Shopping and Services

Shops, places to buy stuff, and things people do.

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

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12 days of Holiday Activities 2018 – Day #11

The “A Christmas Story” House

http://www.achristmasstoryhouse.com

Every year TBS has a tradition of playing a Christmas Story for 24 hours on Christmas eve and day. Many people across America do not know that the film, based on stories from Jean Shepherd‘s book “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash“, was filmed in Cleveland. The house that was used for exterior shots and the opening of the “Fragile” package has become a museum and is open year round. This time of year, however, is the perfect time to visit the house. The original house has been decorated to match the sound stages from the movie and tours are given. Overnight stays are also offered.  The Bumpuses’ house next door (for overnight stays), a Museum across the street, and a gift shop are also on site. The House is located in a residential area so be mindful of the neighbors when visiting.

a few blocks away from the House is

West side Market

http://westsidemarket.org

Our Review of The West Side Market

The West Side Market is a nationally known market. The market is a great place to stock up on fresh meat, vegetables, and other goodies for your holiday meals. The site is also a great place to see the history of Cleveland. The citizen of Cleveland have been going to the market for the last 106 years so you know they must be doing something right.

12 days of Holiday Activities 2018 – Day #1

The Legendary Christmas Lights at Historic Clifton Mill

Our review

The Legendary Lights at the Historic Clifton Mill have been lighting up the holidays for the last 31 years. The display started with a few lights on the mill and has exploded to the hills, cliff, and creek surrounding it. The display will even put on a show on the hour every hour. The Light display maybe a reason to go but it is so much more than that. The Mill also features a vintage toy room, a Santa room, and a miniature city with many moving parts.

With over 4 million lights every year is a big year. 2018, however, is a big year for the lights at Clifton Mill. This year they have made the USATODAYS 10best public holiday lights display nomination list. They also will be on the December 3 Great Holiday Light Fight on ABC. With so much national exposure make sure dress warm and take some time to see them this year.

To vote for Clifton Mill as the best public lights:
https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-public-holiday-lights-display/legendary-lights-of-clifton-mill-clifton-mill/

Day Trips in Cincinnati

Are you planning to go to  Zinzinnati for Oktoberfest, but need something to do the next day? Have a day free and are wondering what to do? Here are some day trip ideas for Cincinnati.

Trip 1: A day at the park 

A trip to Eden park is a great way to spend the day, see the sights and not spend a lot of money.

  1. Echo Restaurant: a great place to get a quick breakfast before a long day of sightseeing
  2. Krohn Conservatory:  Located in Eden park it is a greenhouse that goes way beyond anything at the local flower shop.
  3. A picnic in Eden Park:  While in one of Cincinnati loveliest sites stop for a quick bite. Sit on the lawn, by the lake, or at the river overlook.
  4. Cincinnati Art Museum: The next stop is also in Eden park. One of the best art museums in the state.

 Trip 2: Signs in the Sky

An afternoon and evening trip to see the city in a different light.

  1. American Sign Museum: A museum dedicated to signs of all forms. With a working neon shop and more neon that one location needs. Last Tour starts a 2pm
  2. Arthur’s: One of the best burger joints in town. Grab a bite for dinner and then walk around Hyde Park.
  3. Cincinnati Observatory:  A great place to visit any time. See the stars at night or just see the telescopes during the day.

Trip 3: History on Display 

Important sites for two of America’s Presidents and a lesson on the struggle for freedom

  1. William Howard Taft National Historic Site: The home of one of Ohio 8 Presidents.
  2. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center: A museum dedicated to freedom for all and the struggle of obtain it.
  3. William Henry Harrison Tomb and Memorial: The site official resting place of the first president to die in office. Also near-by is a marker for the Birthplace of his grandson President Benjamin Harrison.

Trip 4: Art – food for the soul. Food – art for the stomach

A walking tour of the heart of the city and all the art it has to offer. This walking tour can pass by Music Hall and many other great sites.

