The city of Kenton in Hardin County, Ohio, was once one of the state's premier agricultural hubs until it became a city in 1886.
Since then, the city rapidly industrialized, progressing the city until the latter half of the 19th century.
This fascinating city also gets its name from the famous frontiersman Simon Kenton.
Unlike other cities in Ohio, such as Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland, people often pass through Kenton.
Not many know that Kenton offers a unique travel experience worth checking out.
Its broad farming heritage, unique culture, hidden gems, and the famous actor who saved the city during the Great Depression make Kenton special.
Discover thousands of acres of natural areas through hiking and biking.
At the same time, visit museums and historical attractions scattered throughout the city.
Here are the best things to do in Kenton, Ohio:
Visit the Hardin County Courthouse
The Hardin County Courthouse is not just an important government building in Kenton.
This place also holds crucial historical value to Hardin County.
Constructed in 1915, the county courthouse symbolizes Hardin County's progress from a small swampy town to a thriving city.
It's also the third building symbolizing the city's development.
Today, this building is a fascinating historical attraction in Kenton.
You'll surely appreciate its beautifully designed classical architecture courtesy of McCarty & Bulford and Steininger, Taylor Construction Company.
If you're looking for a different historical attraction in Kenton, head to the Hardin County Courthouse.
Take photos in front or inside this courthouse to see its original furnishings and structure up close.
Explore the Hardin County Historical Museum
The Hardin County Historical Museum is the best place to visit to learn Kenton's history.
This museum is well-known throughout Ohio for its Kenton cast iron toys and the histories of the Native Americans and Pioneers.
It is home to the old Kenton Cast Iron Toys factory, which gave smiles to countless children in the late 1800s.
The factory manufactured top-notch toys distributed throughout the nation and the whole world back in the day.
Inside the museum, check out numerous exhibits featuring remnants and artifacts of the old factory and its toy products.
Also, check out the "Bravest of the Brave" exhibit that features Kenton's war hero, Jacob Parrott, during the Civil War.
Also, uncover the fascinating story of the Great Train Robbery and the tale of Delano Moray.
This local museum also displays artifacts from Native Americans and pioneers that settled the area back in the day.
Visiting the Hardin County Historical Museum in Kenton gives you a fun learning experience.
Travel Back in Time at the Pfeiffer Station General Store
The Pfeiffer Station General Store is one of the city's most famous and oldest general stores.
In 1893, John Pfeiffer wanted to establish an office and railroad depot along the Atlantic and Chicago Railroad.
Although the station didn't prosper, the general store has thrived throughout the years.
It mainly catered to the local farmers, residents, and travelers stopping by Kenton back in the day.
For the past 125 years, the general store has maintained its classic architecture, interior, and top-notch service.
Today, you can still shop for penny candies sold by scoops.
It also displays grocery items, spices, flours, bulk goods, and other general merchandise.
Recently, the general store started serving delicious classic comfort food, like sandwiches, pastries, meat, and other delicious dishes at its restaurant.
Step inside the Pfeiffer Station General Store to travel back to Kenton's early days.
Take a Dip at the Kenton City Swimming Pool
The Kenton City Swimming Pool is a local pool.
Compared to other public swimming pools in the area, it features a unique structure that combines a standard pool for competitions and a resort-style pool.
That said, it's a fun place to hang out with your family or travel buddies, especially if you're visiting Kenton during summer.
The pool is safe for everyone and offers a top-notch swimming experience.
Likewise, Kenton City Swimming Pool has lifeguards and necessary facilities which observe modern standards.
Its nine-lane standard swimming pool is perfect for those who want to improve their swimming skills.
At the same time, the resort-style pool has numerous features that add fun, especially for kids.
Wander Hardin County's Old Order Amish Country
Hardin County's Old Order Amish Country features the authentic neighborhood of Kenton's Amish Country.
If you're familiar with Amish Country in Pennsylvania, you'll see the same fascinating centuries-old simple lifestyle in this region.
