Eat, drink, and buy all the goods in Wooster, Ohio

Things to do in downtown Wooster

I grew up a meager 30 minutes from downtown Wooster, Ohio-  Mr. Yoder and I even had our first date at the Wooster cinema!  Yet, other than just passing through, I hadn’t been to Wooster in over 10 years!

So when I was invited to Wooster to experience the small city as a travel blogger, my interest was piqued. I wondered, “What are we going to find to do in Wooster?”  I’m overjoyed to report that there are plenty of local restaurants, quaint shops, and plenty of coffeehouses.  Here’s my list of things to do in Wooster, Ohio

Where to eat:

Downtown Wooster has over 27 restaurants.  Say WHAT?  Yes!  Here are a few suggestions.

Broken Rocks Cafe – Fresh baked breads, homemade soups and sandwiches, and a full bar.  This is where the locals go for lunch hours and an evening with friends.

Things to do in Wooster, Ohio - Broken Rocks Cafe

Basil Asian Bistro – Delicious Asian cuisine in a modern downtown location.  The perfect place for a date night, Basil offers outdoor dining and a full bar.

Spoon Market & Deli – This urban vibe of this cafe makes me think of Nashville, TN not Wooster, OH.  They serve all-day breakfast, plus lunch & dinner.  The bar is made of reclaimed materials and there’s even a small play area for kids. #allthepraisehands

Where to get coffee:

Wooster has no shortage of coffee houses.  I know where I’d find myself blogging a rainy day away.

Sure House Coffee – Located just steps away from the St. Paul Hotel, Sure House Coffee strives to use as many Fair Trade and local products as possible.

Tulipan Hungarian Bakery and Cafe –  Open since 2004, Tulipan offers pastries, croissants, and strudels, along with coffee & tea.  I love the small round tables and antique counter – it reminds me of the perfect place to have afternoon desserts with your best friend.

Things to do in Wooster, OH- Tulipan Cafe and Bakery

Templeton’s Scottish Bakery & Coffeehouse – Located in the basement of the Liberty Street Marketplace, Templeton’s does have the ambiance of being “across the pond.”  As if their name wasn’t enough to evoke the Scots, they also serve hot porridge for breakfast.

Things to do in Wooster, Ohio

Where to shop:

Books In Stock – If perusing the aisles of a used and rare book store is up your alley, you’ll want to spend an afternoon at Books In Stock.  A downtown Wooster business for over 25 years, you can’t leave without something new to read.

The Urban Cottage – Farmhouse decor, reclaimed wood, and gifts for person that has everything.  If money was no object, this is where I’d buy ALL the things.

Blue Spruce Boutique – You might think you stepped into the likes of Anthropologie, but you’re still in downtown Wooster!  This boutique contains a curated collection of everything from baby gifts to succulents.  I’ll be going back to spend some of my Christmas cash, guaranteed!

Everything Rubbermaid – Rubbermaid isn’t made in Wooster anymore, but their flagship store still resides downtown.  You’ll find what the name says- EVERYTHING.  And for kiddos tired of sightseeing, they even have a play area.

Things to do in Wooster, Ohio - Everything Rubbermaid

For everything else:

Faithful Little Cupcake – If you’ve already eaten too much, make sure you at least grab a half dozen of these glorious cupcakes to take home.  You’re welcome.

Meatheads Union– A trendy, butcher shop that also serves lunch.  They offer homemade sausages such as Mexican chorizo and German brats.

Grab a beer with friends at JAFB – Paul Fryman has been all over the world brewing beer, but in 2011, he decided to come back to his hometown.  The atmosphere in this renovated fire station has the character of a German beer hall.

Pick out a gift or take home groceries from Local Roots Market & Cafe – Seasonal and sustainable foods can be found, as well as local crafts.  I enjoyed looking at the handmade soaps and lotions.

Best Instagram spots:

Window art – located on Liberty Street, across from Broken Rocks Cafe.  Make sure your wings are straight, unlike mine!

Things to do in Wooster, OH- best Instagram spots

Before I die chalkboard mural – Add something from your Bucket List to this public art.  Located on Walnut Street, next to the Local Roots Market.

