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Guernsey County: An Ohio Road Trip Full of Surprises

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Ohio is full of surprises! A family-friendly road trip to Guernsey County, Ohio includes zebras, walks on the beach, glass blowing, donuts and so much more!

This post was written in partnership with Ohio. Find It Here. and Guernsey County.

The summer of 2020 probably hasn’t turned out the way anyone thought it would. Our original vacation plans to two big cities were put on hold and we began looking for ways to get away that felt safe but also special. When Ohio. Find it Here. invited us to visit Guernsey County, we looked over the itinerary and found a list of things we felt excited about (and safe) doing!

About 1.5 hours from Columbus, Guernsey County is the birthplace of John Glenn and William Boyd (aka Hopalong Cassidy), the location of over 36 sightings of Bigfoot, and home to the largest wildlife conservation center in North America AND the world’s most extensive glass collection! Surprised yet?

Family-Friendly Attractions in Guernsey County, Ohio:

Guernsey County is a largely rural county and driving from one end of the county to another can take up to an hour, depending on where you are going! Make sure to take a look at the map as you plan out your trip! Whether you want to visit for a day or spend a night or two, pick and choose from some of these options to choose your own Guernsey County adventure!

(Please remember that all individuals in Ohio must wear facial coverings in public at all times when: at an indoor location that is not a residence, or outdoors when unable to maintain six-foot social distance from people who are not household members.)

1. The Wilds

two rhinos laying back to back at The Wilds in Guernsey County

This was our first visit to The Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio. I have wanted to go to The Wilds ever since moving to Columbus! The Wilds is truly “in the middle of no-where”! This isn’t your typical rolling rural farmland of Ohio – it’s more like Australia or the Yukon! It’s easy to pretend that you have really gone somewhere exotic! 

You will need to make your reservation ahead of time for an Open-Air Safari. Open-Air Safari tours are 2 – 2.5 hours long and take place in an open air bus. This summer, riders are seated with a seat in between parties and there is a lot of open air flow! As you drive through the almost 10,000 acre park, animals are free to come up close to your safari (but no touching)! 

a camel coming up to the open safari at The Wilds in Ohio

The first stop on the tour is at Lake Trail and you can take a short hike down to the lake to feed catfish! There is also the option to feed birds in an enclosed aviary.

The second stop on the tour is the Carnivore Center where you can see wild African dogs, cheetahs and more! There is a boardwalk taking you through the area where you can look for each animal within its habitat.

cheetahs at The Wilds in Guernsey County Ohio

The tour guides are very knowledgeable and share a wealth of information about how The Wilds came to be, how animals have been saved through their conservation efforts and even little tid bits of information about the individual animals you may come across on your journey! We were lucky enough to see the new baby Rhino, Rohini, who was just moved out to the summer pasture a week before!

Tips for visiting The Wilds:

  • It is advisable that you follow the directions on The Wilds website as opposed to the directions that you will be given if you just type “The Wilds” into a map app! Plus there is virtually no cell phone service once you reach a certain part. This is definitely the time to go old-school and follow written directions! 
  • There are two stops along the tour that include a restroom and one stop that sells food. But no food or drink is allowed while you are on the safari tour.
  • The tours take place rain or shine so dress appropriately and bring sunscreen!
  • If you’re looking for a place to have lunch or dinner, the The Overlook Cafe is available before or after your safari trip! The Terrace Grill is located at the Carnivore Center (in the middle of the trip) and there is a Safari Snack Depot near the ticket window. 
  • At the Wilds, masks are required indoors and outdoors when you cannot social distance. On shuttles and safari, seating will be limited with social distancing between seats. 

2. Seneca Lake

boats and docks at the marina at Seneca Lake

After visiting The Wilds, we spent an afternoon on a pontoon boat on Seneca Lake! It was such a great, relaxing time as a family! At the Marina you can rent a pontoon boat or fishing boat and purchase a fishing license if you’d like to fish! Life jackets are provided. If you have your own boat, courtesy boat parking is provided at the Marina for up to 2 hours.

The Marina service is available at a walk up window where you can rent a boat, purchase your fishing license and/or bait. You do not need to go inside to make these transactions!

father and son fishing at Seneca Lake Ohio

My boys had a great time fishing! They love putting the minnows (available for purchase at the Marina) on the hook and waiting to see that bobber go under! Jaden was the only one who caught a fish that afternoon and he was very proud of that fact!

