Best Ohio Tourist Towns to Visit

The Best Ohio tourist towns, villages, cities, and neighborhoods to visit. It’s a growing list so check back to see more of Ohio’s great small towns.




Small Towns with Big Stories

Welcome to Tuscarawas County and its small towns with big stories!

The county’s history begins as the Ohio frontier, with the early residents arriving in the springtime of 1772. Upon experiencing the lush beauty and recognizing the fertile soil surrounding the Tuscarawas River, they established Schoenbrunn Village, its name meaning “Beautiful Spring.” Today, historic Schoenbrunn Village welcomes you to walk in the same footprints those first Ohio settlers trod and to visit the reconstructed first church and schoolhouse on that early Ohio frontier. The original cemetery honors the lives of the six hundred-plus residents that lived there, including Delaware peoples who became Christianized through the teachings of Moravian missionary David Zeisberger, the village leader.

Following a daytime tour of historic Schoenbrunn Village, plan to attend the live outdoor drama Trumpet in the Land, Ohio’s official state play and longest-running outdoor drama, in the evening. The 2024 season opens on June 21st. The epic outdoor production uses song, dance, comedy, and dramatic interpretations to tell the inspiring story of the founding of Schoenbrunn, Ohio’s first settlement during the tumultuous Revolutionary War.

Tuscarawas County is in the middle of the lush, rolling hills of Appalachian, Ohio. Its treed terrain reminded early Swiss immigrants of their homeland in Switzerland, and soon, they established dairy farms for their Swiss Cheese operations, many of which were in the Sugarcreek area. Current Amish residents farm those same fields, creating a confluence of culture and heritage for travelers to experience. Spend time in downtown Sugarcreek, strolling past the murals decorating the facades of many buildings that depict life in Switzerland. Be delighted by the music performed by the Hilltoppers, the Oompah-pah band of the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock, at the top and bottom of each hour. Afterward, take in the cultural heritage exhibits on display at the Alpine Hills Museum; later, marvel at the artistry of the Brick Wall Sculpture mural, which illustrates the tales of life in this scenic Swiss heritage village.

Bolivar’s stories go back to the construction of Fort Laurens, Ohio’s only Revolutionary War Fort. Learn the drastic measures the brave soldiers took to serve on the Ohio frontier at this volatile time. After taking in the history, enjoy browsing the antique shops in downtown Bolivar and feed your appetite at one of the local restaurants. If you are ready for a cold brew, stop by Lockport Brewery and enjoy a handcrafted beer.

National Historic Landmark District, Historic Zoar Village, has a big story to share! Known as America’s most successful Communal Society, residents began to call Zoar home in 1817 as they arrived seeking religious freedom. Enjoy the architecture of the original brick and timber structures, the museums, the bakery, and the large garden. Featuring unique events throughout the year, you may even want to time your visit to take in Maifest, the harvest, antique festival, or fall season ghost tours to hear from one of the original residents!

Dover has a downtown filled with friendly merchants and locally owned cafes, diners, and restaurants- not to mention a hand-crafted candy store, a cupcake shop, a floral shop, and several offering new and vintage decor for your home! When you are ready to explore the outdoors, stop by Riverfront Park to enjoy the artistically created swing beckoning you to hop on for a riverside ride! The Dover museum offerings include the original Victorian Home, J. E. Reeves Victorian Home and Carriage House Museum; a museum sharing the life story of master carver, Ernest “Mooney” Warther, at the Ernest Warther Museum and Gardens; and a museum mentioned in Ripley’s Believe It or Not – Famous Endings Museum- that tells of stories of those who have passed on. Dover has more than enough to do for a day or a few!

Travelers looking to add to their wardrobe will enjoy the shops in downtown New Philadelphia, whose merchants offer styles for the whole family. With cafes, restaurants, bookstores, art galleries, and a maker’s market, you will enjoy this city and its many brightly colored murals.

Have you traveled to Dreamsville lately? Discover Dennison and tour the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum to learn about the famous song’s tie to this Tuscarawas County community and the importance of this iconic American railroad depot. While you are there, enjoy a meal at the onsite restaurant. Your entire family will enjoy the magic of the Polar Express train ride offered each Christmas season.

Newcomerstown is proud to share the stories of former residents Cy Young and Woody Hayes! Visit the Olde Main Street Museum and take a step back in time to see the collections of these favorite sons on display in the exhibits.

Interspersed with the small towns are grand arts adventures, farm markets, trails, rock climbing, dog parks, a drive-in movie theater, and the best homemade ice cream! Tuscarawas County is in the heart of Appalachian Ohio and warmly called “The Other Side of Amish Country.” You will be welcomed with friendly smiles throughout your visit, regardless of where your adventure takes you! With many lodging options, you will sleep comfortably in one of our many clean, comfortable hotels!

Visit www.TravelTUSC.com, call 800-527-3387, or stop by the Welcome Center at 124 East High Ave, New Philadelphia, for more information about the small towns with big stories.

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Waynesville – A Walkabout Shopping Town

Waynesville, Ohio has been dubbed one of the most walkable communities in America and the Antique Capitol of the Midwest. This historic village awaits your footsteps no matter if it’s summer, fall, winter, or spring.

The quaint small town is like none other. It’s like an endless outdoor shopping mall set in the 1800s with character galore. Each little building or shop has a history, rich in Quaker heritage and Victorian architecture. The five-block “Old Main Street” is lined with more than 70 Mom & Pop shops featuring a wide array of antiques, crafts, custom woodworking, collectibles, eateries, coffee houses, and specialty shops. Whether it’s the middle of winter or a hot summer day, it’s always buzzing with pedestrians on a shopping binge.

Waynesville offers visitors a nostalgic experience. Many storefronts have had folks peaking through the looking glass since the 1800s. Copper street lamps on brick sidewalks frame the many restored Victorian homes turned into shops with colorful window boxes and street-side benches.

Merchants are often seen unloading their trucks with their newest (or oldest) additions to their inventory coming from estate sales nation and even worldwide. Whether a customer falls in love with a piece from a far-off or nearby place, you may hear comments said aloud like, “This completes…” Whether shopping with purpose, merely browsing or just looking for a nice place to take a stroll, Waynesville is the place to slow roll a day away.

The cute town is littered with special events across the calendar: There’s the Old Main Street Antique Show in May and September, The Ohio Renaissance Festival from August to October, the Ohio Sauerkraut Festival in October, and Christmas in the Village in December to name some.

Visitors may pick up a self-guided walking tour brochure or make an appointment with a local historian and official Towne Crier to undertake an in-depth historical tour featuring tales of its famous haunts during the strolls on Main Street and the Quaker Historic District.

By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun.

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Sugarcreek, Ohio

Welcome to Sugarcreek, Ohio’s “Little Switzerland,” gateway to Amish Country, and home to the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock.

CLICK HERE
for the full multimedia story,

“I’m Sweet on Sugarcreek!”

The full story features plenty of photos, a video of the legendary clock, and a fun tour of this picturesque Northeast Ohio town.

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Hamilton – The City of Sculpture

Walk “The City of Sculpture” – Hamilton, Ohio!

There are over 40 sculptures, many in candid settings such as a couple reading under a tree, a father teaching his daughter to ride a bike, and a boy walking down a sidewalk playing the harmonica with his loyal dog in tow. Along the way, enjoy a few tasty cafes and novelty shops.

Click here for a map for the sculptures walking tour. There’s also a nearby sculpture park with 60 more sculptures nestled in nature and gardens at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park.

Explore the wonderful shopping opportunities downtown and across the river in a revitalized boutique shopping district. Throughout, there are great eateries dotting the sidewalks. Some favorites are True West Coffee (great sandwiches) in a two-story coffee shop on the west side of the river at 313 Main Street. Look for the sculpture of a man and umbrella being rained on. Across the street is delicious ice cream at The Village Parlor. In the heart of downtown are two popular eateries. Alexander’s Market & Deli is where the locals flock for lunch. And just down the sidewalk, you can eat and shop for interesting items at High Street Café.

To learn a fascinating story, venture to the southeast quadrant of 3rd Street and Sycamore. For geo-explorers, coordinates are N: 39° 23.711 and W: 084° 33.699. There lies the Father of Hollow Earth Theory on a most peculiar gravesite.

Hamilton, the City of Sculptures (and murals, too), is a great place to walk, shop, and eat a day away.

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Ohio’s Lazy River Town

In the old days, moms and dads would gather up the kids and things into the station wagon and go on a Sunday drive to get out of the city, into open spaces, and spend a lazy day together to shed the stress of the rat race in the rearview mirror.

Driving, it’s interesting to note where urban architecture ends, streetlights disappear, and a state route winds between barns that look like they should be in a painting. In this trip, that state route is 52, and it hugs the Ohio River heading east of Cincinnati, offering some beautiful views.

Entering Ohio’s lazy river town… click here for the rest of the story.

CLICK HERE
for the rest of the story

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Yellow Springs is Ohio’s Happy Place

OHIO’S HAPPY PLACE: YELLOW SPRINGS

Rejuvenate in a small town with a big smile – Yellow Springs, Ohio. It’s where folks go to be happy. Cheerful shop keepers chat up good times for their customers whom they just befriended. Pedestrians take notice of the blend of inviting aromas in the air trying to plan their lunch. And the facades around town highlight a creative flair.

It is no wonder the town originally lured nineteenth-century travelers with the Yellow Spring and its curative waters. Today, much of the menus around town are filled with farm-to-table foods. A diversity permeates the culture here that mixes rural countryside with a touch of urban excitement to mingle into a peaceful coexistence.

Chock-full of pure authenticity, Yellow Springs is a destination for the artist, foodie, hiker, performer, or plain curious.

Plan your escape to “Ohio’s Happy Place” at https://www.greenecountyohio.org/.

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Ohio’s Lake Erie Islands


Family bicycling on Lake Erie’s Kelleys Island, Ohio

Welcome to “Vacationland”
on Ohio’s Lake Erie Islands

 

Take an island getaway right here in Ohio. The Lake Erie Islands feature Put-In-Bay, Kelleys Island, Bass Islands, Marblehead, and more along the North Coast.

Enjoy the history of The Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812 and Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial. Oh, and remember, Don’t give up the ship!”

The Ohio islands’ fun must include at least one watery thrill such as parasailing, jet ski rentals, paddleboarding, kayaking, fishing and charter boats. Aerial views of the islands are available from helicopter and bi-plane rides.

And you must also take time to do nothing. Whether you curl up in an Adirondack chair to read a novel, stroll the shoreline looking for sea glass, hike the nature preserves, visit a butterfly house, or whatever. Just be sure to “summer chill.”

In addition, there are cave-dwelling and golfing options and, of course, plenty of bike-riding routes. And when it’s time to reconvene with family or friends, the trifecta of island shopping, winery, and restaurant opportunities await. Heck, there’s even a Chocolate Museum!

Be sure to plan your getaway stay with not only a variety of lodging options but also a passage via the Miller Ferry or The Jet Express.

Ahh, island life … In Ohio! It’s all that and a forkful of perch.

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German Village in Columbus

A Culture Preserved in Brick 

Don’t all urban brick roads echo the clippety-clop of horse and cart merchants? When we come across one today, it’s like glimpsing a rip in time. In Columbus, Ohio’s German Village, an old world collides with the new. It’s where the Letgo or Nextdoor App meets the rag-and-bone man who called out, “rag n’ bone!” And people would run outside to throw second-hand goods into his cart.

There’s something poetic about a stroll in German Village of Columbus. From one block to the next, the environment can go from bustling to a standstill, chitter-chatter to silence, car tires to bicycle pedals. In the shadows of downtown Columbus’ skyscrapers, buildings in the village are roofed at three stories, tops. The brick roads blend as easily with the brick walls as the storefronts do with the residential porches. And the old-world density of it forces parallel parking to get out and do what modern man has primarily forgotten to do – walk. Do it for a few blocks and try not to smile along the breezy sidewalks comingling with oak roots. And for those who are up for a type of scavenger hunt, follow The Brickline. It’s a trail from plaque to plaque throughout the village, each with its own story to tell.

German Village offers various staples for any interest, from coffee houses to neighborhood pubs, bakeries to restaurants, and mom-and-pop shops that have operated under the same family shingle for generations. But there’s an old stable, independent bookstore, sausage haus, and ice cream stand that need to be a part of any itinerary.

There’s a term, discovery shopping experience. The place for it is The Red Stable. Here, over one hundred artists’ creations are waiting to be a one-of-a-kind purchase.

Before it was a gift shop, this little red building (made of wood, not brick) was a horse livery. Then it became a wagon repair shop (not the Radio Flyer type). It even spent time as an ice house. Then came the dark ages when a combination of anti-German sentiment after the world wars and the highway system all but killed the pulse of the village. Fortunately, the German Village Society was formed to help revitalize the historic neighborhood. During this phase, The Red Stable seeded what is flourishing today. Local artist Phil Keintz opened an art studio and gift shop there and featured Ohio artists.

Today, The Red Stable, German Village Souvenirs & Gifts, features Cuckoo Clocks, candles, cards, stationery, bath and body products, plants, jewelry, clothing, gifts, and pieces of art.

A brick skips away in a former brick livery stable is five generations of German hospitality served at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus und Restaurant.

The Schmidt family name is well-known in the food industry. Their label is in the aisles of many grocery stores. Although their meatpacking house had been open for decades, their first nibble into the concession and restaurant business began with a stand at the 1914 Ohio State Fair. And it is now the second-oldest food booth at the state fair. It wasn’t until 1967 that Schmidt’s Sausage Haus opened its restaurant doors in the heart of German Village. It has been the talk of the Central Ohio food scene ever since. Be sure to try their Jumbo Cream Puffs, Alpine Chicken Spatzel, or Weiner Schnitzel und Gravy. The atmosphere, hospitality, and menu hit the trifecta in German authenticity.

To walk off a hearty meal, head over to one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, The Book Loft.

Inside this place alone, the walk spans a city block after eight different expansions. Even for the non-reader—Willkommen! Enjoy the adventure of wandering a labyrinth of books through 32 connected rooms, each with its theme, spanning two stories. That’s after navigating the flowers, fountains, and park bench scene outside. The place is so big and windy; there are maps at the counters. Large as it is, its red awnings, red brick walls, and red brick sidewalks and patios create an ambiance of coziness. Curl up in the courtyard or a nook or cranny inside and open the pages to another world. The central courtyard displays “hurt” books at steep discounts for a bargain among the bargains.

Next door, fittingly, is Stauf’s Coffee Roasters. Take a seat and begin reading over a cup of Columbus Underground Roast.

