For many traveling westward across the United States, Ohio is the their first contact with the American Midwest. Popularly referred to as America’s Heartland, it had been the place where much of the nation’s industry and agriculture was conducted.
While the region is still in the midst of reinventing itself since the end of the Industrial Age in the USA has reared its ugly head in recent decades, the spirit of the people has endured. As you will see during your journey through Ohio, the cultural pedigree of this region still shines through its many museums, galleries, restaurants, and more.
From the shores of Lake Erie to the picturesque scenes of the Cuyahoga Valley, the natural environment of this state will also surprise, giving you a worthy introduction to the Midwest.
What To Do – Culture & History
Fans of the Drew Carey Show may remember the intro to this comedian’s sitcom to be the upstart anthem Cleveland Rocks. Apart from a bit of overt boosterism, this song was somewhat subtly referring to the cities’ reputation as a hotbed of rock music, a status that led to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame being built here.
A series of rotating temporary exhibits focusing on various musical topics take up two floors of this museum, while The Songs That Shaped Rock And Roll, and the tributes to artists that have been admitted to the Hall of Fame make up the backbone of this essential attraction.
Those that prefer their art in the visual realm than the aural one will love the Cleveland Museum of Art. Known for its extensive collection of Asian and Egyptian art pieces, the capacity for this gallery to add to and maintain its holdings is vast, as its $600 million endowment is the largest in the United States. These massive assets have led to its dedicated art library becoming of the largest in the country … as such, any patron of the arts will adore this place.
If you are fascinated by the power of the United States military, don’t miss the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton. One of the world’s largest collections of retired warplanes, the plane that dropped the last nuclear weapon on Japan in Nagasaki (B-29 Superfortress), and several Air Force 1’s that carried the likes of Truman, Kennedy, Nixon and more around the country and the world can be found here, as well as the Aviation Hall of Fame, which honors the pioneers of flight dating back to the Wright Brothers.
During the days of slavery, many African Americans made spirited attempts to escape their lives of toil for free by slipping away from their plantations in the dead of night and attempting to make their way to the free Northern states.
They couldn’t have succeeded in the numbers that they did if it wasn’t for the help of many dedicated abolitionists (people opposed to slavery) along the way. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center has made it their mission to immortalize these stories, as friendly people in the dangerous slave states provided halfway houses and other hiding places, as well as help getting north in relative safety.
Located in Cincinnati across the Ohio River from Kentucky, this city played a big role in this apparatus, and this museum communicates with exhibits how it and other places in the South and the North contributed to this network of friends, as well as reconstructions of things like slave pens, to illustrate what it was that African Americans were running from.
What To Do – Modern & Natural Attractions
When the leaves begin to turn, are you inside cheering on men in tight pants trying to run a pigskin across a painted line on a field? If so, you need to make time for the Pro Football Hall of Fame on your trip. Situated in Canton, this museum honors players that have dominated the game of American Football over the past century or so, with particular attention focused on the NFL, which is this sport’s dominant pro league.
Coaster junkies will be well catered for during their visit to Ohio, but if they are pressed for time, Cedar Point is the best option of the lot. Sitting on the shores of Lake Erie in Sandusky, this park is home to some of the most adrenaline pumping rides in the business, like Wicked Twister, the highest and tallest roller coaster in the world with inversions, and with seven coasters that were the fastest/tallest/longest/steepest in the world when they opened, it will be a miracle if you have any voice left after a day spent at Cedar Point.
If you are more passionate about animals and plants, spending time at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden will be a better use of your time. Being the second oldest park of its kind in the USA, this place has had a lot of experience in the art of conservation of flora and fauna over the years. Of all the residents here, be sure to check out the bonobos, a rare type of chimpanzee whose numbers have dwindled greatly in the wild.
While most of Ohio is well clear of the Appalachians, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is located within the western foothills of this range, giving this otherwise flat state a place where nature takes on a more rugged character. The standout attraction here is Brandywine Falls, which drops 86 feet in a scene that easily makes it one of the most outstanding natural vistas in all of Ohio.