Search

It's Always Ohio

From the far side of the world to just around the corner, It's Always Ohio.

Category

News

Lake Erie is for Wine Lovers

When thinking about wine in all it’s grapey magnificence, you can’t help but think about legendary regions of the country like Napa Valley or Sonoma, California…maybe even all the way across the pond in Bordeaux, France.  And that’s all well and good, but Ohio in it’s own right, has some really good wine, too.

The weather, mostly due to the fresh waters of Lake Erie, make this unique area of the country ideal for growing grapes.  While we’ve found that the sweeter wines tend to take precedence in the Heart of it All, the range of wines available is still quite impressive.  In turn, places like the Firelands Winery have been around for almost 140 years.  Did you see how we snuck that old Ohio tourism slogan in there? Course you did.

Since the first cellar of this historic winery was built in 1880, Firelands Winery has been taking advantage of this unique environment and harvesting their fruit from a place that enjoys a 200 day frost-free growing season, the Isle of St. George on the western basin of Lake Erie.  Our favorite? The Gewurztraminer — A sweet white with a passion fruit flavor and rose petal aroma.  Wow, we remembered how to spell it and took notes. Look at us!

Firelands Winery Facebook

And it’s not just Firelands that has been benefitting from this latitude and longitude.  In 1888 a man from Baden-Baden Germany (Say that three times fast), an area of that country known for it’s rich viticultural history, founded Heinemans Winery.  Located in the village of Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island, it has been producing fine wines for over 100 years.

As a bonus, especially if you go this weekend before it closes for the year, you can take a look at the Crystal Cave, the world’s largest geode.  Random we know, but awesome nonetheless. I mean where else are you going to see a three foot crystal?

Tasting tip: Go for the Lake Erie Pink Catawba pictured below.  It’s sweet, light pink in color as the name suggests and very easy to drink.  Just be careful, a bottle between two people goes down very quickly.  And by be careful, we mean order two bottles.

Since we’re focusing on wine, we’d be remiss not to mention one of our favorite island events, the Put-in-Bay Island Wine Festival.  Hop on the Miller Ferry on Saturday, October 7 and for just $6 you will get into the festival with a souvenir wine glass. Combine that with a $14/RT ferry ticket and you’re looking at a meager $20 total — Budget travel day! Of course to sample the more than 200 wines that are there, you’ll have to cough up $1 per ticket…how much is completely up to you, ya boozehound.

Heineman’s Winery Facebook

You can tell wine connoisseurs are starting to take notice of the region as well.  In the last decade newer wineries have been popping up like, well, grapes.  Quarry Hill Winery sits perched 834 feet above Berlin Heights, Ohio while the Paper Moon Vineyards nests in the historic harbor town of Vermillion, Ohio.

Quarry Hill Winery Facebook Page

While in Vermillion, be sure to visit the ludicrously delicious Wine Vault. With a newly renovated menu that’s focused more on a tapas style, it’s a refreshing style of nourishment. Try the prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, lobster bisque and delicious cheese plates.  Not sure while we’re giving you ideas of what to order, all of it is tremendous. You’ll see.

Wine Vault Facebook Page

So next time you’d like to hit the wine trail, skip the expensive plane tickets and head north.  France and California will always be there.

Have some other recommendations regarding wineries around Lake Erie? Let us know in the comment section or by tweeting @itsalwaysohio!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Advertisements

These 8 Pizza Places in Ohio Will Melt Your Buds

These circular, sometimes square or rectangular cheesy pies from heaven are what we imagine the ancient Greek gods would eat.  Or wait, maybe Italian gods.  You understand what we’re getting at.  Pizza is life, which is why we’re here to give you our suggestions when it comes to finding this wonderful sustenance in the state of Ohio.

Cameo PizzaSandusky – Family owned and operated since 1936, this iconic Sandusky, Ohio establishment has been making pizza their way for a long, long time.  Talk to anyone from this boating town about pizza and you’ll immediately be inundated about why pizza should be cut in strips and not triangles — That’s Cameo’s doing.  Recently updated with an outdoor patio, new front facade and upstairs area called TopSide, Cameo is truly a staple on the north coast. Whether you’re riding rollercoasters at Cedar Point, island hopping or just cruising around Sandusky, it’s a must-visit. Need a place to stay? Check out one of our favorites, the rooftop-bar-equipped Hotel Kilbourne.

