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The Group Travel Leader Small Market Meetings Going on Faith

Ohio’s Buckeye Magic

From first fliers to football phenoms, greatness is on display in cities throughout Ohio.

Journeying across Ohio from west to east, your group will uncover national and local history in museums and well-preserved villages. In Dayton, where the Wright Brothers first imagined flight, the city’s riverfront makes a great place to unwind. In Columbus, the neighborhoods along High Street range from the historic German Village to the eclectic Short North Arts District and Clintonville, where groups can bake artesian breads.

Castlelike and ghostly, Mansfield’s Ohio State Reformatory has been the site of five movies, among them “The Shawshank Redemption.” Farther east, Canton boasts the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a surprising number of museums. Cruises step back in time on the Ohio and Erie Canal, and the Gervasi Vineyard offers upscale lodging, tours and culinary classes.

Aviation Heritage in Dayton

Though their famous first flight took place in North Carolina, the Wright brothers engineered their flying machines at their workshop in what is now the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. Groups can start at the Wright-Dunbar interpretative center. Nearby, the Wright Cycle Company building and Hoover Block commemorate where Wilbur and Orville Wright operated their businesses. At Huffman Prairie Flying Field, the Wrights tested their planes in 1904 and 1905; a replica of their hangar and catapult are on-site. One mile away, the Wright Brothers Aviation Center displays their 1905 Wright Flyer III.

On May 17, a permanent exhibit opens at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. On display will be the restored B-17F Memphis Belle, the first heavy bomber to return to the states after completing 25 missions over Europe during World War II. Special events will be held opening weekend.

The world’s oldest and largest military aviation museum and the state’s largest free attraction, the museum has indoor and outdoor exhibits that showcase more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles, from early flight thorough the space age. Exhibits include the presidential plane that transported President John F. Kennedy’s body from Dallas and where President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in, as well as NASA’s first crew compartment trainer. Also on-site are an interactive flight simulator, a virtual-reality simulator, an Imax theater and the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

“Dayton is the birthplace of aviation and home to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” said Jacquelyn Powell, president and CEO of the Dayton Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We see ourselves as the past, present and future of aerospace technology.”

Along the Great Miami River in downtown Dayton’s RiverScape MetroPark, visitors can ride paved trails or simply stroll among reflection pools and flower-filled gardens. The area is a hub for festivals such as the Dayton Celtic Festival, held in July, and the 35th annual Germanfest Picnic in August. Other noteworthy festivals around town include the Vectren Dayton Air Show, the Dayton Art Institute’s Oktoberfest and the Wagner Subaru Outdoor Experience for outdoor enthusiasts.

Elizabeth Hey

Elizabeth Hey is a member of Midwest Travel Journalists Association and has received numerous awards for her writing and photography. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook @travelbyfork.