The Ohio Bird Sanctuary is a Hidden Gem in Mansfield, Ohio

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See bald eagles, feed the birds and take a hike at this awesome bird sanctuary in Mansfield, Ohio! This place is a hidden gem that provides education and a unique experience for kids!

Ohio Bird Sanctuary Sign

I found out about the Ohio Bird Sanctuary thanks to an ad on Facebook! After seeing it a few times, I finally clicked and was happy to find out it was located just outside of Mansfield and would make a great outdoor meeting place for us and my parents who live in Wayne County!

We really didn’t know what to expect beyond the pictures on their website, but I think it’s safe to say we were all pleasantly surprised by what we discovered when we arrived!

First I want to say, if you are coming from Columbus, the drive involves a lot of rural, back roads. It took us about 1 hour and 15 minutes but it will be a quicker trip for those of you in the northern suburbs of Columbus!

two boys hiking on the trail at Ohio Bird Sanctuary

We spent about 2.5 hours here, though you could easily spend more or less time, depending on your schedule. Everything about the visit is self paced. There are picnic tables outside if you want to pack a lunch. You can extend your visit by taking longer hikes or spending more time on the playground.

There really is a lot to do here and I think it is well worth the trip from Columbus!

Take a look at all there is to do at the Ohio Bird Sanctuary:

Ohio Bird Sanctuary Visitor Center

The Visitor Center at Ohio Bird Sanctuary, Mansfield, Ohio

Upon arriving you will first want to check in at the Visitor Center. There are public restrooms here, a gift shop and the entrance to  the bird display area. Entrance to this area is $3 for adults (16 years and over) $1 for children (kids under 2 years are free), and $1 for military and individuals from assisted care centers (no charge for caregivers). 

Gift Shop inside the Visitor Center

You will need to go through the Visitor Center to access the live bird display area. If you end up leaving the gated area to see other parts of the property, you must come back through the Visitors Center to reenter. You can reenter as many times as you need to during your visit.

The Bird Display Area

Bird Display Area at Ohio Bird Sanctuary

The live bird displays include over 30 different species of birds that have been injured in some way and are no longer able to live on their own in the wild. The Ohio Bird Sanctuary will also take in birds that you might find that are hurt or injured!

people viewing the birds in the Bird Viewing Area

You are free to walk the paths for as long as you desire! There are bald eagles, falcons, owls, crows, and more! Fun fact: it takes a bald eagle 5 years to develop its signature white head!

boy looking at bald eagles at the bird sanctuary in Mansfield, Ohio

a red-tailed hawk housed at the bird sanctuary

Songbird Aviary

people feeding birds in the songbird aviary at Ohio Bird Sanctuary

Included in your admission to the Ohio Bird Sanctuary is the Songbird Aviary. You can purchase small containers of food in the Visitor Center for $.25 so you can feed the birds in the aviary! After our first trip through, we came back to buy bird food and feeding them turned out to be a highlight of our trip!

boy feeding a mourning dove in the songbird aviary

Inside the Songbird Aviary, birds are free to fly around or roam around on the ground. Keep an eye out as you walk! If you stay still for long enough, they will come up to your cup of food to eat!

Butterfly Garden

Inside the Bird Display Area are butterfly gardens so keep an eye out for butterflies!

boy looking through binoculars at the butterfly garden within the bird sanctuary

Naturescape Play Area

the sign for the Naturescape Play Area at the Ohio Bird Sanctuary

Once outside the bird display area, follow the path to the Naturescape Play Area! It’s a super fun natural play area with a bird theme (of course)! There is a fun (albeit slow) caterpillar slide, a sand area, a vine for swinging, animal tracks and tic tac toe, just to name a few activities! 

boy on two wires at the Naturescape Play Area

boy measuring his wingspan

the Naturescape Play Area at Ohio Bird Sanctuary

Barred Owl Trail

The Barred Owl Trail at Ohio Bird Sanctuary

The Barred Owl Trail is the closest hiking trail to the bird displays. There are several other trails available and they are all under 1 mile long. We took the Barred Owl Trail to the bird blind, which was a little anti-climactic, but still a nice hike! Check this link for a map of the property and the different trails available.

two boys looking through the bird blind at the Ohio Bird Sanctuary

The Barred Owl Trail is a narrow dirt trail with a couple of shoots off in different directions so I recommend checking your map often! In actuality all of the distances between the points of interest are pretty short.

Picnic Areas

There are two picnic areas within the sanctuary. One is close to the Naturescape Play Area and would make a fun picnic spot! The other picnic area is right by the parking lot at the Visitor Center.