Cameo Pizza Facebook

Avalanche PizzaAthens – Turn around and head far south to the home of Ohio University and you’ll find Avalanche Pizza, which is home to some phenomenal creations like the Veggie Garden and the K-2.  Really want to go big? Try the pizza that won “Best Pizza in the USA” at the World Pizza Championship in Saggiamore, Italy — The Godzilla.

Avalanche Pizza Facebook

Harvest PizzariaColumbus – While this operation has three spots all around Columbus, we’ve only tried Harvest right next to Curio, a high-end cocktail bar we also thoroughly enjoyed. Striving to use only the finest, locally sourced ingredients, Harvest puts out some unbelievably tasty pies.  Somehow both crispy and chewy, yet thin enough to hold all of the toppings, their crust is the real deal — Almost positive you could eat it with zero toppings.  Please however, add toppings.  Three words: Ohio Double Bacon.

Harvest Pizzeria Facebook

Coccia HouseWooster – Upon first glance, the Coccia House looks like a personal residence masquerading as a restaurant and that’s because, well, it is. Back in 1958, Domenica “Minnie” Coccia did just that, turned her home into an Italian restaurant. This old school gem, aside from a few additions, hasn’t changed much and that’s a great thing. Truth be told, this place is so cool that the pizza tasting fantastic was just a bonus — And if you don’t believe us, this stuff is so good, they have shipped it all over the world to places like Papa New Guinea and Iraq.  Want to look like a Wooster local?  Order the Pepperoni Bread that’s not on the menu.

Coccia House Facebook

A TavolaCincinnati – This innovative, communal gathering spot meant to replicate an Italian Trattoria started in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood and has since then expanded to the suburbs in Madeira, and that’s for good reason: This place is just cool.  From the atmosphere and vibe to the thing that we’re here to talk about, pizza.  I mean, the pizza oven apparently came from Naples, Italy, so there’s that.  Do we even need to say more? Seriously though, it’s quite possible the best Neapolitan Thin Crust Pizza we’ve ever had, and that’s something.

A Tavola Pizza Facebook

Frosty BarPut-in-Bay – There’s something about pizza on an island, we’ll admit that.  Simply, yet delicious, the pizza at Frosty Bar isn’t going to knock your socks off the first time you have it, but we’ll guarantee you’ll want more.  Perhaps that’s partly because of our affinity for this island, but it’s mostly about the sweet, tomatoey goodness that’s stealthily hidden underneath a thick of layer of melty cheese. Is there better pizza around? Maybe. Is any of that pizza on Put-in-Bay? Probably not. Need to get over to the island on a budget? Check out the Miller Ferry where the R/T tickets are a mere $14.

Frosty Bar Facebook

Scotti’s Italian EateryCleveland – We’re going to keep this short, mainly because we’re still out of breath from attacking the Meat Lover’s pizza here.  Ready for this?  A huge piece of pie with pepperoni, ham, salami, bacon, chicken sausage, meatballs, house Italian sausage and ridiculously thin sheets of prosciutto. Game. Set. Match. Scotti’s – 1. It’s Always Ohio – 0.

Scotti’s Italian Eatery Facebook

Marion’s PizzaDayton – For 52 years, Marion’s has been firing out delicious, handmade pizza.  With nine locations, this Dayton staple has expanded, yet stayed true to its values by serving the same “Dayton-style” thin crust pizza that’s cut into squares, instead of slices. Lightly cheesed, heavy on the toppings and just the perfect sized square so that you can just keep popping them in your mouth. Feeling a bit wild? Try their Super Cheese…it’s exactly what you’re imagining.

Marion’s Pizza Facebook

As we say, listing our favorites is always tough because there are so many choices out there. We could’ve easily thrown Bar Cento in Cleveland on there or even thrown a shout out to the legendary Myle’s Pizza in Bowling Green — R.I.P.

Have a favorite pizza place in Ohio that you think is the best? Let us know!

