May Archives




Google 360 Captures Dayton Trails

Google has incorporated 360-degree virtual imagery of hundreds of miles of Dayton-area trails and park destinations into its Google Maps.

Five Rivers MetroParks partnered with Outdoor Adventure Connection and Dayton Hikers, and collaborated with dozens of regional partners, to capture more than 600 miles of hiking, equestrian, mountain bike, water and paved trails. This includes panoramic street view imagery-of regional hiking, mountain biking, equestrian, water and paved trails, providing outdoor recreation enthusiasts with interactive visual resources to plan and inspire adventures. People across the world now have the ability to virtually explore many of the region’s trails and landscapes.

“The information Google Maps provides is valuable to local trail enthusiasts and tourists,” said Amy Dingle, director of outdoor connections for Five Rivers MetroParks. “People can use these images as a tool to plan experiences on our amazing trails and public lands.”

Users can access the images of the Dayton region’s trails and landscapes by visiting www.google.com/maps. Captured areas include:

“This project is the most comprehensive of its kind in Ohio,” Dingle said. “Its success is a true reflection of the outdoor culture here and showcases Dayton, Ohio, as the Outdoor Adventure Capital of the Midwest.”

Professional photographers, travelers, organizations and those who wish to promote areas of cultural, historical or touristic significance may apply to participate in the Google Street View camera loan program. A Street View Trekker backpack or a Street View app-compatible 360 camera is provided to organizations so they may capture comprehensive imagery of a designated area or site.

Similar to the camera unit affixed to vehicles that capture Google’s Street View images along roads, the Street View Trekker backpack has 15 cameras that capture images about every two seconds. Volunteers from Five Rivers MetroParks and Dayton Hikers collected the images last summer.

The Street View Trekker backpack was mounted on a kayak to capture rivers and lakes, and on a utility cart to record images of the nation’s largest paved trail network, with more than 300 miles of connected trails. In addition, volunteers Jim Lewis, Laney Ketring, Dan Murray and Andy Niekamp wore the 50-pound Street View Trekker backpack to capture 80 miles of the area’s hiking trails.

Data collected from the Street View Trekker backpack and detailed information about each “trekking” session was sent to Google upon the project’s completion. Google has been processing the images since then to incorporate them into Google Maps.

Celebrating more than 50 years of preserving green space and natural areas, Five Rivers MetroParks is a nationally renowned park system composed of natural area parks, gardens, high-quality river corridors, urban parks and a network of recreation trails. To learn more about Five Rivers MetroParks, log onto www.metroparks.org or call 937-275-PARK (7275).

Find Your Adventure in Grove City

Whether you’re 8 or 80, life needs adventure. Big or small, physical or spiritual, inside or outside, art or athletics, heart pounding or heartwarming…adventure makes us feel new again.

Of course, adventure comes in as many shapes and sizes as adventurers.  For some, adventure lies in the quest for adrenaline-inducing activity. For others, adventure is learning or sharing or the simple quest for moments of stillness surrounded by nature, which is part of what makes Grove City, Ohio so special.  Just a short drive from Columbus, this unexpected nature’s paradise caters to everyone from thrill seekers to wine sippers (and all those in between).

The first thing visitors notice is the abundance of parks. Grove City is like one never-ending glorious playground. Every green space offers up a remarkable range of outdoor activities from freshwater kayaking and tree-canopied cycling to cross-country skiing and the thrill of fishing and hunting for wild game at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. Serious players and amateurs alike can tee it up with friends at the award-winning Pinnacle Golf Course or take aim at LVL UP Sports Paintball Adventure Park. Adventure innovators won’t want to miss Kickmaster Footgolf, the first dedicated footgolf course in the country. If that’s not enough activity you can always catch some air at the skatepark or backpack from dawn to dusk down the one-of-a-kind REI River Trail, ending the day by sleeping under the stars. This is a place to get your heart rate up and let your spirits soar.

If you like your adventure a little softer, Grove City is also an ideal spot for bliss seekers to naturally refresh both mind and soul. Leisurely canoe paddling down a State and National Scenic River offers time for self-reflection and, if you’re lucky, a glimpse of wildlife enjoying their sanctuary. Family camping trips mean stories around the campfire and a chance to count constellations. You can feed your curious mind in the historic Grove City Town Center and your hungry appetite in a variety of local eateries. If adventure is sweeter with man’s best friend by your side, join your dog on a walk (or run) at one of many pet-friendly parks. And Mother Nature’s handiwork is on display everywhere you look, especially in parks and gardens. Bottom line, you may not like your adventure heart pounding, but Grove City’s natural beauty means it will always be breathtaking.

Adventures in learning include outdoor summer festivals and events, like Arts in the Alley and EcoFest exploring everything from arts to sustainability. You can always find your favorite libations at Plum Run Winery or popular craft beer pubs. Celebrate the finer things in life at the Grove City Wine and Arts Festival, a two-day outdoor festival showcasing Ohio’s wine industry and local creatives.

From heart-pounding exhilaration to heartwarming family time, Grove City is up for fun and down to earth. Invigorating and relaxing. Close to the city, but far from its temperament. It’s a natural escape to workout or rest up. Best of all, there is no rush hour in Grove City; your journey is perfectly paced for you…and anyone else you bring along for the ride.

To start planning your adventure, go to visitgrovecityoh.com or call 800-539-0405.

Sculptures on the Square

Presenting “LAS BICICLETAS,
Urban Art from Mexico to the World”

Summer 2017 brings the return of one of Troy, Ohio’s favorite cultural events to its beautiful downtown. Throughout the months of May, June and July, Troy Main Street will present the eighth installment of Sculptures on the Square featuring LAS BICICLETAS, Urban Art from Mexico to the World.

“We are really excited to bring this exhibit to downtown,” said Troy Main Street executive director, John Wilson. “There will be many opportunities for our community to interact with the sculptures through pictures, conversations and learning opportunities. We expect that LAS BICICLETAS will create excitement and interest in downtown Troy, while providing an art experience for our residents and visitors.”

LAS BICICLETAS is an urban art exhibit created by Mexican artist Gilberto Aceves Navarro. It comprises 250 bicycle sculptures in black, white, red, and orange; colors that were used by the Mayan culture to symbolize the four cardinal points.

From May through July of 2017, 30 of these colorful steel sculptures will grace Duke Park, Treasure Island, the bike path along the nationally recognized Scenic Great Miami River, and the sidewalks of downtown Troy. Troy will be the first community of its size in the United States to host LAS BICICLETAS. The exhibit has visited, and was well received, in Chicago, New York City, Williamsburg, Virginia and Washington D.C., as well as major cities throughout Mexico.

“It has been a long process to bring an exhibit like this to Troy, but we are honored to have this international display in our region,” said Debbie Robart, sculptures committee chair. “The bright colors and unique designs are a welcome addition to our sculpture series.”

The mission of LAS BICICLETAS is to promote, through art, the use of bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation and to procure better living conditions for all people in friendlier cities. The artist’s objective is to display bicycles as universally recognized vehicles of happiness and health.

The presence of LAS BICICLETAS in downtown Troy will have a significant impact on the local economy. They recognize that the draw of visitors could substantially increase commerce among the downtown retailers and restaurants, as well as their local hotels and all Troy businesses.

Sculptures on the Square is a bi-ennial public art exhibit in downtown Troy made possible by grants from the Troy Foundation and Robinson Fund, partnership with the City of Troy, and the generosity of individual and corporate donors. For more information, call Troy Main Street at (937) 339-5455, or visit the website at www.troymainstreet.org. More information about the exhibit can be found at www.lasbicicletas.org.

