Under an hour west of Columbus, Urbana, Ohio is a perfect distance for some fun, whether you have a few hours, or a whole weekend. You’ll find plenty of things to do in Urbana year round.
From multiple museums of industry, shops, Ohio’s largest indoor fish hatchery, wine, and good food, you’ll find it all in Urbana
Our Ohio Travel writer, Deb, randomly picks a new destination in Ohio to visit each month with her husband. Some of their trips are full weekend trips with overnight stays, while others are day trips. Their trips are always full of fun and unique stops that you’re going to want to check out.
Each month, my husband and I randomly pick a destination in Ohio to explore, adding points of interest along our route from Central Ohio. Our most recent trip was to Urbana, located in Champaign County.
Since the weather in January isn’t always ideal for outdoor exploration, we decided to enjoy our adventure as a midweek daytrip to a few indoor points of interest between Marysville and Urbana.
Honda Heritage Center
In October of 1977, Honda announced plans to make Ohio its home, opening the Marysville Motorcycle Plant in 1979. Honda continues to maintained a strong presence in central Ohio, employing over 14,400 associates across multiple locations.
The Honda Heritage Center® takes visitors on a journey from the company’s humble beginning to its present day success in North America. Visitors can see historical, current, and future products on display, many of which were manufactured here in Ohio.
Recognized as one of the world’s most innovative mobility companies, the museum also has several unique products on display. Imagine yourself driving an Acura NSX sports car, dancing with a robot named Asimo, glimpsing into the luxurious cabin of a HondaJet, or crossing the finish line at the Indy 500.
The Honda Heritage Center is open on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Walk-in visitors are welcome for a 90-minute self-guided tour. Presentation of a government issued photo ID is required for each adult during check-in. The center is ADA accessible, and admission is free.
Traveler’s Tip: Due to the recent pandemic, hours are limited and subject to change. All auto plant tours have been suspended until further notice.
This gem of a restaurant is located at Grimes Municipal Airport in Urbana, next door to the Champaign Aviation Museum. Don’t be fooled by the unassuming building façade because what lies inside is a delightful and fun experience.
The café sits on the edge of the airport’s runway, where diners can watch planes land and take off. On a nice day, a large outdoor patio provides seating with a true front row seat.
During our visit, there was a steady rotation of private planes coming and going. It seems this is a popular place for a nice fly-in lunch or as the menu read, “Will fly for homemade pie”.
The menu offers a large selection of salads and sandwiches, plus specialty items like locally raised bison burgers. Be sure to save room for piece of their famous homemade pies. The 3” meringue topping is reason enough!
Champaign Aviation Museum
In 2005, the first shipment of parts from a WWII B-17 bomber arrived at Grimes Field in Urbana. The mission was a restoration project that would soon lead to the creation of the Champaign Aviation Museum, dedicated to the preservation of WWII era history.
Visitors have a chance to get an up close and personal look at eight vintage aircraft on display, walk through the fuselage of a C-47 Skytrain and take a seat in the cockpit, or step inside the restored radio room of a B-17 bomber.
The B-17 restoration project, led by a community of volunteers, is still ongoing today. Visitors are welcome to tour the restoration area to learn more about the project.
We enjoyed talking with each of the volunteers, learning about their personal stories and getting a firsthand look at what it takes to restore a WWII aircraft.
The Champaign Aviation Museum is a must stop for any history buff or aviation enthusiast. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is a family friendly destination and is ADA accessible. Admission is free.
Traveler Tip: Anyone interested in electrical systems or lighting should visit the Grimes Flying Lab Museum, also located at Grimes Field. (by appt only)
Freshwater Farms of Ohio
As Ohio’s largest indoor fish hatchery, Freshwater Farms is a fun and unique place to visit.
Founded in 1983, this family owned, 5-acre sustainable farm grows over 100,000 lbs of rainbow trout, yellow perch, and bluegill each year. The summer season brings the addition of freshwater shrimp.
We began our visit at the retail store which offers a wide variety of locally grown trout products such as fresh, frozen, and smoked trout fillets, trout patties, and smoked trout spreads.
They also carry a wide selection of other hand selected seafood items, locally made specialty foods, and gardenscape/custom garden décor.
Traveler Tip: Don’t forget to bring a cooler with ice along on this trip! You won’t want to go home without some delicious fresh trout or other seafood items.
Visitors are welcomed and encouraged to take a self-guided tour of the farm during regular business hours. There are several outdoor ponds for trout, frogs, etc. The indoor fish barn is home to thousands of stocked pond fish and a hands-on educational area.
