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Free Ohio Tours and Demonstrations

The Arcade

D. Picking Copper Kettle

Mieir's Wine Cellars

Appalachian Discovery & Birding Trail

Garretts Mill

Mosser Glass

Anthony Thomas Candy Company

Harveysburg Free Black School

Ohio Agricultural Research Center

Barn Quilt Tour - Adams County

Jungle Jim's International Market

Old Stone Church

Barn Quilt Tour - Miami County

King's Glass Engraving

Old Woman Creek

Bear's Mill

KitchenAid™ Experience

Playhouse Square Center

Boyd's Crystal Art Glass

Lafferty Funeral Collection

Quaker Square

The Canal Experience

Lake Erie Lighthouses

Severance Hall - Cleveland Orchestra

Clifton Mill & Gorge

Lincoln Highway

The J.M. Smucker Company Store & Cafe

Cooper's Cider Mill

Longaberger Museum and Factory

Velvet Ice Cream & Ye Olde Mill

Crystal Traditions

Middlefield Cheese House

The West Side Market

 

 

 

More Tours Worth the Price of Admission

A Christmas Story House

 

Longhorns Head to Tail Tours

American Whistle Corporation

Dungeon Descent Adventure

Ohio Caverns

Amish Heartland Tours

EarthShip at Blue Rock

Ohio State Reformatory Tours

Bamboo Tour

GoodTime III

Perkins Observatory

Bat Making Tours

Great Lakes Touring Company

Perry's Cave Tour

BIBLEWALK

Lake Erie Lighthouses

 

 

Search All Categories by Region:
Central Ohio / Northeast Ohio / Southwest Ohio / Northwest Ohio / Southeast Ohio

Your Guide to Ohio Tours and Demonstrations

 



 

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A CHRISTMAS STORY HOUSE
Admission:
$7 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger. Group discounts are available.
The price of admission includes a guided tour of the house and yard and admittance into the museum.

  • When: Open Thursday – Saturday 10 a.m. -5 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. year-round (and Wednesdays November 1 through January 15). Tours of A Christmas Story House are conducted every half hour beginning at 10:30 AM. The last tour of the day begins at 4:30 PM. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve, New Years Day and Easter.

  • Where: 3159 W. 11th Street Cleveland, OH  44109. Admission tickets to A Christmas Story House can be purchased at the museum (1103 Rowley Ave.) located directly across the street from the house. All tours start at the museum.

  • Phone: 216-298-4919

The house used in the popular holiday classic “A Christmas Story” has been restored to its original 1983 movie appearance. Purchased and renovated by Brian Jones, a true fan of the movie who sells leg lamps for a living, the house takes visitors on a nostalgic journey to the sights and scenes where Ralphie Parker dreams of nothing but receiving a genuine Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action Air Rifle for Christmas. In addition to A Christmas Story House, visitors can explore the museum where items from the movie are on display, more than 100 behind-the-scenes photos are featured and movie-related memorabilia can be purchased. A Christmas Story House is located just five minutes from downtown Cleveland at 3159 W. 11th Street in the Tremont neighborhood. For more information or for directions, visit www.AChristmasStoryHouse.com.

Printout: A Christmas Story House

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AMERICAN WHISTLE CORPORATION
(Tours cost $4 per person)
 

  • Open by appointment
  • Location: 6540 Huntley Rd. ● Columbus, OH 43229
  • Phone: 800-876-2918 to schedule a tour

Have you ever wondered how the ball gets inside a whistle?  Take a personally guided tour of the only whistle factory in the United States where metal whistles are made.  For approximately 45 minutes, you will see a thriving, small, American manufacturing plant and be entertained with interesting information about whistles and fascinating machinery – some state of the art, some dating back to the beginning of the company.  Best of all – everyone leaves with a shiny new “American Classic” whistle! 

Printout: ARTICLE about American Whistle Corporation 

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AMISH HEARTLAND TOURS 

  • When: Open year round with advanced reservations
  • Location:  Berlin, Ohio  Tours depart from Yoders Amish home and the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center.
  • Phone: 330-893-3248

Have you wondered why the Amish still live a life apart from society as we know it?  Let  expert tour guides explain the culture as it is in Holmes County. The tours could include stops at buggy makers, blind broom makers, quilters, meals in Amish homes, basket makers and candle makers.  Buggy rides are available April - October. Tours are taken in a comfortable 25-passenger mini tour bus or a 12-passenger Sprinter High Top Sightseeing van.

Tour highlights:

“Blazin” The Trail” ~ Ohio’s First State Road Tour ~ Offered Tuesday & Wednesday May through October

Includes a tour of the Historic Victorian House and Dinner at a Former Stagecoach Inn

“Fun on the Farm” ~ Offered Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday ~ April 17 – October

Includes a self guided tour of an Amish home, horse drawn wagon ride through an exotic animal park, dinner in an Amish home.  Offered Monday, Wednesday, Friday ~ April - October

“Amish Homes, Buggies, Dinner and Back road Tour” ~ Includes guided tour of 2 former lived in Amish homes, buggy rides, school house tour, back road tour and meal in an Amish home.  April through October

“History and Heritage” Includes a guided tour of the historical mural, Behalt”, and a 2 hour back road tour.  Offered year around, Monday – Saturday.

“Grape Escapes” ~ Featuring the wines and cheeses of Amish  country and a dinner in an Amish home. Offered once a month, March – Nov.

“Progressive Meal Tour” Features 3 meals in Amish homes, back road touring, buggy rides, “Behalt”.  Offered once a month April – October.

Ask about opportunities to  make candles and baskets with an Amish lady, meals in an Amish home, help with chores at a private Amish home and more!

Printout: Amish Heartland Tours

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APPALACHIAN DISCOVERY BIRDING & HERITAGE TRAIL
(Admission is Free)

 

  • Open daily year-round
  • Location: Adams County in Southwest Ohio
  • Phone: 937-544-5454

Welcome to Southern Ohio’s driving trail featuring wildlife in flight and historical sites across the rural countryside at the foothills of Appalachia. The forested landscape stretches some 200 miles.

The trail is intended to be a weekend excursion for visitors to see the region’s most productive birding hotspots, nestle up at quality lodges or cabins, and eat at a number of great dining facilities, and do some sightseeing at the unique historical attractions dotting the countryside. This year-round tour features the springtime migration, breeding season, autumn’s rich palette of colors and winter’s white ground coat making it a snap to see eagles, hawks and ducks. During summertime, Adams County has its specialties for birding such as blue grosbeak, chuck-will’s-widow, and prairie, yellow-throated and worm-eating warblers. The trip is perfect for those looking to spend a couple of days in the slow-lane of life and take in the natural splendor that is increasingly hard to find.

