Friday, December 16, 2016

Spartan Up For The Holidays

Photos by OHventures and Spartan Race

[Editor's Note: Make it to the end of this entry for details on how to win a FREE Spartan Race entry!]

The Spartan Race was one of the greatest challenges I have ever embarked on, and one that was unforgettable and incredibly fulfilling for the adventurous spirit within me. On May 8, OHventures traveled to Cumberland in Southeast Ohio with my high school friends Matt & Anthony to tackle all of the mud, obstacles, and burpees that make up the grueling course. I had previously run the Spartan Race in October 2014 with my brother Curt, but that was coupled with hail, snow, and a ton of unexpected twists and turns.

Showing off our finisher medals!

Our Spartan Sprint in May was a chance to redeem myself. Having nicer weather and a shorter course were certainly contributing factors. But, also a better understanding of what to expect, coupled with proper training and a great mindset, were the true reasons why this stab at the Spartan Race was a better success (plus the parking debacle that we dealt with last year was fixed - for the most part - this year).

Map of the Spartan Race Ohio from May 2016

For those that don't know, the Spartan Race is not just one event, but several events that you can mix and match. As mentioned, we chose the Spartan Sprint, which is the shortest distance offered in Ohio (the next highest is Spartan Super followed by the Spartan Beast). Just because it was the shortest did not mean it was easy! It was 6 miles, with over 1,000 feet of total climb in elevation (which was probably the most challenging part, since there were many steep hills that were caked in mud.We found ourselves grabbing roots and trees to claw our way to the top of these massive walls of dirt). In all, the course took us about 2.5 hours to complete (see map above for more detail).

The finish line of the Spartan Race Ohio

Some highlights of the course include:
  • The Javelin Throw: None of us successfully completed the javelin throw, but that's because you only get one chance! We all got pretty close, but alas we had to take the 30-burpee penalty.
  • The Rope Climb: I was so proud to have climbed the rope near the end of the course. I really didn't think I had it in me, but because of the support of my friends cheering me on, I gave it my all and made it up to the top of the muddy, 25-foot tall rope (which had NO knots to help me in my climb)
  • Sandbag Carry: I was absolutely drained by the time I reached this task. We had to heave a giant sandbag onto our shoulders and carry it for what seemed like an eternity! You can see in the photo below just how miserable it was. But it was a sign of strength being able to get through this!
  • Barbed Wire: This is a classic! We had to army crawl underneath a series of barbed wire. But, this honestly has to have been the longest barbed wire obstacle I have ever seen. It stretched for so long and it seemed like it would never end! Definitely got beat up on this one, but it was fun, in a weird way.
  • Fire Jump: Who DOESN'T love this part of the Spartan Race?! With the finish line in sight, me and my buddies leaped over the flames lining the course, and ran to victory (see photos above and below)!

We were so thrilled to finish the Spartan Race, we were all talking about someday tackling the BEAST! But first, we enjoyed a cold beer and a ton of celebrating!

So why am I bringing up the Spartan Race now, in December, when it happened months ago? For starters, it is one of my favorite events of 2016, and this is a time to look back on the year as it comes to a close. BUT, also, I am bringing it up because there are a ton of big things happening with Spartan Race in 2017!

For starters, there will be brand new medals, which you can see in the medal reveal video below!


There are also brand new "Open" and "Elite" Season Passes available for the 2017 season, which allow you to run again and again at as many venues you want - all for one easy price. So, not only do you get to Spartan Up in Ohio (May 20, 2017), but you can visit any other place in the US! You might want to consider some of the early races in 2017 that are fast approaching: So Cal (Jan. 28-29), Houston (Mar. 11), Atlanta (Mar. 18), Las Vegas (Mar. 18), and Arizona (Feb. 25-26)!

There are loads of new obstacles coming your way in 2017, including things like The Ape Hanger, Thigh Master, and Stairway to Sparta! So you will never be without a challenge, even if you are a seasoned Spartan! 

And to prepare yourself for next year, be sure to tune in on  to the 2016 Reebok Spartan Race World Championship, Christmas Day on NBC, 5:00 PM EST.

