Wednesday, December 7, 2011

So You Think Ohio's Boring?

Want to amp up your weekend with new adventures?
 Looking for exciting thrills and & active lifestyle?
 Interested in exploring the state's hidden gems?
Look no further than OHventures!

We have you covered.

'Tis The Season For Winter Hiking

Photo by OHventures

If you're anything like me, the winter blues hit you hard and fast this time of the year (and it's not even technically winter yet). Save for all of the holiday fun and excitement buzzing around, motivation tends to set as early as the sun does. A lack of daylight hours and warm weather can really make one want to do nothing but curl up by a fireplace wearing a Snuggie and drinking hot cocoa.

But also, if you're anything like me, you would realize that the whole cozying up indoors scenario is for wimps! And you don't want to be a wimp do you?! The cold wintry weather in Ohio is comes year after year whether you like it or not. There's nothing you can do to change that, but you certainly CAN change your gloomy attitude and get your lazy bum outside!

Winter hiking is a relatively new activity in my life. When I was first introduced to the idea of winter hiking I was rather skeptical. I figured I'd just wait until the snow melted before I threw on my hiking boots and busted out the walking stick again. Alas, I just couldn't sit around and do nothing all winter. I was itching for an adventure, and needed a change of scenery - something different than the 4 walls of my office or the inside of the apartment.

So, thanks to the Central Ohio Metro Parks, I started winter hiking...and I fell in love.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Caving Photo Blog

Who: Alone, with a friend, or with a group
What: Caving (in commercial or show caves)
When: Any time of the year (except Christmas and Thanksgiving)
Where: The Ohio Caverns in West Liberty or Crystal Cave in Put-In-Bay
Why: To see crystals and rocks in a rare and majestic setting
How: Put some gas in the car and hand over a few extra bucks!

Photographs by OHventures. Photography is permitted in Ohio Caverns, but videography is prohibited.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ohio Caverns

Photos by OHventures
Caving (or spelunking) is a pretty intense activity that requires a lot of experience, knowledge, equipment, and guts. Thankfully, there are such things as "commercial" or "show" caves in the world, including Ohio, that allow us everyday folk the opportunity to catch a small glimpse of the majestic underground world that we so rarely get to experience. Down there, it's a world of beautiful crystals and unbelievable rock formations.

The Ohio Caverns, located in West Liberty in Champaign County in Southwest Ohio is the largest of Ohio's caves (the largest geode in the world, however, is located in the Crystal Cave of Put In Bay). For a charge of $14 per adult (which I admit is a bit steep...but a good splurge to make), you are able to take a tour of this wonderous show cave almost any day of the year (they are closed only on Christmas and Thanksgiving). Tours are typically every 20 minutes or so, so reservations are not usually required. Depending on the size of your group, the tour will on average last about 45 minutes, spanning a mile of pathways.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Cleveland Rocks!

Photo by OHventures

To outsiders (non Ohioans), Cleveland is probably the most recognizable city in the state, all thanks to its three professional sports teams (Cleveland CavaliersCleveland Browns, and Cleveland Indians), Betty White's hilarious sitcom "Hot In Cleveland" and the hit TV show from the 90s, The Drew Carey Show, whose theme had everyone in America chanting "Cleveland ROCKS!" While it may also be known for the now infamous internet meme, "Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video" (with over 4 million views) and the unfortunate river-burning incident, Cleveland is more than just the butt of every joke.

The city of Cleveland is located on the Lake Erie shoreline in Cuyahoga County on the Cuyahoga River in Northeast Ohio. It is the 2nd most populated city in the state (Columbus being the first). It has become unofficially known as the "Rock 'n Roll Capital of the World" and is heavily known for its astounding historical architecture and ethnic sectors of town, including a prominent Slavic Village and Little Italy.

Nowadays, Cleveland is taking some strides in the right direction. New state laws have made it possible for a casino to be built on the shoreline, as well as state tax credits for movie makers (which is responsible for bringing the upcoming film "The Avengers" to the city to film)! And, as always, there is great food and awesome music in Cleveland.

To find out just why Cleveland rocks, a day trip is most definitely in order. Below, read the Top 9 Things To Do When Visiting Cleveland.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Camping Photo Blog

Who: You and an endless amount of friends, family, or strangers!
What: Camping
When: April through November
Where: Any of hundreds of Ohio campsites
Why: To bond with friends, be one with nature, and be close to hiking and other outdoor fun
How: By tent, cabin, or RV with a lot of planning and preparation

Be a Happy Camper!

