medina-Go-karting
Travel

Best of the Best Hometowns 2018–19

We celebrate our 2018–2019 Best Hometown honorees by sharing some of the interesting and fun discoveries we made during our visits.

MEDINA

Go-Kart Track
Medina’s more than 100,000-square-foot Foundry building sat vacant for eight years before High Voltage Karting’s humming engines and squealing tires took up residence in 2015. The indoor track covers just under a quarter-mile, while the extended indoor-outdoor track open during warm weather is nearly a half-mile long. “We change the track up once a year just to make some tweaks to it,” says manager Tim Obert. The karts, which are built in Italy and can reach speeds of 30 to 35 miles per hour, have an average indoor-outdoor lap time of between 45 and 55 seconds for most drivers, and an entire race lasts seven minutes. Drivers are belted in and outfitted with both a helmet and neck brace, and each race starts at a slow roll so participants can get a hang of the controls before the high speeds kick in. 333 Foundry St., Medina 44256, 330/333-9000, highvoltagekarting.com

Dog Bakery 
Stacy Sutphen conducted lots of research before opening One Lucky Dog Bakery in 2011. A scare from a dog food recall convinced her to use only the safest and healthiest ingredients in her 32 flavors of homemade dog treats, which range from Honey & Beet (a blood detoxifier) to Lullaby (a stress and anxiety reducer). Sutphen’s shop also sells quality, all-natural dog food free of byproducts, preservatives and harmful chemicals. “It’s important to me because my customers are like extended family,” she says. “Their dogs … they’re like my own dogs. I don’t want anything to happen to them.” The shop also sells cat food, toys, collars and harnesses, beds, food and water bowls and pet supplements. Sutphen hosts classes about essential oils that best relax your furry friends, too. 45 Public Square, Medina 44256, 330/952-0900, oneluckydogbakery.com

Medina-circles-on-the-square
Made-Fresh Doughnuts
Dough is machine cut into proper shape, plopped into the fryer and cooked to crisp perfection right before your eyes at Circles on the Square. The from-scratch doughnut shop boasts more than 30 flavors, but the biggest hook is that the creations are made throughout the day. “Our number one thing is that all doughnuts in our shop will be fresh,” says co-owner Scott Sandusky, who opened the place with his wife, Melissa, in September 2017. “They will never be frozen. They will never be made the night before.” Circles on the Square’s flavors now range from maple bacon and buckeye to chocolate caramel cheesecake brownie and Drumstick. The shop’s caramel apple pie doughnut was the judges’ choice at the 2018 Donut Fest Cleveland, edging out 11 other Ohio competitors including runner-ups Peace, Love & Little Donuts and Holey Toledough. 28 Public Square, Medina 44256, 330/952-2728, circlesonthesquare.net

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TROY                   

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Historic Tavern 
You can’t get a drink at the Overfield Tavern Museum anymore, but the historic structure does offer a look at what life was like in Troy during Ohio’s earliest days. Benjamin Overfield opened the tavern Sept. 13, 1808, the same year Troy was established. “When he built this, this was the woods,” says Terry Purke, former curator of the museum. “There were no streets — none of that — just blazes on trees, and the timber used to build this square-log structure was harvested right around here.” The Federal-style log home was the center of life in the young community, offering information, lodging, fellowship and food and drink. In the mid-20th century Edward A. and William H. Hobart bought the former tavern to bring it back to its original appearance. A more extensive renovation followed in 1996, which involved restoring the original fireplace hearths, paint colors, period-appropriate woodwork and more. Open Sat.–Sun. 1–4 p.m. April–October; 201 E. Water St., Troy 45373, overfieldtavernmuseum.com

