With Labor Day approaching, many Ohioans plan little trips to relax and explore the cities, lakes, and parks across the state. Here are three ideas for three-day weekend trips that my family and I have enjoyed, from searching out public art to hiking through forests to climbing lighthouses on the lake.
Go Art-Hunting in the “City of Sculpture”
Hamilton, Ohio, the seat of Butler County, is known as the City of Sculpture for their commitment to public art. You can spend the whole weekend tracking down the sculptures and murals around the city, from the dramatic Alexander Hamilton statue to the mural depicting famous children’s books. There are several galleries to explore as well, from the Fitton Center for Creative Arts to Inside Out Studio, an organization that provides studio space to those with developmental disabilities. Their artwork is on sale in the gallery.
Just outside Hamilton is Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park, 300 acres of rolling hills dotted with more than 65 sculptures. You can rent a golf cart and drive through the park to see the sculptures up close (you can touch them, too!). In the center of the park is a museum with ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Etruscan sculptures.
And while you’re in the area you can knock off a couple stops on the Butler County Donut Trail. Three of the stops, Mimi’s, Kelly’s, and Ross Bakery, are located in Hamilton. I’m especially partial to the glazed yeast donuts at Ross Bakery!
Heading for the Hills
You could spend weeks exploring the Hocking Hills region of Ohio. There are many different types of cabins and campgrounds, plenty of trails for hiking, lakes for canoeing, and restaurants and breweries for relaxing. Some of the bigger trails like Old Man’s Cave and Cedar Falls are always popular, although we’ve loved Conkle’s Hollow, Cantwell Cliffs, and Rock House. Two new trails just opened this year: Hemlock Bridge and Whispering Cave. Wherever you hike, make sure you stop for soft serve ice cream at the Old Man’s Cave General Store.
Of course, for us, any time we get close to Athens we just have to visit for beer and a meal or two. Jackie O’s produces consistently great beer, and they have both a taproom and a pub to sample their brews. There’s also Devil’s Kettle Brewing and Little Fish, which focuses on sours and farmhouse ales. Fans of ciders can also stop by the West End Cider House, and for meals you can choose from O’Betty’s for hot dogs, sandwiches at Bagel Street Deli, locally sourced specialties at Casa Nueva, and old school fried chicken at Miller’s.
From end to end the shores of Lake Erie are lined with lighthouses, many of them built decades ago to guide boats large and small in out of Ohio’s ports. Today they serve as beautiful attractions, notable historic markers on the landscape. The Lake Erie Shores & Islands are popular destinations during the warmer months, offering island exploration, boating, fishing, family fun – just about everything. We’ve spent a long weekend around Catawba Island and Put-in-Bay with a focus on finding the lighthouses nearby. Our record is four for one weekend. We started by climbing Marblehead Lighthouse – one of the most iconic lights on the Great Lakes. It opens for the season over Memorial Day weekend. Tours are available every day from noon to 4 p.m. for only $3 per person.
In Port Clinton you can see the small but beautiful Port Clinton Lighthouse, which was relocated back to the lakefront last summer. The newly landscaped light is open for tours Friday-Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. And when you’re done you need to get some fried perch at Jolly Roger!
On Put-in-Bay you can see two lighthouses: Perry’s Monument, which is technically a lighthouse because it has a light on top (and it’s technically the second tallest in the world!), and South Bass Island Light, a historic house at the southern end of the island close to the ferry landing.
For more Ohio adventures, click here and find a three-day getaway of your own!