Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Geauga County Amish Tours

Photos by OHventures

While staying at the Red Maple Inn in Burton this summer, I took advantage of the fantastic Amish Tours that they offer! These two hour excursions take you and up to 14 others in a conversion van through the rural roadways of Geauga and Trumbull Counties, telling stories and making stops along the way. Guests of the hotel, or any member of the public, can book a tour by calling ahead (any day except Thursday or Sunday). The cost is just $25-$29, and it is definitely worth it.

While on my tour, I learned a great deal about the history of the Amish culture, and the area itself. We stopped at the home of an Amish family to have a snack on homemade zucchini muffins and have conversations about their way of life. Here, we saw chickens, horses, and kittens, as well as freshly picked vegetables, hand-powered washing machines, and handmade soaps!

We also visited a schoolhouse (school is currently out of session) and a bakery (where I bought some delicious fry pies). The tour guide was able and willing to answer all questions we had about the Amish culture. She was a wealth of knowledge of the area, and of the Amish as a whole. One factoid we learned was that Geauga County is home to the 4th largest Amish population in the world!

The tour also took us to Mesopotamia, a town just across the county line in Trumbull County. Here, we stopped at the "End of the Commons," which is Ohio's oldest general store (and probably the one with the most character)! There was SO much to see at this store, that it most certainly calls for a separate visit. Last, we stopped at the Middlefield Original Cheese Co-Op for some yummy cheese samples!

The two hours aboard the van flew right by, and soon it was time to be dropped off back at the Red Maple Inn. It was incredibly educational, and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the area. Soon, it was time for me to check out of the hotel, with a promise to return in the near future with my friends and family! I know for certain they'd appreciate the comfort and charm of the Red Maple Inn!

Red Maple Inn

Photos by OHventures

Every once and awhile, I find it necessary to escape from the fast-paced world of the big city by visiting Ohio's serene countryside. Nestled not far from Akron, Canton, Youngstown, and Cleveland is Geauga County, home of the world's 4th largest Amish community, and a perfect place to make that restful retreat.

This 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.

Arriving at the Red Maple Inn, I was "greeted" by Rut Maple, a horse and carriage crafted out of recycled steel parts by local artist Chris McConnell. This striking artwork sits right outside the entrance of the hotel, and sets the tone for the whimsical stay guests are about to experience.

There are 17 rooms and one suite available, each with handmade furniture crafted by the Amish from various types of wood. This makes each room a bit different from the others. However, all rooms come with a flat screen TV, fireplace, coffee maker, balcony with outdoor furniture, and my personal favorite: a jacuzzi tub! Talk about relaxing!

All guests have access to an on-site fitness facility, a library and gaming nook, You can also enjoy complimentary wine and hors d'oeuvres at certain times during the week. After enjoying a glass of red wine and checking into my room, I went out to explore the surrounding area.

Railroad car at Century Village Museum

The Red Maple Inn is located in walking distance to a number of worthwhile tourist stops. For starters, a small footbridge leads you from the hotel property to the Century Village Museum, a series of buildings and artifacts that serve as an authentic representation of life in the Western Reserve during the 1800s.

Burton Log Cabin & Sugar Camp

Walking a little further takes you to Burton Square,the center of town, modeled after the village greens of New England. Here, you can visit the Burton Chamber of Commerce Log Cabin & Sugar Camp, where pure maple syrup and other related products are made and sold. I took home a bottle of syrup, as well as some maple candies for my aunt (she loves them!).

Nearby is Warren's Spirited Kitchen, a rather new establishment in Burton, with a more modern feel to it. I sat and enjoyed a cocktail (a Cleveland Old Fashioned) while listening to a local guitarist, before retiring to my room at the Red Maple Inn.

On my way home, I stopped at Mary Yoder's Amish Kitchen for a home-cooked meatloaf dinner. If there's one thing that's consistent in the Geauga County Amish Country, it's how flavorful and filling its food is! I went home with a full belly and a happy heart!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Condado Tacos

Photos by OHventures

1227 N. High Street
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 928-3909


132 S. High Street
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 456-7444

Tacos bring the people together. Plain and simple. If you don't like tacos, I can't trust you and you can't be my friend. And if you don't like Condado Tacos in Short North and Downtown Columbus, then that is taco blasphemy! 

These tacos are works of art. You build them from the shell-up, with loads of delicious and fresh ingredients you won't find at any other Mexican joint. You start with the tortilla, which can be corn or flour, soft or crunchy. BUT you can also get a double tortilla, with cheese, beans, or guacamole slathered in between the shells (my favorite is the "Ju-Ju" shell if you were wondering). Then, you choose from a great selection of proteins: chorizo, shrimp ceviche, brisket, ghost pepper marinated steak, roasted portabellos, and BBQ pulled jackfruit, to name a few. Then, you continue the process choosing toppings, cheese, salsa, and sauces! The possibilities are seemingly endless.

And, if for nothing else, be sure to go to Condado Tacos to get your table an order of the queso dip (pictured above). Believe me when I say, this is the best queso around! Muy bien!

And what's a good Mexican restaurant without some tasty margs? On my recent visit, I was going to just get the traditional house margarita like always, but the waiter insisted I try something different. So, he suggested the blackberry marg (pictured above), which did not disappoint.

Another thing I like about Condado Tacos is the decor. They have a "Day of the Dead" (or Dia de los Muertos) theme going on, with Catrina-style skulls, skeletons, sombreros, designs, and artwork on the walls and tables. I am particularly fond of the "Holy Guacamole" painting, as shown above.

I have gone to Condado Tacos on each of the past 3 visits I made to Columbus. It's just that good. You can reserve the "party table" for groups of 12 or more - which is what we did when having a "friends reunion" back in June. And, yes, we had many, many bowls of queso to go around!