Five Reasons You Must Visit Marietta, Ohio

Why Marietta, Ohio is a dreamy destination

** This post was updated in 2021 with a recent trip back to Marietta. My original travel to Marietta in 2017 was sponsored by the Marietta-Washington County CVB.  All opinions are my own. The post contains affiliate links. **

Marietta is a small city that lies right along the Ohio River in southeast Ohio.  While little in size and number, it’s bursting with local attractions.  I’ve passed through Marietta many times on I-77, but stopping in the city for 3 days gave me an appreciation for its diverse attractions, gorgeous river views, and historic homes.   I came up with five reasons you must visit Marietta, Ohio, but there are many more.

#1  Marietta has enough to keep the whole family entertained.  

Like history?  Marietta was the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory.  Founded in 1788, Marietta was named in honor of France’s Marie Antoinette,  showing thankfulness to France for their contribution to a US victory in the Revolutionary War.  Marietta is located where the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers meet and yes, this was Native American territory first.  A large mound still stands at the center of town in Mound Cemetery.

5 Reasons you must visit Marietta, Ohio - This small city at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers was the first settlement in the Northwest Territory.

Mound Cemetery- Marietta, Ohio - things to do in Marietta, Ohio.  Reasons you must visit Marietta, Ohio

reasons you must visit Marietta, Ohio - things to do in Marietta Ohio

To learn more about the history of Marietta, consider taking a tour through Hidden Marietta.  On our tour, I learned that the above brick-laden Ohio Street was one of the first streets in town.  It has a wild past as the home to brothels and bars, luring ship workers into town for a rowdy night.  Now it’s just home to many tall tales, and this popular restaurant, The Levee.

Marietta also has many kid-friendly museums, such as The Campus Martius Museum and the Ohio River Museum.  Outside of the Ohio River Museum, you have the chance to tour a steam-driven sternwheeler, the WP Snyder Jr.

W.P. Snyder, Marietta, Ohio - 5 Reasons you must visit Marietta, Ohio.

#2 Outdoor adventures are abundant

It’s no surprise to me that Marietta was named one of America’s Best Adventure Towns by National Geographic.  The Ohio & Muskingum Rivers afford plenty of opportunities for putting your boat, kayak, or canoe to good use.  There’s a picturesque bike trail that follows those same rivers for over 3 miles.  The charming city also has 30+ miles of hiking and mountain bike trails.  Nearby Wayne National Forest offers abundant trails as well.

5 Reasons to visit Marietta, Ohio- A bike trail along the Ohio River

No need to stress if you don’t have a way to bring your gear.  Marietta Adventure Company offers kayak and bike rentals, as well as tours.  We enjoyed a history-themed bike tour with Hallie and a kayak tour led by Ryan.  Both guides were friendly & helpful and extremely knowledgeable of all things Marietta.

5 Reasons you must visit Marietta, Ohio. Kayaking on the Ohio River.

For families with young children who may not feel comfortable kayaking, our family enjoyed a 90-minute sightseeing cruise aboard the Valley Gem Sternwheeler. This cruise departs from its dock next to the Ohio River Museum.

views form the Valley Gem Sternwheerler- things to do in Marietta, Ohio - why you must visit Marietta, Ohio

#3 Marietta is walkable

Once you’ve arrived and parked the car, the city is easy to navigate.  Unless you are traveling out to Wayne National Forest, you shouldn’t need the car again!  Feel free to walk along the river using the aforementioned bike trail, but you’ll also find plentiful sidewalks and a manageable business district.

The downtown is lined with cozy shops and great restaurants- there’s even a historic bridge to take you over to Harmar Village (currently under construction – 2021). Don’t miss the flood markers throughout the downtown.  It’s a great reminder of just how mighty the Ohio River can be.

