Strange things are afoot in Ohio. Hidden temples, creepy wax effigies appearing out of nowhere, giant corn cobs and the Gates of Hell... these sites are just the tip of the iceberg. If David Lynch and J.J Abrams combined to create a state, it would look a lot like this one.
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Come with us won't you, as we uncover 18 of the most surreal places in Buckeye land.
Where: Symmes Township
A medieval castle in the Midwest? Why not? The Loveland Castle, also known as Chateau Laroche, is the passion project of a man named Harry Andrews who built it stone by stone over the course of fifty years (obsessed much?). He used it as a camp for his youth group who were described as "similar to the boy scouts but adhering to the Ten Commandments and the principles of knighthood." Sounds intense.
Today, that group, called the Knights of the Golden Trail, maintain the castle for visitors and curiosity seekers who want to view this strange landmark firsthand. Also, this site is supposedly haunted. It is open to the public on weekends through the winter.
Also known as the UFO House (for good reason, obviously!), this unique structure was built in 1968 by Matti Suuronen. He imagined it being like a portable ski chalet. The 1960s were a wild time, man. You know what they say, if you remember the 60s, you weren't really there. These type of houses are extremely rare, especially two connected together like this one. But, there are several other of Suuronen's design still standing around the world, including this one below in Finland. Take us to your leader.
Everyone knows about the Field of Dreams, but where is the love for the Field of Giant Corn Cobs? Constructed by the Dublin Arts Council in 1994, this peculiar site features 109 concrete ears of corn, each close to 7-feet tall on a grassy pasture. Pass the butter, please.
There isn't really a reason for Giant Corn Cob field to be here, but that is part of its beauty - it is a nice reminder of the region's rich agricultural history.
This is not the museum you deserve, but the museum you need. Featuring more than 100 years worth of signs in 20,000 square feet of indoor space, a visit here is like traveling through American history at warp speed. Where would we be without signs? Most likely just wandering around aimlessly looking for stuff. So maybe not that different, I guess.
Where: 203 South Wood Street, Wapokoneta
This is an odd one. Over the course of many years, Jim Bowsher built an elaborate stone temple and rock garden on his property as a symbol of peace and tolerance. Visitors are welcome to stroll through his yard following a labyrinth of stone pathways which lead to the temple itself. Not a bad place to spend an afternoon in these turbulent times.
Where: Race Street
If you're looking to explore Cincinnati's underground scene, have we got a suggestion for you ... literally. Few things are more eerie than an abandoned subway tunnel. Cincy's is the largest derelict tunnel system in the United States. We don't advise trying to explore them without the city's consent, but people do find a way.
Construction originally began on the subway back in the early 1920s. However, lack of funds delayed contstruction. Then the Great Depression hit and it was never finished. Many current residents aren't even aware that over 2 miles worth of tunnels still lie directly beneath them.
Ohio's only wax museum, and perhaps the only religious wax museum in the Midwest, is a bizarre tableau of wax figures positioned in still scenes of biblical stories. Some say the wax figures are recycled celebrity statues such as Tom Cruise or John Travolta. We can testify that the museum itself is a strange mix of eerie kitsch and earnest devotion. Amen.
There are very few ghost towns left in Ohio that you can actually visit, but Findlay remains a popular tourist attraction. First constructed in the 1950s as a replica of an 1880s western town, it has seen many renovations and re-openings over the years. Today, it offers a flea market and craft show on select dates.
Where: Put-In-Bay, South Bass Island
Welcome to one of the more beautiful and lesser known attractions in Ohio. Perry's Cave lies 52 feet below the surface of South Bass Island, underneath what is now a family fun center and miniature golf course. The cave is home to stunning stalagmites and stalactites and a beautiful underground lake that once was used to supply the old Victory Hotel with water.
Where: Put-In-Bay, South Bass Island
When it first opened in 1892, The Victory Hotel was one of the the largest in the world. It featured 625 guests rooms and two large dining halls that could seat up to 1,200 people at one time, plus a large dazzling pool or Natatorium, as they called it back then. Sadly, it burned to the ground in 1919. Today only the ruins of the pool remain along with steps and pathways, which make for a great hike if you're ever in Put-in-Bay.
Every autumn, a strange thing happens in the town of Cambridge. Effigies depicting characters from Charles Dickens' novels can be seen in 92 elaborate, human-sized diaramas around the town. Hey, you have to attract tourists somehow, can't fault the hustle. These odd effigies can be witnessed from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day. If you can locate Tiny Tim, tell him we're all pulling for him.
Where: One South High, Akron
Any visit to Akron should include a visit to its fascinating art museum. Always pushing the envelope, the museum has several new exhibits including the curious and surreal works of Brian Bess (pictured below and on diplay through April 2019).
Imagine a famous painting recreated in landscape form and you have the Columbus Topiary Park. The photo above may remind you of the iconic museum scene from Ferris Beuller's Day Off where Cameron stares at George Seurat’s famous A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte painting. A work of art and a work of nature seemlessly intertwined, surreal indeed.
Where: Hocking Hills State Park
Raise your goblet to the true House of Rock. The relentless force of Mother Nature has carved through this majestic cliff of sandstone in Hocking Hills and created a formation that would make many an architect jealous. Seven gothic-arched stone windows and natural step-like outcroppings make this more aesthetically pleasing and spacious than most condos you'll find. If the rent isn't too steep, we'll take it.
Where: National Air Force Museum, Dayton
Built during the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, the Avrocar was part of a secret U.S. Military project. The aircraft, which clearly was designed to look exactly like a flying saucer, could take off and land vertically. I wonder where they found the technology for this project. Roswell perhaps? Unfortunately, it proved extremely difficult to fly (as you can see in the amusing video below) and the project was scrapped in the early 1960s... or was it? No, it was.
Congrats, you have finally arrived at the Gates of Hell. What took you so long? Who knew it would be located behind a Tim Horton's restaurant? It was a safe bet. This dank and dark tunnel, which runs along High Street, is also known as The Blood Bowl due to an urban legend about a skateboarder that met his unfortunate demise here. Not surprisingly, the gates of hell are not open to visitors, but people still enter at their own risk. Do they find a portal to another dimension? We can neither confirm nor deny it.
The Blue Hole was a popular Ohio tourist site for many years. Though it looks bottomless at the center, it is actually about 45 feet deep and the temperature remains a chilly 48 degrees year round. The the original blue hole is now closed to the public. But a similar one nearby (pictured above and below) can still be visited and is now a fish hatchery.
What time is it? Time to visit the World's Largest Cuckoo Clock (although Germany or Switzerland may have a legitimate claim) in Sugarcreek. This area, known as the Switzerland of the Midwest, boasts breathtaking scenery, a European vibe, and of course a, unrivaled timepiece. Come for the clock, stay for the charming village.