Take a last-minute trip before Labor Day
By Melinda Green
With Labor Day just around the corner, it’s time to think about one last road trip before the hot, hazy days of summer say goodbye until next year. Love the outdoors? Prefer a low-key mini-vacation? Want to sample some of the state’s best summer refreshments? Here are some Ohio weekend getaway ideas to celebrate the last days of the season.
Of course, in this age of COVID-19, many things are subject to change, so be sure to confirm hours and required precautions for all of your destinations before you travel.
Ohio’s First Summer Resort
In late summer, Geneva-on-the-Lake feels otherworldly. The family-friendly shops, cottages, pubs, and arcades seem locked in a bygone era, yet still vibrant. Grab a bottle of vino and a meal at the Old Firehouse or Lakehouse Inn winery, then watch the sunset from the lakeside ferris wheel. Or, if the outdoors are more your thing, Geneva State Park offers many kinds of outdoor recreation.
History on the Water
The Muskingum River’s eleven 180-year-old, hand-operated locks are a designated National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Scenic hills, abundant wildlife, and Ohio wilderness accompany a step back into the history of Ohio’s early shipping routes. With camping and lodging along the way, this 112-mile river is a perfect getaway for boaters.
Ice Cream Bonanza
Love ice cream? Marion County is known for several fabulous, locally-owned ice cream shops—and rumor has it you can get a Dole Whip at at least one of them! Make it a weekend and check out the Harding Memorial and Presidential Sites, the Marion Cemetery and Monuments, and the popcorn museum, or hike or cycle the Tallgrass Trail.
Queen (or King) for a Day
New Plymouth, tucked into the Hocking Hills, features its very own Medieval-style castle and cabins. Make Ravenwood your home base for a weekend while you hike, canoe, kayak, fish, wine and dine, or take a guided trail ride at nearby Equestrian Ridge Farm. Or just chill and take in the charming castle surroundings.
Road trip tip: There’s a new, mobile-friendly website focusing on Ohio’s independent lodging options. If you need ideas on where to stay, and want to support local while you travel, check out Unique Lodging of Ohio here: https://www.uniquelodgingofohio.com/.
Arc of Appalachia stewards 20 nature preserves near the Scioto and Ohio Rivers’ confluence. Along with the woodlands of North America’s Great Eastern Forest, the region contains prairies, wetlands, and Native American earthworks. It’s a perfect location for a week of hiking, birdwatching, and taking in the beauty of our native flora and fauna.
Get acquainted with local history at Ohio’s battlefields from the American Revolution, War of 1812, and conflicts with Native Americans. Many fortresses and historic sites, like Fort Meigs and Fort Recovery, lie along the scenic Maumee River in western Ohio, with plenty of lodging, dining, and family activities nearby in the Cincinnati, Dayton, and Toledo areas.
The community of Charm, surrounded by the hills of Holmes County, encourages you to leave the stresses of city life behind. Step back in time at Miller’s Dry Goods store, visit the Guggisberg cheese factory, meet the animals at the Farm at Walnut Creek, and tour Amish communities for a much-needed reset.
Make a Dayton of it
Dayton’s Five Rivers metroparks offer nearly 16,000 acres of greenspace in 25 facilities, with opportunity for dozens of outdoor activities. Balance your outdoors time at the colorful shops and art galleries in nearby Yellow Springs, or take the kids to Young’s Jersey Dairy to feed the goats, play miniature golf, and enjoy homemade ice cream.
Believe it or not, the Cleveland area is full of waterfalls waiting to be discovered. From dramatic Brandywine Falls to elusive Buttermilk Falls, enchantment is just a hike and a picnic lunch away. Make your home base The Flats on the west side of town for trendy dining, urban vibes, and a step into the city’s history.
Kelley’s Island is a perennial favorite for all ages, with outdoor activities and lakeside charm. Visit the Charles Herndon Sculpture Garden and Galleries, kayak at sunset on Lake Erie, take the kids to Caddy Shack Square, enjoy Brandy Alexanders at The Village Pump, or simply relax and catch some rays on the beach.