Ohio Presidents Tour: Grant’s Birthplace

Every summer we make a bucket list of places and things we would like to do. And this summer we decided to visit all the Ohio Presidential sites. Mind you, there are 8 Presidential sites in Ohio. Our First stop on our Ohio Presidential Tour is the birthplace of our 18th President, Ulysses S. Grant in Point Pleasant, Ohio.

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Ulysses S. Grant (April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885)

18th President of the United States (1869–77).

Commanding General of the United States Army (1864–69)

Birthplace: Point Pleasant, OH

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Our drive down to Grant’s birthplace was so scenic. The hills, though they seriously made this momma car sick (thank God for Dramamine), also provided such a magnificent view that we NW Ohio peeps don’t have the pleasure of relishing. As we pulled up to Grant’s birthplace home it reminded me of a little town you would see on a train board, complete with a church on a hill, whitewashed everything, etc. it was so cute and quaint.

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Our tour guide, Jim, greeted us at the door. Now, I will admit, going into this I think we were all kind of anticipating a boring, monotone, anticlimactic kinda tour, and what we received was the complete opposite. In fact Jim’s passion and enthusiasm for our 18th president became contagious, by the end of our tour the kids couldn’t wait to go to the next Presidential site.  

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Here are my Top Highlights from the Tour (I don’t want to give them all away….you need to have something to look forward to when you visit, wink wink).

Tour Highlights:

What’s in a name?– Ulysses S. Grant was actually born Hiram Ulysses Grant. He despised the name Hiram and never went by it; he always went by his middle name, Ulysses, or Lysse. So where did the S in Ulysses S. Grant come from? When congressman Thomas L. Hamer nominated him for Military Academy at West Point he assumed his name was Ulysses Simpson Grant due to the fact that he had always gone by Ulysses and back then the mothers maiden name was often used as the middle name. Grant tried to explain that it wasn’t his name but all the forms had it written already and since he hated the name Hiram it was the perfect opportunity to be rid of that name, which was probably a good thing since his initials had to be sewn onto everything at the Academy and having the initials H.U.G. would have probably resulted in a lot of harassment from the other guys. Note the chest at the foot of the bed, which is Grant’s actual chest that he took with him to the Academy (it did not photograph well thanks to the Plexiglas).

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Family Heirloom– The hutch below was a wedding present to Grant’s parents, talk about a piece of history, I am a sucker for all antiques! I was totally excited when Jim said we could touch the piece (they usually don’t let you touch anything…and yes, I am worse than the kids, lol!), though it looks smooth it was really rough, when you look at it upclose the craftsmanship was apparent….I am a history of furniture junky, so I found this piece to be quite fascinating.

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Did momma get that out with A-L-L (stain lifter!?)-There were a lot of period pieces in the one room house and a handful of actual pieces/items that belonged to the Grant family, including the nightgown hanging on the wall, which was Grant’s mother’s nightgown. We are talking about an almost 2 hundred year old nightgown. Anyone else dying to know how she laundered it? I have shirts in my drawer that don’t look that white!

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Next round is on Lincoln!-When McClellan got wind of Lincoln wishing to make Grant a three Star Lieutenant General, (only George Washington had risen to that rank in the U.S. Army before him), he protested by stating that Grant shouldn’t receive this ranking because he drank an excess of alcohol. To which Lincoln replied, “Find out what Grant drinks and send a barrel of it to each of my other generals!” Here is a copy of the letter from President Lincoln addressing Grant as Lieutenant General …..

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Isn’t it Romantic & Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb? – Grant died from throat cancer on July 23, 1885—four days after completing his memoirs (memoirs that he only wrote because he wanted to leave his wife with money…he had lost it all when he fell victim to a Ponzi scheme) On August 8, 1885, more than a million people attended his funeral procession, which was seven miles long and lasted five hours. Money was a concern with regard to his funeral arrangements; he could have been buried in Arlington Cemetery and it wouldn’t have cost anything but he refused because he wanted to be buried with his wife….I totally let out a vocal, and loud, AWWWW, when I heard this, how romantic! Speaking of romantic, she carried a lock of his hair for always in her locket.