Photo by OHventures

Man's basic needs are simple: food, shelter, and water. That means we can live without the modern day luxuries of fancy cars, five course meals, epic video games and 1,000 count Egyptian cotton bedsheets. We can sacrifice those things - even if for one night - and replace them with mud-caked boots, a lumpy sleeping bag, fire cooked stew, and a hickory smoked wardrobe. All this can be accomplished on an Ohio camping excursion!

Why would taking ourselves out of our cozy homes be in any way appealing? Maybe it's just me, but perhaps the idea of sleeping under the stars, being awoken by birds chirping, and bonding with friends in the great outdoors is my idea of an amazing fall (or spring or summer) night. It's hard to even make out the stars with bright city lights, and even harder to hear the chirping of birds while traffic whizzes by. For once, bonding can happen in person with limited distractions. No television, no internet, and no blogs!

Camping also throws in a number of other OHventures, depending on where you do it. If you pick the right place, you can wake up and head on a hike, embark on a canoe ride, or enjoy a nearby festival.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Candle Lab

Photo by OHventures

The Candle Lab is a great indoor and fun way to get your creative juices flowing in Central Ohio. Various locations including Grandview, Worthington, Powell, and Short North can be found at their website.

I don't know why no one has thought of this before? A place to mix and match different scented oils to create your very own personalized candle?! It's a genius idea! And with 120 scents for you to experiment with, The Candle Lab will have your head spinning!
The Candle Lab is perfect for gifts. Guys can really impress their moms or wives or girlfriends by walking in and throwing together a couple of scents. It adds the perfect personal touch. And girls can do the same for guys...everyone likes things to smell good! You can go the flowery route (lavender, sunflower, magnolia, etc.), sugary-desserty route (graham cracker, marshmallow, whipped cream, etc.), fruity route (yuzu, fig, grapefruit, etc.), spicy route (rosemary, basil, clove, etc.) or the bizarre route (cannibis, campfire, tomato leaf).

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mansfield Reformatory

Photos by OHventures

Mansfield Reformatory
100 Reformatory Road
Mansfield, OH 44905-1208

Nothing is spookier in Ohio than the Mansfield Reformatory. I don't mean the "fake spider web and bedsheet ghosts" kind of spooky. I am talking about the "decaying walls, rusted jail cells, and eerily quiet hallways echoing with stories of tortured prisoners" kind of spooky. This now defunct prison is one of the most majestic buildings in all of Ohio, resembling a Transylvanian castle soaring high into the sky. Built in 1886, the Mansfield Reformatory served as a prison for some of Ohio's first-time offenders. It was looked at as being a progressive step forward for rehabilitation. However, conditions worsened over the years, so much so that it finally shut its doors in 1990. Many say paranormal activity runs rampant at the prison, as improperly treated and abused inmates who died in the jail (which amount to over 200 people) continue to haunt visitors (that is, if you believe in that kind of thing).

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

10 Rainy Day OHventures

It's been a pretty soggy fall this year in Ohio (okay, every year in Ohio), so what's one to do when the rain keeps pouring? This past week alone, my fishing plans had to be rescheduled and my weekend camping ended up being way too wet for comfort. Thankfully, I have compiled a list of ideas for things for adventure seekers in Ohio to seek out when they don't want to settle for boardgames and TV!

1. Indoor Rock Climbing: This rather extreme activity is (in my opinion) more fun than its outdoor counterpart! It's easier, cheaper, and more accessible! There are plenty of indoor facilities all across the state that welcome everyone from beginners to pros. Give yourself a hefty workout and climb to new heights!

2. Trampoline Park: If you live in Central Ohio, or are up for a bit of a drive in the rain, then you should most definitely head to the Sky Zone Trampoline Park located in Lewis Center. Here, you can participate in trampoline aerobics, dodgeball, free jump, or a number of other awesome activities. Clevelanders can hold tight - a location is in the works for your neck of the woods!

3. Yoga: There are many different kinds of yoga with names that don't make much sense to me (hasha, ashtanga, bikram...), but what I do know is that this awesome exercise regimen is often underrated by a large sector of the population. Yoga is both relaxing and challenging at the same time - and healthy as can be! One try and you'll be hooked. (Click the link for a list of Ohio locations)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sustaining Memories

September is World Alzheimer's Month. And, having personally experienced the loss of a family member from Alzheimer's, I wanted to take a moment to reflect with my thoughts on this tragic disease.

One of my biggest fears is memory loss.

Losing your memory is like losing your identity. Memory loss is inevitable with old age; probably because you keep creating more and more memories and have only so much space to store it all. However, memory loss comes in extremes as well, especially when it comes to diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease, which my paternal grandfather passed away from in 2005.

