Ohio activities

Ohio Literary Trail logo

Bookish byway

Ohio’s writers, poets, authors, and musicians have left lasting impressions on Supreme Court judges, inspired presidents, and moved the entire nation to change its opinion.

The trail showcases more than 70 landmarks, including historical buildings, libraries, and markers, as well as festivals that commemorate Ohio’s literary contributions. The publication took the form of a printed map for the first several decades of its existence.

Langsdon Mineral Collection, Celina

A little of everything

Popcorn and pencil sharpeners, minerals and merry-go-rounds, Great Lakes, and great-big cuckoo clocks: Ohio has a plethora of pretty amazing things to explore. Here’s just a sampling of our state’s perhaps lesser-known museums, collections, and interesting sights. 

1. Langsdon Mineral Collection, Celina 

Back in 2006, local collectors Ron and Ruth Langsdon donated much of their extensive collection of rare minerals to the Mercer County District Library in Celina. The Langsdon Mineral Collection includes more than 900 stunning specimens of minerals from all over the world — from a peacock-colored bornite and raspberry garnet to azurite, amethyst quartz, and an enormous, polished piece of jade.

The Christmas tree in the window of the rectory at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church

O Christmas Tree

Wooster Cemetery manager Kelvin Questel has an up-close view of the parade of visitors to one particular graveside each holiday season.

Although Questel is unsure when the tradition of trimming Imgard’s tomb-side tree began, he does know why the ritual is unique to Wooster: In 1847, Imgard was a 19-year-old immigrant from Germany living at his brother’s house in Wooster and grew homesick for his native country’s customs, especially around Christmastime. So, he went to the woods near Apple Creek, cut down a spruce tree, and positioned it in a window, adorned with nuts, apples, sweets, and candles. He even had a tinsmith make a star for the top of the tree.

A giant poinsettia tree at the Franklin Park Conservatory.

Night and day

By day inside Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, thousands of red, pink, and white poinsettias, a giant poinsettia tree, and gorgeous winter greenery create a festive holiday scene. 

The day-night double feature has grown into a much-adored extravaganza, and Karin Noecker loves every minute of it. 

“I’ve worked here at the conservatory for 18 years, and this is my most favorite time of year,” says Noecker, director of horticulture and exhibitions. “Everything is just so beautiful.”

Ohioans enjoy nighttime kayaking at High Rocks Adventure

After dark

As twilight comes, the rugged cliffs, crevices, and outcroppings at High Rocks Adventure add a sense of mystery to what’s already an adrenaline rush. 

Night rappels are trips into the unknown. “You can’t see the bottom of the cliff, so there’s a lot of trust needed,” says Kayce, a member of South Central Power Company. Sometimes, the trust pays off with even more thrill — one time during a solo rappel, with her headlight turned off, 
a screech owl’s wings brushed silently past her face.

Riding the Miller Ferry with Mitten Kitten was on Lindy Brown’s bucket list, as is evident in this ferry cool selfie.

Silver bullet

Wally Byam’s childhood was spent immersed in nature. He worked on a West Coast sheep farm, where he lived in a donkey-towed wagon that was outfitted with a stove, food, water, and just about everything else he could possibly need. 

Byam’s love of camping and the outdoors, combined with American ingenuity, resulted in a product that lasts for decades and is instantly recognizable around the world.

Perhaps best of all, it’s made in Ohio — Byam moved the production to Jackson Center in rural Shelby County right after World War II, and workers there build upward of 120 of the iconic silver bullets every week, all by hand.

Surfing lessons on the coast of the Great Miami River

Surf's up

Downtown Dayton is your typical urban Midwestern city, filled with blacktop and busy streets, high-rises, and noisy traffic.

But wait: There are also surfers, who are apt to be happily catching a wave out on the water.

River surfing is similar to ocean surfing, but instead of catching waves caused by the wind, it’s done on standing river waves created by flowing whitewater.

“It’s a rush,” says Shannon Thomas, a Dayton native and pro river surfer and paddleboarder. “Anyone who has surfed knows that special feeling you get when you’re on a wave. It’s amazing; very spiritual, very addictive.” 

A person ziplining through the forest

Treetop adventure

Jody Christiansen was into trees, and he enjoyed finding ways to get other people into them as well.

In 2004, he discovered his dream. He and his wife, Anna Lee, took their family on a trip to Costa Rica to celebrate daughter Madison’s high school graduation and his completion of chemo treatment for lymphoma. Jody, an avid recreational tree-climber, took an interest in a zipline experience they had while they were there.