Things to do in Wooster, Ohio - Best Instagram spots

Wayne County Courthouse – At the northwest corner of the square, the imposing courthouse is a similar style to Philadelphia city hall.

So there’s my list of things to do in downtown Wooster, Ohio!  I feel like I’m not even scratching the surface!  What’s your favorite?

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Things to do in Wooster, Ohio. Where to eat, shop, and drink coffee. Wooster is a college town with lots of local businesses. You'll want to add this to your Ohio Bucket List. Things to do in Wooster, Ohio. Where to eat, shop, and drink coffee. Wooster, Ohio is home to the College of Wooster and full of things to do for the whole family.

I was hosted in Wooster, OH as a guest of the Wayne County CVB.  All opinions are my own.

5 FREE Christmas Events near Columbus, Ohio

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Central Ohio is the perfect place to enjoy the Christmas season with your family!  The chilled air and falling snow will get you in the mood to take in the sights and sounds with your children.  Here are 5 free Christmas events near Columbus, Ohio!

Scioto Mile Christmas lights

Bicentennial Park along the Scioto Mile is a great place to chill in the heat of summer, but now you can enjoy it once the holiday season hits.  The lights go on November 17th, but the inaugural celebration for 2017 will be a WinterFest event taking place on Saturday, December 2nd.  WinterFest includes a free concert of various local and national performers from 11 am- 4 pm.  Food trucks and beer vendors will also be present, with  a portion of food and beverage sales going to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.  

If you can’t make it, the lights stay up until January, so swing by after that holiday party or business meeting.

Ohio Statehouse

The lights turn on December 7th at the family-friendly Holiday Festival, but there’s a chance to see the Victorian-era decorations the entire month (check website for times). Located in the center of downtown Columbus, you won’t want to miss the beauty and majesty of the Christmas at the Statehouse.  A visit is also a great way to sneak some education into a two-week Christmas break.

5 Free Christmas events near Columbus Ohio
Photo credit: ohiostatehouse.org

State Auto’s Nativity Scene

Bob Pein, State Auto’s Founder, began decorating the company’s downtown headquarters building in 1932 as a “Christmas gift to the community.” The present day decor, a life-sized Nativity scene, has become a destination for locals and travelers alike.  The display will open Tuesday, December 5th through New Years Day beginning at 5:30 pm each evening with local choirs performing on the weekends.  This may just be your new Christmas family tradition- and it’s absolutely FREE.  Check their website for special choir performances.

Village Lights in Historic German Village

Bundle up the kids and give them a taste of yesteryear as you begin the holiday season in German Village.  German Village is a FREE destination year-round, but when you add luminarias, a Christmas market, and warm beverages, you’ll feel more like you’ve been transported from Columbus, Ohio to Munich, Germany.  The Village Lights Festival is December 3rd from 5-9 pm.  Not only is the event free, but the parking is free as well, with a free shuttle running from 2 local parking lots.  More info HERE.

Granville Christmas Candlelight Walking Tour

A 30-minute drive from downtown Columbus: Granville, Ohio is like stepping foot into a small New England town.  Granville’s Christmas Candlelight Tour is completely free, yet you may want to pack a little cash (along with the kids) so you can enjoy a holiday beverage at a restaurant , or take the children on a magical horse-drawn carriage through the small city.  

Luminaries and lighted Christmas trees will line the streets making for a Winter Wonderland as you pop in and out of local churches to hear Christmas music.  The Granville Candlelight Walking Tour takes place December 2nd from 1-9 pm.  

 

Check current rates at Columbus hotels.

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5 Free Christmas Events near Columbus, Ohio. Take the family and enjoy a night out around the city- from a life-sized Nativity Scene to a Christmas Market or a WinterFest with music. You'll find it all in Central Ohio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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The best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio

Amish Country, Ohio has no shortage of restaurants to please your palate.  When I was growing up, it was hard to find much outside of  roast beef & chicken with mashed potatoes- however, Amish Country now offers plenty of unique flavors, plus some old favorites.

