Savor the State: Detours and Side Trips

From the August 2014 edition

Cleveland

Take a detour from restaurant-dense Tremont and catch a show at Playhouse Square’s intimate and historic Hanna Theatre. The 93-year-old, 550-seat gem is home to theater company Great Lakes Theater Festival. The troupe gave Tom Hanks his first acting gig in 1977, and storied stars like Katherine Hepburn and Yul Brynner have crossed this stage. The season kicks off in September (tickets go on sale in August) with “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and “Les Miserables.” If you’re in the mood to shop, head to Hingetown for the new monthly Parisian-style Cleveland Flea—billed as a street festival and brunch market with vintage and handmade finds and locally made food. Hanna Theatre PlayhouseSquare, 2067 E. 14th St., Cleveland, 216-241-6000, greatlakestheater.org; Cleveland Flea, theclevelandflea.com

Conneaut and other points north

Take a detour off Interstate 271 to the Hinckley Reservation, where you’ll find the storied Worden Heritage Homestead and Worden Ledges. The ledges—rock outcroppings similar to those found in the Hocking Hills—are encrusted with carvings depicting images, created between 1945 and 1955, as varied as baseball player Ty Cobb, George Washington and a 14-foot-long sphinx. Visitors can see more carvings at the homestead museum, which preserves life as it was lived by Hiram Worden, who built the house in 1860, and four generations of his family. The Hinckley Historical Society restored the house in the late 1980s. Today, visitors can see demonstrations in crafts like candle-wicking, needlepoint and apple pressing. 216-635-3200, clevelandmetroparks.com

Dover

Ernest “Mooney” Warther, born in Dover in 1885, made knives and carvings and never became famous. So it’s at first unclear why this family-owned-and-operated museum exists. But a few minutes into the hour-long tour (led by Mooney’s grandson Mark Warther), it becomes obvious he was brilliant. Mooney devoted his life to his woodwork and carving—“hobbies that got out of control,” Mark says, laughing. Indeed, Mooney often woke up in the middle of the night to get several hours of carving in before breakfast. And what did he carve? Intricate scale models of locomotives, with true-to-life moving parts, carved entirely from wood and ivory. He made 64 in his lifetime. Just minutes from Breitenbach Wine Cellars, Warther Museum is impossible to describe and should not be missed. 331 Karl Ave, Dover, 330-343-7513, warthers.com

Logan

Logan serves as the front door to the Hocking Hills, and Columbus-to-Athens road-trippers would be remiss to pass through without visiting the state park. Ash and Old Man’s caves are the highlights, but Cedar Falls—home to one of Ohio’s largest waterfalls—is worth the visit. Nearby Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls is overnight guests’ best bet, and on-site restaurant Kindred Spirits offers locally sourced breakfast, lunch and dinner menus in an intimate setting. Outdoor-adventure types should head to Rockbridge for a zip line ride from Hocking Hills Canopy Tours, which offers three-hour tours through November.

Findlay

If you’re taking Route 23 to Findlay, jump off at the Marion exit and stretch your legs at the Wyandot Popcorn Museum. Located in Marion’s Heritage Hall, the museum is home to the world’s largest assortment of roasters and poppers. (And yes, there’s free popcorn, too.) Once you land in Findlay, take some time to browse the University of Findlay’s Mazza Museum, where you’ll find the largest collection of children’s book illustrations in the world. It’s only open to the public Wednesday through Friday and on Sundays, but you can always call ahead on off days for a private tour. 169 E. Church St., Marion, 740-387-4255, wyandotpopcornmus.com; 1000 N. Main St., Findlay, 419-424-4560, mazzamuseum.org

Yellow Springs

Few places in Yellow Springs ooze more charm than the 85-year-old Little Art Theatre. A major renovation last year gave the theater modern conveniences while respecting the theater’s long and storied past. (For example, in 1942, Antioch College students and students at traditionally black Wilberforce University staged a sit-in and peacefully integrated the Little Art.) The theater screens one movie a day; its calendar is an appropriately eclectic blend of first-run indie movies and classics. If you fall in love like so many others have, you can now become a member; the Little Art became a nonprofit organization in 2001 under the leadership of executive director Jenny Cowperthwaite, who herself started working at the theater when she was a teenager. 247 Xenia Ave., 937-767-7671, littleart.com