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Afloat in Ohio

Ohio is a patchwork quilt of verdant fields, woodlands, energized cities and charming towns connected not only by roads but also by water.

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Grand Lake Marina
Grand Lake Marina.

 

Grand Lake St. Marys
At one time the largest manmade lake in the world, the 13,500-acre Grand Lake St. Marys was built in 1845 to feed water into the Miami-Erie Canal as it passed through west-central Ohio. Though the glory days of canals are long gone, Grand Lake St. Marys is still the world’s largest hand-dug body of water, as well as the state’s largest inland lake — it’s surrounded by 52 miles of shoreline — and most likely one of the few inland lakes to have three lighthouses. With four boaters’ beaches, six full-service marinas, seven free public launch ramps, boat rentals and no horsepower restrictions, what could be better for summer fun?

Tie up at Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Marina, which offers eight transient docks on a first come, first served basis at a rate of $7 for 24 hours. Or opt to drop anchor for an overnight stay on the water. Rather sleep on land? The West Bank Inn and Romer’s Westlake Hotel Villas offer docks for their guests.

You can’t miss Grand Lake St. Marys State Park, located in the northwest corner near the town of Grand Lake St. Mary. One of the oldest state parks in Ohio, it offers fishing, camping and hiking along the shoreline — or follow the route of the old Miami-Erie Canal.

Visit Nearby Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapokenta, inspired by hometown hero Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. An interactive museum, exhibits here include the Gemini VIII spacecraft, Armstrong’s Gemini and Apollo spacesuits, an Apollo 11 moon rock and even the plane that Armstrong learned to fly when he was 15.

Those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground can check out the 350 bikes on display at the Bicycle Museum of America in New Bremen. One of the highlights is the Schwinn family collection, formerly on exhibit at Chicago’s Navy Pier.

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