Ohio is the perfect state for mini-getaways this season

Melinda Green

Winter is coming, as the saying goes, but you don’t have to live in the doldrums until next spring to enjoy a good vacation. Invest in some new insulated layers, grab a good thermos and hand warmers, and head for the outdoors—or find new ways to stay warm inside with an Ohio weekend getaway.

And, as always, check facility and COVID-19 policies, restrictions, and closures before you create your itinerary.

Winter’s for the Birds

One unexpected outcome of the stay-home policies was a sudden, widespread interest in backyard birds. Get some binoculars, reserve a nearby hotel room, and start (or add to) your birding “life list” at Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area in Wyandot County. A glimpse of Trumpeter Swans, Bald Eagles, or Northern Harriers will make the cold worthwhile.

Sweet Escape

The adults-only Inn at Honey Run, in the heart of Amish country, is not only luxurious, but also a short drive from opportunities like meeting exotic animals at the Farm at Walnut Creek, snowshoeing on the Holmes County Trail, and Nordic skiing at Malabar Farm State Park. Or revisit historic times at the area’s three popular museums, including Roscoe Village.

Trail Mix

Kids demanding a sugar fix? Spend a weekend in Butler County and take on the Donut Trail. Okay, you won’t hit all 13 stops in a weekend, but you can get stamps on your passport. In between, go on a shopping safari for healthy treats at Jungle Jim’s International Grocery and marvel at EnterTRAINment Junction’s indoor train displays.

Glass Half Full

Celebrate light during the darkest days at the Toledo Museum of Art’s Glass Pavilion. More than 5,000 items, plus the glass walls, are sure to adjust your outlook. Then, get outside to Oak Openings nature preserve or Maumee Bay State Park to soak in those precious few daytime rays before relaxing at a local taproom or coffee shop.

Roughing It

Enjoy camping? Most of Ohio’s state parks are open for primitive camping year-round, usually with limited amenities but with nearly as much fun and adventure as summer. Hiking, snowmobiling, sledding, and even hunting are attractions at sites like Punderson, Burr Oak, Caesar Creek, and Mohican State Park.

Hit the Slopes

Alpine Valley, south of Cleveland, is “re-imagining the mountain experience” for visitor safety this winter. Reservations are now required in advance for all activities, but lessons, dining, and rentals will still be offered in full force. Brush up on your ski and board skills, or learn a new sport, then relax with your family or friends at the resort.


Hill Country

The Hocking Hills region is as beautiful in winter as it is the rest of the year. Reserve a room at The Inn at Cedar Falls or a cabin at Top O’ the Caves or, for extra adventure, rent a tipi at At Boulder’s Edge Cabin and Tipi Retreat. The wood stove and fire ring will keep you warm after a day of hiking—or reserve a lane and head into Logan for axe throwing at Bury the Axe.

Short Trip

Hear us out on this one, suburbanites. When was the last time you had a staycation that didn’t involve catching up on home improvement projects? Spend a couple days at the Graduate Hotel in the Short North. Shop (or window-shop) to your heart’s content, warm up at some of the city’s trendiest dining spots, and enjoy the Gallery Hop without the traffic nightmare.

Milling Around

Want to just get away from it all? The quaint Stockport Mill Inn is just up your alley. The last remaining grain mill on the Muskingum River now provides hydroelectric power to the Inn’s restaurant, and historical artifacts are exhibited throughout the property. The location is remote and quiet, perfect for a weekend of decompressing.

Lake Life

For the truly hardcore, head up to Lake Erie and spend a weekend on ice. Literally. Ice fishing for walleye and perch, hiking on the frozen lake, and camping offshore challenge your moxie. Or wax your surfboard, because until the ice sets in, surf’s up, given the proper wetsuit. One person’s “nope” is another’s adventure!


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