Review

Places to go and things to see

Victoria Theatre

Victoria Theatre

138 N Main St, Dayton, OH 45402

https://victoriatheatre.com/venues/victoria-theatre/

Theater has a long history in the Buckeye state. in the early days it was preformed in city halls, churches, and living rooms. After the Civil War there was an explosion of theaters across the state and the country. The industrial revolution had made cities larger and with more people came more need for entertainment. Dayton was no different. In 1866 the Turner opera house opened.

After a few years it burned down and was rebuilt. This new theater lasted changed names a few times but lasted into the 20th century. In 1913 heavy rains flooded the city and the Victoria Theatre. The theater was rebuilt but only 5 years later a fire gutted it. After rebuilding again the theater found fame. Housing plays, orchestra concerts (even creating The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra in 1930), and movies, the theater was in its prime. With the spread of the suburbs in the late 1960’s the theater, and downtown Dayton, faced economic decline. In 1970’s it was scheduled to be torn down. Dayton citizens, with their history of saving classic old buildings, found a way to save the building by founding the Victory Theatre Association. In 1988 the Arts Center Foundation acquired the theater and after $17.5 Million in renovations opened it as the Victoria Theatre. The organization did so well in bringing theater back downtown that it was able to open the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Center across the street.

The Victoria Theatre is one of the state’s classic old theaters. Updated slightly, and modernized with new equipment, the feel is still that of the 1988 renovation, which harked back to the original look of the place. The lobby houses a small bar / concessions area and restrooms. At the end of the lobby are the doors to the main floor of the theater and the stairs to the upper lobby and balcony. Inside the theater the seats are comfortable and the view decent. The older style seating can lead to obstructed views depending on the people sitting in front of one. The 1154 seats themselves are comfortable and not to small. The balcony has a steep rise and most seats have a good view from it. The stage is large enough to not feel out of place in the venue.

The theater is smaller than some of the other venues in the state. While the Broadway touring productions have moved across the street to the large Schuster Center. The intimate size is not as well suited for the larger productions any more, as the shows get grander and grander. The venue is great for the smaller shows the theater preforms. Small musical groups, one man shows, and family theater are housed there and do quite well. The theater even returns to it’s movie palace heydays in the Summer with the Cool Film Series.

From its early days after the Civil War to its revitalization to its modern use, The Victoria Theater has become a main stay of the Dayton, and even Ohio, theater scene.

 

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The Stuart & Mimi Rose Music Center at The Heights

6800 Executive Blvd, Huber Heights, OH 45424

https://www.rosemusiccenter.com

The Dayton area is no stranger to outdoor concert venues. Since 1991 there has been the Fraze Pavilion. Last year Levitt Pavilion in downtown opened for free concerts. The largest by far is the The Stuart & Mimi Rose Music Center at The Heights.

The Rose Music Center is located north of town in the city of Hube Heights. The venue opened in 2015 and is the first in a group of building being developed in the area. It is right of the highway and very easy to spot standing by itself in a field. It also is one of the largest buildings in the area, which doesn’t hurt.

The Center has plenty of parking and is well suited for the crowds that it attracts. The interior is just a row of concession stands restrooms and the performance area. The concessions are standard concert venue far with hot dogs, sandwiches, and plenty to drink. Offerings are the same across the entire pavilion. No need to walk far distances for something special. The area around the center is also full of many options for a bite before the show, with more being built in the future. The restrooms are large and right next to the entrance of the seating area. They handle a lot of people and tend to back up very little at busy times.

The actual performance area is the main draw of the center. Unlike the Fraze all seats are covered. This roof covers the seats but is high enough not to block any views and to allow for ventilation on the hot summer nights. Containing 4,200 seat, it is one of  larger venues in the county. The seating area is wide and deep angling toward the decently sized stage. Some of the back seats can be a little far from the stage, but are not too far to be able to enjoy the show. The back section is angled steep enough that views are not blocked too much. There are video screens and a good sound system to help make sure everyone has a good time, not just the people in front. The seats are comfortable without being anything to special. The Rose Center is located along a major highway (I-70). This makes for easy access to and from an event. This also means that during busy times some of the noise from the road will bleed into the venue. Any performance will usually drown this out.

The selection of acts are very similar to the ones at the Fraze. From well known new acts to older bands, The Rose has a little bit of something for everyone. While the Greater Dayton area seem too small to support two large venues, the differences between the more intimate feeling Fraze and the grand scale of the Rose set them apart enough for both venues to be supported and loved.

As the weather heats up so do the summer tours and The Stuart & Mimi Rose Music Center at The Heights is a great place to see a loved band or find a new favorite.

Ohio Theater (Columbus)

model of Ohio Theater

39 E State St, Columbus, OH 43215

https://www.capa.com/venues/detail/ohio-theatre

All large cities in Ohio, and some smaller, have a live show venues.  One of the states major venues is the Ohio Theater located in the heart of downtown Columbus. Just across the street from the Statehouse, and using the same parking garage, the theater blends into the taller buildings surrounding it, but somehow stands out.

