The Buckeye State's new tourism slogan was unveiled recently -- Find It Here. While it came with a clunky logo that looks like it was designed by your niece on MS Paint, the slogan and gist of the campaign itself is very good. There are plenty of weekends coming up this summer when you'll probably be a little bored. Another night of Netflix? The same crew at the same bar? Yeah, there's a ton to discover around Cleveland, but damn if it doesn't feel good to get out of town every once in awhile. You don't have to go very far to accomplish that feat and you don't need to tap into the savings account or beg your boss from some extra vaca time. Ohio's an eclectic state, and whether you're in the mood for some urban relaxation or some time under the stars, it's got you covered. And if you're not doing it already, you're missing out. About 80 percent of the state's 200 million tourism visits in 2014 came from in-state travelers. It's a good way to get a bang for your buck while making it back in time for work on Monday.
We'll implore until we can no longer implore any longer. Get thee down to Hocking Hills, Ohio's gorgeous state park, for a day (at least) of hiking. It's a slice of outdoors that combines caves, waterfalls, trails, camping a more. Seriously, just do a Google image search for Hocking Hills and we're betting you'll be in your car by the time you look at a handful of pics. There are cabins aplenty to rent if you want to stretch it into a weekend trip. Note: make sure to check out the trails around Conkle's Hollow. Inredible.
You may brush the islands off as a trip mainly for families or bachelor/bachelorette parties, and don't get us wrong, those are two great reasons to get up there, but for the rest of us, the islands tend to be a forgotten treasure. Roll around in a golf cart, do a bar crawl, relax in the pool, get in some fishing, work on that tan -- it's really a one-stop weekend shop on the North Coast that doesn't mean a trip to the airport. Ferry service has been restored between downtown Sandusky and the islands, which makes it all the easier to get over to Cedar Point if you really want to pack in the action. Put-in-Bay can be rowdy, gentle, and everything in between.
Geneva on the Lake
Wine country might technically be clear on the other side of the country, but don't sleep on the vintages coming out of Geneva. Just a short trip down I-90, the quaint village is enjoying a renaissance of sorts, bringing with it new spots to dine and drink along with your favorite wine haunts. Try Geneva's Red Eagle Distillery (6202 South River Rd., 440-466-6604, redeaglespirits.com), housed in a shiny red aluminum-clad century barn. Downstairs is where the hardware is — a towering copper potstill that turns out bourbon, rye and brandy. Or M Cellars (6193 South River Rd., 440-361-4104, mcellars.com), a winery that isn't much like its brethren in the region. For one thing, the small but stylish tasting room shuns tour buses, party vans and any other vehicle crammed full of day-trippers drunk on sweet wine, which the winery also snubs. Instead, owner and winemaker Matt Meineke quietly focuses on growing and crafting the sorts of high-end, European-style wines that would appeal to true oenophiles. In the mood for a nice meal without the tipsy crowds? Thanks to Crosswinds Grille, located at the Lakehouse Inn and Winery (5653 Lake Rd. E., 440-466-8668, crosswindsgrille.com) in Geneva-on-the-Lake, that's now possible.
A Lake Erie Fish Tale
So Cedar Point isn't the only reason to head west, young man. Head to Jolly Roger Seafood House in Port Clinton, for example, for the freshest catches from our Great Lake. The locals swear by it, and you will too. Or head over to the New Sandusky Fish Company, which proves the old adage that the more a seafood restaurant looks like a fish retailer, the better the seafood will be. And whether you're on the way out for a daylong adventure on the backroads or on you're way back, stop by Lemmy's in Huron, which won't win any décor awards, but will serve you a dynamite breakfast or lunch. You won't see many tourists here, which is sort of the point on a roadtrip like this.
You Will Do Better in Toledo
That's what some people like to say about our neighbor to the west, and you'd be hard pressed to disagree as a visitor. The Cleveland Museum of Art is glorious but don't make that a reason not to enjoy the Toledo Museum of Art, which is stocked with a renowned collection of glass art, as well as American and European works. Schedule your trip for a weekend when the Toledo Mud Hens are playing so you can parlay the drive into a chance to check out one of minor league baseball's best stadiums.
Yeah, Cedar Point and all that. But just because Cedar Point is closer (and better) doesn't mean all your roller coaster needs can be met in Sandusky. Which is why you should pack up the swimsuits and head down to Cincinnati as the temps tip near the triple digits. Kings Island's Soak City waterpark made some big expansions in the offseason, adding the Tropical Plunge, which is as gnarly as it sounds -- a seven-story water slide emporium.