Small Town Tour of fame: wapakoneta

The first stop on this small town tour of fame is Wapakoneta, Ohio, or as the locals call it, ‘Wapak.’ This town has a population of just under 10,000 people and is the birthplace of Neil Armstrong.


Photo Courtesy of the Armstrong Air & Space Museum

In 1969, town locals went door-to-door to raise $500,000 to create a museum in honor of Neil Armstrong, Wapak’s pride and joy, and the state of Ohio agreed to match their proceeds. Together, they built the Armstrong Air and Space Museum to tell the story of the first man on the moon. The museum holds one of the largest collections of Armstrong’s aircrafts, along with other artifacts like a spacesuit and the Apollo moon rock. The museum also gives an inside look at the pride Wapak has taken in its community over the years. 

Photo Courtesy of the Armstrong Air & Space Museum

“This town really embraces their heritage,” Wapak resident Logan Rex says. “They really have this deep connection to the events of the past.” 

Though a town staple, the Air and Space Museum is not the only thing Wapakoneta has to offer. Auglaize Street is the centerpiece of Wapak—a must-do experience for all first-time visitors. Small boutiques, shops, and eateries line the road; notably, Auglaize Antique Mall offers all things vintage as well as unique collectibles brought in by various individuals.

People are really missing out if they don’t stop by one Wapak resident’s backyard to see the Temple of Tolerance. This masterpiece, created by Jim Bowsher in 1981, was made as a refuge for people experiencing dysfunctional and damaging relationships.

Photo Courtesy of Scott Bruno

“I wanted to create a space where kids could come into my backyard, sit in the temple, and not have to worry about bullying or comments about their race. They could just be safe,” Bowsher says.

Rocks of all shapes and sizes are carefully placed in the perfect spots, creating stairs and wall-like structures surrounding the temple. In addition to the temple, there are small pillars around to act as a memorial for the leaders of Wapak that aren’t in the spotlight.


small town tour of fame-Wapakoneta

If you’re looking for an urban feel in a tiny town, head to J.Marie’s Wood-Fired Kitchen & Drinks. There’s a wide range of food to enjoy, from bison burgers to wood-fired pizzas. They also offer an excellent wine selection and hand-made cocktails, such as the special, “Sunny Days Ahead,” a cocktail made with Jameson whiskey, butterscotch schnapps, and orange juice.

Another option is Cloud Nine Cafe, the perfect place to sit outside and enjoy the weather while you satisfy your sweet tooth with homemade fudge. It’s also a good stop if you’re looking for a light lunch, like a salad, wrap, or sandwich. 


When it’s time to rest for the night, Wapak offers a selection of Airbnbs, hotels, and even a resort. The Arrowhead Lakes Resort provides modern amenities combined with the peace and relaxation of nature. Take a dip in the indoor pool, go kayaking, or play mini golf. 

Want to stay in the same place as an astronaut once did? The Holiday Inn, right next to the Armstrong Air and Space Museum, is the perfect place to stay and has been known to be frequented by real-life space explorers. 

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