January 2010 Issue
Trips for Every Temperature
Our region has exciting cold-weather attractions, from outdoor sports to indoor entertainment.
Dark, snowy winter months can leave the whole family cooped up in the house with a chronic case of cabin fever. Luckily, Ohio and nearby states offer cures with a variety of indoor and outdoor escapes to accommodate those who want to embrace the cold as well as those who seek warmer surroundings.
WEATHER OR NOT
This scenic southwestern Ohio county has a variety of activities and attractions that will satisfy both those who like the cold and those who do not. With so many things to do, it’s easy to plan a whole weekend in Butler County.
To get out of the blizzard but still feel the chill, head to Goggin Ice Center (ice-muohio.edu) for public ice skating or to take a lesson. If you’re not skilled on skates, leave it to the Miami University Redhawks Men’s Hockey team. The Redhawks are currently ranked No. 1 in the country, and their games are filled with action-packed excitement.
When your toes start tingling, chug on over to EnterTRAINment Junction (entertrainmentjunction.com), a 25,000-square-foot attraction. Stroll through the American Railroading Museum or take a ride on the Train Journey, a two-mile stretch of track that provides a panoramic view of the history of trains. New at EnterTRAINment Junction is Junction Hobbies, an extensive shop offering thousands of quality toys from the biggest names in the hobby industry.
Those with an eye for the arts will appreciate Butler County’s four arts complexes: Fitton Center for Creative Arts (fittoncenter.org), Fairfield Community Arts Center (fairfield-city.org/cac), Middletown Arts Center (middletownartscenter.com) and Oxford Community Arts Center (oxarts.org). Each features enticing exhibitions, galleries, classes, workshops and music throughout the frozen months of winter. Find out more at destinationbutlercounty.com
Findlay’s Downtown Winter Blues Festival
Popular names in blues will rock your socks off on Feb. 27 from 6 p.m. until midnight at the Downtown Winter Blues Festival in Findlay. The show will go on regardless of the elements. In fact, the colder it is, the better. Heated tents will be provided to shield music lovers from the cold and snow. Headlining the show is the Jimi Vincent Band, which has opened for many musical greats, including Travis Tritt and Emmylou Harris.
The event will take place in the heart of downtown
Findlay, at the corner of Sandusky Street and South Main Street. Aside from hearing live music by various blues artists, festival-goers of all ages will have the chance to experience an array of ice sculptures, and adults can kick back and enjoy a tasty selection of specialty beers.
Best of all, the proceeds from the Winter Blues Festival will benefit The Center for Safe and Healthy Children. This is the first year for the musical extravaganza, sponsored by Waldo Pepper’s Restaurant, Red Tornado Art Productions and The Findlay-Hancock County Convention & Visitors Bureau, so it’s sure to be full of brand new thrills. For more information, log on to visitfindlay.com.
LET IT SNOW
West Virginia State Parks
Sometimes, the best remedy for cabin fever is a little fresh air, and there’s no better place to get it than in West Virginia. A total of 35 state parks are scattered throughout the Mountain State, all promising a wonderful winter experience.
Those willing to brave the cold can bundle up and take a hike on one of West Virginia State Parks’ many walking trails, lined with miles of snow-topped trees, sparkling icicles and glistening, frozen lakes. Several of the state parks offer affordable lodges and cabins for explorers who are looking for a cozy overnight experience. North Bend State Park offers a Winter Escape package for only $99 that includes dinner, a night at the lodge and breakfast the following morning. Pipestem State Park treats guests to a Sunday Special, which knocks 50 percent off lodging rates and includes a bird walk or eagle watch led by naturalist Jim Phillips.
At West Virginia State Parks, there is no shortage of activities to keep the whole crew entertained. North Bend State Park will host a family-friendly Winter Wonder Weekend Jan. 15–17 that includes games, contests, crafts, hiking, sled riding and snowman building. There is something to do on any given winter weekend, ranging from mystery dinner theaters to country-western and ballroom dancing workshops. A full calendar of events is available online. Visit wvstateparks.com for details.
Canaan Valley Winter Sports
Canaan Valley, located in the northern mountains of West Virginia, is the highest large valley east of the Rocky Mountains and home to some of the best winter sports opportunities in the region. Two downhill ski resorts, Canaan Valley Resort and Timberline Four Seasons Resort, are situated only two miles apart and have summits that exceed 4,260 feet. The average natural snowfall in the valley ranges between 150 and 200 inches.
Here, your ski vacation includes a 1,000-foot vertical drop, seven lifts, 76 slopes and trails and more in a true high-mountain environment. The Ski the Valley lift ticket is a two-consecutive-day ticket that is valid at both resorts (a few blackout days apply). Both Canaan Valley and Timberline Four Seasons offer certified ski schools that can get you started or fine-tune your technique.
This winter playground offers much more than downhill skiing. Whitegrass Ski Touring Center is one of the East Coast’s premier cross-country ski centers. At Whitegrass or three other centers in the Valley, you can enjoy snowshoeing as well. The tubing hill at Canaan Valley Resort is a hoot for every member of your family, and the covered rink gives adults and kids alike a chance to glide across the ice.
Explore the shops, galleries, outfitters and restaurants of these quaint mountain towns, sure to cure even the most insatiable shopper. Lodging options are numerous — many are slopeside or within walking distance of the slopes — and include vacation homes, cabins and condominiums, as well as hotels, motels, inns and B&Bs. For details, visit skithevalley.com.
National Museum of the United States Air Force
The largest and oldest military aviation museum in the world, the National Museum of the United States Air Force Visitors offers a chance to sit back, relax and enjoy the show when it stays open late on Feb. 5 for a special Cabin Fever Night. Guests are invited to enjoy a hot, homestyle meal in the cafeteria, learn all about aviation history and stay for a movie in the IMAX Theatre for a discounted price. Afterward, the folks at the museum will send you off with complimentary desserts and hot cocoa to ensure you stay warm on the drive home.
For daytime explorers — which includes nearly 1 million visitors each year — the museum is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Located at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, the museum spans 17 acres. It showcases more than 400 aerospace vehicles and thousands of other intriguing historical artifacts and dioramas. Best of all, parking and admission are free, making this adventure a fun and affordable option for any blustery day.
Looking for more reasons to get out of the house, but still stay indoors? The National Museum of the United States Air Force provides a number of events to fill the upcoming winter months, including special family days, performances by the U.S. Air Force Band of Flight and a rare, one-night-only chance to peek
inside the cockpits of several aircraft. Learn more at nationalmuseum.af.mil.
At Splash Harbor at Comfort Inn, a shipwreck-themed adventure complete with palm trees, you’ll find the next best thing to a tropical vacation. The indoor attraction is a 6,000-square-foot water wonderland for adults and children who like it hot. Splash Harbor’s signature thrill is an exhilarating 49-foot looping water slide.
Located in Bellville, Splash Harbor is close to Cleveland, Columbus and Akron. For families eager to get away for a weekend, Comfort Inn includes four water-park passes with room rates. Special packages are also available that include water-park access, tokens to the adjoining game room that offers pool tables, air hockey and a video arcade, and a mouthwatering breakfast. For those who just want to feel the heat for an afternoon, individual day passes for Splash Harbor are available.
Family-friendly Splash Harbor has something for everyone, including a kiddie pool for the tiniest adventurers. Kids and teens can have a blast standing under dumping buckets, hopping over spraying geysers and playing basketball in the pool. The adults-only hot tub offers an opportunity for a little rest and relaxation for the grown-ups. Visit splashharbor.com for more information.