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.
Founded in 1963 at a local YMCA, the Cincinnati Ballet grew into a major regional company by adhering to its mission to express the human experience through dance. Today, it continues upholding that vision by housing resident artists who entertain audiences with dance performances of both classic and original work. Beyond supporting local audiences and their right to clap, the Cincinnati Ballet also seeks to nurture artists through the Otto M. Budig Academy. There, a professional faculty trains aspiring performers at all skill levels. These training opportunities are supplemented by outreach programs such as CincyDance!, which provides free training and dance attire to children.
Today’s side deal offers cottage fever as an antidote for cabin fever. Escape to the pastoral paradise of The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, flanked by the natural bounty of Hocking Hills State Park. For $190, this Groupon gets you a night’s stay in one of the Inn’s cozy cottages ($179–$249 value), where unwinding is the only action item. Turn up the romance dial with that special somebody or something as you enjoy a $25 gift certificate towards any spa service, goodies including chocolates and other tasty treats ($45 value), and a complimentary full country breakfast, a combined value of $319. The warm, freshly baked cookies that greet you upon arrival are a delicious signifier of the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls' dedication to hospitality and personalized customer care.
The zipline course at Valley Zipline Tours speeds danglers over the scenic Northern Hocking Hills in spectacular fashion, whisking them along a series of lines that extend to more than 1 mile in total length. First, a friendly guide drives the zippers up to the top of the valley, where they don their safety equipment and then zoom down the first five lines as a warm-up to the following three, known collectively as the Valley Super Lines. Starting at line 6, the journey whips riders across the valley and lake for distances of nearly 1,000 feet each and at more than 100 feet off the ground, reaching speeds of 55 miles per hour. To cap off the high-speed trip, a valley swing awaits at the end of the tour attached to the edge of a tower, inviting participants to jump and swing over the valley while suspended at more than 50 feet.
The Hocking Hills Adventure Trek team is as diverse as the wilderness they explore. Guides include living history performers who educate visitors through songs and stories and naturalists who lead outdoor adventures through the wilderness. While the performers showcase their talents at an outdoor amphitheater, guides lead visitors on year-round nature hikes through little-seen areas of the Hocking State Forest and state nature preserves. The company also leads guided rock-climbing and rappelling trips and guided fishing trips at AEP Recreation lands.
For generations, the Pfeifer family tilled the soil—originally tending to the land as Midwestern farmers after the Civil War. Even though the family eventually traded in the farm, these agricultural roots still run deep. At Hidden Lakes Winery, they tap into this instinctual knowledge of fruits and cultivars to create a host of wines made from grapes sourced from around the United States. Glasses of light riesling or heady pinot noir in hand, guests often pair their sips with the onsite café’s bistro-style cuisine. There, the kitchen boasts a full menu of Tuscan-inspired appetizers, artisanal pizzas, entrees, and desserts.