The tough economy has made it impossible for many of us to afford away-from-home vacations like in years past. But don’t let that be a negative, there are many things to do right in your own back yard. If you live near Middlefield, Ohio in beautiful Geauga County (a little more than 30 miles east of Cleveland and 76 miles west of Erie, PA) there are many things to see and do. Our family planned this “day-cation” as part of our “stay-cation” and wanted to explore other worlds just outside our front doors.
According to the Geauga County’s 2009 Visitor’s Guide, “Geauga County is home to the 2nd largest Amish population in the state and the 4th largest in the world!” This Visitor’s Guide and website are full of ideas for lodging, dining, shopping, and much more. Be sure to stop at www.tourgeauga.com for more information, maps and ideas.
We started our journey in the heart of Middlefield at Routes 608 and 87. We headed north on 608 (past the Geauga County Tourism office…I hear they are very friendly and helpful) to our first stop with a picnic lunch at Eagle Creek park and their new “Sprayground Park” located on North Springdale Avenue just east from 608. This place is really cool, and I mean really cool. It has two splash pad areas, a playground area, paths and gazebo. There are picnic tables all over. The “Sprayground Park” is open from 10 am until 8 pm during good weather. There is no lifeguard, so please watch the children closely.
Once we were full to capacity and dried off it was onto our next stop – back to 608 and heading north, the Middlefield Cheese House at 15864 Nauvoo Road. We enjoyed the museum and the film about the history of cheese-making. We really enjoyed the free samples.
Right behind the Cheese House on Nauvoo is Settler’s Village. This lovely group of shops includes a craft shop, a quilt/fabric store, a couple of antique shops and an art gallery. We noticed that they have many different activities throughout the year; we will have to come back for a special event and meet the Ole Western Marshal (I hear he is just great and full of fun stories).
Continuing east on Nauvoo, we passed a few more unique shops (jewelry and more antiques) and the Middlefield Market at 15848 Nauvoo Road. Every Monday (8 am to 3 pm) and Saturday (9 am to 3 pm) they have live auctions and a flea market. We missed that the day we went exploring, but that could be another whole trip in and of itself.
Driving down Nauvoo, you are in the heart of an Amish community. The white houses, the curtains drawn to the side, the gardens, children playing, the horses and the buggies are all so different from our lives, but beautiful in their differences. Driving among the Amish takes patience, but when you think of how hard it must to be stay so strong to one’s convictions during these modern times, I found it a breath of fresh air to be patient and to slow down.
When we reached Route 528, we headed south again and turned back onto Route 87 heading east. Our next stop was the Amish Home Craft Shop at 16860 Kinsman Road (Rt. 87). There we found quilts, wall hangings, many handmade items, baskets, herbs, jams and jellies, toys and more. Most days you can find homemade baked goods too. As with all Amish businesses, they are closed on Sundays.
Back to 87 and continuing east just a little further, we stopped at the Middlefield Original Cheese Co-op. You can see how the cheese is made through the big windows inside their store. They offer many different kinds of cheeses and other predominately Amish food items.
On Route 87 again and still heading East, our next adventure is at Ridgeview Farm (about 3.5 miles east of Middlefield). Here we toured the farm, visited their Amish Cultural Center, enjoyed their petting farm and much more. They, too, have many activities planned throughout the year. Strawberry picking in June, Fall Fun Weekends, corn maze and pumpkin patches.
Next stop was the End of the Commons General Store (6 miles east of Middlefield). The End of the Commons in Mesopotamia is Ohio’s oldest general store and it is full of great items from your childhood. Everything can be had from penny candy, soda pop in bottles, bulk food items, popcorns and so much more. They even have delicious hand-dipped ice cream.
Heading back to Middlefield, it is dinner time and time for Mary Yoder’s Amish Kitchen. Mary Yoder’s Amish Kitchen at 14743 North State Street (Rt. 608 again, just about where we started the day). The food was awesome, home-style and there was lots of it. My only piece of advice: Save room for pie!! Their gift shop was fun to go through also.
As our day came to a close, we laughed and talked about hour adventures. We reflected on the different culture we saw and how a little understanding goes a long way. We also realized that there is much more to see in this area. Lots to do in Burton, Chardon, alpacas to visit, stores to shop at and much more, but it will have to wait for another day.
We did not need lodging options, but Geauga County offers some of the best lodging around. Be sure to look at the Punderson Manor House, the Red Maple Inn and the Bass Lake Inn if your travel requires lodging.