Cleveland is the best location in the nation where the crossroads of Hollywood and Christmas create year-round fun.
You can see Uncle Eddie’s lemon of an RV from National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and see Cindy Lou Who’s entire bedroom set from the movie How The Grinch Stole Christmas. There are even millions of dollars-worth of actual New York City Christmas window displays from years past. And everyone already knows you can explore Ralphie’s actual house and neighborhood from the movie A Christmas Story.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. If you enjoy Christmas and you love watching Christmas movies, Cleveland is your North Pole! Let this winter deliver a blizzard of fun at two stops. One is A Castle Noel – the world’s largest privately held collection of Christmas movie props and costumes. The other is A Christmas Story House and Museum featuring just about everything from the movie, A Christmas Story.
Start your adventure at A Christmas Story House. The movie was filmed in Cleveland but it portrays a fictional town in Indiana. Cleveland happened to have the perfect neighborhood, a house with a wraparound porch, the old downtown department store, old neighborhood school and other things that met the movie’s scouting team’s criteria to a “T”. The old Higbees building agreed to keep its Christmas look months past the end of the holiday for filming.
Brian Jones bought the house on eBay. Previously, he made leg lamps inspired by the movie. Originally, he did it as a gift to his parents. Then friends. The more he made, the more others wanted them. Since the demand for leg lamps was so strong, he felt the house would also draw interest.
The exterior of the house was remodeled back to how it looked for the movie. Since the interior shots were actually filmed on a sound stage that was bigger than the rooms in the real house, there were challenges to replicate it. Today, it’s like walking through Ralphie’s home – close enough anyway.
The initial tour is 15 minutes (starting every 30 minutes). Afterward, you are encouraged to explore on your own. Most folks go straight to the nostalgic photo ops to reenact the movie’s more memorable scenes. One of the most popular pastimes is to hide under the sink like little Randy. You can imagine the grown men trying to pull this off. And of course, whether inside or outside, posing with that leg in the window is a must.
“It is definitely the most touched leg in Cleveland,” laughed Steve Siedlecki, Executive Director of A Christmas Story House.
The house is full of interactive settings.
Across the street from the house is the museum. There, you’ll find the actual costumes, behind-the-scenes photos and memorabilia galore. You’ll even see Randy’s snow suit.
The gift shop has it all – leg lamps (It’s a major award!), decoder pens, pink bunny suits, even the 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!”
Heck there’s even a nearby “official” Chinese restaurant. Bring your ticket stub and get 10 percent off.
One of the many memorable scenes from A Christmas Story is when Ralphie climbs Santa Claus Mountain inside a (Cleveland) department store to tell Santa what he wants for Christmas. But as we all know, Ralphie choked. Just as he began to slide down the giant slide, he stopped, looked up, and spit out his wish. Santa merely said, “You’ll shoot your eye out,” pressed his foot against Ralphie, and “assisted” his descent down Santa Claus Mountain.
Well, slide down to Medina, just south of Cleveland, and recreate that scene on a replica of Santa Claus Mountain inside A Castle Noel.
A Castle Noel is where many famous Hollywood Christmas movie stage sets, costumes and other memorabilia are collected for the public to experience first-hand.
This Christmas wish came true for collector Mark Klaus. And with a name like Klaus, he was destined for the Christmas business along with his wife, Dana.
“My dad was the living image of Clark Griswold’s character in National Lampoon’s A Christmas Vacation and my mom was a Big Band singer who would fill the house with music,” remembers Klaus.
Mark was a sculptor by trade. He sold Christmas Nativities on TV for 20 years. Somewhere along the line he began collecting Christmas movie props.
Now he claims the world’s largest privately held collection of Christmas movie props and costumes. And he’s sharing it with the public at A Castle Noel. It spans a half a block in the picturesque square of Medina’s downtown. Think visions of It’s A Wonderful Life. Inside is a 40,000 square foot wonderland.
Start your journey at The Blizzard Vortex Tunnel. This giant swirling tube is where you travel back to your childhood.
