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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.