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Are you planning to spend a few days in our area? Let us provide you with some suggestions about interesting things to do in our neighboring communities. Our area abounds with activities for all ages and interests.
The Van Wert area has much to offer individuals and families when it comes to fun, entertainment, historical sites, and the arts. Conveniently located between the metropolitan centers of Toledo, Lima, Dayton and Fort Wayne, it affords families extended entertainment opportunities within an hour drive. Make Van Wert your over-night destination to enjoy an evening of serenity with reasonably priced lodging and restaurants. Here are a few of the many area attractions.
North of Van Wert
Historic Sauder Village Located 60 miles north of Van Wert in Archbold, Ohio, this is a living history village featuring costumed guides and working craftsmen everyday late April through October. The village also houses the Doughbox Bakery and the Barn Restaurant. For more information see their website at www.saudervillage.org
Auglaize Village Check out Auglaize Village, 33 miles nnorth of Van Wert. Visitors become uniquely involved in the recreation of the 19th century history. Along with its 41 new, restored and reconstructed buildings the village also has several museums. Every year there are special event days where authentically costumed craftsmen demonstrate a wide variety of pioneer skills. Located 3 miles west of Defiance at 12296 Krouse Road.
Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation, Inc.
NWORRP is unique among railroad groups in that they incorporate a diversity of interests - from model size, to quarter-scale, to full scale. They believe each aspect communicates the importance railroads were to our national and local history, and combining all of these interests together allows a better understanding of the positive impact railroads have in our everyday lives. The NWORRP is located near Findlay, Ohio, 62 miles northeast of Van Wert. Additional information can be found at their website www.nworrp.org
Mazza Museum' The Mazza Museum, located at The University of Findlay, is the world’s largest museum devoted entirely to literacy and the art of children’s picture books. Founded in 1982, Mazza now contains nearly 5,000 original artworks. Schools can schedule tours for children but even adults will enjoy this the Mazza. This Childrens Museum in Northwest Ohio also offers art camps during the summer, art auctions, book readings and much more for the whole family. Enjoy not only the beautiful campus but the art, books and toys that fill this magical museum. Findlay is located 1 hour northest of Van Wert, More information can be found at www.mazzamuseum.org
Old Mill Stream Scenic Byway Sawmills, gristmills and waterpower shaped a region for Native Americans and settlers, carving a country out of the Ohio wilderness bounded by rivers and the Great Black Swamp. The 1910’s ballad “Down by the Old Mill Stream” by local songwriter Tell Taylor is a signature of the times, giving its name to the scenic byway. The Old Mill Stream Scenic Byway stretches 52 miles over Hancock and Putnam Counties, linking the Lincoln Highway National Historic Byway to small villages, parks and landmarks. The scenic byway is more than a road, it is an experience with Ohio’s heritage and opportunities for travel as a connection for people – it’s a Sunday Drive, every day, all seasons of the year! For more information on this or other Ohio Byways visit www.dot.state.oh.us/ohiobyways
East of Van Wert
The MacDonell House The MacDoell House in downtown Lima, Ohio, a short 30 miles east of Van Wert, is a real treasure. Located next door to the Allen County Museum, this 1890's Victorian mansion is a must see with more than 15 rooms furnished in great detail. This home and its decor are reminiscent of the great wealth brought into Allen County during the oil boom era. Features include: beautiful parquet floors, intricately hand-carved woodwork throughout, a two-story stained glass window accented by a grand staircase, a rare Viennese painting on a cobweb, a Wooten cabinet desk, an albino wild game and trophy room and so much more! For more information visit www.allencvb.lima.oh.us
Christian Schumacherr Swiss Farmstead The general purpose of the Swiss Community Historical Society is to investigate and study the history of the Bluffton-Pandora community; to provide for the collection, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge and information about the community; to provide for the collection and preservation or display of papers, books, records, relics, and other things of historic interest; to acquire, hold, own, operate and manage property necessary or advisable for these purposes and to provide for the marking and preservation of historical sites and buildings. The Homestead, locatyed about 40 miles east of Van Wert, is owned by the Swiss Community Historical Society. It is a typical Swiss settlement house built in 1843. The barn has an inscription stone reading 1854 set into the limestone wall on the east side, making it one of the earliest large barns in the area. Additional information can be found at www.swisshistorical.com
Allen County Museum
The dramatically expanded and redesigned Allen County Museum is a premier attraction for history lovers of all ages. Railroad buffs will enjoy seeing the 1925 Shay locomotive, Lima City Street Railway motorman’s cab, and interurban exhibits. The Children’s Discovery Center offers hands-on activities for kids including a general store, one-room schoolhouse, Native American wigwam and large model railroad layout. Whether your interest is natural history, the Civil War, transportation, or John Dillinger’s gang, you’ll find it all at the Allen County Museum. The institution also offers the Elizabeth M. MacDonell Memorial Library, a favorite among family history researchers, and the John H. Keller Railroad Archives featuring thousands of photographs, builders’ prints, and Lima Locomotive Works documents. Families and individuals welcome year round. Visit www.allencountymuseum.org
South of Van Wert
Grand Lake St. Marys Grand Lake St. Marys is a manmade lake located just west of St. Marys, Ohio. The lake covers 13,500 acres in Auglaize and Mercer counties. Grand Lake St. Marys is the largest inland lake in Ohio in terms of land area. It was constructed in the early 1800's as a reservoir for the Miami and Erie Canal. In the 1890's oil was discovered in the area, and oil derricks were set up in the lake. In 1949, it was made one of Ohio's first state parks. The lake and the surrounding state park are a popular site for recreational fishing and camping, and there are four swimming beaches. Grand Lake St. Marys is easily reached by driving south from Van Wert to Celina, Ohio, a mere 23 miles. Visit www.seemore.org for additional information.
