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.