The entrance fee to the Ohio Bird Sanctuary is quite reasonable, but if you need a free activity, you could hike on the trails and play at the playground at no cost and you would still be able to view one of the eagles from the outside!

boys walking on the path through the Ohio Bird Sanctuary

We had a great time visiting the Ohio Bird Sanctuary and I think it is well worth the drive from Central Ohio! The 90 acre property is beautiful and you can tell it is well cared for! A visit here would make a great field trip this year!

If you’re looking for more things to do in Mansfield, Ohio, check out: Day Trip: Downtown Mansfield and Little Buckeye Children’s Museum.

Know Before You Go:

Ohio Bird Sanctuary

3774 Orweiler Rd, Mansfield, OH 44903
Phone: 419-884-4295 
Visit the website

Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Sunday: 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Special Summer Extended Hours: Tuesday & Thursday open 10:00 AM- 7:00 PM

  • Home school programs are available throughout the school year. 
  • Masks are required in the Visitor Center but not required when outdoors and able to social distance.

physical distancing sign at Ohio Bird Sanctuary

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Ohio Bird Sanctuary


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Guernsey County: An Ohio Road Trip Full of Surprises

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Ohio is full of surprises! A family-friendly road trip to Guernsey County, Ohio includes zebras, walks on the beach, glass blowing, donuts and so much more!

This post was written in partnership with Ohio. Find It Here. and Guernsey County.

The summer of 2020 probably hasn’t turned out the way anyone thought it would. Our original vacation plans to two big cities were put on hold and we began looking for ways to get away that felt safe but also special. When Ohio. Find it Here. invited us to visit Guernsey County, we looked over the itinerary and found a list of things we felt excited about (and safe) doing!

About 1.5 hours from Columbus, Guernsey County is the birthplace of John Glenn and William Boyd (aka Hopalong Cassidy), the location of over 36 sightings of Bigfoot, and home to the largest wildlife conservation center in North America AND the world’s most extensive glass collection! Surprised yet?

Family-Friendly Attractions in Guernsey County, Ohio:

Guernsey County is a largely rural county and driving from one end of the county to another can take up to an hour, depending on where you are going! Make sure to take a look at the map as you plan out your trip! Whether you want to visit for a day or spend a night or two, pick and choose from some of these options to choose your own Guernsey County adventure!

(Please remember that all individuals in Ohio must wear facial coverings in public at all times when: at an indoor location that is not a residence, or outdoors when unable to maintain six-foot social distance from people who are not household members.)

1. The Wilds

two rhinos laying back to back at The Wilds in Guernsey County

This was our first visit to The Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio. I have wanted to go to The Wilds ever since moving to Columbus! The Wilds is truly “in the middle of no-where”! This isn’t your typical rolling rural farmland of Ohio – it’s more like Australia or the Yukon! It’s easy to pretend that you have really gone somewhere exotic! 

You will need to make your reservation ahead of time for an Open-Air Safari. Open-Air Safari tours are 2 – 2.5 hours long and take place in an open air bus. This summer, riders are seated with a seat in between parties and there is a lot of open air flow! As you drive through the almost 10,000 acre park, animals are free to come up close to your safari (but no touching)! 

a camel coming up to the open safari at The Wilds in Ohio

The first stop on the tour is at Lake Trail and you can take a short hike down to the lake to feed catfish! There is also the option to feed birds in an enclosed aviary.

The second stop on the tour is the Carnivore Center where you can see wild African dogs, cheetahs and more! There is a boardwalk taking you through the area where you can look for each animal within its habitat.

cheetahs at The Wilds in Guernsey County Ohio

The tour guides are very knowledgeable and share a wealth of information about how The Wilds came to be, how animals have been saved through their conservation efforts and even little tid bits of information about the individual animals you may come across on your journey! We were lucky enough to see the new baby Rhino, Rohini, who was just moved out to the summer pasture a week before!

Tips for visiting The Wilds:

  • It is advisable that you follow the directions on The Wilds website as opposed to the directions that you will be given if you just type “The Wilds” into a map app! Plus there is virtually no cell phone service once you reach a certain part. This is definitely the time to go old-school and follow written directions! 
  • There are two stops along the tour that include a restroom and one stop that sells food. But no food or drink is allowed while you are on the safari tour.
  • The tours take place rain or shine so dress appropriately and bring sunscreen!
  • If you’re looking for a place to have lunch or dinner, the The Overlook Cafe is available before or after your safari trip! The Terrace Grill is located at the Carnivore Center (in the middle of the trip) and there is a Safari Snack Depot near the ticket window. 
  • At the Wilds, masks are required indoors and outdoors when you cannot social distance. On shuttles and safari, seating will be limited with social distancing between seats. 

2. Seneca Lake

boats and docks at the marina at Seneca Lake

After visiting The Wilds, we spent an afternoon on a pontoon boat on Seneca Lake! It was such a great, relaxing time as a family! At the Marina you can rent a pontoon boat or fishing boat and purchase a fishing license if you’d like to fish! Life jackets are provided. If you have your own boat, courtesy boat parking is provided at the Marina for up to 2 hours.

