Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: November 2021

Ohio was named after the Ohio River, which is one of the largest rivers in the United States. It is commonly referred to as the Buckeye State due to its abundance of Ohio buckeye trees. It features several major cities, has a rich musical history and offers a wide range of outdoor activities.

We spent the previous days underground exploring Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and afterwards went for a COVID-19 test. Usually results come back within 24 hours. Since we had some time to kill, we started the day off at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, which is the oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world. And it’s completely free to visit.

We first walked outside the museum around Memorial Park, which contains a number of commemorative plaques, memorials, trees and benches in honour of certain Americans for their service and sacrifice.

We then spent the next couple of hours wandering through the museum, which showcases more than 360 aircrafts and missiles. The museum is divided into a series of different exhibits which are spread across five hangars and highlight the military aviation history in the United States. We toured through the various galleries in sequential order, starting first with the Early Years, which provide an overview of the Wright brothers, who were born in Ohio and invented, built and flew the first successful airplane.

We later explored the other exhibits, which included aircrafts and stories from World War II, the Korean War, the Southeast Asia War, the Cold War, a missile gallery and space gallery.

One of our favourite exhibits was the Presidential Gallery, which showcased a collection of aircrafts used by several American presidents, many of which we could walk through. This included presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. The collection also featured a plane which was used regularly by presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.

We could have easily spent the whole day here, but we had other places to be. We wrapped up around noon and headed to the car to eat a quick lunch before continuing our drive towards Ontario.

The next stop on our itinerary was Ohio Caverns, the largest cave system in the state. It is also known as the most colourful cavern in the United States and contains many crystal formations. While Ohio Caverns is open daily, during the off-season there is just one option for a cave tour, the Winter Tour, so that’s what we signed up for. Except we had to wait about an hour for the next cave tour as a tour had just started a few minutes after we arrived and the other guide was on a lunch break. And so we waited.

The tour started right inside the Visitor Centre where there’s a door in the lobby with steps down to the entrance of the cavern. We were joined by two other people. The tour is 50 minutes in duration and along the way our guide provided more information about how the cavern was created, discovered, used for tours and about the interesting cave formations found underground.

The Ohio Caverns were discovered in 1897 when a young farm hand went to investigate the disappearance of water in a sinkhole. After digging around, he found a crevice which led into a natural entrance into the caverns. Tours were offered shortly after the cavern was discovered, but they were self-guided. As such, the cavern contains quite a bit of graffiti and many of the cave formations were broken off and taken as souvenirs. Over the years, more passageways were opened and electric lights were installed to help with navigation. Eventually the self-guided tours ended and today the only way to peek inside the caverns is with a guide.

The path is paved, but there are a few narrow passageways. The cavern is also considered a wet cavern, which means that many of the cavern’s formations are still active and growing. As such, there were some puddles on the ground and we experienced a few cave kisses, or rather droplets from the ceiling.

The last four rooms during our tour showcased about 90% of the elaborate cave formations, which included lots of crystal coloured stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and soda straws.

We wrapped up our cave tour just before 3p.m and made one final detour to check out the highest point in Ohio at Campbell Hill while we continued to wait for our test results to come in.


76 thoughts on “Ohio

  1. kagould17 says:

    What a great museum. I think Ohio gets a bad rap sometimes. It looks like there is a lot to see and do there. Loved the cavern tour. Not sure how comfy this claustrophobic person would be on the tour, but thanks for taking me there. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. We were initially planning to visit Columbus, but we ran out of time. Apparently there’s some great hiking trails too. Next time. The Ohio Caverns were beautiful. It didn’t feel too uncomfortable in the cave with all the narrow passageways, but that could have been because our tour group was really small. I’m sure we would have had a different experience if it was busier, especially since wearing a mask inside the cave was optional. Thanks for reading. Take care. Linda

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      As you can probably tell by now, I’m fascinated with caves and caverns. The National Museum of the United States Air Force had quite the impressive collection. My husband could have easily spent the entire day there, but I was eager to head out after a couple of hours to go to the Ohio Caverns.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The sheer size of the National Museum of the US Air Force was impressive. Even though we weren’t out on a hike, I definitely got my steps in from walking around all the hangars. The Ohio Caverns was a fun excursion and the crystal cave formations were beautiful. It was nice to visit during the off-season with a smaller tour group.

  2. Book Club Mom says:

    These look like some great places to visit – I’ve been to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Cleveland, but nothing else. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is also near Cleveland, I think. I’d like to see those caverns especially. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We didn’t have enough time to visit Cleveland, but it seems like an interesting city. I’ll have to check out those places for the next time I’m in the area. I would highly recommend a visit to the Ohio Caverns. It’s not a challenging tour by any stretch and the cave formations are stunning. Thanks for reading. Take care. Linda

  3. Ab says:

    What a lovely day you spent in Ohio! The museum and its various exhibitions are super cool. I did not know until reading your post that The Wright Brothers originated in Ohio. Very neat. Look how far we’ve all come with aviation!