Perhaps it’s the simple side of German Village that walks off the stress of the outside world. Walk long enough, and fantasies of moving to the neighborhood fill the mind. After all of the walking, a sweet tooth will lead to an ice cream stand along the sidewalk. It’s not just any ice cream; it’s Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream.

This seasonal walk-up “Mini Jeni’s” is inside an old neighborhood barbershop near the historic Schiller Park. For those who have trouble deciding what to get, you may be pleased to find just four choices on the menu. Place an order at the window in the brick wall and have a seat at a patio table and chair lining the wall along the sidewalk under the giant shade trees, and people watch as pedestrians gather or walk by.

Look around at the brick and ironwork forged to stand the test of time. Its architecture is out of this world, and its culture is from a bygone era.

But you can visit it anytime.

By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun

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Aqua Life at Grand Lake St. Marys

at Grand Lake St. Marys
By Frank Rocco Satullo, your Tour Guide to Fun!

Nothing embodies the epic fun and historic oddities at Ohio’s largest inland lake than the record-setting number of Amphicars – known as the cars that swim – dotting the roads and waves between Celina and St. Marys, Ohio.

Grand Lake St. Marys is a place nobody forgets, past or present. From today’s largest gathering of Amphicars to its former, largest roller-coaster in the world, this vacationland has been amazing its visitors for more than a century. …READ MORE…

Click here for the rest of the story.

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Vermilion, Ohio

Vermilion, Ohio, is known for its quaint downtown and lakeside charm. Now it is also known for its public art! Vermilion’s first public art installation, The Postcard Project, debuted in segments throughout 2019 and 2020 and is now available in its completion for public viewing. Featuring 15 mural-sized paintings of vintage postcards spread around the waterfront town, this trail is an ode to Vermilion’s heritage as a vacation destination.

Each of the 15 5×8-foot murals was hand-painted in oil by Amherst, Ohio, artists Mike Sekletar and Brian Goodwin. Some of the images feature scenes from vintage postcards that are as old as 100 years! Nearly 10,000 postcards were submitted by Vermilion residents for consideration. Some of the murals depict classic sites of places that no longer exist, such as the “Crystal Beach Ballroom,” which was known in its heyday for hosting the likes of Guy Lombardo, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Lawrence Welk, and other Big-Band-Era performers. Crystal Beach closed in 1962 and the ballroom was subsequently demolished. Other murals are nostalgic depictions of sites still in existence today, such as “Night View of Liberty Street Looking East” which depicts downtown storefronts.

Viewing the postcard murals is a great activity any time of year, with ten of them located in the historic downtown district making for a great walkable tour. The other five can be found within a short drive.

A keepsake tour guide is available from Mainstreet Vermilion’s downtown office, which features a trail map and a short history of each postcard. A $5 donation is suggested for the official Postcard Project Tour Guide. Souvenir postcards are also for sale to benefit future public art projects and would make a great holiday gift for anyone who loves Vermilion’s heritage and history or simply loves to vacation here.

The project was spearheaded by Public Art Vermilion, a non-profit Main Street Vermilion program dedicated to revitalizing, beautifying, and preserving historic downtown Vermilion. Congratulations are also in order, as The Postcard Project was recently recognized by Heritage Ohio with the Best Main Street Committee Project Award for combining history, art, and community engagement.

Visit the coastal community of Vermilion, Ohio, today and enjoy this beautiful public art project! For more information, log on to www.mainstreetvermilion.org.

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Port Clinton, Ohio

Visit Port Clinton 

Downtown Port Clinton is becoming established as an entertainment district, with a variety of restaurants and bars, as well as eclectic and unique shops, and a variety of special events.

Eat & Drink 

The city recently adopted a “designated outdoor refreshment area,” pursuant to the Ohio Revised Code. Known locally as the Main Street Port Clinton Outdoor Refreshment Area, or MORA, it means that visitors to participating downtown establishments who are age 21 and older are now allowed to drink alcoholic beverages outdoors within specifically designated boundaries around downtown Port Clinton from noon to midnight, seven days a week, year-round. Main Street Port Clinton sponsors the program, which provides specifically designated cups for the purpose of taking your drink with you when you leave. Signs indicate boundaries and the program rules are listed on the cup. After a drink is purchased, the cups cannot be carried into a different participating establishment (there are currently 13 businesses), but can be taken into other “MORA-friendly” locations, such as retailers where food and drink are not sold. The MORA is designed to make the downtown district more guest-friendly and encourage customers to patronize multiple businesses.

The welcome addition of the MORA, has created a new downtown eating area known as “Meals on Madison,” or M.O.M. When downtown eateries were limited to offering carry-out, due to state-wide COVID-19 restaurant restrictions, the idea for a special area downtown area where guests could sit down and enjoy food from local restaurants, such as Rosie’s Bar & Grill, was born. The 100 Block of Madison Street is now closed to auto traffic and filled with picnic tables, umbrella tables, Adirondack chairs, and other seating so that downtown visitors can shop, grab a bite to eat, enjoy a MORA carry-out beverage, and sit a spell. The M.O.M. district is open daily and offers live entertainment on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, as well as on Sunday afternoons.

Shop 

Downtown Port Clinton offers unique shopping from specialty stores, flower shops, clothing boutiques, souvenirs, and more. Be sure to visit the Put-in-Bay T-Shirt Company, sister-store to the island boutique, for all things Port Clinton, Lake Erie, and Put-in-Bay. Northern Exposure Gallery & Candle Co. offers nautical jewelry, gifts, and décor, as well as house-made soy candles. Guests can also create their own soy candles, choosing custom colors and scents. Craving something salty or sweet? Don’t miss Great Lakes Popcorn with more than 30 delicious flavors as well as candy and gift baskets.

Play 

Port Clinton’s downtown is also home to several special events, such as the monthly Art Walk, sponsored by the Greater Port Clinton Area Arts Council, which will resume in July. The popular Riverfront Live music series, sponsored by the Port Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce, now takes place at the Meals on Madison area on Friday evenings to kick off each summer weekend.

Small-Town Charm 

If you enjoy small-town atmospheres, check out the other north and west Lake Erie Shores & Islands downtown districts in Oak Harbor, Elmore, Genoa, Lakeside, and Marblehead. Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island also boasts a thriving downtown district surrounding a park and filled with shopping, dining, and entertainment. Learn more about Put-in-Bay here. 

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Sandusky, Ohio

Visit Downtown Sandusky 

The waterfront town of Sandusky continues its amazing revival. Recently named “Best Coastal Small Town in America” by readers of USA Today, the downtown region draws visitors to its walkable city streets and parks, and to experience a variety of businesses from shopping to dining, to live entertainment and events. Visitors are experiencing the benefits of the business district, both as a destination and as a departure point for a Lake Erie ferry or cruise. So much so that Lake Erie Shores & Islands will soon open a new downtown welcome center just to be in the heart of it.

Shop 

You’ll find a variety of shops and unique merchandise in and around the district, with everything from high-end men’s and ladies’ fashions to vintage and antique finds. You’ll also find snacks, market goods, wine, and craft brews. Shop clothing, jewelry, housewares, home décor, furniture, books, and much more at the upscale resale The Encore Shop, whose proceeds benefit Stein Hospice. Grab a crunchy snack or gift at Bay Popcorn Company, where free samples of over 30 flavors are offered. Or, get fresh produce and other market items, along with a coffee bar, craft cocktail, or gourmet meal at Vita Sandusky – located in a beautifully-restored 1920s bank building. Don’t miss the Marketplace at the Cooke, an indoor mall with a fun mix of dining, retail, and attractions.

Eat & Drink 

Downtown Sandusky is booming when it comes to locally-sourced dining and drinking options. The downtown is indeed on the comeback trail, with a number of entrepreneurs repurposing and remodeling historic buildings and creating dining experiences the likes of which one doesn’t expect to find in a small Midwest town. The variety of cuisine offered is astounding. There is everything from quick-service fish shacks to fine French dining within a short distance. Wine bars, tap houses, breweries, and craft cocktails round out the options for spirits. Enjoy upscale dining at Crush Wine Bar and J Bistro. Nosh on the more casual fare at Sandusky Bell and Deli, OH Taco, or the outdoor Dockside Café. Looking for a distinctive sweet treat? Try edible cookie dough creations and popular Toft Dairy ice cream at Doughin’ Crazy – located inside the Marketplace at the Cooke. Or head to the edge of downtown to the Bait House Brewery for a taste of Sandusky-exclusive brews such as Sandusky Bay IPA or Sandusky Bicenetenni-Ale. 

Play 

While eating your way through Sandusky can be fun, guests appreciate island and Lake Erie cruises on the Goodtime I and island ferries departing from the newly-renovated Jackson Street Pier, a destination in itself. Relax on the bench swings or marvel at the view from the sunset stairs. Downtown visitors can also enjoy guided Segway tours with Sandusky Segwave and independent walking tours available from the Erie County Historical Society. Recreational activities include park playgrounds, fishing, boating, and paddleboard, kayak, and bicycle rentals, available at Paddle & Climb. You can also practice yoga in a beautiful studio with various styles offered at Open Way Yoga. Other entertainment options include an indoor rock-climbing wall, escape rooms, axe throwing, and an adult arcade at Noble Axes and Noble Pins, art galleries, and museums. While the revered Sandusky State Theatre usually hosts many live performances, it was recently damaged by severe weather. You can still view its lovely historical façade while we await the rebuilding and restoration of this icon.

Other Nearby Community Downtowns 

The village of Milan boasts a remarkable town square surrounded by unique shops and restaurants. You can experience history at the Milan Museum and the Thomas Edison Birthplace just off the town square. Experience small-town charm during the annual Milan Melon Festival on Labor Day weekend.

Vermilion rolls out the red carpet to its coastal downtown, filled with unique businesses and special events. Come early for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and shop at fun stores like Brummer’s Chocolates, a family-owned candy shop since 1904. Stay for the sunset at Main Street Beach, just one block north.

When you visit downtown, not only can you expect to be entertained and fulfilled, but you will likely be supporting independent businesses and helping the local economy to continue to grow and prosper…providing for years of enjoyment to come!

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Around The World In Ohio – Milan

Milan, Italy & Milan, Ohio

This month, while traveling around the world in Ohio, we discovered Milan. That’s Milan, Ohio, not Milan, Italy. But we’ll tell you about both anyway.

Milan is the unofficial fashion capital of the world and also has upscale shopping and restaurants that make your mouth water just walking by them. If you’re not sure which Milan we’re talking about, it’s the one in Italy. It’s also the location of the Italian stock exchange and one of the largest gothic cathedrals on the planet – the Piazza del Duomo. Construction of the Duomo spanned 500 years, beginning in 1386, and has been influenced by centuries of architects and artisans. Tourists can climb to the rooftop for a stunning panoramic view over Milan.

For one of the most elegant shopping experiences anywhere, stop by The Galleria Vitorrio Emanuele II, which was built in 1878. It’s considered one of the most elegant shopping malls anywhere. Nobody should leave Italy without seeing an opera. The opera house in Milan opened in 1778 and is called the Teatro alla Scala. Another must-see is the Pinacoteca di Brera on Via Brera. It houses paintings by Leonardo da Vinci (Last Supper), Raphael, Bellini, Goya, and Caravaggio, among others.

When you spend your time in Milan, Italy, you are assured to make memories for a lifetime. But if you can’t get across the Atlantic this year, then make a visit to Milan, Ohio, and experience history as well.

Milan, Ohio, is more a village with a mere 1,400 residents. It is located in Northwest Ohio. Milan is best known as the birthplace of one of the most famous inventors in world history – Thomas Edison. It will soon open again. When it does, you may tour the original Edison home, which now doubles as a museum.

You can’t help but slow down in Milan if you are fast-paced. It has reflections of its bygone era everywhere it seems. There’s a picturesque town square, restored century homes, several antique shops, a tranquil park, and down-home restaurants. Invention Restaurant may spark your curiosity.

Milan, Ohio, went from a canal town to a rail stop in the 1800s and was even a popular gathering place for wagon trains to form and head out west. It is said that Milan’s wheat export once ranked second only to Odessa, Russia, in 1847. Milan also had shipbuilding, producing about 100 schooners.

Today, this quiet little Ohio town burgeoning with a rich history has several major events and attractions that charm people from all around. These include The Thomas Edison Birthplace Museum, The Milan Museum, Mid Summer Antique Festival in July, Melon Festival held Labor Day weekend, and Settlers Day in October.

To plan your trip to Milan, Ohio, visit www.milanohio.gov/. To plan your trip to Milan, Italy, click here.

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Atwood Lake Vacations

Enjoy Outdoor Fun & Small Town Charm

Summertime and Atwood Lake have combined to bring families, friends, and blossoming romances an escape that will one day beckon a grin and the question: “Remember when…?”

Every visitor leaves as a storyteller, whether they are a kid, teen, young adult, parent, or grandparent. It doesn’t matter if they’ve been here once or dozens of times; the world just seems to brighten up. Along these shores, there doesn’t seem to be a worry in the world. The only pressure here is in a beach ball.

Activities on the water, in the water, or next to the water are just a few of the attractions. Whether it’s boating, fishing, swimming, dining, wine tasting, shopping, touring, or sleeping, the possibilities are as endless as the pebbles of sand at the beach. …Click here to read the full story.

CLICK TO READ MORE

 

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Things to do in Grove City

at the Crossroads of Heart-pounding & Heartwarming

Some of the best travel discoveries are found where big-city excitement meets idyllic solitude. It’s where tradition greets innovation; the rare one-stop, offering anyone an excursion of their calling, whether it’s for group adrenaline or solo repose.

Both pursuits often lead to the same destination—renewal. No matter if it’s team-building fun or a self-reflection, both are found in Grove City.

Sojourn to the outskirts of town to splash paddles into moving waters, pedal air deep into lungs, and meditate along a garden labyrinth. Go on a quest to dodge splattering paint, race drones, and kick a hole-in-one. Then, reunite in a charming small town center over a mouthwatering dish, on a patio over drinks, or at a festive gathering in the closed off streets.

Whether the idea is thrill or chill, and some places offer both, the first stop should be …READ MORE…

Click here for the rest of the story

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Bucyrus is a Little Town of Tours

Bucyrus, Ohio, is the
LITTLE TOWN OF TOURS

Excerpt from a previous edition of OhioTraveler

Bucyrus, Ohio, known as the Bratwurst capitol of the world, is a sleepy little mid-Ohio town that has carved a niche in tourism along the historic Lincoln Highway – the first paved road from Eastern to Western United States. 

