Ashland is a college town, its centerpiece being a 135-acre campus of venerable Ashland University. But it’s also the kind of cozy home that hosts window-decorating contests on Main Street at Christmas and a cornhole tournament in the summer.
Regionally, it draws crowds to its annual Balloonfest and Ashland Chautauqua events, welcoming foreigners arriving via the US 250 with a sign that advertises itself as “The World Headquarters of the Nice People”.
Ashland is the seat of Ashland County, approximately 50 miles west of Akron and just north of I-71.
Ashland was originally called Uniontown, but in 1846 the community was forced to change it because a community in Stark County was using that name. Supporters of Kentucky Congressman Henry Clay liked the name of Clay’s estate called Ashland because it was in an ash grove. The county adopted the name the same year.
In 1912 Harry Ross Gill, originally from Ashland, invented a way to make cigar-shaped balloons. He started the Eagle Rubber Company, then the National Latex Company, creating an industry that led to Ashland being called “the Balloon Capital of the World.” Ashland celebrates this heritage with an annual BalloonFest.
Ashland University was founded in 1877 after the city agreed to raise $ 10,000 for a proposal from the Brothers’ German Baptist Church to build a college on a 28-acre hill. It opened its doors two years later, accepting 60 students. Today, it serves 6,600 students on a 135-acre campus.
John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, established a nursery in the area. Charles Kettering, an inventor, created the electric starter motor, leaded gasoline, freon refrigerant, and the “Bug” aerial torpedo. Mary Hannah Fulton, a 19th century missionary in China, helped open medical facilities and a women’s college. Other notable Ashland natives include astronaut Robert Springer and novelist Ernest Cline, who wrote “Ready Player One.”
Please Note: During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are changing their hours of operation. Be aware that the information reported in this list may change.
• The Ashland County Historical Society, 420 Center Street, is a campus of three museum buildings that showcase life in the Victorian era, the second largest collection of insects in the United States, ancient farm implements, military artefacts and a local sports hall of fame. For winter, museums are open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the first Saturday of the month. In late spring, the facility will resume normal hours Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. https://ashlandhistory.org
• Audubon Wetlands Preserve, 1379 Township Road 743, is a 215 acre marsh known for its ecological diversity. A picnic pavilion overlooks the marsh and a newly renovated boardwalk will keep your feet dry for 300 feet in this unique habitat. https://ashlandcountyparks.com
• Brookside Park, 209 Parkside Drive, includes a pond with swans, park benches, playground, ball fields and fields, and walking trails. During the warmer months, there’s also miniature golf, concession stands, and a swimming pool.
• Gleaner Antiques, 1488 King Road, opened in 1987 and offers an ever-changing inventory of furniture and other vintage items in its 5,000 square foot storefront. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday. https://www.facebook.com/Gleaner-Antiques-217360904949535
• The Persley Pot is a barn-style gift shop offering a wide variety of home accessories that change with the season. Located at 697 County Highway 1302, you can shop at this candle-scented store from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. https://www.facebook.com/The-Parsley-Pot-148693995249810
• Tin Can Chandelier, 1258 Franklin Ave. is a workspace for seasoned artists, aspiring artists or creativity junkies to come together and learn, teach and share. Walk-in projects include pottery and wood panel painting, but you can also take a class or throw a party. Open Tuesday through Sunday, but it’s best to check the activity calendar at http://tincanartstudio.com
• Beyond Measure Market, at 569 US 250 just north of town, is a bulk food and delicatessen, including jams, Amish produce, ice cream, dry goods, spices, produce and fries. Its cafe also offers prepared meals, including custom-made sandwiches, soups, salads and Toft’s ice cream. The store has its roots in a family who left the Amish culture in 1999 and began a mission to help others who have left by offering jobs in a retail setting. Winter hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday. https://www.beyondmeasuremarket.com
• The Masterminds Escape Room and Game Library is a gathering place for families and friends who enjoy games and puzzles. Snacks, soups and desserts are available for purchase. Groups can rent the room for private events. Located at 33 W. Main St, it is open 6 pm to 10 pm Thursday, 6 pm to midnight Friday 6 pm and noon to 10 pm Saturday. https://ashlandmasterminds.com
• Ashland Golf Club, 1333 Center St., was rated # 1 for Ohio courses under $ 50 by Golf Advisor. Onsite is the Shanks Bar & Grille and an event center that hosts weddings and parties. Book a tee time or learn more at https://ashlandgolfclubohio.com.
• Lyn-Way, 1320 Cleveland Ave, is a popular family gathering place for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He is also known for his award winning pies. Open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday. See the menu at https://www.lynwayrestaurant.com.
• Uniontown Brewing Company, 105 W. Main St., features home-brewed craft beer and serves traditional pub food of burgers and salads. There is sometimes live music, and the brewer regularly participates in one-on-one contests with other Ohio brewers to raise money for charitable causes. Open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Tuesday to Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. https://uniontownbrewing.com.
• South Street Grille, 121 South St. W., is a casual eatery in a renovated historic downtown building. The fare includes burgers, salads and the usual American fare. Open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, from 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday and from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. https://www.thesouthstreetgrille.com
• Honey Haven Farm, 1327 County Road 1475, is a family-owned greenhouse and farmer’s market that hosts an annual fall festival. The farm is closed for the season, but add http://honeyhavenfarm.com to your favorites to get ready for its spring greenhouse season.
Each summer, the town hosts Ashland Chautauqua, the local version of its more famous counterpart and offering five days of evening shows and daytime workshops. The programming for July 2022 has already been decided. Find out at https://www.ashlandchautauqua.org.
• Up to 30 hot air balloons participate in the annual Balloonfest, which takes place each June in the fields off Center Street. The 30-year-old event typically features live music, paratroopers, a cornhole tournament, and festival food. Bookmark http://ashlandohioballoonfest.com to be ready for next summer.
School and mascot: Schools in the city of Ashland, the arrows