Sunrise Sanctuary: Hit it off with a hog at this refuge for neglected farm animals in Marysville

Hit it off with a hog at this refuge for neglected farm animals in Marysville

We often get so caught up in our daily lives here in the city that we forget we’re in the middle of a quite rural state.

If you’d like to get out of suburbia and see what it’s like to connect with domestic animals – and feel good about helping them in the process – we recommend a visit to Sunrise Sanctuary in Marysville.

As its name suggests, this is a sanctuary for domestic and farm animals that have been rescued from less-than-ideal living conditions. The variety of animals, and their placid natures, surprised and pleased our whole family.

Sunrise Sanctuary: Hit it off with a hog at this refuge for neglected farm animals in MarysvilleSunrise Sanctuary, 35 miles northwest of Columbus, is a permanent refuge for more than 170 formerly abused, neglected, disabled, and unwanted farm and companion animals. The menagerie includes rats, bunnies, cats, dogs, pigs, goats, sheep, llamas, cows, horses, donkeys, chickens, ducks, peacocks and turkeys.

We spent a few hours recently walking around in the grass and mud, sitting in hay and meeting farm animals, like Woody and Baby, a one-horned goat and a sunbeam-loving pig.

Mike and Max were happy to pet a turkey and play with several cats that roamed the rustic scene.

The non-profit charity was founded in 2001 by Mindy Mallett as a place where animals can be loved and treated with dignity. Animals roam free, eat regular meals, slop through mud puddles and get lots of affection.

Sunrise Sanctuary: Hit it off with a hog at this refuge for neglected farm animals in MarysvilleIt’s also a place where the public can connect with animals on their terms without asking for anything in return. No rides. No milk. No eggs. No meat. No leather. But you can take your photo with them.

The farm is run by volunteers, and it relies heavily on monetary donations. One way to contribute is by visiting during Open Barn Days, when the public is invited to visit for a small fee that goes toward the care of the animals.

Self-guided tours are held from 1-3 p.m. on select Saturdays, and go on rain or shine. Attendees must sign up in advance via its website, and attendance is kept to a minimum to prevent overcrowding.

Learn more about Sunrise Sanctuary.

Sunrise Sanctuary: Hit it off with a hog at this refuge for neglected farm animals in Marysville

Sunrise Sanctuary: Hit it off with a hog at this refuge for neglected farm animals in Marysville

Sunrise Sanctuary: Hit it off with a hog at this refuge for neglected farm animals in Marysville

Sunrise Sanctuary: Hit it off with a hog at this refuge for neglected farm animals in Marysville

Sunrise Sanctuary: Hit it off with a hog at this refuge for neglected farm animals in Marysville

Sunrise Sanctuary: Hit it off with a hog at this refuge for neglected farm animals in Marysville

Sunrise Sanctuary: Hit it off with a hog at this refuge for neglected farm animals in Marysville

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Set a course for adventure in southeastern Ohio

The Hocking Hills area in southeastern Ohio offers more than a picturesque walk through the woods. It affords unique opportunities to explore every angle of these stunning surroundings while providing some welcome surprises.

During a trip to the Hocking Hills and the nearby regions, you can hear a beaver slapping its tail on the water as you kayak on a lake under a rising moon. You can spy the majesty of the Appalachians as you glide through a canopy of trees on a zip line. You can even observe the rings of Saturn – 746 million miles up – at an astronomy park where professional and amateur astronomers converge.

We experienced a handful of rewarding outdoor pursuits during a summer weekend adventure in the Hocking Hills, about an hour’s drive from Columbus. Here’s a sampling of what you can do, too.

• Kayak Under the Moon

On a warm evening I eased into a kayak at the nearly 3,000-acre Lake Hope in McArthur. Lake Hope State Park lies within the Zaleski State Forest, about 20 miles southeast of Hocking Hills.