3. Mosser Glass

boy watching glass being made a Mosser Glass

Our family took a factory tour at Mosser Glass to learn about the process of glass making! We were able to get up close to the glass making process and watch as the craftsmen each completed their part of the process! You can stop in any time during business hours for a tour and shop for a gift or souvenir in their beautiful gift shop!

the gift shop at Mosser Glass in Cambridge, Ohio

4. National Museum of Cambridge Glass

woman giving a tour at Museum of Cambridge Glass

The Cambridge Glass Company produced their first piece of glass in 1902 and the factory operated until 1958, producing everything from stemware to vases, changing colors and styles many times throughout the years. The museum pays homage to the company by displaying over 10,000 pieces of Cambridge Glass.

group of people getting a tour at the Museum of Cambridge Glass

Here you can watch a short video about the history of Cambridge Glass, get a guided tour of the collection, try your hand at etching and learn how artisan glass pieces were made! 

two boys and father doing etchings at the Cambridge Glass Museum

Make sure to check out the Hollywood display where there are pictures of Cambridge Glass pieces spotted in famous movies and TV shows! There is also a formal dining room display that offers a glimpse into life in a bygone era. The tour was interesting and the hands on activities made it fun for the kids, too! Some hands on activities may not be available at this time. 

5. Salt Fork State Park Beach

boy on the beach at Salt Fork State Park in Guernsey County, Ohio

Salt Fork State Park is Ohio’s largest state park! This is evidenced by the fact that upon entering the park, it is a 10-15 minute drive to most in-park destinations! My family enjoyed spending two nights at the lodge, but you don’t have to stay there to take advantage of all the park has to offer!

The park is home to 12 scenic trails, shelter houses and picnic areas, a golf course, an archery range, dog park, bridle trails, boating and swimming!

two boys on Salt Fork State Park Beach in Ohio

Specifically, here I want to mention the beach! When you think of Ohio, you don’t often think of beaches, but during this summer in particular, you might seriously want to consider a trip to Salt Fork’s public beach! One of Ohio’s largest inland beaches, anyone can visit for free! The beach area is pretty big – enough for spreading out – and there is also a strip of grass with trees and picnic tables for your enjoyment! 

Family Friendly Restaurants in Guernsey County:

1. Georgetown Tavern

brick oven pizza at Georgetown Tavern on the Hill

If you’re looking for a meal with a view, this is it! During the summer of 2020, only the patio is open for dining and what a patio it is!

Brick oven pizzas are made to order as well as a special selection of wines, craft beer and adult slushies! Georgetown Vineyards wines are produced on site and the patio offers a beautiful view of the vineyards while you eat! 

patio at Georgetown Tavern in Cambridge, Ohio, Guernsey County

I have to add that we had an issue with Google Maps on getting here! I would recommend typing in and choosing the actual address of the restaurant, NOT typing in the name of the restaurant into Google Maps! If you find yourself driving up a steep, one way gravel hill leading to a cell phone tower, you are probably on the wrong end of the road!

2. The Dockside Restaurant 

boy eating food at the Dockside Restaurant at Seneca Lake Marina

If you’re spending the day at Seneca Lake, The Dockside Restaurant is at the marina and has two large patio areas. The view of the harbor adds to the lakeside experience! If you don’t have time to eat a full meal, there is also a window where you can order ice cream! Everyone needs ice cream after a day on the lake, right?!

3. Kennedy’s Bakery

glazed donut outside of Kennedy's Bakery in Guernsey County, Ohio

After visiting the National Museum of Cambridge Glass, we walked a couple of blocks to Kennedy’s Bakery! This bakery has been a staple in town since 1925! If you’re looking for a baked good, stop here for decorated cookies, donuts, creme sticks, cakes, baklava, pepperoni rolls, garlic bread, cupcakes and so much more!

people waiting in line inside Kennedy's Bakery in Cambridge Ohio

My kids opted for cookies decorated with a fishing theme and my husband and I chose a donut and creme stick (or long john, depending on where you’re from)! I was happy with my choice of a classic glazed donut! Yum!

