receded, they carved the island’s “Glacial Grooves”. The island was also home to the Erie tribes and examples of their art are carved out of rocks at Kelley.

In the 19th century, Kelleys filled with limestone quarries and became the world’s leading producer of lime and lime products. Entrepreneurs of the time built large Victorian houses on the island, many of which still remain. Tourism began to develop on the island in the mid-1950s.

Get there

Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Line operates year-round ferry service from Marblehead to Kelleys Island. Ferries leave Marblehead, weather permitting, every hour in winter and every half hour between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

During the summer, the Goodtime I Lake cruise makes daily trips from Sandusky to Kelleys and Put-in-Bay.

There are also several marinas on the island to dock your own boat and a private airfield.


Among the many things to do on Kelleys Island:

  • Explore Glacial Grooves – The largest accessible grooves in the world, these were carved out of native limestone by glaciers that receded more than 18,000 years ago.
  • Enjoy the beach at Kelleys Island State Park – a long sandy beach
  • Take part in an active sport : Kelleys is known for its kayaking, diving among the various shipwrecks in the area, hiking and biking.
  • Visit Caddy Shack Square – home to a miniature golf course, ice cream parlor, bike rental, and shopping.


Part of the fun of visiting Kelleys Island is visiting the many fun restaurants there. Among these are:

  • Island House : The island’s fine dining restaurant, featuring the freshest ingredients, including Ohio-grown produce and fish, when available.
  • Bag the Moon – A family restaurant with live entertainment on weekends and nightly specials.
  • Kelleys Island Wine Co .: More than a winery, they have a deli, bistro, wine bar, and picnic table to enjoy your shopping in the front garden.


Staying on Kelleys Island allows you to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere for more than just the day. However, plan ahead, as accommodations sell out soon.

  • Bed and Breakfast : Kelleys has more than a dozen charming bed and breakfast inns, many housed in restored Victorian houses and many with lake views.
  • Cabins and Cabins – The most popular type of lodging in Kelleys, private cabins sleep two to more than 10 people.
  • Condos – Unlike Put-in-Bay, Kelleys Island has several condo developments and many owners rent their units when they cannot use them.


Kelleys Island State Park offers 129 shaded campsites, available on a first-come, first-served basis. The park also offers several pet camps, yurts, and some sites with electrical hookups. There are several shower houses.

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