Looking for the best things to do in Port Clinton Ohio? When you think of Port Clinton, Ohio, do you picture the beautiful shores of Lake Erie or the charming small-town vibe? Well, no matter what comes to mind, one thing’s certain – Port Clinton offers plenty of exciting activities beyond just enjoying the beach or strolling along the shoreline.
Port Clinton boasts a long, picturesque coastline with a variety of tourist attractions. You can find golf courses, beachfront restaurants, and other delightful spots that make this city a fantastic place to explore. Nestled in the tranquility of Lake Erie, Port Clinton has a reputation for its beaches, fishing, and boating, all of which draw visitors.
The city is also home to numerous museums, dining options, and shops. Tourism plays a significant role in the city’s economy, reflecting its popularity among visitors. In fact, the entire Port Clinton area, including Ottawa County and Erie County, is known as “Vacationland” – a name that speaks volumes.
Throughout the year, the city hosts various events, such as the National Rifle Matches and the famous spring bird migration in Ottawa. Port Clinton offers a wide range of attractions, including luxurious cruises, boat tours, charming ferry rides, excellent fishing spots, bustling markets, and scenic lighthouses by the sea.
You’ll also find beautiful beaches, picturesque ports, ethnic museums, thrilling wildlife safaris, adventure-filled water parks, nearby islands, and serene blue lagoons. Combining the appeal of a business town and a water wonderland, this destination provides a fantastic example of the perfect vacation experience.
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Here are the best things to do in Port Clinton Ohio:
1. Go on the Amazing Jet Express Tour
The Jet Express stands out as one of the best things to do in Port Clinton Ohio. It serves as the crown jewel of this charming town, serving multiple roles. It’s not only a vital mode of transportation within Ottawa County but also the bustling hub of tourism, a crucial fishing harbor, and a hub for imports and exports. Additionally, it boasts an array of outdoor activities that cater to various interests.
This remarkable cruise ship seems almost otherworldly with its pristine white exterior adorned with golden lights, symbolizing luxury in transportation. The Jet Express offers an extensive range of excursions to destinations such as Put-in-Bay, Kelleys Island, and more. The journey across Lake Erie treats passengers to breathtaking views of ultramarine waters and the mesmerizing pink hues of the setting sky.
Inside, passengers can expect classy, clean, and spacious lounges with plush seats and beautifully adorned decks. For those seeking adventure, the Jet Express even provides late-night escapades to the island, featuring thrilling activities. All these aspects combine to make the Jet Express one of the premier attractions to experience in Port Clinton, Ohio.
2. Catch the Miller Boat Line Ferries
Situated on Water Street, this establishment offers aquatic transportation services via ferries. Various destinations are accessible, with options such as a 20-minute ferry ride to Put-in-Bay and a 45-minute journey to Middle Bass in Ohio. Remarkably affordable fares are available here, likely the most budget-friendly in the city.
They also provide comprehensive information on discounts, notable landmarks, and the finest dining establishments to enhance your visit. The frequency of these trips ensures you can catch a ferry at any time of the day. Crossing these waters consistently offers a truly enchanting and magical experience.
3. Go on a Trip to the Famous African Safari Wildlife Park
One of the best things to do in Port Clinton Ohio, is to visit the African Wildlife Safari Park on Lightner Road. As the name suggests, this park offers an unparalleled wildlife interaction experience, surpassing typical zoos. It goes above and beyond, and it recently marked its 52nd WILD season. When you visit, don’t forget to bring some snacks, not for yourself but for the camel you’re going to feed.
At the African Wildlife Safari Park, you’ll have countless opportunities to hand-feed various animals. Be prepared for adorable alpacas approaching your feet and enormous camels reaching into your car window. Alongside these, you’ll encounter iconic animals like giraffes, as well as a diverse array of species including zebras, yaks, and boas.
4. Visit the Fascinating Liberty Aviation Museum
Situated on E. State Road, the Liberty Aviation Museum is a unique institution that encompasses a wide range of artifacts related to both aviation and the military. Given its aviation focus, it’s conveniently located at the Erie–Ottawa International Airport. The assortment of items and memorabilia on display here is truly exceptional.