The Marina service is available at a walk up window where you can rent a boat, purchase your fishing license and/or bait. You do not need to go inside to make these transactions!

father and son fishing at Seneca Lake Ohio

My boys had a great time fishing! They love putting the minnows (available for purchase at the Marina) on the hook and waiting to see that bobber go under! Jaden was the only one who caught a fish that afternoon and he was very proud of that fact!

3. Mosser Glass

boy watching glass being made a Mosser Glass

Our family took a factory tour at Mosser Glass to learn about the process of glass making! We were able to get up close to the glass making process and watch as the craftsmen each completed their part of the process! You can stop in any time during business hours for a tour and shop for a gift or souvenir in their beautiful gift shop!

the gift shop at Mosser Glass in Cambridge, Ohio

4. National Museum of Cambridge Glass

woman giving a tour at Museum of Cambridge Glass

The Cambridge Glass Company produced their first piece of glass in 1902 and the factory operated until 1958, producing everything from stemware to vases, changing colors and styles many times throughout the years. The museum pays homage to the company by displaying over 10,000 pieces of Cambridge Glass.

group of people getting a tour at the Museum of Cambridge Glass

Here you can watch a short video about the history of Cambridge Glass, get a guided tour of the collection, try your hand at etching and learn how artisan glass pieces were made! 

two boys and father doing etchings at the Cambridge Glass Museum

Make sure to check out the Hollywood display where there are pictures of Cambridge Glass pieces spotted in famous movies and TV shows! There is also a formal dining room display that offers a glimpse into life in a bygone era. The tour was interesting and the hands on activities made it fun for the kids, too! Some hands on activities may not be available at this time. 

5. Salt Fork State Park Beach

boy on the beach at Salt Fork State Park in Guernsey County, Ohio

Salt Fork State Park is Ohio’s largest state park! This is evidenced by the fact that upon entering the park, it is a 10-15 minute drive to most in-park destinations! My family enjoyed spending two nights at the lodge, but you don’t have to stay there to take advantage of all the park has to offer!

The park is home to 12 scenic trails, shelter houses and picnic areas, a golf course, an archery range, dog park, bridle trails, boating and swimming!

two boys on Salt Fork State Park Beach in Ohio

Specifically, here I want to mention the beach! When you think of Ohio, you don’t often think of beaches, but during this summer in particular, you might seriously want to consider a trip to Salt Fork’s public beach! One of Ohio’s largest inland beaches, anyone can visit for free! The beach area is pretty big – enough for spreading out – and there is also a strip of grass with trees and picnic tables for your enjoyment! 

Family Friendly Restaurants in Guernsey County:

1. Georgetown Tavern

brick oven pizza at Georgetown Tavern on the Hill

If you’re looking for a meal with a view, this is it! During the summer of 2020, only the patio is open for dining and what a patio it is!

Brick oven pizzas are made to order as well as a special selection of wines, craft beer and adult slushies! Georgetown Vineyards wines are produced on site and the patio offers a beautiful view of the vineyards while you eat! 

patio at Georgetown Tavern in Cambridge, Ohio, Guernsey County

I have to add that we had an issue with Google Maps on getting here! I would recommend typing in and choosing the actual address of the restaurant, NOT typing in the name of the restaurant into Google Maps! If you find yourself driving up a steep, one way gravel hill leading to a cell phone tower, you are probably on the wrong end of the road!

2. The Dockside Restaurant 

boy eating food at the Dockside Restaurant at Seneca Lake Marina

If you’re spending the day at Seneca Lake, The Dockside Restaurant is at the marina and has two large patio areas. The view of the harbor adds to the lakeside experience! If you don’t have time to eat a full meal, there is also a window where you can order ice cream! Everyone needs ice cream after a day on the lake, right?!

3. Kennedy’s Bakery

glazed donut outside of Kennedy's Bakery in Guernsey County, Ohio

After visiting the National Museum of Cambridge Glass, we walked a couple of blocks to Kennedy’s Bakery! This bakery has been a staple in town since 1925! If you’re looking for a baked good, stop here for decorated cookies, donuts, creme sticks, cakes, baklava, pepperoni rolls, garlic bread, cupcakes and so much more!

people waiting in line inside Kennedy's Bakery in Cambridge Ohio

My kids opted for cookies decorated with a fishing theme and my husband and I chose a donut and creme stick (or long john, depending on where you’re from)! I was happy with my choice of a classic glazed donut! Yum!

4. Nothing But Chocolate

Nothing But Chocolate in Cambridge Ohio

On our way out of town we stopped at Nothing But Chocolate for our final sweet fix of the trip! We had heard rumors of excellent buckeye candies and we were surprised to find out they are made on the spot when you order them! Chocolate covered Oreos were also a winner! Definitely make a stop here for handcrafted chocolate treats, taffy and unique, edible gifts!

