How to have a family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

At 33-years-old and living in Ohio nearly my entire life, it felt like a TRAVESTY that I hadn’t been to Put-in-Bay.  Put-in-Bay is a small city on South Bass Island, Lake Erie, that’s probably most well-known by the locals for it’s flourishing nightlife.  However, visiting with our children showed me that it can be kid-friendly!

Today, I’m sharing how you can have a family-fun day at Put-in-Bay (I’m a poet and I know it).

#1 Take Miller Ferry to Put-in Bay

Miller Ferry is an easy and affordable option to get to Put-in-Bay.  As a cost-conscious family, a quick Google search revealed that Miller Ferry is less than HALF the cost of their competitor.  It’s hard to justify paying more for a boat trip that only takes 20 minutes!  We found the ferry terminal to be convenient and all day parking was plentiful and only $5.  Also, there are clean restrooms at both terminals.

A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

#2  Rent a golf cart from E’s rental

Located just steps from the Ferry Terminal- E’s Put-in-Bay Golf Carts was a convenient option for our daytrip to Put-in-Bay.  We arrived at a very busy time (noon) and yet it only took about 5 minutes for me to check-in for my pre-reserved golf cart.  E’s has a large inventory of 2, 4 and 6-person golf carts.

Each golf cart is named, and our oldest child enjoyed reading all of the names to us!  Next time I go, I’d like this one. 😉

E's Golf Carts- a Family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

#3  Check out downtown Put-in-Bay

I recommend doing this FIRST thing when you arrive.  I’m not a prude, but there are some things I’m not ready to explain!  We noticed that the crowd changed quickly around 3 pm.  So head here for an early lunch, let the kids play on the pristine playground with water views, and take a spin on Kimberly’s Carousel.

A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

#4 Visit Perry’s Victory & International Peace Monument

Families visiting Put-in-Bay should not miss the Perry Victory & International Peace Monument.  The 352-foot monument and Visitor Center commemorates the Battle of Lake Erie, which took place during the War of 1812.  We were lucky enough to arrive just as a Ranger-led educational session was beginning, but the Visitor Center alone is a wealth of information on Put-in-Bay’s role in the war.

The International Peace Monument is the only Peace Memorial in the USA’s National Park Service.  It commemorates the long-lasting peace between Canada, the USA, and the United Kingdom.  These three flags still fly outside the memorial.

A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

#5 Enjoy the views from a State Park

South Bass Island offers two family-friendly State Parks- South Bass State Park and Oak Point State Park.  Oak Point State Park is the state’s smallest state park at only an acre and a half, but it does pack some gorgeous views of Put-in-Bay and Perry’s Monument (even on a cloudy day).  This would be a perfect spot for a family picnic.Oak Point State Park- Family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

South Bass State Park is more of full-service park that offers camping and a public boat launch.  They also have four cabents, which look like a cross between a yurt and a cabin.  We’d like to go back and rent one for weekend of family-fun!

A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

Have you been to Put-in-Bay or South Bass Island?  What do you recommend for families to do?  

A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

** Miller Ferry provided me with ferry transportation and a golf cart rental.  However, all opinions are my own.**

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Planning a family-friendly day at Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

The NEW Whispering Cave Trail at Hocking Hills- with kids

One of my reasons for wanting to visit Hocking Hills this year, besides staying in a super cool Caboose, was to try out the new Whispering Cave trail at Hocking Hills with the kids.  As a family, we’ve been to Hocking Hills numerous times, so it was exciting to know that this time we’d have a new area to check out.  The Whispering Cave/Hemlock Bridge Trail opened in May 2017.

The trail head to the Whispering Cave trail is adjacent to the Hocking Hills Lodge and parking lot.  Unfortunately, the Dining Lodge burnt down in late 2016.

Map from ODNR – red graphics are all mine, lol

You’ll start from the UU and, as I’ve marked on the map, to get to the Whispering Cave, you’ll want to go all the way to the VV (yellow trail).  We did not follow the green trail all the way to the bottom of Hemlock Gorge because it was already a steep descent.

