Ohio Tours & Experience Travel


Free Ohio Tours and Demonstrations

More Tours Worth the Price of Admission



Christmas Story House

Admission to Christmas Story House in Cleveland: $7 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger. Group discounts are available.  The price of admission includes a guided tour of the house and yard and admittance into the museum.

  • When: Open Thursday – Saturday 10 a.m. -5 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. year-round (and Wednesdays November 1 through January 15). Tours of A Christmas Story House are conducted every half hour beginning at 10:30 AM. The last tour of the day begins at 4:30 PM. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve, New Years Day and Easter.
  • Where: (Map It) 3159 W. 11th Street ● Cleveland, OH  44109. Admission tickets to A Christmas Story House can be purchased at the museum (1103 Rowley Ave.) located directly across the street from the house. All tours start at the museum.
  • Phone: 216-298-4919
  • Web: www.AChristmasStoryHouse.com

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

American Whistle Corporation

Tours at American Whistle Corporation cost $4 per person.

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

Amish Heartland Tours

The Amish Heartland Tours vary in cost per package.

  • When: Open year round with advanced reservations
  • Location:  (Map It) 5568 Township Road 381, Millersburg, Ohio – Tours depart from Yoders Amish home, the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center and Holmes County Flea Market.
  • Phone: 330-893-3248
  • Web: amishheartlandtours.com/

Amish Heartland Tours in Millersburg:  Have you wondered why the Amish still live a life apart from society as we know it?  Let  expert tour guides explain the culture as it is in Holmes County. The tours could include stops at a candle maker, basket maker, leather works, Amish home chocolate business or a broom maker. Tours are taken in a comfortable 11 passenger high-top Sprinter sightseeing vehicle. Past tours have included dinner tours; history and heritage tours; artisan cookie tours and bakeries, buggies, brunch and back roads tour. There is also a do-it-yourself tour available at www.amishcountry-hitch.com.

Anthony Thomas Chocolates

Tours at Anthony Thomas Chocolates cost $2 per person age 19+ and $1 for those 3-18 years old. Admission fee may be used towards a purchase.

  • Open Tuesday and Thursday from 9am to 3pm. No appointment is necessary.
  • Location: (Map It) 1777 Arling Gate Lane in Columbus, Ohio
  • Phone: 877-226-3921
  • Web: www.anthony-thomas.com/

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

Bamboo Tour

The Bamboo Tour cost $10 per person.

  • When: Saturdays, April thru September -1 pm 
  • Location: (Map It) 7352 Gheils Carol Rd, Morrow, Ohio
  • Phone: 513-646-7687 (reservations requested) 
  • Web: burtonsbamboogarden.com/

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

Baseball Bat Making Tours

Phoenix Bat Company baseball bat making tours cost $10 and includes an engraved mini bat.

  • When: Tuesdays 6:00p, Thursdays & Fridays 1:30p (call to confirm)
  • Location: (Map It) 7801 Corporate Blvd., Ste. E in Plain City, Ohio
  • Phone: 614-873-7776
  • Web: https://www.phoenixbats.com/

Phoenix Bat Company baseball bat making tours: Come see a wood bat being made on the biggest, baddest bat making machine anywhere! Spend an hour and experience a level of bat making like no other: Learn how to make a great bat – from wood to design. Go on the shop floor and see bats made right in front of you. Hear about today’s pros … and get your hands on their bats. Step back 100+ years to bats from baseball’s start. Ohio’s own pro approved wood bat manufacturer.  Just 20 minutes from downtown Columbus and only 5 minutes from the I-270, Rt. 33 West interchange on the NW side of the city.

BIBLEWALK

Tours at BIBLEWALK range from $3.75/person – 20/person.

  • Family and group discounts. Kids 5 and under are free) 
  • Open daily April – October from 9-5 Mon – Sat and 3-7 on Sun.  Nov -Mar 10-5 Mon-Sat and closed Sun
  • Location: (Map It) 500 Tingley Ave. in Mansfield, Ohio  44905
  • Phone: 1-800-222-0139
  • Web: livingbiblemuseum.org/

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

Dungeon Descent Adventure

Tours at Dungeon Descent Adventure at the Sandusky County Historic Jail in Fremont, Ohio.

  • When: Usually on a Monday night once per month (most months).
  • Location: (Map It) Sandusky County Historic Jail at 622 Croghan Street, Fremont, Ohio
  • Phone: 419-332-4470
  • Web: www.sanduskycounty.org

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

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

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

EarthShip at Blue Rock Station

Tours to EarthShip at Blue Rock Station cost $10/adult.