While visiting Holmes County and surrounds, you’ll find a plethora of baked goods and full dinners .  It’s difficult to narrow down  the best restaurant at which to eat, so I’ve compiled my own list of the best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio.  Here are all the details:

Der Dutchman

Walnut Creek’s staple restaurant, Der Dutchman, began in 1969 in an old hardware store.  The newer location’s dining room includes a sweeping view over a valley of farmland, making this one of the most nostalgic places to eat in Holmes County.  An attached bakery allows visitors to take home the restaurants’ baked goods and  assortment of pies.   My husband recommends the broasted chicken, while my mother recommends you leave room for the red raspberry cream pie.

Der Dutchman is located at 4967 Walnut Street, Walnut Creek, OH 44687.  The restaurant is open Monday-Saturday from 7 am- 8 pm.

Rebecca’s Bistro

If you’re visiting Amish Country as a tourist, but want to eat where the locals eat, be sure to stop by Rebecca’s Bistro.  Rebecca’s is only open for breakfast & lunch.  Customers rave about their fresh salads and homemade soups.  Outdoor dining is available during the summer, where you’ll watch Amish buggies clip-clop through the busy streets of downtown Walnut Creek.

Rebecca’s Bistro is located at 4986 Walnut Street, Walnut Creek, OH.  The restaurant is open Monday-Saturday from 8 am – 3 pm.

Olde World Bakery & Bistro

Olde World Bakery and Bistro takes it’s name from it’s approach to baking in an old-fashioned way.  Their goods are made without hydrogenated oils, box mixes, or bleached flours.  Finding gluten-free dining options in Amish Country is rare, but Olde World Bakery offers them!    This is a fun place to eat with a friend, the dining room is ample and the service is quick enough to meet on a lunch break.

Olde World Bakery is located in Berlin and Millersburg.  I recommend their downtown Millersburg location at 73 W. Jackson Street.  Hours are 8 am – 8 pm Monday- Saturday.

Best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio The best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio

Boyd and Wurthmann Restaurant

Another long-standing staple of Amish Country is the Boyd and Wurthmann Restaurant.  As you drive by in downtown Berlin, you may notice the restaurant by the line out the door!  Locals have been visiting the place since it was a grocery store with a dining counter back in the 1940s, but now travelers have caught on to their affordable meals, large serving sizes, and a large variety of pies.  Believe it or not, Boyd and Wurthmann will still serve you a cup of coffee for 75 cents!  If your belly is too full for a meal, this is the place to sit at the counter for a piece of pie and a cup of coffee!

Boyd and Wurthmann is located at  4819 East Main Street, Berlin.  They are open from 5:30 am- 7:30 pm Monday – Saturday.

The best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio - Boyd and Wurthmann

Bags Sports Pub

Too tired of country-style cooking or want a craft beer?    Bags Sports Pub is the place for you to eat in Amish Country!  Bags is a locally-owned pub with a full bar and daily lunch and dinner specials.  There are locations in both Millersburg and Sugarcreek, but I prefer the Millersburg location for its proximity to Millersburg Brewery, and it’s spot on the square overlooking the impressive courthouse! My favorite at Bags is the Chicken Parmesan Sandwich on a pretzel bun (pictured below), while my husband adores the Jalapeno Burger.  Whatever you choose, make sure you try the pretzel bun AND enjoy a local brew from the Millersburg Brewery.  Also, Bags IS open on Sundays!  A rarity in Holmes County.

Bags Sports Pub,  Jackson St, Millersburg – Open Sunday – Saturday 11 am – 9 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am- 10 pm.

The best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio

Quince Bakery & Cafe

Located in Kidron, Ohio, across the road from Lehman’s Hardware; Quince is another delicious stop to add to your favorite places to eat in Amish Country.  You can eat here for breakfast or lunch or pop in for a donut or cookies to take with you.  There’s a daily soup special as well as different cookie and pie selections to look forward to, so no visit will be the same.

Quince Bakery is located at 4776 Kidron Rd, Kidron.  They are open Tuesday- Saturday from 7 am – 3 pm.

 

What do you consider the BEST place to eat in Amish Country, Ohio?  Leave a comment with your answer for a chance to win a $25 gift card!  Make sure you secure your entry in the Rafflecopter widget below, too!!

