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 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).

Monday, September 26, 2011

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!

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 17, 2011

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).

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.

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!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day Trip to Dayton

Dayton doesn't get the attention deserves, as it is so close to two titan Ohio cities of Columbus and Cincinnati. In fact, Dayton is approximately right between Cincinnati (I-75 N to I-675 N) and Columbus (I-70 W to I-675 S). But it certainly has a lot to offer and is worth setting aside a day to explore! It is a titan city in its own right, being the 6th largest in Ohio and the county seat of Montgomery County. The Miami River runs through Dayton and it is home to a major airport and two large universities, University of Dayton and Wright State University. It also is famously home to the Wright Brothers, who were the first to successfully fly an aircraft and appear on the Ohio state quarter for making Ohio the "Birthplace of Aviation."

I have been to Dayton only once before, and have driven through en route to Chicago. When there, I had not done the proper research to see what there was to do and see. Since being there, however, I have learned a great deal about places such as The Wright Patterson Airforce Base (listed below) that Dayton is home to, and I am looking forward to going back! So I put my good Twitter (and Words With Friends) buddy Leah Moon up to the task of helping to plan my upcoming trip, which will hopefully inspire other OHventurers to take a Day Trip to Dayton!

Mine & Leah's Quick-List of The Top 9 Places To Check Out When Visiting Dayton is listed below!

1. Carillon Park (1000 Carillon Boulevard): This is a gorgeous park complete with its own restaurant and a giant field, good for a picnic or throwing the football around. They’re also undergoing a lot of construction to provide even more amenities for visitors. It is also recognized as a National Historic Landmark since the original 1905 Wright Flyer III, the world's first practical airplane, is situated in the park. There is also a scenic passenger rail available to the public at certain times.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Park of Roses

Whetstone Park of Roses

3923 N High St
Columbus, OH 43214

The Whetstone Park of Roses has got to be THE best place to take someone you love. It is a very romantic location, even if you aren't all that romantic. It's so tranquil and picturesque, you forget you're in the state capitol! We are pretty lucky to have this place in Columbus. (Can you tell I like this place??)

The first couple of times I went to the Whetstone Park of Roses, I didn't get to see the roses! This is because I did not do my research and therefore did not know where in this MASSIVE park the roses actually were (plus, I was just riding on the bike trail, which is not quite near the rose garden). Once I finally saw where the roses were, my jaw dropped! I couldn't believe how beautiful this park was and what I had been missing!

When you arrive at the Whetstone Park of Roses, you will see a fishing pond, soccer fields, a portion of the Olentangy Bike Trail, and a building by the parking lot. To find the roses, go BEHIND the building (I am such a genius).

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Topiary Garden

Photo by OHventures

Topiary Garden
480 E Town St
Columbus, OH 43215

Want to see a painting come alive? You're in luck because in downtown Columbus, you can find The Topiary Garden, located in the Old Deaf School Park on Town Road. Here lies a real-life re-creation of Georges Seurat's famous post-impressionist painting, "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte."

Think of it as if Edward Scissorhands got a hold of a bunch of hedge bushes and hacked away at them so they resembled the people and animals from the Seurat painting. it's a spectacular sight. It's truly as if you were sucked into the painting as you walk amongst the sculpted bushes. There is a photo posted of the painting for those who are unfamiliar so you can compare and contrast. It's best to see the bushes at their finest in spring, summer and early fall. I went there recently in November, however, and you can still see all of the figures pretty good.

This place would be the perfect setting if you wanted to grab a canvas and acryllics and do your own painting. Or, if you just would like to sit and read or draw, it is a picturesque and peaceful place to do so. You can truly get inspired by strolling through this park.

There is also a museum shop with restrooms, and items for sale such as garden books and other horticultural items.

At the very least, definitely swing by for a few minutes and take a walk through a 3-D painting!

Quick Park Specs: Gardens, Pond, Running

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Schiller Park

Photos by OHventures

Schiller Park
1069 Jaeger St
Columbus, OH 43206

I am a park fiend. Meaning, if I can find the right park, I can truly spend an entire day there and be completely content. Schiller Park is that perfect park. There is a bit of everything at there and it is in the perfect location. It is in the heart of German Village, which is truly one of the most quaint and down to earth neighborhoods in downtown Columbus.

The park (which in my opinion is rivaled only by Whetstone Park of Roses and Goodale Park) has a great pond with a bridge where it is common to see people feeding ducks, playing with motorized boats, or having a romantic walk with a loved one (or just a nice chat with a friend). There are also a lot of floral arrangements and unique landscaping peppered throughout the park, and lots of need statues, including a huge one of Mr. Schiller himself. You can't miss it.

