One of the things I love about following various Instagram accounts is getting new ideas for where to take our hiking excursions. Whipp’s Ledges within Hinckley Reservation was one of the places that caught my eye for a family hike. I fell in love with this type of typography after last year’s trip to Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Hinckley Reservation is part of the Cleveland Metroparks system. While we only hiked the Ledges Trail, there appear to be 7 foottrails within the reservation, one of which is an all-purpose trail for hiking, biking, and rollerblading.
Whipp’s Ledges Trail is accessed from State Rd. Note: When we were there, a bridge was being repaired on State Road. You must enter the hiking area from the north.
There is a map at the entrance to the trail, but I’d recommend printing a trail map and taking it, just in case. There are blazes, but not many signs, making it a little confusing.
The ledges are really spectacular. It’s hard to believe that this type of place is just minutes from shopping malls and restaurants. Ohio keeps surprising me, and this is a gem of a place to hike.
The hiking is rugged, so I wouldn’t recommend these trails for any younger than 3. If you have a hiking carrier, you’d probably be ok! Also, prepare for MUD. Our kiddos wore their snow boots so we wouldn’t ruin their tennis shoes. The trail is only 1.25 miles in length though, so it’s definitely doable with young ones who tire easily.
Probably the thing I loved most about Whipps Ledges was that it was one of those places that just made you feel really SMALL. As a Christian, I’m always reminded that there’s something much bigger than me- and that HE is in control, not me. Taking our kids to these places is a nice jumping off point for those talks, too- how we worship a great Creator who made this beautiful place for us to enjoy. #endsdeepandmeaningfulconvo
Anyhow- Have you been to Hinckley Reservation? If you’re interested in going, my friend Tonya at The Traveling Praters covered nearby Worden’s Ledges. Next time we’ll definitely be checking them out.
Back in December, my mom was asking me what kind of Christmas present she could get for my kids. Knowing we were relocating to Mansfield right after Christmas, I thought that money towards a family membership to the Buckeye Children’s Museum would be just the ticket (pun intended) to keeping the kids occupied on dreary Ohio days!
We’ve been three times so far, and it’s safe to say that this may be the most well-loved Christmas present! The kids are always asking to go back!
My children are currently 3, 5, and 7; and they all stay highly engaged throughout our visits and beg to stay longer. When we purchased the membership, I worried that my 7 year old would tire of the museum, but he enjoys playing with his younger siblings and has never complained of boredom. There are exhibits that older children may especially appreciate, such as the model train and k’nex station.
As a mom, I appreciate that although the space is large and the exhibits are plentiful, it’s fairly easy for me to watch my children even if they are at separate stations. A tip for caregivers: if you’re starting to get weary from all the excitement, ask your children or grandchildren to put on a special play for you. Sit back in the restored theatre seats with some (fake) popcorn and watch your little thespians.
If you’re coming from out of town, you may also want to pack a spare pair of pants (or shoes), for your budding scientists. The water table is a HUGE hit, but we’ve left with a wet shoe more than once. I am thankful the museum provides these awesome bibs to keep their shirts dry. There are restrooms on both floors for your convenience.
From an imaginary camping adventure to a McDonald’s drive-thru (by Cozy Coupe), there’s make-believe play for all ages. On this last visit my eldest child taught the younger ones their letters and numbers in the one-room schoolhouse.
How fun is this sensory room? FYI: This is the only space that they ask that you remove your shoes.
One of the things I love most about the Little Buckeye Children’s Museum is seeing how my kids interact with each other and play together throughout each exhibit. They share their enthusiasm and model to each other what they are learning.
A family membership at the Little Buckeye Children’s Museum is currently $100. For a family of 5, it would only take 2.5 visits to pay for the membership. This is one investment I can endorse! Not only are you allowing your child to engage in a play – the BEST type of education- but you’re also investing in a small city in Ohio.
NOTE: There is no parking lot for the museum. On-street parking is a 2-hour limit meter. Pack your quarters and set your timer! Otherwise, we park in the free public parking, which is accessed off of Diamond Street, just south of 4th Street. It’s a one block walk from there.
