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Athens is a city of learning, arts, history and culture. It boasts of a long and enriched history since its inception. The birthplace of one of the biggest public research institutes, Ohio University, it is today responsible for educating as many as 20,000 students.
The beautiful Hocking River flows through this modern city. It is nestled between huge hills and scenic landscapes. The climate is very pleasant and suitable for tourists. It is the perfect compilation of new world charms and old school romance. Nature has also been blessed abundantly in Athens and it has many lakes and gardens for recreation. Read on to find some really great things to do in this awesome city.
Outdoor recreation at Stroud Run State Park
Wilderness and rugged terrains with many trees sprawling across large acres of land is what Stroud Run State Park is most known for. It is nested in the Appalachian plateau and hence has panoramic views all around.
It abounds in natural beauty and has great trails along with water bodies like beaches and lakes. Swim in the 900-foot sand beach in the east side. Scuba diving kits are also available so enjoy gazing at some pleasant sea life.
Boating is permitted on the Dow Lake with tie up stakes provided on site. Nature walks are another attraction here as you snake your way through miles of forested lands. Birdwatching is another hobby you can satisfy as many species of birds fly through this forested terrain. To top it all, camping grounds are also available here. So you can plan out a great weekend trip or stay for a day or two in the lap of nature while enjoying all the above stated facilities. Picnic tables are also there for usage.
Canoeing through the Lake Hope and Lake Logan State Parks
The Hocking river is filled with hotspots offering Canoeing and kayaking services. From beginners to experts, there are canoes and kayaks of various lengths serving your varied purposes.
You can even enjoy a leisurely raft trip through the slow currents in the water. Tubes are also provided at these places for kids. Special moonlight outings are also present with full night canoeing or kayaking trips on the rivers.
Fishing is permitted in the Lake Logan State Park. Northern pike, bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish and saugeye are some of the varieties of fish present in the waters for your fishing.
Art aficionados flock to the Kennedy Museum of Art
Let’s now explore some of the historical landmarks of Athens. Athens is also a city blessed with several important historical structures and is very rich in culture and heritage. The Kennedy Museum of Art is located in the Lin Hall. This used to be the administrative building for the Athens Lunatic Asylum or also known as The Ridges. This museum is the only part of The Ridges open for the public. It has no entry fees and contains many beautiful artifacts on display. There are various exhibits showcasing the southwestern art styles. Special traveling exhibits are also displayed from time to time.
Hiking at various trails in Athens
Athens is home to 9 State Park and Natural Preserves along with 3 State Forests and 1 National Forest. So, hiking lovers will love visiting this place.
Put on your sports shoes and choose any of the many trails available and set off. Some great places to go hiking and trekking are Ash Cave, Cantwell cliffs and Cedar falls. One of our recommendations would definitely be The Rock house. The Only true cave in Hocking Hills, it is really beautiful and tiring but also fulfilling. It is located midway of a 150-feet cliff and has tunnel like corridors.
Dine at these places for authentic food
We are all foodies and love exploring local cuisine. Visit the Avalanche Pizza place for some of the finest pizzas. It is touted as one of the best pizza in the USA so, do give it a try. For those looking for a Mexican fill you can visit Big Mamma’s burritos or the Casa Nuvea restaurant & cantina. Bagel Street Deli has some very tasty Bagels on offer and also a great surrounding for a good date night with your partner. Also don't forget Court Street Diner.
Gaze at beautiful architecture of The Ridges
As explained before, The Ridges is actually a name for the Athens Lunatic Asylum. So you must be wondering what is so special about a place that used to supposedly house lunatics. The architecture of this building is so beautiful that people flock from all over to see it. Though nonoperational now, the building still stands tall after years. It was sanctioned by the architect Levi T. Scofield whose works include very famous monuments like the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield and the Cuyahoga County Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Cleveland.
The building also is a constant reminder of how war always causes loss to all the sides no matter what. It used to house various Civil war veterans who had suffered from veterans apart from women going through trauma. Children and people suffering from alcoholism and TB also were housed in its premises during its operational years of 1874 to 1993. Most of these poor souls never went back home and are buried in the nearby cemeteries on the grounds itself.
Take a Walk
Athens is great to explore on foot with plenty of shops and cafes located in the downtown area. Also don't forget to explore the campus of Ohio University, home to many beautiful buildings that date back to the 1800's
Learn More about the Ridges at Southeast Ohio History Center
Those of you who found The Ridges fascinating should definitely visit this center after your visit. It is a learning center about the history of the asylum and also showcases various exhibits from the hospital. The famous Billy Milligan was also housed here and his painting also holds a place at this history center. Quilts from the civil war era sewn by women, a very intricate photograph gallery housing portraits by Elise Mitchell Sanford are other beautiful exhibits.
