The best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio

Amish Country, Ohio has no shortage of restaurants to please your palate.  When I was growing up, it was hard to find much outside of  roast beef & chicken with mashed potatoes- however, Amish Country now offers plenty of unique flavors, plus some old favorites.

While visiting Holmes County and surrounds, you’ll find a plethora of baked goods and full dinners .  It’s difficult to narrow down  the best restaurant at which to eat, so I’ve compiled my own list of the best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio.  Here are all the details:

Der Dutchman

Walnut Creek’s staple restaurant, Der Dutchman, began in 1969 in an old hardware store.  The newer location’s dining room includes a sweeping view over a valley of farmland, making this one of the most nostalgic places to eat in Holmes County.  An attached bakery allows visitors to take home the restaurants’ baked goods and  assortment of pies.   My husband recommends the broasted chicken, while my mother recommends you leave room for the red raspberry cream pie.

Der Dutchman is located at 4967 Walnut Street, Walnut Creek, OH 44687.  The restaurant is open Monday-Saturday from 7 am- 8 pm.

Rebecca’s Bistro

If you’re visiting Amish Country as a tourist, but want to eat where the locals eat, be sure to stop by Rebecca’s Bistro.  Rebecca’s is only open for breakfast & lunch.  Customers rave about their fresh salads and homemade soups.  Outdoor dining is available during the summer, where you’ll watch Amish buggies clip-clop through the busy streets of downtown Walnut Creek.

Rebecca’s Bistro is located at 4986 Walnut Street, Walnut Creek, OH.  The restaurant is open Monday-Saturday from 8 am – 3 pm.

Olde World Bakery & Bistro

Olde World Bakery and Bistro takes it’s name from it’s approach to baking in an old-fashioned way.  Their goods are made without hydrogenated oils, box mixes, or bleached flours.  Finding gluten-free dining options in Amish Country is rare, but Olde World Bakery offers them!    This is a fun place to eat with a friend, the dining room is ample and the service is quick enough to meet on a lunch break.

Olde World Bakery is located in Berlin and Millersburg.  I recommend their downtown Millersburg location at 73 W. Jackson Street.  Hours are 8 am – 8 pm Monday- Saturday.

Best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio The best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio

Boyd and Wurthmann Restaurant

Another long-standing staple of Amish Country is the Boyd and Wurthmann Restaurant.  As you drive by in downtown Berlin, you may notice the restaurant by the line out the door!  Locals have been visiting the place since it was a grocery store with a dining counter back in the 1940s, but now travelers have caught on to their affordable meals, large serving sizes, and a large variety of pies.  Believe it or not, Boyd and Wurthmann will still serve you a cup of coffee for 75 cents!  If your belly is too full for a meal, this is the place to sit at the counter for a piece of pie and a cup of coffee!

Boyd and Wurthmann is located at  4819 East Main Street, Berlin.  They are open from 5:30 am- 7:30 pm Monday – Saturday.

The best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio - Boyd and Wurthmann

Bags Sports Pub

Too tired of country-style cooking or want a craft beer?    Bags Sports Pub is the place for you to eat in Amish Country!  Bags is a locally-owned pub with a full bar and daily lunch and dinner specials.  There are locations in both Millersburg and Sugarcreek, but I prefer the Millersburg location for its proximity to Millersburg Brewery, and it’s spot on the square overlooking the impressive courthouse! My favorite at Bags is the Chicken Parmesan Sandwich on a pretzel bun (pictured below), while my husband adores the Jalapeno Burger.  Whatever you choose, make sure you try the pretzel bun AND enjoy a local brew from the Millersburg Brewery.  Also, Bags IS open on Sundays!  A rarity in Holmes County.

Bags Sports Pub,  Jackson St, Millersburg – Open Sunday – Saturday 11 am – 9 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am- 10 pm.

The best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio

Quince Bakery & Cafe

Located in Kidron, Ohio, across the road from Lehman’s Hardware; Quince is another delicious stop to add to your favorite places to eat in Amish Country.  You can eat here for breakfast or lunch or pop in for a donut or cookies to take with you.  There’s a daily soup special as well as different cookie and pie selections to look forward to, so no visit will be the same.

Quince Bakery is located at 4776 Kidron Rd, Kidron.  They are open Tuesday- Saturday from 7 am – 3 pm.

 

What do you consider the BEST place to eat in Amish Country, Ohio?  Leave a comment with your answer for a chance to win a $25 gift card!  Make sure you secure your entry in the Rafflecopter widget below, too!!

