What To Do On Kelleys Island: 20 Things You Need To Try


Kelleys Island

Kelleys Island is steadily gaining popularity as a dream vacation destination for many. This is well deserved since the island has a lot to offer. There are a lot of cool and fun things to do and explore on the island. The next time you plan your vacation, consider Kelleys Island.

Here is a list of what we think are the best family activities this precious island has to offer.

Wine and dine in the Island’s top hotels

There are many luxurious hotels on Kelleys Island, so if you want to try them out, you will be spoiled for choice. All your food needs are catered to, whether you fancy local delicacies or want to sample international cuisine. The hotels are strategically located, giving you a promise of premium hospitality. Some of the best hotels on Kelleys Island include:

The Island House

This boutique establishment should be on your to-do list when you visit the island. The Island House has a breathtaking ambiance and is perfect for either solo or family vacationers. The hotel has 30 rooms and suites, plus 6 rental apartments, all with exclusive private beach access. 

You can enjoy a romantic dinner at either one of their two restaurants. What’s more, don’t forget to sample some exotic wines at their wine market. Stay active while on vacation by swimming in the expansive lap pool or playing squash on the well-manicured squash court.

The Anchor Inn Boutique Hotel

If you are looking for a hotel with a cozy, intimate ambiance, then the Anchor Inn Boutique Hotel should be your first choice. 

The hotel is average-sized, with 9 tastefully decorated guest rooms. This hotel provides the perfect spot for a romantic getaway.

The hotel is situated in a quiet and serene environment and is the perfect place to enjoy a peaceful, yet fulfilling time with your loved one. The Anchor Hotel is where you go to unwind, meditate and relax. 

Each room is uniquely designed with elegant, handpicked furniture. You also get to enjoy a continental-style breakfast at the hotel. Waking up to the sound of birds chirping in the distance and a full-service breakfast waiting for you at the lobby is absolutely blissful. 

Your favorite breakfast treats such as eggs benedict, waffles with strawberries, blueberry pancakes, and stuffed French toast are some of the toothsome items on the menu.

Ahoy Inn

Have you ever considered sleeping in a European-themed room?  Ahoy Inn has this and much more. Or you can also opt for the island-style room. Both styles come with King Size bed with quality linen. All rooms are fitted with flat-screen cable TV, a mini-refrigerator for your refreshments, and a coffee maker.

This hotel is the perfect escape for couples and has the best couple retreat activities and facilities. Therefore, consider it when planning on your next couple retreat. Enjoy complimentary bicycles and on-site golf carts while staying at the hotel. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about where to park your car since the hotel provides free parking.  

Visit Kelleys Island winery ruins

Wine lovers will love an excursion to the winery ruins. A visit to the Kellys Island Winery Ruins will give you the chance to learn about the rich history of the beautiful wineries that were once located on the shores of Lake Erie. The Monarch Wine Company ruins, although lying desolate, still tell a story of how they were once the epitome of Lake Erie’s grape belt.

Among other interesting facts, you will get to learn how early American Vintners considered the Ohio Valley an ideal place for grape growing. 

Here you will find two ruined wineries; the Monarch Wine Company and the Kelleys Island Wine Company. You will have to take a ferry to get close to the ruins, although they sit on private property. If you are water-phobic, you can use a golf cart, which is available for rent at the ferry station, to take the scenic drive around by land.

Try out the local brewed beer

With beer tasting at local artisanal breweries on the rise in popularity, your trip to Kelleys Island wouldn’t be complete without this experience. Kelleys Island Brewpub has the most delicious beer and nothing beats drinking it straight from the source. It is fresh, and the experience exhilarating. You can taste a few bottles at the Kelleys Island Brewery as you enjoy a great view of the lake.

Toss horseshoes at Kelleys Island Wine Co.

Horseshoe tossing, also called horseshoe pitching is an enjoyable local pastime, best played with friends or with a friendly family rivalry. This game is played between two or four people using horseshoes, usually four on each side. The throwing target is set in a lawn a few paces away. To play this game, you take turns tossing the horseshoes.

This is may be a new experience for you since that’s what vacationing is all about, but it’s definitely worth giving it a try. You can enjoy playing this game as you try some refreshing wine at the Kelleys Island Wine Company.