The Right Place at the Right Pace

Warm temperatures, longer days, and the greening of the landscape tell us that that travel season is upon us. While many of us dream and plan that memorable one or two-week vacation, most of our summer is filled with weekend getaways or day trips to new places. But let’s face it when we think of the hassle of driving to and from, getting around from place to place, and the cost of traveling even a short distance, enthusiasm can ebb away and weekend adventures turn into a backyard cookout.

What if there was a place close by, maybe an hour or so by car where the people were friendly, lots of fun things to do without breaking the bank, and memories just waiting to be made? Such a place does exist an hour north of Columbus in Marion. Loaded with historical sites such as the Home of President Warren G. Harding and a museum dedicated to the history of popcorn, filled with a varied population of truly local restaurants and eateries, and a countryside that is a pleasure to drive, Marion is truly the right place at the right pace this summer.

Getting away is all about experiencing new places at a pace that lets you relax. Whether it is enjoying a glass of wine and a sunset, sharing laughs with friends at a local dining favorite, or standing in the spot a president made famous, come visit Marion, Ohio this year. Spring and summer weekends are a delight on the many walking/biking trails as you see Mother Nature come to life. Summer sizzles with old-fashioned root beer floats, vista-like tee shots, and music in the air. Whenever you visit, plan on a few stops along the new Eaterarian Trail – a collection of local eateries that are known for their savory offerings and welcoming atmosphere.

Find out more at www.visitmarionohio.com.

Ohio’s Largest Gem Stone Collection

An adventurous trip to Brazil brought 60 tons of semi-precious stones back to Ohio Caverns’ rock shop. Visitors to Ohio Caverns may now purchase hand-selected, cut and polished agate, amethyst, citrine, quartz and many other rock-types as show pieces or in the form of bookends, lamps, candleholders and a lot of jewelry.

The journey to bring such a collection to Ohio for the first time was a learning experience for Tim Grissom of Ohio Caverns.

“It was a trip to remember,” Grissom said. “And it wasn’t easy.”

The venture began out of need. For decades, Ohio Caverns had a supplier out of Indiana for its amethyst and other pieces to retail in their gift shop. Amethyst is especially popular because of its brilliant purple color. It’s a quartz based mineral best known for being the birthstone for February.

“Our supplier threatened retirement,” Grissom laughed. “But we didn’t take his forewarning seriously enough to develop a contingency plan.”

A couple of years ago, that supplier said it’s no bluff. He’s retiring. The folks at Ohio Caverns were fortunate enough to negotiate the purchase of their former supplier’s remaining inventory. They hoped it would last a few years. They sold it all in half that time, but already had a new plan in the works.

Believe it or not, rock pedaling is big business and very competitive. Rather than settle for mail-order rocks that serious suppliers passed over when hand-selecting their own inventory in-person, Grissom and others at Ohio Caverns decided to go directly to the source. They wanted to hand-select the highest grade of semi-precious stones with hopes of coming home with a three-year supply. After a 28 hours travel time, Grissom found himself in the mining town of Soledade, Brazil among buyers from Germany, Japan, China, Australia and elsewhere.

“It’s a very desert-like climate but this town is built on the rock business,” Grissom said. “It’s in Brazil’s southernmost state before crossing over to Uruguay.”

Trucks pour in from the nearby mines and deliver semi-precious stones to the competing family businesses to cut and polish them into showroom quality.

“I had to employ an interpreter to navigate around town because my Portuguese is terrible. I know a little Spanish so there are some similarities but not enough,” explained Grissom.

The advantage that in-person buyers have is that they can personally inspect each individual piece to ensure it’s of the highest quality. If a particular piece doesn’t have enough color, you can replace it. The rejects are likely used in part to fulfill online orders by wholesale rock buyers around the world.

Grissom learned about each vendor in town first-hand. These are family businesses. It is highly competitive from one family business to another. The families running these competing businesses are huge because they’ve been at this for generations. Within one family, there may be different variations of the same product but everyone within an extended family business cooperate and work together.

Grissom ran into one exception where a large family had a rift within it. After the patriarch of the family died, his heirs feuded over the business he left behind.

“The division within that family was in plain view,” Grissom said. “They built a wall straight down the center of the building!”

Once the buying adventure was complete, Ohio Caverns’ order filled three intermodal containers designed to stack on cargo ships, place on flat train cars and transport by tractor trailer without ever having to be unloaded and reloaded. It took 10 weeks for Grissom’s hoard to get to Ohio. Part of the process included an inspection by customs at port in New York. The containers were transported to Columbus, Ohio by train and then by semis from there to the final destination in West Liberty, Ohio. Click here for a 3-D tour of the rock and gift shop at Ohio Caverns.

The gift and rock shop inside the Ohio Caverns visitor’s center also sells bags of rough to sift through to find semi-precious stones. These are used outside at an authentic gem mining sluice. Mining is for all ages. Bags of rough come in 3, 5 and 8 pounds. So if you want a hands-on mining experience you can get your hands a little wet and dirty hoping to score iron pyrite (fool’s gold), aventurine, quartz, calcite, amethyst and much more. For the budding Paleontologist, there are even fossilized sea creatures in rocks and shells to find.

The authentic wooden, gem mining sluice has a 13-foot tower and 80-foot flume. Water is piped out of the tower and splashes its way through staggered planks of narrow chutes. Along the flume, people gather with their bags of rough. There, they slide wooden plates into grooves at the sides of the channel as they pan for real gemstones, minerals and fossils. The mining sluice is easily accessed by those with limited mobility.

Ohio Cavern’s is known as America’s most colorful caverns. It offers one-of-a-kind treasures such as the Crystal King. The Crystal King is the largest and most perfectly formed pure white crystal stalactite found in any cave. A rare discovery at Ohio Caverns is its helictites or “soda straws.” These resemble curly straws hanging from the ceiling. Somehow, they grow longer in a way that seems to defy gravity, twisting in weird directions up, down, sideways and all around. These are the only known caverns in the country where dual formations are found. This oddity consists of iron oxide tipped off with milky white calcium carbonate. Ohio Caverns is located in a quiet park setting covering 35 acres of countryside. It has a playground and two large pavilions for sheltered picnicking.

To plan a visit to buy a piece of Ohio’s largest semi-precious stone collection or to see the one-of-a-kind wonders in America’s most colorful caverns, visit www.OhioCaverns.com.

Iconic Ohio Amish Shop Turns 40

Really, not much has changed in Miller’s 40 years of business. For an Amish family-run business, that’s just how they like it. But in four decades, they certainly have grown!

There’s still the clickety-clack all along Wheat Ridge Road in West Union, Ohio, where Miller’s Bakery, Furniture and Bulk Foods is located. The bustling Amish community that formed here decades ago simply became known as the Wheat Ridge Amish. Those early families who settled along this sprawling, peaceful, rolling countryside included a young couple, Harry and Lydia Miller, and their children. The year was 1977.

The Miller family farmed their land, but what they really loved to do as a family was bake. Before long, this family of eight was turning out pies left and right for their neighbors, friends and friends of friends from an overworked oven inside of their modest farmhouse. Word spread and before Harry and Lydia knew it, they were in the baking business.