Between Labor Day & Memorial Day, the museum is open Wednesdays- Sundays. We prefer to visit on Wednesdays because it’s typically very quiet! Check their calendar for special events.
What does that mean for the casual traveler like me? You must call and get permission to access the site. Don’t just show up!
The Mohican Outdoor School has field trip groups on many days and the first time I called they said we could not visit. If you’re coming from out of town, you can call and set up a time in advance, but since we live close-by I just called on a particularly nice day to see if the site was available.
The Falls are actually across the street from the School. My directions were to go to the school first and check-in. Don’t do like I did and mistake someone’s home for the office! Oye! The school office is actually located just below the visitor parking area. If you see a dumpster, you’re on the right track (how welcoming)! The director I spoke with (after opening the door to her personal home), said they are working on getting better signage. Thank you and amen. 🙂
After you park near the Field Trip Center (across the road from the school), you will need to follow signs that are located on tall poles or trees. They aren’t the easiest to find!
We actually got off of the trail at one part and needed to cross the creek on foot to get back on the trail. There are no blazes.
Then, once we got to the bridge where you view the falls, there were signs saying the trail we were on was actually closed. Uhhh???
Normally I would have turned around, but I thought I should honor the sign. So on the way back we followed signs for the “main trail” and we ended up about 300 yards down the road from our van. Hmmmm.
If you go, I’d ask for very clear directions from the Outdoor School. I would not have been concerned except I was alone with my three kids AND there is no cell phone reception in this area. That’s not the best combination!
The Hemlock Falls trail is slippery when muddy, so wear your boots! Also, our youngest is 3 and she was able to manage the trail with a little help from me. I wouldn’t bring much younger children unless you have them in a hiking carrier. It’s very hilly.
The # to call for Mohican School of Outdoors: 419-938-6671
Hemlock Falls is located approximately 25 minutes south of Mansfield, OH or 30 minutes north of Mount Vernon, OH.
The way people talked about having kids, I thought my life was ovvveerrr once we had a few babies. But hooray- it doesn’t have to be! If you’re a natural explorer you can still get out and enjoy fantastic scenery WITH kids in tow.
These 5 Ohio places have been tried and tested by our family. Some are even stroller-friendly!
Hocking Hills area
Hocking Hills is full of natural beauty in all seasons! One of our favorite times to visit is winter because of all of the ice formations.
Two areas in particular are perfect for parents of small children: Ash Cave and Conkles Hollow. Ash Cave has a 1/4 mile handicap accessible trail that is perfect for strollers or new walkers. The trail does get very busy on weekends, holidays, and in the fall, so plan accordingly (i.e. you may NEED the stroller for containment).
Conkles Hollow has a one mile disabled access trail. This is also perfect for a stroller, BUT due to the cliff walls, a lot of sunlight does not hit the sidewalk. We’ve found this trail to be fairly icy and slushy in winter. Make sure kids wear snow boots, and you may want to forego the stroller. The ice formations on the rocks make this totally worth a little slipping and sliding! In summer, this is the perfect place to give the stroller a go- I’d stick with a single if possible because the trail isn’t very wide.
A ancient flint deposit used by Native Americans and now owned by the Ohio Historical Society, Flint Ridge has a few different hiking options for your family. One of the trails is mostly boardwalk/paved trail and is perfect for for strollers. There are other trails past the museum that are ok for ages 2+ to walk (no steep cliff faces). We visited last winter and it was MUDDY, so don’t wear good shoes. The museum is open March-October, so plan accordingly.
Located near Flint Ridge is Blackhand Gorge. Blackhand Gorge is named after a sandstone formation. A four-mile bike trail is perfect for your family’s stroller or bikes, and you’ll still see lots of great scenery even if you don’t get off of the beaten path. The Canal-Lock trail showcases of piece of the Old Ohio-Erie Canal towpath. The kids will love this, and even toddlers could handle the walk (with a little help from mom or dad). More info HERE.