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

GoodTime III

The GoodTime III tours of Cleveland and Lake Erie vary.

  • Open: Memorial Day Weekend – Labor Day, with limited Public Schedule in May & September, Tues.-Sat.; Noon and 3pm, Sunday; 1:00pm and 3:30pm
  • Location: (Map It) East Ninth Street Pier, North Coast Harbor in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Phone: 216-861-5110 or 888-916-SHIP
  • Web: http://goodtimeiii.com/site/

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

Great Lakes Touring Company

The Great Lakes Touring Company bicycle tours cost $40 per tour and bicycles are included.

  • When: daily 
  • Location: (Map It) Eight locations in Cleveland, including University Circle, Area neighborhoods and the park system
  • Phone: 330-532-8687
  • Web: www.BikeCLE.com

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

Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary

happy-trails-farm-sanctuary-web

Admission to Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary is $20 per person. Youths ages 6-17 are $10 each. Kids 5 and younger are free. Groups may include up to six people. Reservations are required.

  • Open: Tour are on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 11:00am; 12:45pm; 2:30pm; 4:15pm from May through October.
  • Location: (Map It) 5623 New Milford Rd. in Ravenna, Ohio
  • Phone: 330-296-5914

Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary is a sanctuary where horses and farm animals arrive from situations of severe abuse, neglect or abandonment. It’s a facility where healing takes place. Where miracles happen. Where people connect with the animals. And where kindness and compassion are taught. Hear the animals’ stories and learn about their healing process. Learn about Happy Trails Amish retirement program, nursing home visitation program and community outreach. Meet the animals in person. Get a hands-on tour. Be prepared to give a pig a belly rub. Hug a mini horse. Pet a cockfighting rooster. Meet 1,000 lb. farm pigs. Play with goats. Visit the rescued horses.

Your tour fee directly supports the rescue programs at Happy Trails. It pays for things like grain, hay, straw, veterinary expenses, medications, hoof trimming, shelter repairs, and any other special needs of the animal.

Tours last about an hour and a half.

Lake Erie Lighthouses

Tours of Lake Erie lighthouses in Ohio featuring Marblehead Lighthouse, South Bass Island Lighthouse, Toledo Harbor Lighthouse, Vermilion Lighthouse and The Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse.

Marblehead Lighthouse

  • Contact via East Harbor State Park at 419-734-4424 or click here
  • Location: 110 Lighthouse Drive, Marblehead OH 43440
  • Days and hours: Grounds open daily; tower and adjacent museum open 1 pm – 4:45 pm Monday through Friday, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, as well as the second Saturday of the month, June 1 through October.
  • Fee: No The Marblehead Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the Great Lakes, has guided sailors safely along the rocky shores of Marblehead Peninsula since 1822. Today, the Marblehead Lighthouse State Park invites visitors to explore the fascination history of maritime commerce, daring rescues at sea, and the unique lifestyle of the lighthouse keeper as technology changed the profession over time. 

South Bass Island Lighthouse

  • Contact via The OSU/Ohio Sea Grant office at 419-285-2341 or www.ohioseagrant.osu.edu
  • Location: the southern tip of South Bass Island.
  • Days and hours: Thursdays to Sundays from 1-4 during the summer.
  • Fee

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

The Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse

  • Contact via the Fairport Harbor Historical Society at 440-354-4825
  • www.fairportlighthouse.com
  • Location: 129 Second St., Fairport Harbor OH 44077.
  • Days and hours: Open from the end of May through the third weekend of September on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, from 1 to 6 pm; special tours are available by appointment.
  • Fee: Yes 

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

Toledo Harbor Lighthouse

Vermilion Lighthouse

  • 480 Main St., P.O. Box 435, Vermilion OH 44089
  • 800-893-1485 or 440-967-3467
  • www.inlandseas.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jet Express

Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail

  • P.O. Box 1639, Sandusky OH 44870
  • No phone number found

Coastal Ohio
www.coastalohio.com

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

Lake Erie Shores and Islands Welcome Center

  • 770 S.E. Catawba Rd. (St. Rte. 53), Port Clinton OH 43452
  • 800-441-1271
  • Web: Click here

Lake Erie Shores and Islands Welcome Center

  • 4424 Milan Rd. (US Rte. 250), Sandusky OH 44870
  • 800-255-3743
  • Web: Click here

Marblehead Peninsula Chamber of Commerce

  • 5681 East Harbor Rd. Ste. C, Marblehead, OH 43440
  • 419-734-9777

Miller Boat Line

Franz Theodore Stone Laboratory Field Station

  • P.O. Box 119, Put-in-Bay OH 43456
  • 419-285-2341
  • Bayview Office 
  • 419-285-1800
  • Web: Click here

This is an excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler eMagazine. Written by Betty Winslow.

