Parks and playlands

State Parks, Forest, natural wonders, amazing landsacpes….

Day Trips in the Dayton Area

Have a day to spend in Dayton? Want something to do, and You’ve already done The National Museum of The United States Air Force. Here are a few day trips you can take.

History of Dayton

  1. Carillon Historical Park – Website – The historical Museum of Montgomery County. A great place to learn about what made Dayton a worldwide name. Well worth a visit.
  2. Woodland Cemetery – Website – Where all the most famous citizens of Dayton are laid to rest.
  3. Pine Club – Website – The best steakhouse in the area. Has an old school feel. Does not take reservations, and is cash only, but is worth it.

The Birthplace of Aviation (Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park)

  1. Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center – Website – The starting point of the National Park. Tells the early life and times of the brothers and the area. Has a recreated Bike shop next door.
  2. Paul Laurence Dunbar House – Website – The house of famous poet and friend to the Wright Brothers.
  3. Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center – Website – teaches about the field in which the Wright Brothers perfected flight.
  4. Huffman Prairie Flying Field – Located on an Air Force Base and can be closed at times – The field where the Brothers made flight a reality and the oldest flying field in the world.

Sports!

  1. Wegerzyn Gardens Metro Park – Website – a neat garden with many things to do and see
  2. Triangle Park – Website – Site of the First ever NFL game.
  3. Taqueria Mixteca – Website – A very authentic Mexican Joint
  4. Fifth Third Field – Website –  Home to the Dayton Dragons. The only field that has sold out ever game it ever has had (over 1400).

The Arts

  1. Dayton Art Institute – Website – celebrating the visual arts in Dayton for over 100 years. A great place to take kids
  2. Dayton Metro Library – Main Branch – Website – A really big building dedicated to educating the community. Has great art, books on art, and a little bit more inside and all around.
  3. The Benjamin and Marian Schuster Center – Website – Dayton’s largest theater in the preforming arts district. Almost always something to see.

This is only a small idea of things to do in Dayton. As with most all in Ohio there is way more to do than can probably be done in a week.

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Summer in the Cedar Bog

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980 Woodburn Rd, Urbana, OH 43078
http://naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/cedarbog

Cedar Bog, located just outside of Urbana, is a 450 acre nature preserve dedicated to Ohio’s wetlands. Cedar Bog is mistitled. It is actually a Fen. The difference between a fen and a bog is a simple but confusing one. A bog receives water from precipitation. A fen receives water from the local watershed, like underground water table or surrounding rivers.  With over a mile of trails the Bog is a great way to see the wetlands. While this sounds like a walk through a swamp, Cedar Bogs main trail is a boardwalk above the fen. This allows for a nice dry walk even after a recent rain.

The mile long trail runs through tp09-03-16_13-51he forest, in to open areas, and loops back to the main entrance. While it is a short walk the abundance of plant and animal life on the trail makes the walk take much longer.

Summer
With flowers blooming all over the place, birds flying over head, and plenty of Plestiodon (skinks with a blue tail).  The summer is a great time to see the wildlife that comes to graze in the shaded forests of the fen. The flowers blooming in the forest take advantage of the shade to absorb the water from the fen and bloom well into August and later. The abundance of wildlife is also concentrated in the forest. The cool of the morning is the best time to see them. As the day heats up many go to sleep or find a cool place to hide.

One of the main blooms seen is the Mimulus aurantiacus “Monkey Flower”, both the orange and yellow variety. This flower is a host plant for the Buckeye Butterfly which can be seen all over the fen. The forest seems to explode with color. The trees are also full of foliage and make for a great shade in the heat of the day. The difference between the “deep” forest and the fields is striking. The creek at the edge of the trail is full of moss and other growth and seems smaller than during the spring. The flow of water is feed by the large underground water system that makes the bog possible. Even during the hottest month of the year the creek flows nicely. This is a good place to find wildlife taking a quick drink. Most reptiles and amphibians will be in this area of the reserve.

While the bog and forest are cool during the summer. The nearby prairie is not.  The contrast to the wildness of the forest is striking. The sun scorches the land and dries out the area. The prairie in this area has been around since before the settlement of Ohio. The plants in the Prairie trail are use to this and can survive, if not thrive, in the heat. Many of the blooms are yellow and blend in to the color of the grass. The prairie is a great place to see butterflies and insects not found in the forest. Early in the day some wildlife can be seen taking advantage of the grass before the heat of the midday sun.

The summer will be warmer so take some water and go enjoy the nature in one of Ohio’s more diverse and unique trails.

Tip: The bog cost to enter, but is included in a Ohio History Connection Membership. Visiting once a season, with a guest, can pay for the membership.

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.

 

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.

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)

19 place to go in ’19

For the last few years we have been doing a list of places to see in Ohio. This is our wish list of places to see for the year.  There is no order or ranking. So, we hope you enjoy, 19 places to see in 2019.