Heritage Park 
During the 1940s and ’50s, Treasure Island and Marina was a Troy hot spot. The land along the Great Miami River was home to The Boathouse, a center of activities such as family gatherings, dances and boat shows. Over the years, the site had lost its luster until city leaders revived it as Treasure Island Park. Unveiled in 2017, renovations included the restoration of the site’s lighthouse, the construction of an amphitheater and the creation of Smith’s Boathouse Restaurant. “If you walk in the restaurant and look at the pictures, you’ll get a flavor of the history,” says Mayor Michael Beamish. “At one time, people lined the levee just to watch the activities on the river.” 409 N. Elm St., Troy 45373, troyohio.gov

troy-Smith-fly-fishing
Fishing Gear 
Ethan Smith was fed up with his fly-fishing vest. The revelation that he needed pockets, but not necessarily the vest itself, led to his designing a line of sturdy packs, bags and pouches inspired by the U.S. military. Another SmithFly innovation followed in 2017, when Smith unveiled his Shoal Tent. The first-of-its-kind inflatable floating raft comes with a tent topper so you can sleep on the water rather than retreating to dry land for the night. “The tent has been the viral sensation,” Smith says. “We’ve sent them all over the world.” Visitors to Smith’s downtown shop can see his products firsthand and also may catch a glimpse of the production work going on in the back. 210 E. Water St., Troy 45373, 937/335-7400, smithfly.com

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CAMBRIDGE

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Creative Chocolates
Step into Nothing But Chocolate in historic downtown Cambridge, and you’ll find truffles and peanut clusters and buckeyes galore. Then there’s what you didn’t anticipate. One display showcases chocolates in the shape of our state, with Ohio written across them in smooth script lettering. On a table, a closer look at a toolbox reveals a fully edible chocolate creation, detailed down to the appearance of wood grain. That’s because owner Amanda Cox likes to put her imagination to work. “It’s almost like engineering and woodworking,” says Cox, who opened the shop in 2004 to share her love of handcrafted chocolate. “That’s what I love about it: The challenges that chocolate gives you every day and learning how to work with it and make it do things you normally don’t see.” 731 Wheeling Ave., Cambridge 43725, 740/439-5754, nothingbutchocolate.com

Glassmaker
In a town known for its glassware, Cambridge’s Mosser Glass is the lone local company carrying on the tradition. Company founder Thomas Mosser learned the craft at Cambridge Glass Co., following in the footsteps of his father. “Once they closed, he bounced around to other glass factories and started buying molds,” says Thomas’ daughter Mindy Hartley, who co-owns Mosser Glass with her siblings Tim and Sally. By 1959, Thomas was making his own glassware and in 1971, he established Mosser Glass. Today, guided tours allow visitors to watch craftsmen gather the molten glass out of the furnace, press it into cast-iron molds and send it through the glazer for a polished shine. The results are beautiful cake stands, pitchers, tableware, animal figurines and more. And with its old-fashioned process fully done by hand, each piece is unique. 9279 Cadiz Rd., Cambridge 43725, 740/439-1827, mosserglass.com

cambridge-Living-word-theater
Outdoor Drama
The show begins with the Sermon on the Mount, and over the course of two acts, the ministry and final days of Jesus Christ unfold on The Living Word Outdoor Drama’s 400-foot panoramic set resting at the base of a natural amphitheater fitted with 450 seats. Biblical dramatist Frank Roughton Harvey, who founded the production in 1975, took care to create the set based on his visits to the Old City of Jerusalem. Today, executive director Heath Dawson is helping modernize the show with increased seating and handicapped accessibility as well as lighting upgrades and backstage improvements for the actors — all of whom are volunteers except for the three men who portray Jesus. “We’ve got to give [our customers] the full-blown experience,” Dawson says. “That not only means up top in our concession and gift shop. We have to make them feel welcome.” 6010 College Hill Rd., Cambridge 43725, 740/439-2761, livingworddrama.org

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NEW ALBANY

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Teaching Tool
It’s tough enough navigating the journey to adulthood when you’re in school. But that road is even more challenging for kids with special needs. LifeTown Columbus, a realistic indoor city with shops in the Lori Schottenstein Chabad Center in New Albany, is designed to make the world less intimidating for students in grades K-12 living with disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. Last year, 1,395 students from 75 schools in 16 central Ohio districts attended daily to learn skills they’ll use throughout life, including budgeting at the town’s bank and time management at the movie theater. “LifeTown gives students the opportunity to practice life skills in a safe environment where they’re able to make mistakes,” says Stephan Cooke, LifeTown Columbus program manager. “Students are transformed here.” 614/372-6277, lifetowncolumbus.org

