Two friendly, and sometimes loud, peacocks welcome visitors to Kingwood Center, the sprawling former estate and garden in Mansfield, Ohio. The birds sweep their plumes around in hopes of earning a palm full of food pellets, and they're nearly impossible to resist. The wandering birds fit right in with this pleasure garden that feels more like Versailles than North Central Ohio.
Kingwood Center features several formal and themed gardens, each impeccably groomed, all stunningly beautiful. Though the spring display of flowering bulbs, magnolias, flowering trees and wildflowers is the showstopper, there's plenty of color throughout the summer. Guests can stroll the gardens at their pace, stopping to rest on benches, or take a guided tour (Saturdays only). There's also a large greenhouse, with a plant sales area, and a brick patio area perfect for picnicking.
The mansion at Kingwood Center, Kingwood Hall, is the former home of local businessman Charles Kelley King. Visitors can peek inside the home with first-floor tours on Saturdays.
The gardens are open to the public daily, March through December, with extended summer hours. The mansion is only open summer Saturdays. Check the website for the holiday schedule in November and December. Admission is charged by vehicle. Cars and motorcycles pay $5; limousines and motor homes pay $10, and pedestrians and bicycles pay $2. Guided tours are an additional $2 for a garden tour or $1 for a mansion tour.