Printout: Appalachian Discovery Birding & Heritage Trail

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ANTHONY THOMAS CANDY COMPANY

(Admission is Free)

 

  • Open by appointment Mondays through Fridays 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
  • Location: 1777 Arling Gate Lane · Columbus, OH 43228
  • Phone: 614-272-9221 or 614-274-8405

Have you ever fantasized about visiting Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? Well, in about an hour’s time, you can almost taste it. Visitors can walk along a glass-enclosed suspended catwalk to see candy made at this 152,000 square-foot state-of-the-art candy factory. In one shift, 25,000 pounds of chocolate are produced. Even Augustus Loof would be left satisfied (sorry, no chocolate river here).  

Printout: Anthony Thomas Candy Company

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THE ARCADE

(Admission is Free)

 

  • Open Mondays through Saturdays from 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • Location: 401 Euclid Avenue · Cleveland, Ohio

The Arcade provides shopping but is simply a picturesque architectural gem. It was built in 1890, financed by John D. Rockefeller (among others) and was the first building in Cleveland to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is flanked by two 9-story towers and features a 5-story glass sky lighted atrium with extremely ornate brass-filled interior and gargoyles peering down from the uppermost level.

Printout: The Arcade

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ADAMS COUNTY BARN QUILT TOUR

(Admission is Free)

 

  • Open daily
  • Location: Adams County in Southwest Ohio
  • Phone: 937-544-5454

In Adams County, 20th Century ‘Mail Pouch’ ads adorning Ohio barns are being snuffed out by a 21st Century phenomenon – Barn Quilt Squares. 

The painted Barn Quilt Squares began when Donna Sue Groves wanted to create something to honor her mother’s passion, quilting, and did so with a large painting on the side of their barn. This sparked a movement that has swept Adams County. Adding to the serenity and charm of a lazy rural drive amidst the foothills of Appalachia, the “clothesline” of quilts highlights the adventure with its colorful display of unique artistry dotting the countryside.

For details about Barn Quilt Squares and how to find them, contact Adams County Travel & Visitors Bureau at 937-544-5454.

Printout: Barn Quilt Squares

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BAMBOO SEMINAR AND TOUR
($10 per person) 

  • When: Saturdays, April thru September -1 pm 

  • Location: Morrow, Ohio 

  • Phone: 513-899-3446 (reservations requested) 

Learn how to grow and contain bamboo! See many items such as flooring, clothing, flutes and the latest craze..bamboo "bricks"! The only bamboo museum in the Mid West. Learn how the indians used bamboo for many purposes. Walk through large bamboo groves with peacocks and phoenix roosters strutting. See large granite Foo Dogs and a Temple Bell from China. A Peaceful and tranquill setting next to a large lake. Ideal for groups!

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BARN QUILT TOUR
Sponsored by the Miami County Visitors Bureau

(Admission is Free) 

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

IF YOU QUILT IT, THEY WILL COME

Nearly 70 Barn Quilt Squares
Piece Together A Unique Heritage Tour

Play Video 

A trip to Miami County, Ohio will bring visitors an opportunity to journey back in time with a new trend for the heritage travelers – the Barn Quilt Tour, a program of the Miami County Visitors & Convention Bureau.   

A colorful array of traditional quilt patterns, hand painted on barns, decorate the scenic countryside. These true folk art renditions celebrate the historic, rural and agricultural experience while connecting the lovely historic downtown communities with the beautiful landscapes of Miami County.  As visitors travel from town to farm, they won’t have to travel far to see over 67 barns adorned with unique patterns.  Leaving the fast lane behind, this unusual driving tour takes the traveler off the beaten path and away from the major highways where they can enjoy a peaceful, leisurely drive on country roads that criss-cross all parts of Miami County.   

Sprinkled throughout the county, most of the patterns are 8 X 8 foot squares and can be viewed up close by driving into the farm lanes or driveways, where some of the owners may even personally welcome their visitors.  As an added bonus, many of the farms have a wide assortment of horses, cows, goats, sheep, llamas, donkeys, roosters, and more – all waiting to greet you in their own special way. 

The concept of the barn quilts had its origin in 2001 in Adams County, Ohio.  It was the inspiration of one woman who wanted to honor her mother’s enthusiasm for the craft of quilting and to highlight the shared cultural heritage of the Appalachian region.  It quickly spread to other counties in Ohio and other states as well, creating a rich network of quilt barns, while also creating a boost for rural tourism.   

The Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau offers a map brochure for this tour which is self guided, available year round, and free to the public.  There is no set trail and visitors can create their own trail, striking out in any direction to see all 67 barn quilts, or just select a few.  No two are alike.  Besides the beauty of the barn quilts, the tour provides a connection to the region’s rural heritage and the still very important role of the barns today, helping to preserve a piece of American heritage.  It also recognizes the traditional art of quilting, which in recent years has made a huge comeback.  The patterns themselves pay tribute to crafts, nature, occupations, politics, events, various states and almost anything that inspires a connection with community and family.  The barns and quilt patterns seem to be a natural partnership, linked in the rural fabric of American history.   

Plan your travels to allow time to visit other sites.  Along the way, scenic parks and preserves such as Brukner Nature Center, Charleston Falls Preserve, Historic Eldean Bridge, Piqua Historical Area/Canal Boat Ride and the Stillwater Prairie Reserve will beckon you to stop and explore, or share a picnic lunch in a lovely natural setting where wildlife, wildflowers, covered bridges, glistening streams and waterfalls will welcome everyone.  It’s a perfect way to experience the outdoors and see things you don’t normally find in the city.  Visitors are encouraged to make it a 2-day, overnight tour.  Visits to historic communities could include Piqua, Tipp City, Troy, Covington and others, each featuring their own quaint downtowns that are blessed with unique shopping, exhibits, local artisans, dining experiences, country stores, farmer’s markets, friendly folks everywhere, as well as historical and heritage attractions, and quality accommodations. 

Day trips are also a perfect way to visit local county attractions, like the barn quilt trail, without the investment of a lot of time and money, and not too far from your own backyard.  Remember the “Sunday Drive” – that grand tradition where families and friends piled in the car and took off on excursions to no place in particular?  The Barn Quilt Tour is tailor made for this type of activity.  We suggest you “take the road less traveled, and journey back in time” in Miami County, Ohio.  And, don’t forget to bring the camera! 

Group tours are welcome, and best viewing would be spring through fall.  For more information on the Miami County Barn Quilt Tour and other attractions in Miami County, visit www.VisitMiamiCounty.org  or call 800-348-8993.

