January 2016 Archives

Find Your Heart in the Hocking Hills

 Winter Ice at Hocking Hills Old Mans Cave

The arrival of Old Man Winter brings a quiet magic to the Hills. Waterfalls freeze in suspended animation and cave walls are covered in ice beards as sunlight dances like diamonds in the towering hemlocks. Deep craggy gorges carry hikers down hundreds of feet along gorgeous scenic trails. Leafless trees provide a great view of some of the region’s magnificent winged residents.

The New Year brings a Birthday Party 200 years in the making as the Logan Bicentennial festivities kick-off with Logan 200 Ice Extravaganza on January 9 in historic downtown Logan. The day will be filled with ice carving demonstrations on Main Street, choir and band concerts in the Hocking County Courthouse, crowning of the Bicentennial Queen, guided historic tours of downtown Logan and historic photo exhibit in the Courthouse. There are celebrations planned for every month of 2016. Be sure to join the party.

Hiking the trails of Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, Conkle’s Hollow, Rock House, Ash Cave and Cantwell Cliffs is guaranteed to improve your health and renew your relationship with Mother Nature. Join about 5000 of your closest friends for the 51st Annual Winter Hike on Saturday, January 16. You’ll hike from Old Man’s Cave to Ash Cave with a stop at Cedar Falls for a rest and the Logan Kiwanis Club’s world renowned bean soup.

The 3rd Annual Hocking Hills Comfort Food Cruise is January 23 & 24, January 30 & 31 and February 6 & 7, 2016. From Laurelville to Nelsonville and Logan to Rockbridge you will indulge in twelve classic comfort foods at twelve inviting restaurants. No need for guilt as you graze through the hills, just stop at any of the Hocking Hills State Park sites for a hike to burn up that comfort food fuel. Best of all $5 of every ticket sold will go directly to local food banks. Tickets are available at the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center and online at http://explorehockinghills.com. And, don’t miss the bonus stop at the Hocking Hills Welcome Center for mini cinnamon rolls, coffee and a special free souvenir.

Romance fills the air as Valentine’s Day approaches. Cozy cabins invite sweethearts to warm up in front of a crackling fire. Steaming hot tubs rejuvenate muscles reacquainted with vigorous winter hiking. Traveling spa services will come to your cabin to pamper you with relaxing massage therapy. Take your Valentine to Ash Cave for the Sweetheart’s Hike February 13.

Nature awakens from her winter slumber in the Hills with thundering waterfalls, woodland wildflower carpets and families enjoying a much needed Spring Break. The days are a little longer and the weather is a little warmer. The maple sap flows from the trees and it’s time for Maple Sugaring in the Hills March 12 & 13. After learning how maple is harvested and turned into tasty treats head to the Hocking Hills Dining Lodge for fresh maple syrup and pancakes.

The Hocking Hills is perfect for the family spring break. Spring brings opening day for adventure outfitters. With more than 50 ziplines, the Hocking Hills is the Canopy Tour Capital of the Midwest. State Forest bridle trails welcome equestrians with early signs of spring. The fish are biting, the migratory birds are returning and the stars in the night sky appear to be within arms’ reach.

Whether you’re looking for a cozy, romantic hideaway or room for the whole family to get together you will find ideal accommodations surrounded by the serenity of the Hocking Hills during the soft season.

Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Find your heart in the Hocking Hills.

Unusual Collection Grows

A Christmas Story movie Santa

New Pop Culture Piece Added to
Unusual Junction Collection of Nostalgia  

A bit of iconic Christmas movie history has just arrived at Unusual Junction in Coshocton County from the classic movie A Christmas Story.

“We are very excited that we have acquired a piece of pop culture history!” said Bob McKenna, owner of Lava Rock Grill and Unusual Junction.  “We now have the Santa Claus and his list which was used in the 1983 classic movie A Christmas Story.  This Santa can be seen in the movie about two minutes and 40 seconds into the opening credits where you see him in the front window of the Higbees Department Store in downtown Cleveland.  This mechanical movie prop has been hidden away since the 1980’s and we are proud to have it here now.”

This is just the latest in a long line of other entertainment memorabilia on display at Lava Rock Grill and Unusual Junction, which also includes numerous record album covers, antiques, collectibles, board games of the past, and the original Price is Right sign which is signed by Bob Barker.  Stop in to see the mechanical Santa used in The Christmas Story movie during Unusual Junction’s regular hours – open daily from 10:00 a.m. to  6:00 p.m.  For more information call 740-545-9772, visit www.TheUnusualJunction.com or Unusual Junction & Lava Rock Grill on Facebook.