4. Nothing But Chocolate

Nothing But Chocolate in Cambridge Ohio

On our way out of town we stopped at Nothing But Chocolate for our final sweet fix of the trip! We had heard rumors of excellent buckeye candies and we were surprised to find out they are made on the spot when you order them! Chocolate covered Oreos were also a winner! Definitely make a stop here for handcrafted chocolate treats, taffy and unique, edible gifts!

Nothing But Chocolate provides a sink and asks each person who enters to wash their hands before shopping, which we were thankful for after spending the morning walking around town!

Where to stay in Guernsey County:

Salt Fork State Park Lodge

Salt Fork State Park Lodge

Our family stayed at the Salt Fork Lodge for two nights. The boys loved the bunk beds in the room! The Lodge overlooks the Salt Fork Reservoir and each morning and night we had a family of deer appear in the yard beneath our room!

boys on a bunk bed at Salt Fork State Park Lodge

There are restaurants on site – we got our breakfast to go and sat out on the patio area! There is a great outdoor pool and kiddie pool. (The indoor pool is currently closed due to construction.) Check the outdoor pool schedule when you check in as it is closed for extra cleaning on a regular basis.

outdoor pool at Salt Fork State Park Lodge

If you’re looking for a stand-alone option, cabins are also available for rent (though they are filling up fast in the 2020 season)! Camping, fishing, boating and hiking, as well as other recreational sports, are available within the park so it can really be an all inclusive getaway!

a row of rocking chairs in the sun at Salt Fork State Park Lodge in Guernsey County, Ohio

As a fun side note, it is rumored that Bigfoot lives in Salt Fork State Park! Over 36 sightings have been reported in the park! So keep your eyes peeled and/or plan your trip to coincide with The Ohio Bigfoot Conference or Creature Weekend! 

2020 is a weird year, especially when it comes to travel. But with a trip to Guernsey County you can go on a wildlife safari, visit a vineyard and spend a day at the beach! Who knew this surprising getaway was just 80 miles from Columbus?!

Exploring Columbus with Your Kids

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Ohio Road Trip: Guernsey County


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13 Fun Things to do in Lancaster Ohio with Kids

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Just 45 minutes from Downtown Columbus, there are lots of family-friendly things to do in Lancaster, Ohio! Perfect for a fun day trip or overnight getaway for families!

Thanks to Visit Fairfield County for partnering with us on this post.

Even though Columbus has so much to offer, I often find myself craving a getaway. I love that there are so many places within driving distance of Columbus where we can get away, either overnight or just for a day trip, and feel like we’ve gone somewhere totally new!

kids in lancaster, ohio

flower art in lancaster, ohio

Lancaster, Ohio has a population of around 40,000, has a cute, walkable downtown area, nice parks, its own collection of local restaurants and a decent sized mall. So, something for everyone! 

13 Things to do in Lancaster, Ohio with Kids:

1. Art and Clay on Main

smoothie bowl at Square 7 coffee shop in Lancaster, Ohio

We LOVE Art and Clay on Main! This is a must-do stop in Lancaster, whether you have time to stay and paint, or you just need to stop in for a smoothie or a cup of coffee at the Square 7 Coffee Shop inside.

The great thing about this spot is that both the art studio and the coffee shop are social enterprises of the Fairfield County Board of Developmental Disabilities. That means that the shops serve as places where people with developmental disabilities can receive training and employment.

 

Allow for an hour or two to paint a piece of pottery here and also 6-12 days before it is ready to be picked up. They will actually hold your pottery for up to 45 days so you don’t have to feel rushed to make the trip back to Lancaster within the week! They have pottery pieces in all sizes and skill levels! There are small items just for kids. Another bonus is that all fees are included in the price, so there is no additional studio fee.

2. A-Ha Children’s Museum

This museum alone could compromise a whole day trip! My kids and I spent a couple of hours here one afternoon and probably could have stayed longer! The museum moved into this new location, just on the periphery of the River Valley Mall in April of 2018.