 

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The best places to eat in Amish Country, Ohio

St. Paul Hotel – Wooster, Ohio

Downtown hotel in the heart of Wayne County

Not going to lie, I’m a hotel snob.  I like lush bedding, a spacious bathroom, and good breakfast options.  Imagine my surprise when I found this all at a boutique hotel in small-town Ohio?  Yes, it’s true.  The St. Paul Hotel in Wooster, Ohio is sure to please even the snobbiest of travelers (cough cough, me)!

The St. Paul Hotel is located in the heart of downtown Wooster, just two blocks from the square.  There are numerous dining and coffee options within a very short walk.

If you’re looking for modern conveniences, the St. Paul Hotel offers in room Wi-Fi, heated bathroom floor tiles (ohmygoodness, heavenly), and a rainwater shower plus a hand-held shower wand!  I appreciated that my corner room also had numerous windows and a Keurig coffeemaker.  The amenities kit was Tommy Bahama products.

St. Paul Hotel- Wooster Ohio St. Paul Hotel- Wooster Ohio St. Paul Hotel- Wooster, OhioSt. Paul Hotel- Wooster, Ohio

Maybe what impressed me the most was the history behind this hotel.  The St. Paul hotel has been rebirthed from it’s former life!  From the the early 1900s-1970s, the building did operate as a hotel, but it had a questionable past as a place of basement betting and card games.  Little history is known about those early years as a hotel- although there would have only been one guest bathroom per floor.  In the 1970s, the hotel was purchased by a non-profit group and turned into a subsidized housing, which was used until 2008.

At that time, the non-profit went out of business and a local developer came up with the idea for a boutique hotel.  While the building sustained an entire “gut job,” the interior brick walls were saved for the trendy exposed brick feature.  Dressers, beds, and desks were made by a company in Orrville, Ohio.  Each shower is enclosed with tempered glass made by the Wooster Glass Company.  My favorite piece of the interior may be this piece of stained glassed located in the hotel lobby.  The St. Paul O.P.N. glass was found at a Wooster antique store.  The hotel seems to fully encompass the ingenuity and history of the community – something I really enjoyed!St. Paul Hotel- Wooster, Ohio

The St Paul Hotel is the only property to service the downtown Wooster area.  Parking is free and getting around the small city by foot or car is very easy.  Wooster is located less than 30 minutes to Ohio’s Amish Country and close to attractions like Secrest Arboretum and the J.M. Smucker company store.

I would recommend the St. Paul Hotel for a romantic getaway or a birthday celebration.  The hotel would also work for family travel, but do note that the rooms do not have bathtubs.  Check rates now.

Have you visited Wooster?  Where have you stayed?

**I was hosted at the St. Paul Hotel as a guest of the Wayne County CVB.  All opinions are my own**

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St. Paul Hotel- Wooster, Ohio- downtown boutique hotel

5 things to do in Sandusky, Ohio with kids

Sandusky, Ohio is a small city on the shores of Lake Erie that has a ton to offer families!  Sandusky is well-known as the home to  Cedar Point, but most people spend a day on the rollercoasters and then leave town (raised hand here).  However, there’s so many reasons to stay and play in Sandusky.  Here are my suggestions of 5 things to do in Sandusky, Ohio with kids!

#1 Enjoy top notch museums

I would not have thought of Sandusky, a city of only 25,000 people, having two fantastic museums!  I learned so much at both the Maritime Museum AND the The Merry-Go-Round Museum!

The Merry-Go-Round Museum is situated in the old Sandusky Post Office.  The circular building made for the perfect place to house a full 1920s Carousel.  I learned so many facts about Carousels- Did you know that every Carousel has a lead horse where the ticket taker would know to start and stop?  Did you know that British carousels go clockwise, but everywhere else they are counter-clockwise?  Or that carousels date all the way back to the 12th century?  Someone sign me up for jeopardy, this museum was a goldmine!

Kids will enjoy getting to ride on the historic Carousel (included in admission) that travels 9 mph!  If you’re weak in the stomach, I don’t recommend coming right after a very filling hotel breakfast.  I speak from experience!

Things to do with kids in Sandusky, Ohio- The Merry-Go-Round Museum

The Maritime Museum was another welcome surprise.  Sandusky’s location on Lake Erie makes for a history brimming with nautical mystery and drama.  The location wasn’t just known for shipping and ferries though, in the late 1900s, Sandusky was the largest ice producer west of New York City!  Children can also learn how Sandusky played a role in the Underground Railroad.  This was the last stop before former slaves could catch the ferry over to Canada.