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Put-in-Bay’s First Music Festival Looks Awesome and You Should Go

Once in a while you’ll find two things that go together to form a perfect, harmonious balance otherwise unseen in ordinary combinations.  Ham and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, Jordan and Pippen…we all know the classics.  One such marriage, one we consider to be among the classics, is Put-in-Bay, Ohio and music.  The two have always worked together, delighting locals and visitors alike with tunes from fantastic bands hailing from all across the country.  This is why when we found out that the already live music-laden island will be putting on the inaugural Put-in-Bay Music Festival, we were stoked.

Some of the best parts about the festival?  Just a $7 ticket on the Miller Ferry to Put-in-Bay gets you in and once you’re in, the fest takes place in front of one of the most picturesque backdrops on all of South Bass Island — Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial.

In true Perry’s Victory style, the Put-in-Bay Music Festival is all about two other things that go very well together, peace and music.

Seven stellar bands will perform including the Flyin’ Jays, Emily Keener from The Voice, MC Bob Gatewood, JP and the Chatfield Boys, Mo ‘Mojo, Strung Like a Horse and the Floorwalkers. Legendary performer Pat Dailey just recently agreed to perform his new song during the day-long festival.

The music line up is tentatively set (times are approximate and subject to change):

11:15am – Flyin’ Jays

12:15pm – Emily Keener

1:15pm – Bob Gatewood

2:00pm – JP and the Chatfield Boys

3:15pm – Mo ‘Mojo

4:15pm – Pat Dailey

5:00pm – Strung Like a Horse

6:45pm – Floorwalkers

Free music workshops will be given during the day. Mo ‘Mojo will give a workshop on zydeco dance, and a second on drumming. Islander Dick McCarthy will also give two workshops on playing the ukulele, one for beginners and a second for those with some experience. There will also be a “Guitar Hero” competition in the workshop tent.  There will also be two cornhole tournaments, so bring your “A” game.

To plan your island visit to the June 10 Put-in-Bay Music Festival check out the following websites; pibmusicfest.com, millerferry.com, & visitputinbay.com.

Want more music? Toby Keith is performing at Put-in-Bay on Thursday, August 31.  Thats right, Toby Keith. Well played PIB, well played.  More details soon…

SaveSave

Free Ride to Put-in-Bay? Miller Ferry Salutes Active Military & Veterans

As if there wasn’t enough reason to take a trip over to Put-in-Bay already, Miller Ferry is saluting the U.S. military by offering up a pretty sweet deal.  And by pretty sweet, we mean FREE!  Active U.S. Military Personnel and American Veterans are invited to ride aboard Miller Ferry at no charge Saturday, May 27 through Memorial Day, May 29.  Miller Ferry asks that Military Personnel and Veterans identify themselves at the ticket booth to obtain free passenger ferry passage.

After getting over to the island without paying a dime, the savings continue.  While we’d like to give a nice description of each place that’s giving a discount, we’re going to be completely honest here, we don’t have enough time and you’d stop reading — It’s so, so many places.  So instead, we’ll just list them. Below are valid from:

Saturday, May 27 through Memorial Monday, May 29

Boardwalk Main & Upper Deck 10% off any food item (does not include alcohol).
Cameo Pizza $2.00 off a large and $1.00 off a medium pizza.
Candy Bar 10% discount.
Carriage House Gift Shop 20% discount.
Chicken Patio $5.00 off a chicken dinner.
Country House Gifts 10% discount.
Dairy Isle
10% off any food item.
E’s Golf Carts
 $5.00 off daily cart rental.
Heineman’s Winery 50% off combo tours. Pay only $4.00 for a winery tour, cave tour and a glass of wine or juice.
Hooligan’s 10% off any food item (does not include alcohol) .
Island Bike & Cart Rental $5.00 off daily golf cart rental.
J.F. Walleye’s (Middle Bass Island) 50% off vacation rentals, golf cart rental and breakfast buffet.
Lime Kiln Bus free transportation & $1.00 off for adult family members.
Miller Ferry free transportation to Put-in-Bay or Middle Bass Island.
Park Hotel Golf Cart Rental $5.00 off cart rental (day rate only).
Pasquale’s Cafe 25% off mean (does not include alcohol).
Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center free admission to Perry’s Cave & $1.00 off for adult family members.
Put-in-Bay Brewing Company Free souvenir pint glass with any purchase.
Put-in-Bay Surf Shop 25% discount.
Put-in-Bay Tour Train free tour & $1.00 off for adult family members.
Reel Bar 20% off total food bill (does not include alcohol).
T & J’s Smokehouse 15% total off food bill (does not include alcohol).
The Bucket Shop 10% discount.
The Butterfly House free admission & $1.00 off for adult family members.
The Keys 10% off any food item (does not include alcohol).