Ohio’s first and only National Park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park really surprised me! My favorite spot in the park was the Virginia Kendall State Park (aka The Ledges). This wouldn’t be ideal for a stroller, but I’d say ages 4+ would have no problems handling the stairs and grades. Within Ohio, this is second only to Hocking Hills as a place that will remind your family how small we really are in comparison to Creation.
Deep Lock Quarry (within Summit Metro Parks) is also very doable with young ones. This trail would be best used with a jogging stroller and you will have to miss one small part of the loop, BUT it’s still worth the trip. Our kiddos loved climbing on the giant sandstone rocks. More info HERE.
This Ohio nature preserve doesn’t involve an vigorous hike, but it does offer up views of a rare coastal wetland habitat. The kids enjoyed viewing different birds, seeing lots of chipmunks, and then ending up on the shores of Lake Erie. This path is definitely stroller-friendly until you get to the beach (no swimming allowed).
2016 was a year of big travel and big changes for our family. We traveled Down Under in January and moved an hour away from our home of 7 years just two days after Christmas. Now that the boxes are unpacked we’re settled in to our new city (kinda) – I wanted to share with the world our travel plans for 2017.
That’s some lofty travel goals! Good thing we have 11. 5 months.
Outside of Ohio, we don’t have a bunch of concrete plans.
One trip that is booked is Topsail Island, North Carolina. Our family has been there numerous times, I think this will be Mr. YT and I’s 9th time! On our last visit C was only 9 months old, so this time should (hopefully) be a little more relaxed- and include more sleep.
On the way to the beach I’d like to cross off New River Gorge, WV. This National River was on my list last year, but the timing never quite worked out! It’s only a quick jaunt off of I-77 so I don’t see why we couldn’t leave a couple of days early for NC.
Fort Wayne, IN- June will take us to Fort Wayne for the Mr’s work conference. (Last year it was at Belterra Resort & Casino and we traveled alone). We’re planning to bring the kids this time and make it a family adventure. Did you know that Fort Wayne has one of the Top 10 zoos in the nation?
Beyond that, we hope to do another week of travel in the USA or Canada. I’m thinking a Canadian Road Trip to Montreal and Quebec City might be fabulous, but then I get sidetracked thinking of some Southwest miles we’ve accrued and how we could use them for Texas (Joanna Gaines, I love you) or Southern California. My van is OLD (we only buy used cars with cash) so I’m not sure it could even handle a road trip. Maybe that will pressure is into flying!
I’ve also got my eye on a few flower festivals. Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan is fairly close to home and looks like a fun weekend. I’d also like to head south again- New Orleans? The Lowcountry? Eh, first things first- we better sell our vacant home.
Have you made your travel plans for 2017? Where are you headed? Have you been to Fort Wayne?
Walnut Creek,Ohio is known for rolling hills, idyllic farmland, craft shops, and family-style foods. It’s a hospitable place, one oozing with country-styled B & Bs and hotels. That’s absolutely awesome- if that is your style. But if you’re looking for something a little more edgy, shiny, and modern- I recommend taking a closer look at The Wallhouse Hotel.
We stayed as guests of The Wallhouse in a premium corner suite. The two-room suite was extra large. I don’t know about you, but this mama can get a little crabby when we’re all packed in like sardines, don’t worry, you will have plenty of space here.
The fridge is also a helpful size for storing leftovers (oh, those hearty Amish meals) and there was a microwave as well.
The sofa was a pull-out bed. Our kids are used to sleeping on these when we stay in smaller suites so they volunteered to sleep in the living room. This was probably so they could get their own TV. Nonetheless, there are two TVs in the suite, which means the kiddos can be watching Disney Jr, while you and the hubs relax with a little Chip & Joanna Gaines.
