Oh-Penn Attractions Draw People to Region

Oh-Penn residents have a wealth of cultural and recreational attractions to enjoy.

Lena Anthony
On Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 04:00

Oh-Penn residents have the best of both worlds: easy access to big-city amenities and entertainment in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and a wealth of cultural and recreational attractions throughout Columbiana, Mahoning, Trumbull, Lawrence and Mercer counties.

Fresh air fans can find plenty of state parks with diverse outdoor recreation. Activities such as rappelling and hiking are available at McConnells Mill State Park in Lawrence County, Pa., and hunting and ice fishing adventures are provided at Maurice K. Goddard State Park in Mercer County, Pa. Mill Creek MetroParks in Mahoning, Ohio, offers golfing, hiking and biking.

“The most visited site within our system is Fellows Riverside Gardens, a 12-acre botanical garden with free admission that attracts 400,000 people a year,” says Linda Kostka, Mill Creek MetroParks development and marketing director. “Meanwhile, our main park itself is Mill Creek Park, which has outdoor interests such as hiking, biking, boating, fishing, golf, tennis, volleyball, picnicking, cross-country skiing and sledding. There are 20 miles of roadways for driving and 15 miles of foot trails at Mill Creek Park.”

Smart Art

Several regional arts centers and museums grace the region, including Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts, which hosts workshops, festivals and 24 annual exhibits in its two stately 1917 mansions in New Castle, Pa. Visitors can frequent other top cultural venues such as the Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame in Columbiana County, Ohio and the Oh Wow Children’s Center for Science and Technology in Youngstown, Ohio.

There is also the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio and the McKinley Memorial Library, Museum & Birthplace Home in Niles, Ohio, which honors President William McKinley. Butler Institute of American Art showcases 21,000 paintings and sculptures at its locations in Youngstown, Salem and Howland Township, Ohio.

Curtain Calls

Theater buffs can find plenty to keep them entertained. Performing arts organizations and venues in the region include New Castle (Pa.) Playhouse, Warren (Ohio) Philharmonic Orchestra, DeYor Performing Arts Center, which hosts the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Rite Cathedral and its 2,800-seat auditorium in New Castle, and the Westminster College Celebrity Series in New Castle. Another group getting established is the New Castle Lyric Opera, which has held several fund-raisers since October 2010 to become a professional opera company in the region.

“We want to reach a point where we ultimately pay musicians and singers, plus be based at a wonderful place like Scottish Rite Cathedral,” says Anne Hagan Bentz, New Castle Lyric Opera executive director and professor of voice and opera at Westminster College. “Not only do we want our opera to eventually bolster cultural performing arts in this region, but we also hope it will contribute to the economic stimulus of western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio.”