Now that you made it this far, it's time to offer all readers of OHventures a chance to win a FREE entry to ANY 2017 Spartan Race (in the US)! Here's how: just go on Twitter and Tweet to @OHventures between now and Christmas Day with the hashtag #SpartanUpOH and a reason why you want to tackle this challenge! Everyone who does this will be entered to win a free entry and will be contacted via Twitter on Christmas Day at Noon! 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Top 10 OHventures of 2016

While many people will look back on 2016 as being one they wish the could forget (all of the celebrity deaths, the contentious and controversial Presidential race, the national and international catastrophes), it's more important than ever to try to find the light within the darkness! We had a great deal of excitement (both good and bad) happening at OHventures, that we didn't even get to post as much as we typically do. But, it's not the amount of times we post that counts, it's the quality of the posts - and this year, we have a lot of high quality adventures to look back on.

As with every year (see 20122013, 2014, and 2015), I give to you the Top 10 OHventures of 2016. There were many to choose from, but if you needed to see the best of the best, here they are (in no particular order)!

Use this list to start planning some awesome bucket list items to do in 2017.

1. BrewBoat ClevelandPart bike, part boat, and part bar, the BrewBoat in Cleveland is a one-of-a-kind experience that will guarantee to be a hit for you and your adventure-and-beer-loving friends.When trying to find a perfect birthday gift for some family members who "have it all," I decided to get creative and book a reservation aboard the BrewBoat! Follow us on the adventure on the Cuyahoga River.

2. Escape Room DowntownWhile I am usually posting about adventures that exercise the body, escape rooms exercise the mind. They bring people together to use their brains to accomplish the goal under the given time limit, which is a huge adrenaline rush! Join us as we head to the Escape Room Downtown in Canton to tackle "The Missing Detective's Office"!

3. Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad: ALL ABOARD! The CVSR can be found in Northeast Ohio, running through the heart of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (the one and only national park in the state of Ohio). The main portion of the railway runs northbound from Akron in Summit County, all the way to Independence in Cuyahoga County.

4. Red Maple InnThis summer, I was invited to stay at the Red Maple Inn, a beautiful boutique hotel located in the small town of Burton in the heart of Geauga County's Amish Country. With unbeatable views of lush green fields, a selection of spacious rooms, and hearty Amish-style breakfast buffets, the offer to stay was impossible to pass up.

5. HalloWeekends at Cedar PointFor the past 20 years, Cedar Point has been hosting HalloWeekends, on the weekends that fall between Labor Day and Halloween. The entire 365-acre park transforms into a spookier, scarier, and more thrilling experience for guests, with pumpkins and cobwebs decorating the queue lines, and ghosts, goblins, and ghouls roaming the midway. For the first time EVER, I finally went to HalloWeekends!

Photos by OHventures

6. SegAway Tours of ColumbusSegAway Tours of Columbus offers a series of tours for anyone interested in uncovering hidden secrets about the city while leisurely gliding through the parkways, riversides, and sidewalks of downtown, Arena District, Short North, and Victorian Village. It was a challenging experience, but one I will never forget. I am hooked on Segways!

7. Findlay Market CincinnatiEven on a Sunday afternoon, the Findlay Market located in Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood is booming with activity. As Ohio's oldest public market (having been established in 1852), the Market shows no signs of slowing down. With the brightly colored Italian-style architecture, you'll immediately feel in a cheerful mood, ready to explore the Market head on! 

8. Spartan Race OhioThe Spartan Race was one of the greatest challenges I have ever embarked on, and one that was unforgettable and incredibly fulfilling for the adventurous spirit within me. On May 8, OHventures traveled to Cumberland with our friends Matt & Anthony to tackle all of the mud, obstacles, and burpees that make up the grueling course.

9. Winans Chocolates + CoffeesTwo things that most everyone can agree on is delicious chocolate and quality coffee. Winans Chocolates + Coffees, based in Piqua in Miami County, has got you covered! I had the pleasure of receiving some Winans products to review, and it wasn't long until all of my chocolate and treats were gobbled up, and all of my coffee was gulped up! I also got to visit the Winans to Winans Half Marathon in September!

10. RNC in CLE: This year marked an historic time for the City of Cleveland. The Republican National Convention (RNC) was held in town for the first time since the 1930s, bringing in thousands and thousands of visitors from across the country and the globe. No matter your politics, you can enjoy some of the photos that we were able to take during this week in July.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Guest Post: A Beginner's Guide To Canoeing

Photos by OHventures

The following is an abridged contribution from Joey Holmes, a blogger for Cool of the Wild

To read this article in its entirety, please visit this link.

