Tuscarawas County, OH is becoming one of My Town’s favorite destinations for small town travel. Why? There are several reasons: The location, food, boutique shops, friendly citizens, the list could go on and on! But in a nutshell, the reason My Town loves to visit this county is because of the diversity of offerings you can receive from each small town. In our last article, we explored how this county is the gateway to Amish Country, has a city-like feel in New Philadelphia, and offers a traditional small town experience in Dover.
In this article, we will discover more unique cultural roots as we explore several new small town locations. Along with their fall and family events in Tuscarawas County, OH.
I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into when asked to attend the Autumn Lantern Tour in Historic Schoenbrunn Village- located right outside New Philadelphia. When I first heard of it I thought this sounded like something “really cool” to experience in Fall- simply because of the name. But what I discovered was a much more enriching experience than I could have imagined.
Historic Schoenbrunn Village is the very first settlement of a Christian Mission and schoolhouse in Ohio. This was a Moravian Mission begun by David Zeisberger in 1772. The Mission worked with the Delaware Native Americans & was very successful, until having to abandon the village due to tensions of the Revolutionary War. Each cabin has been reconstructed on the original footprint, and each cabin has a specific name and purpose. Read more history here.
The Autumn Lantern Tour
The Autumn Lantern Tour – A Fall, Family Event – was created to showcase the 18th Century Life of the Village, and to make it more fun, the event begins at dusk. When you arrive, you are given a candle-lit lantern as used in the 18th century, to walk a path lit by luminaries from cabin to cabin. It’s a beautiful sight & experience.
There are several talented artists & musicians along the way and each cabin has a reenactor telling a story. For example, you will see a Chandler (a candle maker) and an Apothecary. Each reenactor will show you exactly how each area was used. Because the village is now an educational destination year-round, each cabin has its own historical set-up for the reenactors to utilize. For example, there is a garden behind the apothecary, with the herbs used for medicinal purposes in the 1800s.
When you get to the Dining Hall there is free, delicious, spice cake and cider. The best part of the evening is that there is no timeline. Just enjoy the beautiful lights & music while you listen to stories at each location and walk the paths at your leisure. (Next Event September 16th & 17th 2022).
Where to Eat Before Or After The Lantern Tours- The Venue in New Philadelphia
The Venue is a Fine Dining establishment with a casual atmosphere. Tucked in near the heart of downtown New Philadelphia, it’s a great place to go when you are looking for that “Special Evening Out” kind of place. As an Ohioan, I am always a little weary of places that serve seafood, since Ohio is not a coastal state. But, several great restaurants prepare seafood wonderfully. I have to say, my scallops over shrimp & lobster risotto from The Venue was amazing!
My Town also recommends the Arancinis (Risotto balls stuffed with mozzarella cheese, breaded in Panko & fried golden brown- served with marinara and melted provolone).
For a few days in September, the Village of Zoar, OH goes completely back in time. The whole of the Village participates in what has become one of the most anticipated reenactments in the county, The Zoar Civil War Reenactment-The Jackson Valley Campaign, a Fall, Family Event (Next Event September 2023).
The entire village of Zoar is a historic site founded by German Separatists in 1817. For much of the 18th Century, this village lived in harmony, functioning completely on its own. It’s a very unique experience to walk the streets and go into its unique buildings even if you are not visiting during the Civil War Event.
What You Will See
Many locations have year-round shops like antiques, a general store, & a museum, but several unique vendors also come in just for the event. One of My Town’s favorite finds was Reinecker’s, which had tons of German homemade baked goods- including Poppy Seed Bread (this is hard to find)!
When you visit during this event, you will pass hundreds of people in period dress throughout the day, some for soldiering, and others for simply selling goods. There are so many reenactors that you will feel like you have been transported to the 1800s!
Plan for 2023:
“The largest Civil War Event in the State of Ohio comes to the Historic Village of Zoar, Ohio in September 2023, when Civil War reenactors “invade” the town to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Zoar Civil War Event. Battles both Saturday and Sunday, as well as artillery night fire, a historical ball, and the Anvil Tavern. Admission is $10/adult; 12 and under are free” (zoarcivilwar.com)
The Village of Bolivar is an adorable stop you don’t want to miss when visiting Tuscarawas County. When you get off the highway (U.S. 77) you will have an option to go left toward Bolivar or right toward Zoar ( take state route 212). The point being- if you are visiting one of these towns, I would recommend you do both. They are that close.