  1. Findlay Market: A historic market in Over The Rhine. A great place for breakfast or lunch.
  2. The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Main Branch: Stop in for a book, or just to see the great art they have on display.
  3. Fountain Square: The heart of downtown. Stop and admire the fountain, see a concert, or grab a bite.
  4. Contemporary Art Center and 21c Museum Hotel:  Two free art galleries just down the street.
  5. Some of the many, many, many murals the city has: Way more than one could probably see in one day.

Trip 5: A ballgame and some sites

  1. A walk along the riverfront to see the Riverboats
  2. National Steamboat Memorial: A hidden treasure with hidden secrets worth finding
  3. Great American Ballpark: The home of the Cincinnati Reds OR Paul Brown Stadium: Home of the Cincinnati Bengals

Whole Day Themselves:

  1. Cincinnati Zoo: One of the Best Zoos in the nation (maybe start with breakfast at Sugar n’ Spice)
  2. Cincinnati Museum Center. When it reopens this will be one of the premier attractions in the area.

Fountain Square

520 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45202

https://myfountainsquare.com

In the heart of downtown Cincinnati is a large fountain. Surrounded by buildings and the hustle and bustle of business life this fountain could easily be forgotten by the people outside of Cincinnati. But even if the people outside the city forgot it, the people of the city never would. Fountain Square has become the heart of Cincinnati and as famous an icon as the riverfront and the bridges.

The fountain was commissioned by Tyler Davidson, and made at the Royal Bronze Foundry of Bavaria, to honor his late brother-in-law and businesses partner. August von Kreling had the design, but had found no one to sponsor its creation. The fountain stands 43 feet tall. On top is a statue of a lady called The Genius of Water. Around here are four figures representing the human uses of water. Around them at the edges are four figures that represent the pleasures of water. These figures were originally added to the design as drinking fountains and can still be used to this day. The fountain was dedicated on October 6th, 1871 and has been renovated 3 times over the years. In 1971, for its centennial celebration, the fountain was moved and the entire square was redesigned. This was the design and configuration made famous by the WKRP in Cincinnati opening. In 2006 it was moved again as the entire square was revitalized hopping to make it the heart of the city once more.

The original model on view at the Cincinnati Art Museum

It did become the focal point that organizers were hoping for. The square is surrounded by shops and restaurants. The variety of food, from local upscale venues to national fast casual chains, is large enough to make it a daily destination. Many workers simply walk to the square instead of hunting around town. Food trucks park in and around the square on occasion too.

As the heart of the city, the square should be near many other things. 3 art galleries, the library, The Aronoff Center, The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Great American Ballpark, and so many other arractions are within walking distance, or a short ride on the Streetcar. Throughout the week the square host trivia nights, themed food nights, concerts, a Farmers Market (harking back to the sites original uses as a butchers market), and much much more. During the colder months it hosts a skating rink.

We went after a visit to the Cincinnati Public Library Main Branch on a warm spring day. It was lunch time and we found the square busy. Many people were visiting the local food trucks that had parked nearby. Seating seemed to not be a problem as the square had many tables set up. Music was playing from a dj booth located next to the stage. Over all the atmosphere was festive and lively despite the crowds. We were full from eating earlier but found this would be a great place to stop for lunch while exploring the city.

Tip: The fountain is turned off when the weather becomes freezing on a constant basis and is turned on before the first game of the MLB season.

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Main Branch

http://www.cincinnatilibrary.org

Just blocks from the heart of downtown is a large building housing some of the greatest works of art of mankind. No, not the Art museum, most of these works of can actually be held by the public, it’s the The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. The Main branch is split between two buildings with a walk way over 9th Street connecting them. Outside is a bustling city. Inside is a calm relaxing place to study, read, get information, and create.

The south building houses the more traditional and quite sections of the library. In it is the popular library, a place to easily find fiction, films, and audio recordings. This is great way to be in and out with a new title. For more in depth studies the upper floors contain the non-fiction books. On the Third floor is the genealogy and local history rooms. This building is also where most of the computers for Internet access are located. By the front doors are main checkout and the Library Friends Shop.