Within its exhibits, you’ll find not only Ford Tri-Motors but also an array of military equipment, including the World War II bomber known as “Georgie’s Gal,” which dates back to 1945. A dedicated section is devoted to the events of World War II, featuring an impressive showcase of ground vehicles such as the 1941 Dodge Ambulance and replicas of Tiger tanks. Furthermore, the museum boasts an exhibition of World War II boats and even houses a collection of Hollywood memorabilia.
5. Have a Fun-Filled Day at the Watering Hole at Monsoon Lagoon
One of the best things to do in Port Clinton Ohio, is to visit The Watering Hole at Monson Lagoon, a fantastic combination of a water park and zoo, offering visitors double the excitement. The park boasts a wide variety of rides suitable for all ages, including a colossal water slide with oversized pipes that provide an exhilarating plunge into the pool.
Additionally, The Watering Hole features a zoo housing captivating animals like giraffes, zebras, kangaroos, and cows, allowing visitors to observe and interact with these fascinating creatures. To recharge between all the entertainment, there’s a food court and a bar on-site. You can also indulge in activities like miniature golf, arcades, safaris, bumper cars, and much more, making it an ideal destination for a day of family fun.
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6. Enjoy the View from the Port Clinton Lighthouse
The significance of this landmark extends to both Port Clinton natives and visitors from distant places. Given Port Clinton’s status as a port city, it comes as no surprise that a lighthouse stands out as a must-visit attraction. Yet, this lighthouse carries even greater historical importance, serving as a prominent symbol of Port Clinton’s heritage, with its pristine and towering white walls.
This lighthouse ranks among the oldest in the Lake Erie region, its construction dating back to 1833. Surrounding it, there is a garden and a scenic hiking path. Despite its relatively compact size, the Port Clinton Lighthouse welcomes visitors to explore its interior and relish panoramic views from the top, provided they opt for a guided tour.
7. Walk through the Surreal Catawba Island State Park
One of the best things to do in Port Clinton Ohio, is to visit Catawba Island State Park, situated on Mooresdock Road. This versatile entertainment destination caters to tourists with its pristine grounds enveloped by lush vegetation and trees adorned in amber hues, evoking the essence of autumn.
The park boasts a waterfront area featuring bay boating activities, ferry rides, a picturesque bridge, and wooden seating areas complemented by charming cottages for relaxation. Adventurous souls can partake in activities such as fishing and kayaking, while families can make use of the picnic tables thoughtfully arranged for their enjoyment. Stroll along the lakeside shorelines to soak in scenic vistas, and let the little ones revel in the playgrounds available.
8. Savor the Perfect Sip at Twin Oast Brewing
One of the best things to do in Port Clinton Ohio, is to embark on a day of sightseeing, complemented by a memorable tour and a delightful sip at a picturesque location. Twin Oast Brewing, conveniently situated on Catawba Road, is a scenic brewery and restaurant that welcomes families with open arms.
The unique architectural design of this brewery exudes a charming rustic and vintage ambiance. This establishment features both an open-air restaurant and indoor facilities, offering a diverse selection of beers, including options like Old Ohio, Helles Yeah, Oast, Toast, Dangerous, and more. While you savor your beverage, don’t forget to indulge in a delicious Bavarian Pretzel for the perfect experience.
9. Pay a Visit to the Shores & Islands Ohio Welcome Center
Nestled on Catawba Road, the Shores & Islands Ohio Welcome Center is a marvel of design. This welcoming hub is adorned with top-notch amenities, including complimentary Wi-Fi, informative brochures, restroom facilities, and captivating interactive displays. Visitors are particularly fond of the helpful staff who readily offer suggestions for exploring the attractions in Port Clinton and Ottawa County.
As you explore the center, you’ll encounter audio presentations and captivating videos strategically placed throughout. These multimedia offerings provide tailored information based on your specific interests, whether it’s scenic landscapes like lakes and ports or historically significant sites such as museums and monuments.
10. Spend Some Peaceful Quality Time at Lakeview Park
One of the best things to do in Port Clinton Ohio, is to visit Lakeview Park. Nestled within the bustling city, Lakeview Park on Perry Street offers some of the most breathtaking views of Lake Erie and the surrounding area.
This scenic park boasts picnic tables perfect for families, pavilions for hosting celebrations and events, as well as small watchtowers for children and a snack bar to cater to everyone’s cravings. You can easily access the pristine blue waters of Lake Erie by descending the rocky shoreline, all while enjoying the park’s beauty enhanced by benches and lush greenery.