 

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The best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio

St. Paul Hotel – Wooster, Ohio

Downtown hotel in the heart of Wayne County

Not going to lie, I’m a hotel snob.  I like lush bedding, a spacious bathroom, and good breakfast options.  Imagine my surprise when I found this all at a boutique hotel in small-town Ohio?  Yes, it’s true.  The St. Paul Hotel in Wooster, Ohio is sure to please even the snobbiest of travelers (cough cough, me)!

The St. Paul Hotel is located in the heart of downtown Wooster, just two blocks from the square.  There are numerous dining and coffee options within a very short walk.

If you’re looking for modern conveniences, the St. Paul Hotel offers in room Wi-Fi, heated bathroom floor tiles (ohmygoodness, heavenly), and a rainwater shower plus a hand-held shower wand!  I appreciated that my corner room also had numerous windows and a Keurig coffeemaker.  The amenities kit was Tommy Bahama products.

St. Paul Hotel- Wooster Ohio St. Paul Hotel- Wooster Ohio St. Paul Hotel- Wooster, OhioSt. Paul Hotel- Wooster, Ohio

Maybe what impressed me the most was the history behind this hotel.  The St. Paul hotel has been rebirthed from it’s former life!  From the the early 1900s-1970s, the building did operate as a hotel, but it had a questionable past as a place of basement betting and card games.  Little history is known about those early years as a hotel- although there would have only been one guest bathroom per floor.  In the 1970s, the hotel was purchased by a non-profit group and turned into a subsidized housing, which was used until 2008.

At that time, the non-profit went out of business and a local developer came up with the idea for a boutique hotel.  While the building sustained an entire “gut job,” the interior brick walls were saved for the trendy exposed brick feature.  Dressers, beds, and desks were made by a company in Orrville, Ohio.  Each shower is enclosed with tempered glass made by the Wooster Glass Company.  My favorite piece of the interior may be this piece of stained glassed located in the hotel lobby.  The St. Paul O.P.N. glass was found at a Wooster antique store.  The hotel seems to fully encompass the ingenuity and history of the community – something I really enjoyed!St. Paul Hotel- Wooster, Ohio

The St Paul Hotel is the only property to service the downtown Wooster area.  Parking is free and getting around the small city by foot or car is very easy.  Wooster is located less than 30 minutes to Ohio’s Amish Country and close to attractions like Secrest Arboretum and the J.M. Smucker company store.

I would recommend the St. Paul Hotel for a romantic getaway or a birthday celebration.  The hotel would also work for family travel, but do note that the rooms do not have bathtubs.  Check rates now.

Have you visited Wooster?  Where have you stayed?

**I was hosted at the St. Paul Hotel as a guest of the Wayne County CVB.  All opinions are my own**

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St. Paul Hotel- Wooster, Ohio- downtown boutique hotel

Enjoying history and scenery in Summit Metro Parks

As much as I love going on a hike, very few things can beat a FALL Ohio hike.  No 98% humidity, fewer bugs, and the crunch of leaves underfoot.  #Perfection.  On our first trip to Summit Metro Parks, we were given the most glorious autumn day, and the history and scenery that we encountered did not disappoint.

Our first stop in Summit Metro Parks was Gorge Metro Park (on my 2017 Travel Bucket List)!  Gorge Metro Park is located in Cuyahoga Falls, OH and is an outstanding place to enjoy views of the Cuyahoga River, a large cave, and even do some fishing.

We ventured out on the Gorge Trail (aptly named) in hopes to see the Mary Campbell Cave.  The cave is named after a 12-year-old Pennsylvania girl that was kidnapped from her home by the Delaware Indians. She was released 5 years later, in 1764, at the close of the French & Indian War.  It is believed that she dwelt in the cave with the Native Americans!

The history is fascinating, and the size of the cave is more than I expected.

Summit Metro Parks- Gorge Trail Mary Campbell Cave- Summit Metro Parks

Unfortunately, the upper trail was closed past the cave, so we took the trail shortcut down to the Observation Deck.  I could have sat here for hours and listened to the waterfall created by the Dam.  Tourists have been flocking to this area since the late 1800s, at one time a small amusement park was adjoined!