Young or old, trying something new is always exciting, and open canoeing, or Canadian canoeing, is a wonderful way to experience time on the water in a new way, whatever your age. 

Who is it for?
Canoeing is for anyone who loves being outdoors and exploring. So long as you are wearing a buoyancy aid, you don’t even need to be able to swim. The waterways often take you far away from roads and towns so it’s a great chance to get away from it all. Canoeing is also ideal for families, as the wee ones can just chill out in the boat whist you put in all the hard work. Plus, the older they get, the more they can get involved providing you with a your very own gondolier to escort you down the river!

[Editor's Note: See the photo below and the corresponding OHventures post, when we took the WHOLE family canoeing - everyone from 5 years old to 60 years old!]

Where can I do it?
Well, although this may seem like an obvious question, there are actually loads of ways to approach where to go paddling, depending on your level and intrepidity. For total beginners, the best place to learn is on a lake or a slow moving river or canal. As you progress, you can take your boat to faster rivers and sheltered ocean bays, and then to the open seas and on gnarly whitewater river descents.

[Editor's Note: Consider visiting our post on Where to Canoe in Ohio]

What to expect
Total serenity, closeness to nature and a slowed down pace of life. You can take photos, have a picnic in the boat or on the river banks, and if you are paddling downstream then you can often just sit back and let the current take you. But that’s only if you’ve mastered how to make your canoe go in a straight line! Otherwise, you should expect to slowly pin-ball from bank to bank as you overcompensate for every misjudged paddle stroke. This can be a little frustrating to say the least – especially when you see other paddlers going in a totally straight line with seemingly zero effort.

You should also expect to get a soggy backside, cold hands and a good shoulder and core workout.

[Editor's Note: Check out one of our very first OHventures, titled Tip-A-Canoe, where we certainly did NOT know what to expect!]

How to get started
Unfortunately, canoeing isn’t the easiest sport to just buy the gear and then go do. Not impossible though, and you can pick up some fun inflatable canoes without breaking the bank. But the best and easiest way to give paddling a go, is to rent a canoe. Most decent rivers will have a canoe rental outfit during the tourist season, where you can rent boats, paddles and safety gear for an hour or even a whole day. On safe rivers, you won’t need any prior experience and you’ll be dumped in your boat, have to fend for yourself and be expected to be back at base at an appointed time. Although this can be great fun for the more adventurous, it can also be a little daunting without the knowledge of how to turn or stop your boat, or the all-important knowledge of how not to capsize!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Happy Holidays From OHventures

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to all of my readers of OHventures! Thank you so much for your continued support in my quest to show everyone just how cool Ohio can be! May the next year bring you an endless thirst for adventure! See you in 2017!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Hiking Haunted Ohio

Moonville Tunnel - Photo Credit: Trek Ohio

The following is a post written especially for OHventures by freelance tourism writer Jenny Holt!

Ohio is a state that has ghostly stories around nearly every corner. Haunted locations and tours abound. Here’s a little taste of dark and creepy adventures for you to take when visiting the Buckeye State.

Photo Credit: Trip Advisor

Ghosts In Nature
Punderson State Park in Newbury, Ohio is lively enough during the day, offering fishing and other outdoor activities. At night, the liveliness continues. People who have hiked the grounds have reported spotting the ghosts of people who died in the lake.

There’s also a popular lodge on the lake that reportedly has several spirits in residence. Guests have claimed to see the ghosts of long dead servants around the grounds and some who have spent the night have reported invisible visitors taking a seat on the edge of their beds.

Dark Road
Staley Road in New Carlisle, Ohio has been drawing reports of ghostly nuisances ever since two bodies were found in the surrounding woods back in the 1970s. People have reported being pushed by invisible forces. They also have claimed to hear chanting coming from the woods, though nobody can be seen through the trees.

Up the road is the old flour mill built in the 1800s. Rumor has it that the owner went on a killing spree in 1905. The apparition of someone lying in the road has been seen and phantom gunshots have been heard near the old building.