Take a stroll on the beautiful Lilac Trail

Your vacation to Kelleys Island will not be complete without taking a stroll on the famous Lilac Trail. The trail is self-guided, so you can go there alone or with the company of family or friends. Imagine taking this stroll when the lilacs are in full bloom. The flowers engulf you with an almost intoxicating fragrance. 

You could even arrange a surprise marriage proposal on this magical trail. She’s sure to say yes!

Visit the famous Little Healing Room

Your vacation needs to be wholesome and restorative. Therefore, consider taking care of your health as well. You can book an appointment at the Little Healing room. This place offers an assortment of healing procedures such as Neuroticism therapy, acupuncture, allergy elimination, therapeutic massage, and other advanced Bio-structural corrections.

This may not seem like a fun vacation activity but, you need such treatment once in a while. Additionally, you will love the massage given at this place. All the attendants are trained and licensed with respective licensing bodies. This is the place to visit if you suffer from stiff joints, neck pain, or have muscular issues.

You can book a deep tissue massage to rejuvenate your body after a long week of excursions and sightseeing. This place gives you a promise of lasting relief for all your health issues.

Go scuba diving

Are you a fan of deep-sea excursions? Lake Erie is the perfect spot for scuba diving. The lake has an impressive number of shipwrecks, just begging to be explored. Lucky for you, many of these wrecks are close to Kelleys Island and very accessible to scuba divers.

The fresh waters of this lake have preserved the wrecks making them a huge attraction for vacationers like you.

Do some bird watching

Kelleys Island is home to many bird varieties. Additionally, the state provides specialized protection and refuge to these birds since some rare bird species frequent the island.

What’s more, Kelleys Island is host to several bird breeds that converge here during their mating seasons. The weather on this island is perfect for breeding. Some of these birds stop over on the island while on transit to other places. Some rare bird species you can expect to see include Buffleheads and Hermit Thrushes.

You can also take part in bird banding activities carried out at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Here, you will be assigned a banding staff member who will guide you through the process.

Visit the Scheele Preserve

Located along Monaghan Road, the Scheele Preserve is an isolated and secluded tract of land with a short hiking trail. The trail is unique, passing through groves of low-hanging trees and open meadows. You will also have to walk through a section of tall grass before you get to the famous quiet shell beach.

This preserve is owned and managed by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. It is home to rare animals and plants. Interestingly, Scheele Preserve is one of the few places in Ohio where you can find rare rock elm trees.

Nature here is extraordinary; the characteristic thin soil of this Alvar habitat provides support to the prairie and boreal plant species. In turn, these plants provide a conducive living environment for the exotic caterpillars of the famous swallowtail butterflies.

The Scheele Preserve is heaven for nature lovers. There is also a section for bird watching. In addition to this, the area is also home to the owl banding project carried out by the museum.

Go for a hike at the North Pond Boardwalk

Take an energizing hike at the North Pond Boardwalk that runs through the North Pond State Nature Preserve. It is sure to be an interesting walk as you will get to see the last remaining lake embayment ponds located in the Lake Erie islands.

You can bring your car with you since parking is available. However, you will have to take the hike on foot. The hiking trail goes past an ancient shoreline hidden deep in the forest. Further down, there is a beautiful secluded sandy beach along Lake Erie.

It’s worth noting that North Pond is the only natural lake embayment pond that’s managed by the state. Long ago, Islands in Ohio had 12 embayment ponds. Only three such ponds now exist, and North Pond is the most intact. 

Furthermore, the North Pond’s aquatic ecosystem has a remarkable collection of flora and fauna. You will also get to experience waterfowl migrating in the fall and spring. Animals present in this area include deer, muskrat, snakes, salamanders, hawks, and many various bird species.

Visit the Glacial Grooves

These are the most popular natural tourist attraction on Kelleys Island. Moreover, these glacial grooves are the largest in the world. They are also easily accessible, complete with a paved parking lot. It is a must-see treasure of Kelleys Island.

These natural treasures are about 400 feet long and 35 feet wide and can go as deep as 15 feet. Scientists and geologists claim that these grooves were formed by the slow movement of the glacier that created Lake Erie and the Great Lakes Islands.

Apart from being amazing tourist attraction sites, these grooves serve to provide vital information about the movement and direction of the glacier that shaped the entire landscape of Kelleys Island. 

