Five ways to explore
Ohio’s Appalachian Country

Marietta Riverfront: Laura Watilo Blake

Travel along waterways through vast woods and hilly terrain to experience Ohio’s Appalachian country. The region stretches from the shores of Lake Erie to the banks of the Ohio River and is home to an eclectic mix of culture, arts, natural wonders and cuisine.

Explore these 32 counties to find some of Ohio's earliest settlements, Ohio's first capital, the largest Amish population in the world, ancient earthwork formations, gorgeous state parks and more. The region was created when vast glaciers, all but flattening the rest of the state, carved the land into a rugged mix of rocky hollows, rolling foothills and breathtaking vistas that today enchants sports lovers, foodies, history buffs and explorers alike.

Follow these five distinct road trips to see just some of what you’ll find in Ohio’s Appalachian Country.

1. Ohio Wine Country

STOP: With more than 30 wineries, Ashtabula County earns its nickname of Ohio Wine Country. The breezes off Lake Erie and the rich soil left behind by the glaciers that carved out the Great Lakes make this area prime for grape growing. Many of the vineyards are family-owned and family-run, like the third-generation Kosicek Vineyards. Pull up a chair and enjoy tastings in unique settings like South River Vineyard’s former church, Old Firehouse Winery’s working Ferris wheel and Laurentia Winery’s log-cabin style tasting room. Taste a wide variety of vintages at Debonné Vineyards, Ferrante Winery and Grand River Cellars Winery.

STAY: Sip on wine overlooking Lake Erie and enjoy locally sourced cuisine at the cozy Lakehouse Inn Winery or relax in the solitude of the woods from the comfort of your own romantic, luxury cottage at Vineyard Woods.

EAT: Indulge in hearty comfort food inspired by the historic butcher shop that once took up residence at Rennick Meat Market. Sample farm-to-table takes on old favorites like shepherd’s pie and rib ragu at Crosswinds Grille at The Lakehouse Inn or nosh on a homemade pizza pie in a dining room fashioned from a historic covered bridge at Covered Bridge Pizza.

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Yoder’s Amish Home: Laura Watilo Blake

2. Amish Country

STOP: Life takes a slower pace in Ohio’s Amish Country, where the rustic red barns and farms of the world’s largest Amish population are nestled in the breathtaking hills and valleys. Get the full experience by touring the farm at Yoder’s Amish Home, learn about cheesemaking (and taste the finished product) at Guggisberg Cheese, sip dandelion wine at Breitenbach Wine Cellars and take a fun selfie at the world’s largest cuckoo clock in Sugarcreek.

STAY: Relax in the peace and quiet of the countryside from a unique “hillside honeycomb” or a cozy cabin at the Inn at Honey Run. Take a stroll though its Open Air Art Museum, which combines nature and art.

EAT: Pull up a chair at the counter for Amish-style diner fare at Boyd & Wurthmann Restaurant, share authentic Swiss and Austrian meals at Chalet in the Valley or take in an Amish-themed show or musical during your meal at the Ohio Star Theater.

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3. Ohio’s First & Finest

STOP: Marietta’s river-town history and charm will take you back to the simpler time depicted in David McCullough’s latest bestseller, The Pioneers. Learn the backstory at the town’s many museums, including the Ohio River Museum and Campus Martius, where artifacts and an original structure from that era can be seen.

STAY: The century-old Lafayette Hotel is a Marietta landmark situated right on the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers. Pick up one of the phones in the lobby to hear local history and be sure to ask for a room with a balcony overlooking the river.

EAT: Grab a gourmet burger or some bucatini bolognese at The Galley, before listening to a concert at the connected Adelphia Music Hall. Take a walk to admire the historic mansion and have dinner inside one at Buckley House, a Victorian-style home with porches upstairs and down.

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4. Hike the Hills

STOP: Take a hike in one of Ohio’s most picturesque (and popular) natural spaces: Hocking Hills State Park. Must-see highlights include Rock Bridge Nature Preserve and the caves, outcroppings and waterfalls at Ash Cave, Old Man’s Cave and Rock House. Thrill-seekers will love the mountain biking trails at Lake Hope State Park or zip lining at Hocking Hills Canopy Tours, while nature-lovers can let their hearts take wing in the butterfly-filled gardens at Butterfly Ridge.

STAY: Get away from it all in rustic luxury at Cherry Ridge Retreat, a 140-plus acre private resort in New Plymouth, or choose a cottage for the family or romantic cabin for two at the Chalets in Hocking Hills.

EAT: Savor some new tastes with flights of wine at Hocking Hills Winery or indulge in family-style comfort cuisine (and a slice of pie) at the Olde Dutch Restaurant. In January, enjoy the region’s heartiest eats on the six-day Hocking Hills Comfort Food Cruise.

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5. History Makers

STOP: Time travel through centuries of history — from the prehistoric era all the way up to the Civil War and beyond — along the counties bordering the Ohio River. Don’t miss the 33 sites along the self-guided Clermont County Ohio Freedom Trail. Make your own trail to see historic aircraft at Batavia’s Tri-State Warbird Museum, Ulysses S. Grant’s Birthplace in Point Pleasant, the hilltop home of abolitionist John Rankin in Ripley that was a major stop on the Underground Railroad, the 2,000 years of local history depicted in the Portsmouth Floodwall Murals and Ohio’s historic crown jewel, the ancient Serpent Mound in Peebles.

STAY: Nestle down in the rolling foothills, away from the hustle and bustle of traffic and the noise of technology at Murphin Ridge Inn in West Union. Sit on a rocking chair on the front porch of the bed & breakfast and take in views of the surrounding woods and farmland.

EAT: Taste test handcrafted beers — including small batches made in-house — at the Little Miami Brewing Company in Milford or grab a pretzel-bun sandwich and some sweet-and-savory treats at Country Crust Bakery in Bainbridge.

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