This post is sponsored by Visit Fairfield County. I received complimentary meals and lodging, but all opinions are mine alone.
Live near Columbus, OH and need a quick weekend getaway? Fairfield County should be on your list as it has something for everyone!
While I obviously love exploring Columbus, there are plenty of places just outside the city that are on my list as well. For example, under an hour away is Fairfield County which has been labeled as a fun and intriguing destination for people of all ages and interests, with various unique experiences, events and attractions. With an eclectic beer and wine scene, 12 museums, outdoor adventures, and 17 covered bridges (the most in Ohio), there’s a great mix of adventure along with small-town charm. And with that comes plenty of events, festivals, and programs such as The Barns Bridal Social & Crawl, Friday Night Bandstand Concert Series, and the Route 33 Brew Trail featuring 6 craft breweries. Naturally I had to check it out for myself.
Square 7 Coffee House was our actual first stop upon arrival for a quick bite, but it is housed by Art + Clay on Main which is where our non-food adventures began. Art + Clay is an accessible art studio featuring Paint Your Own Pottery, Canvas Painting, Wet Clay Instruction, Wheel Throwing Studio, and Summer Art Camps. Many of their teachers are artists themselves so you will learn techniques rather than just how to paint a piece of pottery. And you will need all those techniques because they are constantly getting new pieces, I’ve never seen such a variety! I love these types of places but I don’t frequent them often because usually I run out of items I want to paint, but that would not be a problem here. In fact they have many regulars, some of which come from over an hour away! If we had more time I would’ve liked to paint something.
We also learned that outside of just painting, they offer many events including live music on Fridays from 7-10pm with their most popular artist being Kelly Vaughn. People are welcome to bring wine and beer to sit and relax while listening to the music. Another is Sensory Sensitive Sundays where they use low lighting, offer noise cancelling headphones, and even modify the coffee house menu to reduce noise by not offering espresso on Sundays and using an ultra quiet blender. It seems like there’s something for everyone at Art + Clay.
We then leisurely wandered around the surrounding shops in historic downtown Lancaster. There were so many cute shops and we found some unique finds along the way. Some cute shops with home decor, clothing, and more included A Season in Time, Rustic Gals Boutique, Sparkle and Rust, and Miss Molly’s Mercantile – the last which which houses 37 vendors, all local to Lancaster except for one: Brother Veterans from Pataskala of which 100% of their proceeds goes to Wounded Veterans. We bought a vintage camera and some cups at Tracie Lynn’s Collections to match a vintage punch bowl I recently found, perused the books at the The Paperback Exchange under the supervision of the Feline ambassadors Dickens & Webster, admired pretty adornments at Ava Jewelers, ventured into the Emerald Phoenix Mystic Boutique (where we were greeted by yet another friendly feline), and lat bu not least the Keller Market House which is a fresh and local food market along with other locally made goods and workshop offerings.
After lunch we headed to the Sugar Grove Region of the Hocking Hills to Rhododendrum Cove. It was a quick 1.2 mile hike to the top with a view through the trees of the Hocking River Valley to the east. The horseshoe shape of the ridge supports a significant chestnut oak community with Virginia and pitch pine, sourwood and a well-developed heath layer of mountain laurel, blueberry, deerberry, and state listed flame azalea. On the cooler north facing slopes is an environment better suited to eastern hemlock, black birch and another state listed member of the heath family – rhododendron. As a result this is one of the largest native populations of rhododendron in Ohio. But with spring arriving a little later this year the rhododendrums were not yet in bloom but it was still a peaceful hike that we basically had to ourselves. Parts of it reminded me of the Split Rocks at Camp Oty’Okwa that we explored last year.
On our way to our next hike, we stumbled upon Flight of the Hawk Park along the side of the road and couldn’t resist stopping to take a look. This 6-acre sculpture park houses life-size metal sculptures of Ohio’s native wildlife including turkey vultures, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, and a red-railed hawk. Every piece was created by local artist Ric Leichliter.
Our next hike took us to Alley Park, offering over 7 miles of diverse trails featuring 3 lakes, 3 ridge lines, in 340 acres of beautiful woods. Not much into hiking or want to take it easy? Stick to the lower trails. But for a slightly more difficult hike, we decided to climb to the top of the two ridge lines and hiked back through the hilly terrain, hoping to catch a glimpse of the eagles that recently returned to nest. We were not so lucky but we still enjoyed the views of the area. My favorite was actually upon first arriving, seeing the lodge across the water. I felt transported somewhere far into the mountains and not just outside of Columbus.
After a fun but tiring day, we were glad to crawl into bed at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites. We at first felt kind of ridiculous getting a hotel less than an hour from home but damn was it nice to not drive home at the end of the day. Also to not have two cats and a dog disturbing said sleep.
Before we left on Sunday we had planned to catch a beautiful view of Lancaster at the top of Mt. Pleasant in Rising Park, but with the rain it was not so pleasant and we headed home with a reason to come back and explore more.
What are your favorite things to do in Lancaster? Tell us because if we missed something we will be sure to hit it up next time! Next up is the recap of what we ate.
For even more ideas, check out these posts from other bloggers that have visited Lancaster:
- 7 Favorites of Fairfiled County by Sweetly Cbus
- Family Weekend Getaways in Ohio – Fun Things To Do In Lancaster With Kids by Lakes and Lattes
- Donut World by Breakfast with Nick
- Quick Pint: Rockmill Brewery by Breakfast with Nick
- Things to do in Lancaster with kids – What Should We Do Today?
- Three Perfect Days Exploring Lancaster, Ohio by Columbus Date Night Guide
- Traveling the rt. 33 brew trail by Foodfest Adventures
Looking for more weekend adventures in Ohio? Check out my other OH travel posts:
Three years ago: Caramelized Apple & Onion Kolaches
Four years ago: Vegetarian Breakfast Enchiladas
Five years ago: Raspberry Tequila Sunrise
Seven years ago: Dulce de Leche Brownies
Eight years ago: Homemade Salsa