Memorial Day Only – Monday, May 29

Boardwalk Main & Upper Deck Free bowl (one) of lobster bisque.
Mossbacks
 50% off any food item.

We were right, right?  So many discounts.  For more information visit www.millerferry.com. We’ll see you on the island!

5 Things in Ohio She’ll Love on Mother’s Day

It’s pretty simple, you owe a lot to your mother.  It’s not really up for debate, she was the one who created you — Literally.  And that’s no offense to dad, because clearly he played a very important role, but let’s be honest…she had it a little bit tougher don’t you think?  It’s for this reason among a litany of others that you should probably think about doing something special this Sunday.  Luckily for all us Ohio residents, there’s no shortage of fun and unique things to do.  While there’s way, way more than five, we’re going to give you just a few of the activities we like best.

Annual Mother’s Day Tea at The Culinary Vegetable Institute — If you haven’t already been, Mother’s Day is the perfect excuse to visit this Ohio gem.  Highly renowned chef’s from all over the world gather here to focus on how they can benefit from the unique, sustainable vegetables grown right here in Ohio.  What’s that mean?  Super tasty food is what we’re guessing and that’s awesome because mom loves food and when you take her to the serene setting of the Chef’s Garden, she’ll love you forever (Even though she already does).  At the Mother’s Day Tea event you’ll sip on sumptuous tea while enjoying a lavish spread of decadent sweets and savory offering with a contemporary twist amidst a rustic, springtime decor.  Enjoy!

Culinary Vegetable Institute Facebook

Take the Miller Ferry to Put-in-Bay for a Day — Our affinity for Put-in-Bay has already been well documented, which is precisely why we think you should take your mother there.  She’ll not only appreciate a tasty lunch at the Reel Bar or maybe even a quick adult beverage at the Round House, but really enjoy the zen-like ride aboard the Miller Ferry on the way over.  At about 20 minutes long, it’s the perfect time to chart your own course for the day and chat about how much you appreciate everything she does.  Pro Mom Tip: Grab a golf cart from E’s after sauntering up the hill and head out out Scheef Park for some alternate island perspective.

Explore the New Hiking Trails at Hocking Hills State Park — From up north at Put-in-Bay to down south at Hocking Hills, we’re all over the place and we know it.  It’s fine though, just hop in the car and drive…nowhere in Ohio is that far.  Especially when we’re talking about this place because it’s 100% worth this trip.  They’ve also just opened a two new beautiful trail systems, something they haven’t done in 50 years.  One of which will take you to the second-largest cave in Ohio.  So you can help navigate your way to the freshly cut trails when you arrive, look for the names Whispering Cave and Hemlock — the two new monikers for the bridge trails connecting to the Old Man Trail System. Since we let you in on this cool news, all we ask is that you take pictures and share with us.  Sound good?  Perfect.

Unplug and Create Scented Soy Candles at Manitou Candle Co. — So, this place is seriously cool and your mom will not just like it, she’ll love it.  This mellow, yet somehow vibrant space in the Columbia Tusculum neighborhood of Cincinnati is the perfect spot to shut off your phone and just do something different.  Not only will your learn the art of making scented soy candles at Manitou, but leave with some really unique tangible memories.  Learn well and smell good my friends.