One of the most impressive visuals at A Castle Noel is the Christmas window displays straight from the iconic stores in New York City. Yes, these are the real deal – New York department store Christmas windows of the past – featuring sets of animated window displays that cost up to $2 million to make.
These were formerly decorated storefront windows at places like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales and Lord and Taylor. The Saks displays feature 10 windows from the mid-90s – stunning! It tells stories of The Nutcracker and The Magic Telescope. Bloomingdales features the 2009 shoe display and glittering colors of shoes as seen the world over by going viral on the Internet Their 2013 window display has the Three Bears reading a book.
There are more than 50 New York City Christmas windows. Each window pane is a progression in a themed story. A backstage tour is part of the normal tour. There, visitors see the restoration workshop.
A crowd favorite is the 1960’s Cleveland Higbees window display (It’s where A Christmas Story’s department scene is set).
A Castle Noel is a special place to reminisce. Whether you’re 1 or 101, smiles abound. And for the older “kids” there are thousands of toys to see from a Christmas’ past.
“Hey, I remember when my sister cut all the hair off that doll,” is a common line to hear as people marvel at toys that time forgot.
Christmas movies are a part of our culture. And now the nuts and bolts that built these Christmas classics are here for you to touch and see and smell and hear.
And it’s interactive. The Santa Claus Squeeze is the jolly ole elf’s training facility. Have you ever thought about going down a chimney by yourself. Now you can! And what’s even better is watching grandma keep up with her grandkids grinning ear to ear, laughing all the way.
Heck, Cindy Lou Who’s entire bedroom set from the movie, How The Grinch Stole Christmas is here! Imagine that.
The following are just some of the precious finds at A Castle Noel:
The magic continues in a Theater that snows inside! There, a short movie plays a bunch of nostalgic clips from everyone’s favorite Christmas movies.
Guided tours last about an hour and a half. Along the Hollywood Walk of Fame visitors gaze at hundreds of vintage Christmas movie photos. There are also several train displays plus a black light 3D mini golf course with a Santa meets aliens theme.
The climax of A Castle Noel brings us full circle with A Christmas Story House. You get to ascend Santa Claus Mountain like Ralphie did in A Christmas Story movie to meet Santa for a photo and ask for what you want for Christmas and then slide down the long slide.
You can commemorate your “movie” experience with a visit to the gift shop It’s loaded with treats to put under your Christmas tree for every Christmas movie lover in the family.
By Frank R. Satullo, The OhioTraveler
Nearby Coshocton is home to Historic Roscoe
Where can one experience an old-fashioned candlelighting ceremony, discover a drive-it-yourself live nativity, behold over 200 musicians in a traditional festival holiday concert, learn about Christmas in the 1800s, and savor holiday shopping the way it was meant to be ~without all the hustle and bustle? Coshocton and Historic Roscoe Village is just that place.
Historic Roscoe Village is a restored 1800s town that was once a bustling port along the Ohio and Erie Canal. It is now home to the Famous Shops of Historic Roscoe Village, tasty restaurants, tours of the restored historic buildings, and a special seasonal 'A Roscoe Christmas' tour through December that focuses on the holidays during the 1800s.
Holiday shopping in Coshocton and Roscoe Village is a holiday tradition itself ~ slower paced, unique shops with unusual gifts, free parking, and no hectic traffic to deal with. In Coshocton there are items for everyone's gift list such as outdoor and hunting supplies at Woodbury Outfitters; award-winning cheeses at Pearl Valley Cheese; affordable antiques at The Coshocton Antique Mall and at C & M Collectibles; home-made fudge at the Roscoe General Store; hand-made leather items at River Ridge Leather; fine locally-crafted goods at Commonwealth Americana; and unique jewelry at the House of GA. Fisher Jewelers and at Dean's Jewelry.
