January 2008 Issue
Best of Ohio
Enjoy the beauty, adventure and fun of our state as we spotlight some new finds and old favorites.
By Bob Beasley, Rachael Brugger, Jessica Esemplare, Linda Feagler, Jennifer Haliburton, Ashley Harrington, Jenny Pavlasek, Vivian Pospisil, Ron Rollins and Elizabeth Weinstein
CE Best Slice of Farm Life
Turn back the clock to 1880s rural Ohio at Columbus Metro Parks'™ Slate Run Living Historical Farm. This working farm lets visitors help with chores and activities, from maple sugaring to sheep shearing. 1375 St. Rte. 674 N., Canal Winchester, 614/508-9000,www.metroparks.net/ParksSlateRunFarm.aspx
SE Best Place to Get the Boot
For 75 years, folks have been flocking to the southeastern Ohio town of Nelsonville to find the right fit for their feet. There, at the Rocky Boots Factory Outlet Store, they specialize in cranking out footwear built to withstand punishing pastimes and occupations. 39 E. Canal St., Nelsonville, 740/753-1951, www.rockyboots.com
NE Best Place to Get into a Jam
Orrville may be the town where legendary basketball coach Bob Knight grew up, but it’s home to something much sweeter — Smucker’s jams and jellies. You can get your taste at the J.M. Smucker Co. Store and Cafe. 333 Wadsworth Rd., Orrville, 330/684-1500, www.smuckers.com
CE Best Place to See for Miles and Miles
A hike up Mt. Pleasant in Lancaster’s Rising Park will certainly get your blood pumping. But, at the summit, calmness will consume you as you take in the view. On a clear day, you can even catch a glimpse of the Columbus skyline 30 miles away. 203 E. Fair Ave., Lancaster, www.lancasterparks.com.
SW Best Place to Cultivate Green Thumbs
Right in the heart of Dayton, children can explore Ohio’s caves, prairies, wetlands and woods. Topiaries, mazes and interactive displays translate into fun learning for youngsters at the Children’s Discovery Garden at Wegerzyn Gardens. 1301 E. Siebenthaler Ave., Dayton, 937/277-6545, www.metroparks.org
CE Best Place to Eat and Drive
At the Digger & Finch Grille & Pub, you can order your bangers and mash with a bucket of balls to bang and mash. This Dublin restaurant combines a full menu of traditional Scottish fare with a golf shop and driving range to practice the traditional Scottish game. 6720 Riverside Dr., Dublin. 614/889-8585. www.diggerandfinchpub.com.
NE CE SW Best British Invasion Since The Beatles
Lush, the British company known for its, well, “lush” bath products, shampoos and creams –– with exotic names ranging from Sonic Death Monkey (chocolate-and-coffee shower gel) to Champagne Supernova (a cognac-and-orange-oil bath bomb) — has finally come to the Buckeye state with stores in Beachwood (26300 Cedar Rd., 216/292-7766), Cincinnati (7875 Montgomery Rd., 513/793-5874) and Dublin (5123 Tuttle Crossing Blvd., 614/889-5874).
SW Best Display of Hometown Pride
A Place Called Home: Clinton County, the lavish coffee-table tome, provides a loving look at the area through the eyes of 20 photographers. (Orange Frazer Press, $49.95, http://orangefrazerpress.com
NE Best Way to Get Around
Greater Cleveland’s Regional Transit Authority was voted North America’s Best Public Transportation System. Reasons the system was chosen as No. 1 include new trolley service and the Ride Happy or Ride Free customer-service guarantee.
SW Best Way to Enhance Your Workout
Do it at the scenic overlook in Cincinnati’s Eden Park. The breathtaking vista provides the ideal spot to commune with nature and work up a sweat at the same time. (Gilbert Avenue between Elsinore and Morris)
NW Best Spot to Read The Good Book
While the Stately Raven Bookstore’s 18,000 titles alone are enough to make it a noteworthy visit for book lovers, its most striking feature is its one-of-a-kind setting. The bookstore’s home in Findlay is an old, restored church, complete with stone walls, tall gothic windows and a bell tower. The store is named after a passage in Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem, “The Raven,” and the building’s architecture, combined with touches such as a wood-burning fireplace and curved staircase, add to the intriguing atmosphere. 1315 N. Main St., Findlay, 419/427-2814, www.statelyravenbookstore.com.