Harry and his sons would return from trips to Amish-country in Northeast Ohio with some pieces of Amish-made furniture built by friends to sell. Just like the bakery, folks wanted more. Soon thereafter, a furniture business was running alongside the bakery. Over the years, the Miller family branched out across their 300-acre farm. Eventually, they built a 34,000 square foot building just to showcase their furniture offerings. Outside they added outdoor furniture, barns, playsets and more. In addition, they built a separate building for their bakery and another one for their bulk foods store.

Today, the Miller family is in its third generation. Most of Harry and Lydia’s children run things now. Daniel is at the furniture store, Larry at the bakery, and Harry Jr. at the bulk foods store, complete with a deli counter and seating. Malinda helps too. The other two sons, Gerold and David, come back often to visit. Altogether, the six children have provided Harry and Lydia with more than 20 grandkids. Many of them also help out with the family business. Things at Miller’s should be in good hands for generations to come, God willing.

Throughout the rest of 2017, the Millers have special events planned to thank customers for their blessings of being in business for so long.

  • May 13, 2017: Mother’s Day Weekend – Miller’s 40th Anniversary featuring free cake, ice cream and more.
  • May 26, 27 & 29, 2017 (closed on the 28th): Memorial Day Weekend Storewide Sale offers 10% off all items in stock at furniture store only (excluding outdoor building and gazebos and select bedroom sets).
  • September 1, 2 & 4, 2017 (closed on the 3rd): Labor Day Weekend Sale offers 10 percent off all items in stock at furniture store only. Excludes all outdoor buildings, gazebos and select bedroom sets. It is recommended to order early for Christmas.
  • September 2, 2017 (Labor Day Weekend): The 20th Annual Amish School Benefit Cookout. The menu includes hamburgers, hot dogs, noodles, Chip’s fresh pie, homemade ice cream, coffee and soft drinks.
  • October 7, 2017: The 40th Annual Miller’s Anniversary Customer Appreciation Day. Visitors get a free Miller’s calendar for the upcoming year complete with sales dates and special event dates. The menu includes BBQ chicken, baked beans, coleslaw, fresh pie, homemade ice cream, coffee and soft drinks.
  • October 13, 14 and 15: Wheat Ridge Old Thyme Herb Fair & Harvest Celebration is 10am – 6pm at 817 Tater Ridge Road in West Union, Ohio. For more info, call 937-544-8252.
  • November 24 & 25, 2017: Storewide Thanksgiving Sale offering 10 percent off all items in stock (furniture store only).
  • December 23, (not the 24th or 25th) 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 2017: The End of Year Clearance Sale! This includes free coffee and cookies at the bakery and free cheese and candy samples at the Bulk Foods Store. Get 10 percent off all items in stock (furniture store only).

Many people travel near and far to visit scenic Southwest Ohio Appalachian Country and to shop at Miller’s Bakery, Furniture and Bulk Foods. It’s known as destination shopping. There’s even a picnic pavilion to relax and breathe in the fresh air. You can plan your pilgrimage at WheatRidgeAmish.com or by calling 937-544-8524. Miller’s stores are open Monday through Saturday (Always Closed on Sunday) from 9am – 5pm.

Service with a smile – it’s not something from Yesteryear. It’s this year and every day, always at Millers!

Let’s Get Out There!

The Weather’s Great – So Let’s Get Out There!

Located on I-75 just 30 miles north of Dayton, Ohio you’ll find a wonderful variety of outdoor recreation sure to satisfy every travel preference.

Just a short drive off the highway is Lake Loramie State Park. With its 1,600 acre lake and 30 miles of shoreline, Lake Loramie is one of the original canal feeder lakes for the Miami-Erie Canal and offers visitors a quiet retreat in rural Ohio. Swim from a sandy beach, hike along the old canal towpath, wet a line from the lakeshore or a rented boat, and spend the night in a shaded campsite or cabin. However you like to unwind, Lake Loramie State Park is the perfect destination to recharge your battery in the great outdoors.  Organized and upcoming activities at Lake Loramie State Park include a spring campout the weekend of May 5th, a Fishing Derby May 6th, and Paddlepalooza May 27th.

And speaking of “paloozas”, how about Alumapalooza the week of May 30th through June 3rd? Alumapalooza is a family-friendly festival for people who love Airstream travel trailers. For any or all of six days and five nights, participants can camp in a field right next to the Airstream manufacturing facility.  A wide variety of seminars and fun presentations are offered throughout the week plus additional activities like live music, yoga, trailer open houses, cooking demonstrations, a barbeque, and the not to be missed factory tours. In fact, the Airstream factory tour has been acclaimed by FoxNews.com as one of the top ten factory tours in the United States.

For the second year in a row at Alumapalooza Airstream is hosting a Fine Art Invitational. Participating artists include some of the top living artists today who have won numerous national awards and have their work featured in prominent galleries across the country. This year’s artists were chosen because their work reflects the idea of “Americana” – culture, history, people, and nature.

Alumapalooza is open to Airstream owners and non-owners alike and concurrent with Alumapalooza, the nearby Village of Jackson Center, home to Airstream is hosting Community Days, a local festival featuring live music, great food, and amusements for the kids.

Additional community festivals in the area during the month of May and June include the Anna Homecoming, Botkins Carousel, Holy Angels Parrish Picnic, and Downtown Sidney’s Kids Around the Square.  Each offers their own unique variety of family friendly entertainment, live music, delicious food, and lots of fun.

The Buckeye Farm Antiques Show returns to Sidney the weekend of May 26th.  This year’s show will feature Case tractors and equipment along with many other brands as well. Special activities not to be missed include threshing & corn shredding demonstrations, a craft & flea market, primitive crafts, agricultural machine parts area, blacksmith, sawmill, shingle mill, and plenty of free, family friendly entertainment. Also featured are an Antique Tractor Pull and Kiddie Tractor Pull. A car, truck, and motorcycle show will be presented on Sunday.

If live music performed in the great outdoors is your thing, how about these options? Beginning June 16th, the Sidney Civic Band begins its Summer Concert Series with Friday evening performances on the shaded and beautiful lawn of the Shelby County court house. On June 24th, Sidney’s first in a series of Backstage Block Party concerts kicks off in the back lot of the historic Sidney Theatre. High energy live music, food, and cold drinks… what could be better than that on a mid-June summer night?

If you enjoy history, how about planning to attend the Shelby County Historical Society’s 18th Annual Graceland Cemetery Tour? This year’s featured presentations will focus on the Titans of Industry who “in their day” helped influence the growth of the local economy and contributed meaningfully to our national economic prosperity as well. Free tours will be conducted on June 15th.

One more thought… Country music fans will not want to miss this year’s three day music festival at Country Concert in early July.  Headliners include Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line, and Jake Owen.  Other well-known artists scheduled to appear are Brett Eldredge, Justin Moore, Jon Pardi, Montgomery Gentry, Old Dominion, the Charlie Daniels Band, and many more.  Twenty-seven performers on two big stages are sure to put Country Concert at the top of your to-do list this summer.

For every recreational interest, the possibilities are plentiful. Additional information about these and the many fine attractions of west central Ohio can be found on the web site of the Sidney Visitors Bureau at www.VisitSidneyShelby.com – “Sidney Ohio… We’re waiting for you.”

The Lusty Month of May

It’s not just a song title from the beloved musical “Camelot”.  The lusty month of May is a great description of how we feel about spring.  It’s a little easier to find yourself lost in a daydream while the first hummingbird of the season hovers out your window.  Mother Nature’s pallet contains endless varieties of green.  Wildflowers carpet the forest floor.  Dogwood, redbud and flowering crabapple trees burst with colorful blooms.  The air is sweet and the evening’s song is provided by a chorus of peepers.