Hocking Hills: Set a course for adventure in southeastern OhioI teamed up with Mimi Morrison, owner of Touch the Earth Adventures. She inspired me to unwind and tune into the environment. As we glided across the lake, Morrison indicated the lack of mosquitos thanks to the overhead yellow warblers. I quieted and listened to their sweet whistling as the full moon rose over the horizon.

Ramp up the experience by visiting the nature center at Lake Hope State Park to hand-feed hummingbirds during the summer months.

Hocking Hills: Set a course for adventure in southeastern OhioAt specified times park rangers remove the hung feeders and hand out plastic planter plugs full of sugar water. Each has a red pipe cleaner attached to attract the little birds, as well as a hole for them to poke their pointy beaks into the liquid.

I felt a thrill as bird after bird visited my feeder. As they hovered over my hand, I admired their delicate features and their vibrant blue and green feathers.

• Zip Through the Trees

Hocking Hills: Set a course for adventure in southeastern Ohio

You can get in touch (literally) with the trees at Hocking Hills Canopy Tours in Rockbridge, which offers several zip-lining adventures. Max and I hopped on the Canopy Tour. For about three hours we zipped between trees and covered several sky bridges.

Hocking Hills: Set a course for adventure in southeastern OhioThe company offers various other tours, including some shorter ones, as well as Segway adventures and hikes. What impressed me was the attention to detail at the departure destination. The touring company made sure to give us a training session before we embarked. They follow Association for Challenge Course Technology standards, so we always felt safe while we got our thrills.

Along the way, our guides pointed out interesting trees, such as the American sycamore, with bark that resembles military camouflage, and the indigenous pawpaw tree, which produces a papaya-like fruit. Our guides also took our pictures as we zipped through the course, making it unnecessary to carry mobile phones or cameras.

Ramp up the experience by spending the night in a treehouse at Among the Trees Lodging, only about a mile or so away from the zip lining adventure. We stayed in the Buckeye Barn Treehouse, meticulously constructed from reclaimed barn wood.

Hocking Hills: Set a course for adventure in southeastern OhioThe cozy confines sleeps four and contains everything for a comfortable stay, including a hot tub. You enter the treehouse via a swaying ramp that’s illuminated at night. The height provides a unique perspective of the woods. Mike liked hanging out beneath the treehouse, studying its impressive construction.

• Gaze at the Rings of Saturn

Hocking Hills: Set a course for adventure in southeastern Ohio

We visited John Glenn Astronomy Park in Logan, a short drive from Hocking Hills State Park, joining dozens of others gathering on a warm Friday evening. The crowd included expert and amateur astronomers and many inquisitive visitors like us.

The park, operated by a non-profit organization called Friends of the Hocking Hills State Park, is open Friday and Saturday nights at sunset from the beginning of March through early November. It doesn’t cost anything to visit.

We were invited to study the stars through several telescopes set up on a rectangular, paved surface. We caught a glimpse of the rings of Saturn, the moons of Jupiter and the craters of our moon. As the night quickened, the views improved. The site’s main tool is a huge, 28-inch telescope in the rolling-roofed observatory. During our visit it was trained on the Crab Nebula.

Hocking Hills: Set a course for adventure in southeastern OhioRamp up the experience with dinner at Kindred Spirits, the new restaurant at the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls in Logan. Dining here is not roughing it. The food and surroundings are top-notch. Step up to the rooftop bar for a breath of fresh air, filtered through pretty flowers.

Learn more about the Hocking Hills area.

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Brown Pet Cemetery: Final resting place for animal pals is a doggone gem

Final resting place for animal pals is a doggone gem

Brown Pet Cemetery: Final resting place for animal pals is a doggone gem

“Faithful and loyal, patient and loving. Trust in soft eyes, forever adoring.” Those are the words etched on a tombstone at the Brown Pet Cemetery in Columbus, describing a passed-on pooch named Freckles, who lived a lifetime ago.

His grave is one of hundreds of final resting places for dogs, cats and other critters at the cemetery, founded in the 1920s by a local veterinarian named Walter Brown, and maintained by volunteers.

