Fun things to do in Newark, Ohio

Family-friendly activities in Newark

We lived in Newark, Ohio for 7 years, and honestly, I’d move back in a minute! The convenient location in Central Ohio, proximity to great hiking, and the mild weather (by Ohio standards) are just a few of the perks. Downtown Newark just went through a revitalization and the square is such a nice place to hang out on a summer or fall day, too. Here is my list of the best things to do in Newark, Ohio.

Where is Newark, Ohio?

Newark, Ohio is located in central Ohio about 35 minutes east of downtown Columbus, making it an easy day trip! It is approximately 2.5 hours south of Cleveland and 40 minutes south of Mount Vernon, Ohio. Newark is the county seat of Licking County.

Things to do in Newark, Ohio

Dawes Arboretum

Dawes Arboretum is one of my favorite places in Newark! It’s an ideal place to escape for an afternoon. The Dawes Arboretum was established in 1929 by Beman and Bertie Dawes on land that was originally a farm. When Beman opened Dawes, it was 293 acres with over 50,000 trees. The Dawes Arboretum has now grown to 2,000 acres.

The Dawes Arboretum offers many ways to enjoy the grounds. There are hiking trails, a driving tour, a Visitor Center, and plenty of places to get lost in nature. What is an arboretum? It’s a museum for trees! Make sure you leave plenty of time to enjoy the different sections of the arboretum. One of my favorites is the Japanese Garden! The Daweswood House Museum is open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays during the warmer months. Make sure to check the website before you go.

Dawes Arboretum - things to do in Newark, Ohio

The arboretum also offers plenty of educational programs! You’ll want to also check their website for children’s & homeschooling programs.

For more information about visiting Dawes Arboretum, check out my post The Dazzling Dawes Arboretum in Newark, Ohio.

The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art, and Technology

The Works is the perfect place for families to connect over science experiments and local history. The glass-blowing demonstration is also awesome for kids – and adults! Don’t miss the Planetarium, it only runs at select times.

The downstairs of The Works includes many places for families to experiment and explore. Our family loved building cars to race down the track, measuring our fitness on the Wii Fit, and testing out our LEGO skills. The toddler play area named “Tyke Lab” is themed after local businesses such as Velvet Ice Cream, the Midland Theatre, and the Dawes Arboretum. Our daughter loved playing in the firetruck.

Thw Works- Museum in Newark Ohio

The Works Newark

The Works Newark Ohio

Did you know that Newark native Jerrie Mock was the first woman to fly solo around the world? Our kids loved reading about her journey and stepping inside the replica Cessna. The upstairs of the museum is devoted to all things Licking County. I did not realize how many companies originated in this area!

The Works is also home to an Interurban Railway Car, housed in its own building in the courtyard. It was constructed in Newark and used for mass transportation in the early 1900s. Outside the museum is the Interurban Mural, which captures the nostalgia of this unique transportation.

Things to do in Newark, Ohio - Visit the Works Museum

Newark Earthworks

The Newark Earthworks are the largest set of geometric earthen enclosures in the world and a now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The earthworks were built by the Hopewell Culture between 100 B.C. and 500 A.D. Over the years, the growth of Newark (sadly) destroyed many of the earthworks, but three major pieces still survive. We visited 2 of the 3 sites managed by the Ohio History Connection.

The Octagon Earthwork is on the grounds of the Moundbuilders Country Club. While this is a private golf course, visitors to the Octagon Earthworks can access this overlook any time of the year (just watch for flying golf balls). The entire grounds are only open to the public four times per year (see the above link for details).

The Great Circle Earthwork is nearly 12,000 feet in diameter. Taking up a vast area, it’s hard to see one side of the circle from the other! Not only are the mounds almost 8 feet high but there is also an interior moat that’s over 5 feet deep. It’s believed that this large circle was used for ceremonial purposes. The Great Circle is open every day from dawn until dusk. The Museum is currently closed.

Read more on my post about the Newark Earthworks.