Waterfalls erupt in thunderous motion as spring rains feed their fury.  Clifftops offer up miles and miles of the season’s awakening.   Inviting warm days make it impossible to resist going outside to play.   What better place to succumb to the lusty month of May than the Hocking Hills, Ohio’s natural crown jewels.

This May give in to those urges.  You know the ones, taking a road trip, taking a mental health day or two, playing outside like you did when you were a kid.  The Hocking Hills has a plethora of playgrounds.   From hiking among wildflowers and waterfalls to playing in an adult sandbox with really big toys it’s all here in the Hills.

Get a bird’s eye view of spring’s splendor on a zipline canopy tour.  With more than sixty ziplines the Hocking Hills is the Canopy Tour Capital of the Midwest.  The Hocking River is moving, making canoe and kayak tours effortless.  See a side of spring which can only be seen by horseback.  Drop a line and catch dinner.  There’s nothing like a fresh fish dinner cooked over an open fire on a cool spring evening.

Don’t miss the Hills’ newest attraction; Hocking Hills Sandbox.  This adult sandbox features real earth moving equipment.  Play with a bulldozer, track loader, excavator and high lift.  All the construction equipment you craved as a kid is waiting for you in a grown-up sandbox.

After a day of being a kid, kick back on the deck of your private cabin in the woods.  Gaze at the star filled night sky while you toast the marshmallows soon to be melting over chocolate and graham crackers for the ultimate ooey gooey sweet dream inducing treat.  Your every sense will be satisfied when you spend a little bit of “The Lusty Month of May” in Mother Nature’s Camelot.

Are You An Eaterarian?

eaterarian trail
Diners enjoy the famous fried bologna
sandwich at the G & R Tavern in Waldo

You are not a connoisseur. You are not a gourmet. You are not a foodie. You are an Eaterarian. You like to find those out of the way eateries with great food, an unassuming atmosphere, and where having a laugh with my friends isn’t considered inappropriate. You usually find these places by accident. It would be great if you had a list, maybe even a map of places like that. A list of all the great diners, little local places, and stand-up eateries – all within a few minutes of each other. Places with those ‘best-ever’ breakfasts, works-of-art burgers, authentic throwbacks, and just plain, comfortable food.

Sound like you? The good news is you can find all of this in Marion County as you travel the Eaterarian Trail. Nine incredible, unique eateries that are truly local, totally comfortable, and memory making. Here’s the rundown.

Baires Restaurant

So often, a great local restaurant is as much about the owner as it is the food. Such is the case at Baires where Marcela Barrios is as likely to be sitting talking with customers as she is in the kitchen creating culinary adventures. Breakfast and lunch are the mainstays at Baires, delivered in traditional comfort food and an occasional Argentinian twist. All meals are prepared from scratch and with an eye toward the healthy, without sacrificing taste and texture.

Carlyle Restaurant

Small, but mighty describes this local favorite that recently moved from Richwood in northern Delaware County to its current home on the east side of Marion. No surprises here as your comfort food favorites on the menu will have you planning your next visit before you leave.

Colonial House Restaurant

Traditional family dining and a robust menu of comfort food favorites make the Colonial House a weekend favorite. But don’t wait until then – you might just slip in to a table without a wait Monday through Friday.

Courtyard Grub and Pub

In the shadow of the County Courthouse, the Courtyard Grub & Pub is a prime example of what a bar and grille should be. However, it should more properly be called a grille and bar as the emphasis is on the food. You would expect burgers to dominate the menu at a place like this, but honestly, you may not expect such an incredible selection of unique, perfectly prepared beef on a bun. Consider their bacon cheese burger, listed as the Parole Burger on the Courthouse-themed menu. Topped with aged cheddar and two slices of thick cut bacon, the burger itself is partially made of ground bacon.

The G & R Tavern

Where’s Waldo? More importantly, where’s the G & R Tavern in Waldo? Famous for their bologna sandwich and mile-high pie, the G&R serves up the epitome of comfort food. People come from down the street and across the nation to order the first thing on their walled menu; the famous bologna sandwich. Fresh sweet pickles and onions lie atop a fried ¾ inch slice of the G&R’s homemade-recipe bologna. But leave some room for dessert. With your choice among 6 flavors, each slice of their homemade cream pie stands nearly five inches tall with whipped topping. It certainly is one dessert big enough to share!

Marion Diner

When you think of a diner, you think of bacon and egg breakfasts, homemade soups and grilled sandwiches for lunch, and comfort food dinners. That is exactly what you get at the Marion Diner, plus a little more. The Diner sits on the south edge of Marion, but locals travel from all over town for their traditional breakfast menu that includes 15 omelet selections. The place fills up at lunch time as diners look forward to one of the many offerings from the Pit Smoked Sandwiches section of the menu. Ribs, chicken, and chops bring them in for dinner with large portions and steaming side dishes.

Shovel Restaurant

Some of the best food finds are in nondescript buildings. This is true of Marion’s Shovel Restaurant on the city’s west side. Inside, an atmosphere of casual comfort gives you a sense of what is to come – large portions, great combinations, and an efficient staff. Lunch choices include a large variety of sandwich choices, plus chili, vegetable beef, and ham and bean soups. But the stars of the menu are the burgers. Several versions of the Char can be had, as well as a Prime Rib burger that is taller than it is wide.

Stewart’s Root Beer

Imagine an old-fashioned root beer stand. Ice cold root beer floats, cheese burgers, foot-long Coney’s, milk shakes and more all delivered to your window by car hops. Stop imagining and head to Stewart’s Root Beer Drive-in just north of downtown Marion on Main Street. The menu includes 22 sandwiches choices, six of them burger variations. The root beer floats are made with the original recipe root beer and come in frosted mugs – the perfect cooler on a hot summer day.

Victor’s Taco Shop

Feeling saucy? Next time you are in the mood for Mexican cuisine, try Victor’s Taco Shop. This quaint little joint on the corner offers you an authentic meal at a great price. Choose either the walk-up window or two, yes two – drive thru windows. Each meal is made to order which gives you just enough time to scroll through your newest stories on Facebook while you wait at one of their picnic tables. Feeling daring? Try the largest Chimichanga you have ever seen.

For more on the Marion Eterarian Trail, see the full article here. 

Amish-made

amish-horse-buggy-ohio

The Miller’s Family Story

By Rocco Satullo, your tour guide to fun!
And author of Here I Thought I Was Normal

Amish folk like any other seek greener pastures to stake a claim in the pursuit of happiness.

Harry Miller’s family went from Kansas to Iowa and that’s where he met the love of his life, Lydia. Together, they started a family and added to it after moving to Wisconsin, and from there, Indiana.

The Indiana Amish community was large. Sometimes, Amish adventurers like to start smaller communities and keep things as modest as possible. When they find the right land to begin a community anew, they work together to erect their own schools and such.

An Amish friend and carpenter said to Harry, “Let’s checkout Ohio.” Click here to read the rest of the story.

Click for more story, photos and video clips

Ohio’s Oldest Attraction Rocks On!

ohio-caverns-palace-of-gods
Play Video

Ohio’s oldest attraction is new to many. It’s a natural wonder that has added many offerings over the years. And it remains one of the most economic day-trips central to just about anywhere in the state.

Welcome to Ohio Caverns where fun is unearthed daily, dating back nearly 120 years when this underground movement began in West Liberty, Ohio. Ever since, it has been a rite of passage for generations of families. There is no height minimums so the whole family can enjoy this adventure together. And whether it’s a hot summer afternoon or frigid winter morning, the natural thermostat is set at a constant 54 degrees.

