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Pyramid Hill

Drive golf carts around 300-acre sculpture park in southwestern Ohio


Pyramid Hill: Inspiring outdoor sculpture park in the Miami ValleyWhile recently exploring the Butler County Donut Trail in search of pillowy rings of sugared dough, to our great surprise my family of four also experienced a tasty cultural morsel.

We visited Pyramid Hill, a 300-plus-acre sculpture park in Hamilton, Ohio, on a sunny Saturday afternoon and fell in love with its quirky character and compelling artwork. It presents more than 60 sculptures amid the rolling hills of southwestern Ohio, with the mood ranging from quizzical to thought-provoking.

The park was made possible by Harry Wilks, a local lawyer and philanthropist who purchased the land in the 1990s, saving it from development. Wilks died in 2014.

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The best part was driving a rented golf cart around the pretty property that’s dotted with lakes and gardens. I wasn’t surprised to see a wedding happening near a sculpture called Age of Stone, which brought to mind Stonehenge.

Other notable outdoor pieces included The Cube, a Rubik’s Cube-like structure that spins on its axis, and Paul, a bench that’s missing its midsection. It was amusing trying to take a seat on it.

Pyramid Hill: Inspiring outdoor sculpture park in the Miami ValleyWe were amazed to stumble upon what we considered the highlight of the park: the Ancient Sculpture Museum, a curated collection of artifacts dating to 1500 B.C. that was Wilks’ personal collection before the museum opened in 2009.

The collection includes Greek, Roman, Etruscan, Syrian and Egyptian sculptures. There’s also a wonderful courtyard modeled after a Roman residence.

Pyramid Hill is open 365 days a year and attracts more than 30,000 visitors annually.

It’s located at 1763 Hamilton Cleves Rd., Hamilton. For more information, visit www.pyramidhill.org or call 513-868-1234.

Castaway Bay

Cedar Point’s indoor waterpark in Sandusky offers 82-degree escape to Caribbean


Castaway Bay: Cedar Point’s waterpark resort offers 82-degree indoor escape to CaribbeanWhile driving along U.S. Rt. 250 near Sandusky, we pass several indoor waterparks on our way to Cedar Point’s Castaway Bay. This must be the Vegas Strip of indoor waterparks, I think as I observe colorful tubes snaking out the sides of one hotel after another.

Castaway Bay isn’t the largest, showiest one on the block. With a 38,000-square-foot indoor waterpark, it’s smaller than the nearby 173,000 square-foot Kalahari Resort and bigger than the 33,000-square-foot Great Wolf Lodge.

For us, it was just right. Castaway Bay is perfect for anyone looking for an excuse to don a bathing suit in an 82-degree-controlled environment when Ohio’s outside temps aren’t cooperating. The contrived, Caribbean theme – with painted blue skies, synthetic palm trees and animatronic parrots that squawk and talk – also is convincing enough when you just can’t get to the real thing.

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We ventured two hours north from Columbus to Sandusky on a cold, winter weekend, eager for an excuse to pretend it was summer. If you stay the night, you have access to the waterpark for two days. Check in is 4 p.m., and check out is 11 a.m.

The resort offers 237 hotel rooms and suites and several onsite restaurants. Prices for a room-and-waterpark combo start at $149 when I checked the resort’s site in March. Day passes to the waterpark are $29 each.

We stayed in a Starfish Room with two double beds, sleeper chair, private screened balcony, small refrigerator, microwave and coffeemaker. The room accommodates up to five guests and comes with four waterpark passes.

We started our adventure by picking up an “Island Times” at the front desk. The one-sheeter states the times and locations of daily activities, such as decorating T-shirts and bags with fabric paint, and visits with Snoopy and other Peanuts characters.

We made our way to the 6,000-square-foot arcade to play unique crane games. One had us vying for large bouncy balls at $2 a pop. We didn’t win anything.

We spent the majority of our time in the waterpark – nearly seven hours playing and splashing. We bypassed the Toddlers Tide Pool in favor of the following:

Castaway Bay Wave Pool
This 100,000-gallon wave pool periodically produces 3-foot waves. A buzzer signals the arrival of waves that continue for roughly 10 minutes.

Lookout Lagoon Family Funhouse
It’s a multistory, interactive play area with a 1,000-gallon tipping bucket and twisty slides.

Tropical Tube Slides
There are three enclosed, tubular body slides that protrude from the side of the building. One affords a speedy slide through complete darkness.

