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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Metro Meets Rural in Lima

Lima, Ohio at a Glance

Location: Northwest Ohio between Dayton and Toledo

Access: Interstate 75, U.S. Route 30; Lima-Allen County Airport

Major Meeting Spaces: Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center, Allen County Fairgrounds, Howard Johnson by Wyndham, Holiday Inn and Suites, Courtyard by Marriott, Quality Inn, Wingate by Windham

Hotel Rooms: 1,311 guest rooms

Off-Site Venues: 19 Hawthorne Wedding and Event Venue, Vandemark Estate Event Center, Whitetail Acres, remodeled Hart Hall, UNOH Event Center

Contact Info:

Visit Greater Lima


The first things a visitor should know about Lima, Ohio, are the correct pronunciation and the origin of its name. 

This town was built on land originally part of the Great Black Swamp, a 1,500-square-mile tract in Northwest Ohio, Lower Michigan and Northeast Indiana formed thousands of years ago by the Wisconsin Glacier. Lima was named after the town in Peru that was the source of quinine used to cure malaria caused by the swamp’s deadly population of mosquitos. Today, the land’s remaining 21,010 acres are preserved by a conservancy.

Unlike the South American Lima — pronounced LEE-mah — Ohio’s pronunciation is like the bean, LIE-ma.

Because Lima was part of the late 1800s oil boom, parts of town are rife with lovely Victorian mansions. One of those, the 6,500-square-foot MacDonell House, is part of the Allen County Museum. The only such accredited facility in the state, the museum is filled with history, culture and art. 

“The museum really opens visitors’ eyes to our area’s rich treasures,” said Christine Pleva, executive director of Visit Greater Lima.

Surrounding the city, land tends to be flat and rich with crops, cattle and horses. Agricultural tourism reigns, with festivals, corn mazes and hayrides. 

“In the past two or three years, we’ve seen new venues open with more of a rural, rustic, nature-based theme,” Pleva explained. “Renovated old barns and brand new ones as venues bring a small-town, low-key atmosphere to events. And a number of downtown restaurants, such as The Met and 318, have added banquet rooms.”

“It’s great that we can offer both metropolitan and rural meeting spaces.”

Lima’s agricultural and industrial background remain important parts of its modern identity. For instance, the 135-acre Allen County Fairgrounds hosts some of the area’s largest events, such as the Ohio National Motorcycle Championships, professional bull riding and horse shows in its 95,000-square-foot event center and 50,000-square-foot pavilion.

 That agrarian aspect coupled with recent downtown growth has made Lima a well-rounded gem.

“In the past few years,” Pleva said, “our downtown has experienced a big resurgence, resulting in more retail, restaurants and galleries.” 

A lively example is ArtSpace, an arts organization with galleries and classrooms in a 160-year-old renovated brick building on Lima’s Town Square. The nonprofit places art in galleries at banks, restaurants and boutiques. 

Major Meeting Spaces

Built to honor Lima residents who served in the armed forces, the Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center (VMCCC) in the Town Square includes a three-section, 13,950-square-foot exhibit hall, 10 meeting rooms and an outdoor patio. In addition, a 1,774-seat proscenium theater hosts a Broadway series and concerts. An enclosed sidewalk connects the center to a 100-room Wingate by Wyndham.

“After our three-story lobby renovations are complete, the space should accommodate 350 banquet-style,” said Matt Young, vice president of operations.

A new event space in a renovated 1885-era building next to the VMCCC, City Club houses six meeting rooms and the Center for Business Service.

Off-site Venues

A gorgeous, new facility on a 240-acre country estate, 19 Hawthorne Wedding and Event Venue features breathtaking views. The facility has a 31-foot cathedral ceiling and double-sided fireplace in a space accommodating 500-plus people. An amphitheater can seat 3,500 to 6,000, a 200-foot waterfall cascades into a lake and a century-old barn rests on rolling meadows.

“Our long entrance drive offers the inspiration of eagles, deer and other wildlife,” said Chad Hughes, creative director and manager. “It’s like being in a nature preserve.” 

In town, the University of Northwestern Ohio’s 25,000-square-foot event center has meeting rooms and banquet facilities for up to 750 people.

Outdoor Time

Part of the Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park District, both the Allen County Farm Park and Lauer Historical Farm have rentable facilities. The former features a rustic event barn, a log cabin, sand volleyball and autumn hayrides. Ideal for corporate retreats, the latter is a 65.3-acre, 1830s-era working farm with a historic home, barn, pergola and garden venues, plus a nearby bike trail. 

Mental stimulation and physical exercise are found on the Visit Greater Lima GeoTrail. The trail was created for geocaching, an outdoor high-tech treasure hunt that uses GPS coordinates and online clues to guide participants to hidden “caches” of interesting items. 

Team Building

With a participant capacity of up to 500 and an 80-seat banquet room, Westgate Entertainment Center, stages “corporate Olympics” competitions via bowling, bumper cars, virtual reality, arcade games, axe throwing and trivia.

“Our teambuilding package includes a short presentation on Patrick Lencioni’s book, ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,’” said Jaiden Johnston, the center’s group and event coordinator.

At Fassett Farms, groundwork with horses helps corporate team members develop leadership skills, better understand individual communication styles and learn about building stronger workplace relationships. The results of this Equine Experiential Education are dramatic and instant, while the work is engaging and fun.