Printout: Barn Quilt Tour

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BAT MAKING TOUR
Phoenix Bat Company

(Admission $10, includes an engraved mini bat)

  • When: Tuesdays 6:00p, Thursdays & Fridays 1:30p (call to confirm)
  • Location: 7801 Corporate Blvd., Ste. E in Plain City, Ohio 43064
  • Phone: 614-873-7776

Come see a wood bat being made on the biggest, baddest bat making machine anywhere! Spend an hour and experience a level of bat making like no other: Learn how to make a great bat - from wood to design. Go on the shop floor and see bats made right in front of you. Hear about today's pros ... and get your hands on their bats. Step back 100+ years to bats from baseball's start.

Ohio's own pro approved wood bat manufacturer.  Just 20 minutes from downtown Columbus and only 5 minutes from the I-270, Rt. 33 West interchange on the NW side of the city.

Printout: Phoenix Bat Company Tours

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BEAR’S MILL
(Admission is free and guided tours available for a fee during business hours.
Tour arrangements can be made for a fee during non-business hours.) 

  • Open: January, February, March - Thursday 11-5, Friday 11-5, Saturday 9-5, Sunday 11-5.  April through November - Tuesday through Friday 11-5, Saturday 9-5, Sunday 11-5.  December - Monday through Friday 11-5, Saturday 9-5, Sunday 11-5.  Closed Christmas Day. 

  • Location: 6450 Arcanum-Bear's Mill Road Greenville, Ohio  45331 

  • Phone:937-548-5112 

  • Web: www.bearsmill.com 

Built in 1849, Bear's Mill is an authentic example of a stonegrinding flourmill of its time. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, it is still in use today to grind cornmeal, whole wheat flour, rye flour, and pancake mixes. The mill and the buhr stones are powered by water. Visitors are welcome to take a free self-guided tour of the 4 story structure and to take a walk in the scenic woods surrounding the mill. On the first floor is the Mill Store where the mill flours as well as other gourmet sundries and giftware are available for purchase. The mill offers a line of gift boxes and custom baskets. A special feature of the store is handmade stoneware and raku pottery by the Bear's Mill potters.

Printout: Bear's Mill

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BIBLEWALK
(Admission: Tours range from $2.75/pp – 4.50/pp.
Family and group discounts. Kids 5 and under FREE)
 

  • Open:  Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

  • Location: 500 Tingley Ave. ● Mansfield, Ohio  44905

  • Phone: 1-800-222-0139

Ohio's only life-size wax museum features four tours that become treasured memories of the heart highlighting 70 scenes and over 300 wax figures. Experience the Holy Bible come to life with the Miracles of the Old Testament and Life of Christ, two sixty minute tours that feature life-sized dioramas of beloved Biblical stories.  Two additional thirty-
minute tours, Museum of Christian Martyrs and Heart of the Reformation, provide an insight into the hearts of men and women as they willingly gave their lives for the Word of God.  Each scene is underscored by original music and narration. BIBLEWALK also features a collection of rare and Braille Bibles, American votive folk-art, Religious wood carvings, a snack bar and gift shop. The Christian Dinner Theater will open Summer of 2006.

Printout: BIBLEWALK

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BOYD’S CRYSTAL ART GLASS

(Admission is Free)

 

  • Open Mondays through Fridays from 7:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • Location: 1203 Morton Ave. · Cambridge, OH 43725
  • Phone: 740-439-2077

The people at Boyd’s offer an open invitation for anyone to stop by and see glassmaking up close. Boyd’s is a family operated business that produce several hundred glass pieces daily, including many collectible figurines and ornamental pieces.  

Printout: Boyd's Crystal Art Glass

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THE CANAL EXPERIENCE
At Providence Metropark
 

  • Ride an authentic, mule-drawn canal boat (tickets: $6 adults, $5 seniors 60 and over, $3 children 3 to 12). Free tours of historic Isaac Ludwig Mill. General Store.

  • Open Wednesday-Sunday, May-October

  • Location: Grand Rapids, Ohio

  • Phone: 419-407-9700 

Travel back in time to the days when the smoothest way to go long distances was aboard boats towed by mules along manmade waterways. Board an authentic, mule-drawn canal boat named The Volunteer to experience what life was like during the canal era. Historical reenactors operate the boat, staying in character on the first half of the 45-minute cruise to spin tales of life in mid-1800s Ohio. Then tour an authentic, 1800s saw and gristmill where interpreters demonstrate how water power was used to saw wood and grind flour.

Printout: The Canal Experience

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CLIFTON MILL & GORGE

(Admission is Free)

 

  • Open various times. It is recommended to call ahead before visiting
  • Location: 75 Water St., ● Clifton, Ohio 45316
  • Phone: 937-767-5501

Built two hundred years ago in 1802, this is still one of the largest water-powered gristmills still around in the U.S. Visitors can tour all five floors of the mill and learn how it operated and what took place on each floor. In addition, a scenic hike is accessible nearby and provides panoramic views of the Little Miami River and overlooks to the gorge.   

Printout: Clifton Mill and Gorge

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COOPER'S CIDER MILL

(Admission is Free)

 

  • Open daily (call to schedule a tour)
  • Location: 1414 N. Sandusky Ave., ● Bucyrus, Ohio 44820
  • Phone: 419-562-4215

Hop over to Cooper’s Cider Mill and see apples and berries go from the vine to spread. Cooper’s apple butter and jellies are sold far and wide. But David Cooper isn’t lying when he says, “it’s just like grandma used to make,” because it is. David learned to make apple butter at his grandma’s farm. Later, he bought a stirring pot and began making his own. Demand grew and a business was formed to handle the requests. For years the mixing was done by hand – David’s father-in-law’s hands – out in the yard. Today, the Cooper’s offer a complete behind-the-scenes tour of the entire production process and visitors get to witness the freshness, quality and care that go into every jar. Afterward, David’s wife Miriam has plenty of tasting stations set up for sampling throughout the country store next to the production plant. Inside, a new generation of Cooper’s is introducing another treat – fudge. The Cooper’s son started experimenting with making fudge for the fair and now has his own fudge station inside the family store.

Printout: Cooper's Cider Mill

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CRYSTAL TRADITIONS

(Admission is Free)

 

  • Open Mondays through Fridays from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Location: 145 Madison St. · Tiffin, OH 44883
  • Phone: 419-448-4286

It’s fascinating to see the art of glass blowing as a molten blob is transformed into fine art before your very eyes. This tour demonstrates glass blowing and hand cutting crystal into a beautiful piece to display. During the time there, visitors will hear tales of glass making from its ancient roots through to the modern age. Enjoy!  