Rendezvous Run
This 35-foot-high, 520-foot-long water rollercoaster propels riders uphill using water jets. It winds near the ceiling and partially goes outside, and you must be 42 inches tall to ride.

For more information, visit www.castawaybay.com.

Historic Host: Bed-and-breakfast proprietor offers whimsical lodging options with colorful histories in Hocking Hills area
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Historic Host

Bed-and-breakfast proprietor offers whimsical lodging options with colorful histories in Hocking Hills area


Many people travel to Ohio’s Hocking Hills region to explore its breathtaking waterfalls, caves and hollows by day, then burrow inside a cozy cabin at night.

The scenery changes with the season and keeps people coming back year after year. But numerous cabins remain blandly familiar: log furniture, countrified decorations and a hot tub.

A unique lodging option in the Hills hearkens to the past. Historic Host offers a handful of bed-and-breakfast properties with fascinating histories. Travelers can stay in a cute cottage with a 1930s kitchen containing a collection of vintage cookie jars. Or they can bundle up in a century-old general store with shelves of touchable “merchandise,” such as stuffed animals and wooden cribs.

Overnight stays include breakfast, and a portion of the lodging fees goes toward restoration of more dilapidated buildings.

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“I call it sustainable preservation through tourism,” says Sue Maxwell, who started Historic Host in 2007 with her late husband, Jim Maxwell. In less than a decade, she’s transformed a collection of neglected buildings into unique tourist destinations that respect the history of this scenic Appalachian region in southern Ohio.

“My daughters like to rescue stray cats,” Maxwell says. “I like to rescue stray buildings.”

My family recently visited a 5-acre lot just north of McArthur, Ohio, that Maxwell affectionately named Fiddlestix Village. The whimsical, roadside stop incorporates old and new structures on a plot of land off state Rt. 93 in Creola.

At the heart of the complex is the Appalachian Quilt Cottage, a red, two-bedroom cabin that dates to the 1920s. At one time it served as a farmhouse for a nine-member family.

Sue learned of the building’s history through her visitors. One person told her that the front room once served as a roadside store where the owners sold eggs and homemade breads.

Another accommodation is a cottage holding hundreds of salt-and-pepper shakers that Sue found at auctions, antique shops and thrift stores. She’s billing it as a museum.

But the latest and most playful arrivals are a 1926 B&O caboose that comfortably sleeps two, and an old general store that my children especially enjoyed.

The front of the Martin Store resembles an old country shop, while the rear of the building has a bathroom and a cozy bedroom with a king-sized bed.

Like the other properties, Sue fell for the decaying, 1922-built structure at first sight along a stretch of U.S. Rt. 50 that crossed rural Vinton County. She saw potential and tracked down its owner, sharing her idea of preservation.

“If you can move it, you can have it,” he told her.

For more information, call 1-877-364-4786 or visit www.historichost.com.

The Blueberry Patch: Head to Mansfield to pick your own plump berries
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The Blueberry Patch

Head to Mansfield to pick your own plump berries


If you typically avoid the tasteless blueberries that often populate your local supermarket, there’s no need to plan a trip to Maine to pick your own. Just head to the Blueberry Patch in Mansfield.

The Blueberry Patch is Ohio’s largest blueberry farm, 45 minutes northeast of Columbus. Steve and Lisa Beilstein began planting the now well-established bushes in 1981, and their foresight has paid off. The 27-acre patch yields plump, tasty berries that are easy to pick.

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Seventeen varieties of blueberries grow in the ideal sandy and acidy soil where thousands of honeybees are needed per acre for pollination.

Blueberry season is from late June through August. We arrived in late July to pick mid-season berries called Blue Ray, which are large and flavorful. Each member of our family was given a plastic bucket to take to a designated area in the patch. Rows and rows of bushes were loaded with blueberries, ready to pluck at our leisure. We combined our buckets into one then had them weighed. We paid $20 for four pounds of berries.

Stick around to see all the blueberry products in the gift shop. Troyer Home Pantry in Apple Creek, Ohio, uses the blueberries to make pies and jams. Also on site is a greenhouse, coffee beanery and Blossoms Cafe, where you can get brunch after morning berry picking, which begins daily at 8 a.m. The cafe is open until 4 p.m.

