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January 2015 Edition ©

1.5 million visitors last year*.



The following organizations are recognized by OhioTraveler.com for being STANDOUTS in Ohio tourism:

  • Hocking Ice : The pure natural beauty of ice formations at Hocking Hills State Parks is a standout in Ohio tourism, bar none! Waterfalls freeze creating an ice cone extending upward like a mini mountain and also downward from the top of the falls, sometimes connecting to create a solid column. A panoramic view if icicles in areas like Old Man’s Cave toward the Upper Falls catches sunlight to offer photo ops that’ll make even a novice photographer look like they work for National Geographic Magazine. This winter wonderland is amazing when there is a deep freeze and well worth the trek to see it. There’s an annual winter hike event that draws over 5,000 hikers to the Hills every January. Plus many toasty indoor winter opportunities make for a great weekend getaway. This video showcases some of the things to do and see when Hocking Hills freezes over.

  • A Christmas Story House: This Standout in Ohio Christmas tourism is actually open year round and needs no triple dog dare to want to check it out. The house is where the popular holiday classic, "A Christmas Story", was filmed. It is five minutes from downtown Cleveland and has been restored to its 1983 movie appearance. Across the street is its museum featuring movie-related memorabilia. You can even buy leg lamps, a pink bunny suit, decoder pin and official Daisy Red Ryder Range Model 1938 Air Rifle BB Gun complete with retro box from A Christmas Story – but be careful, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” Learn more about this legendary Christmas destination at www.AChristmasStoryHouse.com.

  • Pro Football Hall of Fame: It is the shrine to the biggest sport in America. And it's located where the National Football League was founded Canton, Ohio! Every year, new legends take the podium here and share eloquent speeches followed by the first pre-season game of the season. Inside kicks off a journey like no other museum can offer. Any fan will find plenty to root for here with incredible memorabilia, interactive displays and film covering every era. It culminates in the solitude of the Hall itself with the likeness of icons of the sport surrounding you. It is a pilgrimage every American football fan should take at least once. Learn more about this standout in tourism at www.profootballhof.com. Click here to play video.  

  • Circleville Pumpkin Show: It’s the GREAT PUMPKIN show, Ohio! This fall classic started in Circleville over 100 years ago and is now commonly referred as the greatest free show on Earth. It is the biggest pumpkin festival in the United States, topping 400,000 visitors annually. You know it’s great when it spans nine city blocks! Pumpkin pie anyone? Last count, more than 23,000 pies alone sold during the 4-day event. One pumpkin pie weighs in at over 400 pounds. And not to be outdone, folks will buy over 100,000 pumpkin doughnuts. Don’t miss the fun. It always starts on the third Wednesday in October and runs through Saturday. Learn more about this fall favorite at http://www.pumpkinshow.com/.

  • Ohio Renaissance Festival: Call it the king of festivals. This incredibly entertaining event is a standout in Ohio tourism because it thrills folks of all ages for more than 50 consecutive days every fall. Side splitting laughter and jaw dropping reactions are plentiful throughout the 30 acre 16th century village where about 100 shows are featured on 11 stages daily. Sword fighting, full armored jousting and humorous storytelling are only part of the adventure. Period craftsmen, artisans and food peddlers add to the merriment. But it’s the number of folks in full costume and accent that make this festival come alive. As do the musicians and dancing. Learn more about this great event at http://www.renfestival.com/.

  • Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens: This is the nation’s 6th largest historic home open to the public – and it dazzles!  The founder of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, F. A. Seiberling, used his wealth in 1915 to create an estate in the country that is today an American treasure. The estate includes five historic buildings and eight historic gardens on 70 acres. Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens has many interesting sights and tales. One of which is giving birth to the world’s largest self-help movement in the history of mankind – Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).  Throughout the mesmerizing gardens and ornate structures, there are nooks and crannies that blow the mind. And all of the furnishings are original. There’s even a butterfly conservatory. Click here to play a video showcasing the grounds and read more about this enchanting place.

