A May 2002 trip
to Ohio by Amy Travels
Quote: I have been regularly visiting Ohio since 1979, when my sister moved to the Columbus area. On my most recent trip to Ohio, I was based in Pickerington (just outside of Columbus.) Highlights of this visit included Easton Town Center, Franklin Park Conservatory, and the Dresden area.
The Hampton Inn East is only a few years old. It features large rooms with extra amenities such as hairdryers, coffee makers, etc. Other amenities include an indoor pool, sauna, and whirlpool. The rate also includes a nice breakfast buffet, not just toast and coffee like many motels provide.
Since the Hampton Inn East has interior corridors, it is very quiet. However, the motel is right in the thick of things. It is located across the street from Hunters Run shopping center (see separate journal entry.) There are also many restaurants within easy walking distance.
The Hampton Inn East is pricier than other motels in this area in which I’ve stayed. These motels include: The Lenox Inn (Rt. 256 Exit), Cross Country Inn East (Brice Road Exit), and Red Roof Inn-East (Brice Road Exit). The Brice Road exit is located a few minutes closer to downtown Columbus. It’s been several years since I’ve stayed at these three motels, so I can’t remember many of the specifics. However, all of these motels were adequate.
On this visit to the Columbus area, there were many new hotels/motels off of the Route 256 exit that were not there in June 2000. Therefore, it would be beneficial to compare prices before making a reservation due to all the new competition.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 3, 2002
The dinner menu features burgers, sandwiches, salads, and dinners. My husband ordered a dinner and got a main course, two sides, and two pieces of corn bread. I ordered a cheeseburger platter that included fries and coleslaw, and my daughter had a kids’ meal.
The restaurant itself was typical of all the Cracker Barrels we’ve been to. There’s a large store inside and they’re all laid out the same, making it easy to find the restrooms, etc. However, the service we received was not as good as we usually get at other Cracker Barrels. Our waitress never came back to refill drinks or see if we needed anything. This may have been because they were busy.
My niece, who goes to Easton practically every weekend, recommended parking in the garage adjacent to the mall. We did and it worked out well for us. She also said that winter is a good time to go if you want to avoid the crowds and can brave the cold. And, we heard that Easton is decorated beautifully for Christmas.
Easton has been around since 1999 and is still expanding. Here are just a few of the approximately 150 stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues: Lazarus, Nordstrom’s, Barnes and Noble, Virgin Mega Store, Bath and Bodyworks, Build a Bear, Abercrombie, American Eagle, Hollister (popular with the teenage set,) Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, Ann Taylor, Limited, Limited Too, Gap, Gap Kids, Baby Gap, Cheesecake Factory, and a brand-new McDonald’s. There is also a 30-screen movie theater in the mall.
We walked through Build a Bear, which was interesting just to walk through and look at the bears the kids were making. We also relaxed by a large fountain with benches all around it. You can even rent remote controlled boats to try out in the fountain. There were also musicians playing classical music nearby. The kids have separate fountains to splash around in.
Many of the restaurants have outdoor café-style seating. We found it hard to decide where to stop for a snack with all the choices. We finally decided on the Nestle Tollhouse Cookie shop (highly recommended!) We also stopped in the brand new McDonald’s, which had live shows with McDonald’s characters.
Easton is generally open from 10 am until 9 pm on Monday through Thursday. Friday and Saturday from 10 am until 10 pm, and Sunday from Noon until 6 pm.
Collections at Franklin Park Conservatory include: Himalayan Mountain, Tropical Rainforest, Desert, North Courtyard, South Courtyard (Bonsai Courtyard), Pacific Island, Show house (orchid and bonsai collection), and Palm House (40 species of palms.) All of the collections contained exhibits explaining the habitats—average temperature, rainfall, etc.
One of our favorite collections was the Himalayan Mountain, because it as very fragrant. We also liked the Japanese garden and pond in the South Courtyard, with its water lilies, other aquatic plants, and fish. We also enjoyed the Pacific Island collection that contains a waterfall and lagoon with fish, along with plants native to Fiji, Southeast Asia, Hawaii, and other Pacific islands.
Each room in the conservatory includes a "touch table," containing plants and other artifacts that kids are allowed to touch. Since the rooms are climate controlled to fit with habitat, rooms such as the Palm Room and Pacific Island water garden are very hot, while the Himalayan room is nice and cool.
We were lucky enough to visit the conservatory during the butterfly exhibit, which runs through early June 2002. There is an exhibit with videos before you enter the room with the butterflies. This exhibit includes videos and illustrations that explain how butterflies become butterflies. These exhibits would be wonderful for pre-school age kids and above—most of it was beyond my 16 month-old daughter. The butterflies here are friendly—they land right on you! One landed on my leg and didn’t want to budge. This makes the butterflies here really easy to photograph.
