Whether it’s camping, boating or swimming at the beach, outdoor activities abound at Pleasant Hill Lake State Park in Perrysville, Ohio!
Thank you to Ohio. Find It Here. for sponsoring this post.
My family recently partnered with Ohio. Find It Here., Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District and Charles Mill Marina to spend a few days camping, boating and exploring the area!
This was our first time taking our kids tent camping! I’ll admit, I was nervous but excited! Even though I wasn’t sure what to expect with them, the boys seemed like a good age for it and they were excited about sleeping in a tent!
I have to say, after it was all said and done, it went even better than I expected and we made a lot of fun family memories in the process!
Where is Pleasant Hill Lake Park?
Pleasant Hill Lake Park is on the northern edge of Pleasant Hill Lake, nestled between Mohican State Park and Malabar Farm State Park. The park is just an hour and 15 minutes from downtown Columbus!
The area, known as Mohican Country, is filled with outdoor adventures, up-close encounters with nature and opportunities to unplug and relax.
How much does it cost to enter Pleasant Hill Lake Park?
Park Entry Fees are charged Memorial Day through Labor Day only. After paying admission, you are free to enjoy the trails picnic areas and swimming beach. Fees are charged per car: $5 for a single occupant and $10 for 2 or more passengers.
What is there to do at Pleasant Hill Lake Park?
Our camping trip was a good mix of relaxing around the campfire and getting active and enjoying some outdoor activities! Let’s explore some of the fun things there are to do at the park!
1. Boating and Fishing
We took a pontoon boat out first thing in the morning of our first full day. Pontoon boating is something our family really enjoys! My husband and boys did some fishing and we enjoyed watching blue herons along the shore.
The pontoon boats available for rent at Pleasant Hill Marina are super nice! Pontoon boats have come a long way in their time and these boats have padded seating, a roof for shade and creature comforts like bluetooth and radio!
On the southeast end of the lake you will find Pleasant Hill Dam. It was fun to see it from this side since we had hiked down the other side of it in Mohican State Park this spring!
If you’re interested in renting a pontoon boat, Pleasant Hill Marina offers rentals on Standard, Deluxe, Ski and Cruise Pontoons! Full and Half Day time slots are available as well as sunset rentals! We were able to take our boat back out in the evening for a sunset cruise and watch ospreys dive into the water to catch their dinner as the sun was setting!
2. Kayaking and Stand-Up Paddleboards
Want to get even closer to the water? Kayaks and Stand Up Paddle Boards are available to rent at the marina! We took two two-person kayaks out for a spin on our second morning at the lake! This was another first for us! The boys were brave and managed to even do a little steering of the kayaks out on the water!
Make sure to pick up a Hidden History Kayak Trail Map at the Welcome Center before you go for a 5 mile self-guided tour along the lakeshore that takes you to historical spots along the water’s edge.
3. The WhoaZone
A big hit for kids is the new WhoaZone, an inflatable obstacle course on the lake! Kids can jump, slide and climb, splashing into the lake on a hot summer day!
The Whoa Zone can be found on a separate but adjacent portion of the beach that requires admission to enter. Kids must be 7 years old and 45” tall in order to enter. Each session is 60 minutes long and includes a 10 minute safety orientation. Life jackets are provided.
Shaded seating with an umbrella is also available to rent! This is definitely an added perk!
4. Swimming Beach
I grew up going to the beach at Pleasant Hill Lake as a kid so it was fun to come back as an adult with my own kids! Beach admission is included with your entrance to Pleasant Hill Park so it’s also a beach you can visit just for the day, even if you are not camping!
The kids loved playing in the sand and we also enjoyed walking to the beach in the mornings when things were quiet and still!
5. Hiking Trails
There are 6 hiking trails within Pleasant Hill Lake Park including the Bluebird Trail with 9 bluebird nesting boxes. If you have a horse, there are also trails for horseback riding! Pick up a map at the Welcome Center for all locations.
If you’re interested in hiking through the nearby State Parks, there are connector trails to Mohican State Park and Malabar Farm!
Though birdwatching could easily be included in several of the above activities, it’s worth mentioning as an activity on its own!
Bald eagles and osprey nest around Pleasant Hill Lake. In fact, the park has five osprey nesting platforms installed which makes them easy to spot. One easy one to find is right at the beach near the WhoaZone!
The eagles and ospreys are most active in the early morning and evening. As I mentioned above, we were mesmerized watching the osprey dive into the water to find their dinner while on our sunset cruise!
Other bird watching opportunities include the Bird Observation Window at the Welcome Center and the Bluebird Trail.
Pleasant Hill Lake Park has close to 500 campsites available for tent and RV campers. We stayed in the lot closest to the lake which offered easy walking access to the beach, trails and Welcome Center! Each site includes a concrete pad, a fire ring and a picnic table.
Probably the best part about tent camping was waking up to singing birds in the morning. If you’re not a morning person, bring ear plugs! But if you want to experience what it would be like to wake up in a songbird aviary, you’re in luck! It was just incredible!
The shower house was a 5 minute walk from our campsite and was VERY modern and nice! I felt comfortable and clean showering here! There is also a family shower room that is bigger and has lots of room for helping your kids get dressed and ready.
8. Exploring the Welcome Center
Make sure to leave a little time to explore the Welcome Center where there are a lot of educational and historical displays, animal pelts and resident creatures to visit!
The Fish Mural Wall includes mountings of local fish species and you can see other native Ohio animals on display on the walls! On the screen in the Welcome Center you can watch a 6 minute orientation video to learn about the history of the area!
Where to Eat Near Pleasant Hill Lake Park:
1. Phase Two Pizza
Phase Two Pizza is a great option for dinner while staying at the campground! This local pizza shop is just 6 minutes from Pleasant Hill Lake Campground and is a take-out only pizza shop that also serves subs, wings, gyros, pasta and more!
We picked up pizza on our first night and it made for a great, easy dinner after getting the tent set up and settled in! The pizza was a hit with our family!
2. Malabar Farm Restaurant
If you’re looking to get away from camp for a nice dinner, head to Malabar Farm Restaurant. Author Louis Bromfield made his home at Malabar Farm and dreamed of opening a restaurant at this very location. Though that didn’t happen in his lifetime, he did sell fresh produce at a market stand right at this spot!
Check out the Niman Spring on the property that pours forth over 2,000 gallons per hour. Rumor has it that Johnny Appleseed stopped to drink from the spring on his travels!
The menu has French influences and there are three Kids Meal options including grilled cheese, corn dog and cheeseburger!
3. MooMali’s Perrysville Drive In
If you’re looking for a quick stop for take out food or ice cream, check out MooMali’s in Perrysville. Formerly the Perrysville Drive-In, as a child, we stopped here many times on our trips to the beach! This is another (mainly) to-go spot though you may be lucky enough to snag a picnic table outside!
All in all, I consider our first family camping trip a success! I dare say we may even do it again this year! Pleasant Hill Lake Park is a great spot for camping and outdoor adventures and the bonus is it’s just a quick drive from Columbus!
Related: 25 Super Fun Things to do in Ohio with Kids
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