My grandfather was a sharp guy. He and his business partner were carpenters and they built homes all over northeast Ohio. He was an avid golfer and had trophies from his holes in one and low scoring games. His birthday was exactly one week after mine, so we always celebrated together with a 2-in-1 birthday party with the family. He was one of nine siblings, and so was a big family man. I always remember him having poor hearing, and often hearing the loud ringing of his hearing aid. I know that his hearing loss served as a huge barrier in communication as time went on. That, coupled with his Alzheimer's Disease, led to a rapid descent for my grandfather.

Ziplining Photo Blog

Who: You and any number of friends, no matter age or athletic ability
What: Ziplining!
When: Spring through Fall
Where: O-Zone Zipline Adventures, The Wilds Zipline Safari, Hocking Hills Canopy Tours
Why: Zoom through the foliage up close and personal!
How: Save up about $80 and ignore that fear of heights - you'll be safe!

Middle West Spirits

Photos by OHventures

1230 Courtland Ave.
Columbus, OH 43215

First there were wineries, then there were breweries, and now the next big thing in the imbibing world is the recent crop up of distilleries. In Columbus, we are lucky to have a couple of great new distilleries, but I must say, respectfully, that Middle West Spirits outshines the competition.

Middle West Spirits first and foremost won me over with its customer service. I knew that I wanted to have an event at a distillery as part of a mini bachelor party-like tour of the city for one of my out-of-town friends. Middle West Spirits answered the call - literally - when other places would not. It was fantastic to talk to someone right away and to hear how enthusiastic they were about having their distillery as part of our "Guy's Day."

The distillery currently holds tours open to the public on Wednesday evenings. However, if like me, you have a special occasion on a different day (mine being Saturday), you are welcome to call ahead and reserve that day/time. What I wanted was a private tour & tasting and that is exactly what they set up for us. The cost was $10 with a minimum of 10 participants. We had 11 people, so that was no biggie. $50 needs to be paid in advance. Very reasonable!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Zippity Doo Dah

Want the perfect way to experience the fall foliage up close and personal? You could rake up a bunch of fallen leaves and jump into a huge pile over and over - OR - you could zoom through the multicolored treetops high above the ground by going ziplining!

Ziplining consists of a series of heavy duty wires suspended in the air, typically connected to a tree or manmade platform at either end. A harnass straps the daring rider in and a pulley system allows the rider to hang from the wire and glide - or "zip" - across from one end to the other! This extreme activity offers thrills on a multitude of levels. The speed and height of the zipline varies throughout each "course" and beautiful views of Ohio's lush flora are consistent through and through!

We are fortunate here in Ohio to have some pretty badass ziplining facilities right at our fingertips! There is Ozone Zipline Adventures located in Lebanon in Warren County (Southwest Ohio), which was built in 2009. It consists of 10 ziplines that lasts for about 4 hours. Some hiking is involved in this adventure, and a brave soul is required to tackle the heights that reach 200 feet above the valley. Amazing views of the Little Miami River as well as an educational aspect involving the surrounding nature make it even more enjoyable!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Warrior Dash Photo Blog

Who: You and 10,000 fellow runners
What: The craziest frickin' day of your life (AKA Warrior Dash)
When: Various dates across the country. The next in Ohio is June 2012.
Where: Carrollton, OH
Why: To challenge yourself physically and mentally to run through crazy obstacles and get dirty!
How: Visit the official Web site to find out more!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Warrior Dash Sneak Peak

Warrior Dash is literally around the corner!

I have been amped up for this event for weeks and now it's finally here. Thousands of other Buckeye warriors will be gathering together in Carrollton all throughout the day this Saturday with one goal in mind: conquer the ultimate obstacle course challenge! There will be "mud, sweat, and beer" and I couldn't be more excited.

I have a friend whose job is to set up the Warrior Dash, and she posted the above pictures today of the tire obstacle and what looks like the water we have to trudge through. These pictures are showing us a small glimpse of what we can expect at Ohio's course. Videos are posted all over that show Warrior Dash races from past events, but every course is different in its own way.

As I mentioned in my previous post, it is nearly impossible to prepare yourself completely for this chaotic challenge, but I have been doing my best. I have been running a great deal, up hills and long distances. I have improved greatly in just a couple of months and managed to run a 5K in just over 26 minutes! It was the help of my post on running tips that got me to where I am now.

Along the way, I have spoken to more people who have given me tips for the Warrior Dash. Some of them are: wear kneepads and/or long socks, fuel up with foods like bananas and granola bars, prepare yourself for running up lots of hills, and most importantly HAVE FUN!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Apple Picking Photo Blog

Who: You and any number of friends
What: Apple Picking
When: September - November
Where: Various apple farms across Ohio
Why: To escape city life, relive childhood, get outdoors, and get sustenance!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Apple Picking!