Summit Metro Parks- Dam Summit Metro Parks- Observation Deck

While the Observation Deck isn’t handicap accessible or stroller-friendly, shortly after this the Gorge Trail does become paved. If you’re looking for a short trail to take unsteady feet, this would be a good one (See-> Best Ohio Hikes for Kids).

The kiddos were getting a little antsy, so we headed back to the car for some snacks and scoped out our next stop within Summit Metro Parks.

I’d read something briefly about an Indian Signal Tree and thought this would be a piece of homeschooling history that we could not miss!  The Indian Signal Tree is located in the Chuckery area of Cascade Valley Metro Park.  This bur oak is over 300 years old and was used by the Natives to find their way from the Cuyahoga River to Summit Lake.  My mind wandered to the countless history that this tree has witnessed!  I sat there in disbelief – that for most of my life I’ve lived less than 2-3 hours away and yet didn’t know this existed?  This is why we choose to explore nearby areas and view local destinations as important as those that are hundreds or thousands of miles away!

Summit Metro Parks- Signal Tree

The Signal Tree is only about 100 yards from the closest parking spot, so this is an easy place to jump out and learn some history.  There is an attached 2.4 mile Chuckery Trail, but we did not venture on it.

Captivated by Summit Metro Parks, we wanted to make one more stop before heading home.  I’d seen pictures of an Overlook on Instagram but we weren’t sure where to look.  Luckily, on our drive into Cuyahoga Falls looking for some dinner, we passed right by the parking lot for the Overlook Trail!

The Overlook Trail is also located with the Cascade Valley Metro Park, but in a different area than the Signal Tree.

The half mile trail is paved and ADA compliant.  We forgot to bring a stroller (#fail), but it’s not a hilly path and was easy enough for our tired kiddos.

This is the perfect Instagram spot for fall foliage.  I think we missed it by a week.

 

While we enjoyed a perfect combo of weather and scenery at Summit Metro Parks, my favorite part of our visit was the friendly Northeast Ohio personalities we walked by throughout the day.  Nearly everyone said “hello” or spoke with us about our kids!  I always feel like a hike in the woods connects me to our children and our Creator, but this day also encouraged me with the gleaming show of Midwestern hospitality.

Have you been to Summit Metro Parks?  What was your favorite hike?  We still have so much more to explore!

 

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Summit Metro Parks- Northeast Ohio- Family-friendly hiking, history, and scenery.

5 things to do in Sandusky, Ohio with kids

Sandusky, Ohio is a small city on the shores of Lake Erie that has a ton to offer families!  Sandusky is well-known as the home to  Cedar Point, but most people spend a day on the rollercoasters and then leave town (raised hand here).  However, there’s so many reasons to stay and play in Sandusky.  Here are my suggestions of 5 things to do in Sandusky, Ohio with kids!

#1 Enjoy top notch museums

I would not have thought of Sandusky, a city of only 25,000 people, having two fantastic museums!  I learned so much at both the Maritime Museum AND the The Merry-Go-Round Museum!

The Merry-Go-Round Museum is situated in the old Sandusky Post Office.  The circular building made for the perfect place to house a full 1920s Carousel.  I learned so many facts about Carousels- Did you know that every Carousel has a lead horse where the ticket taker would know to start and stop?  Did you know that British carousels go clockwise, but everywhere else they are counter-clockwise?  Or that carousels date all the way back to the 12th century?  Someone sign me up for jeopardy, this museum was a goldmine!

Kids will enjoy getting to ride on the historic Carousel (included in admission) that travels 9 mph!  If you’re weak in the stomach, I don’t recommend coming right after a very filling hotel breakfast.  I speak from experience!

Things to do with kids in Sandusky, Ohio- The Merry-Go-Round Museum

The Maritime Museum was another welcome surprise.  Sandusky’s location on Lake Erie makes for a history brimming with nautical mystery and drama.  The location wasn’t just known for shipping and ferries though, in the late 1900s, Sandusky was the largest ice producer west of New York City!  Children can also learn how Sandusky played a role in the Underground Railroad.  This was the last stop before former slaves could catch the ferry over to Canada.

