Big thanks to Andrew for this awesome post about exploring in our own backyards.
Often when we think of travel we imagine ourselves far away from home. Usually hopping on a plane and going somewhere tropical but that doesn’t have to be the case. The truth is that adventure is always lurking in your back yard and often it’s affordable. Sure, it may not be as glamorous as a whirlwind European tour but sometimes you have to take what you can get. My backyard is Ohio so I hope to highlight some fun, affordable, and overlooked spots for you to visit.
I have a hobby taking pictures of locations on the National Register of Historic Places. Most people rank that squarely between watching paint dry and grass grow. I prefer to call it a photo safari because it sounds more adventurous. At the time of this trip I would just make a list of locations close to one another and go. Sometimes I’d show up to find unpleasant surprises like the building had been replaced with a parking lot or that the neighborhood was a war zone. Other times I found myself pleasantly surprised by the charm of the location and the Arnold Homestead and Farm was one such place.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Arnold Homestead. Farms can be tricky to take pictures of because a lot of times they sit far off of the public roadway making photography impossible. Sometimes the best you can do is a sign at the driveway that says ‘Flatulent Horse Farms’ and have to count that as win. For that reason I don’t usually get my hopes too high.
I plugged the address into my GPS and set off to a destination just off of Interstate 70 in Huber Heights, Ohio. “You’ve arrived!” it screamed at me. No, I hadn’t. Carriage Hill Metro Park was not the Arnold Homestead. A farm is not a park and a park is not a farm. These two things did not compute. So I turned down the long and winding road hoping to find a place to park, get my bearings, and check the map. Coming around the curve I saw a parking lot and a large red barn. I had found it after all.
a Visit to the Visitors center
If finding my way, mostly by dumb luck, was a surprise there were more to follow. I expected Carriage Hill to be park with a farm house problem. That is to say, mostly a bland, flat, grass covered prairie that happens to have an old farm house barely standing on it’s own volition. Instead quite the opposite is true. The park has sprung up around the Arnold Homestead with the express purpose of preserving the site’s heritage and offering a window into the past.
The enormous red barn adjacent to the parking lot is actually a visitors center and educational museum. It serves not only as a friendly outpost from which to plan your adventure but to help give context to what you’ll see. It is incredibly kid friendly and offers them a chance to put their hands on a recreation a farm house and period school house. Clean restrooms and a general store make this a must before and after pit stop.
Carriage Hill: a working historical farm and park
One of the things that makes Carriage Hill fascinating is that it’s not just a static display. It is in fact a living museum. A short walk from the visitors center will take you to the Arnold Homestead. The Arnold Home has been completely restored inside and out. The rooms are fully furnished and people in period costume go about their daily chores. You can tell that the staff is passionate about the history of the property and genuinely excited to share their knowledge with visitors.
The home isn’t the only place you’ll find people hard at work. Real livestock also has a home on the farm. It isn’t a petting zoo but it does offer the curious a chance to see sheep, pigs, and chickens close up.
There’s more than livestock
I think one of the things that really makes Carriage Hill special is that there is so much to it. Sure, the big draw is the Arnold Farm and you can spend a far amount of time wandering around it but there is much more to do. The park also has a large lake for fishing, hiking, and even horseback riding. It’s a great place to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the peaceful scenery. It is definitely friendly for kids of all ages. If they aren’t old enough to appreciate the history, there’s always the animals and the beauty of the great outdoors. Also be sure to check the Carriage Hill Metropark website before planning your travel. They offer many activities (some free, some with a moderate cost) year round to engage both you and your kids. Remember to bring your camera for a stunning place for landscapes and family photos!
Carriage Hill Metropark
7800 E. Shull Rd, Dayton, OH 45424
Apr. 1 – Oct. 31, 8 AM – 10 PM
Nov. 1 – Mar. 31, 8 AM – 8 PM
Closed Christmas and New Year’s Day
Andrew is an avid photographer, with an emphasis on historic places and architecture. He is the Blissmersion IT guru, loves coffee, and running. He and his wife have 3 cats, Demi, Scully, and Vincent Price. Andrew’s photographs can be found at HistoricOhio.net. Other Blissmersion posts by Andrew: Zip Line to Hell