Ohio has something for everyone. Seriously. Love the beach? We’ve got them. Love American history? Check. Love checking out movie locations? Done. Here’s seven places you won’t believe exist in Ohio – but totally do.
Think about every movie or television show you’ve seen. Now, think about how many of the characters hail from the Midwest, especially Ohio. Maybe it’s because we live in Ohio and always catch the reference to the Buckeye State, but it’s a very common scenario. Leave it to Beaver ‘s very own Ward Cleaver was a farmer’s son hailing from Shaker Heights, Ohio. “Laughing Sal” in The Godfather Returns was born in Cleveland, Ohio. The Professor from Gilligan’s Island? Cleveland as well.
There’s hundreds of references to Ohio in film and print when you really think about it. Most of the characters have that all-American, Midwest goodness about them which makes for that perfect family or tourist setting that we all know and love.
Then I start to think about the importance of Ohio. There’s the fact that it’s close to so many major cities including Pittsburgh, Chicago, Washington D.C., and New York City. The state plays a key role in every major election. But, most of all, there’s so much to see and its landmarks and beauty are mouth-dropping. In fact, there’s spots that I bet you won’t believe exist in Ohio.
Don’t believe me? In taking a phrase from my teen daughter, “Photos or it didn’t happen”, I’ve got photos. Beautiful photos. And details.
1. The Wilds
An hour east of Columbus sits The Wilds, a private, non-profit conservation center that was once a strip mine. A group of politicians, civic leaders, and members of the Columbus Zoo got together and decided that the 10,000 acres should be turned into an animal conservation area filled with both exotic and domestic animals.
The Wilds offers safari tours, ziplining experiences, and a view like no other. This photo was taken at sunrise on Nomad Ridge- the luxurious accommodations filled with private yurts overlooking the animal grazing area.
2. Ash Cave
2. Just about everything in Hocking Hills, Ohio is photo-worthy, but Ash Cave is jaw-dropping. Visit during a recent storm and you can stand under a waterfall. The cave is 900-feet long, 100 feet deep, and is breathtaking any time of day, but if you want photos without a ton of tourists, visit first thing in the morning.
Old Man’s Cave
3. The most popular of the Hocking Hills’ caves, Old Man’s Cave was named after an 18th Century hermit that, after moving into the area, came across the cave and loved it so much he spent the rest of his days surrounded by its beauty.
Five sections make up Old Man’s Cave: Upper Falls, Upper Gorge, Middle Falls, Lower Falls and Lower Gorge. The distance of the gorge is right around 1/2 mile in length, cuts straight through Blackhand sandstone carved by the its creek, and is a must-see when visiting Hocking Hills.
4. World’s Largest Geode
Put-in-Bay is known for its laid back, island feel, great food, and party-like weekend atmosphere, but it’s also home to Crystal Cave, World’s Largest Geode. Heineman’s winery owns the claim to fame and discovered the geode when digging a well. The Geode is 30-feet deep and crystals as large as 18-inches wide can be spied on its daily tours.
5. Beach Beauty
You don’t need to head far to find beautiful, sandy places to dig your feet in. Sandusky once again makes my list with its beach areas. I, too, was surprised when I visited, but two of my favorites are right on the Lake Erie shores. This one is adjacent to Sawmill Creek Resort and its lakefront beach at dusk. Cedar Point Amusement Park also has a gorgeous beach that’s perfect for taking time away from the roller coasters.
6. Merry Go Round Museum
Another Sandusky gem, the Merry-Go-Round Museum opened in 1990. The museum has dozens of hand-carved carousel horses, giraffes, and tigers and an indoor Allan Herschell Carousel that’s been beautifully restored and ready to take a ride on. You’ll learn about the three styles of carousels, watch a carver at work, and understand the meaning of the “glamour side” of a carousel horse.
7. Ohio State Reformatory
Ok, I love creepy and oftentimes consider it beautiful in its own special way, so The Ohio State Reformatory makes my list. Located in Mansfield, the non-working reformatory was a working prison for nearly 100 years and used its inmates to built one of its wings. The property closed in 1990 and now offers tours including popular filming locations from The Shawshank Redemption. Find the room with the safe and you’ll find the Bible that was so pivotal in Andy’s freedom.
Have you been to any of these awesome seven spots? Please let me know in the comment section which one is your favorite!