June 2009 Issue
Fun on a Budget
The upside of a downturned economy is the affordable travel opportunities it brings. Here, we highlight some of the best free, cheap and deeply discounted deals around this summer.
When the going gets tough, the tough go on vacation. Or at least they should from what we can tell, considering that destinations from Youngstown to Cincinnati are going all out to offer incentives to their cash-strapped clientele. We’ve compiled some of the best travel deals close to home; to find more, check with the visitors’ bureaus where you’re traveling, or log on to the Ohio Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus
Web site, www.oacvb.org
Land of the Free
This eclectic collection of venues — from a polka hall of fame to a pencil sharpener museum — lets you leave your wallet at home. Take a day and visit several of these unique, free attractions.
Experience life as an early settler at the sylvania historical village near Toledo. Costumed interpreters demonstrate their daily tasks in an 1840s log home, an 1844 Stone Academy replica and a blacksmith and carpentry shop. 419/882-4865, www.cityofsylvania.com
See oversized black-and-white images by Clyde Butcher, a nationally known photographer and environmentalist from Florida, at the National Center for Nature Photography
inside Secor Metropark just west of Toledo. The only center of its kind in the country, this weekends-only gallery features exhibits by some of the finest nature photographers.419/407-9757, www.naturephotocenter.com
The four-story Follett House Museum contains exhibits that tell the story of Sandusky, Erie County and Johnson’s Island. The house features a rooftop widow’s walk, where visitors can take in the panoramic view of Sandusky, Cedar Point and Johnson’s Island.419/625-3834, www.sandusky.lib.oh.us/index.php
Head to northeast Ohio to mark the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln at the Butler Institute of American Art
in Youngstown, where you can celebrate the 16th president’s life through art. Norman Rockwell’s masterwork “Lincoln the Railsplitter,” as well as a woodblock by Winslow Homer and lithographs depicting Lincoln’s presidency are all on display.330/743-1711, www.butlerart.com
Meet historic characters such as inventor Garrett Morgan, entrepreneur John D. Rockefeller and President Abraham Lincoln while you stroll the streets on a free guided walking tour of
(click on Events). You can also learn the story of legendary crime fighter Eliot Ness and other bits from Cleveland’s past while you investigate confiscated firearms, uniforms, artifacts and more at the Cleveland Police Museum.216/623-5055, www.clevelandpolicemuseum.org
In Cleveland’s eastern suburb of Euclid, see polka memorabilia dating back to the turn of the century, photos of famous polka musicians and dancers, and a video collection of polka history at the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame. 866/667-6552, www.clevelandstyle.com
The sky in east-central Ohio will be polka-dotted with color at the Hot Air Balloon Festival on June 28 at the Coshocton County Fairgrounds in Coshocton. Musical entertainment, carnival rides, festive foods and crafters are just a few of the other attractions lined up for this annual event.740/622-5411, www.visitcoshocton.com
The Missionary Maintenance Service, also in Coshocton, repairs airplanes (at no cost) for mission work throughout the world. Take a tour of this facility and get a fascinating look at the art and craft of repairing and rebuilding planes of all sizes. The MMS is also a training facility for this type of repair work, and attracts students from around the world. 888/950-4395, www.mmsaviation.org
In southeast Ohio, explore Cambridge’s glassy past with free factory tours of Boyd’s Crystal Art Glass and Mosser Glass. 800/933-5480, www.visitguernseycounty.com
If you appreciate glass artistry, plan a visit to the Decorative Arts Center in Lancaster, southeast of Columbus. The center celebrates functional art in glass, metal, stone and wood, as well as textiles including quilts, coverlets and tapestries. 740/681-1423, www.decartsohio.org
South of Lancaster, in Hocking County, take a tour of the Columbus Washboard Factory
in Logan, the last remaining washboard factory in the U.S. 800/343-7967, www.columbuswashboard.com.
Continue on to Athens County to see the largest collection of pencil sharpeners in the world at the Pencil Sharpener Museum
in Nelsonville. To schedule a tour, call 740/753-4634.