Hike the North Shore Loop Trail

Close to the glacial grooves, be sure you visit the North Shore Loop trail for another fun-filled hiking experience. The geologically rare alvar terrain is home to a number of endangered wildflowers and other plant species. This hike is sure to be educational and instructive as you and your family learn about a distinct and unusual ecosystem. 

Visit the famous Crystal Cave

The Crystal Cave is the largest geode in the world. Unlike other geodes, this one is one single humongous rock. It was accidentally discovered in 1887 by workers digging a wine well. The geode’s walls are lined with Celestine crystals which are still being mined to this day to make fireworks.

You can take advantage of the nearby Heinemann winery and explore the cave, wine in hand. Quite an interesting experience.

Visit Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial

If you are a lover of history, then this experience is just the thing for you. Here you can visit the tallest Doric column in the world. Erected between 1912 and 1915, Perry’s Victory Monument is one of the tallest such structures in the United States.

This structure has an interesting story behind it. It was put up to celebrate the victory of General Perry over the British fleet. He was aboard the USS Lawrence. Interestingly, three flags hang outside the monument. The Canadian, American, and British flags have been hung at the same height to symbolize peace between these countries.

If you are not afraid of heights, you can go up the monument, up to a height of over 350 feet to the top of the structure. The view from here is breathtaking. You get a bird’s eye view of Lake Erie and also the sprawling Canadian mountains on the north.

Visit the Merry Go Round Museum

Imagine a museum located in a former post office. The Merry Go Round Museum is primarily dedicated to carousels. This idea got its inception back in 1988 when The US Postal Service gave out four unique carrousel stamps. Some of the Sandusky residents decided to hold an exhibition for these stamps, expecting only a few hundred people to show up. To their surprise, approximately 2,000 people showed up.

Thereafter, a non-profit organization was formed to hold celebrations meant to acknowledge and preserve the rich history of carousels. The museum was then opened in 1990. Carousel celebrations are still held there to this day, and if you time your trip right, you can join in one of these festivals.  

Visit the Inscription Rock Petroglyphs

Are you a history lover? A visit to the Ohio Historical Society will do you good. Here, you will find historical artifacts such as Rock Petroglyphs. This giant limestone boulder is a true symbol of the history of Native Americans.

The boulders date back to the years 1200 and 1600. You will also see the remains of two villages believed to be from this era as well.

Play mini-golf with your family at the Caddy Shack Square

You can treat your family to a fun-filled afternoon playing golf at the 18-Hole mini-golf course at Caddy Shack Square.  There is also a beautiful arcade where you can hang out with your family, with fun games for all ages. 

Here you can also enjoy some of Kelleys Island’s best pizza. Plus, there is a spacious outdoor patio where you can sit and enjoy some dessert. Caddy Shack Square is famous for its mouth-watering ice cream, so be sure to order some.

Visit the Charles Herndon Galleries

Art lovers can have a field day at the Charles Herndon Galleries. There are a number of beautiful sculptures in this expansive 10-acre garden. The materials used to make these pieces of art are native to the island, making them even more special and unique. However, some of the sculptures are made of more mundane materials such as glass, wood, and metal.

Visit the Marble Lighthouse

Your family will enjoy a ride across the Island to the Marblehead Lighthouse. The best way to do this is to pack a picnic basket and take a ride to the house. This lighthouse is the oldest on the Great Lakes. Region. For a fantastic view of Lake Erie, prepare yourself to go up a flight of 77 stairs.

Participate in city scavenger hunts

Take part in these exciting scavenger hunts held by the operation city quest of Ohio. Your entire family can take part in this game. Here are a lot of fun activities involved including hundreds of things to find and many challenges to perform.

Additionally, you will always have an interactive live remote guide to help you throughout the game. As you play, you collect points that can get you ranked on the city leaderboard. 

There is a small fee charged to participate. However, children under the age of 12 can join in for free.

You can also sign up for the wacky walk scavenger hunt which is another variation of this game. Here, you get to explore the city (your kingdom) while doing wacky walks. There is an app that provides instructions on how best to play this game.

Kelleys Island is a treasure trove of fun activities, and vacationers will not be left wishing for something to do! These activities are also diverse enough to cater to any taste and budget.

Elizabeth Ciobanu

Elizabeth Ciobanu is a full-time (homeschooling!) mom of four, and serial entrepreneur in a variety of enterprises, one of which is producing content for Family Vacation. If free time existed, she would love to spend more time on hobbies.

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