I had the quiche with a warm blueberry muffin, fresh fruit salad and blueberry iced tea, which was delicious. Of course you also can get blueberry smoothies, shakes and parfaits.

On a future trip, I’ll take time to enjoy the onsite winery aptly called Winery 1285 for its address. Sample a selection of wines including dry and sweet blueberry varieties, order wood-fired pizza or even participate in a “wine and paint” party. This handsome bar could fit into a vibrant Columbus neighborhood.

Once home, Mike transformed our blueberries into tasty scones, a sauce for angel-food cake and frozen yogurt.

Can’t make it to Mansfield in the near future? Blueberry Patch berries also are sold at central Ohio farmers markets including the Clintonville and Worthington markets.

The Blueberry Patch is located at 1285 W. Hanley Rd., in Mansfield. For more information, call 419-884-1797 or visit theblueberrypatch.org.

Don’s Downtown Diner: Keep Bellefontaine restaurant top of mind for burgers, shakes when visiting nearby attractions
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Don’s Downtown Diner

Keep Bellefontaine restaurant top of mind for burgers, shakes when visiting nearby attractions


The back of the menu at Don’s Downtown Diner in Bellefontaine, Ohio, reads: “You shouldn’t drive out of our community to enjoy a great meal.”

But Columbus folk like us who have driven an hour northwest of home will be lucky to find this modest joint in the heart of Logan County. Don’s serves “quality food at a fair price,” which includes the best chocolate-and-peanut-butter shakes we’ve ever had. It’s well worth the effort to seek it out.

We discovered Don’s on the Internet while researching places to eat in between exploring caves and riding horses at nearby attractions. The restaurant is located near Ohio Caverns and the Piatt Castles in West Liberty and Marmon Valley Farm and Mad River Mountain in Zanesfield.

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Don’s received rave reviews on Yelp, Trip Advisor and Urban Spoon. The most accurate, we learned, was one that read: “The exterior gives the wrong impression of the place.”

Once in downtown Bellefontaine, we nearly passed the squat, white-brick building while driving along Main Street. The restaurant is located one block south of the Logan County Courthouse and Court Avenue, the oldest concrete street in the nation – paved in 1891.

It’s small inside, too. There are a dozen tables and booths and a half dozen counter seats. The decor is mostly stainless steel and black vinyl. The floor and walls are white, except for a splash of red on the side where we sat. We could see the cook’s ball cap bobbing behind a wall as he prepared meals to order.

We also learned that produce is purchased in season from local farmers and fries are hand cut. The menu includes sandwiches, salads, sides and stellar shakes made with ice cream from Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs, Ohio – more about that in a minute.

Don’s is best known for its steak burgers, which come from a local, family-owned butcher’s shop, and are priced from $6.99 for a hamburger to $17.99 for the Baby Matilda – a deluxe model made with two half-pound patties, two grilled cheese sandwiches, bacon and cheddar cheese.

Other out-of-the-ordinary menu items include deep-fried pickles, a bacon cheeseburger topped with peanut butter, and the “Fatty Patty,” featuring bacon and cheese served between two Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. We passed on that one, but I’d love to hear from someone bold enough to give it a try.

Kids meals, which cost $4.99, include the standard chicken fingers, grilled cheese, hamburgers and hot dogs, with fries and a drink.

Mike had a simple cheeseburger with pepper jack and extra pickles. It was pretty large, and he said it was “terrific.” My fried fish was tender and white on the inside and delicious between a wheat bun with a side of fries, and the kids ate their grilled cheese sandwiches and fries without complaint.

The highlight, though, were the shakes that arrived in the stainless-steel malt cups that they’re mixed in. They’re thick, creamy and full of flavor and served before your meal arrives, which might explain why they’re so good. Who wouldn’t want dessert first?

Don’s is located at 208 S. Main St., Bellefontaine, Ohio. For more information, call 937-599-4444.

Malabar Farm: Former home of American author Louis Bromfield becomes merry gathering spot for barn dances
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Malabar Farm: Barn Dances

Former home of American author Louis Bromfield becomes merry gathering spot for barn dances


All is quiet inside the spacious barn, located in the middle of Ohio. It’s chilly outside on this late September evening, and the rising full moon is visible through a small window. The scent of hay prevails as a horse in the field whinnies.

Moments later the tranquility is broken by the cacophony of more than 300 people laughing, clapping and stomping their feet to the sounds of a square-dance band. The gala is called the “Harvest Barn Dance,” and it’s one of a half dozen barn dances held from April through October at Malabar Farm State Park near Mansfield.