Manitou Candles Facebook

Explore a Small Town — Honestly, this one is tough because Ohio is chock full of really unique small towns.  So instead of focusing on just one, we’ll rattle off a few.  Yellow Springs is easily one of our favorites and it’s not just because Dave Chapelle lives there.  This cute town has a super mellow, almost hippy vibe that we really dig.  Stroll downtown and visit Dark Star Books, Dino’s Coffee Shop or the Yellow Springs Brewery.  Next up, Wooster.  We’ve talked about this one before, but it’s definitely worth a revisit.  Bustling with energy and what seems like a new restaurant opening every few months, this charming town is perfect for a day visit with mom.  Our recommendations?  Lunch at the newly renovated Spoon Market & Deli followed up by coffee and Hungarian pastries at Tulipan.  If you feel like you need more time, stay in lavish quarters of the St. Paul Hotel, which just added new four new rooms for added vacancy.  And last but not least, Oberlin.  Of course you kind of have to hit up the Frank Lloyd House, because it’s the Frank Lloyd House.  You’re going to want to grab your bike as well — Oberlin’s numerous bike trails lend perfectly to this mode of transportation. Where to eat?  Try the Italian Hash N’ Eggs for brunch or The Feve Burger with pickled jalapeno at The Feve.  Anything that’s pickled is fantastic.  You can take that to the bank.

Spoon Market and Deli Facebook

Have something you’d like to add to this list?  Let us know!

PS. We love you mom.

Beer Class is the Best Class – Beer Exploration Society at Ohio Beer Garden

Don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz afterwards.  However, we do have two questions for you.  Do you like beer and do you like learning about beer?  If you’ve answered yes to both of those, then Ohio Beer Garden’s Beer Exploration Society is for you.

Speaking of beer, it’s no mystery that we at It’s Always Ohio like beer…and in fact, we like learning about beer.  The Rail and Ohio Beer Garden have this sweet little class dubbed the “Beer Exploration Society,” which is exactly as it sounds.  Top breweries from around Ohio come in, produce an awesome lineup of new beers, pour them for everyone and then chat about what makes them so tasty.

The Rail Facebook

One session has us particularly fired up this month and that’s because one of our favorites, Market Garden Brewery, is rolling in to the Ohio Beer Garden on April 19th with a ton of awesome brews.  They’ll be featuring Hellamango IPA, Prosperity Wheat, Citramax IPA and Progress Pilsner.

Ohio Beer Garden Facebook

We’re not sure about you, but we’re getting a little thirsty just looking at those bottles.  If you’ve never been to a Beer Class yet, the cost is a meager $12/person and with that you get plenty of beer tasters and appetizers to go along.  The easiest way to book a seat is by calling (440) – 979 – 1001.

If you can’t make it to the Ohio Beer Garden on April 19th for Market Garden, there are three others you can meander to:

  • Beer Exploration Society at The Rail Strongsville – Jackie O’s Brewery
    • Thursday, April, 20th @ 6:00 pm
  • Beer Exploration Society at The Rail Canton – Columbus Brewing Co.
    • Thursday, April 27th @ 6:00 pm & 7:30 pm
  • Beer Exploration Society at The Rail Fairlawn – Four String Brewing Co.
    • Thursday,  April 27th @ 7:00 pm
Ohio Beer Garden Facebook

For more information you can visit www.therailburger.com or www.ohiobeergarden.com.  You can follow along on Twitter @TheRailBurger & @ohiobeergarden.  Side note: Looking for a ridiculously tasty Certified Angus all-Ohio steak? Check out City Square Steakhouse, their sister restaurant in Wooster, Ohio.

Cheers!

Winter’s Still Here: Snow Trails Opens for Bonus Weekend

For those of us who like to slide around in the snow with things on our feet, here’s some great news — Snow Trails is open for a bonus weekend!  Partly because of a little late season winter push and mostly because of Snow Trails uncanny ability to make snow at the drop of a hat, what’s been a pretty mild winter has suddenly turned into an actual winter.

 

All of the snowmaking combined with a little natural powder from Winter Storm Stella has come together nicely and brought winter right back to where it should be, providing perfectly groomed slopes comprised of super shreddable packed powder.

Snow Trails opened today at 10:00 am and will continue to stay open through Sunday for your enjoyment. Temperatures this week are ideal for continued skiing and riding, forecasted to stay cold during the week and warm up just a bit for the weekend.

As an added bonus, Snow Trail is offering up a huge 50% discount at the Ticket Window for Lift Tickets, Equipment Rentals and Tubing Tickets.

Go carve it up, we’ll see you down there! Visit www.snowtrails.com for more details.