Bicycle Museum of America
Located in New Bremen about 34 miles south of Van Wert, the Micycle Museum displays over 300 bicycles, the core of which were the Schwinn family collection formerly displayed at the Navy Pier in Chicago. With its total collection numbering over 600 bicycles, the Bicycle Museum of America is the largest private collection in the world open to the public. Have your picture taken atop a big wheel bicycle, a fun stop for young and old alike. Visit their web site at www.bicyclemuseum.com for more information.
Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum A short drive of 50 miles can put you on the moon. Named in honor of local native, Neil Armstrong, first man to set foot on the moon, this museum in Wapakoneta chronicles Ohio's contributions to the history of space flight. Among the items on display are a F5D Sky Lancer, the Gemini VIII spacecraft, Apollo 11 artifacts and a moon rock. In the museum's Astro-theater, multimedia presentations of the sights and sounds of space unfold against a starry background. www.ohiohistory.org/places/armstron will provide you with more information.
Fort Recovery State Museum Located 39 miles south of Van Wert in Fort Recovery, Ohio, is the site of the two most dramatic Indian battles in American history. Museum features Wayne soldiers, a lifelike warrior, battle descriptions and one of the largest Indian artifact collections on display in Ohio. On the grounds are two reconstructed blockhouses, a connecting stockade and the Greenville Treaty Line marker. A 103’ monument stands to remember the 900+ soldiers that died here and an oak tree to remember the Native Americans. Other attractions are a log home, blacksmith shop, historical walkway, local walk-by museum and a state park. For more information you can visit www.fortrecoverymuseum.com
Garst Museum Located 55 miles south of Van Wert, the museum features the largest known collection of memorabilia on Annie Oakley; memorabilia and artifacts from the world famous radio broadcaster Lowell Thomas, along with historic artifacts relating to Anthony Wayne and the Treaty of Greene Ville, and Native American artifacts. Other wings in the museum include a village of shops, a wing of early American furnishings, pioneer life and military uniforms, as well as an early Indianapolis 500 race car built in Greenville. More information can be found at www.GarstMuseum.org
KitchenAid Experience Step into a fully-equipped kitchen and watch as we stir up some fun with a variety of KitchenAid® Countertop Appliances. We’ll use mixers, attachments, food processors… even cutlery! You’ll learn the full use of these wonderful countertop appliances as well as new culinary techniques, tips, and tricks of the trade. Activities and demonstrations make this more than a store … it’s a mixing, blending, slicing culinary adventure! While here you can also visit the KitchenAid Heritage Center. See an original Model H KitchenAid Stand Mixer, some are still in use today, as well as how it has been improved and refined over the years. Discover timeless craftsmanship and authentic, vintage KitchenAid artifacts, advertisements and products that will take you back in time and illustrate KitchenAid brand’s distinct heritage that is second to none. For more information visit www.KitchenAid.com
Eldora Speedway Owned and operated by NASCAR legend, Tony Stewart, this 1/2 mile dirt oval is home to World 100, The Dream, and Kings Royal. The Nation’s most widely recognized sanctioning groups, including All-Star Sprints, WoO, Late Models, Midgets, Dirt Champ, Modifieds and Stock Cars race at Eldora! This track is located 40 miles south of Van Wert. Seasonal: April – September Additional information can be found at www.EldoraSpeedway.com
Fort Wayne, Indiana Fort Wayne, Indiana, the second largest metropolitan area in Indiana, is located 35 miles west of Van Wert. There you will find many adventures awaiting your entire family. A sampling of these experiences would include the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo ( www.kidszoo.org ); Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory (www.botanicalconservatory.org ); and Science Central ( www.sciencecentral.org ). Fort Wayne also provides opportunities for attending theatrical productions and concerts at the Embassy Centre (www.embassycentre.org ) and sporting events at the Memorial Coliseum (www.memorialcoliseum.com ).
Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum and the National Automotive and Truck Museum of the United States The city of Auburn, Indiana, 52 miles northwest of Van Wert is the home to two of the finest museums in the United States dedicated to transportation. The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum has more than 100 antique, vintage, classic, and special interest cars, from horseless carriages of the nineteenth century to muscle cars of the present. To find more information about this museum visit their website at www.acdmuseum.org or call them at 260-925-1444. The National Automotive and Truck Museum of the United States focuses on post-WWII automobiles, trucks and engines of all years and automotive toys and models. Over 1000 automotive exhibits and thousands of toys and models are on display. Additional information can be found at www.natmus.com or phone them at 260-925-9100.
Grabill, Indiana Nestled in the midst of a large settlement of Old Order Amish, Grabill, located just outside of Fort Wayne and 46 miles northwest of Van Wert, offers history, culture, wonderful restaurants and unique shops and businesses with special items and collectibles. The Amish go about their daily shopping and business in the Grabill community and are especially friendly and helpful to their out-of-town guests. An exciting Country Fair is held the weekend after Labor Day each fall and special Country Christmas activities are observed during November and December. For more information you can visit www.grabill.net