The Hocking Hills region in the Appalachian foothills in southeastern Ohio is one of my favorite places to go when my husband and I are looking for a quick overnight or weekend getaway.
Located about two hours from our home in Mansfield and less than an hour east of Columbus, this location is the perfect getaway for those looking for a variety of activities from outdoor adventure to scenic hiking trails to quaint small towns with local shops, mom and pop restaurants, and unique lodging options.
The best thing about Hocking Hills? It’s an all-season destination, so you’ll find it equally alluring in the summer as you will in the winter. Dare I say that I may prefer to visit Hocking Hills in the winter when it’s transformed into a beautiful winter wonderland minus the crowds? Plus, I’m not a hot weather type of gal, so I prefer to get on the trails when the temperatures take a dip.
It doesn’t matter what time of the year you decide to visit; we have you covered when it comes to things to do in the scenic Hocking Hills area.
The Very Best Things to do in Hocking Hills
1. Take a hike on one of the trails in one of the state parks or in one of the many state nature preserves in the area. Some of the popular hiking trails include Conkle’s Hollow, Rock House, Cedar Falls, Cantwell Cliffs, Ash Cave, and Old Man’s Cave.
Make sure you read my post about my favorite Hocking Hills hiking trails before you go.
2. Go ziplining at Hocking Hills Canopy Tours. Whether you want extra adrenaline or a family-friendly zipline, you’ll find it here. Choose from four different canopy tours, plus offroad segway tours and full moon moonshine tours!
3. Go rock climbing with High Rock Adventures. They offer rock climbing, rappelling tours, rock challenge courses, and ecotours. Additional workshops like photography workshops are occasionally offered.
4. Unplug and go forest bathing and connect with nature. Forest bathing is a Japanese concept that’s gaining popularity in the States. It simply means basking in nature, so you can reap the benefits on a hike, or just going to the forest to meditate. You can even try forest bathing from a hammock!
5. Canoe or kayak along the Hocking River. There are dozens of outfitters around Logan that will outfit you for a day on the water. You can even rent a tube and let the current do all the work!
6. Take a train ride on the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway. Choose from dozens of themed train trips like the Elegant Dinner Train, BBQ and Brew Express, Easter Bunny Train, a train robbery simulation, and many more! I can’t say this is the most scenic train ride I’ve ever gone on, but I loved learning more about the area’s history.
7. Slurp a wine slushie at Hocking Hills Winery. Enjoy patio seating, live music, fire pits, and flights of wine or wine slushies. They also serve charcuterie boards and finger foods so you’re not wine-tasting on an empty stomach.
8. Relax in a salt cave or the Zen Den at Hocking Hills Serenity Salt Cave. Himalayan Salt is thought to have many healing properties, and salt caves are believed to have calming and anti-inflammatory properties. A 45-minute session will have you feeling refreshed and renewed.
9. Take a plane ride over the Hocking Hills area with Hocking Hills Scenic Air Tours. For less than $100, you can enjoy a scenic 20 minutes soaring above the Hocking Hills. A scenic air tour also makes a unique gift for someone special in your life!
10. Ride your bike along the HockHocking Adena Bikeway. This rail trail extends for 21 miles from Nelsonville to Athens, with lots of fun stops along the way. You’ll ride through lush forests and small towns on this scenic bikeway.
11. Relax around a fire pit when you rent a cabin at the Hocking Hills State Park. Enjoy the dark skies of Ohio and be the first ones to hit the hiking trails in the morning before the day trip crowds arrive.
12. Rent a kayak, SUP, or pontoon boat at Lake Hope State Park. The 120-acre lake is the perfect place to spend a sunny summer day. The on-site boathouse has rentals available daily.
13. Go horseback riding. Several local outfitters offer guided horseback trail rides throughout the year, with different trips for all ability levels. There are many equestrian trails in the Hocking Hills area.
14. Watch artisans create beautiful works of art at Jack Pine Glass Blowing Studio. They also offer classes and workshops so you can make your own glass-blown paperweights and pumpkins. If you’re visiting in October, check out the Jack Pine Glass Pumpkin Festival. The glass pumpkins are stunning.