Step it up and let instructors teach you the basics of this fiery dance during Salsa on the Square, Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. at Cincinnati’s Fountain Square,
just one of the many free Fountain Square events that run through September 17.513/621-4400, www.myfountainsquare.com Animal Attractions
Ohio’s wild kingdoms offer admission packages that can add up to big savings. Also, reciprocal agreements for zoo members can mean free or discounted admission at more than 100 zoos in the U.S., including the following in Ohio: African Wildlife Safari Park in Port Clinton, Akron Zoological Park, Boonshoft Museum of Discovery in Dayton, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Toledo Zoo and the Wilds in Cumberland. Check reciprocity agreements before visiting.
Free Brushes with Fame
Famous Ohioans get their due at a number of museums and attractions around the state that offer free or nominal admission. To enhance the experience, we suggest DVDs you can rent or check out of the library.
Guernsey County native William Boyd made his mark as the famed cowboy star Hopalong Cassidy. The Hopalong Cassidy Museum showcases an extensive collection of memorabilia. 800/933-5480, www.hcherry.com.
During his career, Boyd made more than 60 “Hoppies” and these movies along with his television series are available on DVD.
The Shawshank Redemption Drive-it-Yourself Tour gives fans a driving map of Mansfield complete with scene locations and trivia from the hit movie “The Shawshank Redemption,” which was filmed (primarily) at the Mansfield Reformatory.800/642-8282, www.shawshanktrail.com.
Rent “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Air Force One,” “Tango & Cash” and “Harry and Walter Go to New York,” all filmed at the Mansfield Reformatory.
OK, so this one isn’t free, but it’s pretty close. In honor of the 70th anniversary of his most famous film, head to Cadiz and take a tour of the birth home of actor Clark Gable
($5.50 for adults). 740/942-4989, www.clarkgablefoundation.com.
Rent “Gone With the Wind,” of course.
While not free, the following offer exciting diversions for a relatively low price.
Head to the capital city to see Huntington Park, the new home of Cleveland Indians’ Triple-A affiliate, the Columbus Clippers. General admission is just $6 for adults, $3 for kids 12 and under.614/462-5250, http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/index.jsp
See the bikes of Hollywood’s A-list riders, including Keith Urban, Cher, Steve McQueen and Travis Barker of Blink-182 in “MotoStars: Celebrities & Motorcycles” at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum in Pickerington. More than 40 motorcycles are on display, including the MV Agusta ridden by Will Smith in “I, Robot” and the Triumph ridden by Tom Cruise in “Mission Impossible III.” Adults $10, seniors $8, ages 12–17 $3, family rate $25.614/856-2222, www.motorcyclemuseum.org
The Bike Aboard! deal helps cyclists on a budget see more of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Bike the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail along the Cuyahoga River between Cleveland and Akron in one direction, then ride the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, one of the oldest, longest, scenic excursion railways in the country, back to your starting point for just $2 (a savings of $13). 800/468-4070, www.cvsr.com
You might think the only theater seat $10 will buy involves popcorn and noisy teenagers. But the Smart Seats program at Cleveland’s PlayhouseSquare lets users secure a spot at a variety of performances for just $10 (participating shows are added throughout the season, so check the Web site regularly). 866/546-1353, www.playhousesquare.com/Events/smartseats.aspx
Special packages make these events easy on the pocketbook.
