The Hocking Hills region is about an hour southeast of Columbus, Ohio.
It’s a rural area with corners of incredibly scenic natural beauty, affording outdoors activities for every level.
Lodging-wise, it runs the gamut from romantic, secluded cabins to luxury accommodations.
As for dining, you can find both country favorites and gourmet chefs using the finest local produce in their creations.
What to do: Get your maps and your bearings at the Hocking Hills Welcome Center, with the Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum in its yard. The small shed holds thousands of whimsical pencil sharpeners, bequeathed to the area.
Hocking Hills State Park encompasses a huge region with six distinct areas or sub-parks, if you will. With waterfall after waterfall, along with gargantuan rock recesses/caves, unusual plant formations and wild terrain, you’ll think you visited a different continent altogether. Old Man’s Cave and Ash Cave are equally stunning. If you make arrangements for a guided tour with Naturalist Pat Quackenbush, you’ll see hidden wonders. Contact him at 740) 385-8003 ext. 213. Pat.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get your adrenaline pumping at Ohio ATV World. There are high challenge courses, vehicles for multiple people, along with zip lines and zip rails.
Enjoy a bird’s eye view of the region with a private plane ride. Hocking Hills Scenic Air Tours is manned by veteran pilot Harry Sowers, with 40 years of flying experience.
Take a guided kayak tour of Lake Hope, a serene lake in rugged Zaleski State Forest. Touch the Earth Adventures offers sunrise and sunset paddles, along with full moon paddles.
At the Wind Chime Shop in nearby Logan, you can learn to make your own candles. There are hundreds of scents to anoint your soy candle. The shop also sells an incredible array of wind chimes and Christmas ornaments.
See a true piece of Americana at the last washboard factory in the country: Columbus Washboard Company. Washboards are the still-favored method of washing by many of our troops overseas. See how the washboards are still made by vintage equipment and purchase washboards, along with rare vintage soaps.
Where to stay
The Hocking Hills area has more than 700 cabins to choose from. Hocking Hills Cabins specialize in super-secluded accommodations in the woods, with romantic touches like outdoor hot tubs, fire rings and covered decks. Depending on the cabin and time of year, rates start in the low $100’s.
Glenlaurel is a luxury resort built to resemble a Scottish manor, with a main manor house, “crofts” (small houses) and cottages. The elegant grounds have Scottish links golf and the manor house houses a fine dining restaurant. Dinners feature gourmet cuisine like juicy pheasant roulade, Scottish poetry and bagpipe music. Room prices start in the mid-$100’s.
Ravenwood Castle and Medieval Village Cottages are accommodations and special occasion venue built in the style of an English castle. It’s been painstakingly furnished with antiques from Europe’s aristocratic homes. Parties can be arranged in the Great Hall. In the village, there are quaint bargain accommodations, just like days of yore: gypsy wagons that run $50 a night.
There are rooms inside the inn, as well as pet-friendly cottages at The Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls. There are also log cabins on the property, dating from the 1840’s, that have been repurposed into a cozy bar and restaurant. Rooms start at the low to mid $100’s.
What to eat: At the Brass Ring, located at a public golf course, the portions are huge, the quality of ingredients is farm-fresh. Menu items include hand-sliced potato chips laden in fine blue cheese and scallions.
Laurelville’s Ridge Inn serves café fare. Head there on Saturdays for the homemade donuts made from a local Amish recipe.
South Bloomingville is the home for Jimbo’s Bar and Diner, a real-deal biker bar. It’s cash only, as they don’t have internet access for credit cards or a website. The burgers are big enough for two people to split.