The most unique thing about Schiller Park is that in the summer months, they have theatre productions in an amphitheatre in one corner of the park. Pack a picnic or some wine and some blankets and enjoy the show! It is free and kid-friendly, and sure as hell beats watching TV in the summer!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Goodale Park

Photos by OHventures

Goodale Park
120 West Goodale Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Oh, Goodale Park, why are you so good to me? This is my favorite park in all of Columbus...plain and simple.

I admit, that this probably has a lot to do with Goodale Park being so close to where I live...but ACTUALLY I probably chose to live where I do because of how close it is to Goodale Park!

I first came to Goodale Park for the infamous "Community Festival" or "ComFest" held every summer. This is an event that is not for the faint of heart...but for someone like me, ComFest's free-spiritedness, jam bands, patchouli, booze, food vendors, and body paint made me warm and fuzzy on the inside. ComFest this year is June 24-26, 2011.

But ComFest is just one weekend a year (at the end of June) and does not represent Goodale Park as a whole. Goodale Park is sandwiched between the Short North, Victorian Village, Harrison West, and Park Street bars. I usually walk through going from one neighborhood to the next, or when coming to/from Park Street bars.

Goodale Park is perfect for running...which you can witness on any given sunny day. The park has a perimeter of approximately 1 mile, so you can easily keep track of how far you've run. There's also a kickball/softball diamond, tennis courts and playgrounds.

Guide to Canton

Photo by OHventures

Whether your into politics and history, sports and football, or arts and music, Canton is the city for you. Visiting Canton is full of fun and it's easily accessible, too. Located right off of Interstate 76, Canton is the county seat of Stark County in Northeast Ohio and is the 8th largest city in the state (with a population of approximately 73,000 residents). It is part of the NE Ohio trifecta of Akron-Canton-Cleveland.

I have done a great deal of work in the Canton area and have consequently spent a lot of time here and learned some of the best spots to go. I'd like to think this post can serve as a great starting point for anyone planning to spend a day in the area!

1. Monument Park (700 - 1150 Park Rd NW): This park is ideal for getting your exercise on! Whether it’s starting out with a morning run along the 1.5 mile running track, buffing up at the chin-up bars, or doing it “Rocky” style up the huge staircase at the adjacent McKinley Monument (see below), this place has got it for you. It’s also extremely picturesque, with a beautiful stream, duck pond (used for ice skating in winter months), and breathtaking gardens. Picnic tables and grills are also on site, so pack some hamburgers and hot dogs and kick back!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Solid As A Rock

You’ve got to have grit, strength and determination to make it in rock climbing. It’s not an activity to pursue if you are looking for a cake walk. Ladies with freshly manicured fingernails can say goodbye to those lacquered beauts and guys who have been playing in fantasy sports brackets more than they have been playing actual sports will have a tough time making it far. Indoor rock climbing may look pretty, with the rainbow of every-colored nubs sprinkled across the walls, but let it be known that it’s not to be taken lightly.

Have I scared you away yet? Not so fast!

While it is true that rock climbing is a very physical and challenging activity, there are a number of ways that indoor rock climbing facilities make it appealing to even the most skeptical of beginners. Everyone has to start somewhere, after all. Most of the time, the colored “rocks” I referred to earlier that are scattered on the climbing walls are that way because every different color represents a different “path” getting up the wall (this is not tried and true, but is very common). Like skiing, rock climbing has different levels of difficulty. Just like a skier wouldn’t dare hit up black diamond mogul hills on his or her first time on the slopes, a rock climber would never attempt to scale the most difficult path on the climbing wall on their first visit.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Here In Youngstown

I grew up very close to Youngstown. In fact, while my small hometown of Hubbard lies in a different county, it still qualifies as being in the Youngstown Metropolitan Area. Even though I grew up very close to Youngstown, I can't say that I am an expert on the area. That in part is due to my moving to Columbus at the young age of 18. But I certainly have grown to appreciate my roots and have had the chance to explore the city a bit more as an adult when making trips back home.

Youngstown is located in Northeast Ohio on the Pennsylvania-Ohio border and is the county seat of Mahoning County. It's an hour and a half to Cleveland and an hour and a half from Pittsburgh. Youngstown is known as The Steel Valley and has become infamous as the capital city of The Rust Belt. Many people across the planet became familiar with the plight that struck the city due to singer Bruce Springsteen's song "Youngstown" which describes the economic woes that resulted when the steel industry collapsed in the area.

