Autumnal Americana: An Adventure in Ohio

October 2 - 19, 2020


An 18-day/17-Night Journey of Unexpected & Immersive Activities

in “America’s Heartland!”

Join native Ohioan James Sokol for an adventure through major Cities (Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland) quaint Neighborhoods (Over the Rhine, German Village, University Circle), lush Countryside (in Amish Country!), pastoral Farms; visit renowned and off-the-beaten path Museums & Sites; taste Local Fare found only here; meet James’ Friends & Family…all as the leaves are turning glorious shades from goldenrod to burnt umber. Join us for an enriching experience of autumnal Americana!

Maybe most famous (or infamous) these days as an important political “swing-state,” Ohio is called the “Mother of Modern Presidents,” having sent seven Ohioans (both natives and residents) to the White House since 1869. But, this is a vacation, so let’s set politics aside (maybe until Nov 2020?) and focus on the myriad interesting experiences that await in Ohio!

Our journey through “The Buckeye State” begins in Cincinnati – “The Queen City of the West,” so called when it was part of the Northwest Territory, since shortened to “The Queen City.” Sitting on the Ohio River, Cincinnati is home to the first fire station, the first professional baseball team (“The Reds”) and the second oldest opera company in the country. Today, the city is home to a thriving arts scene – visit Traditional, Modern, and Quirky Museums, a Fine Craft Gallery, even take a Private Guided Walking Tour to see part of the city’s stunning Murals Project. Visit a Historic Neighborhood, (blossoming in a recent renaissance!) and its covered market, which is Ohio’s Oldest Surviving Municipal Market House. Take a Private Guided Walking & Tasting Tour to learn about downtown Cincinnati and taste some of its indigenous specialties.

Continue on to the state capital, Columbus, referred to as both “the biggest small town in the US” and “Test Market, USA.” Companies discovered that the residents of Columbus – located in the Heart of the Heartland – typify U.S. consumer behavior. For decades, its demographics have mirrored national numbers, though since it's the third fastest-growing metropolitan area in the Midwest, it's now more diversified than the nation overall. Even so, Columbus has held onto the "ideal test market" title for decades, and many businesses still choose to test there. Starting with a Private Guided Panoramic Tour of the Greater Downtown Area, discover several facets of this “typically American town.” Visit Diverse & Charming Neighborhoods, important Sites, and interesting Public Sculptures. Take a Private Guided Tour of Ohio’s Statehouse with its grand rotunda. Our visit to Columbus is timed to allow our participation in a very special evening of Art Studio Hopping in an edgy, up & coming district.

A few years ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranking of the states in total manufacturing jobs placed Ohio at #3, after California and Texas. Explore this aspect of the state with Guided Factory Tours, where products as varied as Baseball Bats, Candy, Pottery & Whistles are created.

Many summers when growing up, James spent a week on his cousin’s farm, which was just a few miles west of the middle of nowhere. There, he learned everything from canning to calf-birthing (no, we won’t be doing that!). To share a hint of those experiences, immerse yourself in a very special Day-on-a-Farm. Put on your jeans and plaid shirt and head to a farm where Crops are Sustainably Grown and an Authentically Restored Barn houses an Artisan Food Shop and Arts & Antiques. Start by tasting your way through an array of Cannery-made Fresh Bread & Artisan Jams while enjoying a Demonstration on the Safety & Science of Home Water-Bath Canning.

Next, take a Private Guided Tour of the Farm and then sit and enjoy a Farm-to-Fork Lunch. In the afternoon, think about poppy seed, oatmeal, cocoa and coffee not as food, but in another way! These are some of the natural ingredients used to make homemade soap that is good for us and good for the environment. Join in a Soap-Making Workshop and learn the ins & outs of making Moisturizing Hand Soap, an Exfoliating Work Soap, or a Scented Bath Soap. Create your own custom bar of soap to take home along with the recipe and more great ideas.

