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. (Use the promo code "ONUBEST" to get a great rate.) When you visit, don’t forget to come hungry. Some of our favorite local restaurants are Padrone’s Pizza, El Campo and The Tavern.
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 Fourth of July concert 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 (formerly Luke’s Bar & Grill), Lulu's Diner and Campito Lindo in Bluffton. Michael Angelo’s Pizza, Henry’s Restaurant, Midway Restaurant, Salsa’s and Jitterz Coffee Company can be found in Kenton. The Plaza Inn family restaurant in Mt. Victory has graciously served its patrons 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 or The Gathering 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 recently renovated big barn. The Met is a chic downtown dining establishment, and The Beer Barrel (there’s also one in Findlay) is a great place to grab a pizza and watch the big game. Always a big draw are Kewpee Hamburgers and Happy Daz which are old-fashioned diners.
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.
Robinson Fin Machines Inc., Sekisui Plastics, Graphics Packaging International and McCullough Industries are top business and economic leaders in the Kenton area. Marathon Petroleum (Findlay), Cooper Tire and Rubber (Findlay), Honda of America Manufacturing (Marysville), Whirlpool (Findlay) and Crown Equipment Corporation (Lima) 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!
The annual Christmas Around the Square Craft Fair, held in the Hardin County Courthouse in Kenton, features home decor, jewelry, arts and craft vendors and artisans. In June, Eats On The Streets showcases live music, specialty food trucks, a classic car show, vintage motorcycles and more. Enjoy locally grown produce each Saturday at the Kenton Farmers Market.
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, you'll discover a thriving downtown area with upscale as well as casual dining, and a wide variety of music, art, and entertainment offerings.
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.
It’s comforting to live in a place with few distractions to interrupt your studies. The low cost of living in Ada is an added benefit to what is an extremely safe campus and community.