Also find locally-made US Flags at the Annin Flagmakers Showroom; Vera Bradley items and wine making supplies at Canal Cargo; Ohio-made items at Ohio State of Mind; old-fashioned candy at Roscoe Village Sweets & Treats; hand-made wares at the Roscoe Village Visitors Center; unique crafts and gifts at The Front Porch Country Store, The Gift Depot, Cottage Gate, Showpiece Creations and Caldersburgh Trading Company; fine guitars and dulcimers at Wildwood Music; gourmet foods and unusual gifts at Medbery Marketplace and Unusual Junction; fascinating gifts at the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum Gift Shop; locally-made wines; and many more unique options to choose from throughout the community.
There are also many festivals and events coming up this season including the Christmas Candlelightings in Roscoe Village on December 6, 13 & 20; the Coshocton Community Choir 'Tidings of Peace' Christmas Festival Concert on December 7; the drive-through Live Nativity experience on December 12, 13 & 14; and more. Looking ahead into 2015, enjoy the Sweetheart Big Band Dance and the Chocolate Extravaganza on February 14 ~ a perfect romantic getaway weekend.
Several overnight getaway packages available at Coshocton Village Inn & Suites this season take advantage of all the events going on including a Girlfriends Holiday Shopping Getaway package; the Old-fashioned Christmas in Historic Roscoe Village package; Family, Food & Fun Getaway; and the Wine Tasting Package.
Four of the five wineries that make up Coshocton's Three Rivers Wine Trail are also open through December, and three of those stay open year-round. Rainbow Hills Winery and Heritage Vineyard Winery even have cozy lodging right on site, making the wineries in Coshocton a perfect winter-time getaway.
Leave the hectic pace of the modern world behind and get away to Historic Roscoe Village and Coshocton, Ohio ~ small-town friendliness, a slower pace, relaxation, and, most importantly, true holiday spirit. For additional information, call for a free visitor packet at 800-338-4724 or go to www.VisitCoshocton.com and then visit Coshocton in person.
By Jan Myers
Recently the U.S. Travel Association reported that 40% of American workers will not take their vacation this year. That creates missed opportunities, no memories of a time away from home and work, and one stressed out worker. Embrace and take that well-deserved vacation to Mohican!
Vacation is defined as a time away from home, school or work with the goal to relax or travel. Vacations help everyone to unwind, gain new insights, create new family memories, new experiences and time away from the routine of everyday life.
One easy vacation that incorporates the outdoors and adventure is located in the area of Loudonville, Ohio. Mohican, as it is more commonly known, has everything that a family, couple or group could want.
Open all year, Mohican-Loudonville is conveniently located near two state parks and a state forest that provides the perfect outdoor adventure any time of year. There several miles of hiking trails, 25 miles in mountain biking trails and 88 miles in bridle trails. By participating in the outdoors, in all seasons, the traveler can experience a new adventure every time one step is taken in front of the other.
Start the New Year with a celebration at the Mohican State Park Lodge & Conference Center or at Landoll’s Mohican Castle. In April, make plans to “Face Your Wildest Fears,” during the Mohican Wildlife Weekend. Learn all about plants and animals from the experts. There is so much going on, it’s hard to list it all!
Discover the story and history of what made Mohican it is today. Once inhabited by many Native American tribes the Mohican River became a pivotal part of life for the Native Americans and the pioneers. As time and technology became more advanced, so did the town and its story. Famous as the birthplace of Charles F. Kettering and of Hugo Young’s Flxible Sidecar Company, there are many famous people and events to discover in Mohican-Loudonville.
And what would a vacation be without shopping? The Mohican-Loudonville area has a quaint downtown with independent shop owners that will introduce the visitor to an array of art, clothing, jewelry, gadgets that solve all sorts of issues, electronics, antiques and more. Creative Outlet Indian Store has the largest selection of Authentic Native American jewelry and artwork in northern Ohio. Four Seasons has two full floors of gifts, boutique, collectibles and flowers to explore.
Let the culinary senses take the taste buds away on a local day dream. From casual fine dining, the unique diner experience, to the down home comfort cooking of days gone by – the tastes are sure to be delightful. Located off of State Route 603 is the The Cabin Tavern Grille, known for its casual, yet sophisticated seasonal menus. If pizza or burgers are the desire, then make sure to visit Trails End Restaurant. Their pizza dough is a secret house recipe and the burgers are delicious!