You know your family’s limitations better than mine, but completing the Whispering Cave portion was enough for our kids.  The boys struggled going up all of the stairs and the steep climb on the return, and our 3 year old insisted that I hold her because her legs were too tired.  I believe I counted approvimately 110 stairs, which are always much easier on the way down. Lol.

According to ODNR, the trip is only .8 miles each way, but like I mentioned, there are some steep cliffs.  Make sure you wear proper footwear or hiking tennis shoes.  If you’re dealing with children under 3, I’d recommend something like a Kelty child carrier– this trail is in NO way stroller-friendly.  Check out instead:  Best Hiking Trails at Hocking Hills for Kids

The yellow trail (pictured above) is mostly what hugs the cliff as you make your way into the Whispering Cave.

This way!

Once you arrive at Whispering Cave, the nerve-wracking descent will be over and you’ll be thankful you made this journey with your kids.  The cave is something to marvel at- I’m not sure photos can do it justice.  For us, it was less of a Whispering Cave and more of a “scream bloody murder” as C got a splinter from that pretty new fencing.  (That’s when you’re thankful for a passerby with a Swiss Army knife).

Also, we visited on a Monday in June, and as you can tell, the site was busy.  However, the hike had only been open for one month and it was summertime.  I’ll be eager to see how busy this trail becomes on the weekends.  Will it be as frequented as some of the other Hocking Hills hikes?  I’m sure the scenery alone will cause that!

Have you been to the Whispering Cave yet?  Have you been to Hocking Hills with your family?

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Things to do in Ohio in Fall

I’m sad to say that summer is leaving us and the kids are heading back to school.  However, autumn is a glorious season in Ohio and there’s many family-friendly things to do in Ohio in Fall.

Here’s some ideas for what to do in my great state, as well as additional visitor information.

 

Things to do in Ohio in fall

September

Ohio River Sternwheel Festival –  September 8-10, 2017  Marietta has been home to the Sternwheel Festival for over 40 years!  I’ve already been charmed by this river town, so I can see why a free family-friendly event would make it even more desirable.

For more things to do while you’re visiting Marietta check out 5 Reasons You Must Visit, Outdoor Adventures via Backroad Ramblers, Explore Ohio’s First Adventure via Big Family Minimalist & Outdoor Adventures via Pickles Travel.

Ohio Renaissance Festival – September 2- October 29, 2017  Want to see a sword fight, joust, or a tale of Robin Hood without traveling back in time?  The Ohio Renaissance Festival is sure to delight kids of all ages through food, shows, and old-fashioned games and rides.  The festival runs for nearly two months with themed weekend programming.  You can check out The Wandering Educator’s review HERE  OR The Adventure Mom’s thoughts HERE.

Backwoods Fest September 15-17, 2017  Thornville’s Backwoods Fest is located near Buckeye Lake.  The three-day festival is an arts and crafts extravaganza of over 300 vendors situated in the woods of Perry County.  The food options are mouth-watering!  Kids aged 10 and under are free, but make sure if you take a stroller that it’s one with big wheels — it’s not called “backwoods” for nothing. 😉

Columbus OktoberFest – September 22-24, 2017  In its 50th year, the Columbus OktoberFest is a free family event located at the Ohio Expo Center/Ohio State Fairgrounds.  The fall tradition hosts a men’s and women’s stone toss & cream puff eating competition (you had me at cream puff).  There’s over 10,000 feet of covered space, so the festival will go on whether rain or shine.

Cedar Point HalloWeekendsSeptember 15- October 29, 2017  America’s Roller Coaster Capital hosts a 7-weekend event geared for the Halloween enthusiast.  Daytimes are a kid-friendly Great Pumpkin Fest.  Once dark descends, though, so do the creepy ghosts and zombies.  HalloWeekends are included in the price of your admission – consider booking a package with a stay at the newly renovated Hotel Breakers.  Find out more on HalloWeekends from Adventure Mom’s post on how to survive if you don’t like the scarier stuff.

Things to do in Ohio in the fall- HalloWeekends

October

Bob Evans Farm Fest – October 13-15, 2017   Did you know that the popular chain, Bob Evans, actually began in the hills of southern Ohio?  Rio Grande, Ohio is home to this 3-day festival of crafts, kids’ activities and musical entertainment- and of course, a Bob Evans food tent.  Find out more in this post by Ohio Girl Travels.

