In 1880, the final fasteners and sleepers on the Valley Railway were tightened into place. It wouldn’t be long before a billowing cloud of steam announced the arrival of the first train running through the Cuyahoga Valley, a territory that had served as a passageway for foot traffic for thousands of years. Over the next century, the railway contributed to the growth of commerce between Akron and Cleveland, changing ownership multiple times, and transforming from a freight train, into a passenger train, back to a freight train, and finally into a UFO.
Now celebrating its 41st year of passenger-rail service, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad transports sightseers over the historic rails through 33,000 acres of land owned by the National Park Service. With a year-round roster of trips, including wine- and beer-tasting excursions, passengers can set forth on morning, afternoon, and evening journeys that sweep past meadowlands, pinery, and rivers and give glimpses of native wildlife, such as fox, deer, bobcat mascots, and owls.
SemSeg's Segway experts equip urban explorers to cruise through Detroit at up to 12.5 miles per hour during self-guided tours. A brief orientation covers proper techniques for turning, stopping, and impromptu jousting. Then, motorists hop aboard scooters and travel up to 24 miles on a single charge. The long battery life allows motorists to cruise down the Riverfront, circle 14-acre Hart Plaza, and crisscross the Rivard Plaza in a single trip. Though SemSeg encourages DIY tours, their guides lead weekend tours through downtown and down the Riverwalk.
Offering unique "backseat" tours of Detroit, tour guide and Michigan native Joseph C. Krause hops into tourists' cars where he guides them through the streets and sights of the city. Often taking roads less traveled, his tours take visitors on an insider's route through the ever-evolving metropolis where he sheds light on little-known facts. Tour routes are entirely customizable, Krause is a wealth of knowledge on any trip, which can last anywhere from a few hours up to an entire day.
Every summer, the double-decker Good Time I forges connections between mainland Ohioans and their island-dwelling neighbors to the north. En route to Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island, captains divulge each island’s history and point out popular attractions such as Marblehead Lighthouse and their reflections in the water. To further prime passengers for island revelry, the Good Time I’s weekend tours regale guests with live DJs and mixed drinks.
Once a naval battle site of the War of 1812, Put-in-Bay is now a serene, scenic vacation community on Lake Erie. A & S Tours shares the island's proud history—and dark past—on tours by segway, golf cart, and helicopter. The ghost tour begins at dusk and uncovers local ghoulish happenings dating back 200 years. For a lighter jaunt, visitors can hop onto segways and roll as a group to the island's most scenic and historic locales.
A prodigy in his own right, Thomas Alva Edison's inventions changed the trajectory of technology before electronics were even a thing. The Edison Birthplace Museum celebrates Edison's life and his contributions to modern society with a collection of memorabilia. Opened by his wife and daughter, the home has been restored and refurnished to appear as it did in 1847, the year Thomas Edison was born.
The Building: Samuel O. Edison built the three-story brick house for his wife and family in 1842.
Eye Catcher: The room Edison was born in features intricate wallpaper, a white washbasin, and a period-accurate rope bed and handmade coverlet dating to the 1840s.
Don't Miss: The master bedroom's pine furniture set, one of the few original pieces, belonged to Edison's sister. The bedroom's closets hold clothing that used to grace the shoulders of Edison and his wife.
Hidden Gem: Behind the parlor, a trove of "Edisonia" includes family photos and a collection of his many inventions, such as a phonograph, a stock ticker, and a talking doll.
Bring Something Home: The gift shop stocks books about the inventor and his life, for both kids and grownups, as well as CDs of music recorded using Edison's electrical technique.