Charming cottages. Homemade melt-in-your-mouth donuts. Freshly picked apples. Organic brews. These are just some of the things you’ll find in the sustainable community of Hocking Hills, Ohio. With its rich artisanal and outdoor culture, as well as its proximity to the Port Columbus International Airport, it’s the perfect getaway for the ethical and epicurious traveler.
Stay: Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls
Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls is a restored accommodation that was hand-constructed using locally-sourced wood. Visitors have a choice between rustic cottages, 19th century log cabins or rooms build into an antique barn. Surrounded on three sides by the state’s largest park, Hocking Hills State Park, there are many opportunities to experience the natural offerings of the area. Additionally, the restaurant and bar offers locally-sourced ingredients and organic brews, while the property hosts activities like cooking classes, wine tastings and beer pairings.
Prices range from $129 to $334 based on double occupancy, depending on season and room choice.
Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls
Along with sustainable accommodations, the inn also offers locally-sourced cuisine in their restaurant. The chef, Anthony Schulz, began his culinary career at the age of 16 working at the local McDonald’s in his hometown of Mankato, Minnesota. From there, he went on to attend culinary school, perfecting his skills in New York. The venue offers an upscale dining experience in a rustic 1840s log cabin setting. Diners can watch locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients being prepared in an open-kitchen, as well as take part in wine and organic beer pairings. Some of their signature dishes include an 8 oz Bone-In Pork Chop made with herbs and pomegranate reduction and paired with a Meritage from Hahn Estates on the Central Coast, Butternut Squash Ravioli simmered in a peppered Parmesan cream sauce and paired with a local Viognier-Rouseanne from Ripley, Ohio, and a Pan Roasted Chicken Breast made with locally-sourced apples and onions served with a Chilean Pinot Noir.
Glenlaurel is a traditional Scottish inn and golf course that also features a sustainable restaurant. Along with getting to watch a bagpipe player and hearing a typical Scottish poem recited before dinner, guests can enjoy meals made from fresh, organic local ingredients. The atmosphere is old-world Scotland, with a multi-course dinner and castle-like decor, and diners are asked to dress in business casual style for dinner to preserve the ambiance.
The Ridge Inn Restaurant
The Ridge Inn Restaurant ‘s philosophy can be perfectly summed up by their tagline: “Where fine dining meets home cooking.” A family-owned eatery owned by David and Jo, the business originally started as a simple cafe where locals could get a fresh cup of coffee or hot bowl of soup. Over time, the idea expanded to include fresh, homemade cuisine including wraps, steaks, quesadillas, burgers, pastas, chicken dishes, salads, sandwiches and more. On Thursday afternoon Jo begins baking the restaurant’s signature melt-in-your-mouth donuts, coated in a traditional sweet and sticky glaze. The space also doubles as an intimate and cozy art gallery.
Brass Ring Restaurant
Located at the Brass Ring Golf Club, the Brass Ring Restaurant is a fine dining eatery set in a relaxed atmosphere. The open space includes an old-world cathedral ceiling while views of the golf course add to the ambiance. Chef Moe specializes in comfort food-cooking with a Cleveland twist, with dishes like deep-fried Asiago-crusted chicken served on mashed potatoes or penne pasta Alfredo and a ribeye steak sandwich topped with blue cheese and beer-battered onion rings. What Chef Moe is best known for, however, is her rich, innovative and freshly-baked desserts. Some of these decadent offerings include Chocolate Volcano Cake, Pumpkin Creme Brulee, Apple Strudel with Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Ice, Peanut Butter Buckeye Pie and a Hot Fudge Pecan Roll.
Check Out Local Artwork at Scenic Way
Scenic Way gift shop and art glass studio is more than just hand-blown glass. Owner Audrey Martin also allows local artists to sell their pieces – which range from artisanal jewelry to paintings to metal and clay work – in her store. Browsing the shop, it’s clear the community of Hocking Hills is tight-knit, and that people work together to promote local culture.
