There are those states that you know are going to be something special, the Montanas and Californias of this world and there are those that fly under the radar. Ohio, to our untrained British minds, is one of those states. But Ohio is flying under the radar no more.
We skirted the edge of Lake Eerie after leaving Detroit, headed for Cleveland. Someone once said to us that in America you’ve got San Francisco and New Orleans…everywhere else is Cleveland. So we didn’t hold out much hope but we’d really only picked out the city to go to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. That said, Cleveland seemed nice enough, on the shores of the lake just like Detroit, it’s hardly pretty but when the sun’s shining it isn’t ugly either. And the Hall of Fame is well worth a stop if you’re anywhere nearby, all kinds of memorabilia from Michael Jackson’s sparkly glove to David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust outfit and a million stories about the history of music besides.
Once we left the urban sprawl in the north of the state (Toledo, Ohio’s fourth biggest city isn’t far from Cleveland) Ohio really came into its own. We had planned to stop by the Cuyahoga Valley National Park for a walk and a peek at the Cuyahoga Falls, but the Government shutdown put paid to that idea (thanks a lot GOP). But as we journied off Interstate 77 and into the countryside we started to get a feeling for what rural Ohio was like. Our stop for the evening was in America’s largest Amish area, about halfway between Columbus and Cleveland. We chose a treehouse in Berlin – we’d just spent New Year in the German Berlin so we thought there was a nice symmetry to it.
Driving through the rolling hills we thought we were in for a treat but this tiny hamlet in, frankly, the middle of nowhere was really one of the highlights of the whole trip. We arrived at Amish Country Lodging down an un-paved road and between some beautiful pine trees and having checked in we made our way to our treehouse for the night. We stayed in the Whispering Pines treehouse but any of them would be wonderful, inside they are plush and oh-so-comfortable (who knew you could stay in a treehouse with a hot tub?!). An added extra bonus for us was that the resident Amish cat had decided to make itself at home in our lodgings – and she was very welcome!
We made our way in to the centre of Berlin, about a three minute drive from the treehouses (it’s not great for walking). Our dinner that evening was at Boyd and Wurthmann which served up buckets of homely chicken fried steak and fresh grape pie, served up with the customary country charm. The next morning we made tracks west out of Berlin to Hershberger Farm and Bakery, another Amish-run business selling all manner of jams, chutneys, cakes and sweets. As well as stocking up on food you can pet some goats and pot-bellied pigs.
Our journey was to continue south towards Kentucky but on the way we wanted to stop at the USAF Museum in Dayton which unfortunately was another casualty of the shutdown, but we satisfied ourselves with the World’s Largest Basket at the Longaberger Basket Company instead.
Ohio was as surprising a state as we’ve been to for a long time. It doesn’t have the natural wonders or famous cities of some other states, but its still got a lot going for it. The countryside is as lush and beautiful as the people were friendly and welcoming. If we weren’t on a quest to visit all 50 states we might have given Ohio a miss but we’re glad we didn’t.
Rate the State
Good for: Beautiful countryside, roadside attractions, Amish jam
Bad for: You won’t find many natural wonders here, and people scared of beards should steer clear