The town’s merchants offer unique and charming looks at the only copper kettle manufacturer left in the country that does everything by hand and how berries and fruit are processed into jellies and apple butter. Carl’s Gas Station is where the 1950s come back to life.  And that’s just for starters.

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. On a sad note, the day David went to buy an automatic mixer, his father-in-law died before he returned. 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 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 fudge station inside the family store. Cooper’s Web site is www.coopers-mill.com/.

One of the lasting impressions at Cooper’s Mill is the 50-gallon copper kettle, which allows slow cooking over a wood-burning hearth. This leads us to Picking Copper Kettles.

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 a unique character.  The walls, furniture, floors, furnaces, and workbenches 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 in 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 shop’s five rooms. Each craftsman takes his time to hammer out perfection, often striking up a conversation as they work. D. Picking & Company, to no surprise, gets orders from around the world, resulting in up to 1,874 patterns in some cases. Tours and catalogs are available by calling 419-562-6891.

Back in the Roaring Twenties, Al Capone used to stop off in Bucyrus for a night of sin at an underground Speak Easy while traveling to the East Coast from Chicago. Capone was originally a New Yorker. For decades, the Speak Easy in Bucyrus was a forgotten part of a tangled underground network of tunnels. The only company it kept was storage containers, boxes, and the like. Recently, it was cleared out, revealing thick brick dining booths and walls – made so that the spray of Tommy Gun bullets couldn’t penetrate and hurt the Mob Boss. Historical re-enactment shows showcasing singing, dancing, and laughter revived the energy here for a while.

Yes, Bucyrus is a jewel of a city. And many more unique and charming stops are there. These include Carl’s Garage, where Carl has reenacted a 1950s ambiance in his service station with such an impressive collection of memorabilia it’s hard to believe it isn’t a museum charging admission. His latest project is a room dedicated to the King of Rock-N-Roll, Elvis Presley. Other unique tours of Bucyrus are the Baja Marine Boat Manufacturing tour, where visitors are walked through the entire boat-making process; a tour demonstrating the process of recycling, dairy farm operation; and others. For complete tour information, coordination, and other attractions, visit the Bucyrus Tourism & Visitors Bureau online at www.bucyrus.org or call 1-866-562-0720.

We didn’t even cover the town’s biggest attraction, its annual Bratwurst Festival, in August. After all, Bucyrus is known as the Bratwurst capital of the world. And maybe now as the little town of tours as well.

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Cambridge Ohio Glass

Cambridge, Ohio
Li’l Glass Houses for All to See

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

cambridge-glass-figurinesCambridge, Ohio, is filled with little towns known to be the capital of this and that. Bucyrus is the bratwurst capital; in Zanesville, its pottery and in Cambridge – elegant glass.

Over the years, sub-cultures and traditions have been built along with whatever the factories are spitting out. So it’s no wonder Cambridge has a heart of glass.

We’re not talking Wal-Mart glass. We’re talking three-inch collectibles that fetch up to a thousand dollars on eBay. But to revel in the craftsmanship of a wide variety of signature period pieces, you’d have to visit one of the Cambridge glass museums. Some may argue these glass museums are art museums or historical museums, but the truth is they’re all three.

Original glass is still produced in Cambridge. You can witness it up close and personal. And what a treat it is to see molten globs of liquid glass hammered and shaped into delightful pieces that will be displayed with pride by its eventual owner.

Cambridge glass has been the toast of the town for more than 100 years.

Glassmaking dates back thousands of years and is one of America’s earliest industries. Manufacturing glass in the tri-state region of Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania became a hotbed for the industry about 100 years ago.

Cambridge Glass Company in Cambridge, Ohio, was chartered in 1873, and National Glass Company out of Pennsylvania organized it a few years later, providing land and a building. The Cambridge Glass Company grew and thrived, peaking around the 1930s. It had become one of the most revered glass companies in the world. After WWII, demand for fine handmade glassware waned, and foreign machine-made competition grabbed much of the market share. In 1954, the Cambridge plant closed, ending a very prosperous run. In an unsuccessful attempt to reopen and stay open, the company finally melted down in 1958, selling many of its molds and equipment to Imperial Glass Company in Bellaire, Ohio.

With the heart of the community shattered, National Cambridge Collectors was created in order to preserve the area’s glass heritage. They recovered many of the molds and equipment previously sold off.

No sooner did Cambridge Glass Company die than new life was breathed into four off-shoots that would continue the legacy of Cambridge glass. These four cornerstones of today’s Cambridge are Mosser Glass, Boyd’s Crystal Art Glass, Degenhart Glass Museum, and National Museum of Cambridge Glass. All are open for business and tours.

Mosser Glass started as soon as Cambridge Glass Company closed, and Thomas Mosser turned his job loss into a start-up business of his own. By 1959 he had scraped enough resources together to open shop …in an abandoned chicken coop! Within two years, he flew the coop and moved onward and upward, building a successful glass manufacturing business which was eventually named Mosser Glass in 1971, with his production of signature products blending new designs with classics.

When you visit Mosser Glass today, you enter through the front door of a little red farmhouse. But the modesty ends there, for as you continue deeper into the building, a major manufacturing plant is revealed with gifted and proud glassworkers pounding out a living. Visitors can take a glassmaking tour of the factory Mosser Glass is located at 9279 Cadiz Road in Cambridge, Ohio. Phone 866-439-1827 or visit www.mosserglass.com for more information.

Boyd’s Crystal Art Glass, Inc. opened in October 1978 by the father and son team of Bernard C. and Bernard F. Boyd. They represent the second and third generation of Boyd glassmakers. Bernard C. Boyd’s father, Zack Boyd, began working for Cambridge Glass in 1901 at the age of 13. He honed his skills and style working for 26 different factories. His knowledge has since passed to his son, his son’s son, and his son’s – son’s son. In their modest shop, you find a man and mold handcrafting collectible glass pieces. In another room, there’s a lady hand painting pieces; in the third room, there’s plenty of glass art to browse or buy.

Boyd’s Crystal Art Glass is located at 1203 Morton Avenue in Cambridge, Ohio. Phone 740-439-2077 or visit boydglass.com.

Degenhart Glass Museum unveils the history of the Crystal Art Glass Company, founded by John and Elizabeth Degenhart. John started in the business when he was just nine years old. He retired from Cambridge Glass Company in 1947 and started making his signature glass paperweights, window weights, rose weights, personalized plate weights, and other novelties like glass slippers. The husband and wife team often hawked their wares at fairs and festivals near and far before they were added to the dealers’ and collectors’ product lines. When John passed in 1964, Elizabeth continued manufacturing glass introducing her own molds and colors before her passing in 1978.

The National Museum of Cambridge Glass is a fairly new museum and probably the crowned jewel of offerings in Cambridge’s glass heritage. It is owned and operated by the National Cambridge Collectors, Inc. and seeks to encourage and support the collecting and study of Cambridge Glass. Its collection, displays, and programs are superior. It features thousands of stunning Cambridge Glass pieces radiantly displayed in towering crystal clear glass cases, showcasing the collection’s many colors and designs.

This museum offers much more than the opportunity to see a myriad of fascinating glass pieces produced for over a century. It has authentic-looking recreations of life-size glass workers exhibited. Some are blowing glass, stoking the furnace, or performing a number of important and interesting functions depicting the history of the glass industry in Cambridge. Hands-on learning opportunities are offered in workshops, presentations are delivered in the auditorium, and research is conducted in the library. This glass house encompasses it all. It even displays rotating exhibits from major private collections and a gift shop offering genuine Cambridge Glass and limited-edition reproductions.

The National Museum of Cambridge Glass is located at 136 South 9thStreet in Cambridge, Ohio. Call 740-432-4245 or visit www.cambridgeglass.org for more information.

If the four corners of Cambridge glass leave your heart yearning for more, there’s a Glass Pass that will continue your journey of elegant artistry and glass history to other places in Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky. To learn more about the Glass Pass, call 800-933-5480 or visit https://visitguernseycounty.com/.

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Dennison, Ohio – Dreamsville

Welcome to “Dreamsville” – Dennison, Ohio
Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler By Robert Carpenter

As a child, I never liked Dennison.  It seemed a dull, grimy uninviting place.  It reminded me of an unwanted cast-off relic left out in the weather to deteriorate of its own accord.  My puerile perception that placed a shroud of gloom over the town was distorted by childish idealism but not totally imagined.

My home community, only a few miles away, was bright, cheery, and full of life, but Dennison, by contrast, seemed to linger somewhere in the past—unkempt and futureless.  There was a lamination of coal dust and soot on the houses and the streets—even the trees and grass appeared tarnished by the ever-present veil.

Dennison was a railroad town and not by chance.  It stood at the maximum traveling distance for a steam locomotive and centered on a major route between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Columbus, Ohio.  After one hundred miles, it was necessary to refuel a steam engine with coal and water—both of which Dennison had in abundance.

At its peak in the early part of the 20th century, Dennison boasted a roundhouse and related railroad shops covering forty acres. Originally the Steubenville and Indiana Railroad, it became the Pennsylvania Railroad with Dennison as the terminal and headquarters for their Panhandle Division. There were three thousand men employed to handle more than forty freight and passenger trains, spewing smoke, cinders and spent steam, each day—swapping adulterated habitat for a better future.

However, by the end of the Depression, railroads were in serious decline. The Dennison yards presented a dismal landscape of rusted track appearing randomly laid this way and that with weeds flourishing between the rails. Dennison, no longer a boomtown, was on the edge of an economic bust.

It was paradoxical then that Dennison became one of the truly bright spots in the memories of countless servicemen.  With the beginning of WWII, the fading yards were resurrected, providing a crucial link in the Strategic Corridor for National Defense. Troop trains carried men west for training and back east for deployment overseas. The Dennison Depot was a stop on every run.  Beginning in March of 1942, it housed the Salvation Army Servicemen’s Canteen, which operated twenty-four hours, every day of the week, for more than four years.

Women from the surrounding eight counties in eastern Ohio volunteered their time and often provisions as well.  I was seven years old when I accompanied my mother and a group of neighborhood women preparing for their contribution.

Afterward, they talked passionately about the appreciation shown by the uniformed men.  “Soldier boys,” they called them.  Some of the women were motherly, while others were reminiscent of girls left behind. They spoke of how the boy’s faces lit up with just a touch, a smile, or a kind word.

I observed soldiers debarking from the first train of the morning.  In my eyes, they were men, but in fact, they were only boys. I didn’t have the words to describe what I saw in their faces, but doubtless, many were homesick, confused, and frightened of what lay ahead.

My mother only gave her time twice. She had gone when needed, but there were so many volunteers that it was unnecessary for anyone to often repeat.  They didn’t consider serving the boys a duty or an obligation. It was a privilege—one held by nearly four thousand women who converged on the Dennison Depot over the war years.

During that time, a million and a half servicemen passed through those yards. Sometimes the stops were so brief that it was necessary for the women to board the trains and hand off the provisions for the boys to distribute, but they saw to it that every last one was served at least coffee and a sandwich.

It is not surprising that some anonymous conscript on his way to the unknown and uncertain of return named Dennison “Dreamsville.”  It provided a memorable vision of comfort and optimism, with a futuristic picture of glorious homecomings. For many, it was the last pleasant experience to cling to before activation.

Today Dennison is a different place. Steam locomotives and coal furnaces are things of the past.  The smudges of an earlier period have long since been washed away and painted over.  The town never returned to its glory days, but the people of Dennison have gone to great effort to preserve its historical significance.  Tourist trains still operate, and the Depot, now on the National Register of Historic Places, houses a museum, restaurant, and gift shop.

Some see it as a symbol of a bygone commercial era, but in the eyes of many remaining WWII veterans, it speaks of much more. This small town depot and its volunteers provided more than sustenance for the physical being.  They stood as a beacon of hope: A place where people felt pride and offered encouragement at a time when it was direly needed. Some GIs can no longer remember the town’s official name, but the image is still clear.  They recall it only as Dreamsville. A well-deserved and appropriate epithet: Dreamsville, Ohio.

Visit dennisondepot.org/.

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Memories of Geneva On The Lake

The Stories of Geneva On The Lake, Ohio
Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler by Robert Carpenter

It’s not surprising that some people look upon their transgressions of youth as a badge of honor—but usually, the crowing starts only after reaching respectability, and the statutes of limitation are in place.

The closest I can come to errant war stories are summer escapades at Geneva-on-the-Lake—and the statutes would be irrelevant.

My adventures were perhaps a little over the top at times, but mainly just a search for those things central to an unseasoned age—a few drinks, a lot of laughs, and of course, girls.

Frankly, I had never heard of the resort on the lakeshore until I moved to Ashtabula County in 1959.  Although youthful, a responsible job had brought me there—with a rather intolerant employer. Still, Geneva-on-the- Lake soon beckoned with the enticement of a fiery lover that fledglings always long for, rarely experience, and find impossible to resist.

In those days, most of the crowd came from the northeastern corner—Cleveland, Warren, Youngstown, and from across the state line. There was one particularly attractive young lady who showed up almost every weekend. Over drinks and very loud music, I understood her name to be Sewickley—uncommon, but a cute handle, I thought. Often, complete names in those surroundings were not surrendered, so that’s what I called her on following encounters, and she replied with giggles and good-natured grins. Imagine my embarrassment when I finally discovered that she had been trying to tell me she was from Sewickley, Pennsylvania.

Visitors in recent years have come from a much wider geographic area, supposedly due to Geneva-on-the-Lake becoming more family oriented. The resort took root about 140 years ago with parks and picnicking. One claim to fame is that in the early 1900’s it was a favorite camping area for Henry Ford and friends John D. Rockefeller and Harvey Firestone. So, from that vaunted beginning, the town has billed itself as “Ohio’s First Summer Resort.”

However, one thing should be clear. People coming to Geneva-on-the- Lake has never cared much about the history—the drawing card here is all-out fun.

And Geneva-on-the-Lake should not be confused with parks like Cedar Point or Six Flags.  Geneva-on-the-Lake is a village with a mayor and council charged with all the normal duties and responsibilities of managing a small municipality—it’s just that they understand their purpose better than most.

There are few permanent residents, and Memorial Day and Labor Day are the on/off switches for three months of frenzied activity. Unlike decades ago, there are some nightspots open year-round, but still, during much of the winter, you can fire a cannon down the mile-long thoroughfare—the “strip” they call it—without doing much damage.