Brown Pet Cemetery: Final resting place for animal pals is a doggone gem

It’s located on Sawyer Road, across from the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant and adjacent to John Glenn Columbus International Airport. The thunder of arriving planes is an intermittent reminder of the present as you become lost in the emotional epitaphs of the past.

“His bark resounds through hallo of light brushing the hem of the angel gown,” Freckles’ epitaph continues.

The cemetery is a special place, a forever resting home to a menagerie of departed animals whose masters have probably crossed the rainbow bridge themselves. Their names are a lesson in pop culture. There’s a grave for Tin-Tin who lived in the 1920s, the same time a German Shepherd named Rin-Tin-Tin graced the silver screen. There’s a dog named Rags who lived during the Great Depression. We also spied a grave for Teevee, a canine of the 1950s. 

Brown Pet Cemetery: Final resting place for animal pals is a doggone gem

The cemetery spans several acres and backs up to a ravine that overlooks Big Walnut Creek. We wandered for a while among the aging, chipped gravestones, marveling at the joy that all these dear departed friends must have given their masters for nearly a century.

Learn more about Brown Pet Cemetery.


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Hartman Rock Garden: Springfield back yard radiates with Depression-era folk art

Springfield back yard radiates with Depression-era folk art

Hartman Rock Garden: Springfield back yard radiates with Depression-era folk art

A monarch flutters through a window in a castle made of stones. It hovers over a village of miniature stone cabins and past three seated Indian chiefs made of clay while on its way to a patch of coneflowers.

The more I follow the butterfly, the more I see at the Hartman Rock Garden, a restored folk-art sensation that’s located in an otherwise typical back yard in Springfield, Ohio.

The stone sculptures, about 50 in all, are worth driving an hour west of Columbus to see. We did just that one summer afternoon, pairing our adventure with a couple of beers at Mother Stewart’s Brewing in Springfield, and a couple of ice cream cones at Young’s Jersey Dairy on the drive back to Columbus.

Hartman Rock Garden: Springfield back yard radiates with Depression-era folk art

The story of the Hartman Rock Garden begins in 1932, when a 48-year-old man named Ben Hartman got laid off from his job as a mold-maker during the Great Depression. Bored, the self-taught artist started shaping cement and hundreds of thousands of rocks into recognizable structures, like houses, churches and castles.

Some structures resemble famous landmarks, like the White House and Mount Vernon. Others are just pleasantly odd, such as a patriotic cactus with an eagle on top.

Ben worked on his rock garden for a dozen years before he passed away in 1944. His wife, Mary, looked after the garden for 53 years after his death, and even gave tours.

But when she died in 1997, the garden went into despair. Weeds grew. Wind, rain and snow eroded delicate features.

In 2008, the Wisconsin-based Kohler Foundation restored the garden and gifted it to a nonprofit organization called Friends of Hartman Rock Garden. The gesture was part of the plumbing product manufacturer’s longstanding commitment to folk architecture and art environments.

One walk along the garden’s path tells you the restoration was well worth it.

The Hartman Rock Garden is located at 1905 Russell Ave., Springfield, Ohio. It’s open daily, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.


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Maumee Bay Lodge: Find a coastal getaway in Northwest Ohio

Find a coastal getaway in Northwest Ohio

Maumee Bay Lodge: Find a coastal getaway in Northwest Ohio

We love to spend time at Ohio’s nine state park lodges. After all, they’re part of our great state’s rich travel inventory, and they’re there for the taking.

Our latest visit was to the lodge at Maumee Bay State Park, 1,300 wonderful acres set right on Lake Erie, about 10 miles east of Toledo. Like many of the other state park lodges, Maumee Bay Lodge lets you know unmistakably that you’re on the water.

When you step inside Maumee Bay, you get the feel of a coastal getaway, from the huge picture windows looking out on the lake, to the blue-and-green seafaring motif. At the surrounding state park, you’re likely to see bald eagles, great blue herons, sandhill cranes and swans.

