May 2009 Issue
Find outdoor adventures, waterpark fun, historical finds and much more in Licking County.
Is your family happiest when hiking through the woods, watching for red-bellied woodpeckers? Maybe the kids are fascinated with prehistoric times and want to learn more about those who inhabited Ohio long ago. Or perhaps a few days spent zipping down water slides at a premier waterpark resort brings (wet) smiles all around.
Licking County, located in central Ohio, offers a variety of ideas for family vacations focusing on nature, agritourism, sports and recreation, or Ohio history. But mixing and matching places to visit is just as much fun. And everyone agrees that stopping at Ye Olde Mill, home to Velvet Ice Cream in Utica, with its museum, production viewing area and creamy treats, is a great idea.Action for All
CoCo, a brightly colored macaw mascot, welcomes visitors to CoCo Key Water Resort at Cherry Valley Lodge
in Newark. The parrot is the only one squawking at the 50,000-square-foot indoor waterpark. Compliments, not complaints, are heard about the three water slides, the 274-foot-long Coconut Grove Adventure River tube ride, the interactive Play
Island for younger kids and other water features with a Key West twist.
Grown-ups who leave the Shark Slam slide to the kids won’t be bored. The Wet Rooster Bar overlooks the entire water resort, and cabanas, complete with television, refrigerator and private butler service, can be rented daily.
Landlubbers appreciate Cherry Valley’s spacious 200 guest rooms and suites and the lodge’s arboretum and botanical garden, filled with white rhododendrons, lavender and silver birch trees. Hiking and biking trails also crisscross the 18-acre resort. A plus: The resort plans real activities for kids and families every night, not just baby-sitting services. Cherry Valley Lodge and CoCo Key Water Resort, 2299 Cherry Valley Rd., Newark 43055, 800/788-8008. www.cherryvalleylodge.com
in downtown Newark is a nonprofit, family-oriented, cultural gathering place affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution. Kids have fun and learn. The Me Lab is a new permanent exhibit that opened in March. The health-and-fitness, hands-on lab helps kids become more aware of their blood pressure, height and weight, eyesight and more. Executive director Marcia Downes says the goal is to reinforce initiatives created by the Licking County Memorial Health System and Licking County Health Department.
The Works also has ongoing demonstrations of glassblowing, a magical art that mesmerizes kids as they watch a white-hot, soft substance turn into a beautiful vase. Kids also finger paint, examine skull replicas and listen to stories about their Ohio ancestors.
“The funniest part to me is watching kids in their parents’ arms when they have to leave. The kids are holding onto the doorways saying, ‘I don’t want to go.’ It happens a lot here,” says Downes. The Works, 55 S. 1st St., Newark 43055, 740/349-9277, www.attheworks.org
. Tues.–Sat. 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; ages 18–54 $7; ages 55 and over $5, ages 2–17 $3.
Kids get messy with their parents’ blessings at Whatever Works Art Space
in Granville. Professional artists, including Carol Phillips Whitt, help kids discover artistic talents using recycled materials and everyday objects. Activities include Paint Your Own Pottery and the Collage Buffet. Friday’s Open Studio is 1–7 p.m. and no registration is required. Whatever Works Art Space, 115 W. Broadway, Granville 43023, 740/587-7852. www.whateverworksart.org
Collectors of little Hot Wheels cars can see some of their real-life counterparts roar down the track at National Trail Raceway
course. The family-friendly raceway spotlights drag racing sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association. The raceway’s 45th Anniversary Race week is May 29–31. National Trail Raceway, 2650 National Rd., Hebron 43025, 740/928-5706. www.nationaltrailraceway.com Ancient History
Students learn about Ohio’s Great Circle Earthworks, the Octagon Earthworks and the Wright Earthworks in school. Give them the opportunity to see the 2,000-year-old connected earthworks in person. Newark Earthworks State Memorial
is home to the ceremonial site built by the ancient Hopewell culture. A renovated, related museum in Heath explains the sacred site through videos and timelines.