It's almost autumn, and with it comes a whole new set of OHventures.

Every now and then, a person needs to take a break and flee from the hustle and bustle of everyday big city life. A sea of apples and a maze of corn lie just minutes away, in every nook & cranny of Ohio, providing a perfect escape for anyone wishing to relive their childhood.

For those in Central Ohio, Lynd Fruit Farm, located on the corner of state Route 310 and Morse Road in Pataskala, provides a bounty of fall activities for the young at heart throughout September, October and November.

During the average year, 12 million apples will be hand picked, one at a time, and harvested at Lynd Fruit Farm. Although most of these apples are picked by migrant laborers, many are picked by ordinary people who come to walk up and down the countless rows of trees in search of the perfect piece of fruit.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Columbus Parks Series

Scioto Audobon Metro Park - Photo by OHventures

Even though Columbus is the largest city in Ohio, it's not all skyscrapers and concrete roads! In fact, Columbus Parks and Recreation notes that there are 215 developed parks within city limits. These greenspaces are all different in their own ways, and there are certainly a number of them that stand out from the rest. Below is a list of my personal favorite parks within Columbus city limits. Whether you live here or are visiting, you should most definitely stop by these spots to soak in the beauty and get active in the outdoors!!

*Please note, these are in no particular order*

1. Goodale Park (120 West Goodale Street, Short North): This is one of the most well known and well loved parks in the city. It is iconic for its beautiful pond, fountain and gazebo; and for hosting the infamous ComFest, a community festival like none other! It's complete with tennis courts, a kickball diamond, and a one-mile perimeter perfect for running.

2. Schiller Park (1069 Jaeger Street, German Village): You can find this fantastic park amongst the cobblestone catacombs of German Village, one of the most eccentric and ethnic areas of the city. Here, you can throw a frisbee, play touch football, hop on the playgrounds, stroll through the gardens, or even catch a theatrical performance in the amphitheatre.

3. Columbus Commons (160 S High Street, Downtown): The newest addition to the Columbus park scene, Columbus Commons is built on the same land where the City Center shopping mall once stood. Now, one can partake in a carousel ride, dig your nose into a book at the outdoor reading room, take a free kickboxing class, or catch a concert on the lawn.

4. Wheeler Park Dog Park (725 Thurber Drive West, Harrison West): If you are a dog owner, then this is the place for you....hands (and paws) down! The park recently became exclusively for dogs and their owners with the addition of a fence a couple of years ago, and there hasn't been a dull moment yet. The place is fantastic to meet other dog owners and for your pups to meet other canines.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

10 Great Ohio Hiking Spots

We walk because we have to. We hike because we want to.

Get ready to embark on some fantastic hikes throughout Ohio! I have compiled a list of 10 Great Ohio Hiking Spots, most from my own personal experience, and others by asking readers for their favorites! If you're a hiking fiend like me, you will have no trouble tackling each trail on this top ten list! Let's get started!!

Jackson Bog - Photo by OHventures

1. Jackson Bog State Nature Preserve (7984 Fulton Dr NW, Massillon): This bog is really a sight to see! It is preserved here to keep the ecosystem in tact as well as to educate people about the great importance of bogs. There is a 1.25 mile-long boardwalk trail encompassing the bog as well as a few miles worth of forested dirt paths, which are rather hilly. Coming here, be sure to pack the bug spray, as the bog attracts a great deal of insects. It's well worth it to see the lily pads and other botanical wonders along the paths, many of which have informative markers to help you identify them. Click here for a list of the 89 preserves throughout the state, courtesy of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

My Skydiving Montage

While this skydiving experience of mine happened in Colorado, that doesn't mean you can't pursue this extreme thrill in the Buckeye State! Click here to see a list of places in Ohio you can go skydiving, and click here to read some tips for people considering skydiving!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Toledo German-American Festival

The 46th Annual German-American Festival is the Toledo area's "Oldest, Largest and Greatest Ethnic Festival" with authentic German food, beer and entertainment. Festival organizers expect 35,000 paid attendees this year! Because of its large scale, I had my friend Steve from Toledo give a few specs so readers like you can take advantage of this awesome festival this upcoming weekend!

Here's some quick items about the German-American Festival:

-Held in the Toledo suburb of Oregon, OH at Oak Shade Grove
-August 26, 27, and 28 (Times: Fri: 6pm-1am, Sat: 2pm-1am, Sun: Noon-11pm)
-Tickets are $7 at the door or $6 in advance. Tickets can be purchased inside which can be used to buy food and drinks.
-There is live German music and folk dancing, and some people are dressed in traditional costumes (Lederhosen for men and Dirndl dresses for women)
-Wide variety of German foods and drinks, including more than 30 imported beers!
-Activities for people of all ages

Get out there and celebrate everything German this weekend!

