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Our Getaway to Mansfield, Ohio

My husband and I recently enjoyed a weekend getaway to Mansfield, Ohio. Mansfield is known as "The Heart of Ohio". It is located right between Cleveland and Columbus. It is a city with an All-American small-town vibe, yet there is more to do then you would expect. Just look at all of the things we packed into two and a half days of fun!

We stayed for two nights at the AngelWoods Hideaway Bed & Breakfast. It is located 20 minutes outside of Mansfield near Malabar Farm State Park in Lucas. If you are looking for something quiet and isolate, this is the place for you! It is in the country surrounded by woods and fields. It is so isolate in fact, you will not get any service on your mobile phone. Don't worry! The hosts John and Victoria are very nice and said we could use their land line at any time if we needed to. 

This rustic brick and cedar home is tucked into 46 landscaped acres. The photos above show the garden and pool areas. There is a seasonal in-ground pool and a hot tub that is open year round. You can take a stroll through the woods or sit in one of the several outdoor seating areas.

Inside you will find a library, gathering room, large dining room, and several more common areas. This 20 room home is decorated in a Victorian style. From the solid cherry dining room to the sitting room with Victorian fireplace, you never know what you will find around the next corner.

There are six guest rooms available. Two of them are suites. The room above is the newest room, Anna's Asian Palace. It is named for the daughter of the hosts who has traveled the world, including China. Decorated with an Asian flair, you can relax in the private two-person Jacuzzi.

We stayed in the other suite called the Anniversary Suite. This room had more of a Victorian feel like the rest of the home. We loved the cathedral ceilings with skylights. The room is wrapped in whitewashed paneling and had a cozy feel to it. There is also a gas fireplace and a private deck.

The bathroom also had a vanity table which is something you don't see every day! Sit out on the deck and you will have a view of the gardens below. Accommodations include a large homemade country breakfast. The first morning we had delicious omlettes, fresh fruit, sausage and bacon. The final morning, we enjoyed our breakfast on the patio. We had blueberry pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon and fresh fruit. What a treat!

AngelWoods offers more than just accomodations. They host weddings, showers, reunions, business dinners and much more. Victoria was telling me about the girlfriend craft weekends that she hosts quite often. Now that sounds like fun!

The hosts John and Victoria are so nice and welcoming. You will enjoy your stay in the private and serene atmosphere. Hideaway is the perfect word to describe AngelWoods.

Downtown Mansfield is a must-see. We were impressed by the charm of Main Street and the whimsy of the Historic Carousel District. You will find unique shops, galleries and even an antique hand-carved carousel on the brick paved, tree lined streets. 

Speaking of charming shops you need to pay a visit to Squirrel's Den. It is a specialty chocolate, nut and popcorn shop located just steps from the carousel. The owner LaDonna is so "sweet" - she showed us where she makes her hand-dipped chocolates, homemade fudge, over 21 flavors of popcorn and cinnamon frosted almonds and pecans. Needless to say, it smells divine in this shop! My favorite was the flavored popcorn! I would recommend the confetti flavor so you get a bit of everything. Check out the last photo above. It is a scene from the Shawshank Redemption that LaDonna made of chocolate! Can you tell which scene it is? Hint: "Brooks was here."

One of the most stunning buildings in Mansfield is the historic Renaissance Theatre. We had the pleasure of seeing a show there during our visit. The theatre was so impressive with its beautiful architecture including a stunning chandelier. This 80-year-old theatre is the host to everything from Broadway musicals to world-famous comedians. 

End your evening with a trip to Cypress Cellars. This small urban winery is in the lower level of an old sandstone and brick building located right in the downtown. We met the lovely owners, Rick and Carol. If you like whites like we do, you must try the 2010 Symphony and my favorite, 2010 Riesling. The Riesling is a citric wine with aromas of apples and grapefruit and a distinctive apricot flavor. The winery has a small and cozy atmosphere. I would recommend it for a nice romantic evening or to visit with some friends.

For a quick yet delicious meal, head to Athens Greek Restaurant in downtown on Main St. It is located right next to Squirrel's Den. Offering authentic Greek cuisine, you will not be disappointed with the portions or the food! I enjoyed an open faced Gyro and some Baklava. We were impressed by the speedy service and the savory food.

If you are looking for a more formal and romantic dining experience, then Skyway East is the place for you. The ambiance is quiet and candlelit. You can expect to find linen tablecloths, low lighting, fresh flowers and a 100 bottle wine list. Each evening, 85 entrees are offered on the ever-changing daily and regular menus. You will find steak, seafood and everything in between. In fact, it took us awhile to decide what we wanted to order! We started with lobster bisque. The generous bowl was thick and flavorful with plenty of lobster. I ordered the Shrimp Lover meal and my husband went for the NY Strip Steak. The shrimp scampi was my favorite of the four kinds of shrimp presented in my meal. The other shrimp was all breaded so it left me very full. In fact, I couldn't even finish it. The regular cut beef Angus that my husband ordered was thick and juicy. He loved the traditional presentation. You will want to visit Skyway East if you are looking for a relaxing fine dining experience. 

