The best way to get a feel for the friendly atmosphere of Ada is to come experience it for yourself. The Inn at Ohio Northern University is our beautiful full-service hotel located right on campus. When you visit, don’t forget to come hungry. Some of our favorite local restaurants are Padrone’s Pizza, El Campo and Tavern 101.
Once part of the Great Black Swamp and then American Indian territory, Hardin County was organized in 1833 and named after John Hardin, a Revolutionary War officer. Kenton is the county’s largest town and the county seat. With rich farmland and abundant timber, the county’s main industry is agriculture. But the county also boasts many successful small and large businesses powered by a hardworking and resilient workforce. The county also is home to an Old Order Amish community. These private and plain people travel by horse and buggy and do not have electricity or telephones in their homes. Visitors can traverse scenic roadways past Amish farms and stop to purchase fresh produce, honey, baskets, quilts, soaps and more.
The arts thrive in the local region. The Lima Symphony Orchestra has been around since the 1950s and every year provides a top-notch season of music. Ohio Northern hosts the symphony’s Patriotic Pops concert in July on campus grounds.
The Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center in Lima, the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts in Findlay and the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in VanWert feature a variety of national and international performance groups throughout the year. They both offer reduced ticket prices for students for many shows.
ArtSpace/Lima supports the visual arts with gallery shows and special events throughout the year. And the Encore Theatre in Lima and Fort Findlay Playhouse put on outstanding plays with local talent several times a year.
You’ll find several great dining options throughout Hardin County and the surrounding area. Enjoy Kira's Flipside Grill and Lulu's Diner in Bluffton. And don't forget to pick up an after-dinner snack at Shirley's Gourmet Popcorn. Michael Angelo’s Pizza, Midway Restaurant, Skinny's Tavern, Salsa’s and Jitterz Coffee Company can be found in Kenton. The Plaza Inn family restaurant in Mt. Victory has been serving customers since 1959.
What’s your favorite national chain restaurant? Olive Garden? Texas Roadhouse? Five Guys Burgers and Fries? Panera Bread? You’ll find these – and more – in both Lima and Findlay. Findlay boasts a vibrant downtown with one-of-a-kind local restaurants. Eat at the Mancy's Steakhouse, Bistro on Main, Logan’s Irish Pub, Rossilli’s, The Gathering, and Vivir Modern Mexican for delicious food and a trendy ambience. Japan West offers a unique dining experience with show chefs who cook at your table.
Must-visits in Findlay include two local favorites that have been around since the 1930s. Grab a burger and fries at Wilson’s Sandwich Shop and top it off with ice cream at Dietsch Brothers, which was voted the No. 3 Best Ice Cream Shop in America on TripAdvisor. Dietsch Brothers also features homemade fine chocolates and candies.
Lima offers hometown specialties such as Old City Prime. Check out Thai Jasmine for Thai cuisine and the Old Barn Out Back for comfort food served in, yes, a big red barn. The Met is a chic dining establishment. Kewpee Hamburgers and Happy Daz are old-fashioned diners, and The Beer Barrel (there’s also one in Findlay) is a great place to grab a pizza and watch the big game. You can also check out La Charreda.
Three indicators of a region’s vitality are its businesses and industries, its health care systems, and its educational institutions. The Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance is one of the largest, member-driven and business-focused organizations in Hardin County. With more than 300 local and regional members, the alliance serves the community to promote, cultivate and advocate for a prosperous business, educational and agricultural climate; strengthen the local economy; and improve the quality of life.
Graphic Packaging, Robinson Fin Machines Inc., SBHPP-Durez, Precision Strip and McCullough Industries - an Olympic Steel Company - are top business and economic leaders in the Kenton area. Marathon Petroleum (Findlay), Cooper Tire and Rubber (Findlay), Proctor & Gamble (Lima), Honda of America Manufacturing (Marysville), Whirlpool (Findlay) and Crown Equipment Corporation (New Bremen) are just a few of area's thriving large corporations that hire ONU interns and graduates.