The shop is small but well stocked. Used books and media no longer needed by the Library are sold at this location. Besides books the shop has plenty of other merchandise too. Think of this as any other book store, but with a heavy Library and Cincinnati theme. This is probably one of the best hidden stores in the entire city.

The more noisy departments are housed in the North building. This allows for some activity to happen in these sections without disturbing the patrons looking for a more quite setting. In this building are the children’s section with a children’s garden, the teen space, homework station, and the MakerSpace. The MakerSpace is one of the best free makers spaces in the state. The space houses more than the 3d printers most libraries offer. As their website states “3D printers, audio and visual equipment, laser cutters and engravers, sewing machines, cameras and other hardware and software tools that they can use for free to create pretty much anything they can imagine.” The traditional audio visual stations can be used to make almost anything need in modern digital society. The printers, cutters, and sewing machines can be used to create almost anything else. Want to work on something but have no knowledge on how to start? The very well informed and super helpful staff will be glad to assist. Note that materials may cost extra for some of the MakerSpace equipment, but it is way less than buying the equipment oneself.

To connect the two buildings is a walk way. Along the walk way and throughout the two buildings are art work and galleries. These displays change regularly and enhance the overall fell of the space. The Main branch of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is more than just a place to get a book to read. It is a welcoming, innovative space to relax, enjoy, and create. Always worth a visit when in the area.

 

Gift Basket Ideas from Ohio

This is the time of year that the stores are filled with simple stocking stuffers and easy to grab gifts for friends and family.  For loved ones near-by this is fine. For friends or family that have moved out of Ohio, or who live in another state and wonder what’s so great about the great state of Ohio, a little more is needed. Here are a few suggestions (not a complete list add your own in comments below) for perfect way to wrap up Ohio.

We have organized our ideas into regional baskets. Pick and choose or add your own. These are just suggestions. If you have any more suggestions you can add them in the comments below.

Northeast:

Northwest:

Southwest:

  • Cincinnati Style Chili – A little bit thinner than the “other” styles of chili, this classic is known for its ability to turn spaghetti into a regional favorite. Everyone has their favorite place, and all are good.
  • Grippos – if they want barbecue chips they probably crave these.
    Mike-Sells – if they are from a little closer to Dayton these are the choice
  • Ester Price – Chocolates from Dayton
  • Boston Stoker Coffee – Don’t let the name fool you, it’s locally roasted coffee.

Central:

Amish Country:

 

 

Airstream Factory Tour

419 West Pike Street
Jackson Center, OH 45334-0629
https://www.airstream.com/company/tours/

The history of Recreational Vehicles took a turn when Wally Byam acquired the Bowlus Company, took the door moved it to the side and created the Airstream Clipper. For about the next 16 years, except for a period during the war years, Airstreams were only manufactured in California. In July 1952 a factory was opened in Jackson Center, Ohio. In 1979 the California plant was closed, leaving Jackson Center as the only place in the world where the unique trailer is produced.

The Factory is located just down the highway from Armstrong Air and Space Museum. The tour starts at 2pm and leaves enough time in the morning to go the museum and have lunch at Al’s Woody’s Diner. The Airstream Factory also is a fitting location with the museum because NASA used Airstreams as Mobile Quarantine Facility for the returning Apollo 11 crew.

The Factory tour starts at the Service center. The center is where Airstream gifts and parts can be bought before the tour. As the name says it is also where Airstreams are brought to be serviced. The tour is popular thing to do while waiting on service. The guide will give each person a pen (a great souvenir) to sign a waiver and give out ear and eye protection. The tour is on the actual factory floor and protection is needed.

The tour starts with a brief history of the company before heading outside. On the way to the main factory the guide will show some of the campers parked outside. This is not a museum tour or a Dealers lot. Wally Byam’s Gold trailer, “Stella’s Gold Airstream,” is there but the rest are finished trailers about to be sent out and not really for display.

