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.
Tony Klausing traces his interest in winemaking back to watching his father prepare 1-gallon batches in the basement, where the inexperienced vintner would mix ingredients in the only method afforded to him: trial and error. Later, when Tony went on to open his own winery with the skills he learned, he decided to give it a name from a classic song, and landed on a shortened version of “Good Vibrations.” Now that he’s perfected his winemaking process, his wines bear the names of other favorite songs, acting like a mix tape that declares his crush on the craft.
Tony shares his ardor with the visitors to his storefront, where they’re greeted in a room with exposed brick and wood accents. The tasting bar encompasses a selection of more than 20 vintages, each of which pairs readily with available cheese plates. Clients can even charter the winery to produce wines of their own design that also bear custom labels.
Just like at family gatherings, diners gather at long, rectangular tables and wait for their hosts to serve dinner. Unlike family gatherings, however, a flame suddenly bursts forth from the table’s built-in grill, where standing cooks sauté seafood, chicken, beef, and vegetables. Such is the scene at Chef Honda Restaurant, where a row of these hibachi tables fill a dining room accented with earth tones. In addition to traditional grilled entrees, the cooks prepare specials such as spicy-tuna carpaccio and seared maki rolls.
The hale and hearty team of instructors at Eco Expedition Educators boast an array of titles and certifications, including wilderness EMT, combat veteran, firefighter, master scuba diver trainer, sail boat captain, and U.S. Coast Guard medic—and there are only four of them on staff.
When participants take classes at Eco Expedition Educators, they gain an in-depth understanding of how to get themselves out of Mother Nature's toughest scrapes. Each guided expedition introduces novices to sticky situations they might encounter when outdoors, then equips them with the knowledge needed to escape unscathed or at least survive long enough to whittle a cellphone out of tree bark.
Racks of obsidian and golden bottles line the monolithic wine wall of Camelot Cellars's rustic boutique, bringing together varietals crafted by the winery and selections from around the world. Beneath chandeliers and brick facades, guests clink glasses of aromatic vintages and play favorite xylophone songs on themed tasting flights served atop the smooth contours of the locally hewn wooded bar. Small plates of cheeses, meats, and bread also gather nearby, cleansing palates and bringing out the wine’s subtler tones. Nearby, the convivial sound of good cheer emanated from the Tuscan Table and the private Tuscan Room, which house large groups and may be rented out for gatherings.
Not satisfied to fill their casks with only their own brews, the winery also aids clients in handcrafting their own artisan wines. With the help of a resident expert, prospective vintners assemble their preferred style of wine, leaving it in the capable hands of the winery for 6–12 weeks. Each bottle is then identified with a custom label, making perfect keepsakes for weddings, parties, or obedience-school graduations.
Brady Konya and Ryan Lang aren't from Ohio, but they loved the area for its business-friendly community and rich natural resources, and decided Columbus was where they had to build their distillery. The duo's passion for the Midwest colors everything about Middle West Spirits, from the name down to the Ohio-grown soft red winter wheat in their whiskey and award-winning vodka, which they also infuse with honey and vanilla beans or stone fruit. Inside the distillery, which sprawls over 10,000 square feet of open air, Brady and Ryan craft these artisan OYO spirits—named after the original word for the Ohio River Valley, pronounced o-y-o—in 600-liter pot-and-column stills. Hand-built onsite by German craftsmen using copper, stainless steel, and bits of Saturn's rings, these stills earned Middle West Spirits a place on Popular Mechanics' 5 of the World's Most-High-Tech Distilleries list.