We don’t think much about them all winter. But we’re quick to annex the Lake Erie islands as soon as summer strikes. Never mind that they’re located75 miles west or that residents of Port Clinton may not respect our hasty advances toward the archipelago located just off their shore. Make like Commodore Perry and fight for your piece of Lake Erie. What you get from the American islands open to visitors (Canada has a stake in the chain, too) depend son where you go.
Middle Bass Island: This 758-acre island is the most rural of the three frequented by visitors. Quiet with a capital “Q,” the biggest news in recent years has been the development of the former Lonz Winery property into a state park. www.middlebass.org
South Bass Island: The lone town of Put-in-Bay has retained its 19-century Victorian charm with a quaint town square. But this place is really a sanctuary for party animals. Go looking for a quiet time on the weekend and you’ll find dozens of roving bachelor and bachelorette parties. Never fear. You can visit during the week for a quieter atmosphere. Just for the kitsch of it, check out the ”World’s Longest Bar”(405 feet, 10 inches) inside the Beer Barrel Saloon in downtown Put-In-Bay. www.putinbay.com
Kelleys Island: It’s nearly twice the size of South Bass Island, but this place has managed to maintain a sleepy, small-town atmosphere. The wildest attractions here are the impressive grooves left behind in the rock by glaciers. Look for Inscription Rock, a huge limestone boulder covered with arly tribal etchings displayed near the island’s commercial district. http://www.kelleysisland.com/
How to get there Jet Express, 1-800-455-1538, www.jet-express.com; dailyservice from Port Clinton to Put-in-Bay and from Sandusky to Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island .
Miller Boat Line, 1-800-500-2421, www.millerferry.com; daily service for passengers and vehicles from Port Clinton to South Bass and Middle Bass islands (vehicle reservations required for trips to Middle Bass Island).
Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Line, (419) 789-9763, www.kelleyislandferry.com; Offers daily trips from Marblehead to Kelleys Island.