Lastly, kids will love this interact pirate ship!  Yes, Lake Erie even had her share of pirates!

Things to do with kids in Sandusky, Ohio- Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum gives a family discount, offering immediate families admission for just $14.  This is a great deal- allot 90+ minutes to spend here.

#2 Hit the water

You can’t be right on the shores of Lake Erie and not enjoy some water activities!  Kids of all ages will enjoy Sandusky’s Goodtime I.  We took a sunset cruise and enjoyed both scenic views and Cedar Point.  Food and beverage can be purchased onboard- for adults that’s a full bar, and there were pizza slices for kids!  This is a relaxing way to end a day in Sandusky, and prices are affordable- costing our family of 5 less than $30 (under 5 are free).

Things to do in Sandusky with kids- Goodtime I sunset cruise

For the more adventurous, and those with teens, check out Air1Airboats out of East Sandusky Bay!  This was not my first airboat ride, but it was my first trip on rough waters!  What a hoot!  I’m glad I packed my rain jacket (similar), because we got WET!Things to do in Sandusky with kids- Airboat tour

#3 Fill your tummies

Sandusky has no shortage of fantastic places to dine!

How about a locally-sourced breakfast or brunch at Bates Farm Kitchen?  Large portions of biscuits and gravy and farm-fresh omelets were on the seasonal menu.  Chef Clint uses ingredients that you’ll be happy to let your kids indulge in!  I know my kids would enjoy the french toast with Ohio maple syrup.

Needing to caffeinate after a busy day with kids?  Try the new(ish) Boomtown Coffee!  I tried a nitrogen-infused cold brew (think coffee that comes from a tap and looks like a beer).  It was amazing- definitely a pick-me-up!

Wanting a lakefront lunch?  Try the Dockside Cafe.  Not only does the cafe offer up gorgeous vistas of the lake, the food is casual, kid-friendly fare.  (They are open seasonally- only til October 1 this year- so hurry).Things to do with kids in Sandusky- Dockside Cafe

Looking to affirm your sweet tooth?  Toft’s Dairy is a Sandusky institution for all things dairy- including their famous ice cream!  Visit their parlor on Venice Road to try the many flavors.  I love the story behind Toft’s family business, including the fact that all of their milk comes from farms located within a 50 mile radius.

#4 Cruise around town (in an atypical way)

For kids 14 and older, what better way to engage them in the history of Sandusky, than by doing so while riding a Segway?  Yes, Sandusky has it’s own Segway tour!  Jim, owner of Segwave, has the patience of Job with those that are a little nervous or unsure (i.e. – ME).  Jim offers 1 and 2 hour tours of Sandusky, and plenty of training time to get acclimated on the device.  Your favorite part will be cruising right by Lake Erie (and crossing your fingers that the Segway floats).  Just kidding!

#5 Play it up

When we pulled up to Ghostly Manor, I wasn’t so sure if this would be a place I could recommend.  My 7-yr old is afraid of  simple Halloween decorations, so the giant dragon at the door isn’t exactly what you’d expect for a kid-friendly playhouse.  Once inside, I could see why this is the perfect place for the whole family to hang out.  From a roller skating rink to an Escape Room, kids of all ages will be happy.  There is also a haunted house, black light golf, a jungle jym, and arcade games.  Our group of adults did the Missing Deed Escape Room, which was much harder than I expected, we needed various clue to help us get out!

Ghostly Manor is a place you could visit in Sandusky again and again.  I’d consider taking my young ones there if traveling with older children that wanted to be at Cedar Point or nearby Haunted Houses.

So there’s my Top 5 things to do in Sandusky, Ohio with kids!  Have you been to Sandusky?  Were you like me and chose to hit up Cedar Point and then call it a day?  I urge you to add more time to your stay!  Sandusky is celebrating it’s bicentennial in 2018 (more coming soon) and there is tons of revitalization in the works.  You won’t want to miss it!

* I was hosted by Lake Erie Shores & Islands on a media trip.  All opinions are my own.*

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How to have a family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

At 33-years-old and living in Ohio nearly my entire life, it felt like a TRAVESTY that I hadn’t been to Put-in-Bay.  Put-in-Bay is a small city on South Bass Island, Lake Erie, that’s probably most well-known by the locals for it’s flourishing nightlife.  However, visiting with our children showed me that it can be kid-friendly!