The in-house genealogy department has an area where visitors can research their own heritage. The gift shop located also has various memorabilia to carry back home like t-shirts, mugs and toys.
Camping at Hocking Hills State Park
Spring breaks are some of the most fun times of the year. Kids get their holidays and so it’s the perfect time to go away with them and your spouse for a trip. Camping is one of the most pleasurable activities to have some fun and quality family time. The High Rock Hideaways, Hocking Hills Campground are some awesome spots for camping. Set up camp right in the midst of nature and have a nice, quiet weekend. Enjoy some star gazing at night and identify the twinkling constellations along with your kiddo.
For those families who want a little of everything, an RV is the perfect option. Packed with all the essential modern facilities, this huge vehicle makes camping a lot less tedious and a lot more fun. One issue though is parking areas. But worry not, Hocking Hills has a wonderful RV park with panoramic views. Each parking area has a really scenic riverside view along with electric hook-up. You can go for swimming in the river followed by a light hearted trek in the trail.
Exploration vibes at Old Man’s Cave
This is one of the most popular tourist spots in just outside of Athens. This magnificent gorge is a visual treat to look at and great for some nature photography. Shout out to all you travel photographers out there! Legend has it that that the hermit Richard Rowe used to live her with his two dogs. He is the Old Man the Cave has been supposedly named after.
After his death, two brothers, Nathaniel and Pat Rayon made this gorge their permanent homes. But after their deaths, the cabin was relocated and no one has since lived here. It is also said that the two brothers were buried here itself.
As spooky as it sounds, the cave do give you a weird feeling. But the view around are so scenic that you will feel calm and at peace with you and your senses. There are various spots along the gorge as the gorge itself cuts through some mighty and thick Blackhand sandstone. Other than this, Hiking is also a great sport to enjoy on its various trails. The whispering cave trail is moderately difficult but extremely fulfilling to undertake.
Visit the lap of nature at Cedar Falls
Located near the Lower Gorge of Old Man’s Cave, these falls are sure to leave you heaving long sighs at its pretty beauty. The scene here looks straight out of a picturesque postcard. Moreover, it’s a comparatively lonely spot making it perfect for couples.
It is highly voluminous and one of the biggest waterfalls in Hocking. The Queer creek flowing nearby is very calming and yet falls over the slopes beautifully.
Hemlock grows abundantly in the nooks and crannies of this chasm along with other wild vegetation. The steep hills and grottos in the surroundings reminding you of all the fairy tales set in the wild forest sides. So, visit this spot soon after Old man’s caves and get lost in its awesome beauty.
Art exhibition at Dairy Barn Arts Center
Another reminder of how a democracy can help save historic monuments is this farm. The dairy Barn used to provide milk to residents of The Ridge and was spread over a large area of land. It was to be demolished in the 1970s but citizen protested and succeeded in it. It was then converted into an art center. Quilting is one of the prime forms of art displayed here and the artifacts are really very beautiful and intricately made. There is also an art studios that conducts workshops and classes. You can pay a visit just to look or even participate in one of the small workshops if you get interested.
Shopping at Nelsonville antiques and vintage market
If you are an antiques lover you must throng to this lively market to get great artifacts at affordable prices. Art and furniture pieces from medieval times are on sale here. This historic public square is an important landmark in the city and has splendidly beautiful antique stores all around. You will love all the furniture from classical periods on display. You can also shop for some small souvenirs to take back home for yourself and friends. There are various options available on sale.
Solve a mystery at Escape Rooms, Athens
Escape Rooms are some of the most interesting and fun games invented currently. It’s the perfect way to spend some fun time with friends or family.
Get together with them and put your minds together to try and solve the mysteries before it’s too late. With as many as 6 different types of escape rooms available to be chosen you will be spoilt for choice. Have fun finding clues and solving intricate and quirky puzzles to find a way out. Whatever are you waiting for? Go get your tickets NOW!
Book Lovers attend the Spring Literacy Festival
The famous Ohio University hosts this three day festival where authors from all walks of life are invited. Various genres are explored including fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Since its inception in 1986, it has hosted book readings and reviews of various classical and famous books and authors. It is sponsored and hosted by the English department and is free to visitors.
Thus, Athens is one of the most interesting places to visit. Whether you love the Arts, History or just plain adventures on your holidays, it has everything in store for you. Do make a point to visit this ubiquitous place offering all kinds of touristy attractions like parks, museums, restaurants and more.