Baseball fans should book a night at a Cincinnati-area hotel this summer and get half-price Reds tickets. Savings $11–$21 per person (excluding tax). 859/581-2260, www.cincinnatiusa.com/reds
Adrenaline addicts take note:
Wake Nation, the new cable wakeboarding park in Fairfield, north of Cincinnati, is offering a free, one-hour cable pass that lets you wakeboard, water ski, kneeboard or wakeskate across its 10-acre lake during the month of June. To get the discount, register on the Web site to receive an e-mail coupon. And if you don’t know what any of those things are, don’t worry — they offer lessons. Savings $20 per person. 513/887-9253, www.wakenation.com
The family four-pack deals (available online only) at The Beach Waterpark in Mason equal fun in the sun for less than half the regular price. Monday through Thursday, get four passes for $46 ($55 if you’re there Friday through Sunday). Add a four-person meal deal — a large cheese pizza plus a pitcher of your favorite beverage — for $12.95, a savings of $10 off the regular price. Savings (park only): $23–$32 800/886-7946, www.thebeachwaterpark.com
Indulge your family’s need for speed at Family Fun Fest Saturdays at Sharon Speedway north of Youngstown in Hartford (June 20, July 11 and Aug. 8). The package includes two adult general admission tickets to the dirt motorsports complex, plus four hot dogs and four boxes of popcorn for $23. Savings: $16. 330/772.5481, www.sharonspeedway.com
Tucked in among the hills of rural Harrison County in east-central Ohio, “Bluegrass in the Hills” is a homegrown and family-oriented music festival, June 11–13, July 9–11 and Aug. 6–8. Hear local and nationally known performers, like Tim O’Brien (winner of the 2006 Best Traditional Folk Album Grammy) and Steven Moore (2008 National Banjo Champion). Opt for the “working man’s ticket,” which gets you in for just $15 after 6 p.m. Savings: $10. 740/946-5631, www.mickeysmtn.com
Splurge and Save
Sometimes a deal is too good to pass up. If you’re planning a getaway, consider these packages for a nearby (and fuel-saving) vacation.
The “Splash & Swim Getaway Package” is a three-day aquatic adventure that combines the fun of CoCo Key Water Resort at Sheraton Cincinnati North with the amazing animals at the Newport Aquarium just across the river. Starting at $279 for a family of four, you’ll get day passes to both the park and the aquarium, overnight accommodations at the Sheraton Cincinnati North and meal vouchers. Savings: $437 for a family of four.513/771-2080, www.cocokeywaterresort.com
Visit Columbus Zoo and aquarium, Zoombezi Bay and COSI all in one trip with the “Roar & Explore” package ($299). The trip includes four passes to each of the three locations, a two-night stay at Drury Inn & Suites (choose from three locations in Columbus), a free kids meal at Bob Evans and a $15 gift card to Cameron Mitchell Restaurants.614/397-2657, www.experiencecolumbus.com
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has teamed up with Kings Island and local hotels to offer the “Ride & Roar Family Fun Package.” Included are one-day passes to both attractions, accommodations for two adults and two children, and coupons and discounts for area restaurants and shopping. The price ranges from $200 to $300, depending on the hotel booked.866/525-2761, www.ohioslargestplayground.com
Discounts and More
The following travel tools will help you save on in-state travel:
Use Licking County’s Stay and Play Discount Card and your one-night stay in an area hotel entitles you to bonus discounts —such as $19 waterpark passes and $10 off spa treatments of $50 or more at Cherry Valley Lodge and CoCo Key Waterpark — as well as other deals at area restaurants, shops, golf courses and more. 800/589-8224, www.lccvb.com
With the Cleveland Plus Pass, one ticket gives you admission to 10 attractions, including the Children’s Museum of Cleveland and the Cleveland Botanical Garden, over two, three or five days, at a discount of 30 percent or more. 800/321-1004, www.positivelycleveland.com/pluspass
The Lake Erie Shores & Islands annual travel planner contains a wallet-sized Shore Savings Card, good for discounts and special offers like a free game of bowling at Cedar Lanes, nine holes of golf with the purchase of nine holes at Mills Creek Golf Course or a $4 discount on the Jet Express’ adult “Island Hopping” package. 800/255-3743, www.shoresandislands.com/visitors/specials
Pay a visit to the Hocking Hills new Admission: FREE Web site, where you’ll find a long list of the region’s free experiences, from daily hiking at Ash Cave to free Saturday night movies at Hocking Hills State Park Campground and Lake Hope Nature Center, to the incredible annual arts festival, Lilyfest. They’ll even help you document your budget-wise adventures with a flip video camera, which visitors can borrow for free during their stay. www.1800hocking.com/whattodo/admission_free