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How to Visit Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

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One of the most outstanding waterfalls in Ohio, Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park are easy to visit and well worth the trip!

Brandywine Falls is the tallest Ohio waterfall at over 60 feet high! The falls flow from the Brandywine Creek which extends from the Cuyahoga River. Brandywine Falls is just one of the many sights to be seen inside Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio’s only National Park which covers 33,000 acres in Northeast Ohio!

Cuyahoga Valley National Park was established as a national recreation area in 1974 and it was officially designated a national park in 2000.

Where are Brandywine Falls?

As mentioned, Cuyahoga Valley National Park covers 33,000 acres and Brandywine Falls are inside this area. The falls are somewhat central within the park and on the eastern side of the park. Luckily, this is an easy sight to see within the park because it is on the outside edge of the park and the hike to the falls is short!

Brandywine falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

You can view the entire park map here!

How Long Does it Take to Hike to Brandywine Falls?

trail sign at Brandywine Falls.

When you park in the parking lot you have two options to see the falls: hiking the Brandywine Gorge Trail or taking the boardwalk directly to the falls. To take the boardwalk, head right and the hike to see the falls is a boardwalk trail and it will take you 5-10 minutes.

If you head left, the Stanford Trail and the Brandywine Gorge Trail are together for a while. You will need to make sure to follow signs for the Brandywine Gorge Loop which is an estimated 1 mile hike back to the falls. See the map here.

Where is the Best Place to View Brandywine Falls?

a carved map of the 3 observation points at Brandywine Falls.

There are three observations points from which to view the falls, each of them offering their own unique view! If you are are visiting the area, it is absolutely worth seeing the falls from each of the observation points! They are so close to each other, it’s really no trouble to see all of them!

I’m going to number the decks to correspond to the picture above so it doesn’t get confusing, but it doesn’t make sense to visit the observation decks in numerical order as listed here. The first deck you will encounter is the Lower Deck and you may want to visit there first, or go all the way to the end (Old Mill) and work your way back!

1. Upper Deck

The Upper Deck observation point.

Viewing the falls from the upper deck is one of the best views of Brandywine Falls! The falls are rushing and powerful and the Upper Deck allows you to get pretty close to the falls!

view of Brandywine Falls from the Upper Deck.

2. Lower Deck

view of Brandywine Falls from the Lower Deck.

When you are on the boardwalk trail, you will first pass the entrance to the Lower Deck which is where you can view the falls from more of a middle perspective. You could stop here first or save it for the way back.

a woman viewing the falls from the Lower Deck.

3. Old Mill

Champion Electric Sign in front of the building's ruins.

The boardwalk ends here at the Upper Deck, but you can keep walking on a cement path up stairs through the area of the old gristmill. This area was once the Village of Brandywine and a man name George Wallace built a sawmill, gristmill, woolen mill and houses right here near the falls. His house and barn are now the home of the Inn at Brandywine Falls.

Here at this same site, as you can see in the picture above, some of the remains of the Champion Electric Company still stand. This is the sight of the last industry in the area.

Old Mill Observation Point.

From the Old Mill observation area, you can see the falls from above. You can continue going in this direction to stand on the bridge over top of the falls! If you are hiking the Brandywine Gorge Trail, you will enter Brandywine Falls from this direction.

view of Brandywine Falls from the Old Mill observation point.

Does it cost anything to visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park?

No! It is completely free to visit this National Park! Cuyahoga Valley National Park has over 125 miles of hiking trails, including the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail which is an accessible trail. The park is also home to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, Boston Mills Ski Resort, Hale Farm and Village and much more! These activities have an additional cost to partake.

the boardwalk trail to the falls.

Are Dogs Permitted at Brandywine Falls? 

Dogs are permitted on the Brandywine Falls trails, but they must be kept on a leash.

boardwalk trail to the brandywine falls.

Visiting Brandywine Falls is a treat! I would definitely plan a visit to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, or if you’re in the area but don’t have a lot of time, it’s definitely possible to visit the falls in about 30 minutes!

view of Brandywine Falls from above.

Looking to visit more Ohio waterfalls? Make sure to read my list of Ohio Waterfalls and plan your next road trip!

brandywine falls.

Know Before You Go:

Address: 8176 Brandywine Rd, Northfield, OH 44067

  • Restrooms are available at the parking lot area.
  • There are just a few picnic tables in the area as well.

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brandywine falls in cuyahoga valley national park.

 


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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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5 Fun Things to do with Kids in Bellefontaine, Ohio

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Just one hour from downtown Columbus, Bellefontaine, Ohio provides a fun, family-friendly way to spend the day!

Thanks to Logan County Visitors Bureau for partnering with us on this post.

I love discovering new (to me) towns that are easy day trips from Columbus! I am always happy to end up pleasantly surprised by the places we find within an hour’s drive! One of those happy discoveries happened this fall when we were invited by the Logan County Visitor’s Bureau to visit Bellefontaine, Ohio – just a tad less than an hour from downtown Columbus!

Downtown Bellefontaine, Ohio

My family spent the day exploring the area including mini golf, pizza, and, of course, coffee! 😉 Plus we found one of the most adorable and inspiring toy stores I have ever been in! Set aside a day for a trip from Columbus to Bellefontaine and enjoy what this cute town has to offer!

buildings in downtown Bellefontaine, Ohio

child in downtown Bellefontaine, Ohio

5 Family Friendly Things to do in Bellefontaine, Ohio:

1. Logan County History Center

  • 521 E Columbus Avenue, Bellefontaine, Ohio 43311, 937-593-7557

Our first stop in Bellefontaine was the Logan County History Center. Housed in an impressive mansion, the museum was filled with a surprising amount of displays and things to see!