Moonville Tunnel - Photo Credit: Trek Ohio

Tragic Landmark
The Moonville Tunnel in Zaleski, Ohio has a dangerous history. The tunnel was built just big enough for one train track to pass through it. This made it very dangerous for men whose job it was to keep the track clear of debris. People have reported seeing a mysterious light in the tunnel, thought to be the ghostly lantern of an engineer who was struck by a train.

There have been many deaths reported near the tunnel including a teen-aged girl who was hit by a train. People have reported hearing her crying as she searches for the boyfriend she was trying to meet up with.

Ohio has many haunted locations including several that can be found by hiking through the dark woods and down long, windy roads. Are the accounts of ghostly specters real, or are they just stories? The only way to be sure is to take a road trip and become part of the state’s haunted history.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Northeast Ohio WaterFALL Hikes

Chagrin Falls - Photos by OHventures

The roar of rushing water echoing throughout the wilderness is a welcoming sound when hiking through Ohio’s parks and trails. Whether manmade or created by Mother Nature herself, waterfalls provide an element of excitement and wonder to any outdoor adventure. Add to that the changing colors of autumn’s leaves, and you are bound to take your scenic adventures to an entirely different level.

Growing up in Northeast Ohio, my friends and I loved to explore the woods throughout the year, but nothing would compare to the times when we’d hike in autumn. In our expeditions, we sought out many notable waterfalls, which have become some of my favorite landmarks. Here are some of my top picks for Northeast Ohio waterfall hikes:

Chagrin Waterfalls – Chagrin Falls, Cuyahoga County
The waterfalls in the quaint city of Chagrin Falls can be easily found, and they don’t require any hiking boots or gear! These impressive 20-foot high falls are located right in the heart of town square, and can be accessed via a series of staircases. I always take a pit stop to see the Chagrin Falls after having dinner or shopping at the many establishments lining Main Street. The leaves turn golden yellow and fire red during autumn, which provides a beautiful frame for the cascading waters. Just hurry and catch them before they freeze for the winter!

Gorge Metro Park – Cuyahoga Falls, Summit County
The Gorge Trails at the Gorge Metro Park in Cuyahoga Falls are full of remarkable rock formations along some slightly rugged terrain. A boardwalk and wooden staircase were recently installed to make the hike less advanced. The unmistakable sound of crashing water can be heard while on the majority of the 1.8-mile path. The falls you see are primarily due to a manmade dam, but you can also spot some natural cascades, known as the Big Falls (pictured above). You can take a detour out of the woods and spot the Little Falls, located in downtown Cuyahoga Falls. These waterfalls is how the city received its name.

Cascade Falls – Nelson Township, Portage County
As a teenager, my friends and I often visited Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park, located along U.S. Route 422 in Portage County. The rocky cliffs proved to be a challenging endeavor, and the nearby quarry gave us a place to cool off in the summer. When the leaves changed, color, we would still head to the park, but stick to hiking. We’d explore the exciting rock formations, like Devil’s Icebox and Indian Pass, and we’d always uncover the gorgeous Cascade Falls. Surrounded by mossy rocks and russet leaves, the 50-foot tall Cascade Falls is a slender, less robust waterfall than the others on the list, but is striking nonetheless.

Brandywine Falls – Northfield, Summit County
By and large, the most picturesque and the most breathtaking of all of the waterfalls I have visited in Northeast Ohio is Brandywine Falls (pictured above). Located in northern Summit County (in between Akron and Cleveland), Brandywine Falls are approximately 65-feet tall, with rushing waters encapsulated by bright orange leaves in the autumn. When frost and ice form, the flow of the water changes as well, making for an interesting sight to see. These falls are a very popular spot for photo shoots, be it for a wedding, engagement, or just because (which is exactly what I did with my dog this fall). There is a small 1.5 mile hiking trail that leads to the falls, as well as a wooden observation deck, which is always bustling with visitors.

Lanterman’s Falls – Youngstown, Mahoning County
As a student, we took countless field trips to Mill Creek Park in Youngstown, where we could go see Lanterman’s Mill and its accompanying waterfalls! Our teachers would take us here so we could learn how the water from the creek is used to power the gristmill to grind grain. We would always tour the mill and take home some grain products that were made on site! The waterfall next to Lanterman’s Mill is only about 15 feet tall, but it works in conjunction with the mill and a nearby covered bridge to create a beautiful backdrop.