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A public foundation was formed to fund a memorial & within two years, approximately 90,000 people from around the country and the world donated more than $600,000 to construct Grant’s tomb. (At the time, it was the largest public fundraising effort ever). Designed by architect John Duncan, Grant’s Tomb was completed in 12 years and remains the largest mausoleum in North America.

And there was so much more that we learned about Grant’s family, childhood, etc. in fact, I learned so many intriguing things about Grant that I now wish to read his Memoirs and I can honestly say that prior to visiting his birthplace I had little, to no interest, in doing so.

Souvenirs

Kiddos got their first stamp in their Ohio Historic Passports…..

Passport to Your Ohio History

Explore Ohio, a state rich with stories of Native American and African American culture, 19th-century life, ancient earthworks, presidential heritage, space travel and more. Enjoy your visits. Have fun while you learn. And don’t miss the chance to capture a memorable adventure that is uniquely yours!

Within your passport you’ll find helpful information about each Ohio History Connection site. As you visit, you can collect site stamps representing each location and answer challenging trivia questions.

Passports will be available at the Ohio History Center and many of our sites throughout Ohio.

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More Pics…..

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If you are looking for a place to eat nearby we recommend…(you can sit outside by the Ohio River)

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DEETS:

Phone: (513) 553-4911

Address: 1551 State Route 232, Point Pleasant, OH 45153

Website: https://www.ohiohistory.org/visit/museum-and-site-locator/us-grant-birthplace

Admission: Adult: $3.00, Senior: $2.00, Children 6-12: $1.50, OHC Member: Free, Children (Under 6): Free, School groups: $35/bus

Hours: Open April–October Wed – Sat: 9:30 a.m.–noon & 1 p.m.–5 p.m. Sun: 1 p.m.–5 p.m. (Will open by appointment during the off season).

Toledo Treasure: Pearson Metropark

Pearson Metropark located at 761 Lallendorf Rd Oregon, OH 43616.

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Treasures you’ll find at Pearson Metropark…

Seasonal Fun: Fishing, Paddle Boats, Ice Skating, & Sledding

As you drive around the bend the first things to catch your eye is the beautiful lake, it calls to you. Take a walk around the lake and soak in the natural beauty (clean restrooms, flush toilets, and changing area is available).

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The lake offers more than just breathtaking views and a therapeutic walk, you can also fish, paddle on the lake with one of the paddle boats, & ice skate in the winter months (when the ice is safe…and they have added lighting so you can skate until 8pm)

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Fishing……

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The Ohio Division of Wildlife stocks the lake at Pearson with rainbow trout from the Castallia hatchery, providing a unique fishing opportunity to catch this cold water species in early spring. Fishermen also take catfish and other species. The lake’s stair-stepped shore makes it an accessible place to introduce children to fishing.

Paddle Boat Concession…..

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Pedal around the pond at Pearson. Charming pedal boats are available for rent, Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekends, noon to 7 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

Cost: $5 per half hour.

Sledding….

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This hill is marvelous for sledding in the winter months. And there are benches and a fire pit at the bottom where you can warmup in-between slides down the hill.

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Window on Wildlife

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Sit down and cool off or warm up (depending on the season) while enjoying nature’s beauty and all Gods littlest creatures including, squirrels, chipmunks, a large variety of birds, and whomever else may pay a visit to the outdoor space while you observe from the comfortable climate controlled indoor room.

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Johlin Cabin

See what life was like in the notorious Great Black Swamp in the mid-1800s. The Johlin Cabin at Pearson will take you to a time when life was hard, and a place where it was even harder.

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Pioneers and soldiers who traversed the dark swamp described it in colorful terms, relating the rough roads where their wagons would get stuck in the muck, the fierce mosquitoes, deadly diseases and the work it took to clear a piece of ground. But they also spoke of the rich farmland that lay beneath the wet woods.