On an up-to-date visit, it was obvious that the natural lakeside ambiance of clean air and sunny beaches had not changed and will always be appealing.  But, after several decades, one would expect the transformation of the synthetic elements.

On the strip, there were a couple of amusement rides I didn’t remember, and most of the business fronts were unrecognizable, but to my delight, some were not. There was Eddie’s Grill—appearing almost as it had fifty years ago—and the old-style arcades presented fresh faces, but they were still there, lining the street.

Reminiscence flooded in—the concessionaires with whom I’d made friends—the after-hours, behind-the-scenes parties that were dissolved only by sunrise that scattered players like vampires. Those people led a lifestyle that I was unacquainted with.

It also occurred to me that aside from the fun factor, the most alluring element of Geneva-on-the-Lake is the throwback to the lighthearted ‘40s and ‘50s. It’s different. There was a time when it was a Mecca of the Big Band era featuring the likes of Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and Duke Ellington. Currently, for the more reserved, the equivalent is free concerts every Tuesday evening throughout the summer at Township Park.

Of course, when I first arrived, rock and roll were blasted out by local groups, and there is still that ingredient of loud music and drink at the epicenter.

That’s the night scene, but there’s an abundance of entertainment to occupy the daylight hours too. The eighteen-hole championship golf course south of the strip is where I first took up the game. The design and topography were more of a challenge than I wanted as a beginner. Today it’s rated in the top 100 courses in the state.

The big change came in the mid-80s when the State of Ohio got into the act, creating new camping, hiking, and bathing facilities west of the strip in the Geneva State Park, a 698-acre facility with a 300-foot sand beach, a marina, outdoor pool, and several picnic areas. Overnight guests can choose from cabins or campsites.

Currently, the marina has 385 slips and a small boat harbor with 6 public boat ramps open to the public. Now, as boaters and jet skiers make their way in and out of the harbor, serious sun worshipers converge on the wide beach while kids rocket down the waterslide, play miniature golf, or race go-carts.

It’s the state park that brings families to Geneva-on-the-Lake. Most of them have endured air travel to the ultra-expensive theme parks popular since the ‘70s and have opted instead for longer, more economical vacations on Ohio’s north shore.

Another major alteration has been in accommodations necessary for the family influx. Old cottages have been torn down and condos erected.  Modern hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts that were at one time sparse are close by and plentiful.

And in addition to the casual hot dog and french-fry eateries of my day, there are fine restaurants such as the Crosswinds at Lakehouse Inn Winery that looks out over the water, and the Old Firehouse Winery with house-crafted wines, live music, and lakeside patio.

Yes, the village is a more sophisticated and hospitable place than it was in my youth, and the State Park is a big plus. Yet, regardless of the family lure, the strip reverberates as the only “real” Geneva-on-the-Lake. It still caters to, and probably always will, favor the young singles crowd. You see, to me, Geneva-on-the-Lake is a state of mind. That’s my frame of reference, and anyone from my era understands that.

The question now is; how long can a charming, venerable, but archaic community like this be preserved before some progressive decides it all has to be ripped out and replaced with modern chic?

If you haven’t yet been there, you must go and judge for yourself—and if, in your fun-seeking, you should happen to run into a senior sweetie from Sewickley…

For more information, go to www.VisitGenevaOnTheLake.com; call 800-862-9948 or 440-466-8600.

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Greenville – Chock full of history

Greenville, Ohio is
CHOCK FULL OF HISTORY

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

What has The Wonderful World of Disney and CBS Early Show discovered about Greenville, Ohio, that the rest of us should know?

From a dingy-looking eatery with the tastiest, and rather peculiar, loose-meat sandwich to the rich history of Annie Oakley, “Mad” Anthony Wayne, and Tecumseh, Greenville is a special diversion for those looking for places where good-old-fashioned apple pie Americana still lives and breathes the fresh air of yesteryear.  Several years ago, Disney picked the town as one of the few places in the entire country to host the Disney Hometown Parade. More recently, Hanna Storm and the CBS Early Show’s Tour My Town series did a special segment highlighting the quaint little place Northwest of Dayton.

Greenville’s 21st Century publicity as a discovered gem of a town is actually the second time this place on the map has been toasted for its significance. The first was back in the 19th Century when it was renowned for the historical Treaty of Green Ville, which opened the Northwest Territory for settlement and birthing of one of the nation’s most celebrated female icons – Annie Oakley.

The downtown is a warm and friendly place with shopkeepers that are 5th-generation family merchants. It has lovely storefronts, picturesque architecture, and historic landmarks, including 80 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

Garst Museum & The Annie Oakley Center
Little Miss Sure Shot – Annie Oakley is the legendary sharpshooter that traveled the world in the Buffalo Bill Wild West show. Greenville was her home, the place of her birth and death. Many of her treasured belongings, letters, and guns make up the largest known collection of Annie Oakley memorabilia. Annie Oakley Days Festival is celebrated every July.

Although Annie Oakley is a significant person from Greenville and Darke County’s past, there are others. They include Lowell Thomas – the world-famous radio broadcaster and adventurer; Zachary Lansdowne – the infamous pilot of the tragic crash of the zeppelin USS Shenandoah; Fort Green Ville and the Treaty of Green Ville; Tecumseh and General “Mad” Anthony Wayne.

The museum, spanning six buildings, also includes a village of shops from merchants’ businesses of times long but forgotten, a genealogy room, and perhaps one of the most underrated exhibits in the museum – the Uniform floor. Here, visitors see an extensive collection of soldiers’ artifacts, weapons, and uniforms from the Revolutionary War to the War in Iraq.

Garst Museum hours, location, and further information are available at www.garstmuseum.org.

Historic Bear’s Mill
More than 150 years old, this mill is living history of an era long past as it is one of the last operating water-powered mills around today.

Its storied past includes how the 800-foot millrace was dug by hand by school children for 50 cents/day and how it went idle for years for fear that Confederate soldiers may invade the state and burn it to the ground.

Today, the Mill store offers an eclectic shopping experience making it an attraction that has lured travelers from around the globe. It features fresh ground flours and meals using preservative-free grains on original Buhr stones. Handmade pottery lines the walls bringing collectors back regularly. Visitors are free to roam the many floors of the ancient mill and lovely trails along the creek and woods surrounding it.

Bear’s Mill calendar of events, hours, location, and further information is available at www.bearsmill.com.

In addition to Garst Museum and Bear’s Mill, Greenville and the surrounding Darke County highlights also feature Winery at Versailles, Ghyslain Chocolatier, Brumbaugh Fruit Farm, Tecumseh’s Point, prairies and preserves, wetlands, the arts at Memorial Hall, unique eateries, lodging, festivals, special events and more. To plan a trip to Greenville, Ohio, and Darke County, log onto www.visitdarkecounty.org.

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Hinckley – Home of the Buzzard

Hinckley, Ohio
WHERE BUZZARDS ROOST

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler by Robert Carpenter

We have never associated buzzards with anything appealing. They eat dead stuff. Technically a buzzard is a vulture, and that word summons an even uglier image.  On top of that, this particular vulture is really a turkey. The bird doesn’t even have a voice box. Instead of a serenade, it seems to bully its way through life with grunts and hisses.

So why is it, then, that the people of Hinckley, Ohio, celebrate being inundated each March with huge flocks of buzzards?

It could be that the return of the buzzards at the same place and time each year is observed as one of nature’s curious phenomenons, or it could be that they signal that spring is just around the corner, or it might be that the generally misunderstood turkey vulture is rightly a praiseworthy bird.

Buzzards are nature’s sanitizing agents. After winter’s decomposition period, they return to the Hinckley area and clean it up like nothing or no one else can do. Not that Hinckley needs cleansing more than other locales, and the buzzards do work other geographies, but you can be assured that, at least during the summer months, there is nothing rotten in Hinckley.

Contrary to popular belief, turkey vultures do not kill. Their beaks and talons are not designed to rip into a fresh carcass. While most birds have sharp vision, buzzards are one of the few with a sense of smell. They locate decomposing remains, even if hidden, and then strip them clean. Their most unique feature is a digestive system that kills all viruses and bacteria in the diet–and their droppings do not carry disease. So when you see a congregation of featherless red glob-heads bobbing on road kill, remember that as ugly as they may be, they do a handsome job of sterilizing the grounds.

Every March 15, like clockwork, the buzzards return to Hinckley after their winter vacations. It must be instinctive since it’s inconceivable that buzzards can think or make logical deductions—and it started so long ago that none of these birds can remember the initial invitation.

Nearly two centuries ago, a large northern Ohio landowner—a judge from Massachusetts named Hinckley, arranged a roundup of predators that were plundering domestic animals and crops. It’s known as “The Great Hinckley Hunt of 1818.” The judge and dozens of his friends (some say hundreds) encircled his acreage and converged toward the center firing their weapons as they went, driving all the wildlife into a confined space, then killing everything. They took what they wanted for food and left the remaining carcasses over winter. When the buzzards arrived in the spring, the feast apparently was so overwhelming that the event was imprinted on the inherent part of their brains because they’ve come back every year since.

Moreover, the Hinckley Reservation, which is part of Cleveland’s Metropark, is perfect for buzzards. The ninety-acre Hinckley Lake is accentuated with rocky bluffs rising at places hundreds of feet above the water. Buzzards don’t nest per se; they roost—like chickens or, well, turkeys—so the rocky ledges are an ideal habitat.

It’s odd, in a way, since this has been happening for so long, that the people of Hinckley have been commemorating the event only since 1957. It was brought to light by a reporter from the Cleveland Press, who announced the mostly unheard-of yearly occurrence a month ahead of time. When March 15 arrived, the people of Hinckley were surprised by the unexpected attention of naturalists, ornithologists, other reporters, and thousands of spectators who would have gleefully chided an inaccurate prediction. But again, the buzzards landed right on schedule. That’s when several prominent citizens, along with the Chamber of Commerce, decided that the Sunday on or immediately following March 15 would be designated Buzzard Sunday—a “blowout” to observe all the varied implications of their feathered guests. This year the 15th falls on a Sunday, so that is the day of celebration for which thousands of people are expected.

From 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., there will be a pancake and sausage breakfast at the Hinckley Elementary School, accompanied by arts and crafts shows. The chief naturalist Robert Hinkle will be the official “Buzzard Spotter” broadcasting the first coming. There is a driving tour of the roost area through the park for those wanting a closer look.

Once you’re assured they’re not looking for you, the buzzards are delightful to watch. Ungainly on the ground, they are beautiful flyers. With wingspans up to six feet, they soar on the thermals. The ratio of their wing area to body weight is so high they can glide for hours with little effort.

But it’s on the ground where they perform their greatest service. They’ve been around since day one—using their natural antiseptic ability to clean up putrid remains—preventing the spread of disease, possibly even plagues.

So, if you see a buzzard cluster at the roadside while driving to or from the Sunday celebration, give them a break/brake. They’re just doing their job.

Go to www.hinckleytwp.org for more information.

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Popcorn In Marion

POPCORN ANYONE? VISIT MARION, OHIO

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

Marion has always had a rich history of industry and politics to claim its mark over the centuries. And history is created each day we wake up. Renowned mural artist Eric Grohe captured that history by putting a paintbrush on a wall to create Marion’s own fabulous mural. You can learn more about Eric Grohe and the other murals he has painted in Ohio and across the United States by visiting  www.ericgrohemurals.com.

While you are in town to see Eric’s work, visit any number of our other attractions. A must-see would be to start with the Harding Home located at 380 Mt. Vernon Avenue. Visit the home of the 29th President of the United States and his wife, Florence. This was the site of his famous campaign speeches that launched his quest for the presidency in 1920. The Hardings lived here until they moved to Washington, D.C., before his inauguration. The original press corps building behind the home is now a museum, housing more Harding memorabilia. The home was recently papered with period reproduction wallpaper in the library.

The Harding Memorial is open till dusk daily. It is located on the corner of Delaware Ave. & Vernon Heights Blvd., Marion. It is the final resting place of President and Mrs. Warren G. Harding and is the largest and most beautiful presidential memorial outside of Washington, D.C. Built in 1925, it contains 46 columns of timeless white Georgian marble and was paid for by the donation of pennies and dimes from the nation’s school children. To learn more about the Harding Home and the Memorial, go to http://www.hardinghome.org/.

Just a short distance up the street from the Memorial, in the Marion Cemetery, is the largest tribute to WWII veterans outside of Washington D.C. This is a must-see if you are visiting Marion on a beautiful summer day where you can sit and feel the depth of the tribute meant for the local fallen.

Just a short distance around the corner and down the street from the downtown mural, you can find three museums in one at Heritage Hall. You can find memorabilia from Marion’s productive history, Warren G. Harding’s history, and the Wyandot Popcorn Museum. The trip is well worth the money since the museums hold many treasures. And if you are interested in one-room school house treasures — one’s that have been refurbished to their original look and feel, call Heritage Hall and ask for your family tour.

The Wyandot Popcorn Museum is located under a colorful circus tent in the back of Heritage Hall. It is the largest, most impressive collection of popcorn wagons in the United States. These priceless wagons date back as far as the turn of the century and have been restored to their original conditions. If you want to make an appointment for a group to see the three-in-one museum, call 740-387-HALL (4255).

The Marion Union Station sees more than 100 trains pass by every day. The museum showcases an impressive collection of memorabilia and the AC Tower, which was once the main switching facility for the Erie Railroad Marion Division. The unusual nature of the station is the fact that it is located between two diamond cross-overs.

The Edward Huber Machinery Museum is located at the Marion County Fairgrounds at 220 E. Fairground Street. The museum contains examples of machinery built by the Huber Manufacturing Company and the Marion Steam Shovel Company, including steam engines, farm and road equipment, and a steam shovel. An inventor, industrialist, and philanthropist, Huber was largely responsible for Marion’s industrialization and wealth in the mid-1800s.

The biggest event of the year is The Marion Popcorn Festival.  It is always held the first Thursday, Friday, and Saturday after Labor Day.  The festival has been on the Food Network and the Travel Channel. Three days of free nationally known entertainers, food, a grand parade, and fun. The family event in Downtown Marion is free and open to all who love and eat popcorn. Last year’s event was taped by the Food Network and the Travel Channel and highlighted popcorn favorites. To learn more about this year’s entertainment and up-to-the-minute details on the contest, visit www.popcornfestival.com.

Plan now to visit over the summer with your family. There are many other places to visit and see in Marion, so you can learn more by visiting the Marion Area Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website at VisitMarionOhio.com to get all the details of the many attractions and things of interest.