Longhorns Head to Tail Tours

The Longhorns Head to Tail Tours group rates:  10 – 19 guests are $10/person, 20 – 39 guests are $9/person, 40 or more are $7/person.

  • Open: April through October by appointment
  • Location: (Map It) 35000 Muskrat Rd. in Barnesville, Ohio
  • Phone: 740-758-5050
  • Web: www.longhorntours.com/

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

Ohio Caverns

The Ohio Caverns tours were named one of the six best over all caves in America by Parade Magazine and are known as “America’s Most Colorful Caverns.”

  • Open for tours daily April 1 – October 31 from 9am – 5pm; November 1 – March 31 from 9am – 4pm (Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)
  • Location: (Map It) 2210 East State Route 245 in West Liberty, Ohio 43357
  • Phone: 937-465-4017
  • Web: www.ohiocaverns.com
  • Play Video

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

Ohio State Reformatory Tours

Tours at Ohio State Reformatory (OSR) vary by type of tour. Self-guided tours are $9/adult.

  • Open: Daily tours offered April 1 – September 1 from 11am – 4pm. Open for ghost hunts and walks by appointment.
  • Location: (Map It) 100 Reformatory Rd. in Mansfield, Ohio
  • Phone: 419-522-2644
  • Web: http://www.mrps.org/

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

Perkins Observatory

The Perkins Observatory at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio.

  • Open Friday and Saturday nights but call in advance
  • Location: (Map It) 3199 Columbus Pike in Delaware, Ohio
  • Phone: 740-363-1257
  • Web: http://perkins.owu.edu/

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

Perry’s Cave Tour

Tours at Perry’s Cave cost $8/adult, $4.50/child 6-12, and free for kids younger than 6.

  • Open: April and October: Weekends only: 11a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Open: May thru September: 7 Days a Week: 10am to 6pm
  • Location: (Map It) 979 Catawba Avenue in Put-In-Bay, Ohio
  • Web: http://www.perryscave.com/

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

The Cleveland Arcade

The historic Cleveland Arcade shopping mall in downtown Cleveland is a great self-guided tour.

  • Open Mondays through Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Location: (Map It) 401 Euclid Avenue · Cleveland, Ohio
  • Phone: 216-696-1408
  • Web: theclevelandarcade.com/

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

Appalachian Discovery & Birding Trail

Tour the Appalachian Discovery & Birding Trail in Adams County, Ohio.

The Appalachian Discovery & Birding Trail:  Welcome to Southern Ohio’s driving trail featuring wildlife in flight and historical sites across the rural countryside at the foothills of Appalachia. The forested landscape stretches some 200 miles. The trail is intended to be a weekend excursion for visitors to see the region’s most productive birding hotspots, nestle up at quality lodges or cabins, and eat at a number of great dining facilities, and do some sightseeing at the unique historical attractions dotting the countryside. This year-round tour features the springtime migration, breeding season, autumn’s rich palette of colors and winter’s white ground coat making it a snap to see eagles, hawks and ducks. During summertime, Adams County has its specialties for birding such as blue grosbeak, chuck-will’s-widow, and prairie, yellow-throated and worm-eating warblers. The trip is perfect for those looking to spend a couple of days in the slow-lane of life and take in the natural splendor that is increasingly hard to find.

Barn Quilt Tour of Adams County

Driving tour of rural Barn Quilts in Adams County.

  • Open daily
  • Location: (Map It) Adams County in Southwest Ohio
  • Phone: 937-544-5639
  • Web: Click here

Barn Quilt Tour of Adams County, Ohio:  In Adams County, 20th Century ‘Mail Pouch’ ads adorning Ohio barns are being snuffed out by a 21st Century phenomenon – Barn Quilt Squares. The painted Barn Quilt Squares began when Donna Sue Groves wanted to create something to honor her mother’s passion, quilting, and did so with a large painting on the side of their barn. This sparked a movement that has swept Adams County. Adding to the serenity and charm of a lazy rural drive amidst the foothills of Appalachia, the “clothesline” of quilts highlights the adventure with its colorful display of unique artistry dotting the countryside.