Maumee Bay Lodge: Find a coastal getaway in Northwest Ohio
Red-winged blackbird along boardwalk

Maumee Bay and the surrounding wetlands are part of Maumee Bay State Park, a protected area. Wetlands offer ideal bird watching opportunities.

In our opinion, one of the park’s best assets is a 2-mile boardwalk that winds through a marsh wildlife refuge near the lodge. During several exploratory walks we encountered beavers, muskrats, a family of ducks, frogs, songbirds and geese. Even though it’s just off the Trautman Nature Center, the thick woods and lush wetlands give you a real feeling of seclusion and peace. Birding is a popular attraction.

Maumee Bay Lodge: Find a coastal getaway in Northwest Ohio
Multipurpose trail near the public beach

The park sits just off the Lake Erie shore, and there are bicycle trails that lead around an inland lake and along the lake and a small marina. Rent a bicycle at the lodge for a few dollars. Better yet, bring your own.

Another star of the park is the Maumee Bay Golf Course, which covers 1,850 acres of protected wetlands and follows Ohio’s beautiful north coast. Our experience has shown that most state park lodge golf courses are fairly average. That’s not the case at Maumee Bay, because of the involvement of Toledo native Arthur Hills.

Hills is one of the top golf course architects in the country. He laid out the Maumee Bay course in 1991 in the style of a Scottish links course. While it may not be a true links course, it’s designed in that style, and frankly, anything that Hills work on – think the Longaberger course near Newark – is top notch.

Not that the other state park lodge courses are haphazardly thrown together – legendary architect Jack Kidwell designed most of them in the late ’60s and early ’70s. But Maumee Bay’s course has received national acclaim and is recognized by some as a top-five Ohio public course.

Maumee Bay Lodge: Find a coastal getaway in Northwest Ohio
Billiards with dad

The park has a 120-room lodge and two dozen cabins that can sleep up to 12. The rooms and some of the common spaces could use some updating, but we found the lodge to be really enjoyable. There’s an indoor pool, a game room, a children’s play area, racquetball and wallyball courts, and several board games to play.

A snack bar made some great fries and dogs, and the recently updated bar was really fun. But the better dining experience is a full-service restaurant called Water’s Edge, which has offered an improved, more-upscale menu since U.S. Hotel and Resort Management took over management of most of the state park lodges in 2018.

Maumee Bay Lodge: Find a coastal getaway in Northwest Ohio
Paddle boats on inland lake

Outside, there’s a lot to do. First, there’s the beach, as the park does lie along Lake Erie. We would recommend checking with park personnel if you want to swim in the lake. The 57-acre in-shore lake has its own beach and is fine for swimming, canoeing, paddle-boating and other non-motorized boating. (The lodge also offers an outdoor swimming pool.)

Being a state park, there also are opportunities to fish, plenty of hiking trails and sports courts on premises, as well as an amphitheater. The nature center has a research laboratory and offers interactive displays, an auditorium and places to view wildlife outside.


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Explore 30 acres of fun at world’s largest museum for kids

Featuring more than 3,200 pieces of blown glass, Fireworks of Glass by Dale Chihuly can be viewed from all sides.

The magnitude of the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is epitomized in a 43-foot sculpture by noted glass artist Dale Chihuly. It’s his largest permanent installation of blown glass, so magnificent that visitors are encouraged to view it from all angles, even through it, from below, like a kaleidoscope.

Founded in 1925, the downtown attraction pitches itself as the world’s largest museum for kids, with 481,000 square feet of space containing a dozen major galleries that range from dinosaurs to outer space. We didn’t measure it, but we can tell you the place is immense, and it’s certainly worth planning a visit to Indianapolis. It would be easy to spend all day and more here and still feel like you’ve missed something, as we did when we visited with Rosie and Max. We have to say it was the best children’s museum we’ve ever seen.