Love Ohio Craft Beer? FeBREWary at The Rail is Back, Bigger and Better Than Ever

If you’ve visited It’s Always Ohio before, you’d know that we aren’t shy about how much we like The Rail.  Their burgers are ridiculously tasty.  Their beers are ridiculously tasty.  And as if that wasn’t enough, it’s all OHIO!  So when we got word about them bringing back FeBREWary, we had to share. Check out the deets below.

  • FeBREWary has been expanded to include all of Mike Mariola’s concepts —All four Rail locations, Ohio Beer Garden and City Square Steakhouse in Wooster, Ohio.
  • Month-long event will comprise of a variety of draft beers not available anywhere else in Ohio.
  • Featured breweries include Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, Warped Wing Brewing and Zaftig Brewing.

New year, new beer.  The Rail, one of northeast Ohio’s staple craft beer and burger bars, is bringing back beer-centric FeBREWary for a second straight year.

The Rail Akron Ohio

While the exciting event will once again feature rare Ohio craft brews that can’t be found anywhere else, The Rail has stepped up their game by expanding the map and featuring a lot more beer.  Restauranteur Mike Mariola’s other two creations, Ohio Beer Garden in North Olmsted and City Square Steakhouse in Wooster, Ohio, will also be taking part in the fun.

The Rail’s affinity for everything Ohio is already well known amongst northeast Ohioans, evident by their use of local ingredients and Ohio only brews. 2017’s FeBREWary however, will up the ante by offering rare, delicious craft beers that won’t be available at any other space in Ohio.

“We’ve always known Ohio is on the forefront of the craft beer scene,” says Mike Mariola, award-winning chef turned restauranteur and craft beer aficionado. “That’s why we created FeBREWary.  It’s the perfect opportunity to showcase some of our favorite Ohio beer and have other local fellow beer lovers join us.”

Mariola’s deep involvement in the event even has him driving a U-Haul across the state to pick up these highly coveted kegs.

Beer Flight The Rail Ohio

These scarce brews will spread across the style board and include Driftwood IPA, Daybreak Clear Sky Cream Ale and Hop Smoothie IPA from the Columbus-based Wolf’s Ridge Brewing.  Gamma Bomb IPA, Trotwood Lager and Jolly Tar Dark Brown Ale from Dayton’s Warped Wing Brewery as well as A-Crop Blacklight Stout and Wee Heavy Scotch Ale from Zaftig Brewing in Columbus.

Follow the FeBREWary journey on The Rail Burger Blog and on social media at The Rail’s Facebook page and on Twitter @TheRailBurger.

2017 to Start With a Bang for Sandusky, Ohio & Hotel Kilbourne

If you’ve been following along with our blog, you’ll know that we kind of love Sandusky and its surrounding area.  So it should come as no surprise that we’re unequivocally stoked that one of our favorite new hotels is popping the cork with a first-time fireworks celebration in Sandusky, Ohio.

Hotel Kilbourne, aside from catering to the discerning midwest traveler, is always looking for ways to get the town’s blood flowing and since almost every great New Year’s every celebration around the world comes complete with a fireworks show, they thought Sandusky should be no different.

Inside Hotel Kilbourne

 

The proprietors Ryan Whaley and Nikki Lloyd are very excited for the new event, hoping that it will add to Sandusky’s renaissance and bring more locals downtown, specifically during the region’s tourism offseason.

“Since moving back to the area five years ago, we’ve never really had a New Year’s Eve city wide event.” stated Ryan Whaley.  “We see a fireworks display as a fun event that will bring folks downtown and further our sense of community in Sandusky.”

Jackson St. Pier will be the launch point for the fireworks with city officials blocking off part of the lot for a public viewing area.   Fireworks will begin at midnight E.S.T.  The event is free to the public and will take place on Jackson St. Pier.

The New Year’s Eve fireworks are sponsored by the Hotel Kilbourne and produced by local pyrotechnics company, Ohio Pyro & Flame L.L.C.

More information regarding the celebration can be found at the Hotel Kilbourne’s Facebook event page.

Hotel Kilbourne Front

For other things to do and places to visit in Sandusky, check out our post “Sandusky, Ohio is Shedding the Rust and Quietly Becoming Awesome.”

 

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: