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young woman in blue lake erie love tshirt sitting down and eating a taco inside the designated outdoor refreshment area in downtown sandusky ohio

How to Explore a DORA in Your Next Ohio Trip

Learn more about DORAs (Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area) in Ohio.

DORA in Downtown Sandusky

How to Explore a DORA in Your Next Ohio Trip

By Ohio.org Staff

Posted On: Jun 23, 2022

Whether downtown, uptown, or in the town center, the heart of any city is where residents and tourists converge to shop, eat, and play. And these areas are also likely become a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, or DORA.

In Ohio, if certain conditions are met, local governments can exempt specific areas from certain open container provisions of the state's liquor laws.

closeup of plastic DORA cup for downtown Toledo Ohio
DORA in downtown Toledo 

The Division of Liquor Control, within the Department of Commerce, ensures that DORAs meet all the necessary requirements and regulations. Local governments decide the size, number, hours of operation, what cups are used, safety, and sanitation plans for a particular DORA within its community.

While you can't bring your own cooler filled with your favorite alcoholic beverages from home, a DORA does allow patrons to take alcoholic beverages they purchased from participating bars and restaurants within the DORA. So, you can continue to enjoy that beverage even after you've left the bar or restaurant. Just remember to stay inside the DORA while sipping and strolling.

group of people walking holding drinks inside the DORA in Canton Ohio
DORA in Canton

With a DORA, you order your drink and walk around the designated area to experience all the shops, public art, and green spaces that the community has to offer.

Here are some general tips on how to make your experience in the DORA a great one:

Before You Go

  • Research the DORA in question including its boundaries, what kind of cups are issued, what bars and restaurants are participating, and hours of operation.
  • Most communities, whether it's your local government or a nonprofit organization, often post this information online. You can always contact your local government's law department for specifics.

During Your Visit

  • Pay attention to signage that highlights where the DORA's boundaries end.
  • Make sure you get your drinks in approved DORA cups and finish your drink before entering another liquor establishment.
  • Businesses within a DORA decide whether to participate, so be mindful of signage that they may post informing you if you can bring your drink inside or not.

Temporary Events within an Existing DORA

  • As more DORAs become active, it's important to know how they interact with other events that are temporarily permitted to sell alcohol within the DORA space.
  • The event's vendors may serve you a drink in a DORA-approved cup, but you would not be able to bring a DORA drink from a nearby bar or restaurant into the event.
  • The larger footprint of an event, like a concert with a liquor permit, the smaller the DORA is for other patrons to use.

Refresh Responsibly

  • Responsible alcohol consumption and abuse prevention are important to the Division of Liquor Control.
  • While DORAs offer a way to boost local economies and provide another layer of social distancing as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, it's important to have a plan to make your next trip safe.

For a list of active DORAs, visit the Division of Liquor Control's website.

For more information about Ohio's open container law, contact the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Investigative Unit or your local law enforcement agency.

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