Take a hike or a road trip to see fall foliage – early-late October  Ohio’s trees put on a show in the month of October.  Fall foliage varies greatly from the north and south ends of the state but consider a roadtrip or a hike to enjoy the beauty of autumn.  Get started here:  Five family-friendly Ohio hikes or Top 5 Hocking Hills hikes for kids

Ashtabula Covered Bridge Festival – October 14 & 15th, 2017  Ashtabula County boasts the most Covered Bridges in the state of Ohio- 19 in total!  Come celebrate all things covered bridges, and take a driving tour while you’re at it.  This is one road trip going on my Ohio Bucket List.

Circleville Pumpkin ShowOctober 18-21st, 2017  Over 100 years old, the Circleville Pumpkin Show is a staple of fall in Ohio!  Test your taste buds on about every pumpkin-flavored food imaginable.  7 parades, a ride midway, and a giant pumpkin contest round out the fun.  Wanting more to do while in Circleville?- Look no further.

Things to do in Ohio in Fall

Apple Butter Stirrin Festival October 21-22, 2017  This Coshocton festival highlights apple butter including demonstrations on how it is made over an open fire.  With family activities and over 100 vendors, this Roscoe Village event is sure to please.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Ohio in the fall?  

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Things to do in Ohio in Fall

Best hiking trails for kids at Hocking Hills

Hocking Hills is the perfect family-friendly Ohio destination.  The main attraction of Hocking Hills are her natural rock formations and numerous waterfalls, but all of these must be reached by hiking trails.  Over the years I wished that someone would have ranked the easiest or best trails for young children. So, after multiple visits with our family, I’ve come up with a list of the best hiking trails for kids at Hocking Hills.

#1  Ash Cave

The easiest hiking trail at Hocking Hills for kids of all ages is the paved Gorge Trail at Ash Cave.  This trail is stroller/wheelchair accessible and it’s only 0.3 miles long each way, so if you have young ones that want to walk, but tire out quickly, they should be able to handle the short distance.

The trail ends at the large cave recess- Ash Cave stands over 90 feet high and is almost 700 feet wide from end to end, so it’s sure to wow even the littlest traveler.  The area is full of sand and the rocks can be slippery, so tennis shoes should be worn.  However, on dry days I’ve found Ash Cave to be almost one giant (shallow) sandbox.  If you have a little one that likes diggers or trucks, maybe pack a few small ones to give yourself a moment of solitude.

#2 Conkles Hollow

Conkles Hollow is a State Nature Preserve within the Hocking Hills area.  This is one of the most dramatic areas in the winter, as the walls of the gorge can be filled with ice formations.  On one winter visit my little ones through we had taken off to Elsa’s land in Frozen.

The best trail for kids at Conkles Hollow would be the half-mile Gorge Trail.   The Gorge Trail at Conkles Hollow is paved and stroller-friendly, just note that if you do visit in winter, this area does not get a lot of sun and you may be walking on a sheet of ice instead of a paved trail!  For the most part though, for the summer and fall visitor, this paved trail is without too many hazards for children to encounter and makes a must-see stop on your Hocking Hills vacation.

#3 Cedar Falls

Cedar Falls is one of the most iconic sites at Hocking Hills!  For good reason – the waterfall and surroundings are truly magical.  There are multiple ways to reach the Cedar Falls and with small children it’s hard to know which is the best!

I recommend parking at the main Cedar Falls parking area (this is not the one right along 374 but instead follow the signs to a stone sign and parking entrance).  This trail is NOT stroller friendly, but you do enter the gorge via stairs which for me is easier if holding the hand of a toddler or wearing them in a carrier.  I’m less nervous about falling!   (Using this map, you’d only hike the portion where the yellow and purple go together and then turn around).

#4 Rockbridge

Rockbridge is another Nature Preserve within the Hocking Hills area.  I had a hard time choosing the between a #4 and #5 for the best hiking trails, but I like Rockbridge because there is very little time in which I HAVE to be holding the hand of my preschooler.  The path begins in essentially, a pasture, and then weaves through the woods before coming to Ohio’s largest natural rock bridge.  This is the area where you’ll need to be extra careful with young children too ensure they don’t fall.