Bolivar is a tiny but mighty visitor stop. It only has a couple of blocks to explore, but in those blocks, you have great antique shops, local restaurants, & taverns. You are also very close to serval historic trailheads ( See Photo Gallery) and Fort Laurens- Ohio’s Only Revolutionary War Fort, which also has a Reenactment Event (Next Event July 2024).
Bolivar sits next to part of the Historic Ohio Erie Canal, so you can pick up The Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath here. The Towpath is “a multi-use trail that follows part of the former route of the Ohio & Erie Canal in Northeast Ohio. The trail runs from north to south through Cuyahoga, Summit, Stark, and Tuscarawas counties” (Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail).
My Town was very taken with this small town and would love to go back to explore further. It also has one of the best little antique shops we’ve visited in a while- Oberlin Antiques.
The Small Town of Dennison
Founded in 1865, Dennison was the second largest rail center for the Pennsylvania Railroad. The presence of the railroad was so strong that it created much of the town’s industry and commerce. There are several places to stop and visit in small town Dennison including the historic Dennison Depot.
The Depot was built in 1873 and also served as one of the much-needed “Canteen” stops during World War II. Today, The Dennison Depot is the only Salvation Army Servicemen’s Canteen location still in existence to visit. The Depot has been fully restored as well as several rail cars that have been turned into an interactive museum; where the stories of millions of servicemen who came through this location will bring tears to your eyes!
There are also exhibits just for kids, local history, and more as you walk from car to car. I am also pretty certain the rumors of this location being haunted are true! I can’t prove it, but while visiting the “Dennison….One In A Million” Exhibit (which is all about its famous baseball roots), I felt an eerie vibe as we walked around this area that claims to have ghost activity. So take it for its worth if you are into that while traveling this Fall!
Within walking distance from the Depot is Dennison Yard. One fun aspect of walking around Dennison is that the entire town has taken on the 1940s Canteen Persona. So, as you walk to lunch you will hear music playing from that era in the streets. Dennison Yard’s location is part of the old Pennsylvania Railroad Yard. Sit on the patio and enjoy authentic Italian Cuisine & hand-crafted drinks from their full bar (My Town Recommends the Stuffed Hungarian Peppers). Afterward, take a stroll over to Heritage Park or The Dennison Railway Chapel.
There is a new trend hitting small towns over the past several years. The renovation of old churches into restaurants, coffee shops, and more. Or this case, a Brewery! What a fun surprise to find such a unique place to visit in this small town.
The owner, Gary has been pouring his heart and soul into restoring this beautiful church into a place of respite, relaxation, and fellowship, but to be enjoyed in an entirely different way! Hoping to officially open in October of 2022, you can currently call in an order to pick up your favorite wines. Or check in on their Facebook page to see if the patio is open for a wine slushy!
Where to Stay
My Town had visited what is known as “The Dutch Valley Campus” Located in Sugarcreek, OH (The gateway to Amish County) several times before. But, for other reasons- to eat at The Dutch Valley Restaurant, shop at the Bulk Food Store, and visit the Theatre. But, we never actually had the opportunity to stay at The Carlisle Inn also located on the property. We were blown away by the incredible stay we had!
This is what My Town LOVED:
So Much Room!!!
Extra bathroom space- There is an extra small room across from the bathroom with an additional sink, counter space, and area to hang up clothes. This is also where the coffee maker and mini refrigerator are located.
Balcony with chairs and a table. The perfect place for coffee while looking out at the Amish hillside.
Food & More!
A full Amish-Made Breakfast! It’s not as extensive as going to the Restaurant’s Buffet next door- but, on the days we visited, there was always some type of eggs (real eggs), biscuits & gravy, some type of meat, and all your continental favorites- pastries, yogurt, bagels & more. What made the continental portion stand out? Homemade donuts! Their donuts were awesome- a great crowd pleaser.
Each night homemade cookies are put out in the breakfast area, and not just one kind. On the days we visited we had a variety of snickerdoodle, peanut butter, and chocolate chip. Plus, hot chocolate & coffee are set out all day in the breakfast area, the kids will love it!
All common areas are oversized and made of Amish quality. From the bedposts to the grand staircase- you will love how stately this hotel feels while being completely laid-back and family-friendly.
There is a great pool area, and yes, there is a hot tub! The indoor pool has plenty of seating and has a sort of solarium feel.
And all this is just at the Carlisle Hotel, there are many other options without having to get in your car at the Dutch Valley Campus. Click here for additional information on Dutch Valley Campus & Sugarcreek, OH.
So, are you ready to pack your bags for a trip to Tuscarawas County this Fall? You’ll be happy you did!
A Note From My Town & Tuscarawas County Photo Gallery
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