As you enter you can’t miss the huge model dinosaurs that greet your arrival. They foreshadow one of the museum’s signature exhibits – Dinosphere – where you’ll meet Bucky, said to be the sixth-most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found, and Dracorex Hogwartsia, a recently discovered species that has a spiky skull and was named after the dragon in the Harry Potter series.

Here’s a sampling of what you can do at some of the museum’s inside exhibits:

Learn to sketch a Dracorex at one of the many interactive exhibits.

• See full-sized dinosaur skeletons, touch a T-rex, dig for bones and view one of the largest juvenile dinosaur fossil collections in the world at Dinosphere. In addition to Bucky and Dracorex, you’ll meet Leonardo, a mummified dinosaur found in Montana in 2002.

• Be moved by The Power of Children exhibit, a tribute to three young folks who’ve touched our hearts. Step into the bedroom of Ryan White, the brave young boy who died in 1990 after contracting AIDS through a blood transfusion. Pay tribute to Anne Frank, who told stories of the Holocaust through her diary, and Ruby Bridges, a first-grader who became one of the first black students to integrate into the white school system in New Orleans.

• Experience what it means to be an astronaut in Beyond Spaceship Earth. It’s an immersive exhibit that relates the story of NASA’s Project Mercury program, which propelled the first Americans into space.

• Take a ride for a dollar on the Broad Ripple Carousel, a 1917-vintage ride that was reclaimed from an old Indianapolis amusement park. The ride contains 42 original animals and a 1919 Wurlitzer band organ. Also on the museum’s fifth floor are games, puzzles, a tree house and a maze of mirrors.

One of the attractions that separates the Indy museum from other children’s museums we’ve visited is the indoor/outdoor attraction known as Sports Legends Experience. It’s a ginormous play space for children and adults that combines physical fitness with an appreciation of sports history. In the 15 exhibits you can participate in many popular sports.

Here’s a sampling of what you can do outside through early November:

Swing for the fences at Wiese Field within the Sports Legends Experience.

• Climb the 25-foot Tree of Sports sculpture (or take the elevator), and chat with someone on the ground using talk tubes. See a panoramic view of the sports fields, then zoom down one of three slides to get back to ground level.

• Swing for the fences at Wiese Field, a miniature ballpark with modified equipment the museum provides. Anybody can go up to bat. Just enter the dugout and get ready to hit one deep. You can run the bases, throw to a pitching tutor and pose for a photo after you’re done.

• Pedal around a miniature race track, and speed along a short drag road at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Pedal Car Racetrack Experience and Church Brothers Collision Repair Drag Strip, which pays homage to Indiana’s strong history of auto racing.

• Throw a football around at the Indianapolis Colts Gridiron Experience. We thought it was really fun for two more reasons: You can try to split the uprights at a field goal kicking game – there are distances for both the young ones and adults. And you can try to hit a receiver in stride around permanent cutouts; or try “laying out” for a pass as you dive into a cushioned pile.

• Sample other live-action sports, including soccer, tennis, golf, hockey and track-and-field.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is open daily. See the museum’s admissions page for more information, as the hours and admission pricing are variable.

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Columbus Rotary Obstacle Course: Test your athleticism at Scioto Audubon’s free, outdoor fitness challenge

Test your athleticism at Scioto Audubon’s free, outdoor fitness challenge

Columbus Rotary Obstacle Course: Test your athleticism at Scioto Audubon’s free, outdoor fitness challenge

As Mike and Rosie got ready for their annual “daddy-daughter dance,” Max and I bundled up in our winter coats and boots. It was time for our first “mommy-son fitness challenge.” Sure, it doesn’t roll off the tongue as easy as a daddy-daughter dance, but it was my excuse to get us outdoors to spend some quality time together.

Our destination was the Rotary Obstacle Course at the Scioto Audubon Metro Park, a 120-acre urban playground along the banks of the Scioto River that offers a panoramic view of the nearby Columbus skyline.

The obstacle course, which opened in 2013, is free to the public and features a quarter-mile running track and nine challenges including a tire run, tunnel crawl, cargo climb, balance beams, belly crawl, monkey bars, over-and-under log obstacle, 8-foot wall and log run.