Auf Wiedersehen!!

Hats Off to Pelotonia Riders!

Photo by OHventures

Biking for exercise, entertainment, or transport are all great reasons to bike; however, biking for charity is the reason above all reasons. This past weekend, on August 19-21, thousands of people took part in Pelotonia, a biking fundraiser in Ohio to help raise funds to find a cure for cancer.

The annual event, which seemed to crop up overnight, was created in 2008 by the Director of OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center, Mike Caligiuri, who wanted to find a way to address the lack of needed funding for cancer research. The goal of Pelotonia is to raise as much money possible to find a cure for cancer by having bicyclists gather donations and participate in a number of different races. Corporate sponsors (including Limited Brands Foundation, Huntington Bank, Nationwide Insurance, and American Electric Power) cover the costs of the event, meaning 100% of donations earned by riders goes straight to cancer research.

According to its website, in 2009 and 2010, "Pelotonia has attracted over 6,000 riders from 35 states, about 2,800 volunteers, hundreds of thousands of donors and raised $12.3 million for cancer research." Thus far in 2011 (as of August 24, 2011), $8,941,240 has been raised!

I volunteered at Pelotonia 2009 as part of the staff and housekeeping for one of the live bands that was performing at the finish line. As part of my participation, I was able to attend the kickoff event held the Friday night before the big race. The opening ceremony was jaw-dropping. It took place near the Ohio State University Fawcett Center and included a dinner buffet; performances by musicians such as Michelle Branch and Matt Nathanson; and speeches by Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, OSU President Gordon Gee, and even Lance Armstrong! There was beer booths, freebies from Vitamin Water and other sponsors, and tents dedicated to various cancer organizations. Thousands of people crowded the lawn and were there for one purpose: to end cancer.

Columbus Commons

Photo by OHventures

Columbus Commons
160 S High St
Columbus, OH 43215

If you are new to Columbus, or visiting for the first time, the fact that there is a large span of gorgeously groomed green grass smack dab in the middle of downtown may not come as a shock to you. However, to us who have been around for more than a few years, it's quite the change up. Columbus Commons is a brand new addition to the Central Ohio metropolis, sitting exactly where a once booming shopping mall called City Center once stood.

The park is certainly set to revitalize the businesses in the area, which is evident through the new addition of MoJoe Lounge, and the nearby Scioto Mile. The park is intended to be a great spot for families to spend time, complete with a concession stand selling local foods, live music nights every Thursday from 5:30-9:00 PM, and a very special and unique "outdoor reading room." The reading room is comprised of carts of books donated by the Friends of the Columbus Metropolitan Library and includes both adult and childrens books, as well as shaded tables and free Wi-Fi.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


As we head into college football season at the end of August, my focus is drawn to the Buckeye State's commanding force in the NCAA (despite the recent downfalls they have been experiencing in the news). I am also reminded fondly of my times at THE Ohio State University and the immense spirit that has reached to all ends of campus, Columbus, Ohio, the nation and the WORLD. Attending OSU changed my life a million times over. I am forever grateful for the education, experiences, and friendships that I acquired by attending OSU.

Grandpa's Cheesebarn

Photo by OHventures

668 US Highway 250 E
Ashland, OH 44805-9700

Anyone who has driven on Interstate 71 through north-central Ohio has undoubtedly witnessed the intriguing and peculiar billboards advertising "GRANDPA'S CHEESEBARN" off of Exit 186 in Ashland. I have made this drive literally hundreds of times and it only took a few times before my curiosity took the best of me and I decided to take a quick detour to see what all of these billboards were all about.

Anything named "Grandpa's Cheesebarn" has got to be good. If anything, it's good for a few laughs, right? First of all, who on earth has even heard of a "cheese barn" of any kind, let alone one owned by a grandpa?! I have a feeling that the people who started Grandpa's Cheesebarn are in on the joke and they know just how ridiculous the name of their business is. But that's half the charm of the place! The name alone is what got me to stop in and take a gander, and I am sure I am not the only one!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Guide to Paddleboating in Ohio

Photo by OHventures

Introducing the perfect combo of biking and boating: PADDLEBOATING! Also referred to as pedal boating, this activity is perfect for young and old alike, and surprisingly enough does not require a great deal of athletic ability. It is much more relaxing and care free than other waterborne transport such as canoeing or kayaking. Two great benefits of paddleboating is that your hands are free and the boat has a very small chance of tipping. Paddleboating is not an activity that would likely take place on a river, but rather on a small pond or lake. Most paddleboats are made for two people to pedal, while some have additional seating in the rear. They are very simple to steer, and typically dirt cheap to rent (most are just $10 or under!). All of these factors make for a very enticing trip, and it's easy to convince even the most reluctant of adventurers to partake.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Schmidt's Sausage Haus

Schmidt's Sausage Haus Und Restaurant
240 E Kossuth St
Columbus, OH 43206

If you're visiting German Village, you need to eat German food. So, forget about burgers at Thurman's Cafe and pizza at Plank's. Instead, go to Schmidt's Sausage Haus Und Restaurant. Not only is the food authentically German here, the waitstaff dons German garb and the restaurant itself is on the national registry of historic places!

