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17 Quirky and Unique Things to See in Southeastern Ohio 

Visit an English Pub, the grasslands of Africa and shop at an Amish auction all in Ohio! These are three unique things to see in southeastern Ohio.

I’m always on the lookout for unique things to see and do when I travel and my recent trip to southeastern Ohio did not disappoint. While you’ll find the restaurants, shops and museums that you’re likely to find in similar locations, there are a few distinctions that set this area apart. 

15 Quirky and Unique Things to See in Southeastern Ohio 

Take a safari-like ride through The Wilds and you won't even know you're in Ohio.

I recently had the pleasure of visiting many of the following locations in Guernsey, Muskingum and Morgan counties. I’ve personally visited each of the attractions on this list and think you’ll enjoy them too. 

1. The Largest State Park in Ohio is located in Southeastern Ohio. 

Deer frolicking on the grass on a foggy morning.

Featuring over 20,000 acres of outdoor fun, Salt Fork State Park welcomes more than 2 million visitors each year and with the troves of people flocking to the great outdoors, I wouldn’t be surprised if that number were even higher this year. 

Visitors can enjoy the largest inland beach in Ohio, take a leisurely ride on the lake, hike to the Kennedy Stone House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, or one of the many other trails, play a round of golf, fish or simply kick back at the lodge by the outdoor, inground pool. 

Lodging options include the Salt Fork State Park Lodge and Conference Center, the 212-site campground or comfortable cabins. 

Address:   14755 Cadiz Rd, Lore City, OH 43755

2. Go on a Bigfoot Hunt. 

A Map of bigfoot sightings at Salt Fork State Park.

Ranked as one of the Top 10 “Squatchiest” Places in the Country by USA TODAY, Salt Fork State Park has had over 36 Bigfoot sightings since the 1980’s. I guess those 20,000 acres provide plenty of hiding space.

This makes Salt Fork the ideal host for the annual Ohio Bigfoot Conference, Creature Weekend and Bigfoot Adventure Weekends where you learn how to track Bigfoot and collect evidence from your research.

Don’t worry, if hiking the trails and sleeping in a tent isn’t your idea of fun when it comes to spotting Bigfoot, you’ll be happy to know he hangs out in the lodge too. 

You’ll also find plenty of fun Bigfoot themed souvenirs in the gift shop. 

Fun tip: Ask at the front desk for a free map of the locations on the property where Bigfoot is said to be spotted. 

3. The Nation’s Only Outdoor Passion Play is held in Cambridge. 

The Living Word Outdoor Drama has presented the “The Greatest Story Ever Told” to audiences for over 45 years. The 400-foot set nestled in a natural amphitheater is considered the most authentic re-creation of Old Jerusalem in the United States. 

Unfortunately, the play has been put on hold for 2020 but small groups may arrange a tour of the set.  You can also view their Facebook page where each week they share a devotion, bible study and act out a scene from the play as you get excited about the 2021 season!  

4. Each Christmas season, Cambridge is Transformed into a Charming Victorian Village.

Scenes from Dicken's England line the streets of Cambridge during the holiday season.

Each November, the streets of Cambridge are lined with Dickens-era characters depicting scenes of Old World England transforming the modern-day town into a Dickens Victorian Village. The city is flooded with more than 92 scenes and 180 figures. The face of each character has been hand-sculpted and painted and some have even been modeled after local townspeople.  

Visit the Dickens Welcome Center with Imagination Station to learn how the displays were created, purchase souvenirs and dress in Victorian clothes and get your photo taken with Charles Dickens. 

Special events are held during the season which includes carriage rides, trolley tours, Victorian Teas and a holiday parade featuring Santa Claus and Father Christmas. Make sure you stop at the Guernsey County Courthouse for the synchronized light display. You won’t want to miss it!

5. Tour an Astronaut’s Boyhood Home. 

This out of this world experience transports you back in time to the 1930’s when you become a welcomed guest in John Glenn’s boyhood home. Learn what it was like during the Great Depression when his family took in boarders to pay the mortgage on their modest New Concord home. Learn more about this amazing museum and tour here —-> Step Back in Time at the John and Annie Glenn Museum

Sadly, the museum is currently closed but they will open for small groups of 5-10 people when arranged in advance. Call 740-826-0220 to schedule it. 

Address: 72 W Main St, New Concord, OH 43762

6. This Bridge in Zanesville is World Famous.  

The Y bridge is a historic bridge in Zanesville

The Y bridge is exactly how it sounds. A Y-shaped bridge that spans both the Licking and Muskingum Rivers. 

