Local Landscape

What makes Here… Here

The hills of Hocking County Region and what to do.

In the southwest corner of Ohio, about 1/4 of the way up the map is the region surrounding the county of Hocking. The county has less than 30,000 residents. The region is in a part of the state crisscrossed with back roads and no interstates. Yet despite it small size and out of the way location millions of people visit it each year. The big question is what do all these people do in Hocking County and the surrounding region?

Museums:
For such a lightly populated place the region has a large number of museums. From the small museum with a great point to the giant washboard and its museum and factory  How about the birthplace of a famous Civil War General, or a glass hot shop and museum. Like art? The region has many art museums too. A good list is available at http://www.explorehockinghills.com/things-to-do/indoor-activities/arts/museums/

Outdoor Activities:
Paddling on the Hocking River or Lake Logan is always a popular option. They even have a water jetpack adventure. Biking, both mountain and road, are a good way to get exercise. Golf, both mini and big, is offered in the region. The area is known for its large forested hills and state parks. Hiking and simply enjoying nature seems to a very popular.

Shopping:
The region does not have many large big box chain stores, but makes up for it in the many little art studios and mom and pop shops dotting the region. A quick search on the internet, or with the help of the friendly staff at the regional welcome centers, will bring up a large list of places to find that unique item or gift.

Free Stuff:
The amount of free stuff to do in the area will make it a sure draw for people from all over the state. We tried to put a list together but found this one covered more than we could even imagine. http://www.explorehockinghills.com/things-to-do/free-fun/

Or one could just visit  the State parks with ravines. They always seem to be a popular option.

Special thanks to Hocking Hills Tourism Association. Their Website is overflowing with things to do in the region. Their Welcome Centers are a must stop for the beginning of any tour of the area.

 

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Cantwell Cliffs

Address: State Route 374, Logan, Ohio 43138

Websites: http://parks.ohiodnr.gov/hockinghills

https://www.explorehockinghills.com/recreation/cantwell-cliffs

This is going to be a short review of Cantwell Cliffs. Cantwell Cliffs is part of Hocking Hills State Park. This park is 17 miles from Old Man’s Cave, so it is not as well visited as other parks of Hocking Hills State Park. This makes the place less crowded. The trails in Cantwell Cliffs are 1 to 2 miles. These trails are listed as difficult by the park’s website. This is very true as the trails are full of steps and inclines. There are two main trails. One on the rim of the cliffs is easier and less rocky. The lower trail is more of a challenge.  Both are relatively short and can be done in one day. Getting between the two can be an adventure in itself.

 

This woodland park is full of waterfalls (even though one website says there are none), steps, cliffs, waterways, and other natural beauty. The park might not be accessible by everyones ability level, but it is a very nice change to the other parks in the area. So, if you able and willing for a challenge, this park’s natural beauty will amaze. 

 

 

Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center

13178 State Route 664 South, LoganOH 43138 

https://www.explorehockinghills.com/plan/welcome-centers

The Hocking Hills Welcome Center is one of the best places to start a trip to the Hocking Hills region. The center is located at the edge of downtown Logan, Ohio. It is a great place to get trail maps and information on the less traveled trails and parks of the region. Inside are brochures and guides on more than just the natural wonders, with lots of information on businesses catering to visitors. It also has a large collection of menus from local restaurants for anyone trying to decide where to go after a long day on the trail.

While the world has gone digital and most information is online, the centers staff is quite helpful and a great resource. They are happy to help visitors find the regions popular destinations, local resources, and hidden gems. The center also has many paper maps that are great for using on the trails or roads of the region. In an area where mobile phone reception can be and usually is spotty, this can be a real life saver.

While there don’t forget to leave enough time to go to the Paul A Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum just outside the front doors. This is one of the regions hidden treasures.

Paul A Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum

13178 State Route 664 South, LoganOH 43138

Paul A Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum Sign

The Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum is located next to the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center. This museum is an oversized garden shed. What the museum lacks in size it makes up in the size of the collection. The museum houses the collection of Paul Johnson. There are over 3,400 pencil sharpeners in the collection. It is just one room. A person can stand in the middle and turn three sixty and see the whole museum. A visit to the area should include this museum. It will not take long to see, but will amaze one in the amount and variety of pencil sharpeners. It is one of Ohio’s hidden treasures. So, make it a point to see this museum.