Printout: Crystal Traditions

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D. PICKING & COMPANY
Handmade Copper Kettles

(Admission is Free)

 

  • Open daily (call to schedule a tour)
  • Location: 119 S. Walnut St. · Bucyrus, Ohio 44820
  • Phone: 419-562-6891

The D. Picking & Company is the last of the old copper shops in America that still makes its original products by hand. The tour of the craftsmen at work is fascinating, but the building is a visual treat from nook to cranny as it is more than 130 years old and has character unique unto itself.  The walls, furniture, floors, furnaces and workbenches all show more than a century of service. The place can easily double as a copper kettle museum of historic proportions. Many relics are on display including an antique rocking horse Mr. Picking got before his son was born. Venture into this old-world of American manufacturing and hear the harmony of tapping, pounding and other clamoring noises ringing from room to room. The tour begins the same place as the copper – by the double doors. The copper is worked into kettles, ladles, skillets and other custom forms as it progresses through the shops five rooms. Each craftsman takes his time to hammer out perfection, often striking up conversation as they work. D. Picking & Company, to no surprise, gets orders from around the world resulting in some cases, up to 1,874 patterns. Tours and catalogs are available by calling 419-562-6891.

Printout: D. Picking & Company

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DUNGEON DESCENT ADVENTURE
(Costs vary) 

The Sandusky County Historic Jail and Dungeon located in Fremont, Ohio has been the home of the county sheriff along with his family and countless criminals for many years.  The home and jail was built in the late eighteen hundreds with the goal to give the prisoners a sense of home.  Some would say this was an early version of rehabilitation. In 2003 the building was restored and is currently used to house the offices of the County Commissioners. 

 

Along with the home, guest will experience the old dungeon located under the Sandusky County Courthouse.  Most will conclude if this dungeon was used as the jail today, crime would be at its lowest.  The tour will end with a visit to the Gallows Hall.  During the evening the guest will be entertained and educated by actual stories that took place behind these walls. 

 

For some additional fun, enjoy the Jailhouse Rocks Dinner Theater and the Dungeon Descent Adventure. More information can be found at www.sanduskycounty.org.

 

Printout: Dungeon Descent Tours

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EARTHSHIP
(Admission: $4.50 per adult and $3 for children age 14 and under)

  • Open: Thursday from 1 to 3pm and Saturday from 10 AM to 3pm or by reservation from June 1 through September 30

  • Location  1190 Virginia Ridge · Philo OH 43771 

  • Phone: 740-674-4300

Blue Rock Station Sustainable Living Center is home to Ohio's first Earthship - a cozy home made of tires, cans, bottles, straw bales, plus loads of other recycled materials. The tour includes other buildings made of sustainable materials, feeding rare breed chickens and working with the llamas or speaking French with the recycled French-speaking dog Rosie. Take a workshop on cottage gardening, constructing a plastic bottle greenhouse or how to make garden walls out of tires. There’s fun for everyone.

Printout: Blue Rock Station Earthship

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GARRETTS MILL

(Admission is Free)

 

  • Ohio  Open Mon - Sat 11 a.m. - 11p.m. for lunch and dinner; Sunday 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. for breakfast and dinner. The brewpub is open daily until 2:30 a.m.
  • Location: 8148 Main Street · Garrettsville, OH 44231
  • Phone: 330-527-4020

The Olde Mill Restaurant/Brewpub is located inside Garretts Mill. Guests can tour of the grist mill anytime.

This historic building was built in 1804 and still operates as a gristmill, restaurant and micro-brewery. See grain ground to flour by 3,000-pound millstones, move to different floors via conveyer belt and finally sifted and bagged.  

Printout: Garretts Mill

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GOODTIME III
(Admission: Adults-$15, Seniors-$14, Children (2 - 11 years) - $9 

  • Open: Memorial Day Weekend - Labor Day, with limited Public Schedule in May & September, Tues.-Sat.; Noon and 3pm, Sunday; 1:00pm and 3:30pm

  • East Ninth Street Pier, North Coast Harbor · Cleveland, OH 44114

  • 216-861-5110 or 888-916-SHIP

"For courtesy, comfort and just plain fun, you cannot match the experience of a cruise on the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie aboard Cleveland's largest sight-seeing vessel. The GOODTIME III is the largest quadruple-deck 1,000 passenger luxury ship on the Great Lakes, which offers plenty of room and you are not confined to your seats. This sight-seeing trip is unequaled and perfect for individuals, families and groups, large and small.  You'll enjoy the fast changing panorama of Cleveland's skyline and the exciting Flats area as you listen to Larry Morrow point out the many sights and little known historical facts about this All-American City. By far, the BEST way to see Cleveland! This company is proud to be family-owned & operated since 1958.

Printout: GoodTime III

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GREAT LAKES TOURING COMPANY
($30 per tour - Bikes included)

  • When: daily 

  • Location: Cleveland, University Circle, Area neighborhoods & the park system

  • Phone: 330-532-8687

  • Web Site: www.BikeCLE.com

Great Lakes Touring Co. is Northeast Ohio's premier source for custom bicycle tours and excursions. The company aims to bringing fitness, fun and adventure together on Cleveland-area bicycle trails, while promoting interest in regional tourism and history. Tours of Northeast Ohio communities, the 55,000-acre Cleveland MetroParks and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park are available throughout the year for riders of all experience levels from beginner to expert cyclist. Great Lakes Touring Co. offers corporate team building events, gym alternatives and birthday party packages. Mobile bike delivery service made easy. We drop off & pick up at your preferred location.  Learn more at BikeCLE.com or call (330) 532-TOUR (8687). 

Printout: Great Lakes Touring

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HARVEYSBURG FREE BLACK SCHOOL

(Admission is Free)

 

  • Open by appointment only
  • Location: 23 North St. · Harveysburg, OH 45032
  • Phone: 513-897-6195

Welcome to the very first free school in Ohio for black (African-American) children. The town was a once renowned stop along the Underground Railroad. The one-room schoolhouse was founded in the 1830’s by the Quakers and was recently restored to reflect its former self as a nineteenth-century classroom.  In addition to providing education to young freed slaves, the school also taught to Native-American children in the area.  

Printout: Harveysburg Free Black School

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JUNGLE JIM’S INTERNATIONAL MARKET

(Self-guided tour is Free - Formal basic group tours cost $5 per person)

Play Video

  • Open daily 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
  • Location: 5440 Dixie Hwy · Fairfield, OH 45014
  • Phone: 513-674-6000

Six acres of food under one roof! It's not a supermarket, it's a zoo-permarket!  An international mecca, Jungle Jim's offers thousands of imported and national brand groceries: 12,000 wines, 1,200 beers, 1,600 cheeses, 1,000 kinds of hot sauce, one full acre of produce (including organic and international). If it's edible, you'll find it here!   Jungle Jim's is truly a Food Lover's Paradise!   

Featuring: 

  • The Jungle Scene complete with waterfall and wildlife 

  • The General Mills Big G Cereal Bowl Band perched on the S.S. Minnow

  • Singing Creatures 

  • The Brain (a pesky know-it-all employee) 

  • European gourmet village 

  • The Cake Canopy, International Elephant Gates and more. 

