Thursday, July 11, 2013


Top 5 Things to do in Mansfield, Ohio

This Summer, I have asked several friends to tell us the Top 5 Things to do in their cities.  Join us each week as we learn about a new city!  This week let's head to Mansfield, Ohio.

If you’re visiting Ohio, chances are high that Mansfield isn’t your first destination option. You may have never heard of Mansfield, but if you’ve watched Air Force One, Tango and Cash or the Shawshank Redemption, you’ve seen it, or parts of it on the big screen.  I don’t think you should stop there. I’d like to give you five reasons why my hometown should be on your list of places to visit in the Buckeye State.

#1 The Carrousel District
The Carrousel District in the heart of Downtown Mansfield offers something for everyone. My husband and I enjoy browsing the antique store and specialty shops that appeal to the grown-ups in the family. My teens have enjoyed riding the hand-carved, brightly painted figures of the Richland Carrousel since they were toddlers. The centerpiece of the Carrousel District, the carrousel is the first to be built in the United States since the 1930’s.

The playful interior of Little Buckeye Children’s Museum, only a short block from the carrousel, makes my kids’ wish they were young again. Since I’m sure the management wouldn’t approve of my teens digging in the dinosaur pit or splashing in the H2O Factory, I treat them to an inexpensive meal of Coney Dogs, French Fries and a Root Beer Float at the Coney Island Diner, the oldest restaurant in Mansfield.

#2 Kingwood Center
Kingwood Center is another must see in Mansfield and an attraction that my family has enjoyed for years. We love to stroll the paved walkways of the 47-acre estate and view the different flowers that bloom each season. We also tour the mansion on select days, especially around Christmas when it’s decked out for the holidays. My kids still can’t resist a stop at the duck pond to feed the ducks and always hope to catch a glimpse of one of the resident peacocks that roam throughout the property.
#3 Gorman Nature CenterWe love the outdoors and there’s no better place to hit the trails in Mansfield than Gorman Nature Center. When my kids’ were little we couldn’t pass by the Visitor Center without stopping in so they could see the small collection of live animals housed inside.  As teenagers, they prefer to walk the paths and climb the observation tower, racing against their father and I.
#4 The Springmill Drive-in Theater
Drive-in theaters may be a thing of the past for many communities, but in Mansfield, they are alive and thriving. We have not one, but two drive-ins in our local community. My husband and I have enjoyed movie nights with our kids’ at the Springmill Drive-in since they were young and watching a movie past their bedtime from inside our car was a big deal. Our teens may not enjoy a movie night with ‘ole mom and dad as much as they used to, but my husband and I still enjoy date nights spent watching a double-feature on the big screen.

#5 The Historic Ohio State Reformatory and the Shawshank TrailThe gem of our community may very well be the Historic Ohio State Reformatory. It is the largest  castle-like structure in Ohio, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and by the Travel Channel as one of the “101 Places to See Before you Die”.

The prison draws record crowds during the Halloween season for a haunted prison experience, hosts regular ghost hunting expeditions and holds the world’s largest free standing steel cell block. They also hold regular guided and self-guided tours throughout the tour season.

The prison is also where scenes from some of Hollywood’s top movies were filmed. My husband was lucky enough to have been chosen as an extra for the Shawshank Redemption and was eager to return to the prison to tell us where he stood and what he did during the torturous eight hours on the set (it appears that not everyone is cut out for show business).

The Shawshank Redemption directors also branched out in the surrounding community to continue filming. Those locations are known as The Shawshank Trail, which is a must for any die hard Shawshank fan. The movie is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year with many special events throughout the community which makes it a great time to visit Mansfield!

Tonya Prater began her family travel blog when her husband's job unexpectedly uprooted her family and took them on the road. What began as a means to keep in touch with those “back home” turned into a valuable resource for those seeking fun, family-friendly adventures in Ohio and throughout the US.


Amanda O. said...

The Shawshank Trail sounds like a lot of fun! Who knew there was so much to do in Mansfield?!?! Thanks!

Melody said...

Wow! Another fellow Mansfieldian! I found your blog on my Facebook wall. We love each and every place you've listed here!

Courtney Fraley said...

I love finding Ohio bloggers, but stumbling upon another Mansfield blogger is awesome! Your blog is so cute. This is a great post!
Passionately Curious