Today, I’m sharing how you can have a family-fun day at Put-in-Bay (I’m a poet and I know it).

#1 Take Miller Ferry to Put-in Bay

Miller Ferry is an easy and affordable option to get to Put-in-Bay.  As a cost-conscious family, a quick Google search revealed that Miller Ferry is less than HALF the cost of their competitor.  It’s hard to justify paying more for a boat trip that only takes 20 minutes!  We found the ferry terminal to be convenient and all day parking was plentiful and only $5.  Also, there are clean restrooms at both terminals.

A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

#2  Rent a golf cart from E’s rental

Located just steps from the Ferry Terminal- E’s Put-in-Bay Golf Carts was a convenient option for our daytrip to Put-in-Bay.  We arrived at a very busy time (noon) and yet it only took about 5 minutes for me to check-in for my pre-reserved golf cart.  E’s has a large inventory of 2, 4 and 6-person golf carts.

Each golf cart is named, and our oldest child enjoyed reading all of the names to us!  Next time I go, I’d like this one. 😉

E's Golf Carts- a Family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

#3  Check out downtown Put-in-Bay

I recommend doing this FIRST thing when you arrive.  I’m not a prude, but there are some things I’m not ready to explain!  We noticed that the crowd changed quickly around 3 pm.  So head here for an early lunch, let the kids play on the pristine playground with water views, and take a spin on Kimberly’s Carousel.

A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

#4 Visit Perry’s Victory & International Peace Monument

Families visiting Put-in-Bay should not miss the Perry Victory & International Peace Monument.  The 352-foot monument and Visitor Center commemorates the Battle of Lake Erie, which took place during the War of 1812.  We were lucky enough to arrive just as a Ranger-led educational session was beginning, but the Visitor Center alone is a wealth of information on Put-in-Bay’s role in the war.

The International Peace Monument is the only Peace Memorial in the USA’s National Park Service.  It commemorates the long-lasting peace between Canada, the USA, and the United Kingdom.  These three flags still fly outside the memorial.

A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

#5 Enjoy the views from a State Park

South Bass Island offers two family-friendly State Parks- South Bass State Park and Oak Point State Park.  Oak Point State Park is the state’s smallest state park at only an acre and a half, but it does pack some gorgeous views of Put-in-Bay and Perry’s Monument (even on a cloudy day).  This would be a perfect spot for a family picnic.Oak Point State Park- Family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

South Bass State Park is more of full-service park that offers camping and a public boat launch.  They also have four cabents, which look like a cross between a yurt and a cabin.  We’d like to go back and rent one for weekend of family-fun!

A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

Have you been to Put-in-Bay or South Bass Island?  What do you recommend for families to do?  

A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

** Miller Ferry provided me with ferry transportation and a golf cart rental.  However, all opinions are my own.**

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Planning a family-friendly day at Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

Put-in-Bay, Ohio with kids- A family-friendly day at Put-in-Bay

The NEW Whispering Cave Trail at Hocking Hills- with kids

One of my reasons for wanting to visit Hocking Hills this year, besides staying in a super cool Caboose, was to try out the new Whispering Cave trail at Hocking Hills with the kids.  As a family, we’ve been to Hocking Hills numerous times, so it was exciting to know that this time we’d have a new area to check out.  The Whispering Cave/Hemlock Bridge Trail opened in May 2017.

The trail head to the Whispering Cave trail is adjacent to the Hocking Hills Lodge and parking lot.  Unfortunately, the Dining Lodge burnt down in late 2016.

Map from ODNR – red graphics are all mine, lol

The Whispering Cave Trail at Hocking Hills- with kids

You’ll start from the UU and, as I’ve marked on the map, to get to the Whispering Cave, you’ll want to go all the way to the VV (yellow trail).  We did not follow the green trail all the way to the bottom of Hemlock Gorge because it was already a steep descent.

You know your family’s limitations better than mine, but completing the Whispering Cave portion was enough for our kids.  The boys struggled going up all of the stairs and the steep climb on the return, and our 3 year old insisted that I hold her because her legs were too tired.  I believe I counted approximately 110 stairs, which are always much easier on the way down. Lol.