The Johlin Cabin was donated by the Johlin family of Oregon and moved about a mile into the park when Pearson was expanded in the early 2000s. Located at the north entrance to the park on Seaman Road, the cabin today is used for family programs where you might be invited to churn butter, plant crops or attend to other chores. (Source) http://metroparkstoledo.com/features-and-rentals/the-johlin-cabin/

Catch some cabin fever and explore the Johlin Cabin from a new perspective. Spend an hour or an afternoon seeing the Johlin Cabin, activities for all ages with be provided; this is a free event, no reservations needed. (See Park events & calendar for Cabin openings)

Playground

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Children love this ah-mazing play-scape. Similar to the Farnsworth playground the Pearson playground also incorporates custom equipment that illustrates the environmental history specific to the area; the inspiration was clearly the Great Black Swamp.

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The play-space is filled with marsh themed attractions including a spider, frog, Lilly pads, interactive woodpecker, etc.

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The playground includes a climbing wall, slides, soft rubberized surfacing, lots of swings, etc. and the best part, this play-scape was created with all children, with all abilities in mind. It is accessible to all.

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AND SO MUCH MORE…..

Beautiful rental facilities, baseball diamonds, soccer field, tennis courts, etc.

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Oh, and we can’t forget the Trails!

If you are seeking a peaceful, serene, and scenic retreat from the ordinary look no further than the trails at Pearson Park. Take a relaxing stroll on the Black Swamp Short Loop Trail (0.8mi round trip, perfect for littler legs). Become one with nature on the Wood Thrush Trail. And if you are looking to get your workout in for the day then the Exercise Trail has your name written all over it (2.9mi round trip). You are welcomed to walk, jog, run, and even cross country ski on all the trails. Planning on bringing your bicycles? There are trails for bicycles too! (See map, link at the bottom of this page under DEETS)

You can do it all at Pearson! And the best part, after a day at Pearson; fishing, paddling, running, walking, picnicking, and playing on the playground the kiddos will be exhausted and begging to go to bed…everyone will sleep great! (And the older I get the more appreciative I am for an awesome night’s sleep, there really is nothing like it. ;)).

DEETS:

Hours: 7am-dark everyday

Address: 761 Lallendorf Rd Oregon, OH 43616

Ranger Phone: 419) 360-9178

Map: http://metroparkstoledo.com/media/2147/pearson-map-bro-nov2014.pdf

Website: http://metroparkstoledo.com/explore-your-parks/pearson/

Additional Toledo Treasures (click on images)

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Toledo Metropark Treasures: Wildwood Preserve Metropark

Wildwood Preserve Metropark located at 5100 W Central Ave, Toledo, OH 43615.

Treasures you’ll find at Wildwood Preserve Metropark:

Natural beauty and man-made elegance come together as one at Wildwood Preserve Metroparks. The 493-acre park is the former estate of Toledo’s Stranahan family. Surrounded by natural habit, the stately home, now called the Manor House, played important roles in Toledo—and the park district’s—history. (Source)

Manor House & Garden

The Manor House was built in 1938 by Champion Spark Plug tycoon Robert Stranahan and wife Page. Stranahan is a name deeply rooted in Toledo’s history.

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As you walk up to the house you can imagine guests arriving at the estate in one of the Stranahans’ limousines, a butler would have greeted visitors at the large front door and showed them to the Gentleman’s Study or Morning Room where Robert or Page waited to welcome them.

Visitors who spent extended periods of time at the estate were further impressed by the amenities of the home.

  • Seven bedrooms were reserved for live-in maids, and all the main rooms in the house featured call buttons that ensured family and visitor needs were just an arm’s reach away.
  • Each guest bedroom included a walk-in closet, private bathroom and fireplace.
  • When guests left their rooms, house staff cleaned the fire places and restocked them with wood.
  • An underground fan and tunnel system leading to the banks of Ten-mile Creek delivered cool, fresh air throughout the home.

While the estate was certainly constructed to entertain and impress visitors, its most important function for the Stranahans was to provide a familial sanctuary. Robert and Page had two children of their own, but Robert had fivechildren and Page had two children from previous marriages. In constructing Stranleigh (Manor House Estate), they created a home large enough for their many children and grandchildren to visit them comfortably. Two large dormitory style rooms were included on the third floor and reserved exclusively for their grandsons and granddaughters.