Another reason why I love the Rockbridge is because I’ve never found it to be as busy as Ash Cave or Old Man’s Cave.  It’s not “off the beaten track” but in the words of a fellow traveler I met on our last visit, “Old Man’s Cave was like an airport terminal.”  You’ll find out for yourself.

#5 Old Man’s Cave

Old Man’s Cave is one of the hallmarks of Hocking Hills.  For the most kid-friendly experience, I’d take the stairs down to the bottom of the gorge and get on the blue Grandma Gatewood Trail.  This trail allows you to view the main attractions of the Devil’s bathtub and Upper Falls.  You will have access to the upper gorge and rim trails, but with younger children I’d probably just take the stairs back the same way you came down.

Have you been to Hocking Hills?  Which trail would you recommend as the best for kids?

You can learn more about Hocking Hills HERE (i.e. find out why I don’t recommend the Rock House).

Looking for a place to stay?  Check out the Hocking Hills Caboose.

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The Hocking Hills Caboose- Unique Ohio Lodging

All aboard!  Take a seat!  I can’t wait to tell you all about our stay at The Hocking Hills Caboose- a unique Ohio lodging opportunity.  Our young family had a fantastic time at this Hocking Hills cabin-like property, and I’ve been bursting to share!

I couldn’t believe the interest from friends and family- even grandma- on what it was like to sleep in a caboose.  I’ll be honest, I’m no happy camper and was worried about whether the Caboose would be too primitive for my travel snobbery.  Spoiler alert: I was pleasantly surprised by the furnishings AND the size of the bathroom.

First, a little history lesson.  The Hocking Hills Caboose is an authentic 1950s train caboose!  It was originally a part of the Seaboard Air Line train systems and was probably used in service until the 1980s.  Did you know that in the 1980s cabooses were no longer needed because new technology could monitor the train and apply the brakes?  I did not!  So this caboose ended up in a railyard in Columbus until it was purchased by the Hocking Valley Railway and then renovated for overnight stays!  However, the Caboose has new owners and was completely overhauled last year- there’s new flooring, decor, and all new plumbing and heating and cooling.  This makes for hot showers and cool air-conditioning!

I can’t think for a better place for the Caboose to be situated.  Hocking Hills is the go-to Ohio destination for hiking and outdoor adventure.  And The Hocking Hills Caboose is located only 2 miles from Ash Cave, one of the area’s most visited attractions.

Arriving at the Caboose, it seemed bigger than what I could tell from the photographs.  The Hocking Hills Caboose has a maximum occupancy of five, but I immediately noticed that our family wouldn’t feel cramped.  Once inside, the ceilings are high (I’m 5’10”) and there’s plenty of room to spread out.

The entrance opens into a kitchen.  The kitchen is what I would call an “efficiency kitchen” as it contains a small fridge, sink, microwave, and plenty of cooking utensils.  There is also a toaster and coffee pot (the latter is of crucial importance).  The fridge is like one of those you had in your college dorm room, so if you’re bringing lots of food or meat to grill, make sure you bring it in streamlined packaging- i.e. freezer bags.  We stayed for 2 nights and we were able to make it work.

One thing to note about the kitchen is that the only way to cook if there is bad weather would be via the microwave.  I discussed with the owners about the need for a hot plate or griddle, but they shared that those are a big fire risk, and I completely understand!  Just make sure you plan ahead or budget a little extra money in case you find yourself needing to eat out.  There’s numerous restaurants in the  Hocking Hills area that you’ll want to try anyway!

See that table to the right?  There’s a built-in bench against the wall so it’s easy to pull the table out and use it!  It’s like HGTV tiny home living!

The next area is devoted to bunks.  There are two upper bunks and one lower.  This worked out perfectly for our two boys!  The top bunks are fairly high (the boys reminded me they were 6 steps!), but they had three windows at top and plenty of head room.  If you’re traveling as a group of adults, these would be plenty big enough for big people – i.e. you better believe I climbed up there and sampled the space!

