Family travel in Ohio: the 50 state series

by Sheila on August 26, 2009

by Sheila | August 26th, 2009  

Parade the Circle citizen's event in Cleveland Ohio (courtesy Kind of Bruin at Flickr CC)Every Tuesday (or Wednesday if Twitter crashes, which it did late yesterday as I was compiling this post) until we run out of states, I plan to post about family-friendly vacation ideas, attractions and events in each one of the US states, taking input mostly from Twitter and Facebook.

Yes, I know how to search for travel ideas on a destination or attraction Web site, but a tweet or a Facebook Wall recommendation is a much more engaging and public way to spread the word.

Please don’t email suggestions to me; that’s nice but it is one-to-one communication. Tweet me and/or Facebook me, so that all of our networks can see what’s cool about your state.

We’re going in alphabetical order but started with the end, so our first state for the series was Wyoming, then we investigated Wisconsin , West Virginia , Washington, Virginia, Vermont, Utah, Texas, Tennessee, South Dakota, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Oklahoma and now we’re moving on to….Ohio!

Their state tourism organization is on Twitter at @DiscoverOhio, plus there’s @OhioStateParks and state tourism e-info coordinator Roger Barker is @Roger_OHTourism.  Additionally, they have an Ohio Flickr Group for photo-sharing, an Ohio YouTube channel and here’s the Ohio Tourism Facebook page.

You know what’s really great? The links for all of those social media sites are clearly displayed on their main Ohio tourism Web site.  That is rather rare, unfortunately – so many state Web sites give no indication that they’re on social media, or the links are buried somewhere.

When I asked for ideas, here’s what came in….

Twitter Travel Tips for Ohio

***  From deef217 via @deef217 on Twitter  –  In Oct there is a very cool large farm outside Wooster which has an extreme corn maze and hay rides and fab pumpkins/decorations.  [Also] Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta. See the moon rocks! Better fam friendly prices…go to a minor leage baseball game in Akron or Columbus. Cheap yet fab seats & kid giveaways often! How about a day of canoeing at Mohican State Park? Many fun memories as a kid!

***  From decillis via @decillis on Twitter  –  A trip to Ohio is not complete unless you’ve stopped in Columbus for Jeni’s Ice Creams (see @jenisicecreams.)

***  From Hancock County CVB (Convention and Visitor’s Bureau) via @VisitFindlay on Twitter  –  Mazza Museum at Univ. of #Findlay is world’s first teaching museum for children’s book illustrations. Awesome tours & activities! Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation does weekly and theme train rides on antique trains. Kaleidoscope Xmas Tree Farm boasts sleigh rides, live reindeer and super-fun people late Nov thru Xmas (fun people are available all year round, of course.) @artpartnership (The Arts Partnership) hosts KidsFest in July – draws families from many states for massive quantities of kid fun, freebies and activities. Findlay is visited by 30+ hot air balloons annually for #Balloonfest (w/ car & bike show, outdoor movies & balloon competitions.) How many costumed wiener dogs can you handle? National Dachshund Races in Findlay Sept 26-27. New this year – dog parade. Major cute!

***  From Craig via @Craigorama on Twitter  –  Take a canal boat ride on the Miami Erie Canal in Piqua, Ohio – Piqua Historical Area.

***  From Travels With Children via @minnemom on Twitter  — Columbus Zoo is nice. The Works in Newark is nice museum but not crazy-busy. We liked it. Driving part of the Old National Road and seeing the S bridges and Y bridge was exciting for our family. The Boonshoft Museum in Dayton has one of the most affordable museum memberships I’ve seen, with excellent reciprocity benefits. Columbus COSI (Center of Science and Industry) is great for families. We spent an entire day there. Good for all ages of kids.

***  From Lynda Nemeth with Geauga County Tourism via @MsGeauga on Twitter  –  Geauga County in 140 characters? You need to visit! We’re waiting….[this is a TwitPic - a way to upload photos that are easy to see on Twitter] http://twitpic.com/el9np.

***  From Coshocton County CVB via @coshocton on Twitter  –  [The county in 140 characters? You need to visit!] Same here! http://www.VisitCoshocton.com.

***  From Ohio State Parks via @OhioStateParks on Twitter — We’re proud of our parks! Ohio State Parks has special events all year across the state; check out our events calendar. Many state parks have fall camp-outs which are fun for the whole family – games, prizes more – Buck Creek has one the first weekend in October.

***  From Crystal RR Edwards via @crredwards on Twitter  –  Serpentine Wall in downtown Cincinnati, and especially during the Tall Stacks Music Arts & Heritage Festival when it’s held in October.