“Many folks remember us as that nostalgic family day-trip that sparked intrigue and much conversation on the way home in the station wagon,” said Eric Evans, manager of Ohio Caverns.

But these aren’t your great grandparents, grandparents or even parents’ Ohio Caverns! It now features gorgeous picnic grounds, a gem mining sluice, a stunning new entrance and section of caverns that are handicap accessible.

Instead of entering the caverns down a long staircase hidden behind a non-descript door, you may take a leisurely and scenic stroll down an 800-foot serpentine ramp overlooking the beautiful Mingo Valley to the new section of caverns. This is where you gain access to a subterranean exploration that is now handicap accessible. The project was 10 years in the making and required the removal of more than 2,000 cubic yards of material including several tons of mud, silt and rock which had to be dug by hand. Now the entrance provides a beautiful photo opportunity from the pedestrian bridge showcasing a spectacular backdrop.

“It is so rewarding to see folks with limited mobility flash a broad smile when they find themselves cave-dwelling,” said Eric Evans, manager of Ohio Caverns. “Not all of the tours are handicap accessible. But they all loop back so families can reconnect no matter which tour they take.”

During the tour, cave dwellers are treated to views of some one-of-a-kind discoveries and rare finds. The Crystal King is the largest and most perfectly formed pure white crystal stalactite found in any cave. It is nearly five feet long after 200,000 years of growth. Other rare stalactites found at Ohio Caverns are called helactites or “soda straws.” These resemble curly straws hanging from the ceiling but somehow defied gravity, twisting in weird directions. One of the more intriguing formations is the “Old Town Pump,” which looks just like it sounds, right down to the dripping water. These are the only known caverns in the country where dual formations are found. These unique formations consist of iron oxide tipped off with milky white calcium carbonate. It is a mystery as to why the two minerals remain distinctly separate, refusing to blend colors.

But there is one prevailing reason people love to visit here time and again – its wide-array of color. In addition to black and white – stalactites, stalagmites, columns and other formations come in a variety of color that include hues of yellow, orange, red, blue and purple. The colorful climax is best seen in the “Palace of the Gods” where there is an array of translucent crystals.

Rock collecting has surged in popularity. A demand that Ohio Caverns is pleased to meet. It has gained a reputation as a premier rock shop in the U.S.  Whether one is a seasoned geologist or an amateur collector, Ohio Caverns has pieces ranging from a dollar to $10,000 in value. Ohio Caverns has machines to crack or saw stones like geodes and smooth them to perfection. Stones are offered in many shapes and sizes, polished or raw. Some people like buying raw stone and polishing it at home. Others seek the finished mantle-piece or high-dollar Pakistan Onyx stemware.

“We pride ourselves on the unique, hard-to-find gifts and of course Ohio Caverns and State of Ohio souvenirs, including antique signs,” said Evans. “Teachers enjoy the store because they discover, often after a field trip to the caverns, that there is great variety and support at the shop for classroom tools, lessons, books, mineral samples and the “fossil digs.”

This large and diverse gift shop also provides five pound bags of rough to sift for treasure outside at an impressive wooden mining sluice. The sluice consists of a 13-foot wooden tower and 80-foot wooden flume. The water is piped out of the tower, descending through staggered planks of narrow chutes. Along its course, wooden plates slide into grooves at the sides of the channel just like those used to recover minerals in mining operations. Visitors pan for real gem stones and minerals. There are about a dozen types of ornamental stones commonly found, including emeralds and (fools) gold. The mining sluice is also handicap accessible.

Older parts of the cavern system had been closed off for more than 70 years. It has only been over the past decade that visitors could once again visit the original portion of the Ohio Caverns known as the “historic tour.” It includes a colorful natural rotunda named “The Palace of Natural Art” and “The Giant’s Coffin,” among other fascinating sites. This is different from the new section of the caverns and requires a short shuttle ride to get there. The regular tour spans 45 minutes and one mile, reaching a depth of 103 feet. Many primitive forms of sea life are fossilized into the ceiling from the Devonian period and Paleozoic Era.

The anomalies found throughout this natural wonder have mystified visitors for nearly 120 years since its accidental discovery in 1928. And it is always growing because so much of the subterranean maze promises more to come with each spelunking adventure that breaks through a small hole to reveal a newly discovered expanse of the cavern system. No wonder it’s been dubbed one of the six best caves overall in the US, as well as America’s most colorful caverns by various national media over the years.

Families and groups often make a day of their visit to Ohio Caverns. There are outdoor pavilions with scenic overlooks and nearby restrooms. This rural 35-acre park nestled in the west central Ohio countryside offers a top-notch playground, and other amenities that allow families or groups to spread out and enjoy a picnic, Frisbee and unwind. It is perfect for hosting family reunions, scout troops, school groups, tour bus groups and other group outings both large and small.

Ohio Caverns is open year round. From April 1–October 31, it is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  It closes at 4:00 p.m. from November 1 – March 31.  Tours range in time and price.  Value passes and special group and school rates are available. Ohio Caverns is located at 2210 East State Route 245 in West Liberty, Ohio. More information is available by calling 937-465-4017 or visiting www.ohiocaverns.com.

Come, unearth Ohio’s oldest tourist attraction and build new memories.

Balloons, Dulcimers, Corvettes + More

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Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

Escape to nearby Coshocton, Ohio, this summer for a family-fun getaway.  From entertaining events such the Coshocton Hot Air Balloon Festival, the Corvette Cruise-In, Coshocton Dulcimer Days Festival, and the Indian Mud Run, to amazing attractions like the wineries that make up the Three Rivers Wine Trail, Historic Roscoe Village, and the Monticello III Horse-drawn Canal Boat Ride, Coshocton is just the place to take a break from life’s hectic pace.

In June, enjoy The Coshocton Hot Air Balloon Festival, sponsored by Frontier Power, featuring balloon launches, live entertainment, fireworks, balloon nightglow, midway rides, an antiques flea market, craft and food vendors, a Kiddie Tractor Pull, and more.  “This year’s festival features tethered balloon rides on Thursday evening from 6:30 – 9:00 p.m., as well as a Dale Earnhart NASCAR Simulator on Saturday” said Coshocton Visitors Bureau Interim Director Mindy Brems.  “The live musical entertainment includes the The Jason Pendola Band, Blend A Cappella Group, British Invasion, The McVay Brothers, and Chris Higbee.  The best part is that festival admission and parking are free.”  Find a Coshocton Hot Air Balloon Festival schedule at www.visitcoshocton.com.

“Corvette enthusiasts will enjoy the Corvettes at Roscoe Cruise-In in June,” added Brems. “Guests will also enjoy Frank Allen’s 50’s and 60’s music as they stroll the village.”

Coshocton is also the host of the longest running heritage music festival in Ohio—The Annual Coshocton Dulcimer Days held every June in Historic Roscoe Village at the Central Ohio Technical College Coshocton Campus.  The festival features music workshops, private lessons, free concerts, and the Mid-East Regional Dulcimer Championships.  Visitors to the event will enjoy music, vendors, raffles, artists’ booths, traditional Appalachian music, and a headliner concert Saturday evening with special guests Madeline McNeil and National Hammered Dulcimer Champion, Joshua Messick.

The Indian Mud Run takes place in June at Coshocton Lake Park. This Park fundraiser is a challenging 5K obstacle race including approximately 20 obstacles along the beautiful Scarr Loop and Eagle Ridge Trails at Lake Park. Register at www.indianmudrun.com.  “Past participants have said that this is one of the best mud runs they’ve ever done, so we know the runners this year will have a great time. There is even a kids’ course available, so the whole family can participate” said Brems.