  • Cincinnati Union Terminal: What was one of the last great train stations, built in 1933, is now a standout in tourism featuring three mega museums inside its historic art deco walls. Together, they form what is now Cincinnati Museum Center but it’s more than that. In addition to housing sensational museums of local history, natural history and a children’s museum, there’s an OMNIMAX® theater, eateries and hundreds of annual events and traveling exhibits. Not only that, it is still an active train terminal for Amtrak and visitors can even checkout Tower A, where rail operations used to be controlled. The eye-popping architecture and colorful Rotunda make this a very photogenic whistle stop. Visit their web site by clicking here

  • Wake Nation: Water skiing without a boat makes Wake Nation Cincinnati a standout in tourism. This full-sized cable wake park is the first and only in the Midwest. The park is for  wakeboard, water ski, kneeboard, and wakeskate riders of any skill level. This unique concept brings extreme excitement to the adventurous whether you are a kid, adult, novice or champion rider. The 10 acre lake tows up to six wakeboarders, skiers, or kneeboarders simultaneously with ropes attached to a moving cable system suspended high overhead. Riders can circle the lake or hit the optional sliders and rails to increase the rush of watery fun. Visit their web site by clicking herePlay Video.

  • Original Bob Evans Farm: There are restaurants and then there are iconic eateries that are standout names like Bob Evans. Incredibly, folks can visit the original restaurant in Rio Grande, Ohio. Not only that, but Bob’s original farmhouse is just out back. Talk about “down on the farm”! The old homestead is full of entrees. The vast rural landscape is nestled in Southern Ohio’s rolling hills along the Ohio River and Appalachian country. The old farmhouse is now a museum that shares the family and restaurant’s history. And every fall, the Bob Evans Festival attracts thousands with its entertainment and activities. The festival is also an Ohio standout in tourism! Visit their web site by clicking herePlay Video.

  • Hartman Rock Garden: There are rock gardens and then there is Hartman Rock Garden in Springfield, Ohio. Trust me there is nothing else like it. Renown as one of the nation’s most intriguing works of in situ folk art, an ordinary resident in an ordinary neighborhood began building extraordinary things out of stone in his backyard. He filled his yard with over fifty structures of historical significance. In a recent restoration, it has again become a sight to see featuring amazing structures, colorful landscaping and  hundreds of handmade figurines. Hundreds of thousands of stones were used to create this one-of-a-kind garden. And it is free to visit. Visit their web site by clicking here Play Video.

  • Allen County Museum: This isn’t your ordinary county museum. It has the infamous gangster Dillinger locked up, rare birds riding a Ferris wheel and a display showcasing the things locals choked on over the years. That and so much more make it a STANDOUT in Ohio tourism! Oddities aside, The Allen County Museum in Lima, Ohio is serious about history. So much so, it has the distinct honor of being the only county museum in Ohio accredited by The American Association of Museums. Learn more at Visit their web site by clicking here.  Play Video.

  • Warther Museum: This is an Ohio STANDOUT in tourism as one of the most unique and historic workshops turned museum. It was over 100 years ago that Ernest “Mooney” Warther began carving history. Warther’s one-of-a-kind collection of 64 ebony, ivory and walnut train carvings has been appraised by the Smithsonian Institution as a “priceless work of art.” The eclectic property and state-of-the-art facility has a bustling cutlery business, tours of the original home and workshop, Swiss-style flower garden and an amazing arrowhead collection and button collection arranged in beautiful designs on the walls and ceiling. Learn more at www.warthers.com. Play Video.

  • Ye Olde Mill: This Ohio STANDOUT is like a cherry on top of a sundae. Utica, Ohio is home to Velvet Ice Cream and Ye Olde Mill. And the Dager family business is about to celebrate the century mark. What started as a hand-cranked delight by a young Joseph Dager, is now a household name. Nestled on 20 rolling wooded acres, there’s am 1817 grist mill with water wheel and a 19th century style ice cream parlour. Visitors get to explore the ice cream making business with a behind-the-scenes factory tour. There is also a museum, restaurant, gift shop, nature trail and spring ice cream festival. Celebrate a century of deliciousness in 2014 and visit Ye Olde Mill. Learn more at http://velveticecream.com/mill/ye_olde_mill.asp.