Nothing But Chocolate provides a sink and asks each person who enters to wash their hands before shopping, which we were thankful for after spending the morning walking around town!

Where to stay in Guernsey County:

Salt Fork State Park Lodge

Salt Fork State Park Lodge

Our family stayed at the Salt Fork Lodge for two nights. The boys loved the bunk beds in the room! The Lodge overlooks the Salt Fork Reservoir and each morning and night we had a family of deer appear in the yard beneath our room!

boys on a bunk bed at Salt Fork State Park Lodge

There are restaurants on site – we got our breakfast to go and sat out on the patio area! There is a great outdoor pool and kiddie pool. (The indoor pool is currently closed due to construction.) Check the outdoor pool schedule when you check in as it is closed for extra cleaning on a regular basis.

outdoor pool at Salt Fork State Park Lodge

If you’re looking for a stand-alone option, cabins are also available for rent (though they are filling up fast in the 2020 season)! Camping, fishing, boating and hiking, as well as other recreational sports, are available within the park so it can really be an all inclusive getaway!

a row of rocking chairs in the sun at Salt Fork State Park Lodge in Guernsey County, Ohio

As a fun side note, it is rumored that Bigfoot lives in Salt Fork State Park! Over 36 sightings have been reported in the park! So keep your eyes peeled and/or plan your trip to coincide with The Ohio Bigfoot Conference or Creature Weekend! 

2020 is a weird year, especially when it comes to travel. But with a trip to Guernsey County you can go on a wildlife safari, visit a vineyard and spend a day at the beach! Who knew this surprising getaway was just 80 miles from Columbus?!

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Ohio Road Trip: Guernsey County


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5 Beaches in Ohio to Visit this Summer!

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Beaches in Ohio?! Yes, it’s true! If  you’re looking for a beach getaway without having to travel far, check out one of these 5 Ohio beaches!

Every summer it seems I get the craving to vacation by water.  A trip to the actual ocean isn’t always a possibility, so we have found some work arounds for a day at the beach! Our family has gone to Lake Erie almost every summer for the past 5 years or so. Lake Erie is obviously Ohio’s largest body of water, but there are beaches in other areas of the state as well!

Enjoy a Day Out at One of these 5 Ohio Beaches:

These are all public beaches that are free to visit! Pick out one of these destinations and enjoy a day on the water: put your toes in the sand, build a sandcastle and don’t forget the sunscreen!

Disclaimer: please check with each location individually for changes during the 2020 season.

1. Alum Creek State Park Beach

  • 3305 S Old State Rd., Delaware, OH 43015 

Alum Creek Park Beach shoreline

Alum Creek is Ohio’s largest inland beach, measuring 3,000 feet of shore. Changing rooms are available and there is a playground area on the beach. The beach is open during daylight hours. Boating and fishing are also allowed on the water. 

2. Tappan Lake

  • 84000 Mallarnee Rd., Deersville, OH 44693

people on beach at Tappan Lake in Ohio

Tappan Lake is part of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District and is inside Tappan Lake Park in Deersville, Ohio. The beach is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Large inflatable toys and slides are permanently in the water. There are changing rooms and a concession stand on site. Check out this map for the exact location of the beach. 

3. Main Street Beach, Vermillion

  • Main St., Vermilion, OH 44089

people on Main Street Beach in Vermillion, Ohio

Vermillion is a beautiful city on Lake Erie. What is distinctive about this city is the canals that run through part of the residential neighborhoods! The beach is one of the smaller ones on the list but it is made up for by the charm of the city! 

Main Street Beach is is at the north end of Main Street and has a lighthouse and observation platform. The closest changing area and restroom is a couple of blocks south so keep that in mind! A shop that rents beach umbrellas and sells snacks and other items is onsite. 

Woodstock Cafe is our favorite restaurant in the town with a great outdoor patio and we always get ice cream at Main Street Soda Grill.

4. Port Clinton City Beach

  • 1100 E. Perry St., Port Clinton, OH 43452

boy digging in sand on  Port Clinton City Beach, Ohio

The Port Clinton City Beach is at the end of a great park called Liberty Park which has an amazing accessible playground with a nautical theme! There are picnic areas, restrooms and changing area, and an ice cream shop near by! 

5. Salt Fork State Park

shoreline at Salt Fork State Park Beach

Salt Fork State Park is Ohio’s largest state park! When you enter the park it will be at least a 10 minute drive to the beach! The beach covers 2500 feet and is relatively large! There is also a nice grassy area with trees and picnic tables adjacent to the beach. There are changing rooms and showers on site as well as a mini-golf course! (both are closed for the 2020 season.)

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