TourismOhio: convenience, discounts and recommendations

First Posted: 6/4/2014

LIMA — TourismOhio, a Columbus-based organization that helps provide support to the many tourism industries in Ohio, has released two new ways Ohioans can maximize their adventures: a new iPad app and a discount promotion in partnership with McDonald’s.

In addition, TourismOhio’s Public Relations Manager Tamara Brown offers Lima residents some suggestions on day-trips that are a bit more off the beaten path.

The iPad app, which was developed and funded through Great Lakes Publishing, was released earlier this year to be a fun and interactive way to see what exciting things are happening throughout Ohio.

Brown said, “In tourism, more and more people are using their mobile devices to look for things to do and to book travels. About 30 percent of digital travel sales will be mobile by 2015. We want to be there with savvy people.”

Brown explained once an iPad user has downloaded this free app, he or she will have a very visual and user-friendly experience. A person may tap a region on a map for travel ideas and info, or choose from several categories of interest, such as arts and culture.

“There are more pictures in the app than in a hard copy (of the travel guide),” Brown said. “Each geographic section also has some video content.”

Brown said the app is fun for children who might even want to help do some planning. The app uses symbols of things like deer and cardinals. For example, one may tap on a cardinal to hear it sing.

Brown added, “Keep in mind, this first version is just available on the iPad. We hope people will go on and look at it. Tell us what you think about it, how you would rate it, what you like and what you don’t like, so we can continue to make this better and better over time.”

The new app is just one of the many ways TourismOhio is providing helpful tools and information for tourists.

Another exciting venture is a partnership with 632 McDonald’s restaurants in Ohio called Discover Ohio to Go. By purchasing a large drink cup at one of the participating restaurants, one will have the opportunity to then redeem that cup at one of many Ohio tourist attractions. Some of the discounts include $20 off of two tickets to Cedar Point, $5 off a ticket to a Cincinnati Reds’ baseball game, $1 off a Cleveland Metroparks Zoo admission, $20 off a couple of zip line tours, and more.

These special cups must be purchased by Monday but may be redeemed at a specific location later. Each offer has different expiration dates anywhere from June 9 to Sept. 30. For a complete list of discounts, rules, restrictions and expiration dates, visit

Aside from the well-known tourists attractions, such as those just mentioned, Ohio has some great day-trips that Lima residents are sure to enjoy. Brown offered suggestions on where people could go to get away for an afternoon or an entire weekend that will educate and entertain people of all ages, interests and travel budgets.

Brown’s suggestion No. 1: Mazza Museum in Findlay — An international collection of art from picture books. Thousands of pieces to see in this newly built museum on the University of Findlay’s campus. It is a new facility that will dazzle children and adults with these works of art from books you may hold near and dear to your heart.

Distance from Lima: 30 miles (about 35 minutes)

Cost: Free, but donations are accepted

More info:

Brown’s suggestion No. 2: The Rankin House in Ripley (SW Ohio) — A National Historic Landmark and Underground Railroad Station from the 1800s. It is located on a hill on the Ohio River, which made it a perfect location to help notify slaves when it was safe to cross the river. The Rankin House was one of the first stops for slaves from the south and housed most of the nearly 2,000 slaves who passed through the small town of Ripley. (Brown suggested that if you travel to see the Rankin House, also make plans to visit The Parker House, a similar historical site, also located in Ripley.)

Distance from Lima: 155 miles (about 3 hours)

Cost: $4 for adults, $3.50 for seniors, $2 for students, free for children 5 and under

More info:

Brown’s suggestion No. 3: 21c Museum Hotel in Cincinnati — This is the third location for this up-and-coming hotel chain, with other locations in Arkansas and Kentucky. This posh museum and hotel gives contemporary art lovers the opportunity to dine on meals that look like art themselves, and to sleep in stylish rooms — all while being surrounded by an array of trendy exhibits.

Distance from Lima: 133 miles (about 2 hours)

Cost: Rooms start at $199/night, but admission is free just to visit the museum.

More info:

Brown’s suggestion No. 4: The Warther Museum and Knife Factory in Dover (Eastern Ohio) — The Smithsonian appraised the Warther collection as “Priceless works of art.” In 1902, Mooney Warther began a cutlery company to support his family while he carved model trains as a hobby. Mooney carved everything by hand with his knives. His attention to detail with the working parts of his trains is astounding. He is said to be an engineering genius — and his formal education only went to second grade.

Distance from Lima: 148 miles (about 3 hours)

Cost: $13 for adults, $5 for children 7-17, free for children 6 and under

More info:

Brown’s suggestion No. 5: Ohio State Parks — 74 parks/national preserves throughout the state. Ohio is one of only seven states remaining that still offers free state parks. The parks are great for fishing, biking/mountain biking, walking, picnicking and camping. There are many options for lodging including, tent and RV sites, cabins, yurts/cavents (kind of a cross between a cabin and a tent), cottages and teepees. Some along Lake Erie are even air-conditioned. The parks are great for the whole family.

Distance from Lima: Locations vary, but the closest is the Indian Lake State Park (27 miles) and the Grand Lake St. Marys State Park (33 miles).

Cost: Free to use the parks, with a range of lodging prices.

More info:

According to, “Tourism is a major economic driver for the state and is a $36 billion industry. In 2012, Ohio welcomed nearly 190 million visitors, most of which are within a day’s drive (300-500 miles).”

TourismOhio is funded through tax dollars from Ohio’s tourism industries, with a $10 million cap. Funding does not come from new taxes to Ohio residents. “They are taxes from things already collected like hotels, car rentals and airfare; anything to do with travel if there is a state tax levy on it,” Brown said.

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