Halloween Special: The Great Stone Castle

Halloween Special: The Great Stone Castle. To celebrate this festive time of year try spending the night at the cool, beautiful, and spooky Great Stone Castle in Sidney, Ohio.

We arrived after dark at the castle and my first words were, “Oh my gosh it looks like the house in Psycho.”


We parked and hesitantly walked around to the front. I opened the large door and we were greeted by a large black dog wagging his tail but no people. We walked around the surreal and beautiful surroundings. We had literally stepped back in time. There were ghostly photos on the walls (the former occupants?). There was a stack of books with The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on the top of the stack. The whole place was decorated with Christmas decorations, candles, and dolls. Lots and lots of dolls. It wasn’t Christmas. It was; however, our anniversary.

Finally, a lady appeared with two more dogs, one of which was pure white and the largest dog I have seen in my life. She checked us in, told us the castle was built in the 1800s, and that they had a full house – completely booked for the night she said. Yet, for the duration of our stay, we never saw another single living soul. So who exactly were the other guests (ghosts!)?

After arriving in our room, I turned around and my husband was gone. I could not locate him. I seemed to be the only person in the whole house as I searched. Finally, he appeared. He had been putting some food items in a back closet fridge down one hall. Phew! Our room was cold, so we manually lit our in-room fireplace. It soon became nice and cozy. The bed was amazingly comfortable!

Here is the balcony that opened off of our private bathroom. The bathroom sink did not have a mirror over it, instead, it had a window looking out on this balcony. It did not look stable, there was no way I was going to walk out on that!

In the morning, we were served an amazing cooked-to-order private breakfast. After which I went outside to take some pictures around the property. Spooky or not? You tell me! But an amazing experience either way!

Thanks for reading Halloween Special: The Great Stone Castle in Sidney, OH! For more things to see and do around Sidney click here and here.

Six Days in Austin Texas

We spent Six Days in Austin Texas- one whole week to really get to know the city. Recreate our itinerary to see the highlights of this weird and wonderful place!

Day 1

Hotel-Save $1,000 for the week and stay at Sleep Inn & Suites Austin North or stay somewhere nice and swanky downtown.

Pennybacker Bridge Overlook Trail and the 360 Bridge

Brunch at El Naranjo– South Lamar (Reservations)

Barton Creek Greenbelt TrailsTwin Falls is a short hike from the trailhead, with Sculpture Falls about 1.25 miles further.

Congress Avenue Bridge (The Bat Bridge)– The bats will emerge sometime between 7:30 to 9:45 p.m. It can take as long as 45 minutes.

Day 2

Selfies with murals on  South Congress Avenue starting at Jos Coffee

ATX Whole Foods sign selfie at Fifth and Lamar then cross the street to browse Waterloo Records.

Museum of the Weird and St Marys Cathedral

Lunch at True Food Kitchen

The Cathedral of Junk (Reservations 512-299-7413 by appt only )

The Elephant Room, Speakeasy Tavern and Austin Ghost Tour (see the Haunted Driskill Hotel)

Day 3

Hamilton Pool (bring printed reservation, hiking shoes, swimsuit, and towel)

Famous Franklins BBQ

Texas State Capitol and Visitor Center

Rent a bike or an e-bike at Barton Springs bike rental and travel on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike/ Bike trail. Sights along the way- famous Zilker Park, the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue, under the bat bridges, along the new boardwalk, Austin’s beautiful wildlife. It is a full loop.

Concert or live music of your choice

Day 4

Mount Bonnel short hike and overlook

Mayfield Park short trails

The Contemporary Museum/ Marcus Sculpture

Lunch at Nixta Taqueria

Round Rock donuts

Concert or live music of your choice

Day 5

The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum

Blanton Museum of Art

Tacos from a food truck – where no one speaks English

The Bullock Museum of Texas History

Concert or live music of your choice

Day 6

Jacobs Well– Short trail and artesian spring. The second-largest fully submerged cave in Texas.

Weird Austin City Tour

Festival or farmer’s market

Concert or live music of your choice

Austin’s 6th street at night

I hope you enjoyed Six Days in Austin Texas! Have a great trip!