Ready. Set. Go!

1. Tire Run & Flip

Columbus Rotary Obstacle Course: Test your athleticism at Scioto Audubon’s free, outdoor fitness challenge

Max and I raced through the first challenge, a tire run and flip. We skipped the flip part, which involved lifting and flipping an oversized tire end over end, and went straight for the flip, high-stepping it through rows of car tires laid out in pairs. I gleefully bested Max in this fun, but tiring, test. Wendy: 1; Max: 0

2. Tunnel Crawl

Columbus Rotary Obstacle Course: Test your athleticism at Scioto Audubon’s free, outdoor fitness challenge

Next came a tunnel crawl, which reminded me of exploring water pipes as a kid. A layer of ice inside the tunnels made this challenge extra demanding. Max’s small frame and agility gave him an edge, allowing him to snake to the finish with ease. Wendy: 1; Max: 1

3. Cargo Climb

Columbus Rotary Obstacle Course: Test your athleticism at Scioto Audubon’s free, outdoor fitness challenge

Channeling his inner Spiderman, Max zipped to the top of the cargo climb challenge. But maneuvering over the top proved difficult, as a fear of heights and an uncertainty to go feet first down the backside overcame him. I gave up the fight momentarily as Max mustered through his apprehensions, making him the real winner on the ropes. Wendy: 1; Max: 2

4. Balance Beam

Columbus Rotary Obstacle Course: Test your athleticism at Scioto Audubon’s free, outdoor fitness challenge

The balance beam proved harder than it looked. Max and I encouraged each other to stay the course. We learned that if we briskly walked across the beam and kept our eyes focused on the end of the log, versus staring at our feet, we’d succeed with ease. Tie! Wendy: 2; Max: 3

5. Belly Crawl

Columbus Rotary Obstacle Course: Test your athleticism at Scioto Audubon’s free, outdoor fitness challenge

Max effortlessly crawled on his elbows and knees under a web of connected ropes. I dug my hands into the sand and tried to pull my body through the challenge but didn’t budge. Pulling my own body weight from such a position wasn’t happening. Max won this one, belly down. Wendy: 2; Max: 4

6. Monkey Bars

Columbus Rotary Obstacle Course: Test your athleticism at Scioto Audubon’s free, outdoor fitness challenge

Neither one of us was ever particularly good at swinging arm by arm across a series of bars, especially when the bars are ice-cold. We gave this challenge an honest effort, but finally decided it drove us bananas and gave up. No winner!

7. Over/Under

Columbus Rotary Obstacle Course: Test your athleticism at Scioto Audubon’s free, outdoor fitness challenge

This challenge involved maneuvering under and over a series of elevated logs. Easy enough. But Max’s dexterity got him through in no time, leaving me gasping in the wood chips. Wendy: 2; Max: 5

8. Wall Climb

Columbus Rotary Obstacle Course: Test your athleticism at Scioto Audubon’s free, outdoor fitness challenge

The wall climb didn’t make sense at first glance. There are two options to scale – a high wall and a low wall. We both went for the low option, pulling our bodies over the side, as if pulling our bodies out of a pool. This seemed easy, but I’ll give Max the edge on this one, since the small wall probably still seemed tall to him. Wendy: 2; Max: 5

9. Log Run

Columbus Rotary Obstacle Course: Test your athleticism at Scioto Audubon’s free, outdoor fitness challenge

This challenge involves simply running over a pile of logs. I suppose the skill is besting your opponent with choosing a better route. Of all the challenges, this one had me worried about slipping and breaking my leg the most. Both Max and I equally completed this one without breaking a bone. Tie!

Final score: Wendy: 3; Max: 6

Challenge yourself at the Columbus Rotary Obstacle Course, and for extra fun, be sure to visit the 18,000 square-foot Grange Insurance Audubon Center, and check out the onsite 35-foot-high fiberglass climbing wall, playground, and bocce and volleyball courts.