 

Keep walking and there are two lower bunks, which Mr. YT and I laid our claim. And then there’s a full bathroom.  The bathroom was one of my concerns before traveling to the Caboose.  I’ve been in the bathroom of a RV/camp trailer and they are hardly big enough to swivel in, let alone bathe three children.  The Hocking Hills Caboose has a corner sink, full-sized toilet, and square shower.  It was spacious enough for me to fit in the bathroom with one of our children while helping them shower.  The bathroom was actually bigger than the recent hotels we have stayed in, but there is no tub.

I appreciated all of the unique railroad decor throughout the Caboose,  including the lantern style-lighting. These railroad nail hooks were just a few of the small pieces that make this feel like an authentic train!  I can see The Hocking Hills Caboose being a destination not only for families with children that love trains, but even adult train-enthusiasts or the local collector.  If you look closely in the kitchen picture, all of the curtains were also train-themed fabrics.

While the interior of the Caboose was fun and family-friendly, the outdoors was where we spent most of our time.  On the attached deck there is a grill and outdoor table with seating for 5.  We spent both afternoons out here grilling and enjoying family time.  

The fire pit is adjacent to the deck and also has seating for 5!   We spent our evenings here roasting marshmallows and watching the moon rise.

Maybe the reason I loved the Caboose the most?  It was disconnected from cable and internet!  I know that may turn some people off, but for my husband and I, who are both able to work remotely, not being able to answer the phone or pull up Facebook FORCED us to disconnect and make eye contact with our favorite little people.  Cell phone service was spotty throughout the Hocking Hills as well, so this truly was a getaway.  We hope to visit the Caboose again next summer and make even more memories.

Have you been to Hocking Hills?  Did you know you could stay in a Caboose?

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* I would like to thank the owners of the Hocking Hills Caboose for hosting our stay.  As always, all opinions are my own.*

Five Reasons You Must Visit Marietta, Ohio

Marietta is a small city that lies right along the Ohio River in southeast Ohio.  While little in size and numbers, it’s bursting with local attractions.

I’ve passed through Marietta many times on I-77, but stopping in the city for 3 days gave me an appreciation for its diverse attractions, gorgeous river views, and historic homes.   I came up with five reasons you must visit Marietta, Ohio, but in reality there are many more.

#1  Marietta has enough to keep the whole family entertained.  

Like history?  Marietta was the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory.  Founded in 1788, Marietta was named in honor of France’s Marie Antoinette,  showing thankfulness to France for their contribution to a US victory in the Revolutionary War.  Located at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers, this was Native American territory first.  A large mound still stands at the center of town in Mound Cemetery.

Mound Cemetery- Marietta, OhioOhio Street, Marietta, Ohio

To learn more about the history of Marietta, consider taking a tour through Hidden Marietta.  On our tour I learned that the above brick-laden Ohio Street was one of the first streets in town.  It has a wild past as the home to brothels and bars, luring ship workers into town for a rowdy night.  Now it’s just home to many riotous tales, and this popular restaurant, The Levee.

Marietta is also home to many kid-friendly museums, such The Campus Maritus Museum or the Ohio River Museum.  Outside of the Ohio River Museum you have the chance to tour a steam-driven sternwheeler, the WP Snyder Jr.

W.P. Snyder, Marietta, Ohio

#2 Outdoor adventures are abundant

It’s no surprise to me that Marietta was named one of America’s Best Adventure Towns by National Geographic.  The Ohio & Muskingum Rivers afford plenty of opportunities for putting your boat, kayak, or canoe to good use.  There’s also a picturesque bike trail that follows those same rivers for over 3 miles.  The charming city also has 30+ miles of hiking and mountain bike trails.  Nearby Wayne National Forest offers abundant trails as well.

No need to stress if you don’t have a way to bring your gear.  Marietta Adventure Company offers kayak and bike rentals, as well as tours.  We enjoyed a history-themed bike tour with Hallie, and a kayak tour led by Ryan.  Both of these guides were friendly & helpful and extremely knowledgeable of all things Marietta.5 Reasons to visit Marietta Ohio



#3 Marietta is walkable

Once you’ve arrived and parked the car, the city is easy to navigate.  Unless you’ll be traveling out to Wayne National Forest, you shouldn’t need the car again!  Feel free to walk along the river using the aforementioned bike trail, but you’ll also find plentiful sidewalks and a manageable business district.  The downtown is lined with cozy shops and great restaurants- there’s even an historic bridge to take you over to Harmar Village. Don’t miss the flood markers throughout the downtown.  It’s a great reminder of just how mighty that Ohio River can be.