The Ohio Theater originally opened in 1928 as a Loew’s showing movies and some live entertainment. Eventually the competition from television caused the movie house to close in 1969. The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts was formed to save the historic building. 50 years later the organization and the Ohio Theater are still going strong. While somethings have changed and been modernized, the original fell and look of the building is still intact. It has also been expanded to accommodate it’s role as the “official theater of the state of Ohio.” Many of the cities major preforming arts organizations, including “Columbus Symphony, BalletMet, and Broadway in Columbus,” use the building as their home venue.

The theater is very easy to find. The entryway is light up by a large marquee. Inside the lobby is a little small for the size of the theater and can become crowded. The lobby has a large bar taking up a bit of the space, and lines from it can get in the way at times. The loge too has a balcony for extra space which over looks the main lobby, and a separate bar. The decor of original building is the same as it was in its heyday as a movie place. The expansion on the side, however, does a nice job of adding the extra space that is needed. This is where a coffee bar and small snack bar are located. It is in a modern style and fells like the second building it is.  Access to the theater is easy to find with the friendly staff ready to help. The upper sections are a little harder to find. Being an old movie house the restrooms are smaller and can get very busy at peak times.

The theater itself is nice. Seating is comfortable. The sight lines to the stage are good from most seats. The sound has been upgraded over the years and is well balanced. It does not feel as if it is being projected from speakers but as if the performers are just louder. The stage is large enough to be able to hold almost any production. From concerts to plays to movies, The Ohio theater is a great place to see a show.

Tip: Located on across the street from the State house the Theater is in a well used part of town. Before the show there are a lot of places to eat and drink, but they can become very crowded with the downtown crowds. Make sure to arrive early. Parking at the Statehouse has one of the best show rates in the state. 

 

 

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum

Address:

Sullivant Hall, 1813 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43210

https://cartoons.osu.edu

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is located on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus. This museum houses the world’s largest collection of cartoons and comics. The college started collecting artwork in the 1970’s when it was given the collection of Dayton native and world famous cartoonist Milton Caniff, and has grown since. The museum is open to public most afternoons. Their is also library where one can study cartoons and comics.

The collection includes, editorial cartoons, comic books, comic strips, graphic novels, spots cartoons, magazine cartoons. The museum itself is made of a few galleries filled with cartoons and comics. There is tons to look at an explore. The museum has special exhibits through out the year and many exhibits are rotated. When we went there was a really great Mad Exhibit.

The admission is free, so coming many times a year is needed to see the new exhibits. There is parking in the area, free and at a cost. Most likely, one will have to pay, so look at the options and find out the best deals. The time it takes to visit the museum all depends on how long one spends reading the cartoons. There is lots of fun comics to read, so take the museum leisurely.  The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is really unique museum that is easy to access. You do not have to be a lover of comics, to enjoy this museum.

Tip: The museum is located on the campus of one of Americas biggest Universities. The place will be busy during the school year and a madhouse at football time. 

 

 

Fort Meigs

29100 W River Rd, Perrysburg, OH 43551

https://www.fortmeigs.org

Following the Siege of Fort Meigs the fort was no longer needed.  A smaller fort was built but abandoned at the end of the war. As the years went on the site was left but not forgotten. 1864, during another American war, brothers Timothy and Thomas Hayes bought the land and decided to preserve it for all that had fallen. In 1907 their family decided to sell it to the state of Ohio. One year later a large monument was installed by veterans of the Civil War to honor those from the War of 1812. In the 1960’s the Ohio History Society decided to rebuilt the Fort. The new recreated Fort opened in 1974. After nearly 30 years the Fort was starting to show its age and in 2000 the Fort was rebuilt again. This new Fort now stands proudly along the Maumee.

The Fort is split into two main parts, the Fort and the Museum. Starting with the Fort is a good idea. The land has change overtime but the Fort itself was recreated to be as accurate as possible. Inside the its walls are the embankments, like those that protected the men during the battle, blockhouses, and the memorial erected by the Civil War veterans. At first this seems like any other recreation of a fort. Walking around the grounds one can get a feel for how big the Fort was. The land however does not really give much for the feel of the time, or the life of a soldier. One can go inside the blockhouse too.

The blockhouses, all seven of them, are the real treat to the Fort recreation. Unlike some recreations where it is a blank building, or just a few items, these are full museum rooms.  Inside are displays about the time of the Fort, the life of the soldiers, and the activities of the siege. They include maps, very detailed models, and interactive displays. All of the blockhouses are separated into one aspect each, but together make up a large museum. Each one must be entered to get the whole story of the Fort.

Outside the trails include the paths that the would have been used at the time. They follow along the outer edge along the wall going from house to house. At certain points the wall is lower and the river can be seen, or the field where the British and Tecumseh’s men were stationed. At these points are cannons ready to defend the Fort.

Inside the visitors center is a nice video, museum, and the gift shop. While the Fort is about the battle, the museum is more about times before the conflict, the times of the greater conflict, and how we know what we know than it is the siege itself. This is where the actual artifacts are housed. Along side the artifacts are stories of how they were found. Pictures of the archaeological digs, tales of the interpretation needed, and questions still left unanswered. The museum is a great companion to the Fort.

From the Fort to the fields to the Museum, Fort Meigs is a great place to learn about a piece of American history that helped to keep us free, the life and times of the men and women who fought, and we can keep their history alive.

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 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.