COSI Old and New

Digital Cameras didn’t become a common device until 2000 by that time COSI had built its new building. Lucky for us some one has been collecting old photographs, maps, stories and history of the Science Center.

http://oldcosi.com

But for the newer COSI here are some of our photos:

COSI and The American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery

333 W Broad St, Columbus, OH 43215

https://cosi.org/exhibits/dinos

In the fall of 1999 the Center of Science and Industry, COSI for short, opened its new riverside museum along the Scioto River. This museum was a $210 million work of art. Built on top of the old Central High School, the building is a very large and inviting presence in Columbus. Unfortunately it also had a high upkeep cost to it. Because of the building expense and maintenance costs COSI eventually had to shutter large portions of its building, including the entire south wing. The major exhibit in that space was the ever popular Adventure. Adventure did reopen in 2010, but this time as an extra fee. At the turn of 2017 Adventure was closed for good. In its place would come a new gallery with the help of The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in NYC.

The American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery is the newest permanent exhibit in the museum. The gallery is dedicated to the full understanding of the large creatures that once ruled the earth. More than just talking about them as a zoo would, with info on the different types and displays of each, the gallery dives deep into how they lived, how they acted, how we know what we know, what exactly they were, and what they became. The exhibit does not shy away from the idea that dinosaurs did not become lizards, but become birds. The amount of information it presents to explain why we now believe this to be true is vast.

This in-depth exploration of the 100’s of millions of years dinosaurs roamed the earth can become a little overwhelming for kids. The exhibit breaks up the information with displays, dioramas, and skeletons, and some interactive elements. Kids will enjoy looking at all the visual things the gallery. There are also many hands on portions that they will love. Adult can take a deeper dive into the facts and figures. The hall is a great place to take any interested in natural history, dinosaurs, birds, or great museum exhibits.

Along with the Dinosaur Gallery the American Museum of Natural History used the available portion of the wing to open a rotating Special Exhibition Gallery next door. When we went the gallery had Traveling The Silk Road: Ancient Pathway on exhibit. This exhibit was presented by AMNH and was amazing. While the exhibits will change from time to time if they live up to the standards that COSI and AMNH have given with the Dinosaur Gallery we expect everyone to be a reason in and of themselves to come and see why COSI is one of the greatest Science Museums in America.

 

COSI – 10 years later

Columbus, OH 43215
http://www.cosi.org/

Original Review

10 years Ago we posted a review of Columbus’ Center of Science and Industry. COSI as it is known. Since then many things have changed and evolved. Some sections have gone away. Others have advanced with the times.  Over all the museum has finally found its footing and is as amazing as ever.

Upon arriving at the complex the first change many will notice is that the old parking lot is gone. In its place is an underground large parking garage. Atop the garage is a green space with gardens and spaces for programs. From the outside this opens up the area to be more scenic.

Inside much has changed, but in more subtle ways. Do to budget concerns the museum had to close some of it exhibits. This lead to the more kid friendly attractions staying and some of the more educational parts being shuttered. Over the years these parts have reopened, moved, and been reworked. Some have become areas for traveling exhibits that are included with admission. These sections keep the museum fresh and ever changing.

With the new sections open the museum feels well balanced. Sections for the kids (Gadgets) still are around but new section where the whole family can learn are also included. Energy Explorers teaches about conservation and proper use through interactive games and exhibits. All of the activities are tied to a card that one picks up on entering and everything affects the overall outcome of the person chosen. The kids can have fun with the games, while the adults can think about the answers. Small choices can have a big out come.

This mix of fun and learning helps to teach without preaching. Many of the attractions that have reopened are like this. Life has a working research lab from Ohio State University. At the same time the data is collected through many interactive stations and games. Ocean now has a lab / more information room where visitors can study the world right around them, not just the bigger ocean. COSI seems to have taken the “great for kids learning about a subject but not so much a place to “explore more information.” and fixed it. Now many of the section have both simple to learn ideas and larger context working together.

 

One of the best parts of the redesigns is the section dedicated to the history of the Museum itself. In it is many photos and artifacts from the begone days of the old building and even the lost section of the new one. This is where the old mine elevator is now housed. Any one who remembers the original COSI will love to ride it agian.

Probably the biggest change is to the South Wing. gone is the popular, but more for kids, Adventure section. In its place is a New Gallery. But that is a whole other review in itself.

