Archive for September, 2014

Last summer I was out researching a tour for my company and ended up in Ohio.  I have been to several cities in Ohio over the years.  There really are a lot of places and attractions to discover in that state.  And when I got to Columbus, it reminded me of a tour I had done there previously.

Columbus is a city that makes for a great Mystery tour.  There is so much to see and do in this Capital city of approximately 800,000 people.  The city was the birthplace of James Thurber and he once said, “Columbus is a town in which almost anything is likely to happen and in which almost everything has.”    In 1873 a college was opened, later to be named Ohio State and with a current enrollment of 48,500, the rest as they say is history.

The city ranks with Silicone Valley as a center for scientific and technological information.  It houses 15 Fortune 1000 companies and has been ranked by Forbes as a top place for business and top 15 Most Affordable Cities to live. This was the first town to offer 24 hour banking machines and city wide cable TV.    It is roughly in the middle of the state with Clevland and Akron to the north, Cincinnati to the south and Dayton to the west.

On that particular tour, we arrived from the Chicago area in the evening, just in time for dinner and a play at the Ohio Village.  Just four miles north of downtown, the Ohio Village is designed to recreate a typical county-seat town in Ohio in the mid 19th century, about the time of the Civil War.   Since this was a Mystery tour our play was a “who dunnit” and many of the travelers were involved.  We had to guess who the murderer was and only 2 people out of 50 were correct.

The next morning we met our guide who took us on a city tour, including Ohio University and stadium, North Market, Santa Maria (a replica of Columbus’ ship) overlook and the Topiary Gardens.  Since we were going to dinner at the Buckeye Hall of Fame, I made sure the guide pointed out a buckeye tree that morning.

We stopped for lunch at the German Village and this was definitely a fun place.  Established in the 1800’s by the Germans, this restored district has over 200 acres of houses, parks, gardens, shops and restaurants.  Before turning everyone loose for lunch and shopping, we saw a twenty minute video that gave us a history of the area.

Next stop was the Franklin Park Conservatory.  This 12,500 square foot glass Palm House was built in 1895 in the style of the Glass Palace from the 1893 Chicago’s World Fair.  You can see a tropical rain forest, the Himalayan Mountains, a Zen Garden, an arid desert and a Pacific Island water garden.  There was also a bonsai collection.  Our tour focused on the Blooms and Butterflies exhibit where newly hatched butterflies were released daily and we had a
short class on butterfly gardening.

The next morning we were off to the Anthony-Thomas Candy Company.  We walked through a glass enclosed suspended “Cat-Walk” and saw eight lines that produced 25.000 pounds of candy per shift.  We saw huge copper kettles where the centers were made and silver wrapped pipes that carry liquid chocolate throughout the factory.  The tour ended in the gift shop where we were able to sample and/or buy candy.    I kept looking for Lucy and Ethel trying to jam candy in their mouths from the assembly lines but never did see them.

Then it was on to the Kelton House Museum,  This is a 19th century brick house in Greek Revival style and the docents were all dressed in the era—roughly 1850’s.  If you asked them a question they spoke as if they were living back then.  And we got a surprise at the end.  After telling us about their neighboirs and what it was like living during that time, we learned the house was a stop on the Underground Railroad.  We were all amazed by this and then we were able to view the exhibit in the basement about that part of the house’s history.   It was truly fascinating.

After the Kelton House, we went to the State Capitol for a tour and a turkey dinner for lunch.  It was a good thing we didn’t have much to do in the afternoon after that meal!  We made a stop at Camelot Cellars where we got a chance to watch and help stir a batch of wine being made.  We all received a wine glass for a gift and after sampling wine, cheese and crackers, we were ready to go back to the hotel and enjoy the amentities there for the evening without another thought of food.

On our last day in Columbus we stopped at the Ohio History Center and the Thurber House before heading back to the Chicago area.  It was easy to see how this city is a perfect cross section of consumers and is used to test new products.  So many fast food chains have developed their menus here, the city is also know as “Test Market USA.”

A couple of other places to mention in Ohio: Not too far to the West is Dayton, home of the Wright Brothers  and the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.  Actually that is another place I could write a whole article on and perhaps I will at another time.

But, if you get a chance to go to Cambridge (about 70 miles East of Columbus) at the intersection of I-70 and I-77, please try and visit during the Christmas season.  The population of this little hamlet is just under 11,000 and was home to William Boyd.  Are you old enough to remember Hopalong Cassidy?   It is also the home of the National Museum of Cambridge Glass.

During the holidays (early November to early January) the Dickens Victorian Village is set up with almost 90 scenes populated by hand made mannequins dressed in period clothing set up by the benches and lampposts in the downtown area. They depict Dickens era activities and literary characters including Bob Cartchit and Tiny Tim.  I was only able to see them in their wharehouse where they get repaired for the following Christmas season but even that was quite a site.  In the evening you can stop by the 1881 courthouse right downtown.  Each night it is lit with 30,000 lights set to music.  It is reminiscent of Fremont Street in Vegas although the lights are on the building, not overhead.

Remember the Christmas season is fast approaching so if you live anywhere near that neck of the woods consider a road trip to that charming village.  It will definitely be worth your while.

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