Schmidt's Sausage Haus is amongst the cobblestone catacombs of German Village and can't be missed, as it has a wooden cut-out of a German man and woman that are waiting for you to take your picture with (there's a spot to have your face be their face). There is ample parking on the street and in Schmidt's own parking lot behind the restaurant. Major plus.

Inside you will first see a display case with Schmidt's FAMOUS cream puffs. SAVE ROOM FOR THE CREAM PUFFS! One is plenty for a table of two, three, four, or five (if you eat one of those massive pastires by yourself, you probably will gain 6 pounds in one sitting and I would definitely judge you).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mill Creek Park

Photo by OHventures

Mill Creek Park
123 McKinley Ave
Youngstown, OH 44509

I remember going to Mill Creek Park way back when I was a wee one. Me and my 2nd grade class hopped aboard a school bus and drove out to the ultimate Youngstown oasis and explored high and low! That, however, was just the first of my many visits to this magnificent park. Mill Creek Park is HUGE. And I am not just saying that because it seemed so for an elementary student. I am saying that because it literally is 4,400 acres of spectacular greenspace, which makes it the LARGEST metropark in Ohio!!

This Mahoning County diamond in the rough is not your average park. The centerpiece of the area is Lanterman's Mill, a gristmill built way back in 1846 that still operates to this day (although there were periods in which the mill did not operate). This old treasure is awesome to look at and learn from. It's a true educational experience, which is why many school groups and curious tourists take time to visit. A tour is just $1 for adults and includes a brief history of how the mill came to be, and an opportunity to explore the mill from top (where the grain gets ground) to bottom (where you can check out the wheel well).

Wheeler Park

Photo by OHventures

Wheeler Park
725 Thurber Dr W
Columbus, OH 43215

I am a dog lover who does not currently own a dog. But Wheeler Park is always one of the highlights of my evening jog or walk to the grocery store. No, I do not creepily stand and watch the dogs, but walking by, I ALWAYS see DOZENS of dogs running around having the time of their lives at Wheeler Park Dog Park, and it's always fun to check out the pups when walking by.

I used to have a dog ( was my roommate's) and this park is very conveniently located to my apartment complex. It was always a fun and quick trip to the park to let the dog interact with others. The problem was,  there is no separate area for small dogs to play, and that could become a problem if the big dogs get a bit too aggressive.

What was nice is that there are complimentary doggie bags available to use to pick up your pup's poo (which I suggest you do). And it is a nice, open, hilly area that is fantastic for all the canines to run free and enjoy themselves.

Again, even if you don't happen to have a dog, walking by will brighten your day. It is a very popular spot for dog owners. If you are a dog owner, you could meet plenty of other locals by going here every now and then. And your dog will make lots of friends too! There is parking readily available on Collins Ave., Thurber Drive, and in the Giant Eagle parking lot.

I remember when this was not a dog park (all they did to change that was put a fence up). It was a rather dismal and plain looking park with nothing to do but sit on a bench and nothing to see but the back of Giant Eagle and Spinelli's Deli. It being a dog park is a much needed improvement to the neighborhood!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Top 10 At The Ohio State Fair

Photo by OHventures

The Ohio State Fair is one of the biggest and best fairs in the country. It's the ideal setting for Ohio to show off its strong agricultural spirit. It spans 12 days in early August each year and attacts approximately 800,000 fairgoers! Now that's a lot of people! It fittingly takes place at Ohio Expo Center located in North Columbus at 717 East 17th Avenue. Since the fair is so incredibly enormous, you will surely need a map of the fair as well as a handy dandy guide from OHventures telling you the Top 10 Things To Do At The Ohio State Fair! Check it out! Hurry, there are still a few days left!

