This journey stretches from Van Wert to Wooster (between Mansfield and Canton); follow the L signs on the old Lincoln Highway Historic Scenic Byway to find the sales and sights.
The Van Wert County Courthouse, built in 1876, practically begs for pictures. New tours this year showcase its restored stained-glass ceiling. (877) 989-2282; visitvanwert.org Comfort food reigns at Balyeat’s Coffee Shop. (419) 238-1580
Barns and farmhouses along the byway between Van Wert and Lima offer some of the route’s best shopping.
We spent the night in Lima at the sleek, comfortable Marriott Courtyard Lima, which has a friendly staff and cooked-to-order breakfasts in the lobby cafe. From $99. (419) 222-9000; marriott.com
While in town, see the Lincoln Park Railway Exhibit’s impressive locomotive engine and placards explaining Lima’s train-manufacturing history. The touching Lima Firefighters Memorial Museum nearby honors the fallen and the town’s fire fighting history.
Across town, Burgundy’s Italian Grille uses generous amounts of garlic in its Sicilian-inspired dishes; the capellini vesuvio consists of angel hair pasta, chopped tomato and feta. (419) 224-5080; burgundys.net
Time for more sales! It’s a 50-minute drive to Upper Sandusky, where homes along Duck Pond Road have quality finds.
Farther east, cool 3-D murals, including the 134-foot-long Great American Crossroad Mural, deck buildings in Bucyrus. Cooper’s Mill makes apple butter in copper kettles out back and sells it, along with Amish baked goods and other jams and jellies, in a country store. (419) 562-4215; coopersmill.net
A half-hour east, Ed Pickens’ Cafe on Main in Mansfield serves a long menu full of salads and sandwiches. (419) 522-7699; cafeonmain.net. Its popular Shawshankwich, a roast beef wrap, was inspired by The Shawshank Redemption, the 1994 Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman movie filmed at the nearby Ohio State Reformatory. Take a self-guided tour of the creepy but cool prison, or sign up for one of the many nighttime, adults-only ghost hunts held throughout the year. (419) 522-2644; ohiostatereformatory.org. Lighten up with a $1 ride on the whimsical Richland Carrousel in downtown Mansfield. (419) 522-4223; richlandcarrousel.com
The byway from Mansfield to Wooster includes some of the state’s most panoramic farmland scenery.
For dinner in Wooster, try City Square Steakhouse, which has stellar burgers, seafood and steaks. (330) 262-2489; citysquaresteakhouse.com
The new 12-guest-room St. Paul Hotel pampers visitors with modern decor, heated bathroom floor tiles, TVs in the bath mirrors and en suite breakfasts. From $125. (330) 601-1900; stpaulhotelwooster.com
Before you leave town, swing by Spoon Market Deli; part deli, part grocer, part butcher shop, it sells locally roasted coffee, bagels and unique breakfast sandwiches. It’s also the place to find other regional foodie treats, like Zingerman’s coffee from Ann Arbor, Michigan, as well as Boar’s Head meats and imported cheeses. (330) 262-0880; spoon-market.com
See reviews and ratings of Balyeat’s Coffee Shop, Marriott Courtyard Lima, Burgundy’s Italian Grille, Cooper’s Mill, Ed Pickens’ Cafe on Main, Ohio State Reformatory, Richland Carrousel, City Square Steakhouse, St. Paul Hotel and Spoon Market Deli.