There is an “emerald necklace” hidden in the industrial corridor linking Cleveland and Akron, Ohio. It is Cuyahoga Valley National Park with 33,000 acres. It was established in 1970s to confront the urban sprawl of 5 million people. It contains a re-created historic village, a golf course and 160 miles of natural trails. History and the environment are preserved in this area where the noises of city life are avoided. People can use the park for free whether they are camping or golfing. Skiing is available in the winter between two resorts Brandywine and Boston Mills.
There are many dramatic natural forms such as the 65-foot Brandywine Falls. Bikers and hikers are found on limestone Towpath Trail that runs north and south along the Cuyahoga River. This trail was once the route used by mule teams to carry goods to the river. The scenery bordering the trail is filled with hemlocks and star flowers with the sounds of woodpeckers. Once in a while a deer bounds across your path in this northern area of Ohio. There is also the Ledgers Trail where hikers come to enjoy the sunset.
The Brandywine Falls area has lodging for overnight visitors called the Inn at Brandywine Falls. The 67 foot falls is a natural wonder and on the property of the inn is located a mill. The inn is a huge historic Greek revival farmhouse. The barn behind the house has been renovated into two rustic suites. If you are on a budget, there is the International Stanford House. The visitor can find other lodging along the way to Akron or Cleveland, Ohio.
If tourists have no inclination for hiking they can hop aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. The ride is leisurely at 20 miles per hour so people can soak up the beauty of the area. One of the excursions takes three hours with a stop at Hale Farm and Village. It is a living-history farm and village celebrating the life of Ohio in the 19th Century. Here the visitor can experience what it was like to live during this period. The village has an open-air amphitheater, the Blossom Music Center with performances from the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra to hard rock performances. Ohio’s theatre buffs often come to the Porterhouse Theatre for professional plays.
The town of Peninsula, Ohio nestles in the center of the park. Tourists can find antique shops in the town and for lunch there is the Winking Lizard Tavern, which has a family-friendly menu. There are plenty of picnic areas throughout the park.
Don’t forget to cross the Cuyahoga River by way of the Everett Road Covered Bridge.
Everett Road was once a major road through this Ohio valley. There are plenty of beaver marshes to see along the way. A blue heron might appear on the scene. The Cuyahoga River area is truly a gem in the history of Ohio…an “emerald necklace” within the string of municipal and county parks stretching across northeast Ohio.
One of the most historical places in Ohio is Brown County. Brown County is named after General Jacob Brown who fought in the war of 1812. It is located 30-40 miles east of Cincinnati with the Ohio River bordering it on the south side. Ulysses Grant’s family moved from Point Pleasant where he was born to Georgetown, Ohio, and visitors can see the house the family lived in and the school that Grant attended. In his boyhood Grant would collect Ordovician age fossils. The farmers used the limestone with these fossils in them for their fences. The best area to collect these fossils is on a long high cut on the south side of Ohio route 125. There is a celebration of Grant’s history during the month of April every year in Georgetown, Ohio.
The Rankin House is in Brown County and was an Underground Railroad site in Ripley, Ohio. The house belonged to John Rankin, a Presbyterian minister. It stands on a 300 ft. hill. Rankin would stand on top of this hill with a lantern; signaling the slaves in Kentucky when it was safe to come over. The slaves had to climb 100 wooden steps to the house. Harriet Beecher mentions the house in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The John Parker House is also located in Ripley, Ohio. John Parker was a former slave in Alabama, who had purchased his freedom, married and moved to Ripley. He became a part of the Underground Railroad leading thousands of slaves to freedom. He also patented a number of inventions. The Signal House Bed and Breakfast in Ripley, Ohio is a favorite place to stay with a prime riverfront location. Ripley is also a tobacco town.
Higginsport, Ohio is a sleepy little river town. When it was first established it was booming place due to the Ohio, River. A merchant and tobacco dealer, Jesse Dugan, built the first brick house in 1835. It stands at the river’s edge and contains a lot of the town’s history. It is now a bed and breakfast.