Inside the factory the noise can be loud at places. The earplugs protect visitor’s ears but also block out the guides voice. To get around this one member of the group is given a portable speaker and is kept at the back of the tour. The guide can be heard from the front and back at most times, even over the noise of the factory. Sometimes the noise and spread of the group will make it hard to hear.

The tour goes through the process of constructing an Airstream from the ground up. Well more from sides to the floor to the internals. While it might not seem like much at first. Eventually the trailer comes together to the memorable shape. After the trailer is weather tested it is ready for interior. The interiors and wiring are added and the final product is ready to ship.

Overall the tour is a little under 2 hours depending on the size of the group. The distance walked can be close to a mile. The process of building one of the most memorable trailers on the market is fun to see and the price (FREE) can’t be beat.

When we went the second factory building was being retooled for the next model years line of bus style touring coaches. Expect an update when we get a chance to return. 

Bears Mill

6450 Arcanum Bears Mill Rd, Greenville, OH 45331

https://www.bearsmill.org

Bears Mill in Darke County is one of the last water powered mills still in operation in Ohio. The 4 story mill has become more of a museum than a full day to day mill. The mill still mills though.

Bears Mill has a shop on the first floor with a wide variety of kitchen utensils, pottery, decor, and ever chaining selection of art. Of course the shop also offers a selection of grains milled on site. It is a nice place to get a gift, or even just to get something for oneself.

The difference between Bears Mill and other local shops is in the mill itself. The mill is still in operation and during certain times one can actually see the grinding going on. When the miller is away the museum still is informational. The four floors are full of informational placards and pictures of the older days. Along with the working equipment are artifacts and items to support the story of how a mill works. One of the unique things about Bears Mill is that it has both the old buhr stone along with newer roller mills. Most mills discarded the old stones when they got the new rollers. The fact that the mill has both is a testament to the history that is preserved at the site.

Along with the beautiful mill are the acres of land surrounding it. Take a hike along the powerful Greenville Creek and see the force that drives the wheels inside. Sit and enjoy the sounds of the water and nature at the gazebo near-by. So stop by to pick up some grain, a painting, or just to see the old work mill.

Jungle Jim’s: Updated!

Original Post: Jungle Jim’s

The Original Jungle Jim’s is still as Jungley and Jimmy as ever. The food and craziness inside is still as mind blowing as ever. The outside has expanded to include a mini mall with a few restaurants and stores. While they are nothing too unique they help to enhance the overall experience.

NEW Location added:
4450 Eastgate South Drive
Cincinnati, OH 45245

The NEW and exciting update to the Jungle Jim’s franchise is the location on the other side of Cincinnati in Eastgate. The new store is even more zany than the original location. This one doesn’t just have a store map, but almost requires one. The large aisle that runs through out is great for getting from the front door to the registers, but is not so helpful if one goes down a smaller aisle and reconnects to it at some other point. Of course this being Jungle Jim’s, half the fun is getting lost in the endless selection.

The attractions from the original store are included in the new one. Sometimes they are even beefed up, such as in the candy section and honey sections. It seems as if the company knew what made the original a hit and simply expanded on it. The “Hot Sauce and Fiery Food” section is almost 3x as large. Candy section is twice as large. Aisles are now large enough for two lanes of cart traffic.

While expanding some sections Jungle Jim’s also made sure to make the shopping experience a good one. The store seems designed more from entrance to cash registers than the original one.  This is great for the shopper looking to experience everything. This is not so good for a person who is looking to get in and out in a hurry. But hey who goes to Jungle Jim’s expecting to get out in a hurry? This is the type of store that needs exploring and the new layout its great at helping that.

So for a shopping experience like no other visit the Original or NEW location of Jungle Jim’s.

Tip: Eat first. The place will make you want to buy everything and being hungry does not help.