 

The museum contains a water play area, building blocks, a construction vehicle and fire truck to climb in, pretend fishing, dinosaur digging, and a “real life” play area that contains a house, grocery store, pizza shop and more! There is also a separate space for art projects and classes and a new outdoor nature playscape that we have yet to visit but looks super fun!

bulldozer at AH-A Children's Museum in Lancaster, Ohio

The museum is perfect for kids ages 6 months to age 8. is $8 per person. (12 months and under are free!) If you have an EBT or WIC card, admission is $3. There is a designated lunch area and you can bring your own food. Same day re-entry is allowed!

3. The Well

This could easily have been put under the “where to eat” section, but it could also very well be a destination. I’d heard about The Well for quite some time before actually making a visit there! 

food at The Well in Lancaster, Ohio

The Well calls itself a “modern gathering place for the whole family to eat, drink, play and live” and offers healthy options for breakfast and lunch as well as an extensive smoothie menu! The vegetarian menu offers ingredients are non-GMO and local and organic when possible. You will find many gluten free options as well.

What makes The Well a destination on your kid-friendly trip to Lancaster is the play area towards the back of the restaurant! With a good number of seating options around the play area, you can eat and still keep an eye on your kids as they play! 

play area at The Well in Lancaster Ohio

One thing to keep in mind: The hours of the restaurant are Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM and they are closed on Saturdays and Sundays!!

4. Jump N Trampoline Center

kids playing at Jump N Trampoline Center in Lancaster Ohio

If your kids need to burn off some excess energy, check out Jump N Trampoline Center! Kids have the choice between playing in the foam pit or bouncing on the trampolines!

 

There is a viewing area upstairs that also has a foosball table and makes for a great spot for parents to keep an eye on their kids and have a seat. Socks are required for play.

6. Ohio Glass Museum

displays at Ohio glass Museum in Lancaster, Ohio

The Ohio Glass Museum in downtown Lancaster offers an in-depth look at the glass factories that made their home in Fairfield County. Through displays, a movie and glass blowing demonstrations, it is easy to get a good understanding of the role glass has had in this area! I definitely learned a lot!

woman doing a glass blowing demonstration at Ohio Glass Museum in lancaster, Ohio

This might not be the best spot for toddlers, but my kids, ages 4 and 7, were intrigued by the glass blowing demonstration. (They take place at 2:00 PM and 3:00 PM each day they are open). They were also relatively held by the movie about the history of glass making in Lancaster!

Children under 6 are free to enter the museum.

7. Fairfield County District Library – Main Library

children's department at Fairfield County District library in Lancaster, Ohio

When we woke up on the Saturday morning of our trip, it was raining and we needed to kill a little bit of time before the next item on our itinerary so what did I do? Google the closest library, of course! This one turned out to be a winner! The children’s department is on the third floor and on that rainy, Saturday morning, a few of the workers brought out a bunch of educational toys to fill this space above.

kid playing with toys at library in Lancaster, Ohio

There was also a train table, other toys and games available and a lot of children’s books! The space was great and if you need a place to pass some time, I highly recommend it!

8. Rising Park

Ahh, Rising Park. This place is a gem, as well.  A great playground. A pond. Lots of green space. And a huge mountain. Say what?

kid playing on equipment at Rising Park in Lancaster, Ohio

When she found out I was taking my kids to Lancaster last summer, a friend of mine told me we had to hike to the top of Mt. Pleasant in Rising park because the views were spectacular! She was right, of course, but I nearly had a heart attack getting there with my two young boys!

kids at the top of Mt. Pleasant in Lancaster, Ohio

Seriously though, the view is worth the hike. The trail is about a quarter of a mile long, rising up 250 feet! Be forewarned that it is NOT an “easy” hike – but I did it with my kids who were just 4 and 6 at the time. There are no real guardrails at the edge, so make sure to keep kids close!

9. Lancaster Festival

This annual festival “celebrating art, music and community” is lots of fun for all ages! The festival lasts for 11 days and features live music acts, food trucks, theatre performances and activities for children. The festival activities are spread out all over the city, taking place at various venues, parks, restaurants and community organizations.

 


Last year we attended and were able to see The Floorwalkers (one of my favorite Columbus bands) and a magic show for kids! In 2018 Martina McBride was the headliner and Kansas will be performing in 2019! 