Mainly for the children, a large in- ground swimming pool was installed in front of the home. The white cabana changing rooms stand to this day marking the location of the pool. Swimmers enjoyed high and low diving boards, lights for night swims and lessons from a swimming instructor.

For nearly 40 years Robert and Page Stranahan dedicated themselves to making the estate of their dreams a reality. They spared no expense constructing and maintaining Stranleigh. Given the lengths the Stranahan family went to create such a unique property, it is not surprising that nearly 65,000 Lucas County residents voted to preserve the estate in 1974.(Source)

I have so many fond memories of time spent at the Manor House with loved ones, touring the decorated Georgian colonial style house at Christmas, Tea as a child with my grandmother and mother, the annual Ice Cream Social on the front lawn, and the traditions continue with my children. In fact we spend so much time here in the summer we jokingly call it our summer house, haha! When you visit Wildwood Preserve Metropark do take the time to read the plaques located around the park and learn more about the history of Stranleigh.

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New Playground

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The new playground is all the rage right now (just opened this month!) and is filled with fun climbing apparatuses for the older kiddos, merry-go-round for all ages, xcelerator, a playground for the littlest park dwellers (toddlers and preschoolers), an expression swing (adult or older child sits face-to-face with baby/toddler), safety surfacing to cushion falls, and more.

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The one thing that was disappointing about the new playground is the swings, not all of our friends can play on it; we have friends with special needs who have to sit on the side and watch due to the fact that there isn’t an adaptive swing seat….also, we were disappointed that the new playground has less swings than the old one….we need more swings! (please 😉 )

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Window on Wildlife

The Window on Wildlife is housed in what were formerly the old Stables on the Stranahan Estate and is now called Metz Visitors Center (also houses the Park Information, Rentals, Programming, & Environmental Educational).

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It is a relaxing indoor space with large windows looking outside. There is plenty of seating to sit, relax, and observe wildlife and nature. My kiddos enjoy watching the birds, squirrels; chipmunks, turtles, etc. pass by the windows.

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(It should be noted that the Window on Wildlife is receiving a facelift, so the outdoor scenery might look a bit different when you visit). It is a must see whenever we visit, no matter the time of year, FYI; it is a great spot to stop and warm up in the winter months.

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While you’re at the former Stables be sure to stop in the restroom and checkout the décor,

Trails & Boardwalk

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What’s a park without trails, hiking, biking, dog walking, etc.? There are no shortages of trails at Wildwood; Meadow, Prairie, Floodplain, Woods Trails, and the Boardwalk offer such magnificent scenery, variety is the spice of Wildwood Preserve.

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No two trails are the same, each offers a different habitat to observe and explore. What’s more is the fact that each trail changes with the seasons, there is literally something new each day.

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And there is so much more….

Do make certain you check out all the awesome programs offered at Wildwood for toddlers on up & the awesome events going on weekly, CLICK HERE for Calendar & Programing Eventswildwood_2016 046

Also be sure to check out Oak Grove Schoolhouse when you go!

DEETS:

Hours: 7am-dark everyday

Address: 5100 W Central Ave Toledo, OH 43615

Ranger Phone: (419) 270-7500

Map: http://metroparkstoledo.com/media/2160/wildwood-map-july15-map-only.pdf

Website: http://metroparkstoledo.com/explore-your-parks/wildwood/

Also be sure to checkout…..(click on image)

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Toledo Metropark Treasures: Farnsworth Metropark

Farnsworth is located at 8505 S River Rd, Waterville, OH 43566.

Treasures you’ll find at Farnsworth Metropark:

The Interurban Bridge

The Interurban Bridge was once the largest earth filled, concrete reinforced bridge in the entire world, though the bridge is in ruins it is quite a sight to behold.

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The Roche de Bout (also spelled Roche de Boeuf)

The Roche de Bout is one of the only significant rock outcroppings in the Northwest Region of Ohio and serves as a support for the bridge. The rock was an important landmark to Indians centuries ago, who met on the rock for meetings, including one before the famous 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers. As long as the water level is somewhat low, you can easily wade out to the rock.

