Sasha Arms is a respected freelance journalist and founder and editor of Hungry Nomad. Known for getting caught up in travel experiences that veer toward the bizarre (from wangling her way into a Latin America prison and being bitten on the backside by lion cubs in South Africa), Sasha offers a fresh and unique perspective in her travel reviews.
Who would have thought the ‘Buckeye’ state, better known for farming than vacationing, would have so much to offer the would-be holiday-maker? From world record breaking roller coasters and locally brewed beers, to river canoe trips and cuisines crafted by celebrity chefs, northern Ohio could just be the new vacation state.
What follows are some of Sasha Arms’ favorite bits.
Getting out and about is one of the best ways to get to know your surroundings a little better. And the most obvious place of natural beauty in Ohio is, of course, Lake Erie. The tenth largest lake in the world (with Canada to be found on the other side of it), boasts plenty of lakeside cabins and apartments ideal for holiday-makers. There are also a number of boat trips on offer to help you soak up your surroundings.
In fact, until only last year, many boat trips entailed crossing just far enough into Canadian waters so that boaters could gamble. However now that gambling has been made legal in the state of Ohio, people tend to head down to the Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cleveland instead!
Lesser known northern Ohio lakes include Chippewa Lake – a name you might recognize from the Adams Family Values film after the kids go to Camp Chippewa. It’s a beautiful and peaceful countryside community while the lake is perfect for a relaxing swim.
The Mohican River near Holmes County is another great spot for the outdoor-minded. Hire canoes or kayaks for an easy row along the river and spot deer, turtles and maybe a snake or two. Many residents set up bank side cafés during the summer where you can stop for a hotdog and cool drink. If you fancy staying for longer, there are a number of cabins and caravans available to stay in too.
Given its reputation for farming, it’ll be no surprise to discover Ohio is also home to one of the largest Amish communities in the U.S. Heading down to Amish Country for the day makes for an insightful trip into how this prominent community still manages to live a simpler life in today’s technological age.
Berlin is one of the more popular towns to visit, with a number of shops selling Amish gifts and food. While driving around some of the smaller villages and back roads nearby give a great sense of the Amish lifestyle. (Notice the lack of wires and electricity pylons attached to the houses).
If you fancy a bite to eat, pay a visit to Amish Door, with its huge all-you-can-eat salad and dessert buffet, and stodgy Amish main courses such as mashed potatoes, turkey and noodles – presumably perfect sustenance after a day spent in the fields. The views surrounding the restaurant are gorgeous too.
For a shopping stop on the way home, stop off at Lehman’s. It’s an olde worlde store with vintage and traditional household items for sale.
Thrill-Seeking and Sport-Loving Entertainment
The great American vacation isn’t complete without a good dose of entertainment. Cue: a visit to Cedar Point, the consistently record breaking theme park in Sandusky. With more than 72 rides and 16 roller coasters, it’s the joint second most rollercoaster-prevalent theme park in the world. Some vacationers even stay here for the entirety of their break, since the park’s vicinity also boasts a 1.5km white sandy beach, marinas and various water parks.
However the most popular water park in this area is the one at the Kalahari resort, the African-themed family and spring-breaker destination, complete with its selection of water slides, group floats and surfing simulator.
Sport fans will fit right in in northern Ohio, with the local undying loyalty for local baseball and football teams, the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Browns. Catch a game at the stadiums, or if you prefer more local events where you can get closer to the action, try to get tickets for the Lake Erie Crushers. There’s plenty of family fun, not to mention stands serving interesting beers and the staple hotdogs and peanuts.
A big city with a sense of small city friendliness, Cleveland has more going for it than high rise office blocks by a pretty lake. While the new casino has been a source of excitement for many Clevelanders over the last couple of years, downtown Cleveland is also home to the impressive Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a science museum that’s surprisingly entertaining for visitors of all ages, and the House of Blues, which plays host to big name music acts on a regular basis.
Cleveland has also seen a recent rise in the number of movies being filmed there, so you never know what kind of Hollywood history-in-the-making you may come across while visiting the region. In the last few years alone, Spider-Man 3, The Soloist, The Avengers and I, Alex Cross have all been filmed here.
Food and Drink
While fast food is typically king across the U.S., northern Ohio is experiencing a burgeoning foodie trend. This has, in part, been spearheaded by celebrity chef and Clevelander Michael Symon, who has started up several restaurants in and around the city. Determined to bring food thrills to his home town that would have huge relevance and success on the international food scene, Symon’s restaurant successes centre on his flagship Lola Bistro. Set within dimmed, nightclub-esque surroundings with drink menus presented on iPads, Symon’s Greek and Sicilian roots inspire menu items such as sturgeon with garbanzo beans and preserved lemon, and Rib Eye steaks with olives and capers. His other Cleveland restaurants include Lolita and B Spot.
The other current northern Ohio trend is that of microbreweries, which not only serve some of the most innovative beers and ales the U.S. may ever have seen, but accompany it with some original food options too. Some of the best in the area include Fat Heads (try the Bumbleberry beer, which comes complete with floating, beery blueberries) or Market Garden, which is packed on Friday nights and offers classy cuisine too.
There are also plenty of vineyards around the Lake Erie area if wine is more your thing. Check out Firelands Winery or Kelleys Island Wine Company, where you can also dine on pizza and delectable cheeses to accompany the wine.
Northern Ohio also has no shortage of sweet treats. Buckeye Pie is the chocolaty, peanut-buttery ‘national dish’ of Ohio and you’ll find it in cake shops and supermarkets everywhere. Post dinner ice creams or frozen custards are other summertime favorites and locals love to head over to the likes of Friendly’s, East Coast Custard or good old Dairy Queen.
To learn more about Sasha and her travels, be sure to check out:
Featured Image: Amish Country (Sasha Arms)
Fly.com Expert Tips
How To Get There: Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) is approximately 15 miles to downtown Cleveland and is serviced by 8 domestic and international airline carriers. Information regarding area transportation is available here.
Best Time To Visit: The best time to visit Cleveland is late-spring through summer. The temperature is pretty temperate, ranging from the low-60s to low-70s. But like every U.S. city during the summer, high heat and humidity days can be expected during the summer months.
Sample Fares: Fares displayed are the lowest roundtrip fares found in the last 48 hours to Cleveland from:
Denver — $269 Travel Oct. 22-22
Fort Lauderdale — $249 Travel Oct. 18-26
New York City — $234 Travel Oct. 11-14
Phoenix — $260 Travel Oct. 9-Nov. 17
Washington, D.C. — $246 Travel Oct. 7-9
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