11. Covered Bridge Trail

covered bridge in Lancaster, OhioFairfield County is home to 17 of the 125 wooden covered bridges remaining in Ohio. That makes them the county with the most original covered bridges in the state! If you’re looking for another “trail” to conquer, click this link for a map of all of the covered bridges in Fairfield County and head off on your quest! I’ve seen a few and they’re beautiful!

12. Paperback Exchange

kids petting cats at Paperback Exchange in Lancaster, Ohio

If you’re exploring downtown Lancaster, make sure to stop in to Paperback Exchange! My kids asked to go back again and my husband took them back a second time. Without me, though, because I am allergic to cats. And the cats were the very things my kids want to see the most! Besides cats, the store boats an impressive collection of books for sale, including books for kids and young adults! There is also a small section of handmade gifts!

Paperback Exchange in Lancaster Ohio

13. River Valley Mall

I’m putting the mall on this list because sometimes, with kids, you just need a place to let them let out some steam and take a little break. We attended one of the magic shows here as part of the Lancaster Festival and my kids enjoyed this play area. They went through a season of being really interested in who was on each bill and coin and this play area was right up their alley. It has a money theme!

kids in play area at River Valley Mall in Lancaster, Ohio

It’s not a huge play area, but it does the trick. The mall is a decent sized mall but the food court does not offer too many options for eating so make sure you check out the following list of places to eat in Lancaster, Ohio!

Kid-Friendly Places to Eat in Lancaster, Ohio

While you’re in Lancaster, you’re going to want to check out some of these local spots for lunch or dinner! I have taken my kids to each one of them, but I will tell you individually how “kid-friendly” I feel they are and what to expect.

1. Ale House 1890

kid eating pizza at Ale House 1890 in Lancaster, Ohio

Ale House 1890 was a little bit intimidating for me when we first arrived. On this visit, it was just me and the kids and I wondered how kid-friendly it was going to be. But we were able to sit on the patio which was totally relaxing! My oldest really liked the pizza – and he’s a very picky eater! I loved my salad!

shrimp salad at Ale House 1890 in Lancaster, Ohio

2. Cherry Street Pub

kid eating wings at Cherry Street Pub in Lancaster, Ohio

Cherry Street Pub is a great option for families because there is a lot to look at inside and there is a big menu! It’s loud (in the normal, restaurant kind of way) so the happy hubbub covers up most of unexpected noises your kid might make! 😉 My kids shared food from the appetizer menu – wings and pizza. The wings were a definite hit! You might expect a little bit of a wait here, the restaurant is popular!

3. Bob’s Backyard BBQ

food at Bob's Backyard BBQ in Lancaster, ohio

This place is definitely low key and kid-friendly! The meat was good and the sides were tasty! My only complaint was that they were out of hot dogs when we visited – which is a guaranteed menu item for my kids. (My kids are super picky, I’m not even going to try to pretend that they’re not.) They were also out of wine. I’m not sure how often food items run low here, but if you’re flexible, give it a go. It tasted good and the atmosphere was relaxed and kid-friendly!

4. JB’s Downtown Grill

hamburger at JB's Downtown Grill in Lancaster, Ohio

JB’s Downtown Grill is another spot to check out if you’re out and about in the downtown area! There is a kid’s menu with the traditional items: chicken tenders, grilled cheese, quesadilla, etc. And the menu for adults features sandwiches, burgers, wraps and salads. The burgers contain “Chef Jamie’s secret seasoning” so my husband and I both got a burger! The meat was super flavorful, so I’m a fan of that seasoning, whatever it may be!

5. Nancy’s Scoops

kid eating ice cream at Nancy's Scoops in Lancaster, Ohio

Don’t forget dessert! Nancy’s Scoops has a huge menu of options, including food, milkshakes, sundaes, hand dipped ice cream and much more!

6. Gypsy Joe’s Ice Cream

kids eating ice cream at Gypsy Joe's in Lancaster, Ohio

Gypsy Joe’s is another cute option for dessert! The decor inside is very fun! 

Where to Stay in Lancaster, Ohio

My family was hosted at Holiday Inn Express and Suites. We had a great experience here! The room we had was large with a kitchen and living room area, which was really nice! It was an easy distance from all of the things listed here!

kids playing piano in downtown Lancaster, Ohio

What are your favorite things to do in Lancaster, Ohio? What should we do next?

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flowers against brick in Lancaster, Ohio

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