There are five restaurants on the premises, including Chipotle, Rib City Grille and our one-of-a-kind Jungle Subs and Salads. Each year they host three major festivals; Jungle Jim’s International BeerFest, Jungle Jim’s Weekend of Fire Hot Sauce Show, and Jungle Jim’s International Wine Festival. There is a full service event center, The Oscar Event Center at Jungle Jim’s International Market capable of holding up to 1,000 people for any type of event. In addition, there are three boutique gift shops on site, monthly cigar/wine/beer tastings, a Starbucks coffee, food demonstrations/samples throughout every weekend, and a 3,000 square foot department of just culinary and cookware items. This madcap grocer has even won the “Best Bathrooms in America” award.

Printout: Jungle Jim's Farmers Market

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KING’S GLASS ENGRAVING

(Admission is Free)

 

  • Call for hours
  • Location: 181 S. Washington St. · Tiffin, OH 44883
  • Phone: 419-447-0232

Daily demonstrations of glass engraving are made available to visitors. Engraved glass includes fluted champagne glasses, crystal bells and more.  

Printout: King's Glass Engraving

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KITCHENAID™ EXPERIENCE & FACTORY TOURS

  • Open: Call  1-888-886-8318 for store hours and factory tour schedule

  • Location: 423 South Broadway in Greenville, Ohio 45331

  • Phone: 1-888-886-8318

Proclaimed to be more than a store, it’s a mixing, blending, slicing, juicing culinary adventure!

 

Learn new cooking skills by attending the many cooking classes offered that promise to stir up fun in eight interactive areas. Each class allows you to roll up your sleeves and use the KitchenAid™ products, learn various techniques and more. Free Live! Cooking Shows weekly - no reservations needed.

Factory Outlet shopping is available downstairs where the heritage exhibits are displayed. These authentic KitchenAid™ artifacts are used to tell the history of an ever-evolving iconic American company. It explains how products were improved and refined over the years since 1919 when the first stand mixer was introduced. An original Model H KitchenAid™ stand mixer is also exhibited.  

Tour the nearby mixing factory and see firsthand how the entire manufacturing process works. The tour enables visitors to see a stand mixer move to the final stage of assembly by peeking over the shoulder of an assembly line worker.  

Printout: KitchenAid Experience & Tours

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LAFFERTY FUNERAL COLLECTION
(Call for admission information) 

  • Open: The collection is open Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. or by appointment

  • Location: 207 S. Cherry St. · West Union, Ohio 45693

  • Phone: 937-544-5454

See antique hearses and other funeral service vehicles spanning the horse-drawn era from 1848 to motorization. The Lafferty family funeral business preserved their own carriages and vehicles through the years and acquired more to build onto this one-of-a-kind collection.

Printout: Lafferty Funeral Collection

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Lincoln Highway
DRIVEN TO FAME

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

Quick! Think of an important historic highway. Most people first think of the National Road... then think of Route 66.

Mike Hocker, Ohio's Lincoln Highway Historic Byway Director, explains why these thoughts are common. The National Road was the first major government-commissioned road; accomplished by Jefferson in 1803. It spanned the known country then - from Baltimore to the wilderness of southern Illinois. Route 66 was planned by the government in the 1920s and took travelers from Chicago to L.A. A popular television show and a hit song made that highway famous.

But thanks to many advocacy groups and recently organized byway organizations, word is getting out that the "Lincoln" was America's first coast-to-coast paved highway in America.

The Lincoln Highway was not a government project. Rather it was an idea generated by several industrialists who wanted to promote automobile travel. In 1913, the Lincoln Highway was born and named to honor President Abraham Lincoln. In the 50 years following his death, no major commemoration to this much loved president had been made. Numbered routes had not been standardized anywhere in the nation yet, and it was typical in that time to name a road. Through the primary efforts auto industrialists Frank Sieberling, Carl Fisher and Henry Joy, communities large and small, county governments and tiny townships, donations and sweat equity all worked together to link many existing roads and create "the safest and shortest path" to span America. The road ran from Times Square in New York to the San Francisco bay - an astounding 3,389 miles!

The road joined major cities, yet encouraged feeder roads to be built - an endeavor meant not only to promote the automobile era, but also change the way Americans traveled.

"It brought us from the world of short-haul deliveries to virtually anywhere. Communities that weren't rail towns could easily get goods and services," Hocker observed.

The Lincoln Highway also ushered in campsites, roadside rests, and diners that evolved into the fast food restaurants we take for granted today.  Soon, motor courts, and later, motels, ended the roadside camping that travelers had contended with in earlier days.

Comprehension of the legacy of transportation and change in America's culture has not been completely understood nor popular, perhaps to due to the generational disconnect from then until now.

“Now we look back and see that it is very important to us,” Hocker continued. “The roadside holds much history in re-used buildings, ghost signs from the nineteen teens to twenties and tiny lingering small-town shops that create a fun romp for travelers to rediscover.”

The Ohio Lincoln Highway Historic Byway has been promoted by Ohio's Travel and Tourism organization for nearly ten years.

“We've come light years from when we first began, and yet we have so far to go.  While most people think of the National Road and Route 66, we will continue to let people know about "the Father Road" or "Main Street Across America" – two early nicknames of the Lincoln Highway and the businesses and attractions along the historic drive,” Hocker concluded.

You can learn more at www.historicbyway.com. A map may be requested by clicking here.

Content provided by Becky Renock on behalf of Ohio's Lincoln Highway Historic Byway

Printout: Lincoln Highway

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LONGABERGER MUSEUM AND FACTORY

(Admission is Free)

 

  • Call for hours
  • Location: 5563 Raiders Road · Frazeysburg, OH 43822
  • Phone: 740-322-5588

Longaberger headquarters is inside the world’s largest basket as the entire building’s architecture is shaped like a giant basket including the handles. A visit to the Homestead will treat everyone to a comprehensive gallery, plant tours and basket-making demonstrations. And there is also a theatre where visitors can view the history of the Longaberger company. One of the more interesting aspects of the museum and tour is the Mezzanine where guests can gaze down at the 250,000 square-foot weaving floor where all the activity is. 

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LONGHORNS HEAD TO TAIL TOURS
(Group rates:  10 - 19 guests are $10/person, 20 - 39 guests are $9/person, 40 or more are $7/person) 

This is a real family event. Dickinson Cattle Co.is the largest producer of Texas Longhorn cattle in the nation and the largest producer of all natural lean beef in Belmont County, Ohio. Located in the beautiful Appalachian foothills, the 5,000-acre, family owned ranch now opens up pastures previously held private from public view for narrated tours.  Longhorns Head to Tail Tours bring you up close to view and hand-feed world-famous Texas Longhorns, African Watusi and Dutch Belted Buelingo Cattle.  See modern conservation ecology at work as you ride the ranges. Learn about the nearby birth place of Hopalong Cassidy, William Shanon and Hanging Judge Isaac Parker.  Famous cowpokes such as Oliver North, Andre the Giant, and George Lucas caught the Longhorn Passion from DCCI so why not you?  