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Many of the revelers have traveled hours from around Ohio to attend this wholesome, countryside event. They find good company. These happy barn dances are hopping with folks seeking out fun in a setting that reflects a simpler time.

“A square dance is a family event,” says Valerie Norman, who drove two hours from Zanesville to direct the moves of the participants as the event’s “caller.”

Barn dances at Malabar Farm date back to the late ’70s. Then, they were held in a barn built in 1890 that once belonged to the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield, who lived on the property until his death in 1956. Bromfield, also an innovative farmer, hobnobbed with Hollywood celebrities and even held his own barn dances. The historic barn burned down in 1993 and was rebuilt the following year in the same timber-framed style.

The farm in Richland County is a perfect setting for a square dance. Situated among rolling hills, it contains Bromfield’s original country home, fields of corn and wheat, and storybook woodlands. Meandering about the pastures are chickens, goats and draft horses. The scenic setting served as the wedding and honeymoon location of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in 1945.

The tradition continued on this starry night. By the start of the dance at 7 p.m., the parking lot is filled with cars, trucks and minivans. People saunter up the walkway to the barn carrying lawn chairs, as if they’re attending a family reunion. They prop them along the barn’s walls, claiming their spots for the evening.

The crowd’s a slice of Americana. There are chubby-cheeked toddlers towed by their parents, grandfathers and grandmothers hand in hand, and a fair amount of young adults looking for a good time. Sporting everything from worn jeans and cowboy boots to sparkly dresses and strappy heels, they eagerly flood the worn, wooden dance floor.

The Back Porch Swing Band, Malabar’s resident musicians, hits the unpainted, plywood stage. Fueled by Mountain Dew, the four-piece band quickly has the crowd tapping its toes. A fiddle, trumpet, guitar and standup bass provide the musical accompaniment to Norman’s rhythmic instructions to the dancers.

“Ready to have some fun?” she asks.

“We’re going to do-si-do our partner,” Norman says. “Does everybody know how to do that? Shoulder-to-shoulder, back-to-back, shoulder-to-shoulder, all with no touching. Then we’ll do it all over again.

“We’ll start out slow, then speed it up.”

They do Eastern-style square dances here. Also called traditional square dancing, it typically starts with four couples arranged in a square that moves counter-clockwise as the caller directs their movements. Every dance is explained before it begins, unlike the more advanced and less casual Western-style square dance, which requires participants to know the steps before they begin.

“We get greenhorn dancers, and we teach them,” Norman says. “If they come out and try on their own and go away discouraged, they won’t come back. We start with the very beginning steps, so they walk away confident that they’ve learned something and they’ll want to do it again.”

So participants need not be experienced dancers to have a good time.

During a break, my family and I mosey outside, where the barn stands as a beacon amid the pitch-black night. People step out into the air to cool off and buy a candy bar or popcorn at a makeshift table, set up by a local chapter of the Future Farmers of America. Teenagers gather, no cell phones in site, to chat.

After a bit, the band goes back to work. Fiddle player Adam Jackson, a three-time state champion from Buckeye Lake, gets into a frenzy. The energetic quartet transitions from the quick-paced folk song “Frog Went A-Courtin’” to Elvis’ “Love Me Tender.”

“We play a lot of Western swing, jazz standards from the ’20s and ’30s, old country tunes, all blended together,” says Pete Shaw, who mans a Gibson guitar. “We just love to play music. And when we get everybody up and dancing, we just love that.”

Malabar Farm State Park is located at 4050 Bromfield Rd., Lucas, Ohio. For more information, call 419-892-2784 or visit www.malabarfarm.org.

[otw_shortcode_info_box border_type=”bordered” border_style=”bordered”]2015 barn dance schedule at Malabar Farm: April 26: Wildlife Barn Dance May 24: May Barn Dance July 5: Liberty Barn Dance Aug. 2: Summer Barn Dance Sept. 27: Heritage Barn Dance Oct. 25: Harvest Barn Dance All dances are held in the main barn from 7-10 p.m. Admission is $1 at the door.[/otw_shortcode_info_box]

(A longer version of this article by Wendy Pramik published in Country Living in 2011.)