    The caves are very cool. How awesome you got to explore another set of them. I can only imagine what that farm hand must’ve felt discovering this jewel way back when. I will say some the images of the cave formations look like sharp menacing teeth!

    I was in Ohio state back in 2015, visiting Columbus for the weekend. My experience was nowhere as cool as yours!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Ohio seems kind of sleepy, but it turns out there’s quite a bit to do and see there. I initially wanted to visit Columbus, but we ran out of time. We spent much longer in the national museum of the US Air Force than I anticipated. I can’t get over just how huge the place was.

      The Ohio Caverns was easily the highlight of our day in Ohio. I’m such a fan of cave tours and usually look up whether there’s one in the area whenever I travel. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to discover a cave either. Who thinks, hey, there’s a hole underground, let’s go in and see where it goes and what’s inside. I’ll stick with the guided cave tours 🙂

  4. Angie says:

    I loved learning a little and seeing the cave! Thank you so much for sharing. I also want to confess that I have never heard of a “cave kiss” before but now it is on my “Strange Things Bucket List”

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for commenting. Who would have thought it could look so colourful and beautiful underground. The crystal cave formations were gorgeous. “Cave kisses” are actually a legit caving term. It’s very cute and I somehow didn’t mind as much when a droplet of water landed on me every so often.

  5. elvira797mx says:

    Wow! Amazing and wonderful! I love the cave with the crystal stalactites and stalagmites. So interesting! Thank?s for share, Linda.
    Have a lovely time! Keep well.

  6. Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

    One of the interesting things about the advent of flying is that there’s a lot of evidence that Gustave Whitehead, a German aviator, flew two years ahead of the Wright Brothers. Even Orville Wright thought that Whitehead was earlier. Shows how history can get muddled.

    Fantastic photos of the cave!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It seemed like a pretty comprehensive aviation museum. I still can’t get over just how huge the place was. Even though we didn’t go for any hikes in Ohio, I managed to get in all my steps from just wandering around the different hangars. P.S. the day wasn’t even over. Just wait until you hear about what happened when we tried to cross the border back into Canada.

  7. leightontravels says:

    Never heard of ‘cave kisses’ before, but love the term. The photos of the cave are stunning and I imagine that having a guided tour made all the difference and really brought the place to life for you. The museum sounds fascinating. Looking forward to the highest point of Ohio!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The term “cave kisses” is very adorable. It’s funny because after hearing that term, I didn’t mind it so much when some of those water droplets fell on me. The crystal cave formations were beautiful and I must have taken at least 100 pictures of them. I think you need to lower your expectations for the highest point in Ohio. To say it was underwhelming would be an understatement. Hahaha.

  8. ourcrossings says:

    Can you imagine stumbling upon such wonderful nature marvels as underground caves full of stalactites and stalagmites? Despite my claustrophobia, I love venturing into caves for a chance to see the fragile formation growing there. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s pretty incredible at just how long it takes for some of those cave formations to grow. It was definitely quite the sight. You can probably guess by now that I’m a huge fan of caves as well. This tour was pretty tame as there was lighting throughout and the path was quite smooth, which was great so I could focus more on all the beautiful stalagmites and stalactites. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of your week. Linda

  9. Lookoom says:

    During my day trip to Tikal in Guatemala I was with an American couple who had just moved to Ohio a year ago. When I asked them what to visit in Ohio, they didn’t know how to answer me. Today, I could recommend them Dayton and the Ohio Caverns. Thank you for pointing out the interesting things on your route.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      To be honest, Ohio wasn’t high on my list of states to visit, but it was along the drive to get back to Ontario so we figured we’d make the most of it. I was very impressed with Ohio Caverns and all the beautiful crystal cave formations underground. The air force museum was also interesting, although I think my husband enjoyed it much more than I.

  10. Diana says:

    Fun! My mom actually grew up in Dayton and still has family in Ohio so I’ve been a few times. I’m pretty sure I even went to the caverns when I was a kid, although I have only vague memories of it.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      That’s neat that you have family in Ohio and have been a few times. Ohio wasn’t the most exciting state that we visited during our road trip, but we enjoyed the quiet countryside. The Ohio Caverns were pretty spectacular.

      • Diana says:

        Yeah, there’s a reason my mom moved away and never looked back. Not the most exciting place to visit or live.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Haha, I’m not surprised! The only reason we visited Ohio was because it was the fastest way to get back home. We figured we should make the most of it to cross that state off our list.

  11. Thattamma C.G Menon says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful post 🌷🙏♥️👍🏻🌷amazing photography and
    The photos with your explanation fascinating 🙏👍🏻I heard this Museum , now can view 😍🖖
    World’s largest and oldest military Aviation museum photos so stunning, Apollo 15 , fish like jet
    and so many varieties of planes are gorgeous view !! I will show my grandchildren,they will admire😯😊
    Grace wishes and Happy Wednesday 🌷🙏🌷

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. The National Museum of the United States Air Force was pretty impressive. I can’t get over how huge it was. We could have easily spent the entire day there. It was neat that you could even walk through a few of the planes and sit in the cockpit.