Coshocton is home to several popular attractions including Historic Roscoe Village, a restored 1800s canal era town offering a glimpse into life in the 1800s. This summer, experience the Village’s historic scavenger hunt—Mudlarked in Roscoe where guests visit the historic buildings and collect objects along the way.  Most of the Famous Shops and Restaurants of Roscoe Village are open seven days a week, so visitors can immerse themselves in a quaint, nostalgic street rich with history discovering delightful shops, enjoying delicious dining and unique lodging options.

A visit to Coshocton in the summer is made extra special with a ride on the Monticello III Horse-drawn Canal Boat, where the huge draft horses pull the Canal Boat along an original restored portion of the Ohio and Erie Canal. Travelers on the 45-minute canal boat ride are entertained by the Canal Boat Captain as he explains 1800s canal life sharing tall tales and history.  The canal boat is open Tuesday through Sunday throughout the summer.

For those who love Ohio wines, staying in Coshocton offers easy access to 17 unique wineries within a 55 minute drive including those on Coshocton’s Three Rivers Wine Trail which features Raven’s Glenn, Heritage Vineyard, Rainbow Hills, Yellow Butterfly, Indian Bear, and Baltic Mill.

Make it an overnight getaway by spending time at one of Coshocton’s many affordable lodging options.  From luxury cabins, friendly bed and breakfasts, hotels, motels, campgrounds, and guest houses, finding the perfect stay for a getaway is easy.  There are overnight packages to choose from that include wine tastings, Roscoe Village tour tickets, or a Girlfriends’ Getaway.

Request a free visitor packet and find more details about getaway packages, attractions, events and more, at www.VisitCoshocton.com or call (740) 622-4877 or 800-338-4724.

COSI is a Standout!

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COSI – Center of Science & Industry – is a standout in Ohio but is also one of the most respected science centers in the nation. It makes science fun with hands-on discovery and has done so for decades! COSI features more than 300 interactive exhibits throughout ten themed exhibition areas including Ocean, Space, Gadgets, Life, little kidspace®, Progress, Adventure, Innovation Showcase, its outdoor Big Science Park and WOSU@COSI. Beyond the exhibits, you’ll find COSI’s hair-raising Electrostatic Generator Show, a High-Wire Unicycle, the National Geographic Giant Screen Theater, Science 2Go! retail store and the Atomicafe’ restaurant. COSI also hosts world-class traveling exhibitions from other museums throughout the year. For more information, visit http://cosi.org/.

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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/.

The Price Is Right

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The Price is Right in Coshocton 

This is an excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

The time and price is right to get away to nearby Coshocton in East Central Ohio.  From fun family events such as a 3D archery shoot, live bluegrass music, and the Dogwood Festival for the Arts; to amazing attractions like Unusual Junction (home of the original Price is Right sign), the Monticello III Horse-drawn Canal Boat Ride, Historic Roscoe Village, and the Three Rivers Wine Trail, Coshocton is just the place to spend quality getaway time.

Looking for a fun, unusual shopping experience? Then Unusual Junction is the place—offering an Amish cheese outlet, a huge selection of hot sauces and mustards, teas, and unique gifts.  Lava Rock Grill Diner is where the huge original Price is Right sign hangs – signed by Bob Barker.  Plus, find the Universe Prom & Bridal Superstore for the largest selection in the region.

For those who love wineries, Coshocton is conveniently located within 25 miles of ten unique wineries including those on Ohio’s Three Rivers Wine Trail which features Raven’s Glenn, Heritage Vineyard, Rainbow Hills and Yellow Butterfly.

Cheese goes great with wine and Pearl Valley Cheese in Coshocton County does it well.  This four generation, family-owned business, has been making award winning Swiss cheese for over 85 years and the honors are still rolling in.  They were recently awarded a gold medal in the World Championship cheese contest for their Rindless Swiss Cheese.

Coshocton is home to Historic Roscoe Village, a restored 1800s town offering tours of the historic buildings depicting life in this once bustling town along the Ohio and Erie Canal. During the month of May when visitors take the 1:00 p.m. guided tour, they visit an 1800s doctor’s office, see how weavings were done on traditional looms in the craftsman’s house, and may even get to participate in an old-fashioned school lesson, and visit with the rugged village blacksmith who uses old-fashioned tools and fire to demonstrate the forging techniques that were used in the 1800s.

Beginning Memorial Day Weekend, Historic Roscoe Village offers Mudlarked in Roscoe a ‘tour at your leisure’ where visitors get the chance to experience an historic scavenger hunt collecting objects along the way while learning what life was like during the 1800s.  The Village is also filled with delightful shops and restaurants – most of which are open seven days a week.

Kids young and old enjoy meeting Fred & Rock and Willie & Bill, the huge draft horse teams that pull the Monticello III Canal Boat along an original section of the Ohio and Erie Canal. Travelers on the 45-minute canal boat ride are entertained by the Canal Boat Captain as he explains 1800s canal life sharing tall tales and history.  The canal boat is open Memorial Day through Labor Day Tuesdays through Sundays.

Make it an overnight getaway by spending time at one of Coshocton’s many affordable lodging choices.  Find friendly bed and breakfasts, comfortable hotels and motels, campgrounds, guest houses, and luxury cabins.  Several overnight packages are also available for family fun, girlfriend getaways, and romantic weekends for two.

Find more details about getaway packages, attractions, events and more, at www.VisitCoshocton.com or call (740) 622-4877 or (800) 338-4724.  You can also request a Free Visitor Packet to make planning your Coshocton getaway easy.

Ohio Paintball Country

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Painting Memories
ONE SHOT AT A TIME

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

Trigger an outdoor blast at Paintball Country – one of the biggest and best locations for paintball wars.

This 40-acre paintball destination is on the 210-acre Niederman Family Farm between Cincinnati and Dayton. It features five woods fields and six speedball fields, which are lit to bring action well into the night.

Special scenario productions are often offered, attracting several hundred serious paintball competitors from across the country to compete in major themed events.

If you’re not an expert shot, don’t worry, walk-in first-timers can have just as much fun. Just show up and the folks there will provide all the equipment you need.

Paintball had a humble beginning. Foresters used them to mark trees and farmers used them to mark cattle. Then, one day, two foresters turned the guns on one another in a friendly – colorful – firefight. Today, it’s one of the top extreme sports in the world and has many variations, including x ball, hyper ball, ultimate air, woods, speedball and special scenario war games.

“Safety rules and regulations make paintball a safe sport for anyone from 10-years-old to senior citizens,” said Brian Garver. He runs Paintball Country at Niederman Family Farm. “Referees on the field enforce safety with strict game rules.”

Each player is required to wear safety goggles at all times. The rifle is an air gun. Players are eliminated when a paintball splats on them. Being hit by a paintball leaves a bright colored paint mark on the clothes.

“Sometimes, it can sting a little bit,” smiled Bethann Niederman. She runs Niederman Family Farm.

A paintball has a thin outer skin with colored liquid inside it resembling a gelatin-like capsule. The liquid interior is non-toxic, non-caustic, water-soluble and biodegradable. It rinses out of clothing and off skin with mild soap and water.

“We get lots of church groups, scout troops, business groups and family reunions,” said Garver.

It’s no wonder paintball is one of the world’s most popular outdoor participation sports.