***  From Sarah Olaciregui via @saraholaciregui on Twitter — I like the aviation history in & around Dayton, OH. Check www.nationalmuseum.af.mil for more info.

***  From Mike via @VistaVision on Twitter — If you’re taking teens to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, be sure they’re into rock’s *past* – I’ve seen lotsa eye-rolling/texting there. National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati. http://www.freedomcenter.org. Take kids on a safari in Ohio (yes, Ohio) at The Wilds wildlife center. http://www.thewilds.org/. Take that, San Diego Zoo. Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park; not all national parks are “outdoorsy”….National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Dayton, Ohio. Free, huge and very kid-friendly. http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/.

***  From Vera Marie Badertsch via  @pen4hire on Twitter  –  My native land.  Holmes County, Ohio….Amish land around BERlin (not BerLIN), Charm, Millersburg (where there are hitching rails at the Walmart.)

And now, from a travel blogger appropriately known as “Midwest Guest,” here is a mother load of Ohio tips….she gets her own section….

Honorary Midwest Guest Ohio Twitter Tipsheet

***  From Dominique King via @midwestguest on Twitter  — Eight presidents with Ohio roots, so there are a number of presidential homes in the state. Ohio presidential sites include: Garfield home in Mentor, Hayes Center in Fremont, Harding Home in Marion. Chagrin Falls, Ohio is just east of Cleveland; a nice little town centered by waterfalls and park. Popcorn store by the falls.

Several nice lighthouses along Lake Erie in Ohio; Marblehead among our favorites. Can climb tower during summer tours. We’re planning to go check out a couple of lighthouses and at least one presidential home along Lake Erie in Ohio next week. Cheese Haven in Port Clinton is kind of fun (it’s our post-Marblehead light stop). Tons of cheese samples every day.

Tony Packo’s Hungarian hot dog joint in Toledo–yup, a Corporal Max Klinger (M*A*S*H) favorite. Check out the signed hot dog buns on walls. Mud Hens in Toledo were another Corporal Klinger fave. Mud Hens baseball! Great high-level minor league action in family-friendly atmosphere w/affordable tix. Meet the mascots!

Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati. Cincy = major conduit along UGRR & this museum has a great interactive history of UGRR.

Hocking Hills area great for hiking, waterfalls, climbing, ziplining, caves…Hocking Hills State Park.

Ohio has large concentration of Amish. Mesopotamia a bit east of Cleveland is a classic Amish town with a general store… While in Mesopotamia, Ohio – Check out Sir Pierpont, huge wooden horse. Village is on Nat’l Historic Register.  Sandusky, Ohio has Cedar Point, of course…but there are a ton of other indoor water parks and attractions if that’s your thing. Great Wolf and Kalahari are two Sandusky area indoor water parks that jump to mind…

Some Ohio State Parks have cabins – great places for families to stay near park activities (I’ve stayed at Maumee Bay & Punderson.) Maumee Bay State Park …great beach on Lake Erie, bike rentals, indoor pool state park resort, Nature Center trail. Cuyahoga Valley National Park – lots of history about canals and transportation. Cuyahoga Valley National Park near Cleveland features Brandywine Falls & Towpath Trail (great, level terrain for bicycling.)

Toledo Museum of Art has a nice outdoor sculpture garden – fun, accessible art – http://www.toledomuseum.org.

Facebook Travel Tips for Ohio

***  From Eric Tobin on Facebook  — Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek MI, They just had two baby giraffes born.

***  From Ohio State Parks on Facebook –  Malabar Farm State Park is a real working farm where city kids can find out where food comes from, and pet friendly farm animals. They also have great displays on green energy, and cool special events like spring plowing, farm fun days, barn dances and heritage days. The nature center at Hueston Woods State Park is like a mini zoo. The park has a bunch of things to do, like disc golf, mini golf, swimming, fishing, great nature trails for short or long hikes, mountain biking trails, an archery range and paint ball. There is also a fun and educational pioneer farm nearby.

The Little Miami Scenic Trail is ideal for a family bike ride. It’s paved for 60 miles, and there are lots of access points so you can stay at a park nearby (like Buck Creek, John Bryan, Caesar Creek or Cowan Lake), and haul your bikes to the parking area. Kids will be mesmerized by the hummingbirds at Lake Hope State Park. The nature center has a hummingbird garden, and offers a program during the summer where you can try to feed the hummingbirds at a mini feeder you hold in your hand.

Bring out your kids and your dogs to Alum Creek State Parks National Award-winning Dog Park! After you pal around with your pooch, spend some time building sandcastles on the beach.

***  From Kara Williams on Facebook  –  Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, about an hour from Cleveland. Roller coaster heaven!!