Not only has the bridge improved the flow of traffic in Zanesville, but it’s also brought notoriety to the city. TripAdvisor even lists it on their page of “things to do in Zanesville”. The Y Bridge has been featured on Ripley’s Believe it Or Not, used by Amelia Earhart to get her bearings and highlighted on a “Bridges of the World” show with an audience of 20 million people. It’s safe to say it’s something special. 

But this isn’t the first bridge to be located in this spot. The bridge you see today is actually the 5th bridge to connect what was once Zanesville, Putnam, Natchez and West Zanesville. The original bridge was built in 1812 and only lasted a few years. With each successive bridge came better construction and longer-lasting bridges. The current bridge was constructed and opened for traffic in 1984. 

Tip: The bridge is best viewed from the Putnam Park Overlook. The vantage point also offers a great view of downtown Zanesville.

Address of Putnam Park: Grandview Ave, Zanesville, OH 43701

7. See the Largest Collection of Bronze Statues by a Living Sculptor in Zanesville. 

Life wasn’t handed to Alan Cottrill on a silver platter. This phenomenal and passionate artist grew up poor in Zanesville and was the first to graduate high school in his family. He didn’t start out as an artist. He made his money in the fast-food business and while living abroad discovered his love for sculpting.

He’s a firm believer in working hard to reach your goals and studied day and night at the prestigious Art Students League and the National Academy of Design.

Alan sculpts seven days a week and has cast more than 500 pieces making his bronze statue collection the largest in existence by a living sculptor.  You can view part of his collection at the Alan Cottrill Sculpture Studio in Zanesville. And if you’re lucky, you may pop in and catch a glimpse of the master at work. 

You’ll know you’re in the right place as you’ll find sculptures lining the street leading up to his studio which is also part of the Ohio Art Corridor

Address: 110 S 6th St, Zanesville, OH 43701

8. Dine in an English Pub 4,000 Miles Away from London. 

The Old Market House Inn located in downtown Zanesville isn’t what you’d expect to find in a southeastern Ohio town. The restaurant is modeled after the Prospect of Whitby which claims to be the oldest riverside tavern in England. The property is full of old-world charm. With dark wooden exposed beams, brick-lined walls and unique glass bottle windows, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported across the world for an unforgettable menu featuring hand-made pasta, fresh seafood, aged beef and delectable desserts. 

Address: 424 Market Street, Zanesville, OH 43701

9. Shop at the Smallest Kroger in America which is located in McConnelsville. 

The size of a drug store or convenience store, this Kroger in McConnelsville makes its claim to fame as the smallest Kroger store in the United States. 

Address:   240 W Main St, McConnelsville, OH 43756

10. A Lock System that’s Designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. 

A boat going through a hand-cranked lock in southeastern Ohio.

Did you know the locks along the Muskingum River in southeastern Ohio was part of the first lock and dam system built on an inland river? 

The navigation system incorporates 10  hand-operated locks which are recognized as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. If that sounds impressive, just think of The Hoover Dam, the Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge. They also hold this distinction. 

While the lock and dam system was a major waterway for transporting goods when it was constructed, it now serves mainly recreational boats.

Stop at Lock #7 in McConnellsville and you can enjoy a picnic lunch while watching the boats pass through.

11. Don’t Get Thrown in the Dungeon! 

This is more than a fun stop in McConnellsville. It’s also of historic significance. This dungeon was used between 1833 and 1839 to hold prisoners convicted of rioting, larceny and adultery.  

The dungeon, which is 11 feet high, 5 feet wide and 12 feet long, was found in 1964 under the jail at the time when it was torn down and a new one was being constructed. The cave-like structure was moved and reconstructed and now serves as a fun photo op.  It’s adjacent to the Rock Hollow One-Room Schoolhouse. 

Address: 501 N. Main Street Malta, OH 43758

12. Watch a Live Produce Auction.  

The Chesterhill Produce Auction began as a way to connect local growers with consumers to provide access to fresh, locally grown produce. Many of the chefs in the Mid-Ohio Valley visit the auction to buy produce for their restaurants. 

While the auction wasn’t founded by Amish or Mennonite, you will find a large number of sellers are Amish. You can expect to buy fruits, vegetables, handcrafted items and even baked goods. 

The auction is held regularly through the growing season and while anyone can attend keep in mind that the goods are sold in large quantities. This isn’t a bad thing, especially if you enjoy preserving your food by freezing it or canning it but aren’t able to have a garden of your own. 

Address: 8380 Wagoner Rd, Chesterhill, OH 43728

Auctions are held Monday and Thursday starting at 4 pm. 