  • Shadowbox Live: Shadowbox Live is Ohio’s STANDOUT in live performances. Their entertainers feature rock-n-roll and sketch comedy acts and are masters at both. Note-for-note, their singers can stand toe-to-toe with any American Idol. On the comedy front, Saturday Night Live can eat their heart out. This club is edgy, fun and probably not for everyone. It’s an Ohio original and it’s the best nightlife not just in Ohio but probably the Midwest. Be prepared, this theater scene is high energy and will take its audience for a ride like no other. Learn more at http://www.shadowboxlive.org.

  • Hocking Hills Canopy Tours: Not only is Hocking Hills Canopy Tours a STANDOUT in Ohio Tourism, it’s a standout in zip lining circles nationwide! This “World-Class” destination is what zip lining was meant to be – an absolutely exhilarating experience amidst breathtaking beauty. Even with the professional guides, jaw-dropping zip lines a plenty, panoramic natural beauty and hours of fun there’s more. The SuperZip™ is over a quarter mile long and reaches 50 miles per hour. You can also zip in darkness. At the other end of the spectrum is the Dragonfly tour for little kids. Learn more at http://www.hockinghillscanopytours.com.

  • Buckin’ Ohio: Cowboy-up, Ohio! You’re in for a ride. This Ohio STANDOUT is a wild bull riding rodeo. It’s the real deal and it attracts professional bull riders from across the country to a farm in Burbank, Ohio. This family-owned bucking bull ranch packs a wallop. There’s plenty of western-style entertainment but the adrenaline boost is seeing up-close, the power of the bulls and the bravado of the riders. Things can get real hairy at times, and that’s when the audience goes nuts. It is a great outing offered several times per year nestled along the back roads of rural Medina County. Find out more at http://buckinohioblog.com.

  • USS Cod:  Cleveland offers a rare opportunity for visitors to explore a legendary World War II submarine. It performed the only international sub to sub rescue in history. This standout tour allows the freedom to explore everything onboard from the torpedo room to the large guns on deck, mess hall and sleeping arrangements. It’s also rare in that it has not been altered to accommodate tourism: You have to use ladders and squeeze in tight spaces just as its crew members did. Oh, and the staff’s storytelling and friendliness is superb. Play Video.

  • Topiary Park: Columbus offers a surreal experience. It’s like crawling into a painting and exploring it in three-dimensions. Georges Seurat’s famous painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte.is recreated in topiary right down to topiary boats floating on water. Visitors are free to roam and explore all aspects of this unlikely recreation, becoming part of art. The topiaries are nestled within what was historically called Old Deaf School Park, which has a past spanning back to the early 19th century. Play Video.

  • KitchenAid Experience: This is one of the most well done experiential tourism opportunities anywhere. It is as its name says – KitchenAid Experience. From the factory tour where new products are created to the mini museum where legendary products are laid to rest, in between is a store but what stands out here is the cooking class. That’s right; you get the full KitchenAid Experience right in their kitchen. This foodie delight is smack in the historic small town downtown of Greenville, Ohio. Play Video.

  • KD Guest Ranch: This authentic dude ranch isn't just an Ohio Standout, it is one of the best in the country. The hospitality is as incredible as the husband and wife duo who teach guests how to be real cowboys or cowgirls. You adopt and care for your own horse, pen animals, take horseback rides in gorgeous settings where it is still wild as far as the eyes can see. Evenings come with music, fireside games and some of the best down-home cooking around. Play Video.

  • The Wilds: This safari experience will have you wondering if you somehow transported to the African Serengeti. This is one of the largest and most innovative wildlife conservation centers in the world. Located on nearly 10,000 acres in southeast Ohio, it is home to rare and endangered species from around the world, like rhinos, giraffes, and cheetahs, living in natural, open-range habitats. The only way to see them is by special safari vehicles. You can even spend the night in your own yurt. Play Video.