There are countless other waterfalls in Northeast Ohio (and the state as a whole) to check out in the fall (or any time of the year). Some other good ones to check out are Buttermilk Falls in Brecksville, Cuyahoga County, and Paine Falls in Painesville, in Lake County.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

HalloWeekends at Cedar Point

Photos by OHventures

Amusement park enthusiasts from around the world flock every year to Cedar Point, located in Sandusky, Erie County, Ohio. We are lucky to have one of the best amusement parks on the planet right on the Lake Erie coastline. With more rides than any other park on earth (71), and the second most roller coasters (16), Cedar Point has been breaking records and drawing in millions for decades.


For the past 20 years, Cedar Point has been hosting HalloWeekends, on the weekends that fall between Labor Day and Halloween. The entire 365-acre park transforms into a spookier, scarier, and more thrilling experience for guests, with pumpkins and cobwebs decorating the queue lines, and ghosts, goblins, and ghouls roaming the midway.

This past weekend, I experienced HalloWeekends for the very first time. I had been to Cedar Point many times since my youth, but never during HalloWeekends. During this time, the park is only open Friday through Saturday, and with limited hours. After spending a Sunday in the park in late September, I have to say it was one of the best visits I have ever had to Cedar Point!

This is mainly because the crowds are significantly smaller than during the summer months. I do, however, hear that Saturdays during HalloWeekends can bring in very large numbers of park goers (especially in late October). So, if you plan to go, make it on a Sunday! We arrived just before noon (the park opened at 11AM) and left around 7 PM (the park closed at 8 PM).

Dead Ride Cemetery

The park was truly transformed, with special Halloween touches everywhere you looked. I loved the attention to detail: skulls, bats, and skeletons strategically placed throughout the park. I particularly enjoyed the specially created displays, such as the "Dead Ride Cemetery," featuring "tombstones" of former coasters and attractions that are now defunct and have since been torn down. Pictured above, you can see part of the cemetery (which is found in the Midway near the Raptor roller coaster), including the grave site of the Mean Streak, the giant wooden coaster that is being torn down this year.

Further down the Midway is a giant jack-lantern to walk through (perfect for a photo op), a giant mechanical ogre, and the "Cemetery of Dead Rockers." This area is found near the Corkscrew roller coaster (pictured below), and features headstones of rock-and-roll legends who are no longer with us: Rick James, John Lennon, Elvis, and even Amy Winehouse.

Even further down the Midway is the Great Pumpkin Spectacular, where you can find 10,000 hand-carved jack-o-lanterns lining the walkways. They are true works of art, and look even cooler at nighttime, all lit up. This is a new addition to HalloWeekends this year, and can be found near the Top Thrill Dragster and the Power Tower

This entire stretch of the Midway is where you can witness the Great Pumpkin Parade at 4 PM each day. And if you have kids, there are a ton of places nearby that can offer age-appropriate Halloween fun (like trick-or-treat zones and Peanuts characters dressed in a not-so-spooky manner). 

We, of course were not there with children in tow. This meant that not only could we hit up all of the haunted houses we wanted, but we could also indulge in some adult beverages. Do yourself a favor and try the craft beers especially made for Cedar Point. This includes the RougaBrew and the Valravn Red Stout, both named after newer rides at the park, and both available for a very limited time. You can try them at the Trail Tavern near Millennium Force roller coaster (yes, the one that is over 300 feet tall). 

Enjoying a RougaBrew at Trail Tavern

Another great spot for some cold ones is Chickie's & Pete's, found near the entrance and right next to the Blue Streak roller coaster. A word of caution, however: plan to ride the more intense rides before you eat heavy foods and guzzle on some beer. We did things a bit backwards, eating some famous crab fries (seasoned to perfection) at Chickie's & Pete's, then riding the aforementioned Blue Streak - the oldest (1964) and most rickety roller coaster in the park (hey - it had no line, so we had to try it).

Now it was time for the scary stuff. There are so many haunted houses in the park, but we could only make it to a couple (no thanks to the long line we waited in to ride the Maverick roller coaster). The two we were able to experience were: the Eden Musee (a wax museum themed haunted house full of surprises), and Hexed (a witch themed haunted house with a ton of great scares).


