When it comes to my own bucket list of destinations, Ohio has never been high on my list.
Having grown up in the Midwest, I’ve driven through the Buckeye state many times, mainly to get to other places. I spent a weekend in Cincinnati once, found a great breakfast spot near Toledo, and know that Cleveland has a great clinic and improving baseball team, but most of my impressions of Ohio are of flat views from Interstate 80.
So when I learned that a spot in Ohio had made Buzzfeed.com’s list of “22 Stunning Under-the-Radar Destinations to Add to Your Bucket List in 2014” — the only place in the U.S. to make the list — I took notice.
Along with other global under-the-radar destinations like Jericoacoara, Brazil; Ladakh, India; Ipiales, Colombia; Kampong Thom, Cambodia; and the Lofoten Islands, Norway, comes Ohio’s Hocking Hills State Park.
The Buzzfeed piece praised Hocking Hills State Park as “a must for nature lovers, filled with cliffs, gorges and waterfalls.” The region’s unusual topography was carved by glaciers, and the forested region is thick with American Indian history, which can be experienced by taking authentic Shawnee storytelling hikes.
For those who’ve never heard of it, the Hocking Hills region is located in southeastern Ohio just 40 miles southeast of Columbus (I had to go to a map). Logan, Ohio, is the county seat, but there are other towns, state parks and camping areas in the Hocking Hills as well.
Besides its natural beauty, the Hocking Hills region is known for its quirky lodging.
I wrote about one inn in a previous post, which offered what it called “gramping”: where boomers with kids and grandkids would camp out together, enjoying hiking, campfires and s’mores — except that when it was time to go to bed, the boomers would retire to the comfort of a bed in the lodge, while the next two generations would crawl into their tents at a nearby campsite.
I thought that was a brilliant marketing idea, and a lot of boomers I heard from thought so, too.
But there are plenty of other quirky, one-of-a kind lodging options in the area for baby boomer travelers to consider. This is especially a hotbed for multi-generational travel ideas.
For example, you can spend the night in an historic 1926 B&O train caboose at Lazy Lane Cabins’ Caboose at Steep Woods. The caboose sleeps five and is outfitted with kitchenette, full bath and outdoor fire pit: ideal for grandkids and grown-up train buffs.
Or perhaps you’d prefer an old-fashioned gypsy wagon. At Ravenwood Castle’s Medieval Village — which also has ornate “Castle” rooms, Medieval Village cottages and Fairytale Village cottages — you can stay in a reproduction British Romani Gypsy Wagon (called the Gypsy King’s Wagon) equipped with double-decker beds and kitchenette (the bath house is down a wooded path).
If those don’t suit, how about staying in a restored general store/post office, with its original scale, shelving and other vintage touches intact? Or an historic one-room schoolhouse, which is now a B&B? These are just two of the offerings from an outfit in the area called Historic Host Vacation Rentals.
If you want to experience sleeping in a traditional Sioux tipi — and who doesn’t have that on their bucket lists? — you can try the Boulders Edge Cabin and Tipi Retreat. Each tipi sleeps ten comfortably (if you bring comfortable bedding, that is — you have to provide your own cot or mattress or sleeping bags) and has a wood-burning stove inside. Picnic tables, fire rings and a solar shower are provided outside. Or you can try the “gramping” method of sleeping in one of the cabins while the younger generations enjoy the tipi.
Even more exotic is the Mongolian yurt option, at Salt Creek Retreats cabins and yurt. The yurt sleeps up to six and comes with dishes, utensils, pillows, chairs, heater and a grill. Private trails, a fishing pond and river for swimming are nearby.
ExploreHockingHills.com lists lots of other accommodation options as well, including luxurious lodges — such as the 9,400 square foot Majestic Oaks lodge with 4,600 square feet of decking, two hot tubs, acres of hiking trails and an indoor pool — if you aren’t in the mood for quirky.
All these leads came to me through Weirick Communications, which does publicity for the Hocking Hills region. I’m always glad to get news of under-the-radar spots gaining some deserved attention, and I’m sure the inclusion in the Buzzfeed piece will send many non-Ohioans scurrying to their maps, figuring out how to get to Hocking Hills — just as I did.
For many baby boomer travelers like me, the combination of natural beauty and quirky lodgings is irresistible, so Weirick Communications wins my highly unofficial PR Firm of the Day award.
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