A Day in Ontario: The Retail and Restaurant Hub of Richland County

While Ontario may be the retail and restaurant hub of Richland County, the community is more than just shopping and dining. Ontario doesn’t have a quintessential Main Street or a typical downtown area, but its people are community-minded, and community in Ontario happens at the park.

Marshall Park is the home to Ontario Youth Sports, major tournaments, a dog park, a band shell, a disc golf course, and much more. “The city council, administration, and the citizens rally around this park,” says Ontario Mayor Randy Hutchinson. They have made it the heartbeat of their community.

Away from the flurry of activity in the retail epicenter along Lexington-Springmill Road, Marshall Park has a suburban and almost pastoral atmosphere. Here you’ll find events like evening yoga, local sports leagues, and large soccer tournaments. During the summer concerts in the park series, local bands take the band shell stage from 6-8 p.m. If you forgot to pack a picnic dinner, food is available for purchase from local food trucks and vendors during these free concerts.

Attractions

When it comes to attractions and entertainment, you can’t beat the energy of Ontario. Here you’ll find a 14-screen theatre, an escape room, and a trampoline park. Exercise your brain at ExitThis, Richland County’s only escape room attraction. Team up with your friends to escape from prison during a zombie outbreak, save the president by solving clues in the Oval Office, or navigate traps in temple ruins in search of treasure. Altitude Trampoline Park is a great place to take your kids to bounce all their energy away.

For something at a slower pace, visit Alpaca Meadows where you can meet alpacas, shop alpaca wool products, or take a fiber arts class. Alpaca Meadows offers special events including picnics and yoga in the alpaca pasture. Hit the links at Oaktree Golf Club, a full length, 18-hole course with a driving range. The club is open seven days a week from dawn to dusk, March through November.

Shopping & Dining

As the hub of commerce in Richland County, Ontario boasts grocery stores, gyms, major retailers, and chain restaurants. It’s the home of the Richland Mall, which features 50 specialty stores, three department stores, a kids play area, restaurants, and the Avita Health System hospital. Local favorite retailers include Crossroads Original Designs (located inside the Richland Mall) for candles hand-poured in Bucyrus, Ohio. When it comes to the latest fashions, B.E. Humble should be your first stop for women’s clothes and even personal styling.

With a chain restaurant to fit every taste, can’t-miss local eats include Athens Greek Restaurant’s Ontario location for the best Greek food in the state. There’s more than one option for local coffee in Ontario. Stop in Blue Barista (in the Richland Mall), which offers locally roasted coffee, tea, hot chocolate, baked goods, and everyone’s favorite blueberry donuts. The Cove Coffee Shop features coffee and then some. This local treasure is home to some unique teas infused with local maple sap. Wokano Japanese Sushi & Steakhouse serves authentic Japanese cuisine, including Hibachi. Steve’s Dakota Grill was voted the “Best Prime Rib” 6 years in a row. For Italian food, locals will send you to Papa’s Gondola for sit-down dining or Warrior Pizza and Ice Cream for grab and go.

Stay

For hotels with easy access to Route 30, Ontario is a great city to make your home base for a trip to the Richland County area. The Hampton Inn Ontario/Mansfield has all the amenities to please both business and leisure travelers, including an indoor pool and a complimentary hot breakfast. The newly renovated Fairfield Inn & Suites has been appointed with spacious, modern rooms and features King Executive Suites and a business center. Stay a little or stay a while; Towne Place Suites by Marriott offers extended-stay rooms, meeting facilities, and a beautiful patio.

Festivals and Events

“The 4th of July Festival is a proud community event that brings in thousands,” says Mayor Hutchinson. In 2019, the festival celebrated its 17th year with food vendors, a parade, a 5k, fireworks at Ontario High School, and much more. This is a great event to come out and meet the community to see what Ontario is all about.

You can also begin your Christmas season in Ontario with the Tree Lighting Ceremony. Take part in this family tradition and join the Ontario Community for special performances, hot cocoa, cookies, photos with Santa, and, of course, the ceremonial tree lighting. This free event in Marshall Park is generously supported by community sponsors.

Ontario, Ohio’s Marshall Park has also hosted two US Youth Soccer “Target United Cup” tournaments, which give youth soccer players the chance to experience the excitement of high-quality national tournament play outside of their normal league. This tournament is a grand undertaking which even features the Target United Cup Village where players and their families can grab healthy snacks, sunscreen, charge up their devices, and play soccer-themed games.

Higher Education

The OSU-Mansfield and North Central State College joint campus is located just north of Ontario. OSU-Mansfield is a branch campus of The Ohio State University. With all the resources of the world-class university, OSU-Mansfield students have the advantage of completing their studies in smaller, more interactive classes. The OSU-Mansfield Theatre & Stage offers great college theatre to the public with tickets under $10. North Central State College is a public, two-year community college that serves the residents of north-central Ohio. The college offers technical education in more than 60 associate degree and certificate programs.

Ontario Statistics from JobsOhio as of 2018

  • The total population of Ontario is 6,324 people with a median age of 43
  • Ontario has a labor force of 3,184 people
  • The distribution of 10,158 total employees is 41% blue-collar and 58% white-collar jobs across 693 establishments
  • Leading industries are 1. Retail 2. Accommodation and Food Service 3. Other Services and 4. Health Care and Social Services
  • Households in Ontario earn a median income of $63,287 with 40.12% of households earning more than the national average each year.
  • Residents spend an average of 15 minutes commuting to work. Mansfield’s Lahm Regional Airport is approximately 7.5 miles away. Interstates can be accessed 5 miles away.