Looking for an affordable and memorable road trips? According to Cindy Russeau, retail office manager for AAA Club Alliance in Toledo, now is the time: “A strong economy is helping to fuel a busy travel season and a lot of day trips. Plus, it helps to have so many treasures within a 50-mile radius.”
Spirited times in Tecumseh
Tecumseh, just 45 minutes from Toledo, boasts specialty shopping, several excellent restaurants, including the award winning Evans Street Station (517-424-5555, evansstreetstation.com).
Want to fill your glass with local wines and ciders? J. Trees Cellars (877-304-3254, treeswines.com) presents their hard ciders and sparkling wines in a historic mill along the River Raisin and a picturesque lake with a walking trail perfect for working off the tasting-room menu.
In downtown, Pentamere Winery (517-423-9000, pentamerewinery.com) is a tasting room housed in a century-old building that boasts an impressive roster of whites, reds and blushes.
Heading out of town, find Cherry Creek Winery (517-592-4663, cherrycreekwine.com), fourth-generation family business with award-winning wines and ciders, a chic seasonal café, and music throughout the year.
Rev your engines
Stahl’s Auto Museum (586-749-1078, stahlsauto.com) is a charming, wheelchair-friendly and free museum only a 90 minute drive from Toledo in Chesterfield, Michigan. In addition to car exhibits, Stahl’s also has mechanical music machines, including a 1924 Wurlitzer pipe organ, a contraption that plays four violins at once, and a French mega-music invention that sounds like a whole brass band. Plan in advance, hours are limited: 1-4pm on Tuesdays, and 11am-4pm every first Saturday.
In-depth at Ohio’s North Shore
It takes a weekend to visit the several islands (Put-in-Bay, Kelleys, Middle Bass) and the attractions of Port Clinton and Marblehead, all with distinct personality. Seek out classic and familiar food (Joe’s Bar, Put-in-Bay; Jolly Roger and Orchard Bar & Table in Port Clinton, Canoe Club in Marblehead). Bring home smoked cheddar from Cheese Haven, learn the sad history of the old Confederate prison on Johnson’s Island, try local wines, enjoy perch, and savor both sunrises and sunsets over the lake. There’s a full weekend waiting for you, so consider booking room at one of the area’s bed-and-breakfasts.
Looking East Be merry
Not a fan of coaster mania at Cedar Point? Revisit a time when its pace was more sedate about an hour away at Sandusky’s Merry-Go-Round Museum (419-626-6111, merrygoroundmuseum.org). This former postal building (currently on the National Register of Historic Places) makes for a fitting home to the menagerie of carousel animals sure to stir up memories. A working carousel spins at the center of the building, and its horses and other creatures a testament to the work of carvers and restorers. On September 8, the museum’s annual Wood Carvers Show introduces some of these gifted craftspeople. When you visit, watch for the museum’s reputed ghost who might whisper to you and pull on your shirt!
Experience our ancestors
Since 1976, Sauder Village, an hour away in Archbold, Ohio, has provided visitors with rich history lessons through stories, demonstrations, special programs and hands-on activities. Explore the grounds, spanning 235 acres, which include historic homes, barns and gardens for an immersive look into the way people lived in the past. New attractions this fall feature a barbershop, Elmira train depot, community plaza and bandstand, caboose, and livery. Despite the historical approach, Sauder Village never gets old by hosting events throughout the year. A few upcoming favorites include the Celebrate Our Artisans week (September 11-16), a Vintage Base Ball Tournament (September 29), and the Fiber Arts Fest (September 29-30). For the full schedule, call 1-800-590-9755 or visit saudervillage.org.
Presidential and picturesque
Smack in the middle of Fremont’s historic homes district, about 50 minutes outside Toledo, sits Spiegel Grove, part of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums (419-332-2081, rbhayes.org). Explore the 31-room Hayes mansion, restored to its 1880s Victorian splendor with many original furnishings, where Rutherford and Lucy Hayes lived both before and after their stint as America’s First Couple. In addition to the museum and library’s changing exhibits, find 25 acres of parkland which includes a tree-sheltered walking path and the burial site of our 19th president, his wife and other family members.
Nature hikes along Lake Erie
Just over an hour east on Lake Erie is Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve (wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/oldwomancreek), a treasure near Huron, Ohio. A protected wetland habitat and research area, Old Woman has two miles of pedestrian-only trails which wind through an oak-hickory forest and end at an observation deck overlooking the estuary. The views are stunning and the birding is great. Stretch out the day at the visitor center with its interactive displays. National Estuaries Day, Sept. 22, includes special events, including canoeing, guided hikes and birding.
Land, sea and air treasures
Fittingly positioned next door to the Erie-Ottawa International Airport in Port Clinton, Ohio, the Liberty Aviation Museum (419-732-0234, libertyaviationmuseum.org) is just 50 minutes away. Among displays of historic airplanes covering the history of flight, discover offbeat treasures such as Clark Gable’s flight jacket, costumes from TV shows like Hogan’s Heroes and M*A*S*H, and one of the Maltese Falcons from the Bogart movie of the same name. A WWII Vosper PT boat is nearing full restoration. There’s a tank, a spiffy Bonnie & Clyde sedan and a restored B-25 WWII bomber. Visit the Tin Goose Diner, fully restored to its original 1949 glory, for great food (try the homemade tomato soup and the pies) and a superb view of the airport landing strip.