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Fun Things To Do In Central Ohio

by Pankaj Upreti
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Things To Do In Central Ohio

The East North Central region of the Midwestern United States has its 34th largest state that is home to many diverse landforms, cultures, traditions, and just everything. The central region of this state is a treat for everyone who is looking for some getaway.

This region includes the counties of Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Hocking, Licking, Madison, Morrow, Perry, Pickaway, and Union. There are a variety of cities and towns with their own bucket list of fun things to do and attractions.

Greater Columbus is one of the largest metropolitan areas of not only this region but also the Midwestern United States. Central Ohio has many historical and natural attractions including scenic state parks to challenging hiking trails, historic sites and museums, fun events, and diverse restaurants and dining places. These attractions will make you stop for a moment to take in the beauty and information and range in size and scale. 

Central Ohio not only offers a wide range of tourist attractions but it has also created a business and research environment. This place has provided employment opportunities to the diverse ethnic and local graduates of Ohio State University, and other academic institutions in Columbus. Columbus is the central hub to many nearby cities including Detroit, Pittsburg, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis. 

Easton Town Center-

Easton Town Center | Photo Credit – Dan Keck

The Easton Town Center is a mixed-use shopping and entertainment district on the sub-urban north-east side of Columbus, OH. In Columbus, Ohio, things to do lists start from this center. This complex was made in the later years of the 1990s.

Easton is one of the most popular shopping districts in the nation. Here you’ll find high-end shops of specialty goods, a range of dining and entertainment options.

It has a stark resemblance to an outdoor city center that features narrow fountains and shop-lined streets. These streets look like American towns and cities in the early-to-mid 20th century. There is also a cinema hall and model train in this 1,300-acre complex. It hosts many events including holiday season lighting ceremonies, movies by moonlight, etc.

The area around this attraction also has many hotels, offices, and apartments. The surrounding area is anchored by a large glass central hall.

Mansfield State Reformatory-

Museum | Photo Credit – James St. John

The cinephiles will know the importance of this historic prison museum. It is located at 100 Reformatory Rd, Mansfield. Also known as the Ohio State Reformatory, it was built between 1886 and 1910 and remained in operation until 1990. The popular movie The Shawshank Redemption was filmed here.

This prison has been featured in many other pop entertainment industry productions. The architecture of the museum is a peculiar romanesque victorian gothic architecture. The self-guided Shawshank Trail will make you feel like you have stepped right into the silver screen. 

The Ohio State Reformatory is currently open to tourists 4 days a week from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. from April 1 to September 2. They also have winter tours on weekends from February 2 to March 31 and holiday tours on weekends from November 23 to December 23. 

The Ohio State Reformatory offers three types of guided tours including the inmates’ tour in which former inmates give a guided tour of the prison block.

It also hosts a spooky ghost tour, public ghost hunts for casual ghost hunters, private ghost hunts for more experienced ghost hunters, ghost walks for children 13 years and up.

Other events like INKcarceration Music and Tattoo Festival etc. are also hosted here. A few of the other events include The Shawshank Hustle- a 7k running race that goes past 5 film locations of The Shawshank Redemption, Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre. 

It is one of the most interesting things to do in Mansfield, Ohio. Visit their website to find more about events, tours, and pandemic safety guidelines issued by the organization.

Renaissance Theater-

The Renaissance Theatre, previously known as the Ohio Theatre, is a restored movie palace-type theater located at 138 Park Ave. W in Mansfield, Ohio. The 1,402-seat theater opened on January 18, 1928, as the Ohio Theatre and serves today as the largest performing arts center in North-Central Ohio. 

The Renaissance Performing Arts Association operates the facility and annually produces and presents approximately 40 productions consisting of Broadway-style musical theater shows, classical music concerts, comedy shows, educational performances and outreach programs, popular music concerts, special events, and family shows.

The Renaissance is also home to the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra and the Miss Ohio Scholarship Pageant, the state competition for the Miss America Pageant.

Malabar Farm State Park-

Malabar Farm State Park is a historic state park that was built in 1939 by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield in Richland County, Ohio, United States. It is located near Lucas and the Mohican State Park. It has idyllic views of Pleasant Valley.

On May 21, 1945, Bromfield hosted Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s wedding and honeymoon at Malabar Farm. Hence, it’ll be a treat for literature lovers. One of the top attractions of this place is Malabar Farm Inn.

It is a historic stagecoach inn built in 1820 that was restored as a restaurant. It offers home-cooked dining. Other attractions that you’ll find here include a rustic log-cabin-style home called Pugh Cabin and Ceely Rose House. 