***  From Lucy Baker on Facebook  –  I second the Cedar Point nomination. It’s the best amusement park I’ve ever been to. Something for all ages and abilities.

***  From Lynda Nemeth (of Geauga County Tourism) on Facebook  — Geauga County is a beautiful rural community about 30 miles east of Cleveland. We are the 4th largest Amish community in the world, but have stayed “true” to our roots and have not become touristy as other communities have. A favorite amongst our visitors is a drive down our backroads stopping at some of our Amish businesses mostly located in their homes. Visitors are amazed at buying sweet corn for $2 a dozen off a child’s wagon, by leaving their money in the coffee can next to it. A standing joke is that people only lock their car doors to keep their neighbors from “giving them” their extra zucchini.

We are also the #1 producer of Maple Syrup/products in the state. Even though we are in the snowbelt, visitors often begin their travels to our area in March to take part in our Maple Madness weekends, and enjoy pancake breakfasts just about everywhere!

There is so much more… I would suggest a visit to our website or better yet, come in person!

***  From Joe Todd Fraker on Facebook  — Hocking Hills State Park: camping, hiking, fishing.  Hocking Hills Zipline (canopy tours,) Hocking Hills canoe livery, Hocking County = cliffs, gorges, rock shelters and waterfalls. Historic Lancaster, Ohio just to the north. This is all an easy drive from Columbus, Ohio, the state capital and home to The Ohio State University. Go Bucks [the Ohio State mascot is the Buckeye.] Columbus OH has a great zoo.

Here are the Ohio articles on the BootsnAll Travel Network.

Thanks so much for the contributions – the next state in the series is North Dakota.

Send your North Dakota highlights to @SheilaS on Twitter or write them on my Facebook Wall (please tell me you’re a 50 state-er if you want to friend me.)

My purpose for this series is not only to highlight worthy kid-friendly vacation destinations in all 50 states, but by using Twitter and Facebook I want to also encourage tourism organizations to learn more about connecting with their visitors using social media and online networks.

Please add your own Ohio suggestions in the comments below, if we’ve missed anything. Thanks!


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{ 11 comments }

Roger August 27, 2009 at 5:55 am
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Thanks for putting social media to work creating such a great list! It’s nice to see the response you got. Of course, there are a ton of other great things to see and do here in Ohio and I’d be glad to share. :)

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Sheila August 27, 2009 at 7:52 am
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Hi Roger,

Well, thank YOU for making my job pretty easy (as long as Twitter cooperated.) It’s always fun to see who comes out of the woodwork with tips for the 50 state series – so often it isn’t someone who lives there, but instead perhaps grew up there, or visited grandparents there every summer as a kid, or went to college there, etc.

I think of them as the Destination Diaspora, and they’re often a place’s most ardent advocates.

Ooh, I feel a blog post coming on….

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Dominique August 27, 2009 at 10:13 am
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So you can tell we spend a bit of time in Ohio :lol:
We’re close enough to the border that it’s a fairly east trip for the day or weekend to northern Ohio.

Just wait ’til you get to Michigan on your list!

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Vera Marie Badertscher August 27, 2009 at 5:02 pm
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Thanks for including my Holmes Count tip. While there, see the Amish history museum called Behalt, and wander into Wayne County for more Swiss cheese stores and Lehman’s hardware store in Kidron. If You’re there on the right day, you’ll see the bit auction where authentic homemade quilts are for sale along with farm implements.
The most amazing site in Ohio is any game day (but particularly Michigan) when Ohio State is playing football. Let a million pennants bloom in scarlet and gray. Go Bucks!! The mania spreads along the highway and down country lanes and through small towns. Amazing.

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Erin August 28, 2009 at 8:56 am
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I haven’t seen the Warther Museum listed http://www.warthers.com/, but it is AMAZING!!! Your kids will talk about it for years.
Otherwise Cedar Point is the classic for roller coasters, and Hocking Hills is the best for hiking and camping.

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Sheila August 28, 2009 at 10:01 am
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Hi Erin,

Thanks for the tips, and for stopping by….

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Sheila August 28, 2009 at 10:02 am
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Hi Vera Marie,

Well, as a Florida Gator and SEC fan, I’ll have to give you a pass on the Bucks, but thanks for everything else! :)

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Victorian bed and breakfast April 14, 2010 at 7:45 am
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I just love this idea thank you for your creativity.

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adventurer April 26, 2010 at 3:57 am
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good piece of information.thanks

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Savita Bisht May 14, 2010 at 2:35 am
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Good idea. Thanks for sharing this post with all of us.

savita

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Helen September 9, 2010 at 4:55 pm
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Wow, that sounds great huh? That could even be my inspiration :) I was nice sharing it here. I hope someday that I would also get the chance to do this.

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