The 100-mile Bowling Green Fault line, the only fault line in the entire Great Lakes Region & it runs through the park. If the water is low enough you actually are able to see it.

 

Towpath Trail

Towpath Trail is 2.5 miles and Easy (Stroller and ADA accessible).

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The trail parallels the Maumee River the whole way, passing by several islands on the river owned by the Ohio Division of Wildlife. (Unfortunately, there’s no way of getting to the islands).

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However the Kayak Concession is open and you can rent a Kayak and Kayak around the islands.

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Price: (Credit card payments only) Single Kayak, $10 per hour Tandem Kayak, $15 per hour Downriver kayak trip, Farnsworth to Side Cut Metropark, including transportation back to Farnsworth, $20 per person. E-bike rental, $10 per hour

Hours: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Fishing & Camping & Picnic Areas

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The Playground

The playground (closest parking lot is the Boat Launch entrance to the park on 8801 S. River Road (US24), ) is AWESOME!

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It includes; a turtle, a Great Blue Heron, a buckeye leaf, and even the Bowling Green Fault Line are depicted in the sculptures. Not only can children enjoy playing outside in the park, but they can learn about it at the same time.

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And there is a really nice, new, shelter adjacent (and restrooms too) that is available to rent along with a charcoal and gas grill (locked)…it would make the perfect spot for a family reunion, birthday gathering, etc. Kids could play on the playground, older kiddos/adults could take turns kayaking, have a cookout, walk the towpath, and enjoy the natural beauty that is Ohio!

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DEETS:

Hours: 7am-dark everyday

Address: 8505 S River Road (US 24) Waterville, OH 43566

Ranger Phone: (419) 779-6052

Map: http://metroparkstoledo.com/media/2158/river-parks-map-nov14-map-only.pdf

Website: http://metroparkstoledo.com/explore-your-parks/farnsworth/

Sources:

http://www.naturalohioadventures.com/farnsworth-metropark.html

 http://metroparkstoledo.com/explore-your-parks/farnsworth/

 

 

Seneca Caverns think Goonies with a side of Indiana Jones

Epic! Think Goonies with a side of Indiana Jones…grab the kiddos & hit the road for an out of this world geological adventure in an underground cavern. Kiddos can search for lost treasure (pan for gold!) & they’ll come up against plenty of dangerous obstacles along the way. (Not really, it’s mostly safe…just a few slippery rocks…just stay on the path).

Make plans to visit Seneca Caverns; one of Ohio’s registered Natural Landmarks located in the beautiful Bellevue, Ohio today! Read on for more…cost, address, etc. located at bottom of post.

 

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Brief History…..

Seneca Caverns was discovered in June 1872 by two boys, Peter Rutan and Henry Komer of Flat Rock, Ohio, while hunting rabbits with their dog. Their dog chased a rabbit to a brush pile, where the dog and rabbit then disappeared. The boys dug around the brush pile and discovered an opening, which was actually a natural sinkhole. The boys fell through the opening, landing in the first level of the cave. They found their dog, and crawled back up to the cave entrance. They then returned home and told everyone about their discovery.

The cave became known as Good’s Cave after the owner of the farm on which the cave was located. In 1929, the caves were explored further by a local and in 1931, a series of passageways and rooms not previously known to exist, which led to an underground river, the water table was discovered ….with this discovery, the cave was large enough to develop commercially. Following two and a half year’s improvement effort, Seneca Caverns was opened to the public on May 14, 1933.

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Retained close to its original, natural, wild state, this subterranean tour is truly a unique and educational experience you will always remember. Experts have stated that Seneca Caverns may be the only cave of its kind open for public visitation. The official designation as a Registered Natural Landmark by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources reflects this quality!

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Seneca Caverns is one of Ohio’s largest underground caverns, and one of America’s most fascinating geological wonders. For full History CLICK HERE  

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Our journey to Bellevue from Toledo was roughly 1 hour and 10 minutes. As we arrived the children’s eyes frantically searched for the opening/entrance to the caverns, to no avail. It turned out that the entrance to the caverns was inside the visitors’ center.