Barn Quilt Tour of Miami County

Driving tours of Miami County, Ohio Barn Quilts.

  • When: Free driving tour anytime
  • Location: (Map It) Begin at 405 SW Public Square, Suite 272 in Troy, OH  45373
  • Phone: 800-348-8993
  • Web: www.homegrowngreat.com/

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bear’s Mill Tours

Tours of Bear’s Mill, an authentic and historic stone grinding flourmill in Greenville. 

  • Admission is free and guided tours available for a fee during business hours.  Tour arrangements can be made for a fee during non-business hours, too.
  • Open year round: March – December open daily 11-5. Jan & Feb open Thur to Sun 11-5
  • Location: (Map It) 6450 Arcanum-Bear’s Mill Road in Greenville, Ohio 
  • Phone:937-548-5112 
  • Web: www.bearsmill.com 

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

Boyd’s Crystal Art Glass

Cambridge Ohio glass blowing tour of Boyd’s Crystal Art Glass.

  • Open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Location: (Map It) 1203 Morton Ave. in Cambridge, Ohio
  • Phone: 740-439-2077
  • Web: www.boydglass.net/

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

The Canal Experience

Ride an authentic, mule-drawn canal boat for $6/adult, $5/senior 60 and over, $3/child 3 to 12. Free tours of historic Isaac Ludwig Mill and General Store.

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

Clifton Mill & Gorge

The Clifton Mill & Gorge is open at various times. It is recommended to call ahead before visiting.

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

Cooper’s Cider Mill

Tours of Cooper’s Cider Mill factory are Monday – Friday from 9am -11:30am and 1pm – 3:30pm. The store is open daily.

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

Crystal Traditions

Glassblowing tours at Crystal Traditions in Tiffin, Ohio.

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

D. Picking Copper Kettle

Tours of D. Picking Copper Kettle Company in Bucyrus, Ohio.

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

Garretts Mill Diner

Tours of Garretts Mill Diner, a historic gristmill, restaurant and micro-brewery

  • Open 6am – 1:30pm Mon – Sat and 8:30am – 1:30pm on Sun
  • Location: (Map It) 4226 Hudson Drive in Stow, Ohio
  • Phone: 330-926-1344

The Olde Mill Restaurant/Brewpub is located inside Garretts Mill. Guests can tour of the grist mill anytime. This historic building was built in 1804 and still operates as a gristmill, restaurant and micro-brewery. See grain ground to flour by 3,000-pound millstones, move to different floors via conveyer belt and finally sifted and bagged.

Harveysburg Free Black School

Tours of Harveysburg Free Black School are by appointment only.

  • Location: (Map It) 23 North St. · Harveysburg, Ohio
  • Phone: 513-897-6195

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

Jungle Jim’s International Market

jungle-jims-cincinnati

Take a self-guided tour of Jungle Jim’s International Market daily 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

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

Featuring:

  • The Jungle Scene complete with waterfall and wildlife
  • The General Mills Big G Cereal Bowl Band perched on the S.S. Minnow
  • Singing Creatures
  • The Brain (a pesky know-it-all employee)
  • European gourmet village
  • The Cake Canopy, International Elephant Gates and more.

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

King’s Glass Engraving

Glass blowing demonstrations at King’s Glass Engraving in Tiffin, Ohio.

  • Location: (Map It) 181 S. Washington St. in Tiffin, Ohio
  • Phone: 419-447-0232

King’s Glass Engraving in Tioffin: Daily demonstrations of glass engraving are made available to visitors. Engraved glass includes fluted champagne glasses, crystal bells and more.

KitchenAid™ Experience

Tour the KitchenAid factory in Greenville, Ohio or enjoy a cooking demonstration at the store downtown.

  • Open: Call  1-888-886-8318 for store hours and factory tour schedule
  • Location: 423 South Broadway in Greenville, Ohio
  • Phone: 1-888-886-8318
  • Web: Click here
  • Play Video

The KitchenAid™ Experience factory tours and cooking classes in Greenville, Ohio:  Proclaimed to be more than a store, it’s a mixing, blending, slicing, juicing culinary adventure!

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

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

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

Lafferty Funeral Collection

Tours of the Lafferty Funeral Collection are open Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. or by appointment.