Learn more about the Scioto Audubon Metro Park.


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Caesar Creek State Park; Discover Ohio's most fertile fossil field

Discover Ohio’s most fertile fossil field


Caesar Creek State Park; Discover Ohio's most fertile fossil field It’s the middle of August, and I’m in the middle of a field, sun blazing overhead, sweat dripping down my back.

“Let’s pretend we’re paleontologists at the Mammoth Site in South Dakota,” I say to Rosie and Max, who are with me at Caesar Creek State Park in Waynesville, Ohio, an hour southwest of Columbus.

Although we’re far from South Dakota, where the kids once watched paleontologists delicately unearth woolly mammoth fossils at an excavation site, the game doesn’t seem too far-fetched.

We find fossil after fossil at the Caesar Creek Spillway, a swath of land that spans several football fields and contains some of the best opportunities for fossil finding in Ohio.

Caesar Creek State Park; Discover Ohio's most fertile fossil fieldThe U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created the spillway and adjacent Caesar Creek Lake in the early 1970s to control flooding in the area. Doing so unveiled a layer of fossils that date back hundreds of thousands of years when Ohio was under water and near the equator.

Many fossils here resemble shells and coral, remnants of creatures that lived long ago on a large continent called Laurentia. Over time, specimens became sandwiched between layers of earth and formed fossils.

The spillway is open to explore any time of the year, but you’ll need to obtain a free permit first if you’d like to search for fossils. You do so at the Caesar Creek Lake Visitor Center, just north of the spillway. There, ask for a fossil-hunting permit and a copy of the “Common Fossils of Caesar Creek Lake” pamphlet.

Caesar Creek State Park; Discover Ohio's most fertile fossil fieldAn employee will go over the ground rules, which basically are not to use any tools to dig for fossils or to break them apart, and not to take any fossils home that are larger than your fist.

We see signs reminding us not to climb on rock embankments. They’re steep, and the rocks are slippery and sharp. We amble through the open field, eyes fixed on the ground. I pick up a rock that resembles a cone. It’s smooth and pointy. I hand it to Max, who adds it to a collection in his pocket.

We grow thirsty as we hang out in the sun. We head to the nearby town of Waynesville. It’s one of the more picturesque small towns you’ll encounter in the Buckeye State, with rows of beautiful old homes, some of them set up as businesses including antique stores, eateries and candy shops. It’s also home of the Ohio Sauerkraut Festival, held annually on the second weekend in October.

Caesar Creek State Park; Discover Ohio's most fertile fossil fieldWe enjoy lunch at the Hammel House, a bed and breakfast that dates to 1799 and happens to be one of the most haunted buildings in Ohio. We learn that President Martin Van Buren and Charles Dickens have stayed here. We also learn it’s a pet-friendly establishment, which is perfect because we’ve brought along my brother’s dog, Biscuit. (If you have a dog, also check out the Pretty Pooch Boutique, which offers a large selection of cute dog outfits.)

Caesar Creek State Park is located at 8570 E. State Route 73, Waynesville, Ohio. Learn more.

The Caesar Creek Lake Visitor Center is located at 4020 N. Clarksville Rd., Waynesville, Ohio. Hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Friday; and 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.


Caesar Creek State Park; Discover Ohio's most fertile fossil field

Caesar Creek State Park; Discover Ohio's most fertile fossil field

Caesar Creek State Park; Discover Ohio's most fertile fossil field

Caesar Creek State Park; Discover Ohio's most fertile fossil field

Caesar Creek State Park; Discover Ohio's most fertile fossil field

Caesar Creek State Park; Discover Ohio's most fertile fossil field

Caesar Creek State Park; Discover Ohio's most fertile fossil field

Caesar Creek State Park; Discover Ohio's most fertile fossil field

Caesar Creek State Park; Discover Ohio's most fertile fossil field

Caesar Creek State Park; Discover Ohio's most fertile fossil field

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