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We made our way to the visitors’ center, purchased our tickets for the next tour, and then hit up the Port-A-Pots…it took forever to convince my 5 year old that she wouldn’t fall in the Pot-A-Pot (great way to kill time, lol!), so by the time we were finally finished our tour was ready to begin!

And so our adventure begins………

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We walked down a small flight of stairs into a room where we sat while the tour guide shared the history of the caverns. My 10 and 8 year old were so eager to get into the caverns; the suspense looked as though it might literally kill them, haha! Then, finally the moment they had been waiting for, the tour guide opened the door so we could begin descending. At first it felt like a creepy basement with a combination of manmade and natural rock forms, roots dangling everywhere, and an overall Alice in Wonderland feel.

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My five year old held my hand so tightly I feared loss of circulation. She was a bit timid but I figured I could use my mommy persuasion to calm her nerves. As we officially entered the cavern reality hit, this was not like any cave I have ever been in before, this cave required more of a hands on approach, as in brace yourself on this rock while you climb down. This made it tricky to help my 5 year old who at this time wasn’t budging at ALL.  She was afraid and my mommy persuasion was failing me so I stepped it up to the next level, bribing. I tried ice cream, toy, even candy, but nothing was going to make her feet move one more step into the caverns, which put me in a tricky situation because my 8 & 10 year olds were having the time of their lives! It is in moments like these that moms often make the sacrifice, they sacrifice their experience for the sake of their child which was why I was so thankful my mom was willing to make that sacrifice and go back up with my 5 year old so I could continue to watch my two oldest enjoy their journey through the caverns. (She really is the World’s BEST mom & Nana)

 

 

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My 8 and 10 year olds had a blast identifying fossils in the rock formations, noting the stalactites, climbing over rocks, exploring, and learning more about this magnificent underground world.

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The tour led us through seven rooms, or levels, with the largest room being 250 feet in length. At the lowest level, which is 110 feet below the surface, we had the opportunity to not only view “Ole Mist’ry River,” the crystal clear flowing stream that is part of the vast ground-water system but we also had the opportunity to taste the refreshing water.

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We learned so much on our tour, it was quite educational, and we can see why it’s one of America’s most fascinating geological wonders. But the fun wasn’t over yet!

After the tour we reunited with my mom and 5 years old who were out on the front lawn enjoying the gorgeous day. (It should be noted that there are very clean picnic tables on the property and gorgeous lawn just begging for a blanket to be thrown down on it…in case your family has to tour the caverns in shifts due to little ones). Then all 3 kiddos went panning for treasure!

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The gift shop has bags of paydirt for sale. Inside each bag are either, gemstones, minerals, crystals, arrowheads, and/or fossils! The children then took their bags outside to the Seneca Mining Company located at Seneca Caverns and used the real operating sluice with flowing water to pan for their treasures.

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The fossils, crystals, minerals & sharks teeth are from all over the world! 

Fluorite: Rosiclare, Illinois

Rubies and Sapphires: Sapphire, North Carolina

Amethyst: Brazil, South America

Quartz Crystals: Arkansas

Fossils: Morocco, USA, and other fossil-rich areas of the world

 

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They had the BEST time at Seneca Caverns, even our scared little 5 year old was totally redeemed when she got to pan for her treasures. This was such a magnificent experience for all of us, I highly recommend Seneca Caverns as a fun family friendly Ohio destination.

 

While you’re in Bellevue, Ohio here are some additional fun family friendly destinations you might enjoy: Jungle Junction & Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum

 

Deets:

Address: 15248 E. Township. Road 178, Bellevue, OH 44811

Cost: Adults $18 (13-61), Seniors (62+) $17, Children (5-12) $9, Children (0-4) FREE, Child Cavern Package Pricing (includes admission & paydirt bag) $14

FYI: No strollers or back carriers allowed and strongly not advised to carry a baby (you need two hands free while you descend and ascend the cavern), Bring a sweatshirt/jacket it gets really cool in the caverns (54 degrees)

Restrooms: 3 Port-a-Pots on the grounds

Hours: Open 7 days a week 9am-7pm (last tour leaves an hour before closing) rain or shine

Phone: 419-483-6711

Website: http://www.senecacavernsohio.com/

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10 Reasons Why Jungle Junction is the BEST Indoor Playground

We made the most of our 1st day of summer break and took a short road trip to Bellevue, Ohio home of Ohio’s largest indoor playground, Jungle Junction!

