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Before You Say Ohio is Boring, Check Out These Hidden Gems

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bowling Green chapter.

Are you bored during spring or summer break? Don’t want to put another beautiful day to waste? If you are anything like me, I do not want to go to a museum, walk through another nature preserve, or pay for an expensive experience in a big city like Columbus or Cincinnati. I also do not have the money for a trip to Disney World or across the United States. I would like to share with you my favorite hidden gems in Ohio that are cheap, relaxing, dog-friendly, and Instagram-worthy photo locations. These engaging activities and sites helped me to appreciate the little experiences around me. However, as most places in Ohio, some of these locations are seasonal but their teams are great at hosting events year-round to attract visitors.

#1 Groovy Plants Ranch: Marengo, Ohio

This is such a funky place to visit! The greenhouse is known for its unique and wild botanical plants from around the world. With thousands of plants to choose from, there is also the opportunity to skip the mess at home and plant them at the Potter’s Saloon for free. The plant experts on the ranch are friendly and knowledgeable in helping you become the best plant parent you can be. It is located North of Columbus and is open every day from 8am-5pm. They often host yoga sessions in the greenhouse, crafts, and workshops on plant care. On April 20-21, Groovy Plants Ranch is having their Spring Thrift-O-Rama which invites vendors to sell vintage clothing, records, and crafts. 


#2 Main Street Beach: Vermilion, Ohio

Only 17% of Ohio’s lakefront property along Lake Erie is open to the public, so Vermilion takes pride in their Main Street Beach. When I visited this free, public swimming beach in September of 2023, I was pleased by how clean and well-kept it was. There was also access to public restrooms, a hose to rinse off sand, and a concession stand selling snacks and beach glass jewelry made by local artists. Of course, I had to get my favorite summer treat, the SpongeBob popsicle. The beach is open every day from dusk until dawn but most popular in the warmer months for swimming. The small town of Vermilion, only consisting of a population of 10,688 people, has fun local shops and restaurants to explore along Main Street. I suggest stopping in a Granny Joe’s Ice Crematorium and taking a $20 boat sunset tour with Doc Parsons Inc. & Mystic Belle.


#3 Boardwalk Village: Celina, Ohio

 The Boardwalk Village is one of my favorite lodging experiences. I find hotels to be boring and Airbnbs sketchy and unsafe. The Village is a gated community of colorful houses surrounding a private heated swimming pool. There are 21 houses to choose from ranging in sleeping 4-12 guests. Some of the amenities include free wifi, keypad on door, washing machine, private front porch, free parking, smart tv, and board games. Select houses include a private hot tub as well! When I went to the Boardwalk Village, I stayed in a mint green house called the Blissful Bayou which had one bedroom, 2 lofts (sleeping 6 total), open kitchen and living room concept, and a full bathroom. I recommend eating at the Boardwalk Grill which is a minute walk from the Village and they have live music every weekend. 


#4 Kingwood Center Gardens: Mansfield, Ohio

This large, gorgeous garden estate surrounds a rusty pink historical mansion that was built in 1926 for innovative industrialist Charles Kelley King. The garden has unique floral displays, woodland trails, a duck pond, and peacocks casually walking around. The Garden is open all year round with hours from 10am-5pm in January-March. Entry fee is $8 per person with children 12 and under for free. Their online interactive map helps guide you through the experience to avoid missing anything. They offer tours and plenty of events throughout the year as well. Such as “Eclipsed at the Estate”, Orchid Sale, Kids Summer Camp, and an Easter Sunrise Service. If you live around the Mansfield area, I would choose this as the perfect wedding location. 


#5 Sunset Ridge Lavender Farms: Enon, Ohio

The Sunset Ridge Lavender Farms has 33 acres of 4,500 lavender plants along with the iconic purple barn. In the barn is a gift shop where you purchase the lavender picking package which includes a pair of scissors and instructions on how to create your bundle. The front porch has rocking chairs for guests to enjoy the view and a spacious barn to hold events. I suggest trying their lavender lemonade, it was surprisingly delicious. This was such a relaxing experience and I still have the dried lavender in a vase that I cut years ago. The Farm is only open during the spring and summer seasons Saturday 10am-3pm and Sunday noon-3pm. 


I encourage you to grab some friends or take a solo trip to one of these hidden gem locations this year to see how fun Ohio can be!

Jada Siebeneck

Bowling Green '24

Jada is a 3rd year student at BGSU majoring in Tourism, Hospitality, and Event Management. In her free time she enjoys sewing costumes, coloring, and spending time with family. She strives to live bougie while on a budget and to follow goals that lead to a happier life.