Family Fun and Learning in Ohio
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Looking for an all-American family destination? You can't beat the charm and history of Ohio! Buckeye State cities along the Ohio River and Lake Erie have blossomed in recent years from rust-belt industrial hulks to vibrant, clean, culturally diverse urban centers. Surprisingly large swaths of the state, however, are rural and agricultural, with charming small towns and rolling country roads that often contain an Amish buggy or two. Whether you're looking for big-city attractions or country appeal, here are our picks for top Ohio spots your family will love.
1) Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park – The town of Dayton is considered the birthplace of aviation; it was here that Ohio natives Orville and Wilbur Wright experimented with making practical and functional flying machines. The Heritage Park includes multiple facilities: the Wright Cycle Company complex, a Visitor Center housed in the building where the brothers’ printing business produced newspapers and handbills, the nearby Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center where the brothers flew their inventions over the open prairie, and the Carillon Historic Park’s Wright Flyer III, the first aircraft that could turn and be controlled in flight. Park rangers lead guided tours, some of them even using appropriate transportation: bicycles.
2) Toledo Museum of Art – Since the city is a leading glass manufacturing center, it makes sense that Toledo’s art museum has a massive collection of beautiful ornamental glass and a dramatic curving glass-walled pavilion with frequent glassmaking demonstrations. At the end of every week there are extended hours and kid-friendly activities during “It’s Friday!” and the TMA Family Center has drop-in themed activities during the week. Best of all, everything including admission is always free.
3) Ohio Historical Center – The history and growth of Ohio, all under one roof in Columbus. Poke through artifact drawers full of ancient tools, see how the state grew from raw wilderness to an industrial and agricultural power and visit interpreters in the recreated Civil War-era Ohio Village adjacent to the main building. Fun sidelight: the Ohio Village Muffins sponsor the largest vintage “base ball” tournament in the US over Labor Day weekend, complete with players using uniforms and equipment identical to that of teams from 1845 – 1924.
4) Glacial Grooves – Kelleys Island, one of several islands in the Lake Erie Islands State Parks complex, has a demonstration of the power of massive glaciers that covered Ohio about 10,000 years ago. The Glacial Grooves make it appear that a giant cat’s claw raked across the island’s limestone, leaving long swaths of scored rock several feet deep. Native Americans also left pictographs on Inscription Rock. Soak it all in, then stay overnight in one of two yurts in the island’s campground.
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