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Bellevue, Ohio is roughly an hour and ten minutes from Toledo, (give or take a construction barrel or two), and totally worth every minute of travel time. Directions were pretty straight forward until the last 3 minutes of our journey. I will warn you that it is a little tricky to locate at first. In fact, full disclosure, I drove past it twice! The address is 101 Cherry Blvd and Jungle Junction shares an address with a few other buildings/facilities including the pool. (FYI; if you enter the residential neighborhood you have gone too far). When you pull into the drive you want to veer left towards the pool, drive past the pool, and continue veering left and you will see the big brown/tan building that is Jungle Junction. Park, enter, and be prepared to be blown away by all the amazing features found in the Jungle for both parents and kiddos!

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As you enter you are welcomed by the mammoth size of the structure as well as the smiling faces behind the counter. And this is the first stop in the Jungle that will blow parents minds, (you might want to sit down for this one) the cost of admission is only $5 per child for unlimited play!! All 3 of my kiddos got in for less than $20! I don’t know of any indoor playground structure that has an awesome bargain like that around our neck of the woods. But wait, it gets better…..

10 Reasons Why Jungle Junction is the BEST Indoor Playground

1.Cost of admission is unbeatable! Just $5 per child for unlimited play….ditch those shoes & enter the Jungle!

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2. Six levels of adventure with over 60 play features including slides, air cannons, obstacle courses, and interactive game panels to keep kids entertained and challenged for hoursbellevuefun_2016 141

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3. A dedicated toddler tumble zone with molded jungle friends for climbing, crawling and sliding the day away

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4. Jungle Junction has free Wi-Fi for parents, just inquire about the password.

5. Clean restrooms with no automatic flushers or loud hand dryers (this is a BIG win for us mommas with kiddos who have sensory issues). Speaking of sensory issues, there is talk about them have a few mornings a month open for special needs/kiddos with sensory issues when they will turn off the loud cannons that shoot bursts of air…make certain you like their Facebook Page to stay updated on all special events/hours

6. Little kids potty in the restrooms for the tiniest of potty goers & changing stations in both women and men’s restrooms

7. Something for every AGE- Table & chairs where parents/older kiddos can sit and use Wi-Fi, Toddler area, and area for big kids….it is hard to find a place that can accommodate a family with large age gaps, Jungle Junction for the ultimate WIN!

8. Vending Machines available with cold beverages and snacks (no outdoor food allowed but you can pack a picnic and enjoy your meal at one of the sheltered picnic tables located within walking distance from Jungle Junction)

9. Parents can go in the structure, (just make certain your bring your socks)so you don’t have to worry about little ones maneuvering the structure solo or getting stuck somewhere…nothing worse than trying to navigate your crying 4 year old down from a structure while you’re on the outside looking up

10. Controlled environment will keep you cool in the summer and warm when the weather turns cold and wet.

Deets:

Address: 110 Cherry Blvd. Bellevue, Ohio 44881

Hours: Mon-Thurs 10am-7pm, Fri-Sat. 10am-8pm & Sundays 12pm-7pm

Cost: $6 per child, unlimited play

Ages: Toddlers-12 years of age

Socks are a must! (Available for purchase $2.50)

Changing Areas: YES

Toddler Area: YES

Phone Number: 419.484.5532

Website: http://www.junglejunctionplay.com

Ziplining & Feeding Giraffes in Toledo

As if you needed an excuse to visit the #1 US Zoo based on USA Today’s Readers’ Choice, the Toledo Zoo! That catchy little tune you hear playing as you make your way across the bridge over the Anthony Wayne Trail is 100% correct, We Love Our Zoo! And now there is so much more to love! In addition to last year’s mind blowing openings of the Aquarium, Penguin Beach, & Splash pad this year the Toledo Zoo has done it again with Expedition Africa and Tower Ridge Giraffe experience. You can now add zip lining, an aerial adventure course, and feeding giraffes to your already awesome Zoo adventures (and here the kiddos thought it couldn’t get any better than Nature Neighborhood, the Touch Tanks in the Aquarium & the Splash Pad).