“The nice thing about our farm is that it can accommodate groups from 20 to 300 people,” said Bethann Niederman. “We have a restored 1890s barn which is suited with modern amenities and a spacious deck.”

The barn is perfect for corporate outings, weddings, receptions and reunions. The pavilion is perfect for school groups, scouts and clubs. Parties feature a hostess, giant jumping pillow, food, animal visits and the play area, complete with giant ship, tunnels and more to explore.

Paintball Country is open Saturday from 11am to 5pm and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm. There’s a fully stocked pro-shop and custom website where you can order anything you need. Paintball Country on Niederman Family Farm is located at 5110 LeSourdsville-West Chester Road in Liberty Township, Ohio between Cincinnati and Dayton. Call 513-779-6184 or visit www.paintballcountryohio.com and www.niedermanfamilyfarm.com.

Historic Trains a Family Destination

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Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

Along a twelve-mile section of railroad first constructed in the late 1860s, the the volunteer-operated trains of the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway have thrilled kids of all ages since its founding in 1972. These trains, making the quiet journey along the Hocking River Valley, mainly during summer and fall weekends, provide a glimpse into a slower-paced life that was once commonplace long ago. Who needs Doc’s DeLorean and his flashy flux capacitor when you’ve got a real time machine at your disposal to take you through history? 

But there’s still that lingering thought: life at a slow pace. What a novel concept! Imagine an afternoon with the kids aboard an authentic train ride, taking in the history and still-remaining industries of a valley once vital to a growing nation. These trains, usually taking about two hours to make a full trip, depart the former brick-producing capital of Nelsonville, a quaint town with an emerging art district on the original Public Square. The Square is home to unique art galleries and shops, as well as the equally impressive Stuart’s Opera House. Nelsonville’s depot has ample parking around it and is only a short walk from the Square and its famous neighbor: the Rocky Outdoor Gear Store. 

Out of your coach window, you’ll take in Ohio’s Appalachian foothills, including the tranquil Hocking River, a favorite of canoe and kayak enthusiasts. These hills are absolutely spectacular during October when the leaf color change is at its peak! Remnants of the area brick industry, once an economic powerhouse and primary job source, are still visible and pointed out to you by a knowledgable volunteer via the speaker system installed throughout the train. Other sites include Lock No. 19 of the Hocking Canal and Haydenville, Ohio’s last company town. Additionally, other mining activities on-going in the valley include a two gravel mining operations and an impressive lumber mill, indicating untapped natural resources still abound in the area. 

In addition to the weekend trains operating from May through October, the volunteers of the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway put in the extra hours to bring special themed trains to life. Can’t-miss events include Ohio’s Friendliest Train Robbery, the traditional Santa Trains, and the New Year’s Eve Train and Fireworks. 

Ohio’s Friendliest Train Robbery features bandits on horseback attempting to stop the train—Old West-style! With guns making noise and the thunderous gallop of the horses bringing the train to a stop, you’ll be a part of the action! And the kids absolutely love it! Partnering with Smoke Rise Ranch, the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway’s volunteers put on quite a show! This as an incredibly popular event, so you’ll want to book your tickets as soon as possible. 

Due to high demand, in October, the railroad expands into the week, operating extra trains on Thursdays and Fridays from Nelsonville at 1:00 p.m. between October 1st and 30th. While no different than the October weekend offerings at Noon or 2:30 p.m., these trains simply offer you a great option to take in the area and its impressive history. 

Toward the end of the year, as Thanksgiving bellies are full and little hands set to writing lists to a certain Jolly Old Elf, the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway’s Santa Trains take to the rails again for a tradition that is almost as old as the railroad itself! A staple part of the railroad’s schedule, St. Nick himself—and sometimes Mrs. Claus (or an elf if she couldn’t make the long trip from the North Pole)—climbs aboard the train for a Christmas tradition you’ll want to make part of your holiday must-do list! Santa visits with each and every child during the train ride and then hands out a candy cane treat after the visit. A great opportunity to hand-deliver that cherished wish list! And, of course, the train cars are heated and decorated throughout. One of them even is heated by an old-fashioned coal stove! 

The full schedule of events for the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, complete with downloadable brochure, is available at www.hockingvalleytrain.org. You can purchase your tickets there too or by calling (740) 249-1452. Weekend trains throughout the summer don’t usually sell-out, so you can usually just wait and buy at the depot when you arrive for your train ride. But you’ll definitely want to reserve your seats ahead of time for any other train. If purchased ahead, tickets are held at will call in the Nelsonville depot. Prices vary, but the average ticket price is around $15. And keep in mind that there is a small extra fee to purchase tickets in advance. But this is arguably an easily affordable family trek in a world of ever-rising costs! 

Tips to remember! There are no restrooms on the antique train cars, so you’ll want to make a stop in the depot restrooms before taking off on your journey. Parking is generally plentiful (and free!), with three lots available around the station. No food or drinks are sold on the train or at the depot, but you are welcome and encouraged to bring your own food and (non-alcoholic) drinks aboard. No pets are allowed either, so Fido will have to sit this one out (unless he’s a certified service animal). More details are on their website at http://www.hockingvalleytrain.org or call 740-249-1452 if you have any questions. You can also get regular updates from them if you have Facebook or Twitter (just search for “Hocking Valley Scenic Railway”). Finally, all trains are currently diesel-powered, but a real 1920s-era steam engine is soon to be in operation! 

All aboooard!

History & Family Fun Getaways

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Hidden Treasures Abound in Marion

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

Marion, Ohio is the proud home of a president. Warren G. Harding, the 29th U.S. President, and his wife Florence lived in Marion before they made their way to the White House. Their home boasts 98 percent of the original Harding’s contents – something that not many other presidential homes can claim. A tour of the home should be included if you visit. The Harding Memorial, where the two are laid to rest, is just down the road and around the corner. A very impressive marble pillared structure awaits you. Visit www.Hardinghome.org.

The Harding Home has many special programs throughout the year.

The Marion community celebrates popcorn every year the first weekend after Labor Day with the annual Marion Popcorn Festival. The festival boasts popcorn, fun food, a parade, free top-notch main-stage entertainment, arts, food contest and more. More details can be found on the festival web site, www.popcornfestival.com.

Everyone loves popcorn! Did you know Marion is the self-proclaimed Popcorn Capital of the World? A Marionite named George Brown, whose family started a popcorn production company in Marion in the early 1930s, collected and refurbished popcorn poppers and wagons. After many years the collection outgrew  his home and eventually was moved and became the Wyandot Popcorn Museum housed “under the big top” in Heritage Hall. Visit www.marionhistory.com or www.wyandotpopcornmus.com.

This will be the tenth year the Marion Area Convention & Visitors Bureau will offer their award winning Marion’s Amazing Treasures playing card to discover “treasures” in Marion, Ohio. Each year the bingo-type playing card offers twenty-four different, little-known locations from around Marion County where visitors, and residents alike, are able to collect a validation after visiting the location. From learning about the Harding Home or stopping by Heritage Hall and the Wyandot Popcorn Museum, each block represents a treasure adventure prompting you to find out something about Marion’s history all the while having fun with family or friends. Your goal is to visit as many of the locations as possible by the end of summer. Gathering of validations starts Memorial Day weekend and can be collected throughout the summer, until Labor Day.  At the manned locations you will get a logoed validation sticker, and at the unmanned locations you will find an icon or word inside the informational green box to transpose in the appropriate block. At the end of summer, return your card to the visitors’ bureau before the deadline to be included in the drawing for prizes. Start this adventure with a visit to the Marion Area Convention & Visitors Bureau web site at www.VisitMarionOhio.com, looking under “things to do” for Marion’s Amazing Treasures then download the playing card.

