Several times a year, my husband, Brian, our two children and I, pack up the car and head to the East Coast to visit Brian’s brother and his family. When we have time, we like to stop for an overnight and explore a new (to us!) area.
On a work trip recently, I discovered a must-spend-the-night-and-explore region—the Youngstown area. Located in northeast Ohio along Interstate 80, just west of the Pennsylvania boarder, Youngstown has some surprising hidden jewels.
I had never heard of Mill Creek Park, and yet it’s the second largest urban park in the country (New York’s Central Park is No. 1) at almost 3,000 acres. My meeting was downtown, but it took just minutes to drive to the Davis Education and Visitors Center, which towers over Mill Creek’s Glacier Lake. I love eating in museum cafes and buying fun tchotchkes in unique gift shops and the Davis Center has both.
I was lucky it was a sunny day because the view out of the Garden Café’s floor-to-ceiling windows is spectacular. The landscape featured a frozen lake and ice-covered trees, but the glistening sun and hardy soup and croissants warmed me up. Open for lunch every day except Monday, the menu is quite varied with sandwiches, wraps, salads and entrees. Brunch is featured on Sundays.
Looking out the windows, I could see winding roads below, so I decided to explore the park, which has 20 miles of roadway, 15 miles of hiking trails and 11 miles of bike paths. Even in the winter, the drive was beautiful. The road meanders around three lakes, wetlands, lily ponds, a wild life sanctuary, a golf course, a recreation field, a historic log cabin and pavilion, and over a covered bridge. When the spring thaw sets in, I can’t wait to bring my family here to see the cascading waterfall flowing from Lanterman’s Mill, which still grinds grain as it did in the 1800s.
Before leaving town, I had to stop at the Butler Institute of American Art. I’ve heard so much about the significant collection of American art, as well as the beautiful architecture of the main building, which was built in 1919 out of gorgeous white Georgian marble.
Wow, did it ever live up to its reputation! I’m not an art expert, but I love to look at art, especially works by renowned artists and interesting art by the not-so-famous. Almost everyone will recognize “Snap the Whip,” by Winslow Homer, as well as pieces by James Whistler (yes, of “Whistler’s Mother” fame), Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, John Singer Sargent, George Segal and Mary Cassatt.
My teenage son always objects profusely to museum visits, but there is something for everyone at the Butler and I’m sure he will enjoy the sports-themed gallery, as well as the life-size, very real looking “people” who sit and stand here and there throughout the building. The security guard is so realistic that I said “hello” to him not only once, but twice! See for yourself to the right >>>
I googled some places to stay for our family visit and found a few unique places: The Avalon Inn, Inn at the Green Bed and Breakfast, the family-oriented Das Dutch Village Inn and the not-yet-opened, but intriguing Sebring Mansion Inn & Spa.
Now, I really can’t wait for spring to come!