Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Who knew that tiny Cambridge, Ohio is a time-travel day trip that is rewarding, educational and affordable? The quaint shops, museums and restaurants that decorate the downtown once served as pioneer stage-coach stops for early settlers in the area, which is located a mere 90-minute drive east from Columbus.

Cambridge Wooden Toy Company and The Great American Locomotive Museum

515 Dewey Ave., 43725; 740-432-3646; hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; admission: free

When you walk into the Cambridge Wooden Toy Company and The Great American Locomotive Museum, you likely will see owner Brian Gray hard at work on his next wooden toy or rocking horse. Since 1976, Gray has shared his passion for toys and locomotives with the public. Kids love the hands-on shop and museum where they can explore good old-fashioned wooden toys like the marble cascade towers or letter trains that spell their names. The locomotive room displays five large-scale steam engines that Gray built by hand. Each represents a significant impact on American transportation. Plan to spend 45 minutes talking to Gray and, of course, playing with the toys. I recommend driving here first, then parking your car in the guarded downtown lot ($2/day) as everything else is less than a mile apart.

National Museum of Cambridge Glass

136 S. 9th St., 43725; 740-432-4245; admission: $5 (discounts for seniors and AAA members), children under 12 free

The National Museum of Cambridge Glass shares the story and relics of the Cambridge Glass Company that operated from 1902 to 1958. The front room showcases thousands of pieces of collectible glassware as well as some pieces that were never sold to the public. Ironically, this glass museum serves as hands-on education. Children can dress up as factory workers from the 1940s and learn about the various roles involved in making glass. There is also an education center where children can make crayon etchings of glass designs from the original tin etching plates. Plan about 90 minutes to tour the museum and visit the various rooms showcasing glass and the history of the Cambridge Glass Company.

Guernsey County Historic Museum

8 N. 8th St., 43725; 740-439-5884; hours: 12 noon-3 p.m., Apr. 2 to Dec. 31, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday; admission: $3

The Guernsey County Historic Museum is a treat for history buffs. The museum features personal artifacts, antiques and other items from Guernsey County residents who have gone onto national and international fame through politics, space travel and celebrity status. This 165-year-old restored home is now a museum with 16 rooms of discovery. Period rooms showcase a kitchen with early day household items, a military room and a general store filled with authentic items that pre-date the modern grocery store. Popular exhibits include a one-room schoolhouse and collections of personal items from local hero John Glenn.

Hopalong Cassidy Museum

127 S. 10th St., 43725; 740-432-3364; hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday (closed January-March); admission: suggested $1 donation

Hopalong Cassidy, the movie and television cowboy legend of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, called Cambridge home. A museum, dedicated to the man locals knew as William Boyd, showcases memorabilia from his childhood as well as the products made famous by his Hopalong Cassidy persona. It's a great opportunity for nostalgic grandparents to introduce their kids to one of America's favorite Western icons.

Walking around Cambridge will build up an appetite. Be sure to stop for an affordable lunch at Theo's Restaurant or Francis Family Restaurant, or visit Kennedy's Bakery for sweet treat before heading home.