My Town Destination: Urbana, OH
Date of Visit: 10/9/19
Trip Type: Day Trip
Town Ambassador/Contact: Sara Neer- Phone: (937) 653-5764 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Urbana is a town founded on the rail system. The town founded in 1805, truly came into its own when the first three railroads were completed in 1880. At one point in Urbana’s history in the late 1800’s, there were as many as seven lines running in Urbana; including the “Big Four Line” which ran to Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis. The lines were freight and passenger, and currently Urbana still has three in operation. The prosperity of the railroads shaped the landscape in Urbana still visible today. As history moved forward and technology evolved, Urbana was involved in landmark aviation and fun discoveries. Invention, creativity and hard work has created businesses that have made Urbana home, and makes Urbana a great place to visit and explore.
Revitalization opens up new opportunities for Outdoor Recreation
Recently, Urbana’s railroad history has opened doors with businesses like the Depot Coffeehouse. The Coffeehouse is located inside the old passenger depot, and has the Ohio Historical Marker right outside. Read more about this location’s history here.
In addition, the location of the Depot Coffeehouse lends a beautiful partnership with the Miami Valley Bikeways trail system. Miami Valley Bikeways offer the largest paved trail in the nation, with over 340 miles! You can pick up the trail right in the parking lot of the Depot Coffeehouse.
Urbana is fantastic for day trips and families on a budget
After a day in Urbana, one aspect of the town was very clear- it is a great place for families to visit. Whether you are day-tripping, or spending the weekend, unique and extremely affordable places to visit should make Urbana top of your list.
Here are the three places My Town wanted to highlight for family fun.
Ohio Caverns was founded in a farmer’s field in 1897, when a local farm boy noticed the water seemingly disappearing into the surface. He followed the disappearing water and discovered an entrance to the underground caverns. Today, Ohio Caverns has over two miles of passageways, and stays at 54 degrees year round. To say the caverns are beautiful is an understatement, they are recognized as being the most colorful cave system in America. Ohio Caverns has done a great job of making the experience safe, family-friendly, and for all ages. There is a cost to go through the caverns, but it’s very reasonable, and varies depending on season. Located right outside Urbana in West Liberty, this really is a must see when visiting the Urbana area.
Fresh Water Farms of Ohio
Another very unique family experience is Freshwater Farms of Ohio. Freshwater Farms is the largest fish hatchery in Ohio. In addition to the fish you can purchase, Freshwater Farms offers a variety of fun for the whole family. You can participate in feeding trout, and spend time exploring their educational center with Ohio native fish species, snapping turtles, tadpole pond, and My Town’s favorite, The Sturgeon Petting Zoo! See video here. To visit Freshwater Farms and participate in all mentioned above is completely free, but you would be remiss not to stop in their gift shop of Ohio made foods and gifts. This is an awesome little store to purchase something special and unique to the area. And if you’re local, make sure to get fresh filleted fish!
The Champaign Aviation Museum
The Champaign Aviation Museum is located at Grimes Field in Urbana, is the home of the B-17 Flying Fortress WWII Airplane Restoration. The museum gives you not only a great look at World War II planes, but also a glimpse into the people’s lives who flew them. While My Town was visiting, they had their “Women in Aviation” display, it was fantastic. And the the best part of it all is that the museum is free! Furthermore, another great part of visiting the Aviation Museum, is the Airport Cafe. My Town received a tip that this cafe had the best pie in town- and we agree. This is a fun place to stop for a meal or for pie, as you can watch the planes as you eat!
Inns and Institutions
It seems like every small town has unique old buildings that capture your attention and your imagination. It is wonderful when you’re able to visit a town that has invested resources in these institutions and brings them back to life. In addition, another great part of visiting a small town is finding a great local business that has been around so long, it has become part of the fabric of the town. In Urbana, you will find these investments at the Scioto Inn, Mumford’s Potato Chips and Deli, and Carmazzi’s Candy and General Store.
The Scioto Inn- A small town gem in downtown Urbana-The Scioto Inn blends historic charm with cozy amenities, and is within walking distance to all the great shops and eateries in downtown. There’s also fun character at the Scioto Inn- ask about the hidden room, great for events or a fun game night. The Inns rooms are also spacious, great for families or larger groups, and beautifully restored, making the Scioto Inn a My Town Must.
An Urbana Institution since 1932 is Mumford’s Potato Chips and Deli. Serving Deli favorites like corned beef and pastrami, antipastas, homemade desserts, and of course their Amazing Homemade Potato Chips. These chips are so good, other restaurants serve them proudly. A downtown location makes it an easy walk, and must do if you’re traveling through Urbana.
A true staple of Urbana- Carmazzi’s Candy and General Store, located on the square in Urbana’s historic downtown, and serving Urbana for over 120 years! Carmazzi’s is a place that makes you feel welcome, and that you are stepping back in time. They offer much more than candy including: household goods, seasonal items, soups, and warm smiles. This is what small towns are all about!
The Unique, Interesting, Yours, of Urbana
What is it about a town that makes it special? A local attraction, a family-owned business that has been there forever? A piece of history you can’t find anywhere else, or a bookstore with just the right vibe? Here are a few of the Unique, Interesting, Yours of Urbana.
The Gloria Theatre- Currently being run by the 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, The Grandworks Foundation, this historic theatre is undergoing phases of renovation to continue to serve the Urbana community. Read more here.
Let’s Eat Cake is a family-owned business with four generations of bakers. They bake small batches daily and their cupcake bar is the talk of the town. Everyone knows how much My Town loves coffee- what goes better with coffee than a cupcake!
The Johnny Appleseed Museum– Learn about the man, the myth the legend. Run by Urbana University, you can explore the campus as well!
The Farmer’s Daughter- Offering a full restaurant, and a bakery and gift shop next door. It’s another local favorite that offers great home cooked meals, desserts to take home, and great shopping.
Cafe Paradiso– The highly recommended restaurant that brings a bit of Tuscany to Ohio. Homemade Italian favorites, full wine menu, and adorable atmosphere will leave you wanting more of this experience.
The Half Day Cafe– One of the most talked about eateries in Urbana- a local staple, and the type of diner establishment that My Town lives for! Serving everything from great burgers to ribs, make sure to check out the Hill Climber!
MTT Antique and Market Finds
Great Antique Shops and Farmers Markets are familiar sights in small towns. This includes Thrift Shops, Local Eats, and the like! In Urbana, there are great Antique and Market finds everywhere you look, so below are a list of My Town Musts.
My Town Today has started a referral section of each article. It’s based on visiting a town, and finding out what town the majority of its citizens would recommend My Town to visit next.
The referral for this entry is: Marysville, OH. Stay tuned for My Town to pop up there soon.
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