Romance mixes with a little whimsy in the air, as you huddle outside the Zara clothing store at Easton Town Center in Columbus. But a group of four friendly Percherons stands ready to warm up the night.
There’s nothing quite like a ride in a horse-drawn carriage to brighten the spirits this season. And Easton’s carriage ride tour is one of several carriage or sleigh tours you can take around Ohio this season.
Hop on board a traditional, covered carriage pulled by Max, a beautiful, white Percheron, as he takes you on a 15-minute ride around the wondrously lit shopping center. Marvel at the stores and decorations as a handful of shoppers record the majestic horses on their cell phones.
“You get a whole different perspective on life in a horse-drawn carriage,” says Mary Adkins, who with her husband, Terry, has operated Willow Wind Carriage & Limousine Service at Easton for 17 years. “It takes you back to when life was a little slower.”
“It’s romantic, and it’s also fun for the kids.”
Willow Wind will offer weekend carriage rides for a per-person fee at Easton on Valentine’s Day weekend, weather permitting. If snow’s in the forecast, Willow Wind also will offer sleigh rides at a 21-acre farm in Springfield.
Here are some other magnificent carriage and sleigh rides Ohioans can enjoy:
Guggisberg Swiss Inn
The Amish certainly know their horses, so what better place to take a ride in a sleigh than along the rolling hills of Ohio’s Amish country? At Guggisberg Swiss Inn, you can hop aboard a sleigh commanded by Western-style quarter horses.
Located just off State Rt. 557 north of Charm, the inn has been family operated by Eric and Julia Guggisberg since opening in 1993. This quiet country paradise includes the Amish Country Riding Stable, which offers sleigh rides, weather permitting.
Experience the metropolitan sights and sounds of downtown Cincinnati and northern Kentucky through Cowboy Carriages, which offers a variety of carriage rides daily ranging from 30-60 minutes.
Valentine’s Day is a good time to pony up for a carriage ride that begins and ends at Cincinnati’s Fountain Square, a hub of shopping and entertainment. Pop into Kismet for chic jewelry and apparel, or head to I Love Cincinnati Shoppe, where you can spread the goodwill with souvenir items of the Queen City. There’s also daily ice skating at the outdoor Fountain Square ice rink through February.
You also can venture across the Ohio River to explore the historical Kentucky towns of Newport and Covington via carriage.
Ma and Pa’s Gift Shack
If there’s snow on the ground this winter, take a sleigh ride through the lovely grounds at Ma and Pa’s in Burton in Geauga County. You’ll experience the wide-open meadow and cozy, tree-lined path as you experience winter in the country.
Start or finish your ride with a warm cup of cocoa inside a genuine 1820’s log cabin that was relocated to the site. Or sip maple coffee and enjoy some of the freshly baked goods offered inside while shopping for a range of items from food to toiletries to furniture.
Ma and Pa’s offers sleigh rides all winter, weather permitting.
Take a ride through history at Spiegel Grove, the 25-acre estate of President Rutherford and First Lady Lucy Hayes in Fremont. President Hayes was a big fan of sleigh rides, once writing in his diary of a hefty snowfall a “a beautiful white, feathery powder covering it which is charming and wonderful.”
If your timing is right, you can recreate that feeling of awe as South Creek Clydesdales offer horse-drawn trolley rides from Feb. 15 – 17. There is a cost per rider, but kids 2 and under ride free. And rides are on a first-served basis, as there are no reservations.