1. People Watch: Let's face it. Most of the time, people watching is more fun than animal watching no matter where you are! The Ohio State Fair tends to attract a certain clientele that is especially fun to watch. You know, the kind you are likely to find on "People of Walmart" or "Goths in Hot Weather"? Those sites come alive in full color when you go to the fair! Throw them in along with the carnie folks who travel from fair to fair and you've got the best people watching stage at your fingertips. While you're at it, you may as well go mullet hunting too!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ohio's Tallest Bridge

Photo by OHventures

With over 43,000 bridges, Ohio is second only to Texas in states with the highest number of bridges. That's a pretty remarkable factoid! I recently had the opportunity to visit the tallest bridge of those 43,000 in all of Ohio. That bridge is the Jeremiah Morrow Bridge located on Interstate 71 in Lebanon, Warren County. It reaches heights of 239 feet - that's taller than the Magnum roller coaster at Cedar Point - and spans 2,300 feet across the Little Miami River below.

The Jeremiah Morrow Bridge (named after Ohio's 9th Governor) was erected in the 1960s and is a truss style bridge that has two lanes northbound and two lanes southbound. In 2010, a groundbreaking event took place to begin work on the erection of a brand new bridge to replace the current infrastructure. This project, likely to be completed in 2014, will make the bridge three lanes in each direction and also add shoulders to the road. It is a road project of great magnitude and will surely improve the aesthetics, safety, and function of our roadways in Ohio.

Kewpee Burger

Kewpee Burger
111 N Elizabeth St
Lima, OH 45801-4334

Kewpee Whaa?! I'll be honest...I never had heard of Kewpee Burger until a coworker and I made a random trip to Northwest Ohio. In search of a cheap yet different lunch, we drove around until my coworker spotted the Kewpee Burger restaurant and excitedly squealed into the parking lot. I was confused and wondering what all of the excitement was all about. After all, the building looked like it was straight from the 1960s and had an oversized baby doll donning a chef's hat on its sign. If anything, this was all a turn-off!

Inside also looked like the 1960s and had even more creepy looking baby dolls pinned up by the menu board. The menu board itself was nothing flashy at all, either. I had felt like I had entered a time machine to a time where this was all cutting edge and high tech. To add to that, most of the clientele were in the later part of their lives, and probably had been coming to Kewpee Burger since its inception. What was remarkable, however, was just how many people there were filling the countless seats in the vast restaurant! The place was filled! This place was no coworker was on to something, it seemed!

The Best Rest Stop in Ohio

715 U.S. 250
Ashland, OH 44805

I know what you are thinking. Am I seriously about to write about a gas station? A rest stop? Really?!

Well Goasis is more than just a gas station or a rest stop: it's a life changing experience! Maybe I wouldn't go that far, but it is a pretty fantastic place to take a pitstop on any number of road trips you might be taking where you have to drive through Ashland on I-71! That means Cincinnati to Cleveland, Dayton to Akron, Canton to Mansfield...the list goes on! Every Ohio traveler should know about Goasis.

Anytime I am making my all-too familiar drive from Columbus to Youngstown to see my family, I will make sure to carve out a stop to Goasis in my trip! If I have to use the restroom, I will do all I can to hold out until I get to Exit 186 on I-71 so that I can use the ultra clean and pristine bathrooms that Goasis offers (seriously, the tidiest bathrooms you'll encounter at any rest stop around).

Monday, August 1, 2011

Scioto Mile

Photo by OHventures

233 Civic Center Dr
Columbus, OH 43215

I'm in love. The brand new Scioto Mile has been unveiled in downtown Columbus and it has me smiling from ear to ear. It is literally a mile of "greenspace" in the otherwise concrete chaos of downtown that runs along the Scioto River. It links together Bicentennial Park, North Bank Park, and Batelle Park so that they are essentially all a part of one ultra  mega park! This also means that part of the Olentangy Greenway runs through the Scioto Mile, so runners, bicyclists and power walkers alike can be found getting their cardio on by the mighty Scioto.

It's obvious that a ton of money was put into this promising park. Funding was provided on the local, state, national, and corporate levels! It completely has transformed the riverfront to accommodate not only health-conscious folks, but an array of other demographics. The area screams "date night," with its romantic and relaxing swinging iron benches, intricate statues and floral arrangements, and grassy knolls ideal for picnics and stargazing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Boating on Portage Lakes

Photo by OHventures

Portage Lakes State Park
5031 Manchester Road
Akron, Ohio 44319

Traditions are part of what make life so meaningful. Traditions give us both something to look back on and something to look forward to at the same time. They link us spiritually and physically together with people in our lives who are most important to us. No matter if traditions are daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly, they remain strong in our hearts and minds and, if taken seriously, are not optional, but rather necessary!

One of my favorite yearly traditions was started 3 years ago with some great friends of mine that live on Portage Lakes in Summit County. Every July, we find a weekend in which we all get together and go boating. We have a hearty breakfast, slather on sunscreen, pack the boat full of awesome summer foods like fruit salad and pasta salad, and head out onto the beautiful Portage Lakes. This includes 8 lakes that encompass over 2,000 acres!

