Every summer my family camped at Kelly's Island State Park until I left for college. Now that I have a family of my own I love sharing my favorite childhood memories. And while I thought I knew everything there was to know about this tiny island (676 acres), I was surprised by a few hidden gems.
First, the bad. The ferry was pricier than I remembered. That's what a decade or two will do, I suppose. Be prepared to pay for each person, your car, and trailer. However, once on the island life becomes a breeze.
Once you get to Kelly's Island State Park, I recommend either the spots right along the lake or spots four and five. Four and five are very close to the amenities while still giving your camp lots of space and shade but cannot be reserved ahead of time. The amenities include REALLY well maintained showers and bathrooms (SO important!), playground for kids, and an outdoor theater.
Exploring the campgrounds are lovely. This park is incredibly well maintained, charming, and quiet. A brisk walk will take you down picturesque steps to the beach. Bring a blanket, books, a relax. There are kayaks available for those who like to keep moving. And nearby is the Glacial Grooves Geological Preserve which contain fossils that are 350 to 400 million years old!
Just up the hill is a very sweet bike rental shop which have trailers for those of you traveling with toddlers. Grab a bike and explore the Island!
1) Stop by Papa T's Ice Cream Stand. Just a simple and perfect island ice cream stand with a giant chair and photo opportunity. As you can see, Maddie was satisfied with her selection.
2) Kelley's Island Wine Co: Surprisingly, this place has a long history starting in 1853 with the Kelly family winning the wine competition at the Ohio State Fair and going on to receive national and international notoriety! Stop here to have a glass of wine and toss some horseshoes. And if wine isn't your drink of choice, opt for a Margarita at KI Cantina right next door.
3) Charles Herndon Galleries: This is a wonderful hidden gem. Located on 114 Laylin Lane this gallery sits within a 10 acre sculpture garden. Charles Herndon is an artist and retired professor from Columbus College of Art & Design whose inspiration comes from the island itself.
Kelly's Island proved to be just as lovely as I'd remembered it. And adopting easy island life for a long weekend is a perfect way to slow down, unwind, and reconnect.