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11. Get All the Fish You Want at Fisherman’s Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf in Port Clinton offers an ideal setting to satisfy your fishing and seafood cravings. Often referred to as a pier or a lively boardwalk area, it provides a multitude of activities for visitors. Situated in the heart of Downtown Port Clinton, this bustling hub is surrounded by boats, ferries, launches, and cruises.
Offering tourists both transportation and entertainment options. As the evening descends, the waters transform into a mesmerizing shade of pink, illuminated by the enchanting portlights. And, naturally, you can indulge in a bounty of freshly caught fish right here.
12. Come to Know about Catawba Island Historical Society
One of the best things to do in Port Clinton Ohio, is to visit the Catawba Island Historical Society Museum, a significant historical site located on Porter Street. Each year, the museum showcases various aspects of local history through artifacts, pictures, videos, and related memorabilia.
Additionally, you’ll find a charming Union Chapel on the premises, featuring lovely architecture adorned with quaint paintings in a picturesque white building. The atmosphere here is typically serene and tranquil, except on event days. It serves as an excellent destination to leisurely explore during your free time in Port Clinton, and the best part is, admission is free for all.
13. Go Paddling with the Portage River Paddling Company
When you’re in Ohio, don’t miss out on the abundance of outdoor activities available. To ensure you make the most of your time, consider exploring the waters of Port Clinton with a visit to the Portage River Paddling Company. Here, you can immerse yourself in a fantastic day of river paddling, an essential experience when you’re in one of the top water adventure destinations.
Situated alongside the picturesque Portage River, the Portage River Paddling Company offers numerous daily trips along the river. You can also partake in activities like kayaking, paddleboarding, tandem kayaking, canoeing, and pedal boating. As you peacefully glide along the river, the captivating views of marine life and lush vegetation will leave a lasting impression. It’s a must-do for outdoor enthusiasts visiting the area.
14. Get Some Shopping Done at Cheese Haven
No trip is truly fulfilled without the joy of souvenir shopping, and what could be a better keepsake than delicious food? Cheese Haven in Port Clinton is your ultimate destination for all things cheese-related. This emporium boasts an impressive selection of 12 delectable cheese varieties that will surely tantalize your taste buds.
In addition to their cheese offerings, Cheese Haven also presents an array of other delights, including various cuts of fresh meat, perfect for savoring during your stay in Port Clinton. You’ll also find an assortment of candies and baked goods, making this establishment a beloved haven for food enthusiasts.
15. Go Gaming at the Island Adventures Family Fun Center
Discover the best things to do in Port Clinton Ohio, at Island Adventures Family Fun Center. This fantastic entertainment destination offers a wide array of activities to ensure a memorable experience for you and your family. From thrilling racing zones and tracks for adults and teenagers to a delightful mini-golf course for golf enthusiasts, there’s something for everyone. Explore the captivating rock garden adorned with waterfalls and a serene mini pool, adding to the charm of this place.
Tubing games are a must-try attraction that draws crowds. Additionally, Island Adventures Family Fun Center boasts an indoor gaming zone where you can enjoy various activities such as pool, darts, go-karts, and an exciting selection of video games. Don’t forget to visit the food court to refuel and keep the fun going. Island Adventures Family Fun Center has it all, making it one of the best things to do in Port Clinton Ohio.
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16. Admire the Beach at Dock’s Beach House
Savor your meal with a breathtaking panoramic view of Lake Erie at Dock’s Beach House. The stunning shoreline scenery is so captivating that you might find it hard to focus on your food, but fear not, as their dishes are absolutely delicious. Dive into a selection of mouthwatering sandwiches, wraps, and baskets, featuring tempting options like chicken tenders, veggie burgers, beach tacos, and more to cater to all tastes.
Families are well taken care of with a dedicated kid’s menu, ensuring a delightful dining experience for young patrons as well. And, of course, don’t miss the chance to indulge in their specialty beach cocktails to complete your visit to this picturesque dining spot.
17. Dine at Tin Goose Diner
Constructed in the 1950s by the Jerry O’Mahony Diner Company of Elizabeth, The Tin Goose Diner is not just a place to enjoy delicious food; it’s also a living museum piece that provides a glimpse into the dining culture of bygone decades. While you’re here, make sure to take in the historical ambiance, but don’t miss the chance to savor their delectable dishes.