Camping is available year round as are the hotels, cabins and a castle. The Blackfork Inn Bed & Breakfast was built in 1856 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Ask about the Murder Mystery evenings. Private cabins will keep the lights of the city out and allows visitors to revel in the pristine hillsides of Mohican-Loudonville. Kandelight Kabins offer seclusion and hot tubs. These cabins are perfect for any get-a-way!
Don’t put vacation on hold, enjoy it! Create the adventure and discover Mohican-Loudonville. Visit DiscoverMohican.com or on Facebook – Discover Mohican. Request the Mohican Getaway Planner today!
Five Ohio State Park Lodges are celebrating the December holidays with fun and festive events.
“When I see the exquisite decorations enhancing every lobby and the natural beauty of our parks in a blanket of snow along with the lights and traditions of nearby towns, I am reminded of why I always spend the holidays in Ohio,” said Hinch Knece, marketing manager for Ohio State Park Lodges and Conference Centers. “Simply put, we do holidays right around here.”
Here are some of the festivities planned at Ohio State Park Lodges.
The elegant Punderson Manor Lodge and Conference Center will offer an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast each Sunday in December leading up to Christmas. From 7:30 until 11 a.m. Nov. 30 and Dec. 7, 14 and 21, 2014, parents will treat their children to brunch surrounded by festive decorations which serve as the ideal backdrop for the opportunity share a wish list and have a photo taken with the big man himself, Santa Claus. Reservations are recommended and available by calling 1-440-564-9144.
Answering the age-old question “What do we do with the kids now that Christmas is done?” will be the popular Maumee Bay Lodge and Conference Center Winter Carnival December 26-30, 2014.
During those days, the ballroom of the lodge is transformed into a large recreation center with carnival games for children of all ages. In addition to the games – such as Jacob’s Ladder, jousting, inflatables and other carnival games – guests can enjoy the lodge’s indoor swimming pool, splash garden, children’s soft play area, Wallyball courts, game room and fitness center. Or they can visit the park’s acclaimed Nature Center, featuring a boardwalk through a wetland area that attracts many species of birds and other wildlife. The Winter Carnival is open only to lodge guests, and the lodge is offering special rates starting at $105.99 on weekday nights, $115.99 on Friday and Saturday nights. The promotional code is CARNIVAL.
Salt Fork Lodge and Conference Center makes a great home base when visiting one of the area’s celebrated holiday traditions – Dickens Victorian Village in nearby Cambridge. For the ninth year, this incredible seasonal public art display features close to 200 mannequins depicting 80 scenes throughout the town. The displays are available Nov. 1, 2014 through Jan. 3, 2015. Salt Fork State Park Lodge is one of the closest lodges to the Cambridge event, and the lodge offers an array of lodging options and special rates.
Mohican Lodge and Conference Center in north central Ohio is a convenient and comfortable base for nearby events followed by a New Year’s Eve party at the lodge. On Dec. 6 guests can enjoy the “Holiday Hop Shop” in downtown Loudonville featuring a holiday atmosphere and old-fashion hospitality from the store owners and their employees. Many businesses will be offering sales, refreshments and more. Malabar Farm will host Candlelight Holidays Tours Dec. 12 of author Louis Bromfield’s Big House all decked out for the holidays. Guests will enjoy fresh baked cookies and hot cider. A small fee will be charged. Pre-registration is not required. Call 419-892-2784 for details.
Mohican will host a New Year’s Eve party with a package that includes one night of accommodations, buffet dinner for two on New Year’s Eve, admission to Grand Ballroom party with live DJ, champagne toast at midnight and breakfast for two on New Year’s Day. The package also features a welcome gift upon arrival, including sparkling wine, two Mohican champagne glasses and Amish country chocolates. Rates start at $289.99. Additional nights may be added starting at $99.99. Promo code is NYE.
