During the season, as many as 750,000 visitors swarm Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island.
They crowd the ferries, cram the bars, cover the roads in golf carts and the harbor with boats. The season runs April through October. But July and early August is when PIB’s bars are busiest, and when the resort pools and tiki bars are overflowing with drunk 20-somethings.
So what is it like?
The longest bar in the world is closed. The longest swim-up bar in the world has only stools, no water. The merry-go-round is silent.
Here’s how kindergarten teacher Jennifer Troiano-Breudigam describes winter on South Bass Island:
“There’s something beautiful about the simplicity of the island in the winter time. It’s very low key, very much community oriented. Every time I had an issue or a problem, someone would help. People just drop what they’re doing to help you, all the time. One time I was stuck in the mud; three islanders stopped what they were doing to get me out of the mud.
“It’s also very desolate to be there and a little bit lonely. Islanders really think outside the box. They’re the most resourceful people I’ve ever met. They are problem solvers. They have to be because not everything is at their fingertips. I can’t stress enough what a wonderful place it is.”
Tipper’s Pub is open all winter, serving fried perch and walleye and steak bites locals rave about. The Island General Store stocks milk and produce and everything else islanders can’t live without.
But downtown is pretty desolate until the Miller Ferry starts running again, which it did March 3.
Take a look at Put-in-Bay in the off-season in the gallery above and video below.