SW Best New Birth
The Sumatran rhinoceros is a critically endangered species: Only 300 remain in the wild, and there are only 10 at zoos worldwide. But the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden’s Sumatran rhino, Emi, recently gave birth to her third offspring, an 86-pound male — a record-setting event, since no other Sumatran has bred three times in captivity. The Cincinnati Zoo is now home to the only four Sumatrans in the United States. 3400 Vine St., Cincinnati, 513/281-4700, www.cincyzoo.org
NE Best Way to Warm Up
Best Way to Warm Up On a cold day, hot soup trumps most other menu items. The onion cappuccino soup at Rosendales in Columbus elevates comfort food to a chic level. Che --f Richard Rosendaleâ€™s blend of six onions (leeks, scallions, white and red onions, sweet Vidalias and shallots) has a frothy topping made with skim milk, then topped with fresh chives and crispy fried shallots that look and taste like mini onion rings. The delightful concoction is served in a white coffee cup. 793 North High St., Columbus, 614/298-1601. www.rosendales.com
NE Best Wedding Setting
Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens in Akron is the picture-perfect place for an outdoor wedding. The sumptuous grounds, such as the Tea Houses that are framed by a birch tree allee, or the mansionâ€™s terraces that are surrounded by a profusion of beautiful blooms, set the stage for a memorable ceremony and reception. Stan Hywet also has indoor reception space in the Carriage House or Manor Hall. www.stanhywet.org
CE Best Places to Dance a Jig
Best Place to Dance a Jig Lace up your dancing shoes and follow the end of the rainbow to the Dublin Irish Festival Aug. 1â€“3, where you can drink a few pints and, perhaps, shuffle your way into the record books. Last year, more than 10,000 revelers set the mark for dancing the worldâ€™s largest Irish Jig. www.dublinirishfestival.org
NE Best Plan to Grow the Community
The Summer Sprout Collaborative –– an effort of The Ohio State University Extension and the City of Cleveland –– consists of some 170 gardens. The goal is to turn urban lots into vegetable gardens so that people can feed themselves, their families and their communities. Participants receive vegetable seeds and plant starts, soil preparation services, equipment for watering, fertilizer and leaf humus. Growers keep their vegetables for themselves or to share, and any surplus goes to area hunger centers. 216/429-8246.
SE Best Excuse to Play Video Games
The Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Lab in Athens –– equipped with the latest development tools in software and hardware for game development –– was created to provide the region with an opportunity to develop technical and creative skills through the use of interactive digital game technology. But its state-of-the-art arcade also offers OU students and the community a fun way to blow off steam. 5 N. Court St., Athens, 740/589-GRID, www.gridlab.ohio.edu.
NW Best Table with a View
In 1832, the U.S. government built Port Clinton’s first lighthouse on the site now occupied by The Garden at the Lighthouse restaurant; it was also from this spot that the entire city of Port Clinton was plotted. The lightkeepers are gone (the station was discontinued in 1870), but customers now get to dine on delicious food while reveling in sumptuous views of Lake Erie from a Victorian home. 226 E. Perry St., Port Clinton, 419/732-2151, www.gardenrestaurant.com
SE Best Addition to Your Garden
Not your typical garden-variety plant, the Passion Flower from Passion Works in Athens makes a great accent to any yard, home or office. These brightly colored flowers crafted from recycled aluminum are hand painted by disabled artists who live in the Appalachian region. 21 S. Campbell Street, Athens, 740/592-6659. www.passionworks.org
NE Best Store for DIY Painters
In September 2007, Sherwin-Williams opened the doors of a new store in Shaker Heights, the Sherwin-Williams Idea Center. The first of its kind in the country, the store is neatly organized by color family, and makes the process of shopping for paint colors simple, accessible and fun for customers. A decorative product specialist is available for consultations, as well. 16732 Chagrin Blvd., Shaker Heights, 216/991-8181.