#4- Downtown accommodation

The Lafayette Hotel sits right on the Ohio River and is probably the most convenient property in Marietta.  This historic hotel is full of quirks and fun details.  In keeping with the history of the property,  the well-made reproduction furniture adds to the hotel’s appeal.  The Lafayette also offers a 3rd-floor deck to enjoy watching a sunset over downtown, or the numerous barges on the Ohio River (Marietta sees more boat traffic than the Panama Canal).

The view of downtown Marietta from the deck at The Lafayette Hotel.  Things to do in Marietta, Ohio

Tip: For families, book the VIP Suite. This room sleeps 6 in 2 double beds and a sofa bed. It also has 1.5 baths. Note – the hotel doesn’t have central air, and window units are as good as it gets. (I said it was historic! ;))

Check current rates

The Lafayette Hotel in Marietta, Ohio - 5 reasons to visit Marietta, Ohio

#5  Family-friendly Festivals

One of the most popular festivals in Marietta is the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival.  The Sternwheel Festival is always the weekend after Labor Day.  Can’t make it but want to see a sternwheeler?  Various cruise ships dock throughout the summer.  You can see the full list on the  Visit Marietta Facebook Events page.

Enjoy a beer and some outdoor adventure?  Marietta is also host to the Rivers, Trails & Ales Festival held every year in August.  It’s a celebration of local community spirit, coupled with paddling and mountain biking, then finished off with Ohio-made craft beers.  This would make a great weekend getaway for couples and singles of all ages.

Sternwheel Mural- Marietta Ohio 5 reasons you must visit - things to do in Marietta, Ohio

Have I convinced you that you MUST visit Marietta?  I adore this small town with big city charm.  Have you been to Marietta?  What’s your favorite attraction?


Five reasons you must visit Marietta, Ohio - things to do in Marietta, Ohio - Marietta Ohio with kids
5 Reasons You MUST Visit Marietta, Ohio- Things to do in Marietta, Ohio. From great festivals to a downtown walking district, and even a bike trail along the Ohio River, there's so much to do and enjoy in Marietta.
5 Reasons to Visit Marietta, Ohio - Things to do in this small city - From biking along the river to downtown shopping and dining

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21 thoughts on “Five Reasons You Must Visit Marietta, Ohio”

  1. I love the Lafayette hotel! My parents and I stayed there when I was visiting Marietta College (where I almost went….that’s another story!) This makes me want to go back.

    1. YoderToterBlog

      The campus is beautiful! I want to hear this story sometime. 😉 I told Brian that our kids can all go there (we could have 3 kids in college at once- OYE), and we’ll rent a home in town and stalk them. #agirlcandream

    1. YoderToterBlog

      It was a great trip! I think I need to write another post on meeting women that share your passion- because that was another highlight for me.

  2. I have been waiting for this one!!!!!! So many wonderful things to see and do in my favorite Ohio town. Great photos and tips. Next time you MUST try a fried bologna sandwich at The Harmar Tavern. And for sure do not miss the Sternwheeler Festival-sensational fireworks.

    1. YoderToterBlog

      Yay! I see why you loved Marietta. We went to Harmar Tavern- It’s a later post! I didn’t try the bologna though because my stomach can’t handle cured meats. #Iam33goingon80 We’re going to the Sternwheeler Festival, but we won’t be there for the Fireworks! Next time. 🙂

      1. Gretchen Knellinger Cathey

        My father owned the Harmar Tavern until 1989….I have so many good memories of that place and go there whenever I’m in town.

  3. Marietta is the BEST little city. I went to Marietta College from 2009-2013 and couldn’t have asked for a better community to be a part of. So much history and beauty wrapped up in one cute town. I would recommend visiting Marietta to anyone and everyone!

  4. Thank you for writing about our little city. I always enjoy reading articles and blogs about my home.

    As a REALTOR , I try to encourage potential clients to read them as well. This one’s being shared to my business page!

    1. YoderToterBlog

      Thanks so much for sharing! I bet it’s a great city to be a realtor in- No joke, after about 24 hours on my visit, I texted my husband and told him we’ll be getting a condo in the city while we send our three kids to Marietta College. 🙂

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