  12. thehungrytravellers.blog says:

    Those stalagmites look seriously weird, when I saw your top photograph I couldn’t even work out what I was looking at, it was only when I read on that it fell into place. Was worth the walk just to see those. I’m always in two minds about military museums and the like – we always feel compelled to visit and we always learn a lot about history when we do so – yet at the same time we get a little uncomfortable if the presentation seems to glorify war. I can see that this one isn’t entirely military though. We’re coming to the States next month for our first ever USA road trip. It’s going to be interesting!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I guess the first picture worked in terms of drawing readers in! The crystal cave formations looked beautiful and thankfully there was decent lighting throughout to get a great view of them. I know what you mean about military museums. This one was more about showcasing many of the different planes and aircrafts used throughout the years, grouped by time period (in the form of wars). Then again, I wasn’t exactly reading the signs in much detail, so I wouldn’t know.

      That’s exciting that you’ll be coming to the US next month. I’m curious to find out where you’re going and for how long. Safe travels. Happy exploring!

  13. wetanddustyroads says:

    The Air Force Museum looks very interesting – with the Wright brothers being born in Ohio, I’m not at all surprise there is such a museum! And another great walk down in the caves … those stalagmites and stalactites are amazing!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Even though we didn’t go for any hikes in Ohio, we still got our steps in from all the walking around we did in the US air force museum. I still can’t get over just how massive that place was. The Ohio Caverns were stunning with all the various cave formations. You might have guess this by now, but I’m such a fan of caves.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m such a fan of cave tours and exploring underground. The crystal cave formations in Ohio Caverns were very beautiful. The air force museum was pretty impressive. It was neat that you could even walk through some of the planes and sit in the cockpit.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I know!! Especially considering how massive the museum is. We could have easily spent the entire day here. Even then, that probably wouldn’t have been enough to read every single sign.

  14. usfman says:

    Ohio does not have much of a reputation as a tourist friendly state to me but you made it to my birthplace home and saw interesting sights. Did you know six U.S. Presidents resided in Ohio? You might check out their homes on your next vacation there.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I know what you mean. Ohio wasn’t really high up there on our list of places to visit. But it was along the way back home so we figured we should make the most of it. I didn’t know that about how six US Presidents once lived in Ohio. I’ll have to check out their houses the next time I’m there as that sounds neat. I would also like to spend some time in Cleveland and to explore some of the trails to see what the hiking is like.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The museum was pretty incredible. It’s also impressive that it’s free to visit. I can’t even begin to imagine how much maintenance is involved considering the size of the place.

  15. Bama says:

    “Cave kiss”, I like that term. Ohio Caverns looks quite impressive, and the fact that sunlight can reach parts of the caves makes it even more appealing. I admit I’m not really into caves myself, although there are a few that look so impressive I’m willing to give them a try.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s such an adorable term and after hearing it, I somehow didn’t mind the little droplets of water that fell on me. The cave had pretty decent lighting throughout so it wasn’t super dark or dingy. The path was also smooth and we didn’t have to crawl through any tight spaces. Overall, it wasn’t too much effort to see the beautiful display of cave formations.

  16. Oh, the Places We See says:

    You’ve seen parts of Ohio we’ve never seen, but now wish we had. I love your photos of the caverns. It’s not easy taking pictures underground, but these are mysterious and colorful.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m glad the Ohio Caverns were along the drive back home to Ontario as they were beautiful. The tour that we took had lighting throughout, which made it much easier to take pictures. It also helped that our tour group was small so I didn’t have to worry about other people blocking my view or having to hurry up to take a picture.

  17. BrittnyLee says:

    Wow this cave looks fantastic, too! If Matt and I ever travel to Ohio or Kentucky, I know where we’ll be visiting. It’s sad that when they were sefl-guided, the caves were vandalized. I wish people didn’t have to destroy things in nature. They’re so precious and rare. I’m glad they are guided tours now. At least now the caves can be saved and reserved. Beautiful photos

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You can probably tell by now that I’m a huge fan of caves and taking cave tours. The Ohio Caverns was really pretty with all those crystal cave formations. Vandalism is such a shame, especially in caves when some of the formations take hundreds of years to grow. Happy to hear that this cave has since been protected for all to enjoy.

      • BrittnyLee says:

        Yes! Without a doubt ! The photos you have of this cave are stunning. That must have been incredible to see up close and personal 😃. I love that kind of stuff, too! It’s very peaceful and mystifying. 🙂

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Thanks! It helped that our tour group was really small, so I was able to stop and take plenty of pictures. I hate that feeling of being rushed when there is someone waiting behind you.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        For sure. It’s so much more relaxing that way. Some of our parks have started issuing day use permits in an effort to prevent overcrowding. It’s such a great idea and we’ve noticed a big difference.

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