The Great Circle Earthworks Museum also houses the Licking County Convention and Visitors Bureau, making it convenient to pick up other local travel information. Newark Earthworks, 99 Cooper Ave., Newark 43055, 800/752-2602. www.ohsweb.ohiohistory.org
. Open daylight hours year-round; donations accepted. The Great Circle Earthworks Museum, 455 Hebron Rd., Heath 43056, 800/600-7178. www.lccvb.com
More ancient history is found at the Flint Ridge State Memorial and Museum
in Glenford. The old quarry and displays of flint give kids a better understanding of how vital flint was to Ohio’s Native Americans. Flint Ridge State Memorial and Museum, 7091 Brownsville Rd. S.E., Glenford 43739, 800/752-2602. www.ohiohistory.org
. Open May–September, call for hours; donations accepted. Baskets and More
Who knows? The seven-story Longaberger Home Office,
made to resemble the company’s Medium Market Basket, could inspire a budding young architect in your family. The internationally famous building, with its giant handles that weigh about 150 tons, is a marvel of engineering. 1500 E. Main St., Newark 43055, To visit, call 740/322-5588.
Not far away is the Longaberger Homestead
, which offers shopping and dining and special activities. During the American Summer Celebration, June 19–20, families can fill, well, a basket with memories.
“Kids like to get their picture taken in front of the Home Office and then head on over to the Homestead,” says Tom Matthews, Longaberger spokesperson. “Make a Basket is one of the biggest draws for kids and everyone. Kids get the help of an expert basket maker, sign the basket and take it home.” Longaberger Homestead, Raiders Rd., Frazeysburg 43822, 740/322-5088. www.longaberger.com
. A fee is charged for Make a Basket workshops.Fresh-air Fun
Licking County’s state, county and local parks welcome nature lovers. Families watch spotted turtles sun themselves on fallen logs in streams and lakes, use binoculars to observe great blue heron fly overhead, and explore miles of trail on horseback, bicycle or foot through woodlands and meadows.
in Newark, privately owned but open to the public, is a botanical masterpiece that complements the county’s natural areas. The arboretum is known for its collections of conifers, holly, viburnum and other plant groups, as well as commendable research and conservation efforts.
But the arboretum, with more than 15,000 plants (including some rare species), is not just for scientists. Children learn to tell an oak tree from a maple, a toad from a frog, and a moth from a butterfly in the Discovery Center, and then try their new-found observation skills “in the field.”
This year’s annual Plant Sale is Saturday, May 16. Dawes Arboretum, 7770 Jacksontown Rd., Newark 43056, 740/323-2355. www.dawesarb.org
. Grounds open 7 a.m.–sunset daily except major holidays; no admission charge.
Buckeye Lake State Park
is a vast family playground and includes 176 acres for picnicking and exploring. The 3,173-acre Buckeye Lake accommodates sailboats, powerboats, canoes and rowboats. Fishing for perch, bluegill and other fish is allowed, as is swimming. The Queen of the Lake
pontoon offers public cruises.
Serious naturalists must apply for a permit from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to visit Cranberry Bog
, located off the north shore of Buckeye Lake. Called “a giant waterlogged sponge,” the floating bog mat is home to carnivorous plants, orchids and dragonflies. The Ohio Department of Natural Areas and Preserves’ annual bog tour is Saturday, June 20. Those interested in the tour must enter a lottery for a reservation.
The Greater Buckeye Lake Historical Society and Museum offers views of the bog from the Queen of the Lake
through October. 4729 Walnut Rd., Buckeye Lake 43008, 740/929-1998. www.buckeyelakehistory.org.
Buckeye Lake State Park, 2905 Liebs Island Rd., Millersport 43046, 740/467-2690. www.buckeyelakestatepark.com
It is impossible to see all of Licking County’s highlights in one trip. Late summer and fall is a good time to tour several farms that offer activities for families. Devine Farms in Hebron celebrates the harvest with a Pumpkin Festival, corn maze and Barrel Train Ride for kids. The Lynd Fruit Farm in Pataskala is Ohio’s largest orchard and welcomes families to pick their own fruit.