While we really did want to try some of the other featured haunted houses (like the Zombie High School and the haunted hospital aptly called Eternity Infirmary), the real scary thing would be if we didn't get to ride some of the newest roller coasters at the park. This includes Rougarou (a floorless coaster, formerly known as Mantis when it was a stand-up roller's complicated). Being that this is named after a werewolf creature from French folklore, we felt it was appropriate to ride on HalloWeekends.

It would also be a sin if we skipped GateKeeper, a wing roller coaster with the largest inversion on earth (built in 2013) and frightening keyhole elements. And, most of all we HAD to ride Valravn, the longest, fastest, and tallest dive roller coaster in the world, which was just installed at the beginning of the 2016 season. Aside from Maverick, this was the longest line we stood in (and even so, it was only a half an hour), but it was definitely worth the wait.

Overall, the trip to Cedar Point for HalloWeekends was nothing short of perfect. The crisp fall weather was gorgeous - not too hot, and not too cold. And, the lines for most rides were 15 minutes or less (even the GateKeeper was only about 10 minutes). You still have time to check out HalloWeekends in 2016!

Monday, September 26, 2016

BrewBoat Cleveland Photo Blog

Who: You and a party of up to 14 friends!
What: Part bike, part boat, and part bar: The BrewBoat Cleveland
When: May-October
Where: On the Cuyahoga River through the Cleveland Flats
Why: To enjoy some drinks with friends in a totally unique way!
How: Book a cruise before the time slots fill up!

Photos by OHventures

Saturday, September 17, 2016

5 Top Natural Spots in Ohio for Journaling

The following is a post written especially for OHventures by freelance tourism writer Susie Dent!

It doesn’t involve following a map to hunt down a Pokemon, and it doesn’t require an Oculus Rift headset, smartphone, or tablet. It’s called journaling and it’s the newest buzz among those wishing to be more organised, jot down their emotions, thoughts and experiences, and de-stress after a hard day. If you are visiting Ohio and you are a nature lover, these top spots are perfect for journaling in the midst of some of the most majestically beautiful areas Ohio has to dazzle you with!

1. Corkscrew Falls in Hocking Hills: There is something about the sound of flowing water that is conducive to expression and creativity, but Corkscrew Falls will also blow you away with its pristine beauty. A gentle waterfall is flanked by imposing rock formations covered in emerald green moss and the sensation is akin to having walked into a fairy tale. Hocking Hills comprises many gorges, rock shelters and cliffs, so there are countless areas to excite and inspire. Time spent in nature is said to reduce our stress levels and enhance our cognitive abilities, so this spot will undoubtedly help you pen some memorable pages.

Photo by Toledo Blade

2. The Lighthouse in Marblehead State Park: This romantic lighthouse is one of Lake Erie’s most photographed monuments and it is not hard to see why; it has stood proudly since 1822 and it is surrounded by gorgeous grassy areas that make perfect picnic grounds that are serene enough to get some writing done. The lighthouse has a rich history that merits discovery. Of its 15 keepers, two were actually women; they carefully lit the 13 oil lamps that provided all the light emitted by the beacon to guide countless sailors home. If you are into creative writing, you might make it a point to pen a short story or poem with this beacon as a protagonist; its beauty has certainly provided inspiration for historiographers and creative writers alike.

3. Oakes Quarry Park: Those who are into bird watching will love writing down the different bird species they encounter at Quarry Park. The park, riddles with cliffs, soft grassy spots and lakeside views, is another very tranquil spot to describe in writing. Other wildlife you may encounter at the park include the red fox, raccoon, and white-tailed deer. The park is home to numerous foot trails that lead to ancient limestone fossils. Recently, an impressive 8,000 trees were planted as part of the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund’s reforestation project so avail of their welcoming shade while you jot your thoughts down.

Photo by

4. Headlands Beach: Many writers claim that no natural setting sends their creative juices flowing quite as much as the sea. From time in memoriam, human beings have been mad about water and indeed, the sea helps instil the sense of mindfulness (‘being in the here and now’) which is so conducive to good writing. Headlands’ mile-long natural beach is the longest in the state and in addition to being an ideal spot for writing down your travel experiences, it is also perfect for swimming, picnicking or walking along trails. There are two trails to choose from: Buckeye Trail (1.5 miles long) and Fishing Trail (Just 0.4 miles in length). In the winter time, visitors enjoy activities such as sledding and cross-country skiing.

