Soak Up Summer in Jay County

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Amish farmers outside of Portland; Photo by Jeffrey S. Otto

Looking for the perfect summer vacation destination? Consider heading to Jay County. The only Jay County in the U.S., it’s named after John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Located midway down the eastern border of Indiana and Ohio, Jay County is home to a little bit of everything. The family-friendly community lays claim to historic destinations, artsy attractions, outdoor adventure and can’t-miss shopping spots – and that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

“Jay County is a perfect place for a fun, well-rounded family vacation,” says Gyneth Augsburger, executive director of the Jay County Visitors & Tourism Bureau. “We have plenty of things to do, including incredible festivals and events that are sure to entertain. Plus, we’re a welcoming community with lots of friendly folks who want to make sure you feel comfortable and enjoy your stay.”

Jay County Courthouse in downtown Portland; Photo by Jeffrey S. Otto

Arts, Culture & Antiques

Start your visit by learning more about Jay County’s rich, storied history at the Jay County Historical Museum in the county seat of Portland. Covering approximately 11,000 square feet, the museum displays thousands of local artifacts that date back to 1838. Next, check out the Jay County Courthouse, which was built during World War I and is also located in Portland. The famous bowstring truss bridge – the only concrete bowstring truss bridge in Indiana – was built in 1914 and crosses the Salamonie River. To learn about the construction of a bowstring truss bridge versus other types, visit historicbridgefoundation.com/construction-types.

Once you’ve had your fill of local history, head to Portland’s Museum of the Soldier, where you’ll find one-of-a-kind military memorabilia from all over the world. Another must-visit Jay County cultural attraction is the Glass Museum in Dunkirk, which features more than 8,000 pieces of glassware from 110 factories across the globe.

Photo courtesy of the Glass Museum in Dunkirk

In addition, be sure to visit the National Center for Great Lakes Native American Culture, which showcases Native American traditions, art, handcrafts and more.

On the search for unique treasures? Head to the small town of Redkey, situated at the crossroads of U.S. Highway 1 and Indiana State Road 67, which is home to a handful of antique shops offering merchandise you won’t find elsewhere. Downtown Redkey also features a variety of charming restaurants and stores as well as the Key Palace Theatre, a vintage music venue that’s known for attracting award-winning blues artists.

“Redkey is truly one of Jay County’s hidden gems,” Augsburger says. “Taking in live music at the Key Palace Theatre is an unforgettable experience, and if you’re interested in antiques, you’ll certainly want to put Redkey on your agenda.”

Remember When in downtown Portland; Photo by Jeffrey S. Otto

Outdoor Recreation and Activities

If you’re ready to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors, look no further than northern Jay County’s Loblolly Marsh Nature Preserve, which is the state’s 250th dedicated nature preserve. The preserve helped inspire many of the works of well-known Indiana author and naturalist Gene Stratton-Porter. The 475-acre destination features marsh, forest and prairie with hiking trails and an abundance of wildlife, flora and fauna.

Just across the county line in southern Adams County’s Geneva and connected to the Loblolly Marsh Nature Preserve is Limberlost State Historic Site, which also offers ample opportunities to explore. The site includes Stratton-Porter’s former home, a 12-room log cabin that’s open for one-hour guided tours Wednesday through Sunday.

Historic Arch Bridge in Portland; Photo by Jeffrey S. Otto

Portland’s Hudson Family Park is another must-visit Jay County outdoor attraction, featuring a lake, a playground and walking trails, along with an amphitheater that plays host to fun summertime events.

Those looking to cool off can check out the Portland Water Park, one of the county’s newest attractions. Open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, the $3.4 million water park boasts two 20-foot water slides, a 60-gallon dump bucket, a lazy river, a lily pad walk, swim lanes and a concession stand.

Sports fans, you’re in luck, too. Jay County is home to the Portland Rockets, a semi-professional baseball team that plays home games at Runkle/Miller Field.

“We’re a small community, but there’s no doubt we have a lot to offer,” Augsburger says. “We invite you to come see and experience Jay County for yourself this summer.”

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