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Airport Cafe at Grimes Field

Runway restaurant in Urbana serves up aerial delights and delectable pies


After visiting the Cedar Bog Nature Preserve in Urbana, we headed to a place that I had read about on the Web: Doug and Michele’s Airport Cafe at Grimes Field in Urbana.

It was recommended as the only place to eat in Urbana on a Sunday. I also read that it’s always crowded. Sure enough, when we arrived, the cafe was open and crowded.

It’s not the fanciest joint, just a lackluster building off Main Street. But it’s near the airport runway, and the full parking lot at this time of day meant that it was the real deal.

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Grimes Field is Urbana’s municipal airport. It’s named for Warren Grimes, who is described as “father of the aircraft lighting industry.” As the story goes, Grimes was working as a lighting contractor in Detroit with his brother when Henry Ford approached him to create a light for the Ford Tri-Motor airplane, aka “The Tin Goose.”

Two days later, Ford adopted his design, and Grimes eventually employed 1,300 to produce the lights at a factory in Urbana.

This success led the city to name the airfield after Grimes when it opened in 1943. It remains operational and also houses the Champaign Aviation Museum. You can take flying lessons there, or just sit and watch the small planes take off and land.

The restaurant menu is an interesting mix of salads, burgers, omelets and dinners with surprising specials including bison and ostrich meat, which come from a nearby farm.

We sat outside and ordered mac and cheese and chocolate milk for Max, who especially enjoyed watching a steady stream of small planes taxiing the runway.

Michele, one of the owners, waited on us and said that people regularly fly in from all over the country to eat their homemade pies, made with local berries and apples. Like the restaurant, the black raspberry pie and butterscotch pie, at $2.79 a hearty slice, were the real deal.

The Airport Cafe is located at 1636 N. Main St., Urbana, Ohio. Hours are listed on the menu as 7 a.m.-7 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday; and 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Sunday. It’s closed on Monday.

For more information, call 937-652-2010 or visit www.urbanaohio.com/grimes-field/airport-cafe.html.

Learn about our trip to the Cedar Bog Nature Preserve.

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Cedar Bog Nature Preserve

View rare plants and animals at protected swampland


It was a lazy Sunday afternoon, and my husband and I had just dropped off Rosie for a play date. With nothing else to do, we decided to take our son, Max, on a driving adventure.

We made our destination Urbana, Ohio, for a walk in the woods and lunch with flying colors.

The first stop was Cedar Bog Nature Preserve, about an hour’s drive west of Columbus. The bog is a haven for rare plants and animals common after the Ice Age, such as small purple foxglove, leathery grape fern and the blue-spotted salamander.

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Created about 18,000 years ago when glaciers retreated, the bog is one of 58 designated “Historic Sites” in Ohio that’s overseen and protected by the Ohio Historical Society.

A mile-long boardwalk guides visitors through the 450-acre preserve.

When we arrived, the visitors center, which offers displays and a gift shop, was closed but a sign stated the boardwalk was open. A $5 donation is suggested and can be deposited in a box on a post.

It was fun walking on the narrow boardwalk. It starts in a marshland then leads into the woods. The warm, swampy atmosphere made it feel like we were in Florida.

We soon learned, though, that the seclusion came at a price — the woodsy areas of the path were populated by swarming mosquitos at 2 in the afternoon. So we jogged along the majority of the path, slowing down at openings in the woods. If you go during times of high humidity, take bug repellant.

Minus the pests, Cedar Bog is peaceful and educational. You can learn about the area by reading signs that are positioned at children’s height. For instance, one warns you not to touch the poison sumac or anything else off the path. The woody shrub can cause painful swelling on the skin if touched.

In April, the bog boasts one of the best displays of marsh marigolds in the state.

Cedar Bog is located at 980 Woodburn Rd., off U.S. 68, in Urbana.

For more information, call 800-860-0147 or visit www.ohiohistory.org.

Learn about our next stop to Doug and Michele’s Airport Cafe.

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Oglebay Resort

1,700-acre estate makes a great getaway from central Ohio


One of the main attractions of Oglebay Resort, two hours east of Columbus in Wheeling, W. Va., is the former summer estate of the late industrialist Earl W. Oglebay. The yellow mansion with stately white pillars in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains is a museum that’s a tribute to Oglebay and the history of the property.

But what my family found more delightful than the 1846-built home during a recent visit, is the surrounding explorable landscape, so thoughtfully cared for and manicured, making the 1,700-acre estate a great getaway from central Ohio.

