Guest Post: Smiles All Around in Oberlin, Ohio

At the beginning of the year, I had this goal to see more of Northeast Ohio and visiting Oberlin was top of that list. When we visited in May we enjoyed it so much that we took Scott’s parents there last weekend. Unfortunately, I spent the majority of this most recent visit in a cold-induced haze. So I asked Scott if he would share his love of Oberlin in a guest post today.

Oberlin Ohio Culture Fest

While my parents were in town I was excited to give them a proper taste of Oberlin. They’re retiring to the Cleveland region, and I’m always happy to show them how wonderful Cleveland and the areas surrounding it are.

What is it about Oberlin that makes me so eager to share it? At first it was hard for me to find a succinct way of explaining, but I know that it was when I heard the kittens mewing that Oberlin had its claws in me.

There are plenty of things beyond baby cats that have endeared Oberlin to me. The college town atmosphere gives it a hip energy I don’t always realize I’ve missed since I graduated from my alma mater.

The food is great, especially if you grab a meal at The Feve or a freshly made fruit/veggie smoothie from The Oberlin Market. (Amanda here – I’m a fan of everything I’ve gotten on The Feve’s weekly rotating menu but last weekend’s Churro Cakes Pancakes were tops, and the avocado smoothie at Oberlin Market is always a winner).

After grabbing something to eat, it’s time to catch a flick at the Apollo Theatre or go shopping along Main and College Streets, which include antiques, used books, candy and dry goods, and one of the few old-school Ben Franklin stores that I’m aware of.

The Oberlin Market - where you can find delicious natural food, avocado smoothies, fresh tea and more

The Oberlin Market, home to delicious natural food, avocado smoothies, fresh tea and more

That may not sound much different than any number of small towns you can think of. But in the back room of Ginko Gallery & Studio, you’ll find a foster center for rescued cats, and when I walked over and saw the kittens, it all became clear to me. Oberlin was special.

The town is also home to Oberlin College, full of beautiful architecture, performance spaces like Finney Chapel and the amazing (and free) Allen Memorial Art Museum. The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Weltzheimer/Johnson House is only five minutes away.

But trust me, it was the kittens that really won me over to Oberlin. It’s only half an hour from our house in Avon Lake, so I was champing at the bit to head out the morning Amanda, my parents, my grandmother, and I had planned to go.

The icing on the cake of our visit was that the 2013 Culture Fest was also going on.

The crowd gathers for a fun day at the Oberlin Community and Culture Festival

The crowd gathers for a fun day at the Oberlin Community and Culture Festival

After arriving in the morning to enjoy another tasty brunch at The Feve, we wandered over to Tappan Square. In the square, we browsed the various displays of cultural heritage, giggled at the little kids making crafts and bopping around a giant inflated Earth, and took in some of the very impressive performances such as Oberlin College’s Taiko Japanese drum group.  To top it all off, there were delicious free food samples from neighborhood restaurants.

The Oberlin College Taiko group performs

The Oberlin College Taiko group performs

After we explored the world’s heritages as summarized by Oberlin College, my family and I walked the shops along Tappan Square.

The Ben Franklin brings a smile to my grandmother’s face, and she and my mother eagerly browsed the knitting and candy stores. My father checked out his share of books, his smile making it clear he’d stumbled upon something interesting he’d never let the rest of us in on. And then we all enjoyed the antiquing.

Of course, we had to stop by Ginko Gallery & Studios. It’s got quite a lot of great art in it, but my mother had a big smile when she saw one of the kittens being lifted up in the back.

I think that this is why I love Oberlin so much — the smiling. Everything makes me smile; it just wasn’t until the kittens that I realized I was smiling so much. The people are friendly and open minded, and the town feels quaint while also moving forward. The whole feel-good future-positive environment just brings on a grin.

So, knowing that, I guess there isn’t any mystery to the real reason I wanted to bring my family to Oberlin. After all, who doesn’t like seeing the ones you love smile?

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