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Moonville – It’s An Ohio Ghost Town

MOONVILLE, IT’S AN OHIO GHOST TOWN

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler by Robert Carpenter

Unless you’ve lived in the vicinity, you probably don’t know there’s a place in Ohio called Moonville. In all fairness, unless you have a very old map, you won’t find it—it’s a ghost town. Doubly apropos, because in addition to only skeletal remains of a once viable settlement, it is also occupied by “real ghosts”—which to some is an oxymoron—but you won’t dissuade many of the people in that area. Even the name of the place has a paranormal ring to it.

According to a recent survey, 27 percent of the U.S. population believes in ghosts. Their primary conviction is that they have seen one. The cause is unexplained by ghost hunters, but they claim that there are geographic determinations that allow mystical things to “breakthrough” more frequently in some locations than others. Notably, there is an area in southeast Ohio bordering Hocking and Vinton counties that seems to be such a place.  Perhaps it should be taken into account that it is the state’s least populated and most heavily forested locale.

Zaleski in Vinton County is a good place to start—directions are easy from there. Located between the town of Mineral and Lake Hope State Park, no roads can be driven to Moonville—never were—although a present-day two-lane township gets you within walking distance. The only access residents had was the railroad that could be walked or a ride hitched on a passing freight.  That alone explains the inordinate number of deaths that occurred, worsened by liberal indulgence in Moonville moonshine.

Built by the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad in the mid-nineteenth century to haul rich deposits of coal, clay, and iron ore from the region, the eight-mile stretch of tracks that detoured through Moonville was the most desolate, isolated area between Parkersburg and St. Louis, and hated by work crews for that reason. It was the heavy woods, they thought, that swallowed the sound, allowing trains to come out of nowhere, catching walkers on one of the several trestles or the now infamous Moonville Tunnel, preventing their escape. In addition, there were conductors and especially brakemen on those early trains who were vulnerable to accidental death.

Ghosts of both types of victims, it is said, have been appearing for well over a hundred years, usually taking up residence in the Moonville Tunnel.  The tunnel, historically interesting due to being one of the last vestiges of a lost society, has been photographed many times, revealing images digitized or burned into film that was not visible to the photographer.   Of those forms detectible to the naked eye, the most disturbing have been phantom trainmen waving lanterns used to signal an emergency stop. In 1981 the railroad finally saw fit to install a signal light at the old Moonville site with instructions that it alone was to be obeyed—the result of swinging lanterns in the middle of the track forcing many trains over the years to make emergency halts—only to see the light dissolve into the darkness.

The line was ultimately abandoned, and the rails pulled up in 1988, but the tunnel is accessible, and the old right of way easily followed, with plans for a “rail trail” in the works. However, there are several bridges and miles of roadbed to be refurbished—that is, if there continue to be enough hikers willing to whistle past the graveyard that was within spitting distance of the tracks.

But that’s not the end of the ghost story. Departing in the direction of Hocking County, SR 278 skirting Lake Hope State Park would appear on the map to be the best means back to civilization. However, this road’s desolate, isolated nature gives many people the willies. The heavy pine forests on both sides of the road, under different circumstances, might be considered quite beautiful, but here the woodlands seem to close in on you and take your breath away for a wholly different reason than the observation of southern Ohio splendor. If you have claustrophobic tendencies, keep the tranquilizers handy.

This stretch is so lonely it is hard to believe that it once encompassed a thriving community with a general store, post office, and school. If you dare to explore some of the semi-cleared areas, you might discover some of the old stone foundations by kicking the pine needles aside. But there is one thing along this otherwise abandoned artery for which you will not need an acute sense of observation. Without warning, the remains of a huge stone furnace come at you from the west berm like a sucker punch. It’s all that’s left of the primitive smelting operation that extracted iron ore and occupied almost everyone in Hope.  It’s interesting in bright daylight, but few people have the courage to tread the grounds at night.

Frequently there is a bright light, said to be the lantern of the night watchman who, on one of his inebriated rounds, fell into the furnace and was incinerated.  The light dances around the chimney and over thin air where buildings once existed and approach cars that stop to investigate. Most people sum up their inquiry rather quickly and vamoose.

Escaping west on Route 56 into Hocking Country may ease anxieties, but it takes you right into Ash Cave State Park. You may feel more comfortable there being accompanied by professional guides, but it is also known for its apparitions.

Ash Cave has long been known for the haunting echoes of waterfalls, winding trails, and the dark depression of its recess cave. Many are convinced that it is more beautiful in winter than in summer. Often the cascading waterfall transforms into a shimmering figurine of frozen elegance, and the leafless trees reveal formations not discernible in the thick foliage of summer.

Often hikers are mesmerized by the surroundings, and the goosebumps rising on the backs of their necks are attributed to the awesome beauty and coolness of the forest. But inevitably, when it happens, a shadowy figure of a woman in 1920s attire is seen following along on the trail. Unlike the poltergeists of Moonville tunnel, there is no history to indicate who she is. Night tours are not meant to be ghost-hunting expeditions, but ghosts have never been known to follow the rules. Lights described as greenish-yellow often dart around in the trees—up and down, back and forth they shimmy, sometimes putting on a show for several minutes before disappearing into the forest. Usually, park rangers make no attempt to explain them.

A little farther west, you can catch SR 664, which will take you north to Old Man’s Cave in Hocking State Park. The name is derived from the fact that a man in the early 1800’s lived in a cave with his hunting hounds. Described as a hermit—what else could he be? —Richard Roe lived most of his life in the cave located on the north wall of the main gorge. One cold morning he descended the wall to the stream below and found it frozen over. Foolishly—for a mountain man—he used the butt of his muzzleloader to break the ice, accidentally discharging the load into his face.

Mr. Roe is not known to make appearances. Perhaps his face would be too ghastly even for a doppelganger, but on many nights, especially under the full moon, his hunting companions can be heard baying endlessly for the return of their master. It is said the sound sends chills through the most fearless of overnight campers.

This is, without question, a strange region in our state and virtually unknown to a great many. Exploring the area will take a day, or maybe two, to see everything, and it’s guaranteed to be an unusual experience, whether or not you come across any spooky manifestations. Of course, the most important instruction is to bring your camera. You may be surprised at what develops.

For more information, visit vintoncountytravel.com.

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North Coast Harbor in Cleveland

Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor
Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

Before we dive into Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor attractions, let’s explore the Greater Cleveland area. Its neighboring communities are rich in entertainment. Much of Cleveland’s infrastructure was developed more than 100 years ago when its concentration of wealth on Euclid Avenue was unsurpassed even by New York’s 5th Avenue.

The legacies of business tycoons such as John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil (think richer than Bill Gates), are seen in the arts, parks, museums, architecture, and business today. The region boasts the top amusement park in the world, the most loyal sports fans, the Rock –N– Roll Hall of Fame, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and #1 heart program by one of the nation’s leading medical facilities – Cleveland Clinic. It also has the second-largest performing arts center in the country, the third-most visited national park in the U.S., and a top-5 orchestra in the world. Nearby is also the world’s largest concentration of Amish.

Since the 1980s, Cleveland has surged as America’s comeback city. The Flats and Warehouse District are kings of nighttime entertainment, Tower City is a shopping hub, and Gateway draws sports fanatics to see the Cavaliers and Guardians play ball. In fact, the Guardians (then Indians) have the all-time pro-baseball consecutive games’ sellout record – 455 – which may never be broken. Just a few miles away is University Circle featuring world-renowned cultural attractions visited by more than 2.5 million people annually.  It is no surprise that Euclid Avenue runs through it. After all, this was America’s playground for the rich and famous.

What makes Cleveland, plus its neighboring communities and attractions, such a pleasant visit is not just the plethora of things to do for nearly every age and interest but the ease with which the urban landscape is navigated. The highway system is built to handle major traffic centers like Chicago rather than mid-size cities. It has six major highways crisscrossing it, plus plenty of buses, taxis, parking, and Ohio’s only light rail system, which is convenient to and from just about anywhere – including straight from the airport to the heart of downtown.

In the mid-1990s, the Rapid Transit light rail system added the Waterfront Line, delivering gobs of people effortlessly to the new heart for family entertainment – North Coast Harbor.

North Coast Harbor is a beautiful place mixing a panoramic urban skyline with trees, green space, and sunrise-to-sunset views of a Great Lake! Lake Erie has had a tremendous renewal of its own, again attracting fishermen, boaters, divers, and water enthusiasts by the millions. But the main attraction is the number of main attractions – all within walking distance from each other.

Once you board the Waterfront Line at Tower City and roll through The Flats and Warehouse District, you’ll arrive minutes later at the North Coast Station. The welcome is more than you’ll expect. The terminal is completely glass enclosed and has several expressions of art. Its style was intended to accent the Rock -N- Roll Hall of Fame. The welcome mat is a 49-foot porcelain tile rug.

Turn left and walk downhill toward the lake and Rock Hall, and you’ll come to a crossroads of fun known as the North Coast Harbor. Now you choose where to begin the day, understanding it may take more than one to see it all. There’s the Great Lakes Science Center, International Women’s Air & Space Museum, tours aboard a World-War II Submarine and massive old iron ore ship, Cleveland Browns Stadium, a skate park, trolley tours, day and evening cruise ship, bikeway, and that’s just for starters.

The Great Lakes Science Center is at the water’s edge next to the Rock Hall. The museum has more than 400 interactive exhibits, including computers that talk and a space shuttle landing simulator. There’s even a restaurant with outdoor dining overlooking the inner harbor. It also features an OmniMax Theater. Visit greatscience.com for more details.

The International Women’s Air & Space Museum is inside the Burke Lakefront Airport lobby just east of the Rock Hall. Admission is free. The exhibits illustrate the contributions women made to aerospace history and include Amelia Earhart’s flight suit and the tail of Ruth Nichol’s Lockheed Akita.

The U.S.S. COD (SS 224) is the last fully intact WWII fleet submarine. It is docked between the Rock Hall and Burke. Tours are offered to the public, inviting them to see what life inside a metal box deep under the sea must have been like. It is tight inside, so beware if you are claustrophobic. The 312-foot submarine was a key weapon against the Japanese, sinking many ships and itself depth-charged, surviving major torpedo fire. For visitor information, see usscod.org.

Cleveland’s great shipping heritage is seen aboard the Steamship William G. Mather. This 618-foot vessel was built in 1925. It now serves as a floating museum and educational facility near the Coast Guard Station between the Rock Hall and Cleveland Browns Stadium behind the Science Center.  On and below deck, the public can tour one of the largest ships to sail the Great Lakes, much like the infamous Edmond Fitzgerald. See the captain’s quarters, engine room, and galley, and steer the captain’s wheel.

The Goodtime III is the largest quadruple-deck 1,000-passenger luxury ship on the Great Lakes. It is docked across the harbor from the Mather north of the Rock Hall. Daytime and evening cruises feature river and lake tours, live entertainment, dancing, a full bar, and meals. They sail rain or shine and allow people to enjoy the entire ship, whether you choose the spacious top sun decks, the large semi-opened second deck, or the main glass-enclosed lower deck, which is air-conditioned or heated. For types of cruises and schedules, sail over to goodtimeiii.com.

The Cleveland Browns Stadium offers fans an inside look at the press box, luxury suites, locker room, and other areas fans typically would not see when attending games. For tour information, call 440- 824-3361.

In addition, Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor has a skate park, bike trail, and Voinovich Park, where you may throw Frisbee, jog, fish, people-watch, feed birds, sunbathe, or attend the many festivals that become available.

Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor development is beginning to shine, but it is far from the grand vision that is coming into focus. In the coming years, aquaria, apartments, restaurants, shopping, and hotels are all expected to dot the landscape. If visiting Cleveland for pleasure or business, take a quick trip from the airport, suburbs or downtown on the Rapid Transit and explore North Coast Harbor, Cleveland’s newest family-funapolis. Stay and spread your fun across The Flats and Warehouse Entertainment District, Gateway sports complex, Tower City, or the cultural Mecca that is University Circle. Or take in Cleveland plus Cedar Point Amusement Park and Lake Erie Islands, Canton’s Pro Football Hall of Fame and Amish country, and other northern Ohio attractions.

Click to see what’s happening today at North Coast Harbor.

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Piqua Is A Place to Relax

Piqua, Ohio
Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

There’s a good reason why Piqua, Ohio, is as comfortable as a worn pair of pajamas – it was once known as the Underwear Capital of the World. Today, Piqua entertains its visitors with beautiful recreational trails, unique small-town shopping, living canal era history, and original events.

Piqua continues to blaze new trails, literally, adding to an already large network that connects park systems.  Significant investments and resources have enabled extensive plans to take shape over recent years. New sections of trail have recently opened, and more are coming soon. Eventually, Piqua’s trails will link to a system that extends to Dayton and as far as Cincinnati.

“Word is traveling fast in Ohio’s recreational hiking circles,” said Diana Thompson, Director of the Miami County Visitors & Convention Bureau. “It definitely lends support to the cliché; build it, and they will come.”

Currently, the trail system ties into the Canal Run Trail, River’s Edge Trail, and Piqua Activities Trail For Health (P.A.T.H.) Rail to Trail, a former railroad, returned to Mother Nature. Together, the network of trails provides opportunities for walking, running, and bicycling. Each trail has its unique scenery.

Once in Piqua, visitors are drawn to its heart – the Fort Piqua Plaza – where a massive $20 million restoration has just brought the Romanesque structure of the former hotel and its surroundings back to life. Dating back to the 1890s, the hotel has hosted many famous guests, including Teddy Roosevelt, Harry Houdini, and the Cincinnati Red Legs. Today, the new Fort Piqua Plaza hosts a library, banquet & conference center, and Winans Coffee and Chocolates. More additions are being added, including a restaurant and other amenities.

“As far as architectural gems go, this is just for starters,” said Lorna Swisher, Director of Mainstreet Piqua. “The entire downtown area has a variety of canal-era to high Victorian style buildings that have been beautifully restored.”

Over several generations, once vibrant small-town downtowns have been choked off all over the country due to a global economy, manufacturing leaving, and the invasion of big-box stores. But when a success story like Piqua’s breathes new life into a charming town, authenticity blossoms again, and unique mom-and-pop shops start to dot the landscape, much like yesteryear.

Piqua’s resurgence has given a new lease on leisure shopping adventures. Quaint storefronts offering clothing, books, glassware, hardware, furniture, and jewelry abound. When a break is needed from shopping at the unique merchants, many find themselves at the original family-owned restaurants and cafes. Before the day is through, it’s difficult not to go home with homemade baked goods and fresh-cut flowers from the florist.

