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North America > United States of America > Midwest > Ohio > Ohio Erie shore west > Kelleys Island

Kelleys Island

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Kelleys Island is an island and city in Erie County, Ohio.

Understand[edit]

Petroglyphs on Inscription Rock
A man sitting on the glacial grooves in 1892

The island is sparsely-populated, with a small village on the south side of the island, residential areas on the east side, a limestone quarry on the west side, and a State Park on the north side. Ferries from the mainland dock at the village several times/day during prime tourist season.

History[edit]

PreHistory[edit]

During the Ice Age, receding glaciers carved glacier grooves across the island. Kelleys Island was originally inhabited by the Native Americans, creating Inscription rock on the southern shore sometime during the 1640s.

Settlement[edit]

By the early 1800s, the first white settlers arrived, but were unable to stay due to a variety of mishaps. By the 1820s the first permanent settlers established themselves. By the 1830s the first quarry opened, and by the 1840s the first winery opened on the island. The use of the island stone unfortunately destroyed most of the vast glacial grooves, outside of a small preserved area.

Get in[edit]

Kelleys Island Airport

Kelleys Island can be reached by ferry from Sandusky or Marblehead Peninsula, by airplane or private boat.

By Boat[edit]

  • 1 Kelleys Island Ferry Boat, 510 W. Main St., Marblehead, Ohio, +1-419-798-9763. Offers passenger and vehicle ferry service between Kelleys Island and Marblehead runs daily year-round, weather permitting. During peak season, ferries run every half-hour and offer late night service on weekends. There is a parking fee at the Marblehead dock.
    Rates of the Kelleys Island Boat Company (each way) are $9.50 for adults, $6 for children, $15 for autos, $4 for bicycles, and $8 for motorcycles as of 2013.
  • 2 The Jet Express, 101 W Shoreline Dr, Sandusky, Ohio, toll-free: +1-800-245-1538, . Ferry operates daily during summer and weekends spring and fall.. Offers passenger-only ferry service from downtown Sandusky, Ohio to Kelleys Island aboard hydro jet catamarans. Trip takes 20-25 minutes. Drops off passengers at The Casino downtown. $34 (Adult Round Trip).

By Plane[edit]

Map of Kelleys Island

Get around[edit]

The island has many miles of paved roads if you ferry your car to Kelleys Island.

Golf Carts are a popular way for locals to get around, and are available as rentals.

Many choose to travel by foot or bicycle.

See[edit]

Glacial Grooves
Inscription Rock
Alvar on the north side

Ohio's largest island is full of adventure for all ages. It has 600 acres of state park lands, 17 miles of coastline, beautiful wildflowers, nature trails, a fossil-filled quarry, and wetlands which are admired by nature-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. There is also a popular downtown district that offers shopping and entertainment, as well as dining and drinking establishments.

  • 1 Inscription Rock, E Lake Shore Rd (Near the ferry dock at the south end of the island.). Dawn-Dusk. A boulder covered in native petroglyphs. The petroglphys can be difficult to view looking down, angling your view from a lower position can make them more apparent. Please do not throw coins on the rock. Free. Inscription Rock (Q48835667) on Wikidata Inscription Rock (Kelleys Island, Ohio) on Wikipedia
  • 2 Kelleys Island Historical Museum (Kelleys Island Historical Association), 224 Division St, +1 419-746-2399. Exhibits include the Himmelein House, commercial fishing artifacts, Estes school, island churches and wineries, fossils, Indian artifacts and Shays locomotives. Also offers access to a historic church building and garden.
  • 3 Charles Herdon Sculpture Garden and Art Gallery, 110 Laylin Ln, +1 419-746-2249, . A sculpture garden created by a former professor of the Columbus College of Art and Design. Wait outside until greeted for access to the indoor art gallery. The indoor gallery contains artwork for sale. Free.
  • 4 Kelley's Island War Memorial. A memorial in a small public park downtown. The park offers drinking water, as well as a small playground. Free.
  • 5 Monument to the Unknown Soldier. A small monument in the island cemetery. Free.

Do[edit]

  • 1 Glacial Grooves State Memorial (Across the street from the Kelleys Island State Park office). Dawn-Dusk. The world's largest accessible glacial grooves, embedded with fossils that are 350-400 million years old. Located on the north side of the island, the grooves can be viewed from a walkway and stairs. The wavy trough is 400 feet (120 m) long, 35 feet (11 m) wide, and up to 10 feet (3.0 m) deep carved by glaciers pressing large stones along the bedrock. Partially accessible to those in wheelchairs. Free. Glacial Grooves State Memorial (Q40941660) on Wikidata
  • 2 Kelleys Island State Park, 920 Division St, +1 419-734-4424. The park features hiking trails, camping, boat launch ramp, fishing, summer programs, picnic sites, and a sandy swimming beach. Nature in the park includes an Alvar ecosystem - scarce outside of Scandinavia, and rare plants such as the vulnerable Lakeside Daisy. Remnants of abandoned quarry operations can also be seen. Free. Kelleys Island State Park (Q6385748) on Wikidata Kelleys Island State Park on Wikipedia
  • 3 Scheele Preserve, Monagan Rd. Dawn-Dusk. A nature reserve on the Island's east side with a single trail. The beginning of the trail is a low difficulty and usually a good place to spot birds. The end of the trail is often difficult to pass through as it is frequently obstructed by debris and mud. The trail ends on a beautiful white sand beach. Free.
  • 4 North Pond State Nature Preserve, Ward Rd. A preserved lake marsh with a variety of plants, amphibians and migratory birds. Many of the plants here are endangered. Contains a number of observation towers for Birders connected by wooden boardwalks. Does not allow pets. Free.

