15 Best Things to Do in Portage County, OH

Portage County, OH
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Portage County, an area that covers approximately 500 square miles, has a mix of rural and urban lifestyles.

It is in the Northeastern side of Ohio, about 30 miles south of Cleveland.

Numerous open and recreational spaces can be seen within the county.

Members of the community will welcome you with open arms, and you will see beautiful landscapes and historical sites.

Here are some of the best things to do in Portage County, Ohio:

Explore the Nelson Ledges Quarry Park

Crystal creek at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park
redtbird02 / Shutterstock.com

Offering you great activities and amenities, the Nelson Ledges Quarry Park within the Nelson township is the place to go if you want to spend a fun time with family and friends.

This park, with its beautiful and popular land formations, dates back to the Ice Age.

It was created due to tectonic plates shifting, which also made it an integral part of many Native American tribes' lives.

The park itself wasn't established until 1949.

Trail at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park
arthurgphotography / Shutterstock.com

This nature reserve spans 250 acres, providing a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

Many activities are available at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, such as hiking, swimming in the lake, and camping.

Meadows, forests, 50-to-60-feet-high sandstone ledges, and a quarry are some of the natural features of this park.

Music festivals are also held throughout the year, so plan your visit accordingly when you're in Portage County.

Waterfall at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park
Matthew.kowal, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Know More about Local History at Portage County Historical Society

Established in April 1951, the Portage County Historical Society wanted to ensure that everything related to the county’s history would be collected, preserved, and displayed.

The society wanted to encourage people to take an interest in the history of Portage County through many social activities such as museum tours, free lecture series, and a research library, among many others.

Located at Chestnut Street in Ravenna, this non-profit educational society offers a lot to see on its 12-acre campus, like the John Lowri & Mary Helen Beatty Museum & Library, Earl G. Proehl & Emmett J. Kline Clock Tower, and the Mantua Glass Company.

Some attractions, such as the Salmon Carter House, Amphitheater, and Wilson Woods, are for rent.

Make an appointment before you visit to explore Portage County’s history without worry.

Discover Fashion and Decorative Arts at Kent State University Museum

Originating from the contributions of Jerry Silverman and Shannon Rodger in 1982, the Kent State University Museum officially opened its doors to the public in October 1985.

Included in the contributions were approximately a thousand pieces of decorative art, 4,000 costumes and accessories, and a library with 5,000 references.

Important fashion and decorative art collections can be seen in the eight galleries of this museum which feature different exhibitions of many great artists and designers from all over the world.

Kent State University Museum is also home to one of the largest educational collections of the 18th century.

Have a Blast at OutRage Rage Room

Feeling stressed or frustrated?

Let loose at OutRage Rage Room, where you can take out your frustrations by smashing and destroying things!

This judge-free space is located in the courtyard of the University Plaza, just a couple minutes from MovieScoop Cinema.

It could be your place of comfort if you’re going through a bad breakup, feeling frustrated with your boss, or just accompanying a friend.

Choose from the many packages they offer—from paint splatter to total destruction, they have it.

Although OutRage Rage Room is only for ages 16 and up, it also offers a package for kids under 13.

Experience a Fun Day with the Kids at Spin Bowl

The "Best Place for the Under 21 Crowd," according to Kentwired.com, Spin Bowl gives you an all-around experience through its attractions.

Situated roughly 10 minutes from the Portage County Regional Airport, people of all ages gather here for the activities and the food.

Aside from the 32 Family Bowling Lanes, Spin Bowl has a Redemption Arcade where many of the top games played in the industry are available for play.

League members and casual bowlers come to this place for either entertainment or sport.

Don't worry if you get hungry, as a kitchen bar offers great burgers, wings, and craft beer.

They also have weekly specials you can enjoy.

Enjoy Outdoor Movie Screening at Midway Twin Drive-in Theatre

Experience a vintage-like movie screening at Midway Twin Drive-In Theatre, situated half a mile east of Kent.

Drive-ins go way back to 1910, but Richard Hollingshead from New Jersey was the first to officially open a drive-in theater on June 6, 1933.

He created a mini drive-in experience for his mother without expecting that he had also found a solution for people who are uncomfortable fitting into small theater seats.

Midway Twin featured the last-standing Jack Vogel’s sleek blue screen tower, which was unfortunately hit by a storm in December 2000.

They now offer movie viewing via a large Selby screen tower.

Have fun watching a movie in private the old-school way at Midway Twin Drive-In Theatre!

Play Golf at Windmill Lakes Golf Club

In Ravenna, just three miles east of Portage County is one of the best golf courses in Ohio: Windmill Lakes Golf Club.

If you want to improve your golf game, this is the course for you!

This golf course, with stunning scenery of a parkland setting, offers more than 50 bunkers, seven lakes, and rolling hills.

The Windmill Lakes’ layout tests players of all abilities with a handful of difficult par-four holes and only two par-five holes.

The National Golf Course Owners Association hailed it the "Golf Course of the Year" in 2011.

Hundreds of golfers come to play at this course as it has hosted numerous professional and amateur events since it was founded in 1970.

The 1984 and 1993 Mid-American Conference Men’s Golf Championships, the FirstEnergy Men’s Collegiate Tournament, the Northeast Ohio Amateur Championship, and the Northern Ohio Golf Association’s premier tournament are just some of the events held in Windmill Lakes Golf Club.