The booming steel industry occurred during the 1920s through the 1960s, while the decline took place in the 1970s. Youngstown undeniably took a lot of hits, but over the past couple of decades is back on the rise again! In fact, it was recently listed as one of Entrepreneur Magazine's Top 10 Cities to Start a Business!

So, this city rich in industrial history back on the rise is definitely worth a day trip. Below, read the Top 9 Things To Do When Visiting Youngstown.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Holy Toledo!

Photo by OHventures

Toledo is located in Lucas County, not far from Indiana, and is close to the border of that "Ugly State Up North" (that of which will not be named on this site). The Maumee River flows right through it and into the Maumee Bay, which is a part of Lake Erie. It is the fourth largest city in Ohio with a population of 651,409 (no I didn't count, Wikipedia told me!). Toledo is known as "The Glass City" which is due to the enormous amount of glass that was made here (duh) back in the hey-day. Because of this, the city has a rich history of both industry and art.

I have only traveled to Toledo on a few occasions in my lifetime so I have consulted my great college buddy Steve Shoffer, who will be the voice of reason for a great deal of this lovely post. Steve lives in the Village of Ottawa Hills, just minutes down the road from the University of Toledo. He said that while things may be spread out across the city, nothing is more than a 10-20 minute drive. This is what makes Toledo so great.

Steve and I have compiled a Quick-List of The Top 9 Places To Check Out When Visiting Toledo and we have it listed below. Be on the lookout for more posts dedicated to Toledo and focused on how to plan the perfect trip to The Glass City!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Jeni's Ice Creams

Jeni's Ice Creams
59 Spruce St
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 228-9960

Whoever "Jeni" is, she must be rolling in the dough.

Jeni's Ice Creams is a goldmine. There is constantly a line out the door no matter what hour of the day or what time of the year (the beauty is Jeni's is open in the winter and late night)!

The long line (which is totally worth it by the way) could be sped up a bit, but the employees graciously encourage you to try any and every flavor you want with a free baby spoon sized sample! The flavors of ice cream are so unique that you can't NOT try most of them.

The signature flavors you can't pass up are Salty Caramel (I gather it to be the most popular...a perfect mix of sweet and salty), Queen City Cayenne (intriguing with a spicy kick to it that sticks with you), and The Buckeye State (if you're a true Ohioan - er, Buckeye - you'll induldge in this peanut butter and chocolate pasttime). And if you're in the mood for sorbet, you owe it to yourself to try Cherry Lambic, which is made with real alcohol! ;-)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

5 Great Ohio Bike Trails

1. Back Roads & Beaches Bike Route: The video above from our pals at Discover Ohio and the Ohio News Network speaks for itself when it comes to the Back Roads & Beaches Bike Route in Lorain County. Riding along the shores of Lake Erie makes this one of the most scenic and interesting bike paths in the state. The path starts in Vermillion at Mill Hollow Park and heads east 22.5 miles to Avon Lake. It is part of the greater biking site, the Lake Erie Coastal Bike Trail (a mammoth path that contains over 300 miles of multi-purpose trails).

Back Roads & Beaches Bike Route offers a much less intimidating route than the Lake Erie Coastal Bike Trail as a whole. It is perfect for visiting wineries and the quaint Northern Ohio towns such as Oberlin, Sheffield Lake, and Avon.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Brothers Drake Meadery

Ohio's one and only meadery is Brothers Drake Meadery in Columbus.

It being National Wine Month (and unofficially Wine Week on OHventures), I was tempted to stop by the newly established Brothers Drake Meadery located just a few short minutes away from my home in Columbus, essentially on the corner of 5th Avenue and High Street. While OHventures tries to cover the entire state, and not just my homestead of Columbus, Brothers Drake Meadery was an absolute must, being that there are virtually NO other meaderies located in the state of Ohio! While the "Brothers Drake" (Woody and Eric, whom I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with on my visit) have been producing mead in Ohio since 2004, it wasn't until a few short months ago that they opened the meadery to the public for tastings, tours, and what has become a regular hangout for some.

Come Parasail Away!

Me with my friend Anna parasailing in 2008.

Parasailing: It's the happy medium between the ultra-extreme skydiving and the ultra-lowkey sailing. It's getting towed behind a motorboat while attached to a long cord and hanging from a specialized parachute. It's really an exhilerating activity that's both low risk and relatively low cost.