The Wilds: Tips and Tricks

The Wilds Tips and Tricks in Cumberland, Ohio…We finally made it to the Wilds! This is on everyone’s Ohio bucket lists or “Best Things To Do In Ohio” lists. It is ranked as one of the best drive-thru safaris in the USA. So we finally got to see what all the hullaballoo was about.

The Wilds is open year-round and, in addition to their safaris, offers zip line safari tours, horseback riding, fishing, and even luxury yurt glamping. We booked the daily open-air safari. We really enjoyed the nice breeze and unobstructed views. I was happy to see all of the lush landscape that the animals have to roam. It was like they were really out in “The Wild”. However, despite these great things we wish we would have done some things differently and that is what I am going to share with you.

Making the Reservation

We had planned to go on an earlier date, but I waited until the day of to reserve online, so I could get a more accurate weather report for the day. The problem was that when I tried to reserve the tickets I discovered that you can’t make reservations for The Wilds on the same day. So we ended up going to Cedar Point that day instead which wasn’t so bad!

The next time, though, I thought I was prepared, I went to make our reservation a few days in advance. This time everything was sold out except for one seat on 4 different tours! This was really disappointing, but I booked one seat on the 1:15 tour and another seat on the 1:30 tour. I thought that at least we could go even if we weren’t on the same bus.

The Wilds Tip: Reserve your spot way in advance!

The Wilds Tips and Tricks

Getting There

From looking at the map, it looked like The Wilds was just a little south of Zanesville, Ohio. So we stopped and lingered there for lunch before our tours. Then I put the address into my GPS and found out that it was 40 minutes away! I thought it was maybe 10 minutes away. We were late! The website says to arrive 30 minutes before your tour and if you aren’t checked in 10 minutes before, they could give your seat away! Panic! I was so worried that we would miss the first bus and that only one of us would get to go on the tour. SHHHH We may have done a little tiny speeding lol.

The Wilds Tip: Do a GPS check before you leave!


We pulled into The Wilds parking lot at 1:13 to get in line for the parking booth. The man at the booth was taking his time talking to the lady in the car in front of us. I got out of my car in a panic and told him we had a 1:15 tour and if we could hurry a bit that would be awesome. He didn’t seem to show any concern – “1:15 you say?”- “Yes!” -“OK”. He continued to talk to the lady. I was like, Really? We almost made it and this guy is going to make us miss it! It costs $40 a person! Finally, they got through and since we had prepaid our $6 parking fee he ushered us on and told us to wait for the shuttle. Wait? There’s a shuttle! Oh no!

The Wilds Tip: Pay your parking ahead of time if you want to save some time. Tell the parking person your tour time (our guy radioed in that we were here). Don’t get mad at the parking person if you are late, it is your fault lol.

The Shuttle

So once you park your car in the parking lot you walk over to the shuttle bus pick-up area and wait. As we parked, we saw one shuttle bus leaving, so we had to wait for the next one. It was already 1:15. I felt we had lost. Now, there was no way we would get to the check-in place and get on the 1:15 tour. However, a thought crossed my mind… maybe the parking guy didn’t seem concerned because there wasn’t anything to be concerned about. Hmmm.

The Wilds Tip: Arrive early enough that you have time to get through the parking line, park your car and catch the shuttle up to check in without feeling stressed out!


We finally got up to the check-in place at about 1:23. We explained the situation. She said “No problem! I’ll just put you both on the 1:30 tour. You can catch the bus just over there.” Relief. On the bus, there were other people who said they were scheduled for the 1:45 tour and just got on this bus early. So, what we learned is that although they seem really strict on their website, they are actually really laid-back, relaxed, and cool once you arrive. In other words, they try to accommodate you the best they can. It appears that they have extra seats on all of the tours for extenuating circumstances.

The Wilds Tip: Don’t stress, try to be on time, but if something goes wrong, know they will try to work with you.

The Tour

Finally, we were headed off. The first of the tour feels a lot like entering Jurassic Park. You go through a lot of double strong, extra tall gates while they ominously talk to you about how you will be perfectly safe inside lol. But truth be told, that was the end of anything remotely scary. In fact, the animals were mostly so far away from the bus I could barely see them. There were a couple of close-up animals, but it really just depends on where they decide to be during your tour. They could be sitting in the middle of the road or be way out to pasture.