Deer Creek Lodge and Conference Center creates a home-away-from-home feel as it partners with local area garden clubs to decorate the lodge in festive holiday lights and ornaments. This year there are 13 trees and 20,000 lights with most of the ornaments constructed of natural materials. In addition to maintaining a “lodge” appeal, this approach offers guests the opportunity to see how they could make similar ornaments at home.
For more information about Ohio State Park Lodges visit www.ohiostateparklodges.com or call 1-800-ATAPARK (1-800-282-7275).
Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens presents Deck The Hall from 5-8pm on December 4-7, 11-23, 26-30, 2014 and January 2-3, 2015.
DAZZLE, updated with all new animation, is an outdoor light show spectacular animated to music in the Great Garden will entertain guests. Making its debut is Gingerbread Land, a winter transformation of Stan Hywet's newest outdoor space, Playgarden. The Manor House is decorated to reflect the theme of Christmas Around The World. The roof of the Tudor Playhouse will be trimmed with piped "icing," and the entire space will be decorated with lights, giant lollipops, candies and gingerbread men.
Every evening of Deck The Hall also includes the Christmas tree lighting in the Courtyard at 5:30pm with Santa. A warming fire, freshly baked gingerbread cookies, savory snacks and holiday shopping at Molly's are also part of this wonderful holiday tradition.
“Families and guests will delight in this newest child-friendly feature of Deck the Hall," notes Linda Conrad, President & Executive Director.
The centerpiece of Dazzle is a 25-foot Christmas tree lit with a full spectrum of color, a layer of lighted ornaments, and an overlay of sparkle lights. Surrounding the tree are dozens of flowers, butterflies, bees and globes also shimmering with lights. Apple trees in the garden, wrapped in lights, add more dimension (glimmer) to the display.
"DAZZLE and Gingerbread Land, plus the lights inside the Manor House and outside on the grounds will easily raise the total number to more than 800,000 lights on the estate," said Conrad.
On the lawn outside the Manor House, an antique sleigh provides the perfect backdrop for family photos. Inside the Manor House, "Christmas Around the World" features rooms decorated with holiday traditions from all parts of the globe, with a focus the history and traditions of St. Nicholas, Father Christmas and Santa. In the Music Room, choirs and musicians from throughout Northeast Ohio provide a musical backdrop as guests tour the historic Manor House.
The tropical oasis in the Corbin Conservatory, Garden Under Glass, has a cool winter feel with blue and white LED lights. A poinsettia tree provides another perfect backdrop for family photos. Outside, trees will be filled with oversized stars and snowflakes from the Carriage House to the Manor House. The Birch Allée will be wrapped in clear lights and the large oaks and beeches will be uplighted for dramatic effect. The Grape Arbor will be lit with clusters of "grape lights," and back after a hiatus is the miniature village in the Lagoon area, viewable from the Tea Houses.
The Gingerbread Bakeshop in the Courtyard will be selling Stan Hywet's famous hot gingerbread cookies, as well as cocoa and cider; and the Salty Reindeer is selling savory snacks, including freshly baked Bavarian pretzels, popcorn, beer, wine and soft drinks. Molly's Shop is fully stocked for holiday shopping and the café is a welcome respite as well as place to enjoy more substantial fare and holiday treats.
Tickets to Deck
The Hall may be purchased in advance at
www.stanhywet.org or 330-315-3287, or upon arrival. Prices for a tour of the
Manor House and grounds during Deck The Hall are adults, $18; youth (ages 6-17)
and college students with I.D., $8. Children 5 and under are free. Stan Hywet is
located at 714 North Portage Path in Akron Ohio. It is the nation's 6th largest
historic home open to the public.
STANDOUT in 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.
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.
Thank you for visiting
|The Gift of Not Receiving|
|Deck The Hall|
|Imagine a Traditional Holiday|
|Don't Put Vacation on Hold!|
|Become a Chick Magnet!|
|Holidays Gusto and Garland|
|A Christmas Walk Through the Bible|
|Lebanon Horse & Carriage Parade|
|Christmas Relocated ...to Cleveland|
|Hocking Ice is a Standout in Tourism!|
|Magical History Tour|
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Ohio travel and tourism guide to Ohio tourist attractions, festivals and events in Ohio featuring Ohio vacation destinations, travel information tours, museums, arts, restaurants, lodging, wineries, parks, historic sites, outdoor activities, recreation and leisure activities and entertainment coupons, discounts and other travel deals along Ohio's roads less traveled.