Spy Games


Lake Erie’s winter air won’t be the only chill felt in January when guests step into a fictional casino where serious foul play has been suspected. The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake will transform into a playground for the wealthy and elite on Saturday, January 23, 2016 for Spy Games, a murder mystery dinner theater package.

This murder mystery dinner package brings suspense and laughter to Lake Erie’s shore at the Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake for Spy Games: Murder Mystery Weekend in January.

A cocktail reception at The Casbah will kick off the evening at 5 p.m., unveiling the characters in this spooky story. After, guests will head to Casino Noble as the mystery unfolds over a sit-down dinner. Casino games*, entertainment and dancing will add to the night’s fun. Prizes will be awarded for the best guesses of “whodunit?” at the conclusion of the event.

The package includes an overnight stay, reception, dinner, mystery theater experience and breakfast for two the next morning. Starting $359 + tax per couple, the package is subject to availability. Additional guests will increase the rate of the package. All of the evening’s events will take place at The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake. For more information or to book your stay, visit www.thelodgeatgeneva.com or call 866-442-9765.

*Casino games are free and not for cash prizes

Typhoon Tower at Cincy Coney Island


Cincinnati’s Coney Island is undergoing the largest water project in the amusement park’s storied history. It will add to kick off and help celebrate Coney’s amazing 130th year of operation this summer.

The new water attraction making its Coney debut for the 2016 season is a giant, interactive, multi-level water attraction called Typhoon Tower. The enormous water play area will cover 16,000 square feet in the northeast corner of Coney’s waterpark complex, just inside Coney’s historic main gate, and next to the park’s legendary Sunlite Pool.

Unquestionably, the centerpiece of the new, massive water play structure is a 33-foot tall Hydro Storm that will periodically drench park visitors with more than 1,300 gallons of water at a time. Water cascades from the Tower for over thirty seconds at a time, soaking guests a full 360 degrees around the structure. The 1,300-gallon tank makes the Typhoon Tower the largest Hydro Storm in the world.

The new Typhoon Tower attraction will also include two twisting, 130-foot long waterslides and more than 70 fun, interactive water activities visitors can experience.

Patrons will be able to play with water geysers shooting water 75-feet in the air, water pumps, arch jets, water blasters, water canons, suspended water dumps, deck water bubblers, water detonators, fan sprayers, overhead showers and tipping buckets. Guests can launch and control many of the water activities at remote control activity stations.

There is also a large, surrounding deck with seating so guests can relax while watching the fun happening at the waterpark complex’s new multi-level attraction. The entire structure is designed and manufactured by Wizard Works of Albany, New York.

“We are very excited about this new water attraction for our visitors in 2016,” said Coney Island’s Vice President and General Manager Mike Howard. “We will now have the world’s largest Hydro Storm right next to Sunlite Pool, the largest recirculating pool in North America – that’s something pretty special.”

Coney Island opens Saturday, May 28, 2016 for its remarkable 130th year of operation, having entertained generations of visitors throughout the entire region.

Two dozen great classic rides are part of the total fun experience at Coney Island. In addition to the new water complex and famous Sunlite Pool, the heritage amusement park also includes challenging waterslides, an entire slate of all-new live stage shows for 2016, miniature golf, games, picnicking, a pint-size western town, Moonlite Gardens and more.

Season passes for the 2016 season are now on sale for $89.95 or five payments of $19.99. Season passes can be purchased online. Gift cards can also be purchased on-line.

Coney Island is located at 6201 Kellogg Ave.10 miles east of downtown Cincinnati on the banks of the Ohio River. (Kellogg Avenue exit 72 off I-275.)

For more information — including hours, operating schedule, various pricing packages, season passes, group outings and special events –visit the park’s website at www.coneyislandpark.com.

Blue Man Group Returns

blue man group

After six successful years on the road, Blue Man Group will circle the United States one more time prior to taking the theatrical tour worldwide. Audiences can catch the wildly popular, award-winning Blue Man Group when they return to Cleveland February 5 – 7, 2016. Tickets are currently on sale, and can be purchased by calling 216-241-6000 or online at www.playhousesquare.org.

Blue Man Group is comedy, theatre, rock concert and dance party all rolled into one. The Blue Man Group theatrical tour showcases classic Blue Man favorites, along with brand new content. Now approaching their 25th year of creativity, this artistic group is continually updating and refreshing Blue Man shows with new music, fresh stories, custom instruments and state-of-the-art technology.