We visited on a sunny Sunday afternoon during Memorial Day weekend and did not encounter a crowd. Columbus’ annual Asian Festival was going on simultaneously in surrounding Franklin Park, so maybe everyone was there. The conservatory is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am until 5 pm. It is closed on Mondays, except Monday holidays. You can tour the conservatory in about 30-45 minutes doing only minimal reading of the displays. Allow at least an hour if you’d like to do that.
Admission is $6.50 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, $3.50 for ages 2-12, and free for under 2. There is a 50% off up to four admissions coupon in the local entertainment book. Also, there’s a 20% off coupon for the gift shop. There is plenty of free parking.
After touring the conservatory, my family and I had a snack at the Conservatory Café. It was a comfortable place to cool off and the prices were reasonable. A variety of sandwiches were available for $4, garden salads for $3, and children’s items for $1.50. The menu also included ice cream and quiche.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 3, 2002
My family and I spent our Saturday evening at Barnes and Noble. It was a big deal for me, because there aren’t any Barnes and Nobles located close to where I live. Barnes and Noble provides one-stop shopping for items such as books, magazines, journal and scrap booking supplies, cds and DVDs. I liked this Barnes and Noble in particular because it was really roomy. The children’s area alone is larger than many of the bookstores you find in shopping malls and all of the aisles are wide.
While at Barnes and Noble, we enjoyed relaxing at Barnes and Noble Café, which features Starbucks Coffee and frozen drinks. The café is a nice area to skim through books, talk, and just relax. Barnes and Noble in Hunters Run is open 9 am until 11 pm everyday. Hopefully, one will open in my neighborhood someday!
If you are going to Dresden from Columbus, take Route 16 East and you’ll pass the world-famous basket office building in Newark. (From other points west, take the Pataskala exit off of I-70, then go north to Route 16 East.) This building, which looks like a giant basket just dropped there from outer space, houses the Longaberger Basket Company’s corporate headquarters. It is located just south of Route 16—you can’t miss it. I felt like I was on the set for "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids" as we approached the basket in our car. I recommend stopping here and admiring the detail in the building before driving the remaining 20 minutes to Dresden.
When you arrive in Dresden, The Longaberger Homestead will be to the left of Route 16. The Homestead contains many restaurants and shops featuring Longaberger products. Through people in town we learned that The Homestead is fairly new. Many of the shops and restaurants that were originally located in downtown Dresden, moved over to the Homestead. Unfortunately, The Homestead was closed for Memorial Day—the day we went to Dresden. So, we continued on to the town of Dresden, which is above five minutes away. From Route 16, head south on Route 60, then make a left onto Dave Longaberger Way.
We were looking forward to eating lunch in this quaint town, but since all of the restaurants in town were also closed, we had to eat at the local McDonald’s instead. Fortunately, about ½ of the shops in town were open. My biggest piece of advice is to call first and check hours before going to Dresden.
We didn’t have any trouble finding parking in town. We were able to park along the streets. Dresden is a small town—there are only a few stoplights. I most enjoyed walking along the sidewalks admiring the Victorian gingerbread architecture. Most of these well-kept homes have been turned into B&Bs, shops, and other small businesses. Other highlights in Dresden are the huge baskets of flowers located up and down the sidewalks. These baskets added a lot of charm that I haven’t seen anywhere else in my travels. There are also a couple of beautifully maintained gardens—one with a huge basket that took more than 2000 man-hours to complete.
The shops in Dresden sell not only baskets, but also other collectibles such as bears and country crafts and accessories for the home. All shopkeepers we encountered were extremely knowledgeable and friendly. They filled us in on the Longaberger family, history of the company, and how you can find out how much baskets you own are worth.
Longaberger baskets are manufactured right in Dresden (adjacent to the Homestead) from trees grown locally. Tours of the manufacturing facility are available Monday through Friday.
Keep a duplicate set of toiletries/cosmetics stored in cosmetic bags. That way, you just have to place them in your suitcase or carry-on when packing. This eliminates the need to pack these items at the last minute and the chance that you’ll forget something. Some of the items I buy in trial sizes to save room.
I also keep an electronic packing list. This eliminates the need to make a new list for each trip and the chance that you’ll forget something. I maintain separate lists for the different kinds of trips I take. For example, I have separate lists for camping, beach, city, winter, and summer trips.
Bethel Park, Pennsylvania