The Wilds Tip: Bring binoculars and a zoom lens camera to see the animals and take some great shots. Or book The Wildside Tour instead of the Regular Safari Tour if you want to be able to get up close to the animals. These are the shots I was able to get with my phone. There were a lot more that were too far away for my phone to capture. You can click on a photo to see it enlarged.


We made two stops along the 2+ hour tour. Both stops have bathrooms. The first stop allows you to take a stroll down to the lake and go inside a birdhouse. A second stop is a place where you walk around and see the animals in giant fenced areas. This is not your typical zoo. The fenced areas are huge, so the animals have plenty of space. Again binoculars and a zoom lens would have been useful here. But even if I had, had those things the animals were mostly sleeping in the shade. It was the middle of the day and it was super hot.

The Wilds Tip: Visit The Wilds when the weather is cool (not too cold or too hot), such as in the early mornings to see more animal activity.

Thanks for visiting!

Besides all of these tips and tricks we wished we would have known before our day trip, we still had a great time and saw a lot of amazing animals. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and told a lot of interesting stories about the animals and their behaviors. It’s great that we can experience an open safari right here in Ohio! I hope you enjoyed The Wilds: Tips and Tricks! To read about another and very different drive-thru safari in Port Clinton, Ohio click here.

A Day Trip to Marietta Ohio

A day trip to Marietta, Ohio is a popular choice for many Ohioans. This is especially true on the weekend after Labor Day. You can experience three fun days of fireworks, exotic cars, fair food and entertainment at the popular Ohio River Sternwheel Festival, where a myriad of sternwheelers station themselves along the historic Marietta waterfront.

Historical Significance

The oldest town in Ohio, and the first permanent organized settlement of the Northwest Territory, Marietta was settled in 1788. To get in the mood for our day trip, we drove while listening to David McCullough’s audiobook, The Pioneers about the settling of the Northwest Territory, which tells the story of Marietta. We came prepared with lots of great background information.

Things To Do

A seasonal 1.5-hour Trolley Tour is the best way to get an overview of Marietta. Local guides will take you past historic sights such as Meigs House (1802), Victorian Front Street shops, the First Congregational Church, the David Putnam House, The Castle Museum, the Betsey Mills Club (1911), the Dawes House, and the Native American-built Mound Cemetery (filled with Revolutionary war veterans). Have you arrived off-season? Check out their Self Guided Tours – Marietta-Washington County CVB.

Visitors can also tour the Campus Martius Museum to see how a typically crowded middle-class family lived in the 1790s. Next, the Ohio River Museum showcases Marietta’s steamboat era. You can tour a parked sternwheel towboat (W.P. Snyder JR) or take an actual trip on a sternwheeler (the Valley Gem) that offers dinner cruises and other tours. To experience the darker side of this town, sidewalk seasonal Ghost Tours are on Friday and Saturday nights. To learn this secret history of Marietta, check out Hidden Marietta.


The beautiful Marietta River Trail crosses the Muskingum River to Harmar Village and Marietta’s first fort. Don’t miss the Westward Ho sculpture in Muskingum Park created by the Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum. You can rent bikes and kayaks from Marietta Adventure Company

Good Eats

Dining recommendations: Austyn’s,  Spagna’s, The Buckley House Restaurant, Busy Bee, The Galley, Marietta Brewing Co., Barker House, Levee House Cafe, and Boathouse BBQ

I hope you enjoyed A Day Trip to Marietta Ohio! Have fun exploring the oldest town in Ohio!

A Day at Sauder Village & Farm

Spending a day at Sauder Village & Farm in Archbold, Ohio is a real treat. Ohio’s largest living-history destination advertises itself as, “an affordable family vacation destination in northwest Ohio, offering a living history museum & farm, a hotel with pool & a campground.” I encountered costumed guides in historic homes, museums, and shops in a “walk-through time experience” from 1803 – the 1920s.

Upon arrival, I first noticed the bakery, restaurant, cafe, and gift shop. So I purchased a cookie from the bakery. It was delicious!

Next, I headed into the 1800s historic homes, museums, and shops to interact with the costumed guides and learn something new!

I then wandered through the farmyard area. The playing goats were exciting to watch and the chickens were more interested in seeing me than I was seeing them as they all crowded around.

