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What’s New in Ohio in 2018

Ohio is gearing up for a big year in 2018.

The Buckeye State is perennially popular with tour groups, offering a variety of tried-and-true attractions and experiences that draw visitors from around the country. This year, several of those attractions are celebrating new additions, expansions and renovations, and other destinations are debuting new attractions that will give groups additional reasons to visit.

In Cleveland, the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has undergone significant renovation and has new immersive performance experiences for visitors. The Amish Country Theater in Holmes County will move to a brand-new entertainment and hospitality complex this year. In the southeastern part of the state, Hocking Hills State Park is debuting a new observatory and astronomy park.

Columbus is buzzing with anticipation over the opening of the new National Veterans Memorial and Museum, a project years in the making. And on Catawba Island, off the Lake Erie coast, beer and food lovers can experience creative cuisine and the beauty of the outdoors at a new farm brewery.

A Stargazing Destination

In rural southwestern Ohio, Hocking Hills State Park offers one of the state’s largest, most pristine natural areas, as well as a fantastic place to view the night sky with minimal light pollution. This spring, the park will debut the John Glenn Observatory and Astronomy Park, where visitors can take advantage of the area’s isolation to gaze deeply into the night sky and explore its stars and planets.

Named for astronaut, senator and Ohio native John Glenn, who died in 2016, the astronomy park is an indoor and outdoor facility designed to help visitors discover the wonders of the galaxy during both daytime and nighttime. A large telescope at the observatory will offer views deep into the Milky Way, and the outdoor area is designed to allow the rays of the sun to form a special pattern on a central plaza on the first day of each season.

The park will offer a variety of day and night programs to help groups make the most of their visits.

Amish Expansion

The Amish country of Holmes County in northeastern Ohio has long been a popular tourist destination, and in 2012, the Amish Country Theater opened to provide entertainment for groups visiting the area. After five years of growing success, the theater plans to move into a brand-new venue in the town of Berlin this spring.

The new venue will nearly double the theater’s seating capacity, offering room for 600 guests along with a sloped floor and state-of-the-art theater technology. The theater will feature shows six days a week, with weekend concert series and other special events.

The new theater is one of three adjacent parts in the development project, which will also feature the new Berlin Encore Hotel and Suites. The hotel will have 81 guest rooms and will feature rustic decor, exposed beams and fireplaces. Also connected to the theater and hotel will be Encore Hall, a 16,000-square-foot event center.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.