Tis the season to make holiday memories and there are several special events in west central Ohio that will truly enchant the entire family and add to the magic of Christmas.
A visit to the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics can bring peace to the soul any time of the year, but that is especially true during the Christmas season. This historic place of prayer and peace is a wonderful escape from the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Check out the shrine’s beautiful International Crèche Exhibit, on display now though the New Year. View the artful and interesting variety of Nativity scenes from around the globe, collected through travels and shared for your holiday spiritual enjoyment. Open daily in Maria Stein, Ohio, check out Shrine of the Holy Relics for more information.
The German tradition of the Christmas tree comes to life in New Bremen, Ohio as the Lockkeepers House Canal Visitors Center resounds with the spirit of Christmas. See a multitude of decorated trees designed by local businesses and individuals. The Lockkeepers House sits along the banks of the Miami - Erie Canal and is open weekdays during regular chamber business hours and on Saturdays, December 7 & 14, from 1:30 to 4pm for this special holiday event.
The Jingle Bell Lighted Horse Parade will bring wonderful holiday fun to the Mercer County Fairgrounds on Saturday, December 6th. The parade will feature horses and their riders, many pulling decorated carriages and wagons, all dressed up for the holidays. The parade will take place at 7:30 pm on the horse track in front of the grandstands of the fairgrounds in Celina, Ohio. The event also includes a holiday craft fair from 9am to 9pm in the Jr. Fair building and delicious sweet treats and warming beverages.
And one of the most magnificent buildings in the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches, The St. Charles Center located on US 127 south of Celina, opens its doors each year for a special holiday tradition. Beginning Sunday, December 7th they will be open daily to the public from 9am to 7 pm with 50 nativity sets from around the world on display throughout the majestic grand hall. Theses sets, ranging from the modern and stark to antique and ornate, are on loan from the University of Dayton’s Marian Library. You will see humble hand carved sets along with those in a full array of glitz and glam, all depicting the scene of Jesus’ birth in a Bethlehem stable. The visit is a delight for children of all ages and gives one a global perspective on the birth of the Christ child.
For more details on holiday happenings and events in west central Ohio check out www.SeeMore.org.
Winter is a great time to observe birds. Following the saying "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," Geauga Park District's Bird in the Hand Project allows you to feed the wild birds by hand at The West Woods Nature Center in Russell Township, Ohio.
Join the fun. Black-capped Chickadees will immediately warm up to you making you an instant CHICKadee MAGNET.
Hand-feeding works best with just one or two people or a small group, like three or four.
Follow the Trout Lily Trail, then hang a right at the fork after the boardwalk across the wetlands, following the sign. Soon you'll come upon the feeding station marked by a feeder and a mannequin, "Parker," who keeps the birds familiar with a human presence. Parker is pretty realistic; then again, the birds are fairly easy to fool.
Take down the feeder, hide it under the bucket that's there, extend your hand with some seed in your palm, then wait. Odds are good you'll have a taker if you're patient, enjoying the peace and quiet for a handful of minutes or so, maybe less.
When you are done, you’ll realize just how cool the Bird in the Hand Project is with anyone. Led this year by naturalists Dottie Drockton and Linda Gilbert and a crew of dedicated volunteers, this project is one that you won't want to miss - starting now and lasting all winter long. Watch Chief Naturalist John Kolar feed the birds last year at http://youtu.be/iL51Lh2uhZU.
Come during daylight hours and dress warmly by wearing extra layers, hat and gloves since you will be standing still. If it's between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., stop into the nature center to collect some black oil sunflower seed; otherwise, use a little from the feeder already placed on site.
For more information, log onto the Geauga Park District’s web site at http://geaugaparkdistrict.org.
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