Health Walk 
When Dr. Philip Heit was told in 2003 that his days of running marathons were over, he didn’t take the news sitting down. Instead, he launched a Sunday morning walking club and, in 2005, took his dedication to physical fitness a few steps further by founding the New Albany Walking Classic with 30 city partners. This year’s 10K, which will be held Sept. 15 on a 6.2-mile course, is expected to draw 3,000 people. In addition to official Walking Classic gear, participants are treated to signature post-race dishes from local restaurants. Proceeds benefit wellness programs in New Albany. “The fact that this race is only about walking draws people who may be intimidated by runners,” Heit says. “It’s all about moving, keeping healthy and having a blast.” Registration opens Jan. 1. 614/685-6346, newalbanywalkingclassic.com

Taste-of-New-Albany-courtesy-of-commerce

Food Fest
A smorgasbord of epicurean delight awaits visitors to New Albany July 28, when the chamber of commerce hosts the 18th annual Taste of New Albany. More than 30 restaurants from throughout the region participate in the fest, which also features live entertainment and draws over 1,000 people each year. Signature fare spans from creme brulee and filet mignon to pizza and wings. Cocktails, craft brews and fine wines are paired with each entree, and prizes are awarded to restaurants in the categories of People’s Choice, Best Food Display and Best of the Taste. “Restaurants must be invited to participate,” says Cherie Nelson, executive director of the New Albany Chamber of Commerce. “If you come once, you’ll have so much fun, you’ll want to come again.” Advance reservations are required. Market Square, New Albany 43054, 614/855-4400, tasteofnewalbany.com

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FINDLAY

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T-Shirt Shop 
Nick Moore’s Flag City Clothing is a store you expect to find in larger locales like Columbus or Cleveland. But for those who want to wear their Buckeye State pride on their sleeves, Moore offers a deep lineup of shirts sporting a script Ohio logo. But he also gets hyper local with original designs representing more than a dozen schools across the region. “All the school shirts my kids got were kind of lame and cookie-cutter,” says Moore, who opened his shop in 2017. That local pride goes even deeper, with locally focused T-shirts hyping long-gone spots like Miller’s Luncheonette or still-going-strong local institutions such as Dietsch Brothers Fine Chocolates & Ice Cream. 521 S. Main St., Findlay 45840, 419/722-2233, flagcityclothing.com

Bourbon Bar 
Ryan and Staci Leonard’s The Bourbon Affair in downtown Findlay is equal parts top-shelf whiskey and incredible craftsmanship. Bob Ebert, one of Ryan’s co-workers, crafted the long, wooden bar from ash trees on the Leonard’s property. The black-and-white photos on the walls are from the Hancock Historical Museum and the pressed-tin ceiling was brought in from a now-demolished downtown building. “The one thing that was very important was keeping this as much Findlay as we possibly could,” says bartender Luke Kish. All of that effort adds up to a classy and comfy space to take in a long list of bourbons and other styles of whiskeys and creative cocktails. 121-B E. Crawford St., Findlay 45840, 567/250-9162, ourbourbonaffair.com

findlay-historical-society

History Center 
The 1881 home of Jasper Hull was one of Findlay’s most beautiful at the time it was built. It’s now part of the Hancock Historical Museum, which spans nine buildings. Seven are located at the museum’s West Sandusky Street campus, including an Agricultural Building and Energy & Transportation Annex. The main exhibit space includes unusual and interesting items. One is a steel bathtub from the USS Maine, secured by an Ohio congressman after the ship was raised in 1911. Another is authentic samurai armor a missionary brought back from Japan in the 1950s and gave to a museum at what was then Findlay College. “The museum closed in the 1970s, and all the stuff came to us. It wasn’t documented well, and this was in our basement for decades,” says Hancock Historical Museum executive director Sarah Sisser. “It’s really special, and it took us a couple years to present it in the way it should have always been.” 422 W. Sandusky St., Findlay 45840, 419/423-4433, hancockhistoricalmuseum.org