  1. John Glenn Museum – In the 50th year of the Apollo 11 moon landing we wanted to visit more of this new museum
  2. The Stuart & Mimi Rose Music Center at The Heights – A large music venue in Huber Heights. Seems to have a great line up each year.
  3. Fort Meigs – the site of a major battle of the war of 1812. Recreated to look like it did in William Henry Harrison’s time.
  4. Loveland Castle – A cool medieval castle in sw Ohio.
  5. Paul A Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum – The name says it all
  6. Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum and Library – a collection and displays on the newspaper and magazine comic. Free!
  7. Ohio Theater – Columbus – They always have a good schedule.
  8. Mansfield -While known for the world-famous Ohio State Reformatory Museum, there are a lot of other museums and attractions in the area. This place is worth a weekend.
  9.  Riverboat Cruise (Cincinnati ) – Here are two places that offer riverboat cruises on the Ohio river. Both offer different cruises and tours. Queen City and BB Riverboats
  10. Pine Tree Barn, Wooster – a shop, barn, restaurant, and unique Ohio attraction all in one
  11. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (original location) and the North Market – Columbus – We love markets, we love ice cream. This is seems like the perfect combination.
  12. Covered Bridge Pizza – Multiple locations of these pizza restaurants that are located in covered bridges.
  13. Toy and Plastic Brick Museum – Lego and toys and a museum, Yes please.
  14. The Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati – Cincinnati has great art, and somehow we missed last time in town. Also we want to see more of the great murals.
  15. Glass Heritage Museum – Heritage and art all in one free location.
  16. Deer Creek State Park – A new place to hike and be outdoors.
  17. Sweetie Candy Company – Return to the Candy!
  18. A Street Fair in Ohio – So many to choose from.
  19. Sandy Ridge Reservation – scenic views and hiking trails

12 days of Holiday Activities 2018 – Day #8

A Crystal Holiday at Krohn Conservatory

Cincinnati, Ohio

https://www.cincinnatiparks.com/krohn/

The Krohn has great flowers year round but The Holiday show this year is taking it a step further.  As their website says
“See replicas of the Roebling Bridge, Carol Ann’s Carousel, Union Terminal and others.  Special this year, National Park Service structures will be on display, including the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore National Memorial.  Applied Imagination’s installations garner nationwide recognition and delighting audiences by using plant materials to build historic architecture and whimsical worlds.”
Just down the way  from the Krohn is

LUMINARIA

Night Lights at the Cincinnati Observatory
December 9 6:30pm – 8:30pm

https://www.cincinnatiobservatory.org/publicevents/upcoming-events-2/

For the 43rd year the Cincinnati Observatory will open up it historic telescope for a look at the Holiday night sky. They will have carolers, stargazing, gift shop, and Hot Drinks to warm you up.

Best of all this event is free and open to the public.

12 days of Holiday Activities 2018 – Day #2

Zoo Lights

Our Review.

Ohio Zoo’s are world class. At the holidays they do not disappoint. They are annually some of the best lights in the nation. This year the lights are again in the running for Best Zoo Lights from the 10best at USA TODAY.

PNC Festival of Lights 
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens
http://cincinnatizoo.org/events/festival-of-lights/

The Cincinnati Zoo will have a 25 foot tree on their swan lake, with floating orbs, all synchronized to music. A gingerbread village with hidden surprises will entertain. The Sisters from Frozen have a meet and greet at the Frozen Wonderland area, and Santa will be available 1 hour before the lights this year.

The Cincinnati Zoo was #1 in 2015 and #8 in 2017. How will they do this year?
To vote for them as the best: https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-zoo-lights-2018/pnc-festival-of-lights-at-the-cincinnati-zoo-cincinnati/

WildLights
Columbus Zoo

https://www.columbuszoo.org/home/visit/plan-your-visit/event-calendar

The Columbus Zoo has gone all out this year. They have a 42 ft tree that puts on a show. Santa is at home near the polar bears. They also have shows through out the zoo, and much more.

The Columbus Zoo was #5 in 2015 and #7 in 2016. Can they break the top 5 this year?

To vote for them as the Best : https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-zoo-lights-2018/wildlights-at-the-columbus-zoo-columbus-ohio/

 

Toledo Zoo Lights Before Christmas
Toledo Zoo
https://www.toledozoo.org/lights

The Toledo Zoo has carolers, lights, and more lights. This year the historic tunnel will make its renovated reopening at the lights. The Cafe will once again be used as a backdrop for a dazzling lights show and the winter village will return.

The Toledo Zoo was #2 in 2015, #1 in 2016 and 2017. Will it make this a 3rd year in a row?

To vote for them as the best: https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-zoo-lights-2018/lights-before-christmas-at-the-toledo-zoo-toledo-ohio/