Throughout our adventure enjoy several tastes – at venues ranging from Food Stalls in Covered Markets to Fine Dining is Historic Buildings. Delve into foods which are inextricably Ohioan, including such favorites as Skyline Chili, the state’s signature Buckeye candies, Amish Fry Pies, and Ice Creams, which deserve a discussion of their own. Even have Dinner in a Private Home with James’ Family (re: it’s his sister’s home) and Friends! Oh, now, back to the ice cream…

In the United States, Washington D.C. is the political capital, New York is the financial capital, but more importantly, Ohio is the Ice Cream Capital! Let’s get our priorities straight! Among several local ice creameries, two stand out as perennial contenders to “the country’s best ice cream.” US News & World Report and Huffington Post have both listed Ohio’s Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and Graeter’s Ice Cream as a few of The Nation’s “Must Try” Ice Cream Brands. Ohio is the only state that hosts two different ice cream brands on both of those lists. Jeni’s, headquartered in Columbus, has 15 scoop shop locations, while Graeter’s, based in Cincinnati, has 34 shops. Enjoy a scoop from both of these beloved parlors…all in preparation for a Private Tour & Tasting at a third famous ice creamery. Indulging in these terrific tastes may be worth the entire trip alone!

Next, step into a simpler way of life, which feels as if it belongs in time passed, but is very much alive in current day with a stay in Amish Country! Ohio has the largest Amish population in the world. In fact, the Amish are one of the fastest growing religious groups in North America and have been happy to call Ohio home. Ohio is a perfect mix for the Amish as it offers plenty of rural land in close proximity to town centers which offer basic necessities such as banks, hospitals, and markets. About 50% of the Amish population in Ohio have settled within one county. This is, of course, where we will stay and explore as it is the most densely populated Amish county in the country. Approximately 42% of individuals in the county are Amish. Here, life slows down to the pace of horse & buggy – literally! Be immersed in this beautiful region of rolling hills, farm country and quaint towns, which should all be ablaze in fall colors during our trip!

Here, Americana Meets Amish and all blends seamlessly and safely together. Visit local Workshops where age-old artisans still ply their trade. Taste specialties such as local Cheese and Fry Pie. Visit a Traditional Amish Home & Farm. And, if schedules allow, take in a Show at a local theater which is proud of its

“commitment to providing clean family entertainment,” which they know it can be “hard to find in this day and age.” Talk about “Americana!” This show is a down-home, delightful combination of Star Search and Hee-Haw!

For years, Ohio had more institutions of higher education per capita than any other state (only recently surpassed by Vermont). Especially known for small, liberal arts colleges, the state has seemingly countless colleges and universities, many with illustrious alumni including Denison University (Steve Carell, Michael Eisner, Jennifer Garner, Hal Holbrook), John Carroll University (Timothy Russert), Kenyon College (E.L. Doctorow, Rutherford B. Hayes, Allison Janney, Paul Newman), Oberlin College (Bill Irwin, Sinclair Lewis, Julie Taymor, Thornton Wilder), Ohio University (Matt Lauer, Ed O’Neill), Ohio Wesleyan University (Wendy Malick, Norman Vincent Peale, Patricia Wettig)…to name just a few. Many of these campuses are like glowing jewels, especially swathed in the autumnal tones of amber, garnet, amethyst and more! Tour one of these beautiful campuses to Understand Collegiate Life at an Academic Gem of Ohio!

Finally, discover our last destination, referred to for decades (starting in the 1960s) as “The Mistake by the Lake.” Today, however, Cleveland is a re-flourishing city better known as “The Forest City” because of its lush, tree-laden neighborhoods – imagine these aglow in the Colors of Autumn! Get the lay-of-the-land with a Private Guided Panoramic City Tour. Visit a former manufacturing district, which fell on hard times and, in recent years, has become a trendy dining & entertainment hub, also home to The City’s Oldest, Continuously Operating, Municipally-Owned Market. In a completely different neighborhood, take Private Guided Tours of the majestic Museum of Art and of the Western Reserve Historical Society, which features a fascinating Old Mansion and a stunning Car Collection. One day in Cleveland is left open to choose among Free Time or one of two optional activities.

Space is very limited! Reserve today!

Cultural Arts Trips offered by the Osher Marin JCC are open to all.

JCC Members and non-members; people of all backgrounds and faiths,

residents of Marin and beyond…

…all are invited to join in these enriching cultural programs.

For information on this and other upcoming Cultural Arts Trips

please contact James Sokol at 415.444.8017 or