Printout: Longhorns Head to Tail Tours

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OHIO STATE REFORMATORY HISTORICAL SITE TOURS
(Admission varies on the type of tour) 

  • Open: Call for hours and days of daytime tours. Open for ghost hunts and walks by appointment.

  • Location: 100 Reformatory Rd. ● Mansfield, OH 44905

  • Phone: 419-522-2644 or 800-642-8282

This museum offers a variety of tours in the intermediate state prison that was known as the Ohio State Reformatory.  This is also the site of the movie “Shawshank Redemption” and the museum offers a Hollywood tour involving many of the most famous sites from the movie including the tunnel Andy Dufresne escaped out of.  The old prison is also said to be haunted, and the museum offers ghosts hunts with the help of professional ghost hunters.

Printout: Video and article of Ohio State Reformatory Historical and Ghost Tours

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MIDDLEFIELD CHEESE HOUSE

(Admission is Free)

 

  • Open Mondays through Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
  • Location: 15815 Nauvoo Rd. · Middlefield, OH 44062
  • Phone: 800-327-9477

Who stole my cheese? Located in the fourth largest Amish community in the country, the Middlefield Cheese House has been serving award winning Swiss cheese for several generations. Visitors will learn what’s involved in the cheese-making process and see cheese carvings, antique cheese production equipment and more. Don’t forget to sample the cheese before you leave.  

Printout: Middlefield Cheese House

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MEIER’S WINE CELLARS, Inc.
and JOHN C. MEIER JUICE CO.

(Admission is Free)

 

  • Open Tuesday-Saturday 9:00-5:00, closed Sunday-Monday and holidays.
  • Tastings daily, video tour, gift shop, groups welcome by appointment
  • Location: 6955 Plainfield Rd. ● Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Phone: 513-891-2914

This is the oldest and largest winery in the state dating back more than 100 years. Award winning table wines, dessert wines, vermouth, sparkling wines, and sparkling non-alcoholic grape juice.  

Printout: Meier's Wine Cellars

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MOSSER GLASS

(Admission is Free)  

  • Showroom is open Monday through Friday from 8am – 4pm.  Factory tours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 am - 10:15 am and 11:15 am - 2:30 pm.  The factory is closed the first 2 weeks of July and 2 weeks between Christmas and New Years.  Call before coming if you are planning to tour the factory in July and January.  (there may be other days that factory is down during these two months)  

  • Location: 9279 Cadiz Road · Cambridge, OH  43725  

  • Phone: 740-439-1827  

Learn about the glass-making business while visiting and touring the facilities at Mosser Glass. The tour begins where glass-making does – with sand. And then goes on to include other steps in the process such as heating the ingredients at 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The finished products include just about anything from water pitchers to ashtrays.  

Printout: Mosser Glass

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OHIO AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER

(Admission is Free)

 

  • Call for hours
  • Location: 1680 Madison Avenue ● Wooster, Ohio 44691
  • Phone: 330-263-3700

What a beautiful place to relax and take in the surroundings – at the 85-acre Secrest Arboretum. Continue onto the greenhouse conservatory and complete a very fulfilling guided-tour with a visit to the historical museum on site. The purpose of the OARDC is to research food, agriculture, family and environment and help produce safe and healthy food and agricultural products.

Printout: Ohio Agricultural Research and Development

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OHIO CAVERNS
"America's Most Colorful Caverns"
Named one of the six best over all caves in America by Parade Magazine

Play Video

  • Open for tours daily April 1 – October 31 from 9am - 5pm; November 1 – March 31 from 9am - 4pm (Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)

  • Location: 2210 East State Route 245 ● West Liberty, Ohio 43357

  • Phone: 937-465-4017

  • Web: www.ohiocaverns.com

Visitors are conducted through the Caverns on guided tours at frequent intervals. There is an admission fee for the forty-five minute, mile long tour. Ohio Caverns was recently listed in Parade Magazine as one of the top six caves in America! Ohio Caverns is the largest and one of the most beautiful of all Ohio caves. Its exquisite crystal-white stalactite and stalagmite formations are nowhere to be found in greater profusion or artistic settings. The diversity of formations and unexcelled coloring are all the more interesting because the formations are still in the process of development. Still photography is welcome to capture your memories. No matter how far you travel, you will find your visit to Ohio Caverns provides you with rich memories of its great beauty and educational value.

Read Full Article about Ohio Caverns

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OLD STONE CHURCH

(Admission is Free)

 

  • Open: The Public Square doors are open Monday through Thursday, 11: 30 – 1: 30.  However visitors are welcome any day, 9: 00 – 4: 30. They may enter the church through the 1380 Ontario doors.
  • Location: 91 Public Square · Cleveland, Ohio 44113
  • Phone: 216-241-6145

If walls could talk, the sandstone of this Romanesque style church would have about 150 years of history to share. If you like beautiful architecture, take a self-guided tour of this house of worship. It is peculiarly set in a corner of Cleveland’s public square neighboring skyscrapers all around.   

Printout: Old Stone Church

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OLD WOMAN CREEK NATIONAL ESTUARINE RESEARCH RESERVE
(Admission is Free)  

  • Visitor Center Open Tuesday - Friday from 9am - 4pm and Saturday 9am - 5pm and Sunday 1pm - 5pm. Closed Monday. Trails open dawn to dusk every day.
  • Location: Erie County east of Huron, Ohio  on US Route 6  ● 2514 Cleveland Road, East in Huron, OH 44839
  • Phone: 419-433-4601

This is a thoroughly educational opportunity to learn about the precious ecosystems that surround us.  Old Woman Creek is the smallest reserve in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System and is the only Great Lakes freshwater estuary in the national system. It provides multimedia presentations, hands-on field education, guided-tours and a visitor center featuring exhibits on estuary ecology, wetland research, and watershed stewardship.  The Reserve also offers trail access to view a variety of habitats including freshwater marsh, swamp forest, barrier beach, upland forest, estuarine waters, stream, and near shore Lake Erie. 

Printout: Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve

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PERKINS OBSERVATORY

(Admission Fees Apply)

 

  • Open Friday and Saturday nights
  • Location: 3199 Columbus Pike ● Delaware, OH 43015
  • Phone: 740-363-1257

Perkins Observatory is owned and operated by the Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio. It offers astronomy programs for the public most Friday and Saturday nights (with some exceptions) throughout the year.  The programs are held rain or shine and have limited ticket availability. The programs usually consist of an astronomy talk and a tour of the observatory. Observing through the 32-inch telescope occurs only if it is clear enough and dark enough to do so. Advance tickets prices are $6 adults, $4 for children seventeen and under. Seniors price is also $4. On the day of the program or at-the-door, tickets (if available) are $1 more for each ticket. Groups of ten or more must pre-arrange their tickets at least two weeks in advance. Special weekday, evening, and daytime programs are also offered.

