Mansfield offers a captivating blend of small-town charm and captivating attractions. It has a population of approximately 47,000 residents and embodies the warmth and friendliness of a true Ohio community. The city’s history dates back to the early 19th century when it was founded and named after Jared Mansfield, a prominent surveyor. Over the years, Mansfield has grown into a cultural and economic hub, while still preserving its rich historical roots.
One of the highlights of Mansfield is its fascinating history. Explore the historic downtown district, where beautifully preserved buildings showcase the city’s architectural heritage. Take a stroll along Main Street and discover charming shops, boutiques, and local eateries housed in these historic structures.
Don’t miss the Mansfield Memorial Museum, which offers a captivating glimpse into the city’s past through exhibits that showcase local history, including the area’s industrial heritage and the role Mansfield played in shaping Ohio’s development.
Mansfield is also renowned for its connection to the literary world, particularly through the work of author Louis Bromfield. Visit Malabar Farm State Park, Bromfield’s former residence, and marvel at the scenic beauty that inspired his writings. Explore the park’s trails, tour the historic Big House, and learn about Bromfield’s contributions to literature and sustainable farming practices.
Let’s explore together the 15 best things to do in Mansfield, Ohio:
1. Ohio State Reformatory
Being a former prison that operated from 1896 to 1990, this stunning Victorian Gothic-style building gained fame as the filming location for the movie “The Shawshank Redemption.” Its primary purpose was to reform and rehabilitate young offenders through a system of education, discipline, and work.
Its massive stone walls, imposing towers, and intricate detailing create a hauntingly beautiful atmosphere. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea to glimpse into the harsh realities of prison life during that era.
2. Kingwood Center Gardens
Picture this, manicured lawns and pristine gardens stretch as far as the eye can see, while vibrant blooms dance in a harmonious symphony. This garden was once the private estate of Charles Kelley King, a prominent industrialist.
Nestled in the heart of Mansfield this is a botanical paradise that will make you feel like royalty amidst its lush landscapes. Kingwood Center Gardens are spreading over a 47-acre estate featuring meticulously landscaped gardens and a historic mansion.
Stroll through the various gardens, including the French Parterre, Rose Garden, and Tree Peony Garden, and enjoy the serene atmosphere.
3. Mansfield Art Center
Are you in the mood for an art exhibition? The art center hosts rotating exhibitions featuring works by local, regional, and national artists. These exhibitions showcase a diverse range of artistic mediums, styles, and themes, providing a platform for artists to share their creations with the public.
Spend some hours exploring thought-provoking installations, paintings, sculptures, and photography, and gaining insight into contemporary artistic trends of the Mansfield artists.
4. Little Buckeye Children’s Museum
If you’re traveling with children, the Little Buckeye Children’s Museum is a must-visit. The museum offers interactive exhibits and hands-on activities that promote learning through play. Kids can explore a miniaturized cityscape, a farm, a science lab, and much more.
5. Mansfield Memorial Museum
If you want to understand more about the rich history of Mansfield and the surrounding region, you should visit the Mansfield Memorial Museum. Here you can read stories about Native Americans, how they lived and worked during the 19th century.
These artifacts represent the indigenous cultures and tribes that inhabited the region, including artifacts from the Woodland, Adena, and Hopewell cultures, among others.
The specific time periods and cultures represented may vary within the museum’s collection, but overall, they provide insight into the Native American presence in the Mansfield area throughout different historical periods.
6. Mansfield Fire Museum and Educational Center
Like any other city, Mansfield has faced its share of fire incidents and challenges over the years. This museum provides a unique glimpse into the evolution of firefighting techniques, equipment, and uniforms over the years. It offers a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by firefighters in the past and enhances appreciation for their efforts.
7. Richland Carrousel Park
The carousel offers a nostalgic and enchanting experience for both children and adults. At Richland Carrousel Park, you can enjoy a delightful ride on the beautifully handcrafted carousel, which features 52 charming animals and two ornate chariots.
You can also taste delicious treats like popcorn, cotton candy, and ice cream at the park’s concession stand. The park provides a wonderful atmosphere for family fun, creating lasting memories for everyone who visits.
8. Malabar Farm State Park
Any bookworms around here? Once the home of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield, the park offers hiking trails, picnic areas, and guided tours of the historic Big House.
The author is known for his novel “The Green Bay Tree,” which was published in 1924, the book garnered critical acclaim and launched Bromfield’s literary career.
Many come here to enjoy the rolling hills, forests, and farmland that inspired Bromfield’s writings.
9. Renaissance Theatre
As the curtains rise, a hush falls over the audience, and the stage comes alive at the Renaissance Theatre. This beautifully restored venue hosts a variety of live performances, including plays, musicals, concerts, dance productions, and even movies for children.
Make sure you check their program before your visit and buy tickets ahead of time.
10. Mansfield Memorial Park
This serene park features impressive memorials, including the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building and the Eternal Flame. The cemetery holds a special place in Mansfield’s history.
It has been serving the community since its establishment in 1913 and has become the eternal home for many prominent individuals, including local leaders, veterans, and notable figures.
11. Gorman Nature Center
Lace-up your boots, grab your backpack and get ready to embark on an exhilarating adventure. Connect with nature at the Gorman Nature Center, a 150-acre preserve with hiking trails and educational programs.
Some trails at Gorman Nature Center are shorter and can be completed within an hour or so, while others may take a bit longer. It’s a good idea to check the trail maps and signage provided at the center to plan your route and estimate the time required.
12. Oak Hill Cottage
Admire the architectural details and period furnishings that transport you to a bygone era at Oak Hill Cottage, a restored Gothic Revival-style mansion dating back to 1847.
Oak Hill Cottage is a prime example of Gothic Revival architecture. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and recognized as a significant historical site in Mansfield. The cottage offers a glimpse into the past and provides visitors with an opportunity to explore the history of the region.
13. Mansfield Liederkranz
This cultural center serves as a gateway to German culture, traditions, and community in Mansfield, Ohio. As their purpose preserving and showcase German heritage in the community, they are organizing regular events to keep the spirit up.
Held in September or October, one of the most notable events hosted by the Mansfield Liederkranz is its annual Oktoberfest celebration, a 200-year-old celebration that started in Bavaria.
This festive event attracts visitors from near and far. It features live music, traditional German dances, authentic cuisine, and a vibrant atmosphere reminiscent of the famous Oktoberfest held in Munich, Germany.
14. Snow Trails Ski Resort
Hit the slopes and enjoy winter sports at Snow Trails Ski Resort! Located just outside of Mansfield, this resort offers skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and other winter activities. The trails offer 17 slopes and trails with varying difficulty levels, catering to both beginners and experienced skiers and snowboarders.
The park features multiple lanes where visitors can slide down the slopes in specially designed inflatable tubes. It’s a perfect option for families or those looking for a more relaxed winter activity.
15. Ohio Bird Sanctuary
Ohio Bird Sanctuary provides a safe haven for injured and orphaned birds, as well as educational programs and guided birdwatching tours.
While visiting, you have the opportunity to learn about the sanctuary’s work, the importance of bird conservation, and ways to support their efforts.