13. The Longest Continuously Running Opera House in the State of Ohio is in McConnelsville. 

The architecture in downtown historic McConnelsville is gorgeous, but one building really catches your eye, the Twin City Opera House. First opened in 1892, the property remains open today for movies, concerts and other events. 

Address: 15 W Main St, McConnelsville, OH 43756

14. See the Giant Fish Fresh Outta Water along the Muskingum River. 

These giant fish sculptures are the signature piece on the Ohio Art Corridor.

David Griesmyer’s colorful “School of Fish” was the first piece of art made specifically for the Ohio Art Corridor. The fish can be seen on State Route 376 along Muskingum River at the McConnellsville boat ramp near the Morgan County Fairgrounds. You can’t miss them. Each fish measures 15-20 feet in length and can be seen “swimming” 15-feet in the air.

You’ll find plenty of parking, a shelter and picnic tables at this location. 

Address:  2555 St Rt 376 N,, McConnelsville, OH 43756

15. Spend the night in an Old Flour Mill. 

A former grain and hydroelectric mill, the Stockport Mill Inn and Restaurant was the oldest operating mill on the Muskingum River. The mill closed in 1997 and in 2000, it opened in its current capacity. 

The historic integrity of the property has been retained in this unique inn that features 14-rooms, including romantic suites with jacuzzi tubs and a spacious 2-bedroom “penthouse” suite on the 3rd floor of the mill with an in-room hot tub that offers stunning sunset views of the river.

You won’t want to miss dinner so don’t get too cozy in your room. The on-site dining is nothing short of ah-mazing.    

Address: 1995 Broadway St, Stockport, OH 43787

16. A Remnant of the Largest Dragline Ever Built can be seen in Miner’s Memorial Park.  

Comparing the big muskie to my car

For over 20 years, the Big Muskie could be seen in southeastern Ohio moving massive chunks of earth to uncover coal buried beneath the surface. It worked around the clock for 364 days out of the year, moving 325 tons of earth with each swipe of the bucket. 

As the demand for coal decreased, so did the need for the Big Muskie and it became clear that this engineering marvel was no longer cost-effective to operate. Despite push back from the community, the Big Muskie was disassembled and scrapped in 1999. All that remains today is the bucket that can fit two school buses side by side. 

The bucket can be seen in the Miner’s Memorial Park in Jesse Owens State Park along State Route 78, otherwise known as the Appalachian Byway.

Read more about this incredible machine and see original photos of it in operation in this post about the Big Muskie

Address:   4470 OH-78, McConnelsville, OH 43756

17. Visit the Largest Conservation Park in the Country.  

 

A rhino walking through a pasture

What’s a community to do with thousands and thousands of strip-mined land? How about turning part of it into a conservation park for rare and endangered species? That’s what The Wilds, which sits just outside of Cumberland, did. 

Visitors to The Wilds have the opportunity to board a bus and take a Safari tour through what would appear to be the grasslands and savannah of Africa. You may see giraffe, zebras, camels, Pere David deer, trumpeter swan and many more breeds of animals. 

A favorite among visitors is the Southern White Rhino from Southern Africa. The Wilds is the only facility outside of their native land to have fifth-generation rhinos born in captivity. 

In addition to the safaris, you can tour the property by horseback or zipline. You’ll also find yurts, cabins and a lodge for overnight accommodations. New for 2020 is Outpost Camping. The Wilds staff will transport members of the same family to the pasture where everything you need to spend a night under the stars and among the animals is waiting. 

Find out why I think The Wilds is the perfect spot for some multi-generational fun. 

Address:   14000 International Rd, Cumberland, OH 43732

There is so much to see and do in Guernsey, Muskingum and Morgan counties that I could go on. If you have something that you think should be on this list, let me know. I may check it out and add it. 

For More Information

Thank you to Guernsey, Muskingum and Morgan Counties for hosting my stay. If you’d like additional information about any of these attractions, please visit the following websites: 

Cambridge / Guernsey County Visitors and Convention Bureau 

Zanesville – Muskingum County Visitors and Convention Bureau

Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau

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Laura L Ellis

Monday 26th of April 2021

Pomeroy, OH, in Meigs County, which is definitely deeper into SE Ohio than the counties that you covered, has some notable sites. Pomeroy is known as the only town in the country that has no 4 way stops, and our Court House has ground level openings on all 3 floors (Ripley's Believe It Or Not). On top of that in 1982, much of our grandstand and fairgrounds was registered on the National Register of Historic Places. Our grandstand curves with the track, we have a Junior and Senior fair together, and we are a split level fairground.

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