Bailey House Bed and Breakfast is located in Georgetown, Ohio. The Baileys were close friends with Ulysses Grant’s family. It is one of the oldest houses in Brown County. There are several wineries near by and the Ripley Museum and bikers would appreciate the Freedom’s Landing route while getting the history of the Underground Railroad.
At one time there were over 80 covered bridges in Brown County spanning such picturesque streams as Straight Creek, White Oak Creek, Red Oak Creek and the East Fork of the Little Miami River. Today there are only 5 left:
1. New Hope Covered Bridge – Located off U.S. Route 68, southwest of New Hope, Ohio
2. Brown Covered Bridge
3. McCafferty Covered Bridge, southwest of Vera Cruz, Ohio
4. George Miller Covered Bridge, southwest of Russellville, Ohio
5. North Pole Covered Bridge, northeast of Ripley, Ohio
Many towns in Ohio are developing a sustainable lifestyle. The backyards and front yards are vegetable gardens along with the flowers. There are rain barrels in use at each house and chickens laying eggs behind the house. Each household is attempting to be sustainable. Many of the services needed to run a household are within walking distance. There are also community activities and community gardens. One such place is Enright Ridge Urban in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Urban homesteading promotes stability, community and a deeper spiritual life. Families have more time to spend together. Local businesses are sprouting up in such communities and towns in Ohio. Households are becoming more energy efficient and reducing their carbon footprint on the earth.
EcoCity Cleveland is now GreenCityBlueLake, Ohio. It is just one of the initiatives to sustainability in the city. The South Euclid Green Neighborhood Initiative is responding to the number of foreclosures in the area. The city is acquiring bankrupt homes and rehabilitating them into eco-friendly homes. Cleveland has an Office of Sustainability in its city government and is laying the foundation for a summit in 2019 on the issue. Its mission is as follows: We are committed to improving the quality of life in the City of Cleveland by strengthening our neighborhoods, delivering superior services, embracing the diversity of our citizens, and making Cleveland a desirable, safe city in which to live, work, raise a family, shop, study, play and grow old.
Northeast Ohio has created a green map of sites that are eco-friendly. There are 190 sites that are a business, parks, neighborhoods, power plants, urban farms and restaurants involved with wholesome eating. Most cities in the United States have such maps.
Blue Rock Station, outside of Concord, Ohio, has a house that was made out of trash. The house was created with earth, old barn wood and straw bales. It is a sustainability learning center. Participants can learn how to build a solar shower, a glass bottle greenhouse and compost toilets.
Youngstown, Ohio is intentionally planning to be a greener city and make more efficient use of its resources. It is partnering with Youngstown State University. It lost half of its population and manufacturing base in the last 30 years. Now was the time to do some revitalization. They are seeking a new regional economy and creating neighborhood groups to counter urban decay. It is one of the top ten cities in the USA to start a business.
Ohio is leading the way in sustainability. Dayton, Ohio will be hosting a conference on “Ohio Leads the Way: Green Markets and Green Jobs” at the Dayton Convention Center on Feb. 11 & 12, 2011. Northeast Ohio has a living database of businesses and organizations interested in implementing sustainability and offering sustainable products. This living database is a way to network with people who care about this issue. Come to Ohio, a sustainable state that keeps improving the quality of life.
A visitor in Cleveland, Ohio, could easily spend a week here. It has some of the best museums in the country. The Hubbard House tells the story of the “underground railroad”. There is a Polka museum as well as a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Cleveland, Ohio, is a mixture of neighborhoods:
- Little Italy, where stonecutters came over in to work in the Lakeview Cemetery and the Feast of the Assumption is celebrated every August on Fairfield Road with a street fair. The four days begin with a procession where the likeness of the Virgin Mary is carried throughout the neighborhood and everyone in custom.
- Chagrin Falls, Ohio, is located about 40 miles from downtown Cleveland. The early residents came from religious groups in Europe of German, Irish and English Descent. A scenic falls is in the center of the town. Chagrin Falls has some unique shopping available and its vibrant arts community.