It is a fascinating place to explore history, unique heritage, and culture, featuring the Amish people.
While wandering the settlement, you'll see charming centuries-old wooden houses, churches, and horse carriages that remain in use today.
This Amish settlement in Kenton has thrived since 1958, remaining a relevant community in the city.
At the same time, the Hardin County Old Order Amish Country remains a popular tourist attraction.
Celebrate Gene Autry Day
Gene Autry Day, celebrated every June, is an essential occasion in Kenton.
Gene Autry was a famous singing cowboy from Kenton.
He has earned renown throughout Ohio for saving his town during the Great Depression using his talent and merchandise made after him.
To honor Autry's outstanding contribution to his beloved city, Kenton declared August 8, 1938, as Gene Autry Day.
The event mainly highlights cowboy activities such as rodeo competitions, track and field, softball competitions, musical concerts, and food vendors.
When he was still alive, he used to star in his show during Gene Autry Day.
He usually performed at the Kenton Theatre for numerous nights in front of thousands of spectators.
Today, the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce organizes the yearly event by moving it earlier to June.
Even after Autry's passing in 1998, the celebration continues to honor his contribution to Kenton.
Some of the celebration's highlights are the Ohio State Championship Fast Draw Match, the screening of Gene Autry movies, and Gene Autry Days memorabilia.
Take a Break at Gene Autry Park
The Gene Autry Park is a popular hangout and outdoor recreation venue for locals in Kenton.
However, this park has more to it than meets the eye.
Named after Gene Autry, the famous singing cowboy, this park also holds a historical value to the city.
During the Great Depression, Kenton's primary industry, the Kenton Hardware Company, was falling apart.
Autry's singing talent earned him a fantastic reputation in Kenton.
Then, he became Kenton's "Economic Savior" because of the famous toy manufactured in the city named after him.
Autry's popularity and his toys helped Kenton's economy survive the Great Depression.
Today, you can see a park and a vast mural in Kenton to pay tribute to this famous performer who saved his hometown.
Visiting the Gene Autry Park is also a fun experience.
It features a playground, numerous sports facilities, and other park amenities, excellent for a picnic or outdoor activities with your family or travel buddies.
Enjoy Disc Golf at Wharton Park Disc Golf Course
Wharton Park is famous for its disc golf course.
This park features not just your typical park amenities like playgrounds, picnic areas, and pavilions.
The Wharton Park Disc Golf Course has earned fame throughout Hardin County as a premier disc golf course.
It has a top-notch 18-hole disc golf course that hosts various local tournaments in Kenton.
At the same time, it's a favorite playing venue for local disc golfers, which you can join.
The entire course runs along the Scioto River, giving you a picturesque view of the natural area.
You can find the course's holes 2 and 7 in the woods, adding a challenge to disc golfers.
For a fun-filled sports activity in Kenton, head to Wharton Park Disc Golf Course with your family or friends.
Set Up Camp at the France Lake & Saulisberry Park
France Lake & Saulisberry Park spans over 200 acres.
It used to be a quarry back in the day.
The city of Kenton named the area after its mayor, Helen Aulisberry, and the quarry company that used to operate there, the France Lake Company.
Today, it's a famous outdoor destination for campers, hikers, and families because of its scenic natural area.
If you're looking for an ideal place to set up camp to explore Kenton's striking natural landscape, go to France Lake and Saulisberry Park.
You can camp beside the lake and enjoy fishing or hike through the entire area to see undiscovered overlooks and vantage points.
However, the lake strictly prohibits swimming.
You can try fishing and boating instead.
Take Your Best Swing at the Memorial Park Golf Club
Memorial Park Golf Club is a premier golf club in Kenton which has operated since 1929.
This 18-hole, par 72 golf course has over 6,344 yards of scenic landscape, making it an excellent place to play golf.