  • Location: (Map It) 205 S. Cherry St. in West Union, Ohio
  • Phone: 937-544-5454 or 937-544-2121

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

Lake Erie Lighthouses in Ohio

Ohio Tours of Lake Erie lighthouses, including the Marblehead Lighthouse, South Bass Island Lighthouse, Toledo Harbor Lighthouse, Vermilion Lighthouse and The Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse.

Marblehead Lighthouse

  • Contact via East Harbor State Park at 419-734-4424 or click here
  • Location: 110 Lighthouse Drive, Marblehead OH 43440
  • Days and hours: Grounds open daily; tower and adjacent museum open 1 pm – 4:45 pm Monday through Friday, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, as well as the second Saturday of the month, June 1 through October.
  • Fee: No The Marblehead Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the Great Lakes, has guided sailors safely along the rocky shores of Marblehead Peninsula since 1822. Today, the Marblehead Lighthouse State Park invites visitors to explore the fascination history of maritime commerce, daring rescues at sea, and the unique lifestyle of the lighthouse keeper as technology changed the profession over time. 

South Bass Island Lighthouse

  • Contact via The OSU/Ohio Sea Grant office at 419-285-2341 or www.ohioseagrant.osu.edu
  • Location: the southern tip of South Bass Island.
  • Days and hours: Thursdays to Sundays from 1-4 during the summer.
  • Fee

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

The Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse

  • Contact via the Fairport Harbor Historical Society at 440-354-4825
  • www.fairportlighthouse.com
  • Location: 129 Second St., Fairport Harbor OH 44077.
  • Days and hours: Open from the end of May through the third weekend of September on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, from 1 to 6 pm; special tours are available by appointment.
  • Fee: Yes 

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

Toledo Harbor Lighthouse

Vermilion Lighthouse

  • 480 Main St., P.O. Box 435, Vermilion OH 44089
  • 800-893-1485 or 440-967-3467
  • www.inlandseas.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jet Express

Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail

  • P.O. Box 1639, Sandusky OH 44870
  • No phone number found

Coastal Ohio
www.coastalohio.com

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

Lake Erie Shores and Islands Welcome Center

  • 770 S.E. Catawba Rd. (St. Rte. 53), Port Clinton OH 43452
  • 800-441-1271
  • Web: Click here

Lake Erie Shores and Islands Welcome Center

  • 4424 Milan Rd. (US Rte. 250), Sandusky OH 44870
  • 800-255-3743
  • Web: Click here

Marblehead Peninsula Chamber of Commerce

  • 5681 East Harbor Rd. Ste. C, Marblehead, OH 43440
  • 419-734-9777

Miller Boat Line

Franz Theodore Stone Laboratory Field Station

  • P.O. Box 119, Put-in-Bay OH 43456
  • 419-285-2341
  • Bayview Office 
  • 419-285-1800
  • Web: Click here

This is an excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler eMagazine. Written by Betty Winslow.

Ohio Lincoln Highway

Take a road trip along the Ohio Lincoln Highway Historic Byway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Longaberger Homestead

The Longaberger Homestead is open for tours Mon, Tue, Thr, Fri at 10:30a, 11:30a and 12:30p.

Longaberger headquarters is inside the world’s largest basket as the entire building’s architecture is shaped like a giant basket including the handles. A visit to the Homestead will treat everyone to a comprehensive gallery, plant tours and basket-making demonstrations. And there is also a theatre where visitors can view the history of the Longaberger company.

Middlefield Cheese House

The Middlefield Cheese House is open Mondays through Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

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

Mosser Glass

Tours at Mosser Glass are Monday – Friday 8:15 – 9:45 and 10:45 – 2:00 (Tours are not available the first two full weeks of July or the last two weeks of December).

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

Ohio Agricultural Research Center

For tours at Ohio Agricultural Research Center, call for hours.

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

Old Stone Church

Take a self-guided tour of the historic Old Stone Church in downtown Cleveland’s Public Square.

  • Open: The Public Square doors are open Monday through Thursday, 11:30 – 1:30.  However visitors are welcome any day, 9:00 – 4:30. They may enter the church through the 1380 Ontario doors.
  • Location: (Map It) 91 Public Square in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Phone: 216-241-6145
  • Web: http://www.oldstonechurch.org/

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

Old Woman Creek

Visit Old Woman Creek in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.