Buy[edit]

  • 1 Kelley's Island Market. A general store for basic goods such as toiletries, food, and movies. Has an ATM.
  • 2 Village Peddler, 130 Division St, +1 419-724-2377. March-December 10AM-5PM. Sells clothing, accessories, shoes, and gifts.
  • 3 Caddy Shack Square, 115 Division St, +1 419-746-2664, . Offers a variety of themed shops, plus a miniature golf course and a tiki bar.
  • 4 Kelley's Island General Store, 118 Division St, +1 419-746-2357. Sells items for tourists including batteries, island apparel such as windbreakers, and bottled drinks. Also rents Golf Carts by the hour or day.

Eat[edit]

A cheese platter served downtown.
  • 1 Seaway Marina, 240 E Lakeshore Dr, +1 419-746-2506. Su-Th 8AM-7PM, Fr-Sa 7AM-10PM. A marina that offers a variety of amenities including laundry, restrooms, golf cart rentals, and fuel. The main building has a convenience store, and a cafe serving coffee, breakfast, and deli items.

Drink[edit]

Several bars exist in the village, and Kelleys Island Brewery produces several varieties of ale and lager at their facility west of the village.

  • 1 Kelleys Island Wine Company, 418 Woodford Rd, +1 419-746-2678. Rustic indoor and outdoor setting, dining options, special events, catering, and wines. Has a Cantina next door that specializes in blue agave tequila. Horseshoe pit, arcade, volleyball, cornhole, and gift shop also available. Has some cute goats in their backyard, with feed available from their gift shop.
  • 2 The Village Pump, 103 Lakeshore Dr, +1 419-746-2281. A downtown pub. Has good hours. Servings can be rather large. Specialties include perch and their "Brandy Alexander", a creamy drink.
  • 3 Captian's Corner. A lively pub with good hot food.
  • 4 Kelley's Island Brewery (Kelley's Island Brewpub), 504 W Lakeshore Dr, +1 419-656-4335. Has a wide variety of microbrews and desserts. $5-$10.
  • 5 West Bay Inn. A restaurant and Bar in a remote part of the Island. Not actually an Inn.
  • 6 The Island House. Focuses on spirits and desserts. Has some higher end meat and cheese options for food.

Sleep[edit]

A yurt at the State Park
  • 1 Kelleys Island State Park, 920 Division St, +1 419 746-2546. 45 non-electric, 82 electric sites, showers, flush toilets, volleyball court, six miles of hiking trails, North Pond Nature Preserve, North Shore Nature Preserve, picnic areas, a picnic shelter, launch ramps, fishing, 100-foot swimming beach and hunting. Has two yurts with lake views that can be rented.
  • 2 Kelleys Island Venture Resort, 441 W Lakeshore Dr, +1 419 746-2254. Check-out: 11AM. 30-room hotel with balconies and decks. Has a hot tub and pool. Bicycle rental included. $125-300.
  • 3 The Fly Inn Luxury B&B. A bed and breakfast close to the airport

Connect[edit]

The Schoolhouse and Library

The south side of the island is well connected with 4G cellular service and businesses offering Wi-Fi. Outside of downtown, especially on the north side of the island, cellular signals can be poor or non existent. On the north shore you may be able to be able to intermittently connect to Canadian cell towers - Be aware that you may accidentally incur international charges depending on your provider and plan. To avoid this, as well as battery drain, consider switching your phone to airplane mode.

  • 1 Kelley's Island Library & School (Estes School), 528 Division St (Pull around back of the main school building.), +1 419-746-9575. June to August Mo 5PM-7PM,Tu 1PM-3PM, We 10AM-12PM,Th 1PM-3PM, Sa 10AM-12PM. Otherwise Mo 5PM-7PM, Th 1PM-3PM, Sa 10AM-12PM. Offers free Wi-Fi. Limited hours for actually going inside, but the Wi-Fi signal reaches to the parking lot. May offer small art exhibitions and other programming on occasion. Free. Kelleys Island School (Q6385746) on Wikidata Kelleys Island School on Wikipedia
  • 2 Kelleys Island Post Office, 427 W Lakeshore Dr, +1-419-746-2351, toll-free: +1-800-275-8777. 24/7 (Lobby). Shares a building with the electric co-op. The electric co-op has a free observation and rest area next to the lake and some coin operated binoculars.

Stay safe[edit]

The north side of the island is significantly less developed then the south.

Despite its low population and remoteness, Kelleys Island still has a police department and an emergency medical service. Keep in mind that 911 won't work in areas with no signal.

The bedrock on Kelleys Island is very close to the surface, and often bare patches of it are exposed in parks. This rock can be slippery, especially after rain or near the lake. Always pay attention where you're stepping, especially near cliff edges.

Lake Erie is volatile and can be dangerous. Be careful while swimming, especially alone.

Don't enter the abandoned buildings in the woods. Most haven't been maintained since the 1930s.

When a sidewalk is available use it. Walking on the road is punished by a $100 fine from the island police.

Go next[edit]

  • Cedar Point - This amusement park is visible from the south shore.
  • Sandusky - The largest nearby mainland city.
  • Marblehead
  • Cleveland - One of the largest cities on the lake.
  • Toledo - The Glass City on Lake Eries west shore.


This city travel guide to Kelleys Island is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.