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The last stop on mainland Ohio before Lake Erie waters, Catawba Island State Park serves as the main headquarters for Kelleys Island, South Bass and Ohio Point state parks. The day-use park offers a fishing pier, boat launch ramp, picnic shelter, picnic areas and swimming. Ottawa and Huron Indian tribes once roamed this area, leaving their mark on Inscription Rock on Kelleys Island. Pictographic writings over 500 years old are etched in the massive limestone boulder. During the War of 1812, a famous naval battle was fought in Put-In-Bay, off the shores of South Bass Island. With an outnumbered fleet, Admiral Oliver Hazard Perry defeated the ...

The last stop on mainland Ohio before Lake Erie waters, Catawba Island State Park serves as the main headquarters for Kelleys Island, South Bass and Ohio Point state parks. The day-use park offers a fishing pier, boat launch ramp, picnic shelter, picnic areas and swimming. Ottawa and Huron Indian tribes once roamed this area, leaving their mark on Inscription Rock on Kelleys Island. Pictographic writings over 500 years old are etched in the massive limestone boulder. During the War of 1812, a famous naval battle was fought in Put-In-Bay, off the shores of South Bass Island. With an outnumbered fleet, Admiral Oliver Hazard Perry defeated the British, uttering the famous words, "We have met the enemy and they are ours." The decisive victory gave Americans control of Lake Erie and led to the ultimate defeat of the British in the war. Sparsely settled until 1854, the islands became known for their grapes and wine after J.D. Rivers bought the islands and introduced a fruit farm. At one time, island wine was said to be comparable to that of France. Several island wineries still exist today. A renowned summer resort for more than a century, South Bass Island is now one of the most popular vacation spots in Ohio. Areas that make up the Lake Erie Island state parks were added to the Ohio State Park system in the early 1950s.

Jackie Finch
About the Expert

Jackie Sheckler Finch has written several guidebooks, including The Unofficial Guide to Campgrounds in the Great Lakes States, and four times she was named Travel Writer of the Year by Midwest Travel Writers Association.

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    September, when the air is crisp with low humidity.