Logan County Museum in Bellefontaine, Ohio

Honda opened in Marysville in 1979 and opened another plant in Logan County in 1997. The Logan County History Center, in conjunction with Honda, celebrated 40 years of Honda with an ongoing display of cars, car parts and history. The display includes donations from the International Friendship Center, an organization created to support families moving to Ohio from other countries to work with Honda. The display includes many Japanese items.

Transportation Museum in Bellefontaine, Ohio

The Logan County Transportation Museum was added in 2014 and includes examples of transportation throughout history from Conestoga to railroads to planes. My kids enjoyed seeing the many vehicles on display!

plane on display in the Transportation Museum in Bellefontaine, Ohio

The museum is filled with rooms that rotate displays. Some of the displays we enjoyed were communication devices through the years, the civil war and old toys! (And by old I mean the 80’s and 90’s haha). There really is a lot to see here! It would be a definite stop for kids who love vehicles!

child inside the Logan County History Center


2. The Fun Company

  • 136 S Main St., Bellefontaine, Ohio 43311, 937-599-2993 

Inside The Fun Company toy store in Bellefontaine, Ohio

I’m still thinking about how magical this toy store is. What an amazing hidden gem just outside of Columbus! I loved how The Fun Company had little nooks and crannies for playing and reading. 

two boys inside The Fun Company in Bellefontaine, Ohio

Toys were out on display for kids to test out. The colors and decor in the store made it absolutely dreamy. Can I move in? My kids loved it, I loved it, it was a highlight of the trip for sure!

reading area inside The Fun Company in Bellefontaine, Ohio

Books for sale at The Fun Company in Bellefontaine, Ohio


3. Six Hundred Downtown

  • 108 S Main St Bellefontaine, OH 43311, 937-599-6600 

Six Hundred Downtown, pizza restaurant in Bellefontaine, Ohio

We stopped for lunch at the restaurant Six Hundred Downtown. The restaurant is owned by Brittany Saxton who is a 5 time World Pizza Champion. I can’t say for sure what that is, but it sounds like major #goals! She has also competed on Guys Grocery Games on the Food Network!

pizza at six hundred downtown in Bellefontaine, Ohio

The name Six Hundred comes from the temperature at which you bake pizzas – 600 degrees. The atmosphere in the restaurant is classic and comforting. It was great for kids and it would also be great for a date night!

boy playing with dough at Six Hundred Downtown in Bellefontaine, Ohio

We had garlic knots as an appetizer and a pizza for our main course. The pizza was VERY good.  The restaurant offers a kid’s menu and some of the meals do include a drink. All kids meals are $4.50. The best part for my kids is that they bring pizza dough to the table for kids to play with while they wait!


4. Putt & Play Golf Center

  • 209 W Columbus Ave., Bellefontaine, Ohio 43311, 937-404-1330 

boys playing mini golf at Putt and Play in Bellefontaine, Ohio

In downtown Bellefontaine you will find a fun indoor activity center called Putt & Play Golf Center. Inside they have a golf simulator, a mini golf course, laser tag and a virtual reality booth. We chose to play a round of putt putt golf! Indoor mini golf courses are somewhat hard to find so this was a lot of fun on a cold day!

boy and dad playing mini golf in Bellefontaine, Ohio

This course was unique because of its train theme! The course was fun and not too challenging for the kids. My kids are still young enough to get frustrated by really complex mini golf courses, but this one was just right! 

trained theme mini golf at Putt and Play in Bellefontaine, Ohio

train themed mini golf at Putt and Play in Bellefontaine, Ohio

If you’re in the Northwest area of Columbus this might even work for a unique birthday party idea – especially if you’re having a train-themed party! There is a party room and Birthday Party Packages start at $12.99/person.


5. Sweet Aromas

  • 120 Court Ave., Bellefontaine, OH, 937-599-CAFE

kids at Sweet Aromas Coffee shop in downtown Bellefontaine, Ohio

We stumbled upon Sweet Aromas after we came out of the toy store! My husband and I got an afternoon pick-me-up in the form of caffeine! I’m always thrilled to find local coffee shops when we visit new cities. This one  had a large seating area, cute decor and fun gift items for sale! 

merchandise for sale at Sweet Aromas coffee shop in downtown Bellefontaine, ohio

Sweet Aromas, Six Hundred Downtown, Putt & Play and The Fun Company are all within walking distance in downtown Bellefontaine so any of these stops  would be great paired together!


6. Marie’s Candies

  • 311 Zanesfield Rd., West Liberty, OH 43357, 937-465-3061

Marie's Candies in West Liberty, Ohio

I’ve added a bonus stop to the list! It’s a bonus because it’s not in Bellefontaine so it requires and extra 10-15 minutes of driving to West Liberty, but it’s worth it! There are a lot of fun and unique candy items for sale here and everyone who comes into the store gets a free sample. They even let us sample other candies that were for sale behind the counter before we made our decisions!

inside Marie's Candies in West Liberty, Ohio

We picked up a Christmas gift, jelly beans for the boys and I got the most amazing maple cream candies! I’m thinking I need to drive back for some more ASAP!


Bottom line: Just an hour from Columbus, a day trip to Bellefontaine, Ohio with your kids will be filled with surprising finds, yummy treats and lots to explore! Put this one on your list!

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5 Fun Things to do with Kids in Bellefontaine, Ohio, Family Friendly Things to do in Bellefontaine, Ohio, Road Trip from Columbus, Ohio

 


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