After the farm, I started moving into the 1900s. Here you can pick up the free train that takes you around the village. There is even a real old-fashioned ice cream shop and a free movie theater with old-timey films.

From here I moved on to the Little Pioneers Homestead and Indian Village. The guides really know their stuff and are excited to talk to you.

Finally, I walked the path around the pond inside the campground. I was very impressed with the whole experience!

I hope you enjoyed A Day at Sauder Village & Farm! Fun for the whole family!

A Day in Bellefontaine and West Liberty, Ohio

A Day in Bellefontaine and West Liberty, Ohio is a destination day trip. These two small towns have a surprisingly lot to offer. We felt like we were on a real vacation!

Bellefontaine (Pronounced Bell Fountain)

We started out in Bellefontaine and visited the oldest concrete street in America. We then went across the street for lunch at Six Hundred Downtown to have some of their amazing Detroit-style pizza. From there, we drove up to Campbell Hill to take some pictures at the highest point in Ohio.

From there, we drove to Zane Shawnee Caverns. The sign said we were now a guest of the people of the Shawnee Nation. Welcome to Indian Country. Once inside, we were told that the museum (free with cavern admission) is undergoing renovations and is closed, and a reservation (that we didn’t have) is required to see the caverns ($16 per person). We decided to just walk around and explore the grounds. The grounds were very interesting and strange. There were people camped there in what looked like updated cabins. Beyond that, was a semi-dilapidated pioneer village that would have been great for kids to explore in the 1980s, but dangerous for kids in the 2020s. The playground and pond looked like something out of a horror movie. The creepiness of the whole place was awesome.

West Liberty

Next, we drove down to West Liberty. We stopped at Jones Country Store and browsed a bit. Then we went on to visit the Piatt Castle – Mac-A-Cheek and paid too much to tour inside. I would suggest visiting the grounds and outdoor exhibits which are free. We also snapped a photo of the nearby Mac-O-Chee. This other “castle” was auctioned off in 2019. Afterward, we headed to the nearby Ohio Caverns.

The Ohio Caverns were the highlight of our day. We were very impressed by the whole experience. There are two tours, the Natural Wonder and Historic tours. We are glad we decided to do the combo tour which is a discounted ticket to do both ($30 per person).

On our way out of town, we stopped at Marie’s Candies to get some chocolate for later. I recommend the Peanut Butter Fancies! Returning back to Bellfontaine, we stopped for dinner at Brewfontaine. We were very impressed by the food and ambiance. I highly recommend it!

I hope you enjoyed A Day in Bellefontaine and West Liberty, Ohio! Enjoy!

Cedar Point Itinerary with and without Rollercoasters

Cedar Point Itinerary with and without Rollercoasters. Is it possible to have fun at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio even if you don’t like roller coasters? Yes! I get easily motion sick and I find big roller coasters too scary, yet I still love Cedar Point!

Long before we moved to Ohio, our family knew about Cedar Point. It ranks among America’s best amusement parks, with its roller coasters earning top honors. We never imagined that we would live close enough to get a season pass! My kids are all rollercoaster enthusiasts, but I am not.

At first, I was worried that I wouldn’t have any fun, but I was wrong!

Here is my itinerary for what parents/grandparents/young children can do at Cedar Point while the rest of your family rides rollercoasters…

Check the opening and closing times for the day of your arrival. Check Cedar Point Park and Cedar Point Shores as they may not be the same.

Check the weather
Download the Cedar Point App– for ride and attraction directions, shows and line wait times
If you don’t have a season pass, buy your tickets (and here) online- discount AAA members or military?

Wear a swimsuit (under your clothes or bring one), a hat and sunglasses

Bring a backpack to store in a locker with-
keys/credit cards
lip balm

Upon arrival, take a picture of your parking area. Use the Dog Kennel (Pet Chek) if you need it.

Non-scary/ minimal motion sickness rides and attractions

Ocean Motion, Giant Ferris Wheel, Windseeker, Antique Cars/Cadillac Cars, Iron Dragon, Cedar Creek Mine Ride, Sky Ride, Wave Swinger, Snake River Expedition ( a ride/show experience), Carnival Games, Parades, For kids- Planet Snoopy/Camp Snoopy: Woodstock Express, and Wilderness Run will also take adults (although you will get strange looks if you ride these without a child).