The Whispering Cave Trail at Hocking Hills with kids

According to ODNR, the trip is only .8 miles each way, but like I mentioned, there are some steep cliffs.  Make sure you wear proper footwear or hiking tennis shoes.  If you’re dealing with children under 3, I’d recommend something like a Kelty child carrier– this trail is in NO way stroller-friendly.  Check out instead:  Best Hiking Trails at Hocking Hills for Kids

The Whispering Cave Trail at Hocking Hills- with kids The cliffs on the Whispering Cave Trail in Hocking Hills, Ohio.  Hiking with kids on this trail requires caution.

The yellow trail (pictured above) is mostly what hugs the cliff as you make your way into the Whispering Cave.

This way!

The Whispering Cave.  This large recess is awe-inspiring and makes all of that time spent near the edge worth it!  Hiking with kids at Hocking Hills is doable. Whispering Cave Trail at Hocking Hills.

Once you arrive at Whispering Cave, the nerve-wracking descent will be over and you’ll be thankful you made this journey with your kids.  The cave is something to marvel at- I’m not sure photos can do it justice.  For us, it was less of a Whispering Cave and more of a “scream bloody murder” as C got a splinter from that pretty new fencing.  (That’s when you’re thankful for a passerby with a Swiss Army knife).

Also, we visited on a Monday in June, and as you can tell, the site was busy.  However, the hike had only been open for one month and it was summertime.  I’ll be eager to see how busy this trail becomes on the weekends.  Will it be as frequented as some of the other Hocking Hills hikes?  I’m sure the scenery alone may be the culprit of its popularity!

Have you been to the Whispering Cave yet?  Have you been to Hocking Hills with your family?

Need a place to stay?  Check current rates!

Looking for more hikes with kids at Hocking Hills?  Here’s my list of the Best Hikes for Families at Hocking Hills.

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Yes, you can hike at Whispering Cave with kids.  Use my guide to this Hocking Hills trail before you visit.

Things to do in Ohio in Fall

I’m sad to say that summer is leaving us and the kids are heading back to school.  However, autumn is a glorious season in Ohio and there’s many family-friendly things to do in Ohio in Fall.

Here’s some ideas for what to do in my great state, as well as additional visitor information.

 

Things to do in Ohio in fall

September

Ohio River Sternwheel Festival –  September 8-10, 2017  Marietta has been home to the Sternwheel Festival for over 40 years!  I’ve already been charmed by this river town, so I can see why a free family-friendly event would make it even more desirable.

For more things to do while you’re visiting Marietta check out 5 Reasons You Must Visit, Outdoor Adventures via Backroad Ramblers, Explore Ohio’s First Adventure via Big Family Minimalist & Outdoor Adventures via Pickles Travel.

Ohio Renaissance Festival – September 2- October 29, 2017  Want to see a sword fight, joust, or a tale of Robin Hood without traveling back in time?  The Ohio Renaissance Festival is sure to delight kids of all ages through food, shows, and old-fashioned games and rides.  The festival runs for nearly two months with themed weekend programming.  You can check out The Wandering Educator’s review HERE  OR The Adventure Mom’s thoughts HERE.

Backwoods Fest September 15-17, 2017  Thornville’s Backwoods Fest is located near Buckeye Lake.  The three-day festival is an arts and crafts extravaganza of over 300 vendors situated in the woods of Perry County.  The food options are mouth-watering!  Kids aged 10 and under are free, but make sure if you take a stroller that it’s one with big wheels — it’s not called “backwoods” for nothing. 😉

Columbus OktoberFest – September 22-24, 2017  In its 50th year, the Columbus OktoberFest is a free family event located at the Ohio Expo Center/Ohio State Fairgrounds.  The fall tradition hosts a men’s and women’s stone toss & cream puff eating competition (you had me at cream puff).  There’s over 10,000 feet of covered space, so the festival will go on whether rain or shine.

Cedar Point HalloWeekendsSeptember 15- October 29, 2017  America’s Roller Coaster Capital hosts a 7-weekend event geared for the Halloween enthusiast.  Daytimes are a kid-friendly Great Pumpkin Fest.  Once dark descends, though, so do the creepy ghosts and zombies.  HalloWeekends are included in the price of your admission – consider booking a package with a stay at the newly renovated Hotel Breakers.  Find out more on HalloWeekends from Adventure Mom’s post on how to survive if you don’t like the scarier stuff.

Things to do in Ohio in the fall- HalloWeekends

October

Bob Evans Farm Fest – October 13-15, 2017   Did you know that the popular chain, Bob Evans, actually began in the hills of southern Ohio?  Rio Grande, Ohio is home to this 3-day festival of crafts, kids’ activities and musical entertainment- and of course, a Bob Evans food tent.  Find out more in this post by Ohio Girl Travels.