You may want to start your day with the treasure adventure and then find a park to take a break with a picnic lunch. Consider adding playtime at Project Playground in McKinley Park or conquer the dual sides or lazy river at Lincoln Park Family Aquatic Center.

Leave time to also take in a lazy afternoon of miniature golf at Paradise Park (www.Golfparadisepark.com) at 2777 Marion-Waldo Rd. or wild arcade and glow bowling at Bluefusion Entertainment (www.bluefusionfun.com) at 1340 Mt. Vernon Ave. There again you might want to gather up the Frisbees and try your hand at disc golf at any one of the many disc golf setups throughout Marion County. Yet another famiy-fun option might be to run or walk off some of that pent-up energy at the Marion Tallgrass Trail that now has three miles of paved trail.

Maybe you would rather put some wheels on your feet to get the wind through your hair. Zoomers Skate Club offers the perfect place to circle the hardwood.

Another new search-and-hunt adventure that knows no age is geocaching. This adventure is an inexpensive way to get out into nature, spend time with family or friends and exercise your mind. The growing sport has taken root in Marion with the release of the Marion County GeoTrail. The Marion trail consists of 22 caches and a bonus cache. Those who are able to complete 17 of the 22 caches can also claim a coveted geo coin (while supply lasts). The “game” can be played by using a handheld GPS device or a smart phone with a geocaching app allowing you to find the caches via GPS coordinates. Once found you then log your name and finds at geocaching.com where literally millions of coordinates of caches from all over the world can be located. You can download a Marion County Geo playing card from the Marion Area CVB web site, www.VisitMarionOhio.com and look under “things to do.”

Our atmospheric Marion Palace Theatre is a great place to take in a theatre production or a second run movie. For complete season details and weekend movie dates visit their web site www.marionpalace.org.

The Marion community has many unique attractions that make for an adventure for the whole family so start your overnight stay at www.VisitMarionOhio.com.

Love History? Love Steubenville

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Love Steubenville & Jefferson County!

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

The past becomes more meaningful as you journey along the historic trails of Jefferson County in eastern Ohio. Begin with one of the earliest settlements, in Steubenville: Historic Fort Steuben. A visit takes you back over 200 years to a time when hot showers and microwaves were never imagined. One of only two fully reconstructed forts in the state, Historic Fort Steuben recreates life on the early Ohio frontier in the ten wooden buildings within its picket walls, in the adjacent First Federal Land Office (an original log structure from 1801), and in the exhibits and programs in the Visitor Center.

Built on its original site overlooking the Ohio River, the Fort has an active archaeology dig and displays depicting the process of excavating, uncovering and recording the artifacts. A visitor can learn about early military drill and discipline, the skills and tools used by the frontiersmen, the hardships of camp life, and the methods of surveying that were critical in the first great mapping of land for sale and settlement. A more domestic picture is captured in the Land Office where early land owners registered their deeds. Besides the Exhibit Hall and the Museum Shop, the Fort Steuben Visitor Center is also home to the Steubenville/Jefferson County Visitor Center and is a resource for information on the attractions, dining, shopping and events in the area. On Thursday evenings from late May to  late July, free concerts are held in the Berkman Amphitheater in Fort Steuben Park, drawing hundreds to hear live entertainment.  Be sure to plan a trip around the annual festival, Ohio Valley Frontier Days when the Fort swarms with soldier, settler, surveyor and Native American reenactors who vividly bring the period to life. Music, games, dance, crafts and food add to the fun. Get more details at www.oldfortsteuben.com.

The past is also depicted in the larger than life Murals of Steubenville, 23 artful presentations of important as well as everyday events and people of the city’s history that are painted on buildings throughout the downtown. A self-guided tour can be obtained at the Visitor Center. One of the most photographed is an enormous mural of Steubenville’s native son, entertainer Dean Martin along with some of his Rat Pack buddies. Dean’s memory lives on in the annual Dean Martin Festival in June through musical tributes and entertainment. It culminates in late June with the Steubenville Hometown Celebration in the downtown with a classic car show, fun and games for the kids, balloons, mini-train rides, Trolley rides down Historic North Fourth Street, tours of historic mansions and churches and an Oldies Concert in the Berkman Amphitheater.

Downtown Steubenville is a busy place but you can find green space and a walking trail in Beatty Park or sit along the Ohio River and watch the barges and boats float by. Information on other recreational opportunities can be found at the Visitor Center.

Want to take a ride in the country? It’s only a few minutes away down St. Rt. 7 along the Ohio River before you find rolling green hills and rural back roads. The Jefferson County Scenic Byway begins at Rayland and is a combination of a greenway, a recreation trail and an area of historic interest. The 15-mile route follows Ohio 150 from Rayland on the east to US 250 on the west. Of particular historic interest is the village of Mount Pleasant, heavily involved with the Underground Railroad and the anti-slavery activities in the 19th century. The village contains a National Historic District which includes the Friends (Quakers) Yearly Meeting House, built in 1814, and the Free Labor Store, which refused to sell products made by slave labor. An annual open house and garden tour is held there the first weekend in August.

After strolling the quaint streets of Mount Pleasant, you should be ready for a hearty meal at the nearby Farm Restaurant in Adena which features delicious food as well as charming décor. Or maybe you would like to stop by Black Sheep Vineyard to enjoy a glass of their hand-crafted wine in a cozy country setting.

For more information on these and other attractions in Steubenville and Jefferson County, visit www.visitsteubenville.com or call 866-301-1787.

Hidden Places Secret Spaces

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Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

This opportunity was offered in the past but may not be currently available.

Hidden Places Secret Spaces offers an inside look at unique locations throughout historic downtown Marietta.

“People don’t realize the wonders these empty buildings hold,” said Lynne Sturtevant of Hidden Marietta. “There is such a rich history to the area and each of these spaces has a unique story waiting to be told.”

Tiber Way (Butler between Front and Second Streets) – Built in 1900 with a curved front so that trains could get around it, Tiber Way has housed various businesses. The tour will cover the section that served as the Marietta Sanitarium.

316 Third Street – The Bosworth House This wonderful downtown mansion was built in 1868. After the last private resident died in 1982, it became offices. Feel free to inspect it from top to bottom. This historic property is for sale.

243 Front Street – The Lock Keeper’s HouseThe Muskingum River locks were hand-cranked by a lock keeper on call 24 hours a day. His house served as his office as well as his residence. Marietta’s lock keeper’s house was the most elaborate and largest on the Muskingum. Come in and take a look around.

276 and 282 Front Street – American Flags and Poles and H. Rietz Company Antiques – featuring three stops in the historic Union Block – The Union Block has housed dozens of businesses and professional offices. Visit the warren of rooms on each business’s third floor and the basement of American Flags and Poles, which was the first floor before the street level was raised.

167 Front Street – The Marietta Brewing Company – Continue the Conversation – Join others and relax from 4 – 6pm in one of Marietta’s most beautiful restored historic buildings. Chat about local history, upcoming programs and downtown revitalization efforts. Cash bar. Drop in and introduce yourself!

After the tour is completed there will be social time from 4-6 p.m. with a cash bar at the Marietta Brewing Company. During this time participants in the tour will be able to chat about local history, downtown revitalization efforts and upcoming Marietta Main Street or Hidden Marietta programs.

For more information call 740- 885-8194 or visit www.mariettaohio.org.