The bedroom was large enough to sleep 4. I loved the little office nook. The window there offered a great view of the valley:
My only complaint about the room was the bathroom. Now, don’t get me wrong, the bathroom is roomy and high-end. I love the title work throughout and the huge, walk-in shower. Here’s the deal, though- the bathroom ONLY has a shower. It isn’t a deal breaker for us because our youngest is old enough to stand in the shower, but if I was traveling with a baby or toddler, I’d want to know ahead of time. So, now you know!
The Wallhouse Hotel builds “fresh” into their hotel by using solid surfaces that can be wiped clean. You can see that the above bathroom is immaculate, but even common seating areas and the lobby screamed “clean.” No moldy looking fake flowers in these spaces! As a mom, knowing that everything can be easily disinfected (did you see the dura-leather sofa in the suite?) is a HUGE perk.
My kids were also totally smitten by the pool. If you follow me on Facebook, I posted that when my kids were headed for the pool, an employee saw them and offered up a giant basket of pool noodles and floaties. Be still my mama heart! They would have stayed all day if we had let them!
I love food almost as much as I love my family #jokingnotjoking. Breakfast is included at the hotel and it’s not just some cereal and a donut, it’s a full, hearty meal. I always look for hotels that offer a full breakfast because it saves us money in the long run. If all of our bellies are full we avoid extra snacking and an early lunch, which also helps with the extra calories after those maple-glazed cinnamon rolls! Haha!
I think The Wallhouse Hotel would be a great stop for your family on your next Amish Country adventure. If you live nearby, it would also make the perfect staycation. Give me my own TV and some cinnamon rolls and I am SOLD!
Have you been to Amish Country before? Have you ever done a staycation? Maybe you’re mad for cinnamon maple rolls like me?
**We were provided accommodation at The Wallhouse Hotel, however, all opinions are my own**
Some of the best travel happens right outside your door.
We’ve lived nearly on top of the Newark Earthworks for the past 7 years, yet never really fully explored them. When some nice November weather hit us this past week, I realized that NOW was the time to visit.
The Newark Earthworks are the largest set of geometric earthen enclosures IN THE WORLD. The earthworks were built by the Hopewell culture between 100 B.C. and 500 A.D. Over the years, the growth of Newark destroyed many of the earthworks (very sad), but three major pieces still survive. We visited 2 of the 3 sites managed by the Ohio History Connection.
The Octagon Earthworks are on the grounds of the Moundbuilders Country Club. While this is a private golf course, visitors to the earthworks can access this overlook any time of the year (just watch for flying golf balls). The entire grounds is only open to the public four times per year (see the above link for details).
The earthworks are not considered burial mounds, researchers have concluded that they have some significance in aligning with the rising and setting of the moon. Covering over 50 acres, the earthworks are mostly 5-6 feet high.
The Great Circle Earthwork is nearly 12,000 feet in diameter. The space is vast – it’s hard to see one side of the circle from the other! Not only are the mounds about 8 feet high, there is an interior moat that’s over 5 feet deep. It’s believed that this large circle was used for ceremonial purposes.
A small, on-site museum shows the timeline 0f the Newark Earthworks to other great milestones in history. There are also some Native American artifacts like arrowheads and ceremonial pieces.
In more recent times, the Great Circle mounds were used as a fairgrounds until 1932. This use of the land is what saved the earthworks from destruction.
I would set aside 2 hours for visiting the earthworks with your children. The Newark Earthworks are located 2.5 miles away from each other. This is a fantastic outdoor attraction because the kids are able to run off energy while still learning about Ohio‘s Native American history.
Where: Newark, OH – 45 minutes east of downtown Columbus
When: Best times to visit are May- October mostly for programming. Check the Ohio History Connection for dates of historian-led tours.
Stay: The Doubletree by Hilton in Newark has fresh cookies on arrival, an indoor pool, and an on-site restaurant. Plus, enjoy walking to Newark’s new Canal Market District. It’s a great hotel for a small city.
Last weekend I attended a blogging conference at Cedar Point- THE Roller Coaster Capital of the WORLD. (See Ohio, you are important!)
I was pretty jazzed that as an attendee of the conference I was able to get a sweet rate at the Hotel Breakers at Cedar Point, as well as some tickets to use for HalloWeekend.