“Piqua is where the good life is,” said Rebecca Cox, enjoying an ice cream cone on the curb. “I love small towns with character.”

Of course, there’s also a reminder of bygone days in antique stores and specialty shops. But to get a true feel of the good ole days, one must not travel far from downtown. Just down the bicycle trail, or just north on State Route 66, is the Piqua Historical Area State Memorial. The 220-acre site is home to a Historic Indian Museum, Colonel John Johnston Farmhouse, and a restored section of the Miami-Erie Canal.

All aboard the General Harrison for a lazy afternoon ride on a replica 70-foot long 19th Century canal boat. Costumed guides direct the mule-drawn boat in an experience of a lifetime.

Over at the Johnston Farm, visitors see the preserved and period-furnished two-story Dutch Colonial and Georgian-style farmhouse. In addition, there’s a cider house and a two-story spring house. Farm tours are led by costumed interpreters and crafters, revealing life in an era long past. There’s even a large double-penned log barn dating to 1808. It’s believed to be the oldest and largest of its kind in the state. Another pleasant surprise on the grounds is an Adena Indian mound dating back over 2,000 years.

A visit to the farm during Labor Day weekend coincides with one of the largest festivals in Ohio – the Piqua Heritage Festival. This event provides an interactive experience with a look at Ohio’s link to the early frontier. Artisans will share their techniques for woodcarving, basket weaving, quilting, rag-rug making, and pottery. The festival includes dozens of pre-1800s encampments and a large selection of homemade foods.

Throughout the year, Piqua has fun-filled activities and events ranging from festivities where there’s dancing in the streets to art walks. Seasonal fun features horse-drawn carriage rides, an old-fashioned holiday parade, and Victorian Christmas. Also famous in the spring is the ever-popular “Taste of the Arts,” which features great food and fun for all ages! For complete details to plan a visit to Piqua and the surrounding area any time of year, call the Miami County Visitors Bureau at 1-800-348-8993 or see their website at http://homegrowngreat.com/.

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Day Tipping in Tipp City

Tipp City, Ohio
Tippecanoe

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

Day-Tipping! That’s right, without the “R,” although you’ll find plenty of R&R in Tipp City.

Ohio is littered with old canal towns selling the past, but old Tippecanoe, now Tipp City, is as vibrant as ever. Whereas most canal towns were killed by the railroads, Tippecanoe City kept on rolling. And when railroads succumbed to superhighways, Tipp City found itself at America’s crossroads when concrete was poured a mere six miles away for I-75 and I-70.

Today, downtown Tipp City is bustling with foot traffic around shops of all sorts. A typical hotel sign may read “No Vacancies,” but that may well apply to the storefronts stretching from the railroad to the old canal lock. In between tells the story, past and present, from Tippecanoe to Tipp City.

The town’s original name, Tippecanoe, was to honor President William Henry Harrison by using part of his presidential slogan, “Tippecanoe and Tyler too!” The word City was added a few years later, albeit unofficially. But in the 1930s, the post office often mixed mail delivery between Tippecanoe City and an unincorporated village in eastern Ohio named Tippecanoe, which had its own zip code and post office. Driven by businessmen at the time, the post office shortened Tippecanoe City’s name to simply Tipp City.

Under any name, the town’s founder, John Clark, laid construction plans to stand the test of time. He required its original buildings be erected in brick, not log, which was the trend for upstarts in 1840. Since its founding in 1841, there are 89 buildings listed on the National Registry of Historic Places today. An exception to the brick rule was the Tipp Roller Mill built in 1839 out of red-stained wood, but it survived and remained at the foot of the original Tipp Canal Lock.  The architectural legacy is diligently preserved by restoration and regulation to maintain the integrity of the charming small town where visitors today outnumber its 6,500 residents.

As the community evolved, so too did its architectural styles. The old hotel has a Late Federal influence. The Opera House features Romanesque architecture. Other styles include Jacobean, High Victorian period, Second Empire and Beau Art. The back stories of all the restored facades are detailed at The Tippecanoe Monroe-Bethel Historical Museum. The attention to architectural details around town makes it no surprise that Free Masons had a prominent hand in this community rise.

Every restaurant and shop has a unique setting and artistry that compliments the town’s past but also transcends it.

As any traveler can attest, a town’s health is often determined by the quality and variety of its restaurants. Tipp City is a foodie haven! Whether you seek an old-fashioned mom-and-pop diner or uptown cuisine, Tipp City is home no matter what your taste buds are. You can dine on sidewalks or inside the gigantic vault of an old bank-turned-restaurant. If you want an after-dinner drink or cup of coffee, Tipp City has that covered too. The ambiance of old brick buildings, inside and out, and ornate woodwork offer that quaint nook with just the right lighting.

But eating is just what you do between strolling from one charming old building to another for eclectic shopping pursuits. Venture into the old hotel or former opera house buildings and places with names like “Buggy Whip” and find anything from the Tin Peddler to a wood carver or pottery shop. A two-story fabric store, toy store, bookstore, and cyclery illustrate the breadth of offerings. But the art and antique shops are top-notch. You walk their floors like you would a museum. And it’s not just what’s on display that captures attention and imagination; the interiors of these buildings are picturesque. Their design accentuates the historic character of worn and polished woodwork, masonry, and more.

When you have come to the end of the better part of a day, shopping and dining, you come to the edge of town where recreation begins.

Once you turn the corner of the weathered Tipp Roller Mill, last in the line of bygone buildings, you see the reason this town came to be – the historic Miami and Erie Canal Lock 15. It’s like peering into a lost era of wanderlust. It’s probably at that point you realize you’re either coming back to Tipp City or spending the night. There’s not enough time to absorb it all at a relaxed pace. Besides, an afternoon can be lost on walking, bicycling, or jogging along miles of the paved Great Miami River Recreational Trail. There are even seven golf courses within 10 minutes of downtown.

Dating back to the rough and tumble entertainment of its canal port town roots, Tipp City still knows how to throw a party and entertain with special events. Every summer, a free blues concert is hosted at Tipp City Canal Lock Park. But that’s just for starters. Music in the park, dinner theatre, and other productions are offered throughout the year by Tipp City Players Community Theatre. In September, the town puts on one of its biggest productions – The Mum Festival. Yes, “Mum” is the word for tens of thousands of visitors to kick off every autumn season. Still, that secret got out more than 30 years ago. The event features all your Americana fest favorites, from a parade often televised to bands, an antique car show, and a 10K Run for the Mums. There’s even a Mum Queen reigning over everything from the entertainment to the games, live entertainment, arts and crafts, refreshments, and more.

But the true go-between connecting the historic town’s heritage to its present entertainment comes from the Tippecanoe Canal Jumpers. This vintage baseball team hosts games in Tipp City and travels to play other teams reflecting everything 19th Century down to the circa 1860 uniforms.

And that brings us home.

If you want to go “Day Tipping,” plan your trip at http://homegrowngreat.com/  or call 1-800-348-8993.

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Wilmington – A Great Place to Meet

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

In a shrinking world filled with gadgets like GPS devices, destinations are found after satellites triangulate the position. So if you are looking for the ideal place to meet in Southwest Ohio, your position may triangulate from Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus, resulting in Wilmington.

Not only is it a retreat from the big cities, but it is also close enough to take advantage of their hot spots. Conveniently intersected by I-71 and close to three International airports and its own county airport for small aircraft, Wilmington is a day’s drive from 60 percent of the U.S. population.

You need six things when selecting the perfect meeting site. Location, location, and location are the first three, followed by quality, variety, and quantity of meeting facilities, restaurants, and entertainment.

Business or pleasure, it doesn’t matter; Wilmington and the surrounding Clinton County can host your group or event. Conventions, roadshows, and executive retreats to weddings, reunions, and clubs frequent bookings. Special events feature scrapbooking, antiques, fashion, pottery, and dog shows.

The bottom line is that you still have access to the big cities, but your meetings are more affordable without sacrificing service or quality.

The Clinton County Convention & Visitors Bureau provides meeting planners with personalized and custom services to ensure every event succeeds. This includes site inspections of hotels and attractions, assistance securing accommodations, pre-event mailings, welcome packets for guests, and itineraries for group or spousal programs.

It’s no wonder the tagline for Clinton County is “An Open Invitation.”

The Roberts Conference Centre is the region’s largest and most diverse conference facility, with 80,000 square feet and 24-foot ceilings. It features a large, sweeping exhibition space, a grand ballroom, an executive boardroom, and numerous breakouts perfect for board retreats, strategy meetings, or workshop sessions.

Other choices for locating meetings that need high-tech assistance and modern ambiance are the state-of-the-art teleconferencing center at Wilmington College and The Hampton Inn. The teleconferencing center is ideal for smaller groups that require a high-tech advantage, while the Hampton offers a convenient and resourceful meeting room for up to 100 people, as well as a private board room. Laurel Oaks, another high-tech choice, is the perfect location for bringing people together regionally or nationally through video conferencing.

Aside from the traditional meeting facilities, Clinton County also offers various non-traditional meeting spaces.

The historic and ornate Murphy Theatre is a 750-seat venue available for meetings when not in use for theatrical productions. Another unique place is The Loft. It provides an intimate setting in a 9,000-square-foot ballroom with two access doors to an elevated outdoor terrace and private meeting rooms. It is a favorite in historic downtown Wilmington for wedding ceremonies, receptions, rehearsal dinners, private and corporate parties, fundraising events, and more. Across the street is The General Denver Hotel, known as the epitome of grace and service. Their private meeting space is perfect for groups who want to be treated extra special. And for history buffs, there’s no place to meet like the conference room at The Clinton County History Center.

Not only is Wilmington and surrounding Clinton County ideal for meeting accommodations, but it also offers “An Open Invitation” to those desiring a destination that includes fantastic shopping, a relaxing pace, natural beauty, roads less traveled, behind the scene tours, great towns at a great value and one-of-a-kind special events.

But what sets Clinton County apart is its world-class hospitality. You’ll arrive as a visitor but leave as a friend.

While the three nearby, large metro areas are often attractive destination points for travelers based on their ability to offer many attractions in a concentrated geographical area, an alternative destination is often overlooked. Clinton County is primarily a rural community slightly off the beaten path with treasures of its own. The ambiance of rural America is not a myth; it is as real as the people who reside there, who cherish old-fashioned values, who are neighborly, and who know what it is to be hospitable.

Those who travel to rural America are looking for something special. They want to “experience” something. The sight of a sign advertising merchandise that is homegrown and homemade excites them. They know that heritage shapes a community and that it has integrity if it preserves its heritage. They find worth in historic relics, architecture, and art. They prefer not to fight the masses when they tour museums, shop for antiques or decide to end their day with a quiet dinner.

Clinton County and Wilmington are rich in the history of bygone days with deep pride for their Quaker heritage. It’s where unique shopping opportunities prevail, and local artisans display their wares. In Clinton County, fresh produce can still be found at roadside stands. Nature is a strong force there, and two area state parks provide every opportunity to enjoy nature at its best. Clinton County is also home to the nation’s only Banana Split Festival. Another favorite event is the Wilmington Art & Pottery Festival. The Corn Festival pays tribute to the areas’ deep agricultural roots For the holiday season, enjoy the thrilling Holidazzle Illuminated Parade & Festival.

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Wooster – A great American main street

old ohio film videoohio youtube videos

Downtown Wooster, Ohio

This video of downtown Wooster, Ohio showcases a wide variety of unique shopping experiences, plus delicious foods, and interesting eateries.

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Athens, Ohio

Athens, Ohio vs. Athens, Greece
Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

This month, while traveling around the world in Ohio, we discovered Athens.  That’s Athens, Ohio, not Athens, Greece. But we’ll tell you about both anyway.

The wealth of scenic splendor and abundant places to explore is just the beginning of all that this gem offers.  Flourishing arts and music scenes, fantastic festivals, a rich history, and much more abound – in Athens – Ohio of course!

When settlers first discovered what was to become Athens County, native Adena Indians inhabited the Appalachian foothills. They had built an extensive network of burial and ceremonial mounds. As the population of settlers grew, canals, railroads, mines, and the first university in the Northwest Territory were founded. All since have contributed to the area’s rich history.

Athens, Ohio area is a destination for a broad range of interests. Its Southern Ohio hospitality and beautiful landscape throughout the Hocking Valley beckons visitors. Very few destinations offer such a diverse mix of leisure activities and entertainment. There’s rock climbing, kayaking, and skateboarding for the more adventurous. Then there’re historic sites, a scenic railway, 19 covered bridges, museums, cultural centers, more than 20 state parks, and fun-filled festivals.

Athens – it’s a magical place – whether it’s in Ohio or Greece!

The enchanting capital of Greece has always been the birthplace of civilization and is the city with the most glorious history in the world. It is where democracy and most wise men of ancient times were born.

The most important civilization of the ancient world flourished in Athens, Greece, and is relived today through superb architectural masterpieces such as the Acropolis of Athens.

Today it is Greece’s political, social, cultural, financial, and commercial center. The climate is one of the best in Europe, with mild winters and very hot summers, ideal for tourism.

Athens has always attracted people’s attention. During the 2004 Olympic Games, it proved that. The return of the Olympic Games to its motherland was a great success.

The capital is famous, more than any other European capital, for its nightlife.  The options for entertainment satisfy all tastes. The famous bouzouki are leaders in Athenian entertainment. While theaters all around Athens offer a different type of entertainment. Athens is a divine city. Lend yourself to its magic.

To plan a trip to Athens, Greece, visit www.greece-athens.com. And if you aren’t quite ready for the overseas Athens, stick close to home and plan a visit to Athens, Ohio, by calling 1-800-878-9767 or 740-592-1819 or logging on here.

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Berlin, Ohio

Berlin, Ohio vs. Berlin, Germany
Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

This month, while traveling around the world in Ohio, we discovered Berlin. That’s Berlin, Ohio not Berlin, Germany. But we’ll tell you about both anyway.

Berliners welcome their guests with a Berlinizer button to show they really know all about the city and many can speak a multitude of languages. As you can tell, we’re talking about Berlin, Germany, not Berlin, Ohio.

This historic city is full of contrast. It features historic and modern attractions amidst Prussian monuments and new architecture. The city has attractions throughout but maybe less so in West Berlin. East of Brandenburg Gate, there’s probably the most to see and do. In October, there’s the Festival of Lights, when spectacular light installations at Berlin’s most famous landmarks will be presented. The Bode-Museum and  WinterMagic Berlin are also traditional favorites. This period offers a wide range of top-class cultural events, attractions, more than 50 Christmas markets, festive illuminations, shopping opportunities, and more to lure and enchant you.