Printout: Perkins Observatory

 

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PERRY’S CAVE TOUR
(Admission: Adults $7.50;
Children 6 to 12: $4.50; Children under 6 FREE)

Perry’s Cave, located 52 feet below the surface of South Bass Island in Lake Erie, is a registered Ohio Natural Landmark. Its natural views of stalagmites, stalactites, cave pearls on the cave's walls, and a rare underground lake are all features found inside the cave. Cave tours take place at frequent intervals. The guided tours can take around 20 minutes, and walking shoes with rubber soles and light wrap are suggested. Private, after-hours, guided lantern tours are also available to experience the “total darkness” of Perry’s Cave, upon reservation. Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center also includes gemstone mining, an exotic butterfly house, an 18- hole miniature golf course, Fort aMAZE’n (Put-in-Bay’s only human maze race), a climbing wall and an antique car museum.

Printout: Perry's Cave Tour

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PLAYHOUSE SQUARE CENTER

(Admission is Free)

 

Did you ever think you could actually go to the theater and get backstage passes in casual clothes for free? Well, you can if you tour the historic Allen, Ohio, State and Palace theaters. The Playhouse Square theater district is the largest performing arts complex in the United States except for New York City. And it attracts more than 1 million people annually. After nearly being forgotten and destroyed, the theaters were reclaimed in the largest theater restoration project in the world. Today, they are radiant and provide for a very worthwhile visit. The tour is about an hour and a half and includes the lobbies, lavish auditoriums and backstage areas.  

Printout: Playhouse Square Center

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QUAKER SQUARE

(Admission is Free)

 

What was once the original Quaker Oats Company is now home to a unique-looking retail complex providing shopping, restaurants, hotel and entertainment center. The buildings, known as silos, are unique and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The company’s rich history is told with historic advertising memorabilia and includes accounts of how Ferdinand Schumacher originally attempted to sell his breakfast oats as well as how a fire nearly destroyed everything.  

Printout: Quaker Square

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SEVERANCE HALL
Home of The Cleveland Orchestra
(Free Tours)
 


The Cleveland Orchestra has announced the schedule for free public tours of Severance Hall, the Orchestra’s home in University Circle. Each one-hour tour is led by a volunteer tour guide who shares Severance Hall’s history and legends as patrons visit the Concert Hall, Bogomolny-Kozerefski Grand Foyer, Smith Lobby, Organ Loft, Green Room, Ong & Lerner Galleries, and Reinberger Chamber Hall. Patrons will have the opportunity to see the Christoph von Dohnányi stage and the 6,025-pipe Norton Memorial Organ, sit in Box Number One, and, in the Grand Foyer, see the Elsa Vick Shaw murals and the famous brass screw that is embedded in the terrazzo floor.

Printout: Severance Hall

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THE J.M. SMUCKER COMPANY STORE AND CAFÉ

With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good. ® And nowhere is this more true than at The J.M. Smucker Company Store and Café. Located in Orrville, Ohio, The J.M. Smucker Company Store and Café originally opened in 1999 and was recently expanded and renovated. Now twice its original size, the store retains its classic timber frame barn structure and is the premier showcase for The J.M. Smucker Company’s entire family of brands, including Smucker’s®, Jif®, Crisco®, Pillsbury®, Hungry Jack® and more. 

The fabulous new café serves up fresh, tasty treats made with the company’s own branded ingredients, delicious pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven and mouthwatering sundaes topped with heavenly Smucker’s toppings. The store is packed with exclusive branded merchandise and one-of-a-kind gifts, including the Gift Basket Design Center, where you can create your own custom gift basket – the perfect gift for any occasion. 

You’ll also want to take a journey from 1897 to the present day at The J.M. Smucker Company museum, where you’ll experience how the company started and how it continues to evolve today. 

Finally, be sure to visit smuckers.com for a schedule of special events at the store, including classes, concerts and celebrity guests.

Printout: The J.M. Smucker Company Store and Café

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YE OLDE MILL
Velvet Ice Cream Company
www.velveticecream.com
 

  • Visitors Center with hourly tours

  • Ohio’s only ice cream museum

  • Ice cream production viewing gallery

  • 1817 Ice Cream Parlor

  • The Mill Room Restaurant

  • Gift shop

  • Weekend family entertainment

  • Picnic park and shelter houses

  • Children’s playground

  • Nature trails

  • Farm animal petting zoo

  • Buckeye tree grove

Open May - October (call for hours)
Location: (Map It)
11324 Mt. Vernon Rd. in Utica, OH 43080
Phone:
800-589-5000

A DAY OF FUN AT YE OLDE MILL  

Each year, Ye Olde Mill attracts 150,000 nature and ice cream enthusiasts from all over the country. Ye Olde Mill, on 25 picturesque acres nestled in the gently rolling hills and forests of lovely Licking County, is the perfect spot for family fun, reunions, weddings, and more.  

The restaurant can accommodate large groups for any occasion. For group reservations, contact Guest Relations at 740-892-3921 or 800-589-5000. 

VELVET ADVENTURE BEGINS AT VISITORS CENTER

Ye Olde Mill features Ohio’s only ice cream museum, an 1817 Ice Cream Parlor, The Mill Room Restaurant, and gift shop. The Velvet adventure begins with the Visitors Center, built to resemble Grandpa Dager’s old milking parlor, which offers hourly tours of the Mill and museum, along with observation of the Velvet Ice Cream factory at work.  Outside, the adventure continues with the Visitors Center’s livestock barnyard, children’s farm animal petting zoo, and scenic natural trails and picnic grounds.



Open May 1 to October 31  

Mill Room Restaurant, Ye Olde Mill, Ice Cream Museum, and 1817 Ice Cream Parlor

May, September, October: 11 am to 7 pm daily

June, July, August: 11 am to 8 pm daily  

Tours of Ye Olde Mill and Factory

Weekdays: 11 am to 3 pm on the hour

Printout: Ye Old Mill and Velvet Ice Cream Company

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THE WEST SIDE MARKET

(Admission is Free)

 

Take a self-guided tour of this 1912 multi-cultural historical landmark. It is produce shopping old-world style and features more than 100 ethnic vendors selling first-rate vegetables, meats, fresh-fish, pastries and a lot more. There is a viewing area high above the main-market floor, which provides tourists with a panoramic view of the hustle and bustle going on below.