So off I went to Sandusky, ALL BY MYSELF, for a weekend of learning (and fun)!
My initial sight of the hotel surprised me. Seriously?! Wow! The hotel was built in 1870, yet it had never made my radar as a travel-obsessed Ohioan. #thingshavechanged. The outside reminds you of a northeastern seaside escape.
The parking was a breeze and the entrance to the hotel is pretty spectacular. The lighting was dimmed, I assume for their spooky, Halloween theme, so I didn’t get any good photos.
The outside of the hotel is spotless. I loved the clean beach, the view of the parks, and the pool/kiddee pool area. Next year I’m definitely bringing the whole family.
The hotel just went through a major overhaul in 2015. The rooms are fresh and clean! I had a 2 double beds room with fantastic views of the park! At times though, the room felt a little noisy. I heard the screams of riders on the Top-Thrill dragster until close to midnight! However, I just turned on the fan unit in my room and that helped drown out the noise. It was never so loud I couldn’t have slept.
Conference friends that stayed in the king suites said that most of them faced towards the beach and have a screened-in porch! These rooms reminded me of beach vacations we’ve taken to the Southeast. I saw many families out on their screen-in patios playing cards and boardgames. How’s that for time well spent?
I liked that there were 2 chairs at the desk- and there was a microwave and a fridge in my room!
The bathroom was a little on the small side, but the vanity had plenty of room for make-up and hair accessories (Major A+ from this lady). Bath & Body Works toiletries were an exciting bonus!
The only thing the room was missing was a coffeepot. I’m sure the hotel would like you to visit the in-house Starbucks (I did!), but I could really use an in-room cup of joe before I hit the sights of others. 🙂
Location, Location, Location
The resort’s location really can’t be beat. It took me under 10 minutes to walk from my room to the park entrance next to the WindSeeker. This would be the ideal place to stay for families visiting Cedar Point that have younger children or grandma & grandpa with you, as it’s easy to get a hand stamp and go back and forth from the park.
The hotel has restaurants to suit every budget and lifestyle. There is a Perkins and a Japanese steakhouse just off of the Lobby. I dined twice at the T.G.I. Fridays because I was able to sit at the bar and be served right away.
The weekend I visited was designated as a HalloWeekend. After 7 pm all of the creepy clowns, zombies, and ghosts make their appearance. The area by FrontierLand is full of fog machines and it is difficult to see. You can purchase a “No Boo” necklace for $10 for younger ones who don’t want approached by one of the costumed workers. I think that you’ll have to know your kids— my 6 yr old would not be able to venture into FrontierLand with or without the “No Boo” necklace.
If you do have little ones, The Great Pumpkin Fest is currently taking place on Saturdays from 11am-7pm. The Planet Snoopy area includes Trick-or-Treat, crafts, and a pumpkin patch. I saw lots of small children with big smiles lining up with their bags of candy!
All in all, I had a fantastic weekend at the Hotel Breakers. I can’t wait to go back next year and take the entire family!
I grew up a measly 30 minutes from Coshocton, Ohio but it wasn’t until having children of my own that the small, historic town really called to me that it needed some more exploring.
An 1830s canal town, Roscoe Village was once a bustling port (a modern day Nassau?!). Today, with costumed interpreters and well-manicured gardens, young and old will enjoy a stroll along the brick promenades. Living History tours are available at a cost, but you don’t have to pay admission to enter the historic street and shop or dine.
Canal Boat – Monticello III
After learning so much about the Ohio-Erie canal on our short trip to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, we were really eager to take a boat ride on a section of the old canal. The Ohio-Erie canal functioned as a 1830s roadway, carrying goods all the way from Lake Erie to the Ohio River- It was a huge economic endeavor for the young State of Ohio – even if most of the canal was dug by Irish immigrants for 30 cents a day plus a portion of whiskey (interesting!).