Much like the Amish who left Germany, let’s now explore Berlin, Ohio in Holmes County.

Berlin, Ohio, is a world apart from Berlin, Germany. The small town best known for its excellent shopping beckons anyone entering the township limits to slow down and stay awhile. And why not? It’s a great place to be, especially in autumn!

Whether it’s shopping at the Berlin Antique & Craft Mall, seeing how cheese is made, rubbing elbows with the Amish, eating the best home-made food, or spending a quiet night in a quaint bed and breakfast, this corner of the Earth is a hot spot for travelers just the same.

Gugisberg Cheese is the home of the Original Baby Swiss, and they have delighted visitors with tours and samples for years.

Schrock’s Amish Farm & Village provides a tour of Grandpa’s house, Amish buggy rides, and patronage at the state’s largest year-round Christmas shop.

Yoder’s Country Store features Amish-made baskets, pottery, dolls, wood crafts, jams, and baked goods just in time for the holidays around the corner.

The lodging options in Berlin, Ohio, are vast. It features anything from just down-home living to the elegant and romantic stay laden with modern amenities…and hot tubs.

Of course, the main course may be the wonderful delectable restaurants like Troyer’s Country Dining, family-operated by former Old-Order Amish and home of the famous “Bag Apple Pie.”

To plan a trip to Berlin, Ohio, visit http://www.berlinohioinfo.com/. To plan a trip to Berlin, Germany, visit https://www.visitberlin.de/en.

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Dublin, Ohio

Dublin, Ohio vs. Dublin, Ireland

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

This month, while traveling around the world in Ohio, we discovered Dublin. That’s Dublin, Ohio, not Dublin, Ireland. But we’ll tell you about both anyway.

Dublin was founded in the early ninth century when Vikings made their largest settlement outside of Scandinavia on the site of the present-day city. As you can tell, we’re talking about Ireland, not Ohio. Ever since then, Dublin has suffered many wars and conflicts. In the early 20th century, Dublin established its own identity and is today a modern, cosmopolitan city rich in history and proud of its past. While visiting Dublin, you will see that many monuments and museums chronicle Dublin’s rich heritage; take some time to enjoy the story of Dublin in some of its most magnificent buildings. Dublin is unique, a place where tradition and cultural heritage have merged seamlessly over the centuries to create an atmosphere simply unique to Dublin.

Dublin is renowned worldwide as a city of writers and literature, home to such literary pens as Joyce, Shaw, and many others, celebrated at the Dublin Writers Museum, James Joyce Museum, and the Shaw Birthplace. Malahide Castle is a beautifully restored residence with distinctive elegance and charm. The extensive grounds of the Malahide Castle Demense are also home to the delightful Fry Model Railway and the Talbot Botanic Gardens. Malahide Castle is also the home to Tara’s Palace, one of the world’s most significant Doll Houses. Inspired by Sir Neville Wilkinson’s celebrated Titania’s Palace of 1907, Ron and Doreen McDonnell sought to recapture the spirit and purpose of Sir Neville when they began the creation of their masterpiece – Tara’s Palace, in 1980.

When you spend time in Dublin, Ireland, you will be assured of a warm welcome and special memories. But if you can’t get across the Atlantic this year, visit Dublin, Ohio, and experience Irish culture at its Dublin Irish Festival in August.

Dublin, Ohio, is a beautiful, scenic city just 15 minutes northwest of downtown Columbus. Many recognize Dublin as home to Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Golf Tournament (held each spring) and the annual Dublin Irish Festival—one of the nation’s largest events of its kind. But it’s so much more!

Dublin has become an exciting “getaway” destination for travelers—offering a great Central Ohio location just off the I-270 Columbus outer belt, a quaint historic district, and over a dozen hotels, “Ohio’s most prestigious golf address,” exciting events, proximity to world-class attractions like the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (just five minutes north of Dublin) and economical vacation packages.

Named one of Money Magazine’s “Hottest Places to Live,” Dublin offers a strong community that draws families and businesses alike. Many major corporations (including Wendy’s International, Cardinal Health, and Ashland, Inc. have established their headquarters in Dublin, Ohio.

Dublin, Ohio, offers many similarities to Dublin, Ireland. Local legend has it that the original village was named by John Shields–an Irish surveyor who remarked that the “beaming of the sun on the hills and dales surrounding [the] beautiful valley” reminded him of his birthplace in Dublin, Ireland.  Like its namesake city “across the pond,” Ohio’s emerald city offers plenty of green space (more than 1,000 acres of parkland); outstanding golf courses (Dublin CVB has long enjoyed a successful Golf/Hotel package program); and a richly historic area with several Irish pubs and businesses.

The city’s signature event embraces the Irish connection. The annual Dublin Irish Festival is expected to draw nearly 100,000 visitors from across the globe. It’s been named “….one of the biggest and best festivals in the country” by Chicago’s Irish American News and a “Top 100 Event in North America” by the American Bus Association.  Set on 20 rolling acres, the event features more than 60 musical acts from the U.S. and Ireland performing music on eight stages (from Celtic rock to traditional ballads).  Three cultural stages feature storytelling, folklore, music, and hands-on workshops. Visitors can discover Ireland’s traditional instruments while learning to play the fiddle or tin whistle …or… be transported back into Irish history when they visit a 10thCentury Irish village—a time when Irish hero Brian Boru chased the Danes out of the Emerald Isle. Irish dancers compete in the Columbus Feis—a competition that attracts 1,300 of the nation’s best Ceili dancers. Visitors can watch sheep herding demonstrations, explore their genealogy, shop the Emerald Isle for imported goods, attend a Gaelic mass, learn to make a proper scone or sample an endless variety of Irish food and drink.

For more information about Dublin, Ohio, contact the Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-245-8387 or click here to visit their website.

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Geneva, Ohio

Geneva, Ohio
Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler by Robert Carpenter

It’s not surprising that some people look upon their transgressions of youth as a badge of honor—but usually, the crowing starts only after reaching respectability and the statutes of limitation are in place.

The closest I can come to errant war stories are summer escapades at Geneva-on-the-Lake—and the statutes would be irrelevant.

My adventures were perhaps a little over the top at times, but mainly just a search for those things central to an unseasoned age—a few drinks, a lot of laughs, and of course, girls.

Frankly, I had never heard of the resort on the lakeshore until I moved to Ashtabula County in 1959.  Although youthful, a responsible job had brought me there—with a rather intolerant employer. Still, Geneva-on-the-Lake soon beckoned with the enticement of a fiery lover that fledglings always long for, rarely experience, and find impossible to resist.

In those days most of the crowd came from the northeastern corner—Cleveland, Warren, Youngstown, and across the state line. There was one lovely young lady who showed up almost every weekend. Over drinks and loud music, I understood her name to be Sewickley—uncommon, but a cute handle, I thought. Often, complete names in those surroundings were not surrendered, so that’s what I called her on following encounters, and she replied with giggles and good-natured grins. Imagine my embarrassment when I finally discovered she had been trying to tell me she was from Sewickley, Pennsylvania.

Visitors in recent years have come from a much wider geographic area, supposedly due to Geneva-on-the-Lake becoming more family-oriented. The resort took root about 140 years ago with parks and picnicking. One claim to fame is that in the early 1900s, it was a favorite camping area for Henry Ford and friends John D. Rockefeller and Harvey Firestone. So, from that vaunted beginning, the town has billed itself as “Ohio’s First Summer Resort.”

However, one thing should be clear. People coming to Geneva-on-the-Lake have never cared much about the history—the drawing card here is all-out fun.

And Geneva-on-the-Lake should not be confused with parks like Cedar Point or Six Flags.  Geneva-on-the-Lake is a village with a mayor and council charged with all the usual duties and responsibilities of managing a small municipality—it’s just that they understand their purpose better than most.

There are few permanent residents, and Memorial Day and Labor Day are the on/off switches for three months of frenzied activity. Unlike decades ago, some nightspots open year-round, but still, during much of the winter, you can fire a cannon down the mile-long thoroughfare—the “strip” they call it—without doing much damage.

On an up-to-date visit, it was evident that the natural lakeside ambiance of clean air and sunny beaches had not changed and will always be appealing.  But, after several decades, one would expect a transformation of the synthetic elements.

On the strip, there were a couple of amusement rides I didn’t remember, and most of the business fronts were unrecognizable, but to my delight, some were not. There was Eddie’s Grill—appearing almost as it had fifty years ago—and the old-style arcades presented fresh faces, but they were still there, lining the street.

Reminiscence flooded in—the concessionaires with whom I’d made friends—the after-hours, behind-the-scenes parties dissolved only by sunrise and scattered players like vampires. Those people led a lifestyle that I was unacquainted with.

It also occurred to me that aside from the fun factor, the most alluring element of Geneva-on-the-Lake is the throwback to the lighthearted ‘40s and ‘50s. It’s different. There was a time when it was a Mecca of the Big Band era featuring the likes of Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and Duke Ellington. Currently, for the more reserved, the equivalent is free concerts every Tuesday evening throughout the summer at Township Park.

Of course, when I first arrived, local groups blasted out rock and roll, and there was still that ingredient of loud music and drink at the epicenter.

That’s the night scene, but there’s an abundance of entertainment to occupy the daylight hours, too. The eighteen-hole championship golf course south of the strip is where I first took up the game. The design and topography were more of a challenge than I wanted as a beginner. Today, it’s rated as one of the top 100 courses in the state.

The big change came in the mid-80s when the State of Ohio got into the act, creating new camping, hiking, and bathing facilities west of the strip in the Geneva State Park, a 698-acre facility with a 300-foot sand beach, a marina, outdoor pool, and several picnic areas. Overnight guests can choose from cabins or campsites.

The marina has 385 slips and a small boat harbor with six public boat ramps open. As boaters and jet skiers make their way in and out of the harbor, serious sun worshipers converge on the vast beach while kids rocket down the waterslide, play miniature golf, or race go-carts.

It’s the state park that brings families to Geneva-on-the-Lake. Most of them have endured air travel to the ultra-expensive theme parks popular since the ‘70s and have opted instead for longer, more economical vacations on Ohio’s north shore.

Another significant alteration has been in accommodations necessary for the family influx. Old cottages have been torn down and condos erected.  Modern hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts that were once sparse are nearby and plentiful.

In addition to the casual hot dog and french-fry eateries of my day, there are fine restaurants such as the Crosswinds at Lakehouse Inn Winery that looks out over the water, and the Old Firehouse Winery with house-crafted wines, live music, and lakeside patio.

Yes, the village is more sophisticated and hospitable than it was in my youth, and the State Park is a big plus. Yet, regardless of the family lure, the strip reverberates as the only “real” Geneva-on-the-Lake. It still caters to, and probably always will favor, the young singles crowd. You see, to me Geneva-on-the-Lake is a state of mind. That’s my frame of reference; anyone from my era understands that.

The question now is: how long can a charming and venerable but archaic community like this be preserved before some progressive decides it all has to be ripped out and replaced with modern chic?

If you haven’t yet been there, you must go and judge for yourself—and if, in your fun-seeking, you should happen to run into a senior sweetie from Sewickley…

For more information, go to www.VisitGenevaOnTheLake.com; call 800-862-9948 or 440-466-8600.

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Lebanon, Ohio

Lebanon, Ohio
Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

This month, while traveling around the world in Ohio, we discovered Lebanon.  That’s Lebanon, Ohio not the Lebanon in the Middle East. But we’ll tell you about both anyway.

This place draws 1,800 horse’s hooves this time of year and has the oldest inn in the land – The Golden Lamb. The streets are filled with pedestrians, crafters, magic acts and strolling musicians. Of course, we’re talking about Lebanon….Ohio!

Yes, this small Southwest Ohio town comes alive with the annual Historic Lebanon Christmas Parade in very early December. Thousands of visitors come every year to see majestic Clydesdales, adorable miniature horses, and decked-out equines of all sizes as they herald the beginning of the holiday season. Parade times are 1pm and then again for a lighted parade at 7pm. Even Martha Stewart took notice of this delightful event and featured the parade on her popular television program.

On December weekends, visitors may board Santa’s North Pole Express on the Lebanon Mason Monroe Railway. The vintage train ride travels to Santa’s workshop, where each child will receive a special gift from Santa, plus hot chocolate for all passengers. Be sure to bundle up!

Christmas at Glendower provides an opportunity to experience a Victorian Christmas in all its brilliance at this grand historic residence. Lebanon merchants decorate each room with their own signature touch, providing a unique room-by-room tour of decorative holiday splendor. Live musicians and refreshments are served in classic style.

Christmas Village in Lebanon offers unique Christmas items, toys, and home décor plus a special treat for girls with a princess tea party in a Narnia-setting.

The Golden Lamb Inn & Restaurant offers unique holiday dining opportunities: Frohe Weilhnachten (German meal of venison); Cratchit’s Christmas Dinner (English meal of goose); Christmas at Mt. Vernon (American meal of turkey & ham).

Lebanon, Ohio is also known for its quaint shops and antique stores, great dining and streetscapes, and many special events throughout the year.

Although Lebanon, Ohio is certainly the safer of the two Lebanons to visit this holiday season, many are considering a trip to the Lebanon overseas to reunite with family and friends, do business or help rebuild after war ravaged the land this past summer. It must be noted that the security situation in Lebanon remains hazardous despite the end of military action. Although the Beirut airport is open, damage through the region remains significant. Considering December is a holy time of year for the world’s three major religions, we often hear the phrase may there be peace on Earth.

That said, one day Lebanon will again attract tourists and for good reason.

After all, Beirut, Lebanon is often referred to as the Paris of the Middle East. Lebanon packs a lot into its modest borders: ancient cities, ski resorts, impressive architecture and striking landscapes are just the start. Then there’s the great food and nightlife that created the reputation for being the party capital of the Middle East.

If you are planning a visit to Lebanon, Ohio and want to learn more about it, click here. If you are planning a visit to Lebanon in the Middle East, click here.

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Lima – Real American Strength

Lima, Ohio
Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

The Crossroads of
Pop Culture and Real American Strength

Whether it’s the gleeful home to America’s most popular high school or the can-do American industrial spirit symbolized by Rosie the Riveter, Lima blends flair with substance.

The hit TV show Glee put Lima, Ohio, on the map as the hometown of a fictional high school. But it’s not the first time Lima was in the national spotlight. The storied town in Northwest Ohio was a major stop on the Vaudeville circuit. One of the most renowned attractions of Lima’s past was The Faurot Opera House. It was regarded as the best theater between New York and Denver.