The region also boasts many entrepreneurial and family-owned businesses. Citizens enjoy excellent health care provided by four health care systems: OhioHealth Hardin Memorial Hospital (Kenton), Blanchard Valley Health System (Findlay and Bluffton), Mercy Health Partners (Lima) and Lima Memorial Health System (Lima). And just a few hours from Ada are some of the nation’s most highly rated hospitals – The Cleveland Clinic and the James Cancer Center at Ohio State University.
Ohio Northern is joined in the region by several institutions of higher education: Bluffton University, the University of Findlay, Rhodes State College, Ohio State University at Lima, University of Northwestern Ohio and Owens Community College. The close proximity of these institutions enables collaborative efforts and additional cultural opportunities for citizens.
Hardin County also is home to an Old Order Amish community. These private people travel by horse and buggy and do not have electricity or telephones in their homes. Visitors can traverse scenic roadways past Amish farms and stop to purchase fresh produce, honey, baskets, quilts, soaps and more.
There’s always something to see or do in the region. Ada is surrounded by communities awash with civic pride and tradition. These communities sponsor numerous events and festivals catered to a variety of tastes and interests. And the best part - many are free or low cost!
In November, check out the Window Wonderland and Christmas Parade in the Kenton Historic Courthouse District. The Wine and Chocolate walk is held in June and features local wine samples complimented by chocolate delicacies provided by the downtown merchants on the Kenton Courthouse Square. In July, Eats On The Streets showcases live music, specialty food trucks, a classic car show, vintage motorcycles and more.
Every Saturday morning from the first of May to the end of October, Bluffton hosts a Farmers Market with vendors selling everything from fresh produce to homemade baked goods to crafts. With a Swiss Mennonite heritage, Bluffton has a quaint downtown with several interesting restaurants and shops. The village also is known for a spectacular lights display at Christmas, which kicks off with a Blaze of Lights parade the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Findlay’s highlights include the Flag City Balloon Fest, featuring hundreds of hot-air balloons; the Hancock Horizontal 100 (bike 100 miles in one day – all flat terrain); and a Halloween parade through downtown. In Lima, there’s Square Fair, a huge annual festival that incorporates musical entertainment, arts and crafts, a 5K run, and food.
The Hardin County Fair, Hancock County Fair and Allen County Fair – with carnival rides, animals, fair food, musical entertainment and more – always draw a crowd.
If you’re looking for wholesome fun, take your pick! There’s miniature golf, movie theatres - including the Hi-Road Drive-in -, bowling alleys, and impressive public parks with canoeing, hiking, disc golf, bike trails, skiing, sledding and more nearby. Check out the City of Kenton Parks, Hancock County Park District and the Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park District.
The city of Kenton maintains five parks – Glendale Street Skate Park, Murray Park, Pioneer Park, Wharton Park and Saulisberry Park, which is located at a stone quarry, France Lake. This site is used for fishing, camping and hiking, and there is a playground and dirt bike track. Kenton also maintains a swimming pool that includes a slide, two diving boards and a raindrop waterfall.
Hardin County Museums offer several great options – the Dougherty House and Sullivan-Johnson Museum – and for history buffs, the Hardin Historic Village and Farm. This turn-of-the-century farmstead showcases antique farm implements, relics from Hardin Pioneer architecture, the Staadt Log House, Woodworker’s Shop, Dunkirk Jail, Beech Grove One Room School and the Ada Railroad Building.
Winter simply isn’t an excuse for slowing down here. Mad River Mountain is an awesome place for skiing and snow-tubing less than an hour from campus. There’s also ice skating at The Cube. Or put on your roller skates and head to Rolling Thunder or Edgewood Skate Arena. During warmer months, enjoy the great sports available on the 5,800-acre Indian Lake in Logan County – boating, fishing, skiing and camping.
Chances are you can fulfill your shopping needs locally in Ada, Kenton, Bluffton, Findlay or Lima. Findlay and Lima have indoor malls – The Lima Mall and the Findlay Village Mall – that feature a variety of well-known retailers. And from discount clothing to electronics, sports equipment to arts and crafts, specialty stores abound in retail shopping complexes. Both cities also have quaint boutiques and resell shops.