Things to do in Newark Ohio - visit the Great Circle Earthworks

National Heisey Glass Museum

Augustus Heisey started his glass company in Newark, Ohio because the Newark Board of Trade was actively seeking industry, there was an abundance of natural gas nearby, and plenty of low-cost labor was available. The construction of the factory began in 1895 and in 1896 Heisey Glass opened with one sixteen-pot furnace. At the time there was a great demand for fine glassware, and Heisey sold it all over the world. Unfortunately, in the 1940s and 50s, there was increasing competition from Europe. When the Heisey Glass Company closed for Christmas in 1957, they never reopened. Some of the molds were sold to Imperial Glass, but even they went out of business in the 1980s.

There’s much more to this colorful history (and colorful glass), but you’ll have to learn by visiting the Heisey Glass Museum. There is so much to see on display, it’s one of those places that you really have to visit to understand the extent of the collection. The Heisey Glass Museum is open Wednesday- Saturday from 10-4. The museum gift shop offers original and reproduction Heisey glass items.

Interested in more glass museums in Ohio? Check out the Millersburg Glass Museum in Millersburg, Ohio. (a little more than an hour from Newark).

Midland Theatre

The Midland Theatre is Newark’s hall for local performances, big-name country stars, and traveling shows. In 2024, Night Ranger and Kansas will headline performances at the Midland. Check their website for upcoming shows.

Canal Market District

The Canal Market District is the place to find local produce and goods during their twice-weekly market. The area is also home to craft fairs and other special events throughout the warmer months – such as a food truck festival. Check their website for 2024 dates.

Canal Market District, Newark Ohio things to do
Amazing mural in the Canal Market District

Things to do in Licking County

Historic Granville

The small town of Granville feels a little more like New England than Ohio! Take a walk around Denison University, dine at the Buxton Inn, and then spend a romantic evening (or have a drink) at the historic Granville Inn.

Infirmary Mound Park

Traveling with your dog? Infirmary Mound Park offers a 4-acre off-leash dog park! Infirmary Mound Park is also home to 7-miles of horseback riding, hiking, and mountain biking trails. Our favorite family-friendly trail is the Fairy Trail – open from May to September. Our kids also like the updated playground. It’s a fun place to take your travel Blackstone and have a picnic while the kids play.

Visit this enchanted fairy trail in Granville, Ohio

Infirmary Mound Park Newark Ohio things to do

Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve

Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve is a short road trip from Newark, but well worth the 20-minute drive! In my opinion, Blackhand Gorge is one of the best places in Licking County! Ten miles of hiking trails, a 4-mile bike path, and a rich Native American history, plus a portion of the former Ohio-Erie Canal, make this an outdoor destination you won’t want to miss.

Learn more here: Hiking Blackhand Gorge with kids

Blackhand Gorge with kids. This hiking spot near Newark, Ohio is great for families

Buckeye Lake State Park

Buckeye Lake State Park is Ohio’s oldest state park and a great place for a picnic lunch on a warm summer’s day! Watch the boats sail by or walk the 4-mile trail. At the turn of the century, Buckeye Lake was home to a huge amusement park. Check out the Buckeye Lake Historical Society for the Museum dedicated to this piece of history.

Want to stay at Buckeye Lake? I recommend the Sky-Hi Getaway.

Our favorite parks and playgrounds

Rotary Park in Newark is one of our favorite playgrounds! A composite surface and plenty of toys for all ages and abilities make this a fun outing for toddlers to tweens.

Wildwood Park in Granville is a recently updated structure with a castle-like playground and an area for toddlers.

Wildwood Park in Granville is fun for big kids and toddlers.  Things to do in Newark, Ohio.

Places to stay in Newark

Visiting Newark for a romantic getaway? Definitely check out the recently renovated Granville Inn or the Cherry Valley Lodge.

Want a convenient location downtown? I recommend the Doubletree Hotel by Hilton in downtown Newark.

Looking for a family-friendly vacation rental for a multi-generational trip? The Sky Hi Getaway at Buckeye Lake offers the perfect view- and plenty of room to spread out.

Have a bit longer to spend in Newark?

Check out my list of free things to do in Columbus, Ohio; things to do in Coshocton, Ohio, or things to do in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. You may also enjoy hiking at Hocking Hills. LEGOLAND Columbus is only 35 minutes away at Easton Town Center.

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Things to do in Newark Ohio
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