Lima still hosts many activities and attractions, remaining a notable stop on the entertainment circuit. Crouse Performance Hall is frequented by Broadway shows and is home of the Lima Symphony Orchestra. This venue has put famous talent on the stage, including Jerry Seinfeld and Larry the Cable Guy. Other performers hosted by Lima and the surrounding Allen County include Lynyrd Skynyrd, Martina McBride, Uncle Kracker, and Brett Michaels. There is also Jazz at the Greenhouse and the Pickles Blues Extravaganza.

But one of the biggest national headlines involving Lima was when the infamous gangster John Dillinger broke from the Lima jail when six men raided the place in October 1933. It led to one of the FBI’s biggest manhunts in history. Lima’s Allen County Museum has a great John Dillinger collection detailing this fascinating story.

Another piece of Lima’s past rests outside the entrance of this nationally acclaimed museum. It’s a bell from the second courthouse built in 1842. It used to toll for every birth in the town. The enormous glass wall uniquely designed at the front of the building serves as a literal window to the past, for on the other side is a full-size, historic steam engine signaling the town’s rich railway heritage.

Today, Lima is bustling with entertainment and activities that satisfy various interests. It’s become a prominent Ohio retail center since the 1970’s.  According to The Lima News, Lima and Allen County was number one in Ohio for retail sales and purchases in the fall of 1992.

Combining Lima’s present-day entertainment draws with its robust shopping options, downtown is often abuzz with foot traffic. Visitors fill the park-like downtown setting when ArtSpace/Lima’s Rallies in the Square occur. Art shows and competitions bring smiles to the sidewalks, around the fountain and gazebo, and relaxing on benches or outside the coffee shop. Grab a bite at the many restaurants offering a variety of cuisines.

Much of Lima’s growth and diversity enjoyed today was built on the back of its booming industrial heritage.

In 1885, oil was discovered in Lima. This helped spark the “Oil Boom of Northwest Ohio.” A year earlier, a nearby town was discovered to have what seemed an endless supply of natural gas. So, Benjamin C. Faurot of Lima, owner of the Lima Paper Mill, decided to drill in Lima, but instead of striking gas, he struck black gold. He quickly formed the Trenton Rock Oil Company. This attracted John D. Rockefeller’s attention, so Standard Oil of Cleveland built a refinery in Lima. From 1887 to 1905, the Lima Oil Field was a world-class producer, yielding 300 million barrels of crude.

Lima’s industrial expansion roared through the 1920’s. Lima Locomotive Works built the Lima A-1, becoming the prototype for the modern steam locomotive. By the end of the decade, eight railroad companies operated in Lima. In addition, Superior Coach Company began in Lima, becoming the world’s top producer of school buses and funeral coaches. Lima’s industrial production grew again in the 1950s during the Korean War. This was when the Lima Tank Depot was called to resume its manufacturing. Today, Ford Motor Company has a Lima plant employing 1,600 people, and the state-of-the-art convention center and theatre play host to numerous business functions and conferences throughout the year.

But if the past doesn’t fuel your tank, there’s plenty to rev your engine in the present. Lima regularly features stock, midget, and sprint car races at the local speedway and motorsports park. Sporting events are a big part of Lima. ESPN and other television coverage have featured motorsports racing, with NASCAR drivers participating in some events. The town even has the facilities to host championships, including monster trucks, motorcycle races, equestrian and similar events such as barrel racing and classic car shows.

Other activities feature Dances in the Park, Movies in the Park, the Lima Symphony Orchestra, Mozart by Candlelight programs, and Extraordinary Music in Unexpected Spaces. Old Victorian homes, a children’s garden, golf courses, and museums abound. Don’t miss the haunted historical tours given every autumn.

From past to present, Lima sends its visitors home feeling one word – Glee!

To map your visit to the crossroads of pop culture and real American strength, call 419-222-6075 or 888-222-6075 or click here.

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Marietta, Ohio

Marietta, Ohio: Excerpt from a past edition
of OhioTraveler
by Jackie Sheckler Finch

River Town Preserves Past

The folks at Marietta had a great idea for preserving the historic home of Gen. Rufus Putnam. They built a museum around it.

“If Rufus Putnam came up out of Mound Cemetery today, he would recognize a lot in this house,” said Andy Verhoff, museum manager.

Among the belongings once used by Putnam are a dining room chair, a settee, and an oversized parlor chair. “General Putnam was very important in the history of our area,” Verhoff said. “He and George Washington were friends. During the Revolutionary War, George Washington told General Putnam about the beauty he had seen in his travels through the Ohio Valley.”

In case people cruising down the river don’t know where they are, Marietta has its name spelled out in large letters on the riverbank. A gazebo, fountain, benches, and old-fashioned streetlights make it a pleasant place to sit and watch the water.

“Back in the day of the steamboats, every boat’s whistle had a unique tone,” Verhoff said. “You knew which boat was landing in Marietta just by its whistle.”

Founded in 1788, Marietta is alive with history and culture. Along with Putnam, the area was settled by a group of Revolutionary War veterans.

“It was the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory,” Verhoff said. “It was named for Marie Antoinette of France, who helped so much in the struggle for American independence.”

In April 1788, Rufus Putnam, who served as a general under George Washington during the Revolution, led 48 men into today’s location of Marietta. They built a walled fortification with four blockhouses to discourage Indian attacks. Putnam coined the name Campus Martius, which means “field of wars.” The Treaty of Greene Ville in 1795, however, virtually ended hostilities in the region.

Along with Putnam family memorabilia, the museum exhibits hundreds of items from Marietta’s early days, including antique musical instruments and surgical equipment from Dr. John Cotton. The doc practiced medicine in Marietta from 1815 to 1847.

Lavish gowns and dresses from the 19th century and weapons are also highlighted at the Campus Martius Museum. The sword used by General Putnam during the Revolutionary War is displayed along with old rifles, muskets, uniforms, and dress swords. Putnam later gave his sword to George Washington. A Civil War exhibit includes a Confederate flag captured at the Battle of Chancellorsville, along with uniforms, saddlebags, and a drum and fife.

Once a thriving port, Marietta honors its river history at the Ohio River Museum. Just down the street from the Campus Martius, the museum is located on the banks of the Muskingum River. The museum is actually four separate buildings connected with covered outdoor walkways. The origins of the Ohio River, the role of glaciers in its development, and the natural history of the region are presented at the museum.

One museum building features dozens of detailed models of stern-wheeled paddleboats and other riverboat memorabilia. One of the last steam-powered stern-wheeled towboats to operate in America is outside the museum. The 175-foot, 342-ton W.P. Snyder Jr. is now permanently docked on the Muskingum River behind the museum. Walk the gangplank to explore the vessel that once plied the rivers from 1918 to 1955.

If all this river memorabilia has you yearning for a cruise, the Valley Gem is happy to oblige. Docked adjacent to the Ohio River Museum, the 300-passenger excursion vessel travels down the Muskingum and Ohio rivers on 50-minute cruises, fall foliage tours, and dinner cruises. Every year on the weekend after Labor Day, the landing is the site of the Ohio River Stern Wheel Festival. Stern-wheelers from all parts of the inland waterway system compete in races and show visitors what made them famous.

Downtown Marietta is filled with great shops and boutiques, including Mad Hen, Needful Things, Two Peas in a Pod, Turquoise Spirit, and Twisted Sisters, with its unusual women’s clothing and gifts. A striking sight from the river, the Lafayette Hotel is one of the last riverboat-era hotels. Opened in 1918, the hotel was named in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette, who visited the city in 1825. With its distinctive triangular shape, the hotel offers guest rooms with views of the Ohio or Muskingum rivers.

The hotel is said to be haunted, manager Jennifer Auville said. “There is supposed to be a ghost, and we’ve heard stories from guests about it,” she said. “One husband and wife who stayed here said that the water would go cold whenever the husband got in the Jacuzzi tub. He would get out, and the water would warm up again.”

The hotel dining room has a nice collection of long rifles, including one made by J.J. Henry that accompanied the Benedict Arnold expedition to Quebec in 1775. An 11-foot pilot wheel from the steamboat A.D. Ayres is suspended from the lobby ceiling. The hotel has a Marengo Institute Spa and some interesting guest rooms, including one that resembles a riverboat stateroom.

In the lobby beside the elevator are two benchmarks showing the river’s raging power. The 1936 flood put 4 1/2 feet of water in the dining room. The 1937 flood brought 10 1/2 feet into the lobby of the hotel. A plaque located just below the balcony of the second floor on the outside corner of the Lafayette shows the watermark of the 1913 flood.

Marietta is an excellent town for walking and offers a walking guide for visitors. You’ll really get your exercise trying to enjoy it all – museums, the Ohio Company Land Office (the oldest existing building in the five states of the original Northwest Territory), and historic homes and churches galore.

Along with all this, Marietta’s hallmark attraction is the prehistoric Hopewell and Adena Indian mounds. Covering 95 acres, the carefully preserved mounds have been studied since the 1780s. The mounds were the first in Ohio to be accurately surveyed, mapped, and described. The Conus Mound was built by the Adena Indians (800 B.C. to 100 A.D.). The square enclosure and other structures were built by the Hopewell Indians (100 B.C. to 500 A.D.)

The mounds have long been considered to be among the most perfect works of the early mound builders, says Marietta Mayor Michael Mullen.

“Thousands of these mounds once covered the Midwest, but many of them were destroyed,” he said. “These were protected and preserved, which is why we have them today.”

The mounds are among the many reasons to visit Marietta, Mullen said. “We’re one of the friendliest places you’d ever want to see,” he said. “Once people come here, they have such a good time that they want to visit again.”

If you go, more information is available at mariettaohio.org or by calling the Marietta/Washington County Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-288-2577.

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Moscow, Ohio

Moscow, Ohio vs. Moscow, Russia
Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

This month, while traveling around the world in Ohio, we discovered Moscow.  That’s Moscow, Ohio not Moscow, Russia. But we’ll tell you about both anyway.

The infamous French dictator Napoleon lost the siege on Moscow, Russia, and retreated. After he was exiled, his officers fled and hid around the globe. Some turned up in places like Gallipolis and Moscow…Ohio, that is. In fact, that’s how the Ohio town got its name, from the officers that served Napoleon, in honor of the place of their last battle together.

Moscow, Ohio, used to be a very active route in the Underground Railroad. There are many houses with tunnel systems underneath. The community thrived as a steamboat-building hub and was also home to one of the biggest gambling houses in the region. Steamboat robbers (river pirates) considered Moscow their headquarters. Many think there’s gold under the cemetery. Oh, and the Dillinger Gang even robbed a bank there.

Today, historical tours of Moscow, Ohio, are given by Richard Crawford, Clermont County Historian. He can be reached at 513-732-2511.

Moscow, Ohio, is in Clermont County and part of the Clermont County Underground Railroad Freedom Trail, a self-driving tour. Also in town is The Artisan Center at Maple Creek. Near Point, Pleasant is the birthplace of former President U.S. Grant. Clermont County features many more attractions, too, such as Loveland Castle.

Moscow was supposed to build a nuclear power plant, but it was converted to coal after the tragedy in Chornobyl, Russia.

This leads us back to Russia’s capital – Moscow, one of the world’s most historic and recognizable cities, mainly due to the Kremlin and Red Square.

For centuries of its existence, the Kremlin has been a witness to many famous and tragic events in Moscow. Today, it is one of the biggest museums in the world.

Red Square appeared at the end of the 15th century when Ivan III ordered the elimination of all wooden buildings surrounding the Kremlin to avoid the threat of fire. The empty land was turned into a market. That’s how the first name of the square – Trade Square (“Torgovaya”) – appeared.

Moscow, Russia (and Ohio) certainly have interesting stories to tell and sites to see.

If you are planning a visit to Moscow, Ohio, see https://discoverclermont.com/. If you are headed to Moscow, Russia, you may start planning your trip at www.moscowcity.com.

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Toledo, Ohio

Mash Up Toledo, Ohio vs. Toledo, Spain
Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

This month, while traveling around the world in Ohio, we discovered Toledo. That’s Toledo, Ohio, not Toledo, Spain. But we’ll tell you about both anyway.

“Holy Toledo!” is an exclamation of surprise. Its origin dates back nearly 1,000 years. As you can tell, we’re talking about Toledo, Spain, not Ohio. The saying is due to the significant impact of three religions on Toledo, Spain. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam were all integrated into the culture and eclectic architecture.

This diverse city was once best known for the Swords of Toledo. The hardness of steel and the quality of craftsmanship combined to produce the most sought-after weapons in the world. Two world-class swordsmith firms are dueling for business today. If you find yourself visiting, stop to see them.

Other attractions are the Alcazar of Toledo, an astonishing castle rebuilt after much destruction in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. For the authentic heritage of Toledo, shop Zocodover – the central marketplace, and see the cathedral.

Spanish architecture also appears at the Toledo Zoo. Believe it or not, we’re now talking about Toledo, Ohio. The two Toledos have developed sister-city relations, and the zoo decided to honor that tie. Child Magazine recently voted The Toledo Zoo as one of the top 10 family-friendly zoos in the U.S.

Whereas Toledo, Spain, was known for steel, Ohio’s Toledo is known for glass.

Toledo, Ohio’s glass heritage dates back to 1887 when a glass plant began production there. A glass inventor from Toledo, Michael Owens, created the first automated bottle-blowing machine, forever changing the industry. In 1936, Toledo again posted a breakthrough in glass. An architectural milestone and new style were achieved with the world’s first building wholly encased in glass.

In tribute to the Glass City heritage, the Toledo Museum of Art opened the Glass Pavilion in 2006. It houses the museum’s treasured and internationally acclaimed glass collection and features glass-blowing demonstrations.

Sticking with the theme of innovation and invention, stop at Imagination Station. Its a hands-on science center featuring unique exploration into the world of science and fun. Visitors can turn themselves into human yo-yos, ride a high-wire bicycle, and partake in many more hands-on experiments.

When it’s time to grab a bite, head over to Tony Packo’s Café, where famous people left their signatures…on buns! This eatery earned fame from M.A.S.H TV Show actor Jamie Farr, who played the role of Corporal Klinger. Tony Packo’s other claim to fame is that its hot dog sauce was a delicacy on the space shuttle Columbia in 1997.

There you have it, the tale of two cities, Toledo.

If you are planning a visit to Toledo, Ohio, and want to learn more about the Glass City, visit Destination Toledo. If you are headed to Toledo, Spain, start planning your trip by clicking here.

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