Having spent my life in the sprawling flatlands of northwest Ohio, I can’t help but yearn for something a little more interesting. Don’t get me wrong — there’ll always be a place in my heart for the rural-suburban blend of the 419; it can be quite a sight to behold. During these warmer summer months, however, I feel the need for a refresher.
Luckily, there’s some nifty spots to go that aren’t too far away. So, for those seeking a midsummer getaway without venturing out of state, here’s four suggestions to help you plan ahead, based off my own experiences.
1. Toledo — 22 minutes from BGSU
If you’ve been around Bowling Green long enough, then there’s a good chance you’ve seen at least a glimpse of Toledo. While it’s the home of “that school up north,” there’s tons of things to see and do that warrant a drive up. Just the view alone is amazing; downtown is seated right along the Maumee River, offering a stunning cityscape and waterworks to go along.
Some of my favorite things to do in Toledo include:
Catching a Mud Hens game at Fifth and Third Field.
Taking in the historical Toledo Museum of Art.
Experiencing different circles of life at The Toledo Zoo (a childhood favorite).
Strolling along the riverbed at Promenade Park.
In addition, Toledo is a foodie’s paradise, offering a multitude of restaurants and cafes to enjoy. If you’re 21 and older, there’s a strong presence of bars to choose from; in fact, Toledo was once ranked the 5th highest bar-per-capita city in the U.S. by Trulia.
The city’s constantly buzzing with things to do, so you won’t come back empty handed.
2. Put-in-Bay, South Bass Island — 58 minutes to ferry launch from BGSU
Put-in-Bay was the destination of my first family vacation when I was four years old; the fact I’m still recalling memories of the trip is a testament to the enjoyment I had.
To get to the island, you’ll need to hitch a ferry ride over, but it’s an awesome experience. You’ll get an amazing view of Lake Erie, which only continues once you reach shore. There are several things you can do, including:
Tours of the island via boat, golf cart and more.
Visiting attractions, like Perry’s International Peace Memorial, Perry’s Cave, the Chocolate Museum and others.
Camping, fishing, water recreation and other activities.
New events and activities are constantly happening on the island, so there’s no shortage of things to do.
3. Cedar Point, Sandusky — 1 hour, 15 minutes from BGSU
Cedar Point’s a bucket list item for anyone who’s living in or even visiting the 419. It’s certainly not a hidden gem, but a gem regardless.
This is a go-to for my friends and I whenever we need something to do, simply because there’s so much going on. The highlight of the park is the multitude of roller coasters surrounding it, including classics like the Millennium Force, the Top-Thrill Dragster, the Maverick and new additions like Valravn, Steel Vengeance, Rougarou and more.
Even if coasters aren’t your thing, there are other rides and attractions to check out, as well as other options for those looking to dine and unwind. However, I highly recommend the coasters, even if it means breaking fears. Start on the smaller ones and go from there; it’s entirely worth it.
While you’re there, plan a visit to Cedar Point Shores, a massive waterpark sitting adjacent to the coasters.
4. Hocking Hills, Logan — 2 hours, 58 minutes from BGSU
Although this destination is a bit of a further drive, Hocking Hills is one of the most picturesque spots in Ohio.
The park features caves, waterfalls, gorges, cliffs and other geographical features not common to the Buckeye State. On top of that, there's hiking, camping, fishing, canoeing, rafting, go karting, ziplining and more, allowing you to further explore the park’s anomalies. It’s the perfect trip for anyone looking to enjoy the outdoors.
Hocking Hills is another vacation spot for my family that I have vivid memories of. One of my favorite parts of our trip was renting a cabin and staying for a weekend; it was refreshing to wake up in such a beautiful place. It gave me a new perspective of Ohio apart from the countryside I’d become so accustomed to.