Take a hike or a road trip to see fall foliage – early-late October  Ohio’s trees put on a show in the month of October.  Fall foliage varies greatly from the north and south ends of the state but consider a roadtrip or a hike to enjoy the beauty of autumn.  Get started here:  Five family-friendly Ohio hikes or Top 5 Hocking Hills hikes for kids

Ashtabula Covered Bridge Festival – October 14 & 15th, 2017  Ashtabula County boasts the most Covered Bridges in the state of Ohio- 19 in total!  Come celebrate all things covered bridges, and take a driving tour while you’re at it.  This is one road trip going on my Ohio Bucket List.

Circleville Pumpkin ShowOctober 18-21st, 2017  Over 100 years old, the Circleville Pumpkin Show is a staple of fall in Ohio!  Test your taste buds on about every pumpkin-flavored food imaginable.  7 parades, a ride midway, and a giant pumpkin contest round out the fun.  Wanting more to do while in Circleville?- Look no further.

Things to do in Ohio in Fall

Apple Butter Stirrin Festival October 21-22, 2017  This Coshocton festival highlights apple butter including demonstrations on how it is made over an open fire.  With family activities and over 100 vendors, this Roscoe Village event is sure to please.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Ohio in the fall?  

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Things to do in Ohio in Fall

Best hiking trails for kids at Hocking Hills

Hocking Hills is the perfect family-friendly Ohio destination.  The main attraction of Hocking Hills are her natural rock formations and numerous waterfalls, but all of these must be reached by hiking trails.  Over the years I wished that someone would have ranked the easiest or best trails for young children. So, after multiple visits with our family, I’ve come up with a list of the best hiking trails for kids at Hocking Hills.

#1  Ash Cave

The easiest hiking trail at Hocking Hills for kids of all ages is the paved Gorge Trail at Ash Cave.  This trail is stroller/wheelchair accessible and it’s only 0.3 miles long each way, so if you have young ones that want to walk, but tire out quickly, they should be able to handle the short distance.

The trail ends at the large cave recess- Ash Cave stands over 90 feet high and is almost 700 feet wide from end to end, so it’s sure to wow even the littlest traveler.  The area is full of sand and the rocks can be slippery, so tennis shoes should be worn.  However, on dry days I’ve found Ash Cave to be almost one giant (shallow) sandbox.  If you have a little one that likes diggers or trucks, maybe pack a few small ones to give yourself a moment of solitude.

#2 Conkles Hollow

Conkles Hollow is a State Nature Preserve within the Hocking Hills area.  This is one of the most dramatic areas in the winter, as the walls of the gorge can be filled with ice formations.  On one winter visit my little ones through we had taken off to Elsa’s land in Frozen.

The best trail for kids at Conkles Hollow would be the half-mile Gorge Trail.   The Gorge Trail at Conkles Hollow is paved and stroller-friendly, just note that if you do visit in winter, this area does not get a lot of sun and you may be walking on a sheet of ice instead of a paved trail!  For the most part though, for the summer and fall visitor, this paved trail is without too many hazards for children to encounter and makes a must-see stop on your Hocking Hills vacation.

#3 Cedar Falls

Cedar Falls is one of the most iconic sites at Hocking Hills!  For good reason – the waterfall and surroundings are truly magical.  There are multiple ways to reach the Cedar Falls and with small children it’s hard to know which is the best!

I recommend parking at the main Cedar Falls parking area (this is not the one right along 374 but instead follow the signs to a stone sign and parking entrance).  This trail is NOT stroller friendly, but you do enter the gorge via stairs which for me is easier if holding the hand of a toddler or wearing them in a carrier.  I’m less nervous about falling!   (Using this map, you’d only hike the portion where the yellow and purple go together and then turn around).

#4 Rockbridge

Rockbridge is another Nature Preserve within the Hocking Hills area.  I had a hard time choosing the between a #4 and #5 for the best hiking trails, but I like Rockbridge because there is very little time in which I HAVE to be holding the hand of my preschooler.  The path begins in essentially, a pasture, and then weaves through the woods before coming to Ohio’s largest natural rock bridge.  This is the area where you’ll need to be extra careful with young children too ensure they don’t fall.