  • Visitor Center Open Tuesday – Friday from 9am – 4pm and weekends 1pm – 5pm. Closed Monday. Trails open dawn to dusk every day.
  • Location: (Map It) 2514 Cleveland Road, East in Huron, Ohio – Erie County east of Huron, Ohio on US Rt 6
  • Phone: 419-433-4601
  • Web: Click here

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

Playhouse Square Center

Tour dates at the Cleveland Playhouse Square Center vary and our listed here.

  • Location: (Map It) State Theater · 1519 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Phone: 216-771-4444 and groups of 10 or more call 216-640-8531
  • Web: www.playhousesquare.org/

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

Akron Quaker Square

For tours of Akron Quaker Square, call for hours.

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

Ross County Barn Quilt Tours

Tours of Ross County Barn Quilts are available all year.

  • Location: (Map It) Ross County Barn Quilt Tour guides can be found at the Ross-Chillicothe Convention & Visitors Bureau at 45 E. Main Street in downtown Chillicothe.
  • Phone: 740-702-7677
  • Web: www.VisitChillicotheOhio.com

chillicothe-barn-quiltsThe Ross County, Ohio Barn Quilt Tours:  Ross-Chillicothe Convention & Visitors Bureau is proud to offer residents and visitors the opportunity to explore Ross County’s beautiful countryside while locating Barn Quilts. This self-guided tour features 65 quilts located throughout many of the communities in Ross County. Some of the sites will be found in Chillicothe, Kingston, Richmond Dale, South Salem, Bainbridge, and Frankfort.

Barn Quilts became popular tours started in Adams County, Ohio. This humble and artistic expression of quilting sparked an interest in neighboring counties and states and has caught on like wildfire across America. Today, 24 states and over 1,800 barn quilts grave this countryside. Linked together, they create a “clothesline of quilts” across America that celebrates the art and history of quilting and showcases the uniqueness of each barn or building that they adorn.

Severance Hall & Cleveland Orchestra

Tour Severance Hall, home to the Cleveland Orchestra by calling or visiting the web below for tour times.

  • Location: (Map It) 11001 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, OH 44106-1796
  • Phone: Reservations are requested and can be made by calling the Severance Hall Ticket Office at (216) 231-1111 or (800) 686-1141. Private tours can be arranged for a fee by calling (216) 231-7421. Individual tickets for Cleveland Orchestra concerts are currently available through the Severance Hall Ticket Office at (216) 231-1111 or (800) 686-1141. In addition to the free public tours, Severance Restaurant is also open for pre-concert dining from 12:00-3:00 p.m. on these dates. For restaurant reservations, call (216) 231-7373. The Cleveland Orchestra Store will open at 1:00 p.m. on these dates, and will remain open through concert intermission.
  • Web: Click here

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

J.M. Smucker Company Store & Cafe

The J.M. Smucker Company Store & Café in Orrville, Ohio.

  • Store Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm (Closed Sundays) 
  • Address: (Map It) 333 Wadsworth Road (Rt. 57, ¼-mile north of Rt. 30) in Orrville, Ohio
  • Phone: 330-684-1500
  • Web: Click here

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

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

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

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

Tour of Ye Olde Mill

Take a tour of Ye Olde Mill at the Velvet Ice Cream Company in Utica, Ohio.

  • Visitors Center with hourly tours
  • Ohio’s only ice cream museum
  • Ice cream production viewing gallery
  • 1817 Ice Cream Parlor
  • The Mill Room Restaurant
  • Gift shop
  • Weekend family entertainment
  • Picnic park and shelter houses
  • Children’s playground
  • Nature trails
  • Farm animal petting zoo
  • Buckeye tree grove

Open May – October (call for hours)
Location: (
Map It) 11324 Mt. Vernon Rd. in Utica, Ohio
Phone: 740-892-3921 –
www.velveticecream.com

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

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

VELVET ADVENTURE BEGINS AT VISITORS CENTER

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

Open May 1 to October 31  

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

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

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

Tours of Ye Olde Mill and Factory

Weekdays: 11 am to 3 pm on the hour

Cleveland West Side Market

Take a tour of the historic Cleveland West Side Market.

  • Open Mondays and Wednesdays from 7:00 am – 4:00 pm and Fridays and Saturdays from 7:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Location: (Map It) 1979 W 25th St. in Cleveland, OH 44113 – On the corner of West 25th and Lorain in Cleveland’s Ohio City Neighborhood
  • Phone: 216-664-3386
  • Web: http://www.westsidemarket.org/

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

More Things to do This Month in Ohio

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