We stop the boat in swim zones to hop out and cool down; we clench ourselves onto an innertube and go tubing in designated speed zones, watch the boat parade, gaze at the fireworks, and gawk at the majestic houses that line the lake. But most importantly, and most fun of all, we lay back and soak up each other's company; we soak up the sun, and we soak up the tradition.

Warrior Dash!

When I first heard about the Warrior Dash, I was gushing with excitement. The idea of running through muddy marshes, trudging through water, crawling under barbed wire and jumping over fire would seem horrendous to most people. But not to me. And, apparently, not to the thousands and thousands of people all over the WORLD that participate in the Warrior Dash.

What is it? It's a 3 mile race that takes you through 12 different obstacles along the way, some of which include: Hell's Hill (just a really steep hill), Deadweight Drifter (trudging through water), The Great Warrior Wall (a barricade you must scale), Hay Fever (running over huge hay stacks), Warrior Roast (leaping over fire), and Muddy Mayhem (crawling through mud under barbed wire). Cargo nets, tires, junk cars, and ropes complete the chaotic series of obstacles. It's definitely not for the squeamish!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kayaking Photo Blog

Who: You (and a partner if in a double kayak)
What: Kayaking
Where: See the Canoeing Locations in Ohio
When: Spring & Summer
Why: Improving upper body strength, refreshing, and challenging

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Franklin Park Conservatory

Photo by OHventures

Franklin Park Conservatory
1777 E. Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43203
(614) 645-8733

Forget about lawn gnomes and tacky plastic flamingoes. The Franklin Park Conservatory added a whole new breed of garden ornaments to their greenhouse. Amidst trees and cacti lies a garden of glass. Towering to the ceiling, vibrant hand-blown glass in the shapes of plants and flowers are integrated with their real-life counterparts.

People from the beginning of gardening have always been interested in putting artwork in their gardens. This ranges from stone statues in the days of ancient Greece to today's residential backyards.

The Franklin Park Conservatory has taken this classical idea and pushed the envelope by putting artwork in a conventional botanical greenhouse.

The Conservatory, located at 1777 E. Broad Street, added Dale Chihuly's "Fiori" collection in 2006 and it has truly transformed the building, giving it a fresh and fun feel.

At the start of a tour of the Conservatory, visitors enter the Hot Shop, which is a room dedicated to explaining the process of glass blowing. On the wall are seven steps to the process that are demonstrated once a month during special programs at the Conservatory. During these programs, the floor is covered in graffiti, and examples of hand-blown glass are exhibited.

Melt Bar & Grilled

Photo by OHventures

Melt Bar & Grilled - West
14718 Detroit Ave.
Lakewood, OH 44107
(216) 226-3699

Melt Bar & Grilled - East
13463 Cedar Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
(216) 965-0988

I'll stop the world and Melt with you!

I admit, it was a bit cheesy to start this post about Cleveland's grilled cheese sensation "Melt Bar & Grilled" with a line from that tubular 80's song. And it was even more cheesy for me to describe it as "cheesy." But everyone loves cheese! Which is what makes "Melt" such a smashing (seemingly overnight) success! Melt has taken our favorite childhood food staple and revoluntionized it! What used to be nothing more than two pieces of Wonderbread, a slice of Kraft Singles American cheese, and a side some Campbell's tomato soup has now become an artform with dozens and dozens of creative, wacky and delicious fixings.

Melt is constantly packed. Your wait at any given time is surely a minimum of an hour. That's if you're lucky. I have attempted to go to Melt with a group of 8 and was slapped with a whopping 3 hour wait. I've heard horror stories of people waiting up to 5 hours to hook their tastebuds up with gooey goodness. But, to them, it's anything but a horror story. These folks clamor that the wait is 100% worth it. Not everyone has that kind of time on their hands (me included), and so heading to Melt takes some preparation. Just make sure you have a couple of hours carved out of your day and you should be set. The smaller your group, the more likely you'll get in quicker. My successful trip to Melt was with a group of 4 and we were able to snag some stools at the bar after just a few minutes of waiting! This was a win/win situation, because I feel eating at the bar is even more fun than at a table!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Boating Photo Blog

Who: You, a licensed boat operator, and several close friends
What: Boating
Where:These photos taken at Portage Lakes in Summit County. See ODNR's Ohio Boat Access Points
When: From Memorial Day - Labor Day
Why: Soaking up the sun, cooling off, and fulfilling your need for speed!
How: Make sure you or a friend have followed all of Ohio's regulations for registering a boat!