15. Shop for antiques or collectibles in one of the flea markets or Logan Antique Mall. Over 120 dealers have set up shop here, offering everything from furniture to Depression glass and more. This is one of my favorite antique malls in the state and I almost never walk away empty-handed.
16. Tour the Columbus Washboard Factory, the only place where washboards are made in the U.S. and one of my favorite roadside attractions in Ohio. The site includes guided factory tours, a gift shop, and a museum. This is a great place to bring your teenagers who complain about doing laundry! Let them see how it used to be done.
17. View the world’s largest collection of pencil sharpeners in the Pencil Sharpener Museum. This tiny shed in Logan holds more than 3,400 pencil sharpeners. What started as a quirky personal collection is now open to the public. The perfect spot to stretch your legs for a few minutes while driving through Hocking Hills.
18. Seek out the covered bridges in Vinton County. There are four remaining covered bridges, one of which is still open to vehicle traffic. Driving between these Hocking Hills Covered Bridges is a great rainy day activity!
19. Spend the night in a castle. Ravenwood Castle is one of many castles in Ohio where you can spend the night. The medieval castle has several accommodation options, ranging from Rapunzel’s Tower to small cabins on the property.
20. Find an Indian Mound in Zaleski. The prehistoric Adena people left burial mounds all over southeast Ohio. The Zaleski Mound Group includes three mounds located in Zaleski State Forest.
21. Walk, run or ride a bike through a haunted tunnel. The Moonville Tunnel is part of the Moonville Rail Trail, which runs for ten miles through Zaleski State Forest.
22. Take a self-guided history tour around Lake Hope. This Ohio State Park is more than just pretty scenery. It was once home to Hope Furnace, which processed iron ore. You can still see the chimney and find pieces of slag lying around the area.
23, Take a walking tour in Nelsonville. This quaint Appalachian town is known as a hub for arts and crafts. The Historic Square Art District is a good place to start your exploration. Pick up a brochure at the Hocking Hills Visitor Center or at Rocky Boots Factory Store.
24. Visit Rocky Boots Factory Store. Rocky Boots make outdoor, work, and military footwear, and their headquarters and factory store are located in Nelsonville. Don’t forget to grab a buffalo burger inside.
25. Get your sweat on in a sauna pod. Hocking Hills Sauna Pods has personal cedar saunas that offer a birds-eye view of Hocking Hills. Rent your own pod for one hour, two hours, or a full day. My husband enjoyed this so much we should probably invest in one at home.
26. Rent a dragon pedal boat on Lake Logan. Lake Logan Marina has all kinds of watercraft rentals, including pontoons, kayaks, and standup paddleboards. They also have unique pedal boats; choose from a duck, swan, or dragon pedal boat.
27. Take a self-guided architectural tour through Logan. Grap a map or print off a PDF of this historic walking tour that includes several mid-1800s to mid-1900s buildings you can visit.
28. Sample a coffee flight at Oasis Coffee Shop. This cute log-cabin coffeehouse offers coffees, pastries, and snacks. It also happens to have an 18-hole minigolf course on the property. Plan to visit Oasis Coffee Shop 2.0 at Lake Logan in a restored Airstream trailer too.
29. Go ax throwing at the Hungry Buffalo. This craft beer and burger spot in Logan offers ax-throwing seven days a week. Purchase time increments of 30 minutes. Enjoy craft draft beer and American food while you play.
30. Enjoy a show in the restored Nelsonville Opera House. Now Stuart’s Opera House, this historic building sits on Nelsonville’s Historic Public Square. They have a full calendar of events like concerts, music festivals, and literary events.
31. Soak in a hot tub at one of Ohio’s Luxury Lodges cabins. They manage dozens of Hocking Hills cabins, including several that come with a private hot tub. It’s the best way to unwind after a day of hiking in Hocking Hills.
