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Ohio has some amazing state parks and those state parks offer free admission which is a huge value to families eager to explore the outdoors.
My family is no stranger to the state park system. Living minutes from both Malabar Farm and Mohican State Parks, my kids have learned to think of both as an extension of our backyard. Granted we need to jump in our car and drive there, but both parks are close enough that we’re able to visit frequently.
One of the benefits of spending time outdoors exploring as a family, is that when your kids grow up, they’ll want to do the same. My kids regularly join friends for a hike, mountain bike ride, or to dip their toes in the river that runs through Mohican State Park.
As much as my family has enjoyed exploring the parks, we’ve not spent much time in the lodges. There are five Ohio State Park Lodges that are run by Xanterra, a concessioner who strive to provide ecologically sound resorts that complement their natural surroundings. Mohican, Salt Fork, Maumee Bay, Punderson and Deer Creek State Parks are all under the Xanterra umbrella.
As a budget focused mom, I always assumed it was more practical for my family to tent camp or rent a camper cabin than reserve a room in a lodge. But then, middle age crept in and shook things up a bit. I’m no longer eager to sleep on an air mattress or forgo the comfort of indoor plumbing to stumble my way to a bath house in the middle of the night to empty my full bladder. Yes, a comfortable mattress and indoor plumbing are some of the luxuries I have become accustomed to, and I found those at Ohio’s State Park Lodges without sacrificing an amazing outdoor experience.
Ohio State Park Lodges- Salt Fork
Salt Fork State Park is tucked away amid the rolling hills of southeastern Ohio. On the way to the lodge, it’s common to see deer along the drive to the lodge, or wild turkeys darting across the road. It is also the largest of the state parks and offers a host of outdoor (and indoor) activities for families.
Outdoors, guests can go fishing, or request a pontoon boat tour for your family, visit a nature center, enjoy the hiking trails, an opportunity to geocache, relax on the beach, play a round of golf and roast S’mores in the evening around the fire pit. Indoors you’ll find activities for the kids, a game room with a photo booth, pool, hot tub, fitness center and lounge.
While many of the activities can be found at other state parks, Salt Fork offers one outing that you aren’t likely to find elsewhere- a Big Foot hunt! An early evening hike, geared for the family, so as not to scare the more sensitive ones in the group and a later evening hike for those braver souls.
Ohio State Park Lodges- Mohican
Mohican LodgeState Park located in north central Ohio is located a short drive from Mansfield, Ashland and Ohio’s popular Amish Country. You’ll find opportunities near the lodge to canoe, hike, ride horses, zip line and depending on the time of year, watch an Indian Pow Wow.
The large open lobby beckons to guests to stop and play, with game tables situated throughout and a large, window lined seating area with a circular fireplace which offers a view of Pleasant Hill Lake. Each week, representatives from the Ohio Bird Sanctuary, a local organization that specializes in the rehabilitation of Ohio’s native birds of prey, offer educational bird talks and allow the guests to take selfies with the stars of the show.
Paved paths along the back of the property lead to more amazing lake views, a playground for children, tennis courts, and an outdoor pool. Inside is a large pool, a small game room and that amazing lobby.
Ohio State Park Lodges- Maumee Bay Lodge
Maumee Bay State Park, located in northwestern Ohio on the edge of Toledo, borders one of Ohio’s greatest tourist attractions, Lake Erie. It may be the smallest of the great lakes, but it offers a big view which can be seen from 80% of the lodge rooms at Maumee Bay.
Known as a resort that welcomes tradition, Maumee Bay State Park Lodge plays host to multigenerational families who return year after year. Indoors you’ll find an adorable play area for little ones, a pool with splash area, racquet ball rooms and a game room. You’ll find plenty of public spaces to lounge with your family, by the fireplace in the cooler months or in the comfortable air conditioning during the summer. Outside, some of the highlights include a private beach (not fed by the lake), volleyball, bicycles, a walkway that runs along the lake, nature trails, bird watching and a golf course.
You can stay at the local chain hotel that you always stay at you’ll likely a great vacation. Or you can reserve a week or weekend at an Ohio State Park Lodge, disconnect from a hectic life at home, escape from the busyness and distractions of life, and focus on what is truly important…family.
Until May 2015, the more you stay at an Ohio State Park Lodge, the less you pay with the 10/20/30 Promotion. When you book through this special deal, you get 10% off one night stay, 20% off two nights and 30% off three or more nights.
Have you stayed at any of the Ohio State Park Lodges?
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Thank you to Xanterra and Salt Fork, Maumee Bay and Mohican State Parks for hosting my daughter and I so I could share my experience with my readers.