No state or nation achieves greatness without sites and monuments worth visiting. Here are four Ohio landmarks worth your time the next time you’re in town.
Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame
Situated in Cleveland, this spot is something that no visitor should miss. The building itself is an architectural marvel in its own right. Designed by the renowned architect IM Pei and completed in 1995, it’s a visual spectacle to behold before even entering.
“In designing this building, it was my intention to echo the energy of rock n’ roll. I have consciously used an architectural vocabulary that is bold and new, and I hope the building will become a dramatic landmark for the city of Cleveland and for fans of rock and roll around the world,” Pei said.
Today, about half a million people visit annually. Inside, you can totally get lost in the experience as you engage in a visual trek of your music tastes regardless of your era. You’ll be treated to a wealth of exhibits of not only music, but art, video, and rock artifacts as well.
The Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame was established on April 20, 1983, by Ahmet Ertegun, founder, and chairman of Atlantic Records. The Foundation began inducting artists in 1986, but the Hall of Fame still had no home.
The search committee considered several cities, including Philadelphia, Memphis, Detroit, Cincinnati, New York City, and Cleveland. After a long search for the right city, Cleveland was chosen in 1986 as the Hall of Fame’s permanent residence.
The building contains seven levels. On the lower level is the Ahmet M. Ertegun Exhibition Hall, the museum’s main gallery. It includes exhibits on the roots of rock and roll: gospel, blues, rhythm & blues, folk, country, and bluegrass. It also features exhibits on cities that have had a major impact on rock and roll: Memphis, Detroit, London, Liverpool, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle.
Visitors enter the Hall of Fame section of the museum on the third floor. This section includes “The Power of Rock Experience.” Visitors exit the Hall of Fame section on the fourth floor. That level features the Foster Theater, a state-of-the-art 3-D theater used for special events and programs.
National Museum of the United States Air Force
Ohio’s contribution to aviation can’t be undermined, and it’s the reason why this museum exists. The place draws nearly a million visitors each year, making it one of the most frequently visited tourist attractions in the state.
The museum dates to 1923, when the Engineering Division at Dayton’s McCook Field first collected technical artifacts for preservation. The museum’s collection contains rare memorabilia of historical or technological importance from the history and development of aviation.
Among them are the Apollo 15 Command Module Endeavour, one of four surviving Convair B-36 Peacemakers, and the Boeing B-29 Superfortress that dropped the Fat Man atomic bomb on Nagasaki during the last days of World War II.
In 2016, the museum opened its 224,000 square foot fourth building. The addition was privately financed by the Air Force Museum Foundation at a cost of $40.8 million. The building houses more than 70 aircraft, missiles, and space vehicles in four new galleries: Presidential, Research and Development, Space, and Global Reach, along with other three categories including science, technology, and engineering.
For an additional fee, guests can view aviation and space-oriented films in a large theater format, interspersed primarily with other documentaries. The films, which are exclusive only within the museum halls were first shown in 2013. Recently, the theater was upgraded from IMAX to digital 3D format by the Air Force Museum Commission. The renovation included a new stage, theater seats, and a new theater screen to support a broader range of aviation historic presentations.
The new building’s construction was entirely funded via private donations from several different sources. In 2010, the museum launched its 360-degree virtual tour, allowing most aircraft and exhibits to be viewed through online streaming.
Hocking Hills State Park
Hocking County was named after the Hockhocking River which has a waterfall of nearly 20 feet located about 6 or 7 miles northwest of Lancaster. Above the falls, the creek is very narrow and straight, forming “the bottleneck,” which is one of the visual trademarks of the area. The main spectacles are the seven separate hiking areas: Ash Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Cedar Falls, Conkle’s Hollow, Old Man’s Cave, Rock House. and Hemlock Bridge Trail to Whispering Cave.
The park’s picturesque appeal started to evolve more than 330 million years ago. At that time, it was relatively in the level of the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. For millions of years, the ocean’s currents deposited immense amounts of sand and gravel. Eventually, the ocean receded, and the sandy layers bonded with silica to form the Black Hand Sandstone that underlies the Hocking Hills State Park area according to archeologists.
In 2017, over 2 million people visited Hocking Hills, and it has been growing ever since. To handle the high numbers of tourists, a summer shuttle service from downtown Logan began to operate to lessen the strain on the park’s parking facilities.
Other attractions of the Hocking Hills include the Hocking State Forest, the Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve, and the Rockbridge State Nature Preserve. The deep gorges and high cliffs are breathtakingly beautiful which are said to result from the erosion-resistant Blackhand Sandstone, which extends well into the northeast.
Visitors who have a knack for hiking, boating, picnicking, and swimming will find everything they need at Lake Logan, which covers 400 acres. The lake was developed in 1955 mainly for recreational purposes, and fishing is permitted.
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums ranks the Cincinnati Zoo among the very best in the country. A 2019 reader’s choice survey in USA Today also named the Cincinnati Zoo “The top zoo in North America.”
In 1872, three years before the zoo’s creation, Andrew Erkenbrecher and several other residents created the Society for the Acclimatization of Birds in Cincinnati to acquire insect-eating birds to control a severe outbreak of caterpillars. A collection of approximately 1,000 birds imported from Europe in 1872 was housed in Burnet Woods before being released.
Unknown to the pioneers, the act would evolve into the establishing of one of the greatest zoos in the US. In 1873, members of the society began discussing the idea of starting a zoo and founded The Zoological Society of Cincinnati. A year later, the Zoological Society of Cincinnati purchased a 99-year lease on sixty-five acres in the cow pasture known as Blakely Woods.
Among the spectacles to expect in the zoo is the Elephant Reserve which is home to two subspecies of the Asian elephants in a four-acre exhibit with a 60,000-gallon pool. Next to it is the P&G Discovery Forest with a classroom for live animal demonstrations for school groups. This is the zoo’s means of educating visitors about Ohioan wildlife, presented regularly during the summer.
The Eagle Eyrie flight cage is another awesome sight to behold. Opening in 1970, it was one of the largest flight cages of its time. Originally containing bald eagles, the exhibit currently features a Steller’s sea eagle and an Andean condor.
The Cincinnati Zoo leads the country in gorilla births, and the Gorilla World exhibit presents the offspring lineage of those primates. The exhibit opened in 1978 as a naturalistic, rain forest habitat for the Cincinnati Zoo’s western lowland gorillas. Near the exhibits, the zoo also features black-and-white Colobus monkeys.
Among the newest attractions at the zoo is The Carnivora Building. Built in 1952, it was renovated in 1985 to become the Cat House. Renovations from 2010 to 2011 transformed it into it’s new name, the Night Hunters. The new building is home to many nocturnal and predatory animals previously found in other exhibits throughout the zoo, including Arabian sand cats, black-footed cats, vampire bats, fennec foxes, and tawny frogmouths, among others.
In addition to its live animal exhibits, the zoo houses refreshments stands, a dance hall, roads, walkways, and picnic grounds. In 1987, parts of the zoo were designated as National Historic Landmarks including the Cincinnati Zoo Historic Structures, due to their significant architecture featured in the Elephant House, the Reptile House, and the Passenger Pigeon Memorial.
As only a taste of the many things on show, you’ll find a range of activities to undertake on your next trip to Ohio.