- Shaker Heights, Ohio, is a former Shaker settlement, located about 8 miles from downtown Cleveland. The Shakers were celibate and so later Oris and Mantis Van Sweringen purchased the village. They created it into a garden suburb. Most of the suburb is residential.
- Lakewood, Ohio, has a very sizable gay population. The Beck Center of the Arts is the area’s largest art center. It educates the community in theatre, music, dance and the visual arts. Their youth theatre is the oldest of its kind in the country.
- Beachwood, Ohio, is the Jewish community in eastern Cleveland and has a museum on the life of the community.
The Cleveland Museum of Arts has free admission and is locate 15 minutes east of downtown Cleveland. The Ingalls Research library is located in the museum. The History Centre located on University Circle is contained in two mansions; the Hay-McKinney and the Mather. In one of the mansions is a costume wing with over 30,000 items of apparel. The Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum is also on the site of the mansions.
The Cleveland Cultural Gardens is made of 24 ethnic gardens on a 50 mile strip of East and MLK Boulevards. They were created during the depression through the money and labor of WPA as well as by the local ethnic communities.
There is also a free greenhouse located at the north end of the park. Miles of hiking and biking trails are found throughout the area. Cleveland promoted green spaces early on its history. There are over 60 sculptures in the area. These gardens reveal the history of immigration to Ohio and its role in the Civil War. It is here that American industrialization developed. It also contains the world’s first peace garden.
Winter can be romantic as well as fun for the family on the shores of Lake Erie in northern Ohio. Blizzards off the lake create times to be tuck away at a lodge, drinking hot chocolate by a crackling fire. Later after the storm is gone there is plenty to do outside. The inviting snow calls for cross-country skiing and slow walks along the lake. Ohio has a new resort called Maumee Bay Resort and Conference Center. Maumee is a great place to get away to and very family friendly. The resort is 15 miles east of Toledo.
The evenings are spent play games, using the racquetball court and later the kids can watch a movie in the lobby with their sleeping bags. Parents have an after dinner drink in the Ice Breaker Lounge. There is also an indoor pool and massage therapist on site.
Another site to visit is Malabar Farm State Park. The main attraction there is the mansion built by the writer and conservationist Louis Bromfield. It is the famous site where Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall married. Pugh Cabin is on the property and the film Shawshank’s Redemption was made. Maple syrup is produced at the farm and in March visitors can take a horse drawn wagon ride to the site to learn about maple syrup production.
Punderson’s State Park, located east of Cleveland promotes a dog sled race. Birdwatchers will love this area. Like every state park in Ohio, Punderson has a lodge and conference center. There are plenty of winter activities to do here – ice fishing, snow mobiling, cross country skiing and sledding. Tinker’s Creek is nearby with a boardwalk through its wetlands. It is the highest area in Ohio and lies near the watershed divide of Ohio. It was occupied by the Tuscarawas, a Native American tribe, until the land was settled by the Europeans. Cheese making was established in the region.
Snow tubing in Mansfield, Ohio is a popular winter sport. Snow Trails Resort is the place to go for skiing. It is amazing how many cars in Ohio have ski racks on them this time of year. Snow-boarding is another sport activity in this area. Hocking Hills, Ohio has its annual hiking event in January from Old Man’s Cave to Ash Cave. There are hiking events in the winter in most of Ohio’s state parks. Old Man’s Cave is named after a Civil War hero. It is also the home of a 149 foot Hemlock; the tallest tree in Ohio.
Visitors to Ohio can take a step back in time by staying at the Ravendale Castle and their medieval cottages. Ravendale Castle is located outside of Marietta, Ohio and not far from Toledo, Ohio. Hocking Valley Scenic Valley train is one way to stay out of the cold and see the sights in the Valley of Hocking River in southeastern Ohio.
Even in a cold weather Ohio you can find respite at arboretum or botanical garden in most of their major cities. Winter is the best time to visit when they are not so crowded.