It also hosts many festivals including Maple Sugaring Festival, Heritage Days, and seasonal Wagon Tours.

Wyandot Popcorn Museum-

Located in the neoclassical Heritage Hall of the 1910 Old U.S. Post Office in Marion, the Wyandot Popcorn Museum is the “only museum in the world dedicated to popcorn and its associated memorabilia.”

It is housed under a colorful circus tent. Visit this museum to see an impressive and possibly the largest collection of popcorn wagons and peanut roasters in the United States. These wagons date back as far as the 1900s and have been restored to their original condition.

The artifacts of the museum include stuff from the popcorn industry. It is one of the most peculiar things to do in Central Ohio.

Wyandot Snack is a founding sponsor of the Wyandot Popcorn Museum. With its 84-year heritage in popcorn, Wyandot hosts the Popcorn Festival held in September of each year in Marion. It is hosted every year on the first weekend after Labor Day.

Trails-

Central Ohio is home to some of the most famous trails in America.
Trails | Photo Credit – Dan Keck

Central Ohio is home to some of the most famous trails in America. These trails cover various difficulty levels and mediums and are mostly concentrated around Columbus, Ohio. Scioto Mile is a trail that runs along the beautiful Scioto River.

The Camp Chase Trail is a challenging biker friendly trail near Columbus. Overlooking and Dripping Rock Trail is one of the most favorite trails of the hikers. At the end of this trail, you’ll be awarded breathtaking views of the Olentangy River.Marion Tallgrass Biking Trail is for visitors who love biking.

Marion Palace Theater-

Built-in 1928, this ornate victorian theater is another place for performance art lovers to enjoy an evening watching some films, plays & other live performances. If not for the shows, this is a must-visit place to see one of the most ornate interior decorations you’ll find in this part of America.

Indian Mill Museum-

The history of this Central Ohio town called Sandusky goes back all the way to the Wyandot Indian villages and settlements in the late 1700s. Indian Mill is the first museum of milling in the USA.

Situated on a picturesque location along the banks of Sandusky River, the museum occupies a mill built in 1861 near the site of two mills that were built in 1820 for the Wyandotte Indians.

The miller’s office tells the story of milling from ancient times to the present. In about an hour, you’ll come out as a milling history enthusiast.

Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area-

For nature lovers, this is an ideal spot. It is a 9,230-acre wildlife area featuring plenty of woods, wetlands, marshes & ponds for hunting & fishing. It’s the ultimate outdoor escape in Upper Sandusky where you can indulge in birdwatching, wildlife, and landscape photography, etc.

Make sure that you bring in your camera to inspire your inner photographer here and spam your Instagram followers with some breathtaking photos.

Short North-

The Short North Arts District is one of the most popular arts and entertainment districts in Central Ohio.
Short North | Photo Credit – Pedro Ribeiro Simões

The Short North Arts District is one of the most popular arts and entertainment districts in Columbus, Ohio. The district is one of the top things to do in Columbus, Ohio. It features many art galleries, shops, and restaurants. The district is well known for its quirky attractions and pedestrian-friendly streets.

The first Saturday evening of each month hosts the Gallery Hop. The shops and galleries are open late to host thousands of visitors. Every July 4th is the annual DooDah Parade.

It is a popular spectacle where participants dress in farcical costumes to amuse the crowd. The Short North is also well-known as one of the hubs of the City’s LGBT population.

German Village-

One of the other best things to do in Columbus, OH is to visit this little European piece in the sub-urban American setting. It is a calm, historic neighborhood located south of downtown Columbus. This 233-acre neighborhood is known for its cobblestoned, tree-lined streets featuring a mix of bungalows and grand houses.

There is also a list of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, bakeries, and shops here. Another attraction of this park is Schiller Park that features gardens, a pond, an outdoor theater. This place is a study in Victorian architecture.

The Book Loft and its 32 room maze is a must-see for book lovers. Narrow streets and diverse architecture make this neighborhood a prime stop on visitor’s lists.

Get Out-

Cleveland and Cincinnati are also not more than 2 hours away from Central Ohio.
Get Out | Photo Credit – Governor Earl Ray Tombl

Nearby cities with numerous other top tourist attractions that can be found on our website are also up for exploration if you have enough time on your hands. Newark is the site of many prehistoric earthworks and some interesting architecture including the Longaberger Basket Headquarters Building.

It is just a 45-minute drive North East. Wayne National Park is a 45-minute drive to the southeast of Columbus, Ohio. Cleveland and Cincinnati are also not more than 2 hours away from Central Ohio.

Please also read about things to do in Toronto.


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