Photo by OHventures

5. King Crystal Caverns: Those who love to write while feeling embraced by natural wonders should head for King Crystal Caverns, formed thousands of years ago by an underground river that made its way peacefully through the limestone, causing the formation of vast passageways and other gorgeous formations. The caverns filled with stalactites and stalagmites in a plethora of shapes and sizes. Although the exact age of the caverns are unknown, the Columbus Grey Limestone in which the caverns are carved are estimated to date back an impressive 400 million years. The most ancient crystal found on site is around 250,000 years old. The caverns are known for their incredible color, which range from brown to orange, red and even blue. The formations often look like ribbons blowing gracefully in the wind, making the caverns another oft photographed wonder.

Pedal & Party With BrewBoat Cleveland

Photos by OHventures

Part bike, part boat, and part bar, the BrewBoat in Cleveland is a one-of-a-kind experience that will guarantee to be a hit for you and your adventure-and-beer-loving friends.When trying to find a perfect birthday gift for some family members who "have it all," I decided to get creative and book a reservation aboard the BrewBoat!

This is Ohio's first and only pedal-powered paddle-wheel party boat, which launched Memorial Day weekend of this year. The boat is 31-feet long with 10 seats for pedalers and four additional seats for passengers who opt to not pedal (we took turns, so no one felt left out). Yes, the boat is human-powered, which means you get a bit of a workout mixed in while you drink. It's like the Pedal Wagons of Columbus and Cincinnati, but on water instead of on the streets!

I reserved 10 seats for our 2-hour cruise this August (the other 4 were already booked, so we would be on board with a few new friends). Each ticket was $35 plus tax, and the trip required you to BYOB. When you arrive at the launch site, located on Whiskey Island in the heart of Cleveland, you are able to purchase cold brews at the convenience store found at the dock.

Most of us brought our own favorite beers from home (each person is permitted to bring no more than 36 oz. or beer, or 18 oz. of wine for themselves). There are convenience coolers of ice located right in the middle of the bar, so you can keep your drinks chilled and readily available during your excursion (no need to bring your own coolers).

Our group consisted of myself, my brother and his wife, my parents, my aunt, and my friends Zac, Kyla, Ben, and Emily. As mentioned, we were joined by 4 other folks who booked at the same time as us. Also on board was the Captain (Katie), and a driver, both of whom were extremely fun and personable. 

We disembarked from the marina at 5 PM and pedaled down the Cuyagoga River. As we pedaled, we were able to gawk at the gorgeous Cleveland skyline against the bright blue skies, and take in the sights of the revitalized riverfronts of the Cleveland Flats. We floated by notable hot spots, such as the Nautica Pavilion, the Music Box Supper Club, Alley Cat Oyster Bar, and more. We shared the waterway with kayakers, jet skiiers, paddle boarders,, and other seafaring folks out enjoying the fantastic weather and exciting scenery. There was so much to see and to soak in on our cruise!

At one point, the driver challenged us to try and work together to pedal as fast as we could in order to beat the record speed. After pedaling and pedaling, we ultimately did not come close to setting a new record, but we had a blast trying! It was also a blast plugging our iPods in and choosing the music we listened to along the way. It was a nice added feature. One downside, however, is that there is no bathroom on board the boat (which doesn't take long to figure out). So, it is a good thing that the ride is not much longer than 2 hours, and that we had a cap on how many drinks we could bring with us. 

Food is also allowed on board (anything from snacks to pizzas to cold cuts!), however, we were planning to eat dinner at one of the restaurants in the Flats after the ride, so we did not have any food on board with us.

All in all, our experience on the BrewBoat CLE was extremely positive. We are glad to have had the chance to book a ride, since slots fill up fast! The season ends on October 1, but they are already taking reservations for 2017. Captain Katie told me that while they currently have just one boat, it is their hope to soon have more boats in order to meet the demands of the public. Until then, make sure to make a reservation far in advance to ensure you get the time you want. The BrewBoat is perfect for bachelor or bachelorette parties, birthday celebrations (like ours), or just an excuse to get together and enjoy the beauty of the Cuyahoga River and downtown Cleveland in a fresh, new way!