#4- Downtown accommodation

The Lafayette Hotel sits right on the Ohio River and is probably the most convenient property in Marietta.  My room was small, but functional.  In keeping with the history of the property,  the well-made reproduction furniture adds to the hotel’s appeal.  The Lafayette also offers a 3rd floor deck to enjoy watching the numerous barges (Marietta sees more than the Panama Canal) float by.

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The Lafayette Hotel - Marietta, Ohio The Lafayette Hotel - Marietta, Ohio

#5  Family-friendly Festivals

One of the most popular festivals in Marietta is the Ohio River Sternwheeler Festival which takes place the weekend after Labor Day.  Can’t make it but want to see a sternwheeler?  Various cruise ships dock throughout the summer.  You can see the full list on the  Visit Marietta Facebook Events page.

Enjoy a beer and some outdoor adventure?  Marietta is also host to the Rivers, Trails & Ales Festival held every year in August.  It’s a celebration of local community spirit, coupled with paddling and mountain biking, then finished off with Ohio-made craft beers.  This would make a great weekend getaway for couples and singles of all ages.

Sternwheeler Mural- Marietta Ohio 5 reasons you must visit

Have I convinced you that you MUST visit Marietta?  I adore this small town with big city charm.  Have you been to Marietta?  What’s your favorite attraction?

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5 Reasons to Visit Marietta Ohio

** I was hosted by the Marietta-Washington County CVB.  All opinions are my own.**

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Hiking at the Whipp’s Ledges within Hinckley Reservation





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.

** This post contains affiliate links**

Little Buckeye Children’s Museum – Mansfield, Ohio

A member’s review + tips for if you go

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.

Hotels in Mansfield

** This was NOT a sponsored post, our family just enjoys the museum and I want to provide my readers with as much info as possible.  May contain affiliate links**

Finding Hemlock Falls – A hidden waterfall of Ohio

My introduction to Hemlock Falls came from an Instagram post.  Ever since then, I’ve been scheming a time and place to see this hidden waterfall.  I’m so glad we did!  What an Ohio gem!

While Hemlock Falls is located NEAR Mohican State Park, it’s actually on private property managed by the Mohican School in the Out-of-doors.  Eventually the Falls will be on the new B & O Trail as the land was recently purchased by the Mohican Watershed Conservancy.

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 hidden waterfall is 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.  No joke- If you see a dumpster, you’re on the right track!  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. 🙂

Hemlock Falls waterfall Ohio

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.

Hemlock Falls waterfall Ohio

Hemlock Falls waterfall Ohio

Hemlock Falls waterfall Ohio

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???

Nonetheless, the site of a 60+ foot Hemlock Falls, one that’s not heavily visited like Big Lyon Falls at Mohican or Ash Cave in Hocking Hills, made the momentary stress of finding the waterfall dissipate.

Hemlock Falls hidden waterfall Ohio

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 best hiking shoe (see my favorite HERE)!  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.

Where to stay:  I loved my stay at the Mount Vernon Grand, a closer option would be the Hampton or Best Western on the south side of Mansfield.

Have you been to Hemlock Falls? 

 

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You Can Take The Kids: 5 Ohio Hikes To Do As A Family

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.

Ash Cave and some of my “little” family

Hocking Hills Hotels

Flint Ridge

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.

We graduated off of the stroller path at Flint Ridge

Blackhand Gorge

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.  This is an ideal hike for families, and even toddlers could handle the walk (with a little help from mom or dad).  More info HERE.

Hotels near Flint Ridge & Blackhand Gorge 

Cuyahoga Valley National Park area

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.  My go-to summer hiking shoe

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.

Hotels near CVNP

Sheldon Marsh 

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).

Hotels near Sheldon Marsh

Have you hiked any of these trails?  Where does your family enjoy hiking?