Take A Scenic Hike To Old Man’s Cave or Ash Cave
The main focus of any trip to Hocking Hills should be Hocking Hills State Park. Ohio’s largest state park, they have trails for all interests and levels, including wheelchair-accessible paths. You can hike to caves, waterfalls or even accompany naturalist guide and certified ghost hunter Pat Quackenbush on a haunted ghost hunt to Ash Cave, complete with spirit boxes, digital infrared thermometers and electro-magnetic field detectors. When hiking in the park, make sure to take a guide to learn as much as possible about the area, its eco-systems and history.
Listen To The Storytelling Of A Shawnee Indian
While a trip to Hocking Hills State Park will bring you to Ohio’s most popular trekking area, a hike with Hocking Hills Adventure Trek will allow you to explore the lesser-know trails of the state, as well as get to know the indigenous culture. After exploring some of the 100 miles of undiscovered trails and learning about Hemlock, White Oak, Sassafras and mushrooms, you’ll meet Wehyehpihehrsehnhwah, a Shawnee Indian who will tell you stories from his grandfather. The Shawnee were living in Ohio since the 1600s, until they were forced to walk to Kansas in 1838. About 300 hid out, and those who live in Ohio today are descendants of these Indians as well as those who returned to their native land. You’ll sit around the storyteller in the Salt Petre Caves as he talks about the web of life and how people can get away from concrete and technology and make their way back to nature. The excursion is not just a cultural tour, but a life-changing experience.
Sample Frozen Cider at Bowers & Daughters Apple House – The Laurelville Fruit Farm
A visit to Bowers & Daughters will have you feeling like you’re in old time Ohio, although that’s the ambiance of Hocking Hills in general. Along with the myriad apples littering the shop, you’ll see old hornet’s nests from the farm, as well as an antique cash register and homemade jams and ciders. The best part is a slushy machine making frozen apple cider. Depending on the season, they also grow juicy peaches and pears.
Make A Candle At The Wind Chime Shop
While you can get everything from quality wind chimes and Christmas decorations at the Wind Chime Shop , the main attraction for sustainably-focused travelers are the candles. Owned by Judy and Mike Hard, the shop carries 25 lines of candles, all handmade by local artisans. If you’d like to be an artisan yourself for the day, you can choose three scents to blend and create your own candle with. Scents range from the usual lavender, brown sugar and cinnamon spice to the quirkier bacon, cilantro and Santa’s Pipe. After blending the essential oils and stirring in the melted wax, you’ll get creative by making your own custom labels. As a reminder of how the business owners of Hocking Hills work together, they carry wind chimes made from local artisan Audrey Martin of Scenic Way.
Sample Beers At Rockmill Brewery
Rockmill Brewery is able to produce organic, authentic Belgian beer thanks to their proximity to the Hocking River. The mineral content in this water is actually identical to that found in Wallonia, Belgium, where Belgian ale originated. While you can sample their brews at many different eateries all over the state, their brewery and tasting room is located in Lancaster near Hocking Hills. Open from Friday through Sunday from 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM, you can learn how to properly taste beer as well as the what the production process is like. All beers are made in small batches with 100% organic yeast, hops and malt, to create brews with deep aromas and a strong backbone. These beers are meant to be paired with food, so bring a picnic lunch.
Tour The USA’s Only Washboard Factory
Being the only washboard factory in the country, you’d think they would source from all over. This is not the case, as the Columbus Washboard Company uses locally-sourced wood from Ohio, as well as packages their products in cardboard boxes from the state. In operation since 1895, the company still uses machinery from over 100 years ago. For screen printing, they employ a local business to help save time and invest in the community. Visitors can tour the factory from May through October, or have staff take them around the shop for an educational look at hand washing in the United States. You’ll also know you’re helping a good cause, as the Columbus Washboard Company has donated over 4,000 washboards to U.S. troops.