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What's up with Kelley's Island, Ohio?

Lots to do on Kelley's Island
Lots to do on Kelley's Island
by Doug Bardwell

Now’s the time to make your plans for a summer getaway to Kelley’s Island, Ohio. Largest of the American islands in Lake Erie, this destination is about to get even more popular.

Nominated as one of the 15 finalists in the Budget Travel 2014 Coolest Small Towns” contest, thousands of readers are about to discover one of the best kept secrets of Ohio’s North Coast.

Previously, northern Ohioian’s would slip over to the island easily on a 20-minute ferry ride and enjoy swimming, fishing, biking and shopping. With a half-dozen cute shops and the same number of restaurants, it was a great place to spend a day, a weekend or longer. Trust me, there’s nothing finer than relaxing on an island with a fresh Lake Erie perch sandwich and a cold brew.

A wide variety of lodging is available from B&B’s to cottages, homes or condos. Four marinas serve the island should you have your own boat.

With lots of ways to have fun, you better make your plans early…before everybody else gets in on the action.

[Fun map of the island.]


Kelley’s Island first popped up as a tourist destination around 10,000 B.C. when the glaciers carved its famous “grooves” from a Devonian limestone ridge. Without the Internet, people didn’t discover it until years later.

[Interesting video on National Geographic about the formation of the grooves.]

The earliest records of modern human history date back to the early 1600’s when the island was inhabited by at least two Erie Indian villages. With the coming of the Iroquois in 1665, all the Erie were eliminated.

The first white settler was a Mr. Cunningham who lived here from 1800 until 1812. During the War of 1812, the US Military used the island as a look-out post.

The island became the property of the Connecticut Land Company in 1817 and was subdivided into 13 parcels. By 1833, the Kelley Bros of Cleveland had acquired all the parcels and began to develop the island; establishing the first industries of wine-making, logging, quarrying, fishing and fruit growing.

[For more photos of the island.]

Getting here

Two ferries service the island. Kelley’s Island Ferry runs spring through fall from Marblehead, OH and the Jet Express runs from Sandusky, OH. Private pilots can also fly to the island which has a small public airport.

Getting around

Bike rentals are available from:

· Caddy Shack Rentals

· Portside Marina

Golf cart rentals are available at:

· Caddy Shack Rentals

· Kelleys Island General Store

· Portside Marina

· Seaway Marina

· The Casino

For more information

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