Lastly, kids will love this interact pirate ship!  Yes, Lake Erie even had her share of pirates!

Things to do with kids in Sandusky, Ohio- Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum gives a family discount, offering immediate families admission for just $14.  This is a great deal- allot 90+ minutes to spend here.

#2 Hit the water

You can’t be right on the shores of Lake Erie and not enjoy some water activities!  Kids of all ages will enjoy Sandusky’s Goodtime I.  We took a sunset cruise and enjoyed both scenic views and Cedar Point.  Food and beverage can be purchased onboard- for adults that’s a full bar, and there were pizza slices for kids!  This is a relaxing way to end a day in Sandusky, and prices are affordable- costing our family of 5 less than $30 (under 5 are free).

Things to do in Sandusky with kids- Goodtime I sunset cruise

For the more adventurous, and those with teens, check out Air1Airboats out of East Sandusky Bay!  This was not my first airboat ride, but it was my first trip on rough waters!  What a hoot!  I’m glad I packed my rain jacket (similar), because we got WET!Things to do in Sandusky with kids- Airboat tour

#3 Fill your tummies

Sandusky has no shortage of fantastic places to dine!

How about a locally-sourced breakfast or brunch at Bates Farm Kitchen?  Large portions of biscuits and gravy and farm-fresh omelets were on the seasonal menu.  Chef Clint uses ingredients that you’ll be happy to let your kids indulge in!  I know my kids would enjoy the french toast with Ohio maple syrup.

Needing to caffeinate after a busy day with kids?  Try the new(ish) Boomtown Coffee!  I tried a nitrogen-infused cold brew (think coffee that comes from a tap and looks like a beer).  It was amazing- definitely a pick-me-up!

Wanting a lakefront lunch?  Try the Dockside Cafe.  Not only does the cafe offer up gorgeous vistas of the lake, the food is casual, kid-friendly fare.  (They are open seasonally- only til October 1 this year- so hurry).Things to do with kids in Sandusky- Dockside Cafe

Looking to affirm your sweet tooth?  Toft’s Dairy is a Sandusky institution for all things dairy- including their famous ice cream!  Visit their parlor on Venice Road to try the many flavors.  I love the story behind Toft’s family business, including the fact that all of their milk comes from farms located within a 50 mile radius.

#4 Cruise around town (in an atypical way)

For kids 14 and older, what better way to engage them in the history of Sandusky, than by doing so while riding a Segway?  Yes, Sandusky has it’s own Segway tour!  Jim, owner of Segwave, has the patience of Job with those that are a little nervous or unsure (i.e. – ME).  Jim offers 1 and 2 hour tours of Sandusky, and plenty of training time to get acclimated on the device.  Your favorite part will be cruising right by Lake Erie (and crossing your fingers that the Segway floats).  Just kidding!

#5 Play it up

When we pulled up to Ghostly Manor, I wasn’t so sure if this would be a place I could recommend.  My 7-yr old is afraid of  simple Halloween decorations, so the giant dragon at the door isn’t exactly what you’d expect for a kid-friendly playhouse.  Once inside, I could see why this is the perfect place for the whole family to hang out.  From a roller skating rink to an Escape Room, kids of all ages will be happy.  There is also a haunted house, black light golf, a jungle jym, and arcade games.  Our group of adults did the Missing Deed Escape Room, which was much harder than I expected, we needed various clue to help us get out!

Ghostly Manor is a place you could visit in Sandusky again and again.  I’d consider taking my young ones there if traveling with older children that wanted to be at Cedar Point or nearby Haunted Houses.

So there’s my Top 5 things to do in Sandusky, Ohio with kids!  Have you been to Sandusky?  Were you like me and chose to hit up Cedar Point and then call it a day?  I urge you to add more time to your stay!  Sandusky is celebrating it’s bicentennial in 2018 (more coming soon) and there is tons of revitalization in the works.  You won’t want to miss it!

* I was hosted by Lake Erie Shores & Islands on a media trip.  All opinions are my own.*

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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.

Put-in-Bay, Ohio with kids- A family-friendly day at Put-in-Bay

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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