Indulge in classics like traditional waffles, hotcakes, and French toast, or venture into their menu of omelets and hangar specialties. The Tin Goose Diner offers a blend of culinary nostalgia and mouthwatering flavors that should be experienced during your visit.
18. Enjoy a Meal at Ciao Bella
When it comes to the best things to do in Port Clinton Ohio, make sure to include a visit to Ciao Bella in your plans. This renowned restaurant is a must-visit, and their lunch menu is absolutely exceptional. Don’t miss out on trying their calamari and sausage rustica, which are among the finest options you’ll find.
Additionally, Ciao Bella boasts an impressively diverse selection of soups and salads, allowing you to choose your favorites. However, the true highlight lies in their delectable pasta and pizzas, so be sure to savor these culinary delights when you have the opportunity.
19. Try Out the Dishes of Orchard Farm Stand
This farm stand welcomes guests for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. Start your day by perusing their breakfast menu, where you can choose between coffee, tea, or perhaps a latte to accompany delicious options like avocado toast, the classic breakfast sandwich, or a breakfast burger from their extensive selection. The delectable flavors of their dishes will undoubtedly leave you craving more after every meal. Additionally, they offer a bar that serves specialty drinks, perfect for those looking to explore the local nightlife.
20. Go to Rosie’s Bar and Grill
When exploring the best things to do in Port Clinton Ohio, Rosie’s Bar and Grill is a downtown gem that should not be missed. Once you step inside, you’ll be treated to a delightful culinary experience. Their menu boasts a wide array of appetizers to kick off your meal.
However, a must-try is their specialty and seasonal salads, which are among the restaurant’s standout offerings. For a personalized touch, you can even craft your own pasta with a fettuccine base and your choice of toppings. Additionally, Rosie’s Bar and Grill features an extensive wine list, allowing you to find the perfect pairing for your delectable meal.
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21. See the Grande Parade at the Main Street Port Clinton Walleye Festival
One of the city’s most cherished outdoor traditions is the Main Street Port Clinton Walleye Festival. This yearly gathering serves as both a Memorial Day weekend celebration and a unique city-wide event. It boasts a diverse range of live concerts and family-friendly activities, making it the ultimate summer kick-off. With nostalgic carnival rides and a fishing derby for the kids, it offers something for everyone.
However, the true highlight of this event is the Grande Parade, where a multitude of floats and bands fill the streets with vibrant red, blue, and white colors. There’s no better way to honor Memorial Day in Ohio than by attending the Main Street Port Clinton Walleye Festival. This captivating celebration unfolds on the picturesque shores of Lake Erie in Waterworks Park.
22. Escape Reality with a Game at Visions VR
Looking to elevate your gaming experience to new heights? Look no further than Visions VR! This VR center is dedicated to offering an array of arcade games catering to single players, doubles, and teams. Whether you’re in the mood for classic fun or up for a thrilling horror challenge, you’ll find a wide selection to suit your preferences.
What sets Visions VR apart is its inclusion of a virtual reality escape room. Here, you can immerse yourself in realistic settings, solving puzzles and uncovering clues to make your escape. It adds a whole new level of excitement to the experience. Located on East Perry Street, Visions VR warmly welcomes both children and adults to partake in the fun.
23. Start a Memorable RV Camping Experience at Shade Acres Campground
If you’re looking for the best things to do in Port Clinton Ohio, consider disconnecting from your usual routine with a stay at Shade Acres Campground. This seasonal campground provides a unique blend of RV camping and cottage lodgings, both immersed in a rustic ambiance created by dense tree groves and surrounded by several marinas on the property.
When you’re ready to embark on your Port Clinton adventure, you’re in luck because this campground is conveniently located near many local attractions. Some noteworthy options include exploring the Miller and Jet Ferry Lines or delving into the fascinating Train Museum. You’ll find Shade Acres Campground easily accessible via Northwest Catawba Road.
24. Walk by Jeffersons Pier at Waterworks Park
Waterworks Park stands as one of Port Clinton’s renowned city parks, gaining fame partly due to its enigmatic landmark, the Port Clinton Lighthouse. Moreover, it serves as a popular venue for various community events. Its amenities, including a playground and outdoor sports courts, make it a favorite destination for couples, friends, and families with children.
Additionally, the park boasts the scenic Jefferson Street Pier and its inviting walkable rock slabs. A day spent by the waterfront offers splendid ocean-and-skyline views that are truly captivating. To access Waterworks Park, simply make your way to East Perry Street.