The education center offers plenty of informational signs and encourages visitors to TOUCH! The highlight is the Sturgeon Petting Zoo, featuring Flipper.
There are also salamanders, turtles, frogs, crawfish, and more. Stop and feed the trout at Trout Frenzy, located in the outdoor ponds. It’s fun to watch the trout literally jump for joy and swim in a frenzy when fed.
Travelers Tip: Bring plenty of quarters to purchase fish food at the dispensers located near Trout Frenzy.
Lay of the Land
Parking is available near the retail store and the hatchery. Visitors are not required to check-in upon arrival and are free to visit either location as desired. (Check out the farm map here) For the winter season, the indoor hatchery closes at 5 p.m., due to daylight savings.
During the warmer months, a full calendar of special music and festival weekend events is available, so be sure to check their website. The annual Ohio Fish & Shrimp Festival will be held on September 9, 16 & 23, 2023.
Dragonfly Vineyard & Wine Cellar
Dragonfly is an estate vineyard that produces wines from grapes grown on its own property. A selection of twenty-five wines are available, plus a small selection of appetizers, sandwiches, and desserts.
Patrons may choose to sit inside the cozy tasting room, with a welcoming fireplace for winter months, or on the large outdoor patio overlooking the vineyards. During the summer growing season, find one of the tables dispersed throughout the vineyard itself.
While we enjoyed sampling several varieties of their hand-crafted wine, it was the warm hospitality of the owners, Kent and Connie, that impressed us most.
Dragonfly Vineyard is open to the public Thursday through Saturday. Times vary, so be sure to check out their website for the latest updates.
Uncle Beth’s BBQ
The city of Urbana offers visitors several great dining options, such as Café Paradiso, The Farmer’s Daughter, Lincoln & Main, or Crabill’s Hamburger Shop (a local treasure).
However, for months we had been reading fabulous reviews about a hidden gem, Uncle Beth’s BBQ in nearby North Lewisburg, so we decided to check it out for ourselves.
Though located along a very quiet and rural road, the first thing we noticed is that this place was BUSY! It is clearly a favorite among local residents based on the steady flow of take out customers. We were dining in, so jumped in line. The line moves quickly as employees served up each order cafeteria style.
The menu is written on a huge chalk board posted on the wall. There are plenty of menu choices including pulled pork, chicken, wings, ribs, meatloaf, and porky nachos (and more!), plus a large selection of sides.
We ordered pulled pork and St. Louis style ribs, with different selections of sides to share. As all the reviews promised, Uncle Beth’s did not disappoint!
Uncle Beth’s BBQ is open to the public Thursday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Other great stops in Urbana
If you have extra time and want to visit additional places in the area, check out these fun options.
Monument Square District
Visit the Monument Square District in downtown Urbana for unique shops, restaurants, and more. Exploring the downtown or popular district in any city is a great way to learn more about the history AND future of a city or town. They also have lots of events in the district throughout the year. Read more here.
Johnny Appleseed Museum – Learn about the life and pursuits of John Chapman (aka. Johnny Appleseed). The museum is scheduled to reopen in early 2023.
Cedar Bog State Nature Preserve – The first nature preserve in Ohio, known for it’s vast variety of rare and endangered plant species.
Champaign Berry Farm – If the season is right, stop by the farm to pick some fresh raspberries, blackberries, and peaches.
Ohio Caverns – Head underground to see Ohio’s most colorful caverns full of formations, including the largest stalactite in Ohio.
Cave Adventures – If living, or crawling, on the wild side is more your style, go spelunking 33 feet underground.
Marmon Valley Farm – Enjoy life on the farm, climb and play in the barn loft, pet farm animals, and take a trail ride on horseback.
Mad River Mountain – Strap on some skis and hit the slopes at Mad River or speed down the tubing chutes at Avalanche Tubing Park.
Marie’s Candies – Have a sweet tooth? Marie’s homemade candies and treats can help.
Unique Stops – Like the unusual or unique? Check out Campbell Hill, the highest point in Ohio or stand on McKinley St, the shortest concrete street in America.
Find more information on the City of Urbana website.
More Ohio travel!
Looking for more of Deb’s amazing travel posts? Check them out below and plan some Ohio exploration!
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- Visiting Akron’s Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens
- Indian mounds, iron, and more incredible places to visit in SE Ohio
- Go Back in Time at Dickens Victorian Village in Cambridge
- Magical Christmas Displays in Ohio from Columbus to Cleveland
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