SW Best Historical Artifact
Forget all that Kitty Hawk stuff. After the Wright Brothers got off the ground in 1903, the next step was learning how to control and safely land what they’d built. They learned how to do just that with the plane known today as the 1905 Wright Flyer III, which is on view at Carillon Historical Park, just south of downtown Dayton. Remember: the first one crashed, this one worked. 1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton, 937/293-2841, www.carillonpark.org
SE Best Noodles
Rossi Pasta in Marietta offers 26 different varieties and concocts new flavors on a regular basis. The latest: Southwest Chipotle Fettucini, Shitake Fettucini and Zucchini Linguini. The pasta is available at Rossi’s shop on historic Front Street or online. 106 Front St., Marietta, 800/22ROSSI. www.rossipasta.com
CE Best Meet and Greet
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have dinner with your favorite author? Thurber Houseâ€™s summer Literary Picnics begin with a tour of the home where Columbus native James Thurbera once lived, and continue with a catered picnic and a reading from a guest writer, followed by a book signing. Thurber House, 77 Jefferson Ave., Columbus, 614/464-1032. www.thurberhouse.org.
CE Best Ice Cream for Foodies
Thai chili. Sweet corn with blackberries. Queen City cayenne. While these sound like the names of gourmet dishes served at a fine restaurant, they are actually some of the insanely inventive ice cream flavors available at Jeni’s Ice Creams, a Columbus-based ice creamery with locations in the North Market, the Short North and Grandview. Be sure to try the salty caramel — it’s the flavor that put Jeni’s on the map. www.jenisicecreams.com.
SW Best Military Memorial
NE Best Chocolate Indulgence
The 101-year-old Butler County Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument on the Great Miami River in downtown Hamilton stands as one of Southwest Ohio’s most prominent landmarks. The three-story structure features gorgeous stained glass, a museum’s worth of artifacts and a 3,500-pound statue of a Yankee trooper atop its dome. 1 South Monument Ave., Hamilton, 513/867-5823, www.butlercountyohio.org/monument.
Beet cake: It almost sounds nutritious, but lovers of the chocolaty dessert served at Jimmy O’Neill’s Tavern in Cleveland Heights know better. This treat — served piping hot and drizzled with melted Belgian chocolate and a heaping mound of fresh whipped cream — is just about the richest slice of chocolate cake $5 can buy. The beets merely add to the smooth, moist texture. 2195 Lee Rd., Cleveland Hts., 216/321-1116.
NE Best Place to Watch Fourth of July Fireworks
Wendy Park is 22 acres of newly cleaned-up greenery, located on Whiskey Island, which runs along the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie, with a clear view of the downtown Cleveland skyline. Come Fourth of July, pile into your car, pack some snacks and blankets, and join the partying masses who congregate here every year for what is arguably the best view of the Cleveland fireworks. www.whiskeyislandmarina.com
NW Best Reason to Raise a Glass
Eschewing the stereotypical, cheesy barroom artwork (think glowing, neon beer advertisements), Bronze Boar owner John Orr decided to beautify his Toledo tavern by paying tribute to his patrons. So, he hired artist Salvatore Schiciano to spend countless hours over many months sketching and photographing his customers. The result: a 6-by-14-foot painting that includes the images of some 52 regulars. 20 S. Huron St., Toledo, 419/244-2627, www.bronzeboar.com.
NE Best Vacation Destination…
For Pets Spa baths, whitening treatments, facials, aromatherapy relaxation massages, steak dinners, limo rides and in-suite plasma TVs. Sounds like a dream getaway, right? Sorry, but the Barkley Pet Hotel & Day Spa in Orange Village only accommodates guests of the four-legged variety, for whom a standard kennel will not do. Just don’t be surprised when your pet is sad to leave after a taste of this dog’s life. 27349 Miles Rd., Orange Village, 440/248-BARK, www.thebarkleypethotel.com
CE Best Ohioan on the Tube:
Did you know that Josh Radnor, a.k.a. “Ted Mosby” on the popular CBS series “How I Met Your Mother” is a native Ohioan? That’s right – Radnor was born in 1974 in Columbus, and is a 1996 graduate of Kenyon College in Gambier, where he won the Paul Newman Trophy for best performance by a male actor. To boot, “How I Met Your Mother” was co-created by Carter Bays, a 1993 graduate of Shaker Heights High School.
