By Amanda Hamman
Posted On: May 27, 2020
Located 45 miles south of Columbus, you may know that Chillicothe is on the way to the beach. When passing through, you may have even noticed the Ohio landscape beginning to change, from primarily flat farmland to the rolling Appalachian foothills. If you have learned about Ohio history, you may recall that Chillicothe was the first and third capital of Ohio. The locals all know these things, of course. But, if you dig a little deeper, if you take that exit off of the highway, what you will find has been compared to becoming the Charleston, South Carolina of the Midwest.
In historic downtown Chillicothe, you'll find a remarkable revitalization that includes historic charm, gorgeous architecture, quaint shops and boutiques, notable restaurants and welcoming coffee shops. Since Chillicothe is my hometown, I’ll gladly share my favorite spots with you.
Take in Ohio’s History at Adena Mansion
If you enjoy history, Adena Mansion is a must! It’s the 2,000-acre estate of Thomas Worthington (1773-1827), sixth governor of Ohio and one of the state’s first United States Senators. The estate includes the mansion house, five outbuildings, and formal gardens. The mansion house, completed in 1806-1807, has been restored to look much as it did when the Worthington family lived there, including many original Worthington family furnishings.
Also, looking east from the north lawn of the mansion, you can see across the Scioto River Valley to the Logan Range. This view was the inspiration for the Great Seal of the State of Ohio. A Museum and Visitor Center features exhibits that use the stories of people connected to Adena to give visitors a picture of life in Ohio in the early 1800s as well as classrooms, meeting and rental space. You can watch a virtual tour of the Mansion and Gardens here.
Grab a coffee from Paper City Coffee or Rōst
Paper City Coffee is nestled in a historic building located at 45 South Paint Street, and serves up coffee, specialty drinks, breakfast and lunch. The proceeds are donated to the Paper City Mentoring Project, a non-profit mentoring program for high school students.
For a more modern atmosphere, pop on over to Rōst Coffee, located in a new building on East Second Street. In partnership with The Fort Collective, the building boasts a coffee roastery, cafe and co-working space, private offices and two retail stores.
Nosh on a delicious dinner and drinks
We can’t talk about Chillicothe without mentioning some of the best restaurants around – you can’t go wrong with R Kitchen on Paint, The Pourhouse at Machinery Hall, Fire & Stone Pizza, or the Old Canal Smoke House! All have unique atmospheres and tasty food!
Stay at a gorgeous Historic Bed & Breakfast
My top picks? The Atwood House Bed & Breakfast and the Blue Brick Inn. The Atwood House, located 68 South Paint Street, is a Greek Revival house, built in 1843. Fun fact: The front bricks of the home were brought by canal from the original owner’s property in Baltimore. It’s a unique and charming spot for weddings, receptions and parties!
Another historic lodging option, nestled in at 152 West Second Street, is the Blue Brick Inn. Owner Deidra Nickerson has a reputation for her pleasant hospitality as well as her impressive courtyard. Built in 1853, the Blue Brick Inn boasts beautiful architecture and a private courtyard garden. The Blue Brick Inn is conveniently located within walking distance to downtown restaurants, local shops, coffee houses and more.
Have lunch at a historic diner
Enjoy a hamburger, soup, or daily special at Carl’s Townhouse, an iconic downtown establishment. Oozing with 1940’s character, the diner has a rich history – it was showcased in New York World’s Fair in 1939 and purchased and brought to Chillicothe. The first restaurant in the building was called NCL (Nice, Clean Lunch). Carl Reinhard bought the restaurant in 1951 and ran it as Carl’s Townhouse until 1981 when he retired.
After several changes in owners, the restaurant was slated for demolition until it was bought for $1 and moved from Paint Street to its present location on West Second Street. Mark and Tracy Trainer bought it in 2015 and continue to run it in the tradition begun by NCL so many years ago. The building has been expanded, but it still has that 1940’s diner feel.
Explore at Mighty Children’s Museum
Housed in an old theatre, this Children’s Museum has been a hit with the kiddos! With exhibits like The Scarf Tree, The Pretend Hospital, The Mighty Water Table, The Mighty Giant Lite Brite and Farm to Market, just to name a few. You can also bring the fun home with MCM at Home: Learning Kits.
Savor an ice cream sweet treat
No trip to downtown Chillicothe is complete without a stop in Highland’s Ice Creamery! Serving up Ohio’s own Johnson’s Real Ice Cream, this bright and cheerful ice cream shop’s menu boasts a variety of offerings including milkshakes, floats, sundaes, ice cream cones and toppings!
Owners Pat and Jane Highland are thrilled to be a part of something big that’s happening in downtown Chillicothe right now. Jane shared, "Back in the 50's and 60's, when we were growing up, downtown Chillicothe was a happening place. Then it began its decline as retail, restaurants, and shopping centers opened up north of town. Now, with fresh ideas from local entrepreneurs and a strong community commitment, Downtown Chillicothe is once again thriving with restaurants, speciality shops, boutiques, coffee shops and much more. Old storefronts are being remodeled every month. It is an exciting time to be a shopkeeper in our historic downtown."
Get Artsy at Nellie Dog Pottery
Nellie Dog Pottery is a Paint Your Own Pottery Studio. Walk-in and choose from over 200 pottery projects, as well as canvas art! Classes fill up quickly, so be sure to book now. In the meantime, you can pick up some "Pottery To Go," or bring the painting party to you with "Parties To Go."
Shop for fun clothes and accessories at Rustic Gals Boutique, unique handpicked, artisan-made goods at Totem Supply Co., or new and used books at the cozy Wheatberry Books (where you can join the Wheatberry Book Club or register your own!). There are also a few unique antique stores to peruse as well.
Ivy’s Home and Garden has been a staple to downtown Chillicothe since 1998. Located on the corner of Paint and Water Streets, Ivy’s is always stocked with unique gift products, including exclusive name brands. Ivy’s is known for their elaborate and gorgeous window displays and their carriage rides for special events.
See the Famous Outdoor Drama, TECUMSEH!
Many Ohioans remember traveling just outside of Chillicothe to Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheatre to sit beneath the stars and experience TECUMSEH!. The epic life story of the legendary Shawnee leader as he struggles to defend his sacred homelands in the Ohio country during the late 1700's. The memorable event include herds of galloping horses, live military cannon in action, and the most dazzling battle sequences! You can a look at the show here, and shop online from their downtown store.
There you have it! That’s my day trip to Chillicothe. What are your favorite spots, or what should I visit next time I’m back in my hometown?