Fun on the Farm! Malabar Farm State Park in Ohio (2024)

A Local’s Guide to Our Most-Frequented State Park

Malabar Farm State Park is, in my opinion, one of Ohio’s most versatile state parks! Located just 20 minutes from downtown Mansfield in Richland County, Malabar Farm State Park offers a full day of outdoor fun for the entire family. Hiking, educational opportunities, literature studies, and history – there’s a lot to enjoy at Malabar Farm.

Why is Malabar Farm famous?

Malabar Farm State Park is the home of Pulitzer Prize winner, Louis Bromfield. Bromfield grew up in Mansfield and moved back to Ohio as the groanings of WW2 began in Europe. Malabar Farm was also the wedding site of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Visitors to Malabar Farm can learn more about the famous nuptials by touring the Big House.

Malabar Farm is managed by the State of Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources.

Malabar Farm State Park is one of my favorite Ohio State Parks.  The versatile park offers numerous hiking and educational opportunities.

When is the best time to visit Malabar Farm?

There is something to do in all seasons at the Farm. Late winter is perfect to see the sugar maple trees being tapped for syrup. Summer is great for touring the home or taking a hike with full creek beds and waterfalls. Fall views from Mt. Jeez are extraordinary. Christmastime brings snowy hikes and a Christmas Tour of the Big House. All that to say, there’s something to be found in all seasons, but do note that Mt. Jeez and the Big House are both completely shuttered from January through March.

Things to do at Malabar Farm State Park

Visitor Center

Begin your visit to Malabar Farm at the Visitor Center. The newly remodeled, interactive displays help kids and adults learn about farming and conservation.

The Visitor Center is also the place to learn more about Louis Bromfield. Louis Bromfield was born and raised in Mansfield but was living in Europe on the eve of WWII. He chose to move his family back to the area as he sought refuge from war and his desire for farm life grew.

While locally Louis Bromfield is known for his farming and conservation practices, throughout the world he is better known for his books. Pleasant Valley was Louis Bromfield’s first non-fiction book and described his return to Ohio and life on the farm.

Don’t forget to peruse the gift shop for quality, local products. There is a great selection of t-shirts and other tourist favorites, but don’t overlook the local maple syrup or farm-raised beef.

Visitor Center Malabar Farm State Park

Visitor Center willy truck

Visitor Center malabar Farm

Malabar Farm playground

Just a short stroll from the Visitor Center is the playground. This farm-themed structure is a blast for kids aged 3 and up!

The farm-themed playground at Malabar Farm State Park is sure to please the kids!

The Cemetery

Louis Bromfield and his family are buried at Olivet Cemetery, an unassuming resting spot on the grounds of Malabar Farm.

Malabar Farm State Park - Olivet Cemetery

The Big House Tour

The Big House has multiple claims to fame. First, it was the home of Louis Bromfield and his family. When Bromfield returned to Ohio in 1938 he had the farmhouse at Malabar Farm remodeled and expanded into a 32-room home. The final product was known as “The Big House.”

Malabar Farm Big House

Big House Malabar Farm

The Big House is also renowned for being the wedding spot of Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. The private ceremony took place after the bride and groom descended each side of the staircase.

The guided tour of the home is very thorough. Visitors are granted access to most rooms and tour guides offer a lot of valuable information on the history! However, the Big House tours are only offered seasonally, usually April until the December holiday tours.

The Big House is where Louis Bromfield and his family lived at Malabar Farm.  Visitors can tour the home for a small fee.

The Big House is where Louis Bromfield and his family lived at Malabar Farm.  Visitors can tour the home for a small fee.
The bedroom where Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall spent their wedding night.

The Working Farm

While the farm doesn’t have the staff that it did under Bromfield, Malabar Farm still operates as a working farm. The original barn burnt to the ground in 1993 but was rebuilt in 1994. Families will find plenty of livestock to interact with (our kids like the ponies).

The silo, corn crib, and old smokehouse still stand. We enjoyed explaining to our children how the smokehouse served the home when refrigeration was rare.

Hiking Trails

Malabar Farm has three hiking trails and one bridle trail (hiking trails map). Foot traffic is allowed on the bridle trail, but it is over 5 miles long. The three main trails are the Jungle Brook, Butternut, and Doris Duke Woods Trail. Hiking trails are NOT handicap or stroller accessible.

The Jungle Brook Trail is probably the easiest trail for children. This trail goes through meadows and woodlands and has boardwalk coverage in low-lying areas. Visit this area in spring and summer to enjoy the abundance of wildflowers.

hiking Malabar Farm State Park

Butternut Cave  - hiking trails Malabar Farm State Park

The Doris Duke Woods and Butternut Trails are both wooded with steep climbs. The Butternut Trail is unique in that there is a small cave to be explored. Young children love inspecting this cool, damp cave, while the adults try to squirm themselves out the other side.

If visiting the Doris Duke Woods Trail, be sure to stop at the trailhead and admire Pugh Cabin. Pugh Cabin is best known for its brief appearance in the opening scene of The Shawshank Redemption. Interested in visiting Shawshank Film Sites? How about a run in the Shawshank Hustle 7k?

Pugh Cabin at Malabar Farm State Park.  Pugh Cabin is a part of the Shawshank Trail because it was featured in the movie, The Shawshank Redemption.

Bridle trail Malabar Farm- Ferguson Falls
Ferguson Falls is accessed off of the bridle trail. We parked at the Maple Syrup cabin and hiked from there.

For more nearby hiking & exploring, check out my guide to Mohican State Park or the best hikes in Northeast Ohio.

Mt. Jeez

Located across Pleasant Valley Road from the State Park, Mount Jeez offers a gorgeous view over the valley and the farm. Only open from April to October, this lookout is popular with visitors around sunset.

The view from Mt Jeez at Malabar Farm State Park.

Mt Jeez Malabar Farm State Park
A sunset from Mt. Jeez in late October

Malabar Farm State Park Events

Malabar Farm offers many educational and family-friendly activities throughout the year. Late February or early March kicks off Maple Syrup Days. This is one of the premier maple syrup festivals in Ohio. In 2024, Maple Syrup Days are March 2 & 3 and March 9 & 10.

Family Fun on the Farm is June 29. This will focus on family-friendly activities based on natural resources and local food sources.

Ohio Heritage Days are in September and include horse-drawn wagon rides, crafters, an open house for the Ceely Rose House, tours of the Big House, and Civil War reenactors. The best way to keep up with Malabar Farm events is through their Facebook page or the Foundation events page website.

Our family loves visiting Malabar Farm State Park and I hope after this post that you will see why we think it is Ohio’s most versatile state park. There are so many different lessons that could be taught on a day trip to Malabar Farm. I hope your family will take the time to enjoy it!

Malabar Farm Restaurant

The Malabar Farm Restaurant is currently closed. ODNR is looking for new ownership.

Malabar Farm State Park is located at 4050 Bromfield Rd, Lucas, Ohio.

Read Louis Bromfield’s book Malabar Farm

For things to do nearby, check out the Things to Do in Mansfield, Ohio, and the best restaurants in Mansfield, Ohio. You may also be interested in spending time in nearby Wooster or things to do in Millersburg, Ohio.

Where to stay: The closest hotels are the La Quinta Inn & Hampton Inn in Mansfield.

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Ultimate Guide to Malabar Farm State Park , Ohio - Things to do at Malabar Farm State Park
Malabar Farm State Park near Mansfield, Ohio is a versatile state park that offers everything from hiking, to an historic home tour, to petting farm animals and even a popular film site!  Malabar Farm is sure to be a hit with all ages.  #ohiofindithere
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