Another reason why I love the Rockbridge is because I’ve never found it to be as busy as Ash Cave or Old Man’s Cave.  It’s not “off the beaten track” but in the words of a fellow traveler I met on our last visit, “Old Man’s Cave was like an airport terminal.”  You’ll find out for yourself.

#5 Old Man’s Cave

Old Man’s Cave is one of the hallmarks of Hocking Hills.  For the most kid-friendly experience, I’d take the stairs down to the bottom of the gorge and get on the blue Grandma Gatewood Trail.  This trail allows you to view the main attractions of the Devil’s bathtub and Upper Falls.  You will have access to the upper gorge and rim trails, but with younger children I’d probably just take the stairs back the same way you came down.

Have you been to Hocking Hills?  Which trail would you recommend as the best for kids?

You can learn more about Hocking Hills HERE (i.e. find out why I don’t recommend the Rock House).

Looking for a place to stay?  Check out the Hocking Hills Caboose.

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The Hocking Hills Caboose- Unique Ohio Lodging

All aboard!  Take a seat!  I can’t wait to tell you all about our stay at The Hocking Hills Caboose- a unique Ohio lodging opportunity.  Our young family had a fantastic time at this Hocking Hills cabin-like property, and I’ve been bursting to share!

I couldn’t believe the interest from friends and family- even grandma- on what it was like to sleep in a caboose.  I’ll be honest, I’m no happy camper and was worried about whether the Caboose would be too primitive for my travel snobbery.  Spoiler alert: I was pleasantly surprised by the furnishings AND the size of the bathroom.

First, a little history lesson.  The Hocking Hills Caboose is an authentic 1950s train caboose!  It was originally a part of the Seaboard Air Line train systems and was probably used in service until the 1980s.  Did you know that in the 1980s cabooses were no longer needed because new technology could monitor the train and apply the brakes?  I did not!  So this caboose ended up in a railyard in Columbus until it was purchased by the Hocking Valley Railway and then renovated for overnight stays!  However, the Caboose has new owners and was completely overhauled last year- there’s new flooring, decor, and all new plumbing and heating and cooling.  This makes for hot showers and cool air-conditioning!

I can’t think for a better place for the Caboose to be situated.  Hocking Hills is the go-to Ohio destination for hiking and outdoor adventure.  And The Hocking Hills Caboose is located only 2 miles from Ash Cave, one of the area’s most visited attractions.

Arriving at the Caboose, it seemed bigger than what I could tell from the photographs.  The Hocking Hills Caboose has a maximum occupancy of five, but I immediately noticed that our family wouldn’t feel cramped.  Once inside, the ceilings are high (I’m 5’10”) and there’s plenty of room to spread out.

The entrance opens into a kitchen.  The kitchen is what I would call an “efficiency kitchen” as it contains a small fridge, sink, microwave, and plenty of cooking utensils.  There is also a toaster and coffee pot (the latter is of crucial importance).  The fridge is like one of those you had in your college dorm room, so if you’re bringing lots of food or meat to grill, make sure you bring it in streamlined packaging- i.e. freezer bags.  We stayed for 2 nights and we were able to make it work.

One thing to note about the kitchen is that the only way to cook if there is bad weather would be via the microwave.  I discussed with the owners about the need for a hot plate or griddle, but they shared that those are a big fire risk, and I completely understand!  Just make sure you plan ahead or budget a little extra money in case you find yourself needing to eat out.  There’s numerous restaurants in the  Hocking Hills area that you’ll want to try anyway!

See that table to the right?  There’s a built-in bench against the wall so it’s easy to pull the table out and use it!  It’s like HGTV tiny home living!

The next area is devoted to bunks.  There are two upper bunks and one lower.  This worked out perfectly for our two boys!  The top bunks are fairly high (the boys reminded me they were 6 steps!), but they had three windows at top and plenty of head room.  If you’re traveling as a group of adults, these would be plenty big enough for big people – i.e. you better believe I climbed up there and sampled the space!

 

Keep walking and there are two lower bunks, which Mr. YT and I laid our claim. And then there’s a full bathroom.  The bathroom was one of my concerns before traveling to the Caboose.  I’ve been in the bathroom of a RV/camp trailer and they are hardly big enough to swivel in, let alone bathe three children.  The Hocking Hills Caboose has a corner sink, full-sized toilet, and square shower.  It was spacious enough for me to fit in the bathroom with one of our children while helping them shower.  The bathroom was actually bigger than the recent hotels we have stayed in, but there is no tub.