If you're an avid golfer visiting Kenton, check out the Memorial Park Golf Club.
Its course has a rating of 70.3 with a 124 slope rating on Rye grass.
Likewise, its golf course highlights Hardin County's natural landscape with extra challenges along the way.
Cheer for the Home Team at Robinson Field
Robinson Field is a vast sports facility that mainly caters to football and track and field.
It is the home of the Kenton Wildcats, the official varsity sports team of Kenton High School.
This sports facility boasts premier amenities such as a grandstand that can accommodate as many as 4,000 spectators.
It also has a press box, a nicely-manicured field, and many more.
It's one of the best places in Kenton to see locals display their enthusiasm for sports, especially the Wildcats' home games and intramurals.
Watch high school football games, track & field, and other sports events at this top-notch venue.
Robinson Field is a highly-recommended place to visit in Kenton.
Enjoy the Festive Atmosphere at Hardin County Fairgrounds
Kenton residents love the Hardin County Fair, held at the Hardin County Fairgrounds every September.
This major county fair features not just livestock exhibits but also top-notch entertainment, from musicals, and rodeo competitions, to food vendors and lots more.
Like most county fairs, this one draws thousands of people throughout Hardin County to the Hardin County Fairgrounds.
Enjoy the petting zoo featuring numerous farm animals, carnival rides, rodeo competitions, cheer dance competitions, and dozens of food vendors.
Catch the Latest Flicks at Hi-Road Drive-In Theater
The Hi-Road Drive-In Theater is a drive-in theater with two massive screens regularly showing the latest Hollywood movies.
This drive-in theater has entertained generations of moviegoers in Kenton since 1949.
The theater initially had bigger screens; however, strong winds blew them down in 1952.
The winds forced the owners to replace half the screen's actual size.
Nonetheless, it remains one of the best places to watch movies and experience the nostalgic vibes of a drive-in theatre in Kenton.
For a relaxing but highly-entertaining activity, head to the Hi-Road Drive-In Theater
Find the best parking spot, and enjoy watching a movie.
Walk Down Memory Lane at the Historic Schine's Kenton Theater
Schine's Kenton Theater opened in 1929 as part of a chain of movie theatres established in the 1920s to the early 1930s.
The theater is one of the oldest theaters in Kenton, which still runs to this day.
As most locals know, this theater has a solid historical value to the city since it's Gene Autry used to perform there.
During the early days of his career, Autry performed at the theater numerous times and even rode his horse on stage.
Today, this 1,200-seater remains open, boasting its vintage Spanish Colonial design, a walk down memory lane.
Its auditorium, lobby walls, concession stand, seats, and interiors still have their original design after numerous restorations.
See a show at the Schine's Kenton Theater!
Other Things to Do Nearby
Explore the Wilderness of Lawrence Woods State Nature Preserve
The Lawrence Woods State Nature Preserve is in Ridgeway, Ohio, covering over 1,000 acres of woodlands and natural areas.
It's also nine minutes from Kenton.
Besides being an important breeding ground for various bird species, it also draws many visitors for outdoor recreation.
Hiking, birdwatching, and sightseeing are the most famous activities featured in the nature preserve.
If you're looking for an excellent place for outdoor activities in Kenton, head to this nature preserve.
Enjoy strolling through its long and winding boardwalks, taking you through meadows and wooded areas teeming with local wildlife.
For birdwatchers, you might see Kentucky warblers, cerulean warblers, yellow-billed cuckoos, hooded warblers, American redstarts, Acadian flycatchers, and many more.
Spend the afternoon at Lawrence Woods State Nature Preserve!
Kenton is a low-key hidden gem in Ohio that features a fascinating history of the Great Depression and the famous cowboy actor who saved the entire city.
Its parks, natural areas, and history make Kenton a special place to explore.
Since it's a few hours away from Columbus, Cleveland, and Detroit, this small city in Ohio is ideal for short excursions and weekend getaways.
Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in Kenton!