Ohio. That state up near the Great Lakes that people always mix up with Idaho. Come on, you've probably done it, too.
In fact, I'm sure that most people – Americans included – know very little about Ohio. They probably are not aware that Ohio was home to more U.S. presidents than any other state (8 so far). Or that Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, was an Ohioan.
In fact, Ohio has a lot of cool things to offer, as long as you know what to look for.
Ohio is home to several major Halls of Fame. There's the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, with some world-class exhibits. There's also the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, and the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton (also where flight pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wrightare from).
Even though neighboring Pennsylvania is usually recognized for its Amish population, Ohio actually has one of the largest Amish settlements in the world. Spanning roughly 4 counties in east-central Ohio, the state's “Amish Country” is home to roughly 40,000 people who live the Amish lifestyle (basically devoid of all modern conveniences, in case you're not familiar). You can visit Ohio's Amish Country to admire the rolling farmland, and to learn more about this unique culture.
Did you know that there's a national park in Ohio? There is – Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It stretches over 20,000 acres in between the cities of Akron and Cleveland, and is the only designated national park in Ohio. The park is popular with hikers and cyclists who take to the Towpath Trail that runs along a portion of the old Ohio and Erie Canal. The park is mostly forest, with waterfalls and caves the Cuyahoga River providing plenty of points of interest. You can even take a scenic train ride through the park.
Yes, that's right. The Best Amusement Park in the World. Cedar Pointin Sandusky, Ohio, consistently wins this distinction. With 17 roller coasters (nearly all of which broke records when they first opened), it's a thrill-seeker's paradise. The park – dating all the way back to 1870 – also has a linked water park, themed shows and performances, and plenty for kids to do, too. In the autumn, the park re-opens on weekends as a haunted amusement park, with haunted houses and “scare zones” scattered throughout the park after dark.
Maybe you didn't realize it, but Ohio is just about completely bordered to the north by Lake Erie. And Lake Erie actually has a lot of islands (more than 30, in fact). Chilled-out islands like Kelleys Island, and resort islands like South Bass Island, where Put-in-Bay is located. Visit a place like Put-in-Bay, and you will feel like you are in New England, or maybe California – it seems worlds away from Ohio. Tons of Ohio families retreat to the lakeshore and the islands each summer to relax and get away; they just might be the best-kept secret in my state.
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Graduate student by day and avid traveler and blogger by night (and on weekends and during holidays), Amanda is just a small-town Ohio girl trying to balance a "normal" life with a desire to discover the world beyond her Midwest bubble. Amanda's adventurous nature and inability to say "no" have led her to some pretty amazing adventures all around the world. But she has no desire to stop exploring anytime soon. Read Amanda's blog, A Dangerous Business, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.
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