“We live in a fast-paced, ever-evolving world. The Blue Man character is a curious being who explores our cultural norms, our every-day objects, but he sees them with fresh eyes and an innocent perspective. As the world around us changes, we are constantly inspired to create new scenarios for the Blue Man to explore,” said Phil Stanton, Co-Founder of Blue Man Group.

“Plus, we really like to keep things fresh and vibrant. For almost 25 years, although the content within the show varies, the mission of every Blue Man Group show has remained the same – to bring the collective audience together with the Blue Men for a euphoric celebration, a heightened state of being alive,” added Co-Founder Chris Wink.

The trademark of every Blue Man Group show is a combination of visually stunning multi-media, multi-sensory performance. The Blue Men are accompanied by a live band whose haunting tribal rhythms help drive the show to its unforgettable climax.

Across the country, Blue Man Group has received acclaim. The San Antonio Express-News proclaimed it’s “an exhilarating, thought-provoking, laugh-yourself-silly evening of percussion-heavy rock music, comedy and playful commentary.” “You’ve never seen anything like it. And, chances are, you never will,” said the Bayou Buzz in New Orleans. The Los Angeles Times called Blue Man Group “a guaranteed good time” and the popular family blog Macaroni Kid wrote, “All I can say is GO SEE THIS SHOW! Bring your kids, bring your partner, bring your parents, bring your friends … GO!”

For the founders of Blue Man Group, the universal appeal is based on our shared human DNA. Phil Stanton elaborated, “We say that no matter how high-tech things get, there’s still something human there. We’ll always need others, always need to collaborate. People still need to come together and look each other in the eye.  Through the Blue Man’s connection with the audience, we hope to encourage this human-to-human interaction, while helping people reconnect with their own sense of wonder and discovery, with their own sense of what is possible in their lives.”

Blue Man Group will play the Connor Palace at Playhouse Square for five performances, February 5 – 7, 2016. Show times are 7:30PM on Friday, 12:00PM, 4:00PM and 8:00PM on Saturday and 1:00PM on Sunday. Tickets start as low as $10, and are currently on sale at the Playhouse Square Ticket Office (1519 Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland), by calling 216-241-6000 or online at www.playhousesquare.org. Orders for groups of 15 or more may be placed by calling 216.640.8600.  Blue Man Group is a First Merit Diamond Performance at Playhouse Square.

Toledo Museum of Art is a Standout!


The Toledo Museum of Art is internationally recognized for its impact on the global art community. Its campus features the innovative architecture of the Center for the Visual Arts by Frank O. Gehry, the Glass Pavilion which won the Travel + Leisure’s Design Award for Best Museum, in addition to now being off the grid due to its production of green energy. Inside, over 30,000 works span six buildings and 36 acres of art represent American and European painting, ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian works, Asian and African art, medieval art, sculpture, decorative arts, graphic arts, and modern and contemporary art. Its Glass Pavilion has a state-of-the-art glass making facility with live demonstrations and a collection depicting the history of art in glass. Discover more about this architectural and artistic gem at http://www.toledomuseum.org.

This award recognizes Ohio’s standouts in tourism. More details about the award and all award recipients are at ohiotraveler.com/standouts-in-ohio-tourism/.


Visit Before You Go

old ohio film videoohio youtube videos

Visit Before You Go Ohio Travel Videos

Grab your popcorn and enjoy dozens of Ohio travel videos featuring tourist attractions from around the state. Please note the “Lost in Ohio” series features places that may not be current attractions. Spend a couple of minutes and visit before you go.

Deep Darkness Exploration


Play Video

Do you have what it takes to go across the
Ohio-Indiana stateline to explore deep darkness?

Would be adventurers can now descend, climb, crawl and kayak deep underground in Indiana’s longest cave system.  Indiana Caverns, near Corydon Indiana recently opened a new, guided high adventure cave exploring trip.

Descending a 93 foot shaft into a remote section of passage discovered in 2010, explorers then descend a steep mountain of breakdown using a hand line before reaching the underground river, 200 feet underground.  Splashing and wading downstream, eventually the party of no more than 10 has to take to kayaks to continue exploring the deepening water.  The underground stream features a large population of blind cave fish as well as blind cave crayfish and other spelean species.

The section of cave that is visited is just a tiny portion of the vast Binkley Cave system south of Corydon Indiana.  The first serious exploration and mapping was done by the Bloomington Indiana Grotto of the National Speleological Society.  Since 1967, all research and exploration has been done by the Indiana Spelological Survey, with exploration quickening since 2009.  The length of the system has grown for 22 miles in 2009 to 42.5 miles and growing, making it the 7th longest cave in the United States.

More information can be found at indianacaverns.com/cave-exploring.