Oglebay willed his property to the people of Wheeling upon his death in 1926 as long as they “shall operate it for public recreation.” Visitors can tour the mansion, a glass museum, and wander along a red brick path through a garden that dates back a century.

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My husband, Mike, and I, held our wedding reception at Oglebay in April 2005, and like so many others were photographed among more than 50,000 tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. We return most every year in the spring, but decided this year to visit with our children in June.

Now, taking a 7-year-old and 5-year-old through an old building with historical artifacts and keeping their attention would be an exercise in futility. Fortunately, the resort offers an enticing variety of activities that are fun in the summer such as golfing, fishing, boating, swimming and horseback riding. There’s also a quaint zoo that’s a pleasure to explore.

We stayed two nights at the Wilson Lodge – most of its 271 rooms were remodeled in 2008. Each morning we ate a hearty buffet breakfast at the Ihlenfeld Dining Room, which overlooks Schenk Lake and the encircling countryside, where friendly deer roam. Mike enjoyed a round of golf with friends. Oglebay offers courses designed by Arnold Palmer and Robert Trent Jones, Sr.

My children and I explored the pool at the Crispin Center, where little has changed since opening in the late 1930s. Built of locally-quarried sandstone, it’s elegant alongside the sky-blue pool. It’s one of the loveliest pools I’ve ever seen. I half expected to see ladies appear in modest swimsuits and caps, then jump off the platform in the center. I found the water too cold, but my kids didn’t seem to mind as they overtook the large kiddie pool.

We also explored the 36-acre Good Zoo. Opened in 1977 in a wooded area, it contains African wild dogs, meerkats, kangaroos, lorikeets, and recently added a dinosaur exhibit, with animatronic creatures. The lorikeets were particularly friendly if you entice them with nectar that the zoo sells for $1 a cup.

Wintertime it’s a poplar site for the Winter Festival of Lights, a six-mile drive showcasing millions of twinkling lights on more than 300 hilly acres.

Oglebay is located at 465 Lodge Dr., Wheeling, W. Va. Offers a variety of package rates. We stayed two nights via the Bed & Breakfast Package, starting at $151 per night, which includes lodge accommodations, buffet breakfast and use of the outdoor pool.

For more information, visit www.oglebay-resort.com.

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Ye Olde Mill

Drive to Utica rewarded with silky ice cream at scenic setting


Normally we wouldn’t travel 45 minutes from Columbus just for an ice-cream cone when we have so many choices around our hometown. But on a pleasant Sunday in May, we decided a drive to the country was in order, and having a sweet reward at the end of our journey was motivation enough.

Our destination was Ye Olde Mill, a restored gristmill on 20 picturesque acres in Licking County. It’s also the manufacturing facility of Ohio’s own Velvet Ice Cream, which this year marks its 100th year making the tasty treat.

Founded in Utica in 1914 by Joseph Dager, the ice-cream manufacturer is now run by the fourth generation of the Dager family. The company relocated to Ye Olde Mill in 1970, and the location has become a family destination. More than 150,000 people venture here each year to sample the ice cream and other simple pleasures, such as fishing in a pond, riding in a horse-drawn carriage and hand-feeding miniature horses, a sheep and a goat.

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The main building is the old gristmill, which dates back to 1817. It symbolizes how Velvet’s ice cream was originally made, using a hand-cranked method. The restored historic mill serves as its headquarters and has become the trademark on the cream’s packaging.

Inside is an ice-cream parlor, restaurant, museum and gift shop.

Velvet started out serving just three flavors: Vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Today the selection includes nearly 50 flavors handwritten on a chalkboard. I ordered Italian spumoni, a flavor I normally only see in stores around Christmas. My children ordered double scoops strawberry cheesecake and cookies and cream. The icy, stacked spheres hid their faces as they slowly licked them away.

Ye Olde Mill annually hosts the Utica Sertoma Ice Cream Festival over Memorial Day weekend, an annual Father’s Day celebration with barbershop quartet and old-fashioned carriage rides, and regular entertainment on Sundays throughout summer. Visit on July 20 for National Ice Cream Day and Aug. 25 for National Banana Split Day.

Ye Olde Mill, located at 11324 Mount Vernon Rd. in Utica, is open daily from May through October. Free public tours are held weekdays at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The walking tour lasts 30 minutes is wheelchair accessible.

For more information, visit velveticecream.com or call (740) 892-3921.