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What is Expedition Africa?

Expedition Africa is located in the Africa! Exhibit at the Zoo and it is an Aerial Adventure Course. It consist of a variety of activities including, a Challenge course, Zipline, and (coming soon) Quick Drop.

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  • Challenge Course– Test your stamina as you traverse across the Africa! exhibit. Tackle a series of obstacles designed to challenge guests both mentally and physically, including rope bridges, swinging log crossings, horizontal climbing walls, zip line, and much more. (For guests 12 years old or older, Minimum 90lbs and maximum 250lbs) $30 per participantmemorial_africazoo2016 079
  • Zipline-This thrilling and unique experience will start you off at 80 feet above the Africa! exhibit and coast over 760 feet across Giraffe, Watusi Cattle, Wildebeest and more. (For guests 12 years old or older, Minimum 90lbs and maximum 250lbs) $20 per participantmemorial_africazoo2016 143
  • Quick Drop– Take a quick and thrilling 30 foot jump off of the Expedition Africa! Aerial Adventure Course main tower on a controlled descend device that guides you back to the Africa! overlook deck. (For guests 8 years old and up, Minimum 50lbs and maximum 250lbs) $10 per participantmemorial_africazoo2016 080
  • Added bonus: Sky Bridge– Take in the scenery of Africa! with this simple excursion across three sturdy footbridges. Each bridge is 250 feet long and separated by an overlook platform elevated thirty feet above the Africa! exhibit. What a view! (For guests 8 years old and up, Minimum 50lbs and maximum 250lbs) $10 per participantmemorial_africazoo2016 147

Read more & Make your reservations HERE

I opted for the Zip line as opposed to the Challenge Course due to time constraint (Challenge Course takes up to two hours while the Zip line only takes an hour). The zip line includes the awesome Sky Bridge and I was able to view the Challenge Course along the way which I am totally coming back to complete at a later date. And I decided to capture my journey via a GoPro Camera.ZOOFUN

Get this; they have GoPro Cameras available if you would like to document your experience. The GoPro Camera equipment is rented and secured to your helmet. After completing the course I was given a memory card with the footage on it. ($29.99 per participant for Zoo Members & $33.99 per participant for Non-Members)

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I had an absolute blast! The Sky Bridge was tranquil, beautiful; I have never felt more one with the environment. At the end of the Sky Bridge I began my journey up the stairs to the Zip line tower, with each step my adrenaline increased, until I was at the top and totally weak in the knees. Then the moment I had been waiting for, gliding across the Africa exhibits was unlike anything I had ever experienced before, the wind beating against my face, the humming of the zip line, and this feeling of awe swept over me, I didn’t feel like I was in Toledo anymore. Checkout my journey……

 

The only problem with the Zip line is that once you have done it once you will want to do it again! I think this is a fabulous inclusion to the Zoo; it is nice that there is something for the older kiddos to do after they have graduated from the Splash Pad and Natures Neighborhood.

While I Zip lined my munchkin and her Nana road the train and carousel, both located in the Africa! Exhibit, then we met up in the Tower Ridge Giraffe Experience line to feed the Giraffes.

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So,I kinda pride myself in being as transparent and honest as possible and I will be truthful in stating that at first, after paying our $4 for giraffe food, and waiting for what seemed like an eternity (which was probably more like 5 minutes, if that) for the giraffes to walk over I started to think that perhaps this experience wasn’t worth the money or time. memorial_africazoo2016 136

Then it happened, the Giraffes made their way over to us and my heart skipped a beat, they are such majestic, serene creatures, and so gentle. It was an amazing experience. Moral of the story, the experience was totally worth the money and time, just be patient (which can be extra hard on the young, hot, and/or cranky, lol!).

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And then our time was up and we had to bid adieu to Africa! Or should I say…..

 

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What is your favorite animal /exhibit at the zoo?