So for its 20th year in the new location we say give it a try. COSI has found its footing and is now a great place for Adults, kids , and every one of any age.

The Scioto Mile

https://www.sciotomile.com/

The Scioto Mile is a collection of 9 parks along the Scioto River in the heart of Downtown Columbus. Started in 2015, this “mile” was a reworking of the land surrounding the river. Dams were removed. The area was taken back to a more natural state and the its beauty was emphasized. The mile has more than 175 acres of land, but is more than just a series of parks along a river.

The parks are connected by the Scioto Trail. The trail makes up the backbone of the system running from Scioto Audubon Park in the south to the Olentangy Trail in the north and on to the Ohio to Erie Trail. It follows the east side of the river winding from park to park. The parks are not just open green spaces with a few benches. Many of them are filled with sculptures and memorials. There is a center dedicated to the visual arts. More in to the performing arts? The trail has a place for them too. The variety of things to see and do is enormous.

Along the trail is Milestone 229. A restaurant for people on the trail. This is not a fast food joint but a comfort food joint for everyone. It “offers a kids’ menu, as well as vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.” The restaurant has great views of the river and the Scioto Mile Fountain. The fountain is a large interactive fountain that comes alive at night with lights and fog. A must see on the mile.

In the middle is the name sake that flows through the city. This section of the river has been improved to be a great water recreation venue. Paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks can be seen on the river during the warmer months. Tours are even offered.

Along the west bank the trail goes through less parks but is no less as scenic. The trail ends up at the new National Veterans Memorial and Museum and one of the Greatest Science Museums in the nation.

The Scioto Mile is a great way to get out and see nature or to experience the city life, or do both at the same time. It is the variety that makes this state great all within the heart of its capital city.

 

Scioto Audubon Metro Park

400 W. Whittier Street Columbus, OH 43215

http://www.metroparks.net/parks-and-trails/scioto-audubon/

In many cities there are parks that are urban oasis, where one can find a bit of nature. Scioto Audubon park in Columbus is one of these places. This is the kind of park on travels to, visits everyday, or visits when in Columbus. This 120-acre park is south of downtown on the Scioto River. So this park is easy to get to when visiting the city. It is filled with a dog park, climbing wall, volleyball courts, hiking trails, obstacle course, hiking/biking/walking trails, bocce court, fishing, boat ramps, butterfly garden, visitor center, nature center and more.

water tower water tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If one really wants to see the park or the surrounding area, there is an observation deck. This water tower observation deck has two levels and allows one to get some height to see the area.

The  Grange Insurance Audubon Center is housed in an eco-friendly building located in the park. This educational center has programs for all ages and groups. Many of the programs focus on birds and animals in the area and many people’s backyard. The building has exhibits inside for the general public to see, also. So a visit to the park, make sure to stop into the center.

Here are some great virtual tours of the center – http://grange.audubon.org/visit/virtual-tours

This park has great trails, which are one can lots of wildlife. Trails take one through the wetlands, open areas, over hills, and around waterways. These trails weave through the trails and some also connect the park with other parts of the city.

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The trails in the park are not only limited to the park itself. One trail is the start of the Scioto Mile. The mile runs from the park to just south of COSI. One of the most scenic trails and river walks in the state, if not the nation. The mile is more than just one or two parks connected. It is a destination in and of itself … (stay tuned for more on the Mile)

German Village Coffee Shop

193 Thurman Avenue,Columbus, OH 43206

www.gvcoffeeshop.com

Menu

The German Village Coffee Shop is a coffee shop in the German Village area of Columbus. The feeling of the place is comfortable, neighborhood hang out, old school, and inviting. It is a diner with booth and counter service. You can see your food being made right in front of you. The coffee shop is open for breakfast and lunch. Expect the place to be more popular on weekends. It is not huge, so one might have to wait. The food was very tasty and the coffee was good. One true test of diner, is if the coffee cup is keep full. Their was the right amount of attention to our needs. The menu consists of omelets, burgers, sandwiches, hotcakes, pancakes, and salads. The place is one of those neighborhood spots where people come in and know each other, this place was really showing this when we were there. The German Village Coffee Shop is a place to try out when visiting Columbus.

You can tell we liked the coffee

Do not worry the coffee cup was kept full.