  • National Museum of The U.S. Air Force: This is one of the best deals not only in Ohio but nationwide! It's FREE to see everything at the world's largest and oldest military aviation museum. It's climate controlled hangars feature more 400 aerospace vehicles from the Wright Brothers to the modern age and every era in between. Sensory rich exhibits, hands-on educational programs and entertaining special events entice the imagination and bring the Air Force story to life. You can even board President Kennedy's Air Force One. Play Video.

  • The RainForest at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo: Not only does Cleveland have a Rain Forest, it's one of the largest tropical indoor environments in the world. Housed in a massive two-acre, two-story, glass and granite structure, it features more than 10,000 plants and 600 animals from the tropics in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Many are endangered species from threatened habitats. Its unique design blends the jungle in and out of exhibits making you feel you are a part of it, not just on the outside looking in. Play Video.

  • Ohio State Reformatory: This prison experience rivals Alcatraz! It is so captivating, major movies have been filmed here. It resembles a castle. In fact, it’s the largest castle-like structure in the state and fifth largest in the country. It still holds the record for housing the world's tallest free-standing steel cell block. It consists of 6 tiers, 12 ranges and 600 cells. And that’s just in the East Wing of the prison. If that isn't arresting enough, this 19th Century structure has walls that talk. See for yourself in an overnight ghost hunt. Play Video.

  • Jungle Jim's International Market: This grocery store is a foodie haven like no other. Their vast variety of offerings from around the world are truly amazing in and of itself but the presentation throughout their two massive stores near Cincinnati makes shopping an entertaining adventure. Play Video

  • Lehman's Hardware Store: In the Amish heartland, this was once the local hardware store but it has since grown to become a fascinating array of non-electric merchandise. Whether it's old-world or cutting edge, a trip here is a trip to Yesteryear. Even Hollywood comes calling them for authentic set props. Play Video.

  • West Side Market: The ethnic diversity here is why there's the term "melting pot." More than a hundred stands bring the freshest produce, meats, seafood and more to greater Clevelander's and have done so for more than 170 years. Get a bite at the historic hot dog stand and find a seat up in the rafters to people watch.

  • EnterTRAINment Junction: The reigning world's largest indoor train display brings out the child in old and young alike. The different eras of trains, towns, and all of the tiniest details that make this experience come alive is evident as visitor after visitor mouth "WOW!" It's a must-see whistle stop for family fun. Play Video.

  • Ohio Caverns: Generation after generation, this place never grows old ...in a sense. It boasts the largest and most perfectly formed pure white crystal stalactite found in any cave in addition to other anomalies only found in this subterranean paradise. It is known as one of America’s most colorful caverns. Play Video.

  • The Unusual Junction: The Unusual Junction is a STANDOUT in unusual Ohio tourism, shopping and dining! This eclectic whistle-stop fills a uniquely restored train station that was built in 1895. Wander through the antiques, collectibles, and memorabilia, including the authentic PRICE IS RIGHT sign, autographed by Bob Barker. It also features a retro 50's diner and gourmet deli. This West Laffayette, Ohio gem is what traveling is all about. And, I'll let you in on a little secret; this one-of-a-kind attraction is about to be two-of-a-kind (West Laffayette and Cambridge, Ohio).

  • Memphis Kiddie Park: This is a standout amusement park for toddlers and preschoolers. Here, you hope that you’re shorter than the height stick! There are about a dozen rides, including North America’s oldest steel kiddie coaster. Other nostalgic favorites include the train ride, airplane ride, boat ride, a little Ferris Wheel, Merry-Go-Round and more. It’s a survivor of a bygone era when kiddie parks thrived. This one remains family-operated. Located in an old Cleveland neighborhood, it is a delight for generations of tiny thrill-seekers and parents alike. The lines are small and the smiles are big!  


This award recognizes Ohio's truest standouts in tourism. More details about the award and all award recipients are at www.ohiotraveler.com/standouts.htm.


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January Festivals & Events

Another Holiday Horror Story
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