Printout: The West Side Market

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LAKE ERIE LIGHTHOUSES

 

Marblehead Lighthouse

South Bass Island Lighthouse

Directions: To get to the island, take either the Jet Express from Port Clinton (Route 163) or downtown Sandusky (Jackson St. off Route 6) or take the Miller Boat Line from Catawba (Route 53). To see the lighthouse from shore, take Langram Road past the Miller Boat Line dock until it dead ends.

The Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse

  • Contact via the Fairport Harbor Historical Society at 440-354-4825 or www.fairportlighthouse.com

  • Location: 129 Second St., Fairport Harbor OH 44077.

  • Days and hours: Open from the end of May through the third weekend of September on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, from 1 to 6 pm; special tours are available by appointment.

  • Fee: Yes 

Directions: Take Route 2 to the Painesville Exit. Head north on Richmond St. (which becomes High St.) Museum is on corner of Second and High Streets [129 Second St.]

Toledo Harbor Lighthouse

Vermilion Lighthouse and Inland Seas Maritime Museum

  • 480 Main St., P.O. Box 435, Vermilion OH 44089

  • 800-893-1485 or 440-967-3467

  • www.inlandseas.org

Although lighthouses can be found in many countries, they have reached an almost cultic status here in the US. American lighthouses have been pictured on postcards, travel brochures, T-shirts, family room wallpaper, and even US postage stamps, and their iconic shape has made its way into many graphic designs. Lighthouses are usually thought of as a New England attraction, but there are lighthouses in other states, too, including the ones that border the Great Lakes. In fact, there are more inland lighthouses along the shores of the Great Lakes than most countries have along their entire ocean coast line.  

Ohio, which contains part of Lake Erie, is the home of a number of interesting lighthouses, keeper’s homes, and maritime museums, which you can find by following the 293-mile Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail that stretches from Conneaut in the northeast to Toledo in the northwest. This is not too surprising when you consider that Erie is the oldest, the shallowest, the most treacherous, and the most unpredictable of the Great Lakes.  

The best-known (or at least the most photographed) of the Ohio lighthouses is Marblehead Lighthouse, formerly known as the Sandusky Bay Light. Located in Marblehead Lighthouse State Park (one of Ohio’s newest state parks) at the mouth of the Sandusky Bay entrance to Lake Erie, it was named after the village of Marblehead, which provided the 65-foot-high tower’s limestone building blocks. The tower, which opened in 1822, is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes. During the summer, the tower is a popular tourist attraction, with hundreds of visitors browsing through the exhibits of lighthouse history in the Keeper’s House, taking guided tours, climbing up the tower’s spiral staircase, taking pictures from the tower balcony, and picnicking on the grounds. 

It’s a lovely area and it has served as an attractive backdrop for weddings, vow renewals, proposals, and other special events over the years, although no reservations can be made for such use and the grounds are always open to the public. Visitors who want to make a day of it can also enjoy nearby East Harbor State Park, which offers a number of activities and amenities including camping, swimming, boating, disk golfing, and fishing.  

In addition, lighthouse fans can also hop a boat over to South Bass Island (home of NW Ohio’s party town, Put-In-Bay) to visit the South Bass Island Lighthouse, which includes two-and-a-half stories of living space and an attached 60-foot tower. This lighthouse is owned by The Ohio State University, which conducts summer tours of the tower Thursdays through Sundays, from 1 pm to 4 pm. The living space is sometimes used to house visiting OSU speakers and dignitaries and is not open to the public. There is a small air-conditioned space upstairs that can be rented for meetings and various events, with light refreshments or catered meals.  

An interesting side note: OSU also owns Gibraltar Island, the 6.5 acre island off the north side of South Bass Island. Located on Gibraltar is OSU’s Franz Theodore Stone Laboratory, the nation's oldest freshwater biological field station. Two-hour tours of the island and facilities are offered in the summer on Wednesdays from 10 am to noon, on a first-come-first served basis. There are box lunches available for order and the $10 tour fee supports student scholarships.  

OSU also runs an annual open house in September which offers tours of the island, workshop learning sessions, and microscope activities in the lab; visitors are ferried from the South Bass Island Research Building to Gibraltar and back on one of the university’s research vessels.  This year’s open house is on September 6th, from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm, and it coincides with Put-in-Bay's annual Historic Weekend, commemorating Commander Perry's victory over the British in the War of 1812.  

The northeastern shore of Ohio has its share of lighthouses, too, but most are not open to the public and can only be seen from a distance. However, the Fairport Harbor Village Lighthouse and Marine Museum, in Fairport Harbor, is worth a visit. The 60-foot-high sandstone and brick tower was built in 1871 at the mouth of the Grand River and has a spiral staircase that takes visitors right to the top. Visitors can also visit the adjacent museum (once the light keeper’s house) to learn more about lighthouses and Ohio history from the museum’s collection of navigational instruments, lighthouse lenses, ship models, Native American relics, and salt-mining and iron ore displays. Efforts are currently underway to restore the 61-year-old Fairport Harbor Breakwall Lighthouse, also located near the village. 

I’ve only hit the highlights of the Ohio lighthouses and museums here. There‘s lots more to see; from the Moorish charm of the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse as seen from Maumee Bay State Park’s shoreline, to the Vermilion Lighthouse replica that stands on the front lawn of the Inland Seas Maritime Museum, the shores of Lake Erie are full of maritime history and adventure. Visitors with an insatiable appetite can find out more by contacting the locations listed below. Lighthouse and museum hours, days of operation, and entrance fees are subject to change; make sure you call ahead to confirm details before planning a trip.  

Jet Express

Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail

  • P.O. Box 1639, Sandusky OH 44870

  • No phone number found

Coastal Ohio
www.coastalohio.com

[Offers information on over 300 historical sites and natural areas, including a calendar of events for each site, as well as dates of lighthouse festivals and special events.] 

Lake Erie Shores and Islands Welcome Center

Lake Erie Shores and Islands Welcome Center

Marblehead Peninsula Chamber of Commerce

  • 5681 East Harbor Rd. Ste. C, Marblehead, OH 43440

  • 419-734-9777

Miller Boat Line

  • P.O. Box 239, 535 Bayview Avenue, Put-in-Bay OH 43456
    800-500-2421 or 419-285-2421

  • www.millerferry.com 

Franz Theodore Stone Laboratory Field Station

This is an excerpt from the September 2008 edition of OhioTraveler eMagazine.
Written by Betty Winslow.

Printout: Lake Erie Lighthouses in Ohio

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Disclosure:
As a precaution, please call ahead to the venues you plan to visit to ensure that the hours, admittance and other data in this Web site have not changed. We assume no responsibility for omissions, inaccuracies or errors within the contents of this Web site. However, we will take into consideration, any comments that would better represent the venues within, and add them to our Web site.

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