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Be Your Own Baron at Squire’s Castle in Willoughby Hills, Ohio

It’s Always Ohio is movin’ on up! A special thanks goes out Wendy Koile, our first ever guest blogger. Below you’ll find an detailed account of Wendy getting medieval in Ohio…or wait, wrong time period.  Getting baronial?  Anyway, below you’ll find Wendy’s awesome blog post about Squire’s Castle in Willoughby Hills, Ohio. Enjoy!

A few miles southeast of the hustle and bustle of inner-city Cleveland, stands an unexpected, yet charming structure.  Quietly tucked just within the tree line of the North Chagrin Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks, the shell of an impressive castle peers out under the thick leaves of the woodland, leaving many visitors enchanted by its existence.  However, as park goers stroll through the vacant rooms, they not only are draw to the physical beauty of the edifice, but also to the lingering sensation of a forgotten possibility tinged with just a hint of sadness.  In fact, Squires Castle does indeed represent both a loved and hated, century old dream. 

In the 1890’s, British born- turned Cleveland business oil tycoon, Fergus B. Squire initiated construction on his newly purchased 525 acres of woodsy land near present day Willoughby Hills. Although he owned a mansion on Euclid Ave, often referred to as Millionaire’s Row, Squire yearned for the English countryside where he had spent his childhood.  Now a husband and father of two, he wished for his family to experience the delights of living close to nature. 

Squire’s dream was to build a manor house, or small castle, for his family to use a retreat from city-life. By 1897, the still existing building was completed and was originally to act as the gatehouse and caretakers’ home.  According to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History the estate was enhanced by adding “groves of trees, ponds, bridges, and a gravel roadway.”  It was near this time, however, that the construction came to an abrupt halt. 

Recorded account suggests that Squire encountered problems finding material and competent laborers to complete the main house. Yet most believed the glitch in the plan was that young Mrs. Squire did not take to the residence. She had always been a city girl at heart, and the sound of creatures rustling through the backyard was not her idea of a relaxing retreat.  And to top it off, Fergus loved hunting and proudly displayed throughout the house the heads of many beasts.

Sadly, Squire visited the estate only a few more times as a camping retreat with his daughter.  In 1908, he sold the property to developers and built a mansion in nearby Willowick.  1925, the Cleveland Park Board took possession of the land and building, filling the basement and removing the second floor.  As the small castle sat vacant, vandals looted the building of its lead glass windows, decorative adornments, and any other traces of the original owner. 

To add insult to injury, creepy ghost stories and urban legends sometimes overshadowed the factual history of Squire’s Castle.  The tales usually centered around the death of Mrs. Squire and her supposed tragic fall down castle steps.  Due to her untimely death, she allegedly still haunts the family’s retreat home to this day.  Disappointedly to local ghost hunters, record indicate that Mrs. Squire died a natural death in a Cleveland hospital.  

Ghost hunting or not, today guests are free to walk through the castle and hike the woods stretching out far behind.  Simple blueprints of the original estate design are displayed throughout the building detailing each room and its function.  The arched doorways and glassless windows allow the wind to quietly sweep through while carrying the long-forgotten vision of a dreamlike castle along with it. 

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Taco Takeover: The Best Taco Joints in Ohio

We’ve noticed, you’ve noticed, the whole midwest has noticed — It seems like tacos are taking over the food scene and that’s perfectly fine because we happen to love them.  Sweet, salty, savory, fresh, cheesy, melty…folks are doing everything you can imagine in a corn tortilla these days.  And with this delicious Mexican creation on the rise, we thought it’d only be fitting to give praise to these foldable morsels of heaven by etching out a list of our favorite tacos joints across Ohio.

Taco Bell — Everywhere — Just kidding! Admit it, you just got so upset for a second. Okay, let’s get serious.

Guerra’s Crazy TacoSpringfield — The gentleman behind this spot grows his own herbs and peppers and touts that “fresh” is of the utmost importance. You can certainly tell.  If you want to send your tastebuds on an epic journey, try the shrimp tacos or brisket smoked in house.

Guerra’s Crazy Taco Facebook

CondadoColumbus — Two words, Bubba Kush. Don’t let the odd name fool you, just like the rest of the tacos on the menu here, it’s legit.  It comes with a “Peezler” shell, which is a hard shell and soft shell combined, smoked cheddar, pulled pork, jicama, onions, pineapple salsa and jackfruit BBQ sauce.  Try and recite that entire line without getting all slobbery…impossible.  They also have a location in Pittsburgh, but we don’t care about that.

Condado’s Tacos Facebook

OH TacoSandusky — Oh, so you want a view of the Great Lakes while you’re munching on a delightful beer battered tilapia taco?  Well look at that, we’ve found a place for you! Albeit fairly new to the restaurant scene, OH Taco more than makes up for its young age with superb authentic Mexican street tacos and a unique atmosphere.  Connected to the wonderful boutique-style Hotel Kilbourne and its lobby bar dubbed Moseley’s, patrons here have more than enough choices of venue to go around.  Vegetarian?  Try the portabello taco with fire roasted poblano peppers for an explosion of south of the border flavor. Did we mention there’s a rooftop bar, too?

OH Taco Facebook

MomochoCleveland — With one in Lakewood and one in Ohio City, east side Clevelanders have it good…really good. This funky spot focuses on “Mod Mex” cuisine and does it well, and the particular part of that culinary style we’re interested in is the taquitos, or rolled tacos.  All taquitos come with five soft corn tortillas, whether it’s the outrageously tasty coffee + chili ancho braised brisket or the beef tongue pastrami.  Worried about that second one? Don’t be, it’s so good it’ll make you forget you’re eating tongue. Wash it all down with one of their signature flavored margaritas — We like to go for the Red Bell Pepper.

Momocho Facebook

Los Gauchos — Columbus — If you’re lucky enough to have already happened upon this local’s spot, then you also already know that the taco el pastor here is northing short of life changing. And if you haven’t found this place yet, go. Go now!  A perfect combination of slow-cooked marinated pork, cilantro, pineapple and onions served on two soft corn tortillas…you can’t see it, but the “s” on our keyboard has a little bit of drool on it.  Los Guachos has two locations, one in Columbus and another in Gahanna.

Los Guachos Facebook

MazuntaCincinnati — Steak? Fish? Pork? It really doesn’t matter what taco you decide to have at this place, they’re all melt-in-your-mouth good.  Just for extra measure though, try the pork tacos served with cotija cheese…absolutely ridiculous.  This small joint has a beach vibe that’s unlike anything you’ve most likely seen in the states and really makes you feel like you’ve been transported to Oaxaca.  On top of all of the goods, prices are very affordable.  Make sure to try the horchata, fresh chips and salsa bar as well.  You know what? Try everything, you won’t be disappointed.

Mazunte Facebook

Casa Nueva Restaurant & CantinaAthens — It’s true we have a soft spot of Athens and Casa falls right in line with what’s so good about this little southern Ohio town.  It’s just different.  Different and spectacular.  Owned by the workers, the foundation of this restaurant is vastly different from most — Want to leave a tip? They’ll take it, but instead of going in their pocket, it will be donated to a local Athens organization.  Make sure you come hungry though because the food here is abundant and the tacos are usually large. Also, keep the number of margaritas you have to a few, as they’re not your average. Wink, wink, they’re strong.  If you can swing it, stop in on a Wednesday, order the puerco pibil and then watch everyone look at you like you’re a local.

Casa Nueva Facebook

Have a favorite taco spot you think should be on this list?  Let us know in the comment section below!

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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!

 

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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…

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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.

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.

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.”

 

 

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