Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in Port Clinton, OH

  • Published 2023/03/13

Port Clinton is situated on the bank of the Portage River in the Lake Erie area.

With a population of approximately 6,000, Port Clinton is a port city filled with a mix of different ethnicities and some of the most incredible attractions.

Its lakefront location also yields a number of activities you can enjoy, from boating and water sports to fishing, paddling, and much more.

Recreational tourism makes for one of the biggest economically contributing factors in the city, which shows how popular and loved it is among tourists.

As a matter of fact, the entire Port Clinton area surrounded by the Ottawa County and Erie County make up what is termed “Vacationland,” which speaks for itself.

Many events are held in the city throughout the year, like the National Rifles Matches and the world-famous springtime migration of birds in Ottawa.

Lavish and out-of-this-world cruises, boat tours, cozy ferry rides, endless fishing areas and markets, lighthouses by the sea, and beautiful beaches and ports are just some of the things Port Clinton has in store for you.

There are also ethnic museums, wildlife safaris, adventure-filled water parks, islands, and beautiful blue lagoons.

A perfect combination of a business town and a water wonder world, this destination’s offerings create a fine example of what a true vacation should be made up of.

Here are the best things to do in Port Clinton, Ohio:

Catch the Miller Boat Line Ferries

A Miller Boatline Ferry on the waters

Kevin Payravi, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This is located on Water Street and provides a ride on the waters in the form of ferries.

There are many types of locations you can visit.

For example, there is a ferry that can take you to Put-in-Bay, which takes about 20 minutes.

There is also a ride to the Middle Bass in Ohio, which is about a 45-minute ride.

The fares are arguably the lowest in the city, and they give a detailed idea of coupons, landmarks, and the best restaurants to help you make the most out of your visit.

These trips are pretty frequent; hence you will find them running at any time of the day.

Passing through these waters is always a magical experience.

Go on the Amazing Jet Express Tour

Jet Express cruising on the waters

User: (WT-shared) 2old at wts wikivoyage, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The ultimate gem of Port Clinton, the Jet Express is the main area of interest with the vast section of activities performed here.

This is a major mode of transportation in Ottawa County.

It is also the most active tourism spot, an extremely important fishing harbor, works for exports and imports, and holds an array of outdoor activities.

The cruise ship looks practically out of this world, with its white exterior and golden shining lights, speaking of luxury transportation.

Side body of a Jet Express boat

Paul Frederickson, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

The Jet Express provides a wide range of trips to different places like Put-in-Bay, Kelleys Island, and more.

The trip through Erie Lake is exceptionally scenic, with ultramarine waters and pink setting skies.

The passenger lounges are super classy, clean, and spacious; the seats are well-cushioned, and the decks are beautifully decorated.

The Jet Express also offers late-night adventures to the island, which include various thrilling activities.

All these make the Jet Express one of the top attractions to experience in Port Clinton.

Go on a Trip to the Famous African Safari Wildlife Park

Feeding the animals of African Safari Wildlife Park from a car

Becker1999 from Grove City, OH, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This wildlife safari park offering a once-in-a-lifetime experience is located on Lightner Road.

You can guess by its name that the level of interaction you are going to have with the wildlife here is simply not comparable to an ordinary zoo.

It offers a lot more and beyond that.

The park recently celebrated its 52nd WILD season.

Take some snacks with you, not for yourself but for the camel you are about to feed.

At the African Wildlife Safari Park, there are endless opportunities for you to feed animals with your own hands.

Hence, be prepared for an adorable alpaca to get at your feet or a huge camel to dig in its neck through your car window.

Giraffes are another famous animal you’ll see here, along with hundreds of other species like zebra, yaks, and boas.

Visit the Fascinating Liberty Aviation Museum

Located on E. State Road, the Liberty Aviation Museum is a multi-specialty museum, as it covers both aviation- and military-related artifacts.

Because of the aviation part, it is located at Erie–Ottawa International Airport.

The collection of items and memorabilia here is simply outstanding.

There are ford tri-motors and more war equipment, like the World War II bomber “Georgie’s Gal,” which was created in 1945.

There is an entire section dedicated to the World War.

Plenty of ground vehicles are showcased here, such as the 1941 Dodge Ambulance and Tiger tank replicas.

World War II boats are also displayed here, along with Hollywood memorabilia.

Have a Fun-Filled Day at the Watering Hole at Monsoon Lagoon

The Watering Hole at Monson Lagoon is also a water park and zoo; hence it provides visitors with double the fun.

There are so many rides for guests of all ages to enjoy.

There is a huge water slide with larger-than-life pipes from which you can slide down into the pool.

The Watering Hole also has a zoo that’s home to animals like giraffes, zebras, kangaroos, and cows, which visitors may observe and pet.

There is a food court and bar that you can enjoy in between all the fun and games.

You can also come to the Watering Hole for activities like miniature golf, arcades, safari, bumper, and many more.

Enjoy the View from the Port Clinton Lighthouse

Daytime view of the Port Clinton Lighthouse

Wirestock Creators /

This landmark holds immense importance both to the natives of Port Clinton and the visitors from a far-off land.

As Port Clinton is a port city, it shouldn’t be surprising that a lighthouse is one of its must-visit attractions.

This lighthouse, however, is a major historical monument and speaks of the heritage of Port Clinton with its fresh and tall white walls.

A moon over the Port Clinton Lighthouse

Jeff Warneck /

It is one of the oldest lighthouses in the area of Lake Erie and was built in 1833.

There is a garden and hiking path around it.

The Port Clinton Lighthouse is compact in size, and visitors are allowed to enter and enjoy the views from the top, provided that they avail of a guided tour.

Walk through the Surreal Catawba Island State Park

Catawba Island State Park is located on Mooresdock Road and serves as a multi-purpose entertainment area for tourists.

It comprises a smooth and well-maintained park with thick vegetation spread all around and amber-shaded trees that give the feel of autumn.

There is also, of course, the water port with bay boating activities and ferries, a bridge, and a wooden sitting area with cottages where you can sit and enjoy.

Activities like fishing and kayaking are also practiced here.

Picnic tables are arranged for families, and there are shorelines to walk by with a view of the lake and playgrounds to enjoy.

Savor the Perfect Sip at Twin Oast Brewing

A day filled with sightseeing will call for a perfect sip at an excellent location, which might also provide a memorable touring experience.

Twin Oast Brewing, located on Catawba Road, is a scenic brewery and restaurant, so taking your kids here will not be an issue.

The architecture of this brewery is very interesting, giving a rustic vintage feel.

It boasts an open-air restaurant and indoor facilities, too.

Twin Oast Brewing offers endless varieties of beer, like the Old Ohio, Helles Yeah, Oast, Toast, Dangerous, and others.

Enjoy a drink and grab a Bavarian Pretzel.

Pay a Visit to the Shores & Islands Ohio Welcome Center

A beautifully designed building, Shores & Islands Ohio Welcome Center is located on Catawba Road.

It is lit up with the best features, like free Wi-Fi, brochures to guide you, restrooms, and extremely interactive displays of objects.

Travelers love that the friendly staff provides recommendations for things to do around Port Clinton and Ottawa County.

There are audio presentations and videos all around the center to engage you.

They give you information based on the type of journey you are interested in taking.

Variations include scenic areas like lakes and ports or historically significant spots like museums and monuments.

Spend Some Peaceful Quality Time at Lakeview Park

Lakeview Park is truly a place of refuge within the bustling city.

This picturesque park is located on Perry Street and is just at the banks of Lake Erie, therefore providing some of the most magnificent views of the lake and the surrounding area.

There are picnic tables set for visitors with families, along with pavilions for celebrations and events.

What’s more, there are also small watchtowers for children and a snack bar for everyone.

The blue waters of Lake Erie can be reached from here while going down the rocky shore.

Benches and lush greenery enhance this park’s beauty.

Get All the Fish You Want at Fisherman’s Wharf

Port Clinton’s Fisherman’s Wharf is a perfect area to fulfill all your fishing and fish-eating desires.

It can also be called a pier or board walking area with lots of things to do.

It is located around Downtown Port Clinton, and the entire area is filled with boats, ferries, launches, and cruises, which tourists can use as a mode of transportation or entertainment.

In the evening, the entire water reflects pink with the portlights, which looks surreal.

You can, of course, grab all the fish you want from here.

Come to Know about Catawba Island Historical Society

The Catawba Island Historical Society Museum is a landmark and historical site on Porter Street.

Every year, they choose different topics of local history to be portrayed at the museum.

Artifacts, pictures, videos, and other types of related memorabilia are put on display.

There is a beautiful Union Chapel here, too.

The entrance is free for all, and the architecture is adorable with quaint paintings and a white-colored building.

The ambiance is usually peaceful and quiet except for on event days.

It is a perfect spot to spend your free time in Port Clinton.

Go Paddling with the Portage River Paddling Company

While in Ohio, missing out on all the outdoor activities on offer would surely be a loss.

To save yourself from that, have a fabulous time on the waters of Port Clinton by checking out the Portage River Paddling Company.

Enjoy a day of proper river paddling, which is a must when visiting one of the finest water adventure destinations around.

Located by the beautiful Portage River, the Portage River Paddling Company provides lots of trips through the river every day.

Other activities include kayaking, paddleboarding, river paddling, tandem kayaking, canoeing, and pedal boating.

While you float on the river, the views of marine life and vegetation will be worth remembering.

Get Some Shopping Done at Cheese Haven

A trip is never complete without getting to shop for souvenirs—and what better item to take home with you than good food?

Cheese Haven is the one-stop location in Port Clinton for all your cheese-related cravings.

This shopping center has a record-making 12 varieties of mouth-watering cheese.

Apart from this, they also have a load of other items like different types of fresh meat for you to enjoy during your stay at Port Clinton.

They also offer other goods like various kinds of candies and baked goods, which makes this place a favorite among foodies.

Go Gaming at the Island Adventures Family Fun Center

Let Island Adventures Family Fun Center remind you and your family what true entertainment feels like with their huge arena of amazing gaming collections and features.

There is a racing zone and track for adults and teenagers and a mini-golf course for all golf lovers.

In addition, there is an extremely beautiful rock garden with waterfalls and a mini pool.

Tubing games are incredibly famous here.

Island Adventures Family Fun Center also comprises an indoor gaming zone with a range of activities to choose from, like pool, darts, go-karts, and a range of video games.

There is also a food court.

Admire the Beach at Dock’s Beach House

Eat with a wide and open view of the gorgeous shores of Lake Erie at Dock’s Beach House; the view is so distracting that you’d almost forget to eat if the dishes weren’t so delectable.

Try out their sandwiches, wraps and baskets; they have chicken tenders, veggie burgers, beach tacos and many more options for all their patrons.

There’s also a kid’s menu to ensure that even their young patrons will have the best experience possible while they’re there.

And, of course, you can’t forget to try out their specialty beach cocktails while you’re there.

Dine at Tin Goose Diner

The Tin Goose Diner was built in the 1950s by the Jerry O’Mahony Diner Company of Elizabeth.

Aside from the great food, this diner is also a fully functioning museum artifact where you can get a snapshot of the kind of diners people ate at decades ago.

But, the food is one of its main attractions, and you should definitely sample the dishes while you’re there.

Try out some traditional waffles, hot cakes, and french toast, or maybe some omelets alongside their hangar specialties.

Enjoy a Meal at Ciao Bella

Ciao Bella is another one of the top restaurants in the area you should definitely check out; their lunch menu is simply to die for.

Their calamari and sausage rustica are one of the bests you’ll ever taste, and the restaurant also offers an incredibly extensive soup and salad menu, so you can take your pick on what you like.

Of course, the main attraction is their pasta and pizzas, so give those a shot if you have the chance.

Try Out the Dishes of Orchard Farm Stand

This farm stand is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.

You can check out their breakfast menu and see how you’d like to start your day.

Do you want coffee, tea, or maybe a latte?

Pair that drink with either an avocado toast, the classic breakfast sandwich, a breakfast burger, or something else from their extensive menu.

The taste of their dishes alone is enough to keep you coming back for more after every meal.

They also have a bar serving specialty drinks if you want to get into the area’s nightlife as well.

Go to Rosie’s Bar and Grill

You’ll find Rosie’s Bar and Grill in downtown Port Clinton, and you’re in for a great treat once you’re there.

They have a lot of appetizers on their menu, so you’ll have a lot to choose from as you start your meal.

However, one of the top things you should definitely try out while you’re there are their specialty and seasonal salads.

You can also build your own pasta with a fettucini base and any kind of toppings you want to have.

The restaurant also has an extensive wine list you can check out to pair with your delectable meal.

See the Grande Parade at the Main Street Port Clinton Walleye Festival

One of the city’s premier outdoor traditions is the Main Street Port Clinton Walleye Festival.

This annual event counts as both a Memorial Day weekend and a unique city celebration.

It features a variety of live concerts and family-friendly attractions.

It’s the ultimate kick-off event for summer, with its nostalgic carnival rides and a fishing derby for the kids.

But one of its most anticipated program highlights is the Grande Parade, where a bevy of floats and bands paint the streets red, blue, and white.

There’s no way to celebrate Memorial Day in Ohio than the Main Street Port Clinton Walleye Festival.

This event takes place on the stunning shores of Lake Erie in Waterworks Park.

Escape Reality with a Game at Visions VR

Ready to take your gaming amusement to the next level?

Say hello to Visions VR!

This virtual reality center specializes in a collection of arcade games for single, double, and team players.

From classic child’s play to challenging adult horror games, you have many options to choose from.

The center also features an escape room within a virtual reality setting.

So, you can solve puzzles and find out clues to your escape within realistic settings for a more worthwhile experience.

Visions VR opens its doors for children and adults alike on East Perry Street.

Start a Memorable RV Camping Experience at Shade Acres Campground

Disconnect from your usual routine with a stay at Shade Acres Campground.

This seasonal campground offers the best of both worlds—RV camping and cottage lodgings.

Both offer a rustic feel to your usual camping experience with dense tree groves and several marinas within the property.

Should you want to go on a Port Clinton adventure, it’s easy for you to do so, because this campground is close to many local attractions.

Some of these include the Miller and Jet Ferry Lines and the Train Museum.

You can get to Shade Acres Campground via Northwest Catawba Road.

Walk by Jeffersons Pier at Waterworks Park

Waterworks Park is one of Port Clinton’s famous city parks.

This is, in part, because it is home to the mysterious Port Clinton Lighthouse.

Alongside that, the park is also a common community event venue.

With its playground area and outdoor sports courts, the park is a massive hit among couples, friends, and families with kids.

The park also offers Jefferson Street Pier and its walkable rock slabs.

Spend a day out on the waterfront; the ocean-and-skyline views are all worth it!

Head over to East Perry Street to reach Waterworks Park.

Take Your Loved Ones Out for Bowling at Twin Star Centers

Twin Star Centers is your best choice for a round of indoor group fun in Port Clinton.

This bowling center offers open bowling sessions, glow bowling, and even leagues.

Have fun at the arcade center and axe-throwing lanes.

Challenge your peers to a group laser tag battle and find out who wins first.

Twin Star Centers also has another location in Sandusky.

But in Port Clinton, you can find the center on Buckeye Boulevard.

Final Thoughts

Port Clinton is a mix of a lot of different things, and it shows in the wide variety of things you can do there.

Enjoy yourself in the port, try out the great food, and meet great people.

That’s one of the best experiences any tourist can have.

So what are you waiting for? Book your trip today and pay Port Clinton a visit!

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