32. Ride an ATV in Wayne National Forest. It’s the largest OHV trail system in Ohio. There are 145 miles of trails and several rental shops in the area.
33. Watch the night sky at the John Glenn Observatory. The John Glenn Astronomy Park opened in 2018 and offers weekly programs on Friday and Saturday nights.
34. Get your fix of cute farm animals at one of the petting zoos; Muddy Boots Farm, Foxs High Rock Farm, or Ruby’s Petting Zoo.
35. Visit one of the festivals. The Hocking Hills region always has something going on, no matter what season you visit. From farm festivals, classic car shows, carnivals, and live music, there are plenty of events in Hocking Hills!
36. See the detailed diorama, Journey to Bethlehem in downtown Logan. You’ll find this extensive display at 24 W. Main St. Hundreds of small figurines depict what life might have been like 2000 years ago in Bethlehem.
37. Play disc golf at Hocking College. This 18-hole course begins and ends on the college campus, with hilly and challenging terrain in between. Course maps are available at the first tee and also at the Student Center.
38. Enjoy a decadent multi-course meal at Glenlaurel Inn. Ohio’s only luxury Scottish Estate proudly serves a nightly six to seven-course dinner, accompanied by candlelight, bagpipes, poetry and a special visit from the chef. Reservations and dinner dress are required!
39. Take a drive along the Hocking Hills Scenic Byway. At just over 26 miles, this winding road takes you by all of the highlights of the Hocking Hills region. The Scenic Byway follows Route 374 from Rockbridge to the Southern end of the park near Ash Cave. Along the way, save time for several short hikes to waterfalls.
40. Grab your camera and hit the trails to capture some spectacular landscape photography and nature shots. The numerous waterfalls of the region are a great spot to practice your long exposure shots and the fall season brings amazing color to the surrounding forests.
41. Go fishing at one of several lakes and reservoirs in the area. Lake Logan, Lake Hope, and Rose Lake are all great spots to cast a line. Don’t forget to get your fishing license ahead of time!
42. Create your own piece of art at Young at Art’s Splatter Studio. Unleash your inner Jackson Pollock with your own splatter painting. Private sessions are available for groups from 2 to 12 people; art lessons and traditional painting parties are also available.
43. For the freshest Hocking Hills fruit, head to Laurelville Fruit Farm. Best known for their apple cider, they also grow cherries, peaches, and plums. You can also buy honey, vinegar, jams, and jellies for the perfect Hocking Hills souvenir.
44. If you’re in the market for a wind chime, the Wind Chime Shop in Logan has quite possibly the largest selection of wind chimes in the Midwest. With over 2,000 different windchimes in stock, you won’t find a larger selection anywhere else.
45. Exploring Hocking Hills is even more fun when you’re on a mission. Grab our scavenger hunt and see what you can find. This scavenger hunt includes waterfalls, caves, covered bridges, and so much more!
46. Looking for winter activities in Hocking Hills? On January weekends, join the Hocking Hills Comfort Food Cruise. Over a dozen restaurants participate in this ticketed event. While you enjoy comfort food at several stops, part of the proceeds go to help local food pantries.
47. There are lots of opportunities for glamping in the Hocking Hills region. From yurts to treehouses, shipping containers and luxury tents, you can enjoy several different glamping adventures in the Hocking Hills.
48. If glamping is a bit too rustic, you can also Sleep in a tiny house in the Hocking Hills. The Trillium is a darling tiny home that is perfect for a Hocking Hills romantic getaway.
49. Geocaching is another fun way to explore Hocking Hills. Similar to a scavenger hunt, geocaching uses your GPS to find hidden treasures around the world. The Hocking Hills GeoTrail has 10 caches at various points throughout Hocking Hills.
50. You can’t get this close to Appalachia without trying a little moonshine. Hocking Hills Moonshine
was started by two brothers in 2015, and they offer several flavors of moonshine as well as bourbon. Distillery tours are available by request.
Have you spent time in Hocking Hills? What are some activities that you’ve enjoyed?
This post was originally published in January 2018 and updated for 2023.