NE Best Hangout for Film Buffs
Start planning now: Film buffs the world over have been known to use up all their vacation days for the chance to watch the premieres of hundreds of international, local, short, feature, documentary and experimental films at the Cleveland International Film Festival, which takes place March 6–16 at Tower City Cinemas. A record 52,753 people attended last year’s festival, turning downtown Cleveland into a haven for film fanatics. Look out for the die-hards — they’re the ones carrying a full day’s worth of snacks and flashing VIP passes for back-to-back-to-back screenings. 216/623-3456, www.clevelandfilm.org.
SW Best Art Event
Whether you're a connoisseur or a browser, visit High Street in Columbus on the first weekend of every month for art, music and food. During the monthly Gallery Hop, Short North artists open their doors to the public and performers take to the street, drawing thousands of art enthusiasts. www.shortnorth.org
SW Best Hands-on Historic Preservation Project
It’s happening in Urbana, where a group of devoted, mechanically inclined citizen volunteers is working to restore a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber in a hangar at the municipal airport. Curious? Visit www.b17project.com
SE Best Moonlight Serenade
You, too, can feel like a movie star during the Hocking Hills Canoe Livery Moonlight Tour, where you’ll paddle on the Hocking River as the sun sets, and return to the livery at moonlight for a marshmallow roast and live music around a roaring bonfire. Hocking Hills Canoe Livery, 12789 St. Rte. 664 St., Logan. www.hockingriver.com.
CE Best Drumline
The members of Lewis Center’s Rhythm X have yet to miss a beat as they drum their way into their seventh year. This professional-level indoor line of 17- to 22-year-old percussionists has been ranked third in the world for the past four years by Winter Guard International, a percussion-competition organization, and in 2007 was the first American drumline to tour in Europe. This year, Rhythm X will perform in Nashville and Indianapolis, as well as in shows around the state. www.rhythmx.org
SW Best Ribs
Treat yourself to a Queen City specialty: the succulent ribs of the Montgomery Inn. Enjoy this 50-year-old family recipe along the riverfront or in one of two other locations. Restaurants and Institutions Magazine named this the best independent rib restaurant in the country. www.montgomeryinn.com
SW Best Unlikely Combination
Remember that old “Saturday Night Live” skit about the product that was “a dessert topping AND a floor wax”? Well, Sudsy Malone’s Rock and Roll Laundry in Cincinnati is a rock club and, yes, a laundromat. Quirky, but it makes sense. 2626 Vine St., 513/751-2300, www.sudsys.com.
CE Best Reason to Be a Kid in a Candy Store
Move over Godiva, Marie has the perfect confection to satisfy any sweet tooth. Marie’s Candies, located in a historical train depot in West Liberty, has been serving chocolate and sweets for more than 50 years. If you’re having trouble deciding among the nearly 80 varieties, try a sample on the house. 311 Zanesfield Rd., West Liberty, 937/465-3061. www.mariescandies.com
SE Best Native Fruit
At the annual Pawpaw Festival (this year Sept. 13–14), held at Lake Snowden near Albany, vendors offer a variety of pawpaw concoctions, pawpaw beer and art and history about Ohio’s oldest native fruit. Also referred to as the “poor man’s banana,” the pawpaw is sweet and creamy, and a cousin to tropical delights like the mango. www.pawpaw fest.com.
CE Best Breakfast
Rise and shine to beat the crowd at Jack and Benny’s family-owned diner, which serves 23 different omelets and a variety of specialty platters with names like “Gut Buster” and “Benny’s Mom.” Whether dining at the counter or in a booth, soak in the Buckeye atmosphere honoring some of the diner’s most celebrated customers. 2563 N. High St., Columbus, 614/263-0242.
SE Best Scenic River Drive
Along the picturesque Muskingum River from Zanesville to Marietta, mostly on St. Rte. 60. You pass locks, small villages, rolling hills and lots of gorgeous rural scenery.
SW Best Celestial Object
The asteroid known as 1373 Cincinnati was discovered in 1935 by famed astronomer Edwin Hubble and named after the Cincinnati Observatory.
CE Best Business with a Cause
You might not get to travel to India or Africa in the near future, but you can shop for handcrafted products from distant lands at Global Gallery. Run by volunteers, this nonprofit business supports artisans in impoverished countries by providing them with a fair wage for their work. 682 N. High St., Columbus, Ohio 43215 (original location; see Web site for additional shops), 614/621-1744. www.globalgalleryonline.org.
SW Best Steakhouse
You can get a good steak at lots of places, but anybody who’s