The Malabar Farm Restaurant is located in rural Ohio, surrounded by agriculture and livestock. It was not too far from AngelWoods. They have a relationship with local growers and a goal for being completely reliant on Ohio produce. They strongly believe that food is most flavorful when it comes from their back yard, therefore they encourage and support rural Ohio. So as you might expect, the menu is simple. We enjoyed the Crab Cakes with honey sesame slaw and the Shrimp Pasta. The crab cakes were some of the best we ever tasted. They were so fresh and full of flavor. The shrimp pasta was made in a very light cream sauce with bacon and roasted garlic. Both dishes were delectable. The ambiance is more upscale casual, yet it is very comfortable and inviting.

The Ohio State Reformatory is known as one of our nation's most historic treasures. The cornerstone laid on November 4, 1886 evolved into a magnificent Chateauesque structure. This is evident from the moment you enter the driveway. The structure is enormous and visually stunning. Designed as a reformatory, it was meant to encourage inmates back to a "rebirth" of their spiritual lives. It is comprised of more than 250,000 square feet and houses the world's largest free-standing steel cell block. 

Today the Ohio State Reformatory Historic Site receives visitors from all over the world. Every year tourists, movie buffs, thrill seekers and paranormal investigators walk through the halls of this majestic structure. It is such an interesting place to visit. If you are in the area, you simply cannot miss this experience. We were guided though the reformatory by our tour guide, Ron. If you can request him, do it. We left with so much knowledge and many interesting stories about this historical treasure.

Part spooky, part fascinating, the tour takes you through areas of the building that you would only see in the movies, literally. The reformatory has been the backdrop for several Hollywood blockbusters like The Shawshank Redemption and Air Force One. More on that later. Not to mention all of the visits from paranormal shows like Ghost Hunters.

As you can see, I love to take photos. I could have stayed there all day snapping photos of all of the interesting things you get to see on the tour. As far as tours go, you have several to choose from. The weekdays offer a self-guided tour with an optional audio tour available for an additional fee. If you come on a Sunday, you will have three tours to choose from. You can choose from the West Tower Tour, the East Cell Block Tour or the Hollywood Tour. No matter which one you choose, bring your walking shoes. The reformatory is huge and I left our tour with tired feet!

The reformatory really has something for everyone. There is history, dramatic architecture, paranormal activity, footsteps of Hollywood and so much more! The reformatory is even available to book events such as weddings and banquets. If you are visiting Mansfield, don't miss a tour of the Ohio State Reformatory.

As I mentioned above, Mansfield was the backdrop for several Hollywood blockbusters including Air Force One, Tango & Cash and is most well known for The Shawshank Redemption. Although most of the scenes from The Shawshank Redemption were shot at the Ohio State Reformatory, there are several other locations as well. The first photo above shows the Bissman Building in downtown Mansfield. If you think back to the movie, it was where Brooks stayed and worked after he was released. That dreadful scene though (2nd and 3rd photo above) was actually shot inside the reformatory.

So while we were on our tour and I was snapping my photos, our tour guide informed me that you never know what one might find on photos taken at the reformatory. The first photo above is an example of that. Something paranormal? Hard to say. But it was odd enough I thought I would show you! The second photo shows the gate from the helicopter scene in Air Force One. The last photo shows a gold painted cell inside the reformatory. Why was it painted gold? Several music videos have been shot inside including Lil Wayne's "Go DJ". This was cell number 60 and they thought it looked like the word GO. So they painted it gold and shot the video there!

Also from The Shawshank Redemption, the first photo shows the warden's quarters. The second is the oak tree where Red found the letter and money. An interesting fact about the tree is that only half of it remains now. The tree was struck by high winds in June 2011. The third is Andy Dufresne's escape tunnel. If you are a Hollywood buff then re-watch The Shawshank Redemption before and after your visit to the Ohio State Reformatory. We loved this part of the trip!

Yet another historic landmark in the area is Malabar Farm. Located in Pleasant Valley, it is now a state park. Once upon a time it was the dream home of Pulitzer Prize winning author Louis Bromfield. You can visit the home and the farm just as it was in Bromfield's time.We toured the 32-room Big House that was designed by Bromfield himself. It is left as Louis left it in 1956 so it is a really interesting tour. You can also find trails, camping, fishing and plenty of outdoor activities throughout the park. We drove to the highest point, Mt. Jeez to experience a stunning scenic outlook.

For more information on visiting Mansfield, check out You will find many of the places mentioned above and so much more! You will be amazed by all there is to do and see in the Heart of Ohio!