On a clear day, when winds are calm enough (yet not too calm), parasailing companies operate all over the world, including on Lake Erie. Some offer just one person, but more powerful boats can offer rides for two or three people. Going with someone makes the ride all the more fun, so you have someone to talk to while you're up there in the air.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ohio Statehouse

The Ohio Statehouse is commonly known as "The People's House," so you owe it to yourself to make a trip!

I do a lot of work in this building, and have for 4 years, so I sometimes get desensitized by its beauty. But let it be known, The Ohio Statehouse is absolutely gorgeous and was named as one of THE best Statehouses in the country, and I can tell you why!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hiking in Hocking Hills

 Above: Ash Cave at Hocking Hills State Park. Photo by OHventures.

Hocking Hills State Park (office)
19852 State Route 664 S
Logan, Ohio 43138

Hiking is the most primitive of all adventures. It plucks you from the everyday hustle and bustle of city and suburban life. The sea of concrete, the skyscraper jungle and the sounds of honking horns are replaced with flowing rivers, forests of greenery and the sounds of birds and other animals in nature. It's a breath of fresh air - both literally and figuratively - to get out and hike. And while there are many different types of hikes with different levels of difficulty and different scenery, the crown jewel of hiking in Ohio belongs to Hocking Hills State Park located  in the Southeastern Ohio city of Logan in Hocking County.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace

Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace
248 South 4th Street
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 824-4673

I love novelty restaurants, and Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace is the epitome of novelty. It's not a tacky kind of novelty, but a breath of fresh air to the downtown Columbus scene. It's located on 4th Avenue, where most other storefronts are vacant or dingy. Dirty Frank's boasts a bright yellow awning that begs you to come inside. It gives the area hope for a new vibrant nightlife (hey, it is open until 2AM, after all).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Skydive Your Fears Away

When I was a little kid, I was extremely afraid of heights. Extremely. Deathly. I can remember being on top of the CN Tower in Toronto with my family and being afraid even at the fact that my brothers were too close to the edge. I remember being at an amusement park refusing to get on board any sort of roller coaster. Yet, somehow, my arm was twisted enough to get me on the park's Ferris Wheel where there were undoubtedly white knuckles the entire way around. I don't know what it was that filled me with so much fear when it came to heights. Perhaps it was simply being lifted high in the air, and therefore being lifted away from security and the comfort of being on safe, solid ground.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Welcome To OHventures!

Welcome to OHventures!

So you think Ohio is boring, do you? Think again!

When you think of an adventurous lifestyle, states like Colorado or California may initially pop into your head. But why not Ohio?! There is much more to our state than just football and amusement parks, and my goal is to delve deep and fill you in on all of the hidden (and not so hidden) gems that lay within the Buckeye state.

Other travel sites out there are either geared toward kid- and family-friendly outings, or trips to Amish country that will undoubtedly make you yawn. I refuse to settle with that, which is why I decided to create OHventures.

OHventures (a portmonteau of "Ohio" and "adventures" of course) will reveal the true thrills you can experience everywhere from Cincinnati to Marietta, Cleveland to Sandusky. No area of the state will be left behind. Following this blog will ensure that you are NEVER bored. That's my guarantee.

I am not an expert in the tourism industry. I am a young professional who has a thirst for everything fun and exciting. OHventures is my hobby, and is an outlet to express my passion for travel within the state.

The site will feature posts from me (as well as my friends and contacts) that will generally fit into one or more of the following categories:

1. Outdoor Adventures
2. Active Lifestyle
3. Artistic Expressions
4. Dining Discoveries
5. Extreme Thrills
6. Seasonal Delights

Hiking, biking, canoeing, skiing, canoeing, rock climbing, and yes, even SKYDIVING are just some of many, many items you can scratch off of your Buckeye Bucket List!

And forget about McDonald's, Olive Garden and Dairy Queen. You deserve better. Ohio has amazing restaurants in every nook and cranny. How about Tony Packo's in Toledo, Vegiterranean in Akron, or The Youngstown Crab Company? OHventures will show you where the good eats are. Because, after all, our lives revolve around food!

We will touch on wineries, museums (those worthwhile of course), bars, parks, and oddities that you owe it to yourself to visit. Think places like The Candle Lab in Columbus, the famed Reformatory in Mansfield, and Ozone Zipline Adventures in Lebanon.

I'll also be offering my own personal travelogue entries, random thoughts, and fun and games to the site.

Throw your preconceived notions about Ohio out the window! Get out of your comfort zone and buck up for the time of your life.

Where will YOUR next OHventure take you?