I appreciated all of the unique railroad decor throughout the Caboose,  including the lantern style-lighting. These railroad nail hooks were just a few of the small pieces that make this feel like an authentic train!  I can see The Hocking Hills Caboose being a destination not only for families with children that love trains, but even adult train-enthusiasts or the local collector.  If you look closely in the kitchen picture, all of the curtains were also train-themed fabrics.

While the interior of the Caboose was fun and family-friendly, the outdoors was where we spent most of our time.  On the attached deck there is a grill and outdoor table with seating for 5.  We spent both afternoons out here grilling and enjoying family time.  

The fire pit is adjacent to the deck and also has seating for 5!   We spent our evenings here roasting marshmallows and watching the moon rise.

Maybe the reason I loved the Caboose the most?  It was disconnected from cable and internet!  I know that may turn some people off, but for my husband and I, who are both able to work remotely, not being able to answer the phone or pull up Facebook FORCED us to disconnect and make eye contact with our favorite little people.  Cell phone service was spotty throughout the Hocking Hills as well, so this truly was a getaway.  We hope to visit the Caboose again next summer and make even more memories.

Have you been to Hocking Hills?  Did you know you could stay in a Caboose?

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* I would like to thank the owners of the Hocking Hills Caboose for hosting our stay.  As always, all opinions are my own.*

Five Reasons You Must Visit Marietta, Ohio

Marietta is a small city that lies right along the Ohio River in southeast Ohio.  While little in size and numbers, 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 in reality 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.  Located at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers, this was Native American territory first.  A large mound still stands at the center of town in Mound Cemetery.

Mound Cemetery- Marietta, OhioOhio Street, 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 is also home to many kid-friendly museums, such The Campus Maritus Museum or 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

#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.

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 of these guides were friendly & helpful and extremely knowledgeable of all things Marietta.5 Reasons to visit Marietta Ohio

#3 Marietta is walkable

Once you’ve arrived and parked the car, the city is easy to navigate.  Unless you’ll be 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 an historic bridge to take you over to Harmar Village. Don’t miss the flood markers throughout the downtown.  It’s a great reminder of just how mighty that 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.  My room was small, but functional.  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 the numerous barges (Marietta sees more than the Panama Canal) float by.

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The Lafayette Hotel - Marietta, Ohio The Lafayette Hotel - 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.

Sternwheeler Mural- Marietta Ohio 5 reasons you must visit

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?

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5 Reasons to Visit Marietta Ohio

** I was hosted by the Marietta-Washington County CVB.  All opinions are my own.**

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Hiking at the Whipp’s Ledges within Hinckley Reservation





One of the things I love about following various Instagram accounts is getting new ideas for where to take our hiking excursions.  Whipp’s Ledges within Hinckley Reservation was one of the places that caught my eye for a family hike.  I fell in love with this type of typography after last year’s trip to Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Hinckley Reservation is part of the Cleveland Metroparks system.  While we only hiked the Ledges Trail, there appear to be 7 foottrails within the reservation, one of which is an all-purpose trail for hiking, biking, and rollerblading.

Whipp’s Ledges Trail is accessed from State Rd.  Note: When we were there, a bridge was being repaired on State Road.  You must enter the hiking area from the north.

There is a map at the entrance to the trail, but I’d recommend printing a trail map and taking it, just in case.  There are blazes, but not many signs, making it a little confusing.

The ledges are really spectacular.  It’s hard to believe that this type of place is just minutes from shopping malls and restaurants.  Ohio keeps surprising me, and this is a gem of a place to hike.

The hiking is rugged, so I wouldn’t recommend these trails for any younger than 3.  If you have a hiking carrier, you’d probably be ok!  Also, prepare for MUD.  Our kiddos wore their snow boots so we wouldn’t ruin their tennis shoes.  The trail is only 1.25 miles in length though, so it’s definitely doable with young ones who tire easily.

Probably the thing I loved most about Whipps Ledges was that it was one of those places that just made you feel really SMALL.  As a Christian, I’m always reminded that there’s something much bigger than me- and that HE is in control, not me.  Taking our kids to these places is a nice jumping off point for those talks, too- how we worship a great Creator who made this beautiful place for us to enjoy.  #endsdeepandmeaningfulconvo

Anyhow- Have you been to Hinckley Reservation?  If you’re interested in going, my friend Tonya at The Traveling Praters covered nearby Worden’s Ledges.  Next time we’ll definitely be checking them out.

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