The Monticello III is driven by two Percheron horses that weigh about 2300 lbs each. One man walks behind the horses while another steers the boat from the stern. This type of canal transportation could only go up to 40 miles a day, but realistically more like 10-15 assuming the boats would line up to go through the locks. All of these facts were given by our kind guide.
This is the type of boat ride that’s perfect for us high-anxiety mamas. There are no bumps, there is no speed, just a leisurely, smooth ride where our kids were still able to spot a turtle and learn from history (I mean, who can ask for more?)
Also, kids under five are FREE and a child-sized sports bottle of punch (in the gift shop) was 50 cents! Who can beat that? #thankyouowners
Even though much of my family lives nearby, I hadn’t heard of Clary Gardens until a friend visited. It turns out the land to make this emerging botanical garden was only purchased in 2001, so the space is fairly new. Just a minute drive from Roscoe Village, this is the perfect place to pack your family a picnic lunch and enjoy some time in nature.
Our kids loved the Lookout Tower and that’s where we ate our sandwiches. I fell in love with the Theatre in the Ravine and decided that we’re either going to have a vow renewal ceremony, or I’m making sure one of my kids is married in this serene place (#momalwayswins). You wouldn’t need more than an hour here, unless you’re going for a special event (like my vow renewal?!).
These family-friendly places are just a sampling of Coshocton. Did I mention there’s also a pretty legitimate wine trail? Maybe for a day that grandma has the kids? I’ll just leave that info HERE just in case. 😉
Have you been to Coshocton? What’s your go-to picnic meal? Maybe you already have a spot picked for your child’s wedding? I’d love to hear!
**This post was not sponsored by any tourism board**
It’s not often that you visit an historical museum that is equal parts fun for the kids AND interesting for adults. Dennison Railroad Depot Museum fits the description and more.
Dennison, Ohio is the epitome of a railroad town. The small village lies halfway between Columbus and Pittsburgh, a perfect 100 miles from each. This distinction made it a place born out of pure need- A steam train could go 100 miles before needing water.
One of the perks of the Railroad Depot Museum is that for kids under 7- admission is FREE. Kids are also given a scavenger hunt to to help, Bing (the railway dog), to find all of his bones. On top of this, they receive a dog-tag style necklace and earn a charm once they completed the hunt. This interactive play helped my kids learn about the railway in a fun way!
Throughout the museum there were also hands-on displays. (Here’s Jackson acting as a newspaper boy). There were also cranks to maneuver and lights to operate. They could even play with some kitchen toys in the kitchen car. This helped gain their interest, even at their young ages.
What I didn’t realize was how big of a role the Dennison stop played in WWII. Not only was the rail station a Salvation Army canteen, the line was located in a strategic location for troops going west for training or east for departure overseas. Overall, the canteen (and the station) served over 1.5 million US troops. The photographs and antiques from this time made this a nostalgic destination for my mother and I, who heard my grandma tell so many stories about the war and the role my grandfather and great uncles played in it. We even wondered if they, too, had passed through the Dennison depot?
Exiting the museum, there is a caboose for children to play on (it was a little rough but may be better for older kids) and also picnic tables. While we were visiting the adjoining restaurant was closed, but it appears it has reopened. We ate lunch at the Dennison Yard Italian Tavern where the kids meal is a build-your-own pizza!
Tips if you go:
Dennison is only 45 minutes from Berlin, OH. This would be a great excursion from Amish Country! The museum is well-suited for all ages, so bring the kids AND grandma and grandpa.
The depot is largely handicap-accessible BUT because much of the museum takes place inside train cars, we did NOT use a stroller here and I wouldn’t really recommend it. If you have a little baby or toddler maybe a baby carrier would be best?
Dennison Railroad Depot is not just a museum, they offer many specialty events throughout the year. The most popular with families has to be The Polar Express. Check out their website for more info.
Homeschoolers- studying WWII history OR the role of railroads in the 20th century? This is a must-see.
Put the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum on your Ohio Bucket List! Kids of all ages will enjoy it.
*This was NOT a sponsored post. My family and I just enjoyed a fun day out. However, post may contain affiliate links.*