The headquarters of the nonprofit Ohio Historical Society, the Ohio Historical Center abounds with exhibits and activities that showcase the state's diverse social, natural, and archeological history. Built in 1970, the museum's towering Brutalist edifice is a piece of history itself, lauded as "bold" and "imaginative” by the American Institute of Architects. Inside, a 15,000-square-foot gallery explores pivotal moments in the Buckeye State’s past, examining everything from Ohio’s role in the Civil War to Boomer Esiason’s stint as Secretary of State. A natural-history exhibit regales guests with interactive displays of animals, plants, and geography. In addition to its permanent exhibits, the center hosts an ever-changing selection of featured exhibits and special events.
Outside the museum sits Ohio Village, a re-creation of a Civil War–era town. Costumed villagers bustle about the square, performing chores and activities of the era, such as churning butter and checking wooden PalmPilots. The town's 15 buildings showcase the height of 19th-century architecture and include a Gothic-revival church, a large town hall, and an open market. The village is also the home of the renowned Ohio Village Muffins, who regularly compete in games of baseball played by 19th-century rules.
Staff Size: 2?10 people
Average Duration of Services: 30?60 minutes
Parking: Parking lot
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Recommended Age Group: All ages
Pro Tip: Allow sufficient time for a full tour.
The Kelton House Museum & Garden is a window that looks out onto another time, presenting a glimpse of Victorian life through the lens of a family that lived it. The grounds feature restored possessions that the family actually used, from woven hair brooches to an intricate grandfather clock built in 1790. Each item's place within the home tells its own story about the family's lifestyle, and tour guides add to the illusion by costuming themselves in period garb. But guided tours aren't the only way to experience the grounds. The museum also offers an audio tour enhanced with a musical score and period-appropriate sound effects, such as clocks chiming and dogs that say, "Good day, sir," instead of barking.
Outside of saddling a flying squirrel or constructing a eagle-drawn chariot, there’s nothing quite like zipping from tree to tree through a blur of branches and leaves, hearing the fresh forest air whiz by. To bring the experience to central Ohioans, Jerrod and Lori Pingle built a network of ziplining platforms in the forest canopy of Camp Mary Orton and began leading ZipZone canopy tours. During the company’s signature two-hour tour, professionally trained guides lead guests through the sky-brush and over ravines and streams, just out of reach of leaping sasquatches. To protect the natural scenery that surrounds the 20-acre tour, ZipZone implements a number of eco-friendly measures, such as building hiking trails in lieu of roads, limiting tree intrusions, and reducing soil compaction.
Motorcycles have long played a crucial role in the American mythos. The vroom of a twin-cylinder engine conjures images of Evel Knievel soaring through the sky on a daredevil jump or James Dean perched astride his 1955 Triumph Trophy, clad in a black leather jacket and brimming with smoldering angst. Even those who haven't felt their hands on the throttle can appreciate the motorcycle as an all-American icon of freedom, rebellion, and individuality.
The Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum celebrates this iconography with exhibits that pay tribute to every aspect of motorcycling history. The museum's permanent collection is chock-full of memorabilia and ephemera from the early days of motorcycling, such as a Roper Steamer from 1894 and a turbo-powered penny-farthing from the same era. Visitors can also tour the Hall of Fame itself, a main-floor exhibition that celebrates the heroes of the racetrack and blacktop.
Since 1976, Keith and Betty Ketring have been combining their interests in woodworking and fine-art prints by preserving their clientele’s artworks and heirlooms with custom frames. Their inventory of framing materials includes a spectrum of moulding styles—from stark black to ornately carved and gilded—as well as conservation glass and a multitude of colorful mats.
Easy as A-B-C, the artists behind Life in Letters craft custom photographic gifts available both in their shop and online. Over the years, they've amassed a vast collection of black-and-white photos of common objects and sights that resemble letters—such as arches, golf balls, fences, and palm trees—which they assemble into meaningful words, such as love, laugh, family, and nihilism. Once customers have chosen their word and selected each letter, they can have their piece matted and framed to suit their own decor or that of a loved one. The photographers also share their skills with aspiring shutterbugs during regular introductory photography classes.