Enjoy Outdoor Adventures at West Branch State Park

Sunset over West Branch State Park
Mike Steele, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Resting on Mahoning River’s west branch in Portage County is the popular West Branch State Park.

Many fishermen, swimmers, and boaters love this place due to the many forks and coves in the park’s big lake.

Hiking, camping, and horseback riding are great activities due to the park’s excellent backdrop of woodlots and meadows.

Its shaded, sunny areas have 103 campsites available for resting and picnics, and some sites have boat tie-ups in case you want to float along the 2,650-acre waters of the lake.

West Branch State Park is a great place for recreational activities with your family.

Have a Fancy Drink at ThornCreek Winery & Gardens

Settled within a nationally awarded garden spanning eight acres, ThornCreek Winery & Gardens is an authentic winery, tasting room, and events place that can accommodate 350 guests.

Enjoy their unique-tasting menu and fine wines while taking in their gardens' amazing views.

ThornCreek Winery & Gardens offers a distinct selection of wines—from a regional table wine called Aurora Cream White to their award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserved.

Their boutique winery only produces a limited amount of high-quality products.

Have a refreshing vacation in this serene place in the city of Aurora.

Appreciate the Beauty of J. Arthur Herrick Fen Preserve

J. Arthur Herrick Fen Preserve is one of the few boreal fens remaining in Ohio, and it is protected by The Nature Conservancy.

This preserve provides a home for over two dozen unique species listed by the state.

Tamarack trees, Ohio’s only native conifer trees, are available at the preserve.

This 140-acre land has unique physical, hydrologic, geologic, and biological features resulting from retreating glaciers during the Ice Age, around 12,000 to 14,000 years ago.

The land was bought by Dr. J. Arthur Herrick in 1969 and is now owned by Kent State University and The Nature Conservancy. It operates as the state’s dedicated nature preserve, managed by the latter organization.

Visitors and leashed pets can enjoy the one-mile trail and boardwalk that features fen plants and seeps, including the round-leaved sundew and Bayberry, among many others.

Wildlife and bird watching can also be a part of your activity while in the reserve if you are a nature photographer.

Enjoy nature at Herrick Fen Nature Preserve at Streetsboro!

Watch Dirt Track Racing at Good’s Raceway

Formerly called Deerfield Raceway in the 1970s, the dirt track in Northeast Ohio is now known as Good’s Raceway since Jim & Jen Goods purchased it back in March 2020.

They entertained all age groups when they opened in May 2020.

Their goal is to give an amazing experience not only to those who attend the events but also to the participants.

Their one-fourth-mile track is a semi-banked clay oval that has hosted several divisions such as the Jr Sportsman, 270 Micro Sprints, Mini Stocks, and Jr Sprints.

Get the best seats at Good’s Raceway when visiting during their event season, whether you want to join the fun or watch from afar!

Watch Remote-Controlled Planes in Flight at Flying Aces of Aurora

Are you fascinated by planes?

Then you might enjoy watching remote-controlled planes flying in the air at Flying Aces of Aurora.

Visitors are welcome to view the club’s members while they are out and about, flying their machines and electronics.

The club members can also teach visitors how to fly, offer kit-building mentorship, and program electronics.

Located at Bartlett Road in Aurora, this airfield is the perfect runway with its wide open area.

The charter club is the perfect place for entertainment from professionals and amateurs who love remote-controlled planes.

Let Your Dog Try Sports at Duke’s K9 Dash N’ Splash

Get your pup’s feet wet as you take them out for dock diving at Duke’s K9 Dash N’ Splash.

If you find yourself visiting Portage County while bringing your fur buddy along in the months of May through October, then don't miss this exciting place at Windham.

Dog dock diving first appeared during an event called “Incredible Dog Challenge,” sponsored by Purina in 1997.

Since then, it has turned into a sporting competition where dogs jump a distance from a raised platform into the water and have spread to other countries such as the United Kingdom, Austria, and Australia.

The 100-acre land has a 45-foot and a 60-foot pool with a 40-foot deck set up where dogs can start their dive.

However, dock diving is not the only thing you can do here with your pooch, as they also offer K9 swimming, frisbee, and group classes.

You and your pet can enjoy a day in the water at Duke’s K9 Dash N’ Splash!

Watch Racing Events at Nelson Ledges Road Course

Aerial view of the Nelson Ledges Road Course
Michael Garriga, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Nelson Ledges Road Course was once a small, rural potato farm before it became a well-known place for amateur endurance racing.

Marvin Drucker and John McGill, together with a bulldozer, had an idea to build a race track in 1958.

Originally, the track was only one mile long and made of dirt, but it expanded in 1962.

They added pavements and "The Carousel," which are additional tracks from turn four through 11. Other new additions included pit lanes, a bridge, and tire barriers.

Nelson Ledges was also the only track with a continuous 24-hour motorcycle race since 1968 and became known for the Le Mans-style start.

Remaining true to its original feel, this track at Garrettsville is one of the few left of its kind and is considered one of the fastest tracks in North America.

It now has a two-mile track with seven major turns.

Make sure not to miss any of their exciting events or join the fun if you are into racing!

Final Thoughts

The fun is endless in Portage County.

You can experience thrilling activities and even explore the natural beauty it offers.

Who would have thought that some of their scenic places are from the time of the Ice Age?

Whether you're traveling alone, with friends or family, or even your dog, the county and its warm community will welcome you.

Explore and try these best things to do in Portage County, Ohio!

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