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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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Exploring Grove City: Library, Lollipop Stop and Welcome Center and Museum

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{Updates: The Lollipop Stop unfortunately closed during the summer of 2016. The new Grove City Library was completed in October, 2016 and is now at 3959 Broadway, Grove City, OH 43123}

After a lot of sick days at home, I forced the three of us out of the house, into the snow and wind, for an outing to Grove City. I’m in a weird place here. You see, the two libraries closest to me are now closed for renovations. There is going to be a good 4 month overlap where I have no home library. I like exploring new libraries, to be sure, but I need a home base where I can reserve and return all these Lego books my son likes to check out and read 35,000 times!

Well, a few of the books had come due and it was time to venture out and return them somewhere. I chose the Grove City Library. Turns out Grove City is building a new library too! But luckily for us, in this case, the old one is still open! It looks like the new one will be awesome – so we’ll definitely revisit come summer!

The kids area is pretty low key here. There was no story time when we went, but they do offer several times during the week for different age groups. My goal here was to return books and spend a little time playing.

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My boys did some puzzles and took turns picking out books and reading them in the large open area on these comfy seats.

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One plus about this location is that the Police Department is across the street and you can look out the tall windows and see police vehicles, which is always a plus for my boys!

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Look at the police cars!

I told the boys if they listened to me at the library, we would go to the candy store around the corner. So, of course when it was time to leave, my oldest yelled through the library to my youngest, “Come on, Mayson, Mommy said we could go to the candy store!” Now I am loudly pronounced that mom who might be bribing her kids AND lets them eat CANDY! “Shh!” I said, “that sign right there says to use your library voice!” (Luckily for me, that was true!) haha. Oh, well.

As planned, we walked through the wind and snow to the Lollipop Stop. Honestly it’s just 1 tenth of a mile from the library and totally doable, even in the snow! On the way we passed these cute puppies which were fun to “pet”.

The Lollipop Stop is a cute little store (so little, I left my umbrella stroller outside).

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So much to see and lots of fun for kids to pick out a few pieces of candy! There are chocolates, bulk candy, cupcakes and fun trinkets and toys. In warmer weather, they also sell ice cream.

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YUM is right!

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Admittedly, this was a little tough for my toddler who doesn’t exactly understand that you can’t just reach in and eat whatever candy you want. He spent a few minutes flat out on the floor in his typical tantrum pose. But can you blame him? He’s a kid in a candy shop! (A kid with very little control over his emotions and impulses, to boot!)  I let the kids pick out just a few pieces of candy. There is a $2.50 minimum purchase on the bulk candy so we also picked out two rubber balls. It was a bright, fun respite from the winter weather.

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On the walk back, I took an unplanned detour into the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. I’m glad we did! I would recommend this stop as part of your day in downtown Grove City! There is a lot more to see here than I expected! An old-fashioned car, early firefighter uniforms, old tools, cameras and record players, to name a few! A very friendly employee gave us a short tour and let us hear music played on the record player and gramophone. The building is an old bank and the vault is full of local artifacts including a large cash register from the 1920’s (that also still works!). The Welcome Center also offers flyers and pamphlets about things to do in Grove City and the surrounding area.

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Firefighters are popular at my house!

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Show your kids what electronic devices used to look like!

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Entering the vault!

After 8 years of living here, though I had driven through, this was the first time I had set foot in downtown Grove City! I’m looking forward to coming back to the new library and adding the Lollipop Stop to my ice cream exploits! You could easily pass a morning here, and I’m sure there’s even more to do! What else should I check out in Grove City? Feel free to comment with ideas!

Know Before You Go:

Grove City Library
3359 Park St, Grove City, OH 43123
Hours:
Monday – Thursday – 9:30 AM – 9:00 PM
Friday and Saturday – 9:30 AM – 6:00 PM
Sunday – 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Phone: 614-875-6716

Lollipop Stop
4002 Broadway Grove City, OH 43123
614-991-5192

Grove City Welcome Center and Museum
3378 Park Street, Grove City, OH, 43123
Hours:
Monday-Friday, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Tuesdays 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Phone: 614-277-3061

Also:  The library has its own parking lot.  I used free, 2 hour street parking in front of the library and walked to the other places, which are all within 1-2 blocks.


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Columbus Museum of Art + LEGOS

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There is only one week remaining to visit the Think Outside the Brick exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art!  I wanted to share a few pictures from our visit in December.  The exhibit runs through February 21, 2016.

Taking two kids under 5 to the art museum by myself was a little bit intimidating, but the museum actually has a lot to offer kids (and as a side note, if you’re a nursing mother, one of the nicest Mother’s Rooms in the city!)  Right now is a great time to visit with kids because of the LEGO exhibit.

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The first thing you will see is this amazing replica of Ohio Stadium.  Upon seeing this, my 4 year old said, “I didn’t know they made such cool LEGO sidewalks!”  Okay?  The things they notice are never what you expect!

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Then there is a great model of the city of Columbus built from LEGOS.

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The Museum of Art with its new addition.

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The Statehouse.

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Lots of fun!

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There is also an area for free building with all white LEGO bricks.

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Though the LEGO’s may be on their way out, don’t let that stop you from taking your kids to the museum.  On the first level there is the JPMorgan Chase Center for Creativity with space for kids to play, build and experience art hands-on.  There are also Open Studio times for all ages.

Think Outside the Brick is part of a collaboration with COSI and the Ohio History Center.  Together they have sponsored the 2015 LEGO Design Challenge.  The Ohio History Center has the finalists on display through April 10, 2016.  Here are a few pictures of this display:

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COSI has the LEGO creations of artist Arthur Gugick on display in their LEGO Travel Adventure Exhibit through May 8, 2016.  There is also areas for kids to build and race their own cars and a free building area ideal for children over age 3.

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If you have LEGO lovers in your family, like I do, don’t miss these exhibits!

Know Before You Go:

LEGO Travel Adventure at COSI

September 26 – May 8, 2016
333 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215
614.228.2674
Mondays & Tuesdays, Closed
Wednesday-Sunday, 10AM – 5PM

Think Outside the Brick at Columbus Museum of Art

November 21 – February 21, 2016
480 East Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43215
614.221.4848
Monday, Closed
Tuesday-Wednesday, 10AM – 5PM
Thursday, 10AM – 9PM
Friday-Sunday, 10AM – 5PM

There’s No Place Like Home at Ohio History Center

January 13 – April 10, 2016
800 E. 17th Ave., Columbus, OH 43211
800.686.6124 , 614.297.2300
Wednesday–Saturday, 10AM –5PM
Sunday, Noon – 5PM


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