25. Take Your Loved Ones Out for Bowling at Twin Star Centers
When it comes to the best things to do in Port Clinton, Ohio, Twin Star Centers should be at the top of your list for indoor group entertainment. This bowling center provides a range of options, including open bowling sessions, glow bowling, and competitive leagues. Dive into the excitement of the arcade center and try your hand at axe-throwing lanes.
For some friendly competition, gather your friends and engage in thrilling group laser tag battles to determine the ultimate champion. Notably, Twin Star Centers also has a second location in Sandusky, but you can conveniently find the Port Clinton center on Buckeye Boulevard.
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26. Relax in Country Inn & Suites by Radisson
If you’re searching for the best things to do in Port Clinton Ohio, consider staying at the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson Port Clinton. This hotel, located just minutes from Lake Erie, provides an array of amenities, including free Wi-Fi, a fitness center, an indoor pool, a hot tub, a business center, a restaurant, and a bar. The spacious and comfortable guest rooms and suites make it an ideal choice for both business and leisure travelers.
27. Visit The Ottawa County Visitor’s Bureau
This magnificent structure, situated on Catawba Road, boasts a stunning architectural design. It offers a host of modern amenities, including complimentary Wi-Fi, informative brochures, restroom facilities, and interactive displays of various objects. Visitors greatly appreciate the valuable recommendations from the welcoming staff regarding attractions in Port Clinton and Ottawa County.
Inside the center, you can immerse yourself in audio and video presentations. You have the flexibility to select your preferred type of excursion, and they will provide you with detailed information. The options are diverse, ranging from picturesque natural areas like lakes and ports to historically significant sites such as museums and monuments.
28. Go to Harbor Freeway Lanes
One of the best things to do in Port Clinton Ohio, is to visit Harbor Freeway Lanes, a renowned destination for bowling and family entertainment. At Harbor Freeway Lanes, you can enjoy quality time with family and friends while indulging in a game of bowling or savoring delicious food.
This popular establishment welcomes guests from Sunday to Thursday, operating from 8 a.m. until midnight, and extends its hours to 1 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and holidays. Additionally, if you’re planning a special celebration like a birthday party, you have the option to reserve their private bowling lanes for an unforgettable experience. If you’re new to bowling, there’s no need to worry!
Harbor Freeway Lanes offers a comprehensive 1-hour beginner’s course where you can gain fundamental insights into the sport. This course covers essential bowling techniques, the rules of the game, the proper use of bowling shoes, and how to keep track of your score. Moreover, families with children can take advantage of a dedicated bowling lane designed specifically for kids, ensuring a fantastic and enjoyable outing for the entire family.
29. Visit Ottawa County Historical Museum
Within the Ottawa County Historical Museum, you’ll discover a fascinating collection of artifacts, tales, and historical objects that showcase the rich heritage of the region. This museum provides a diverse range of exhibits, encompassing archaeological and geological treasures, fossils, and geological specimens. Additionally, you can explore artifacts highlighting the maritime history of the area. To add to its charm, the museum boasts a splendid planetarium as one of its notable features.
30. Have a Nice Time at the Bait House
Located lakeside in Port Clinton, Ohio, The Bait House stands as one of the best things to do in Port Clinton Ohio. It serves as a tranquil haven for dedicated anglers, set against the stunning backdrop of Lake Erie’s natural beauty. This renowned establishment ensures that avid anglers have everything they need for a successful day on the water.
Beyond being a mere store, The Bait House transcends into a welcoming gathering spot, where seasoned fishermen share their stories and novices find valuable mentorship. For any fishing enthusiast who appreciates the serenity of the water and the charm of the local community, The Bait House is an absolute must-visit attraction in Port Clinton, Ohio.
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If you’re seeking the best things to do in Port Clinton Ohio, you’ve stumbled upon a hidden gem that seamlessly marries the tranquility of Lake Erie with the vibrancy of a bustling tourist destination. From the stunning coastline and recreational activities to the diverse culinary scene and cultural offerings, Port Clinton embodies the essence of “Vacationland.”
Whether you’re drawn to the water, history, or simply a charming small-town atmosphere, Port Clinton has it all. So, make sure to add Port Clinton, Ohio, to your travel bucket list, and experience firsthand the enchantment of a place that truly defines the best things to do in Port Clinton Ohio.