Ohio Bird Sanctuary sign

The entrance of the Ohio Bird Sanctuary near Mansfield. (Photo courtesy Heart of Ohio Magazine)

MANSFIELD – Kingwood Center Gardens is now open and welcoming visitors for its 2020 season.

In what was called its “last, first day,” the gardens will now be open year-round as Kingwood’s new Garden Gateway project opens to the public later this year. Kingwood Center Gardens Director Chuck Gleaves recognized that in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, the public is seeking outdoor experiences that offer a break from the everyday monotony, but with natural social distancing.

“The essence of our attraction is 47 acres of beautiful, open outdoor gardens,” Gleaves said. “Kingwood offers a safe and much-needed oasis for anyone looking for a change of scenery and those who may be suffering from the stress of the pandemic.”

This garden estate was once the home of innovative industrialist Charles Kelley King. Renowned for its distinctive floral displays, unique plant specimens, woodland trails, historic mansion and gardens, display greenhouse, duck pond and peacocks, Kingwood and its signature events, such as its annual Wine Walk, Great Pumpkin Glow and Christmas at Kingwood delight thousands of guests annually.

Kingwood Center Gardens has been undergoing a massive Garden Gateway expansion and improvement project, which will be unveiled late this summer. A Garden Gateway Visitor Center, updated and expanded perennial garden areas, a new café, gift shop, pavilion and retail greenhouse are part of the project. A new exhibit gallery will highlight King’s business and historical legacy, along with other exhibits on regional history from 1926 until today.

New conference and event space joins the multi-purpose Kingwood Ballroom, which seats 240 people. 

With $5 admission (free for children 12 and under), Kingwood Center is open daily 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the Garden Shop is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. New this year, Free First Mondays offer no-charge admission the first Monday of every month. Visitor information is available at kingwoodcenter.org.

HOTELS AND OTHER ATTRACTIONS OPEN

Nearly all Richland County area hotels, bed and breakfast lodging operations and private rentals remain open, with enhanced sanitization and some restrictions in place to keep guests safe. Campgrounds are permitted to open May 21. In addition, many area attractions are beginning to open, including:

Malabar Farm State Park

Ohio Bird Sanctuary outdoor bird displays

Gorman Nature Center

B&O Trail for hiking and biking

Patio and Winery Tasting at Wishmaker House Bed & Breakfast

Clearfork Valley Scenic Trail

Blueberry Patch, winery, greenhouse and giftshop open; inside café dining June 1; you-pick blueberries late June (based on weather)

In keeping with Governor Mike DeWine’s shutdown order, Mansfield and Richland County restaurants with outdoor seating opened for outdoor dining service May 15 and restaurants can open for inside dining beginning May 21.

These include many located on the popular Mansfield Wine & Ale Trail. Nearly 50 miles of scenic, wooded bridle trails are also open at three distinct sites. In addition, the region offers unique shopping opportunities, which are open, including: the historic Carrousel District, Wayne’s Country Market, historic Bellville, a host of antique and thrift shops and many more.

“The safety and well-being of our visitors, staff and local residents is top of mind for all of Mansfield and Richland County’s tourism-related businesses,” said Destination Mansfield President Lee Tasseff. “We are beginning to carefully welcome back visitors, who we value so highly as key to our livelihood and quality of life.”

Tasseff added that as the Governor’s rolling opening plan allows for museums and other attractions to open, the region will offer even more for visitors and local residents seeking a respite from recent stay-at-home orders.

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