We share what to do, where to hike, where to eat and where to shop day trips in Lakeside Chautauqua, Hocking Hills State Park and Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Hiking trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park and where to eat on the trip
We are lucky to have a national park just up the road. Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers beautiful views and plenty of hiking trails. There’s even a scenic railway everywhere, if hiking isn’t your thing. Make a day of it and check out these must-sees and must-sees in and around the park.
Food on the way: Blue Door Cafe & Bakery
Start your day with a bite to eat at Blue Door Cafe & Bakery in Cuyahoga Falls. It has been recognized by The New York Times and TripAdvisor as serving the best brunch in Ohio, according to BlueDoorCafeBakery.com.
With a menu featuring classics and unique lunches and brunches, plus delicious pastries, you’ll have plenty to refuel before your day of hiking begins.
Hiking: Cornice Trail
Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s Ledges Trail has beautiful views along the way and lots of rock formations. With at least 80 feet of elevation gain the entire trail and a rocky, unpaved surface, the trail is best walked in sturdy walking shoes or boots. As always when hiking, it is important to watch where you are stepping. Climbing the rocks is also prohibited.
Park at the Ledges trailhead and grab a map from the large notice board near the gate. The trail system is complex so best to follow the map and watch for signs. The Ledges Trail is a 1.8 mile loop. You can use the connecting trails for a short hike. Be sure to check out the Ledges Overlook for a great view from above.
Hike: Brandywine Gorge Loop
To avoid the crowds, do this hike early or late in the day. Park at the Brandywine Falls trailhead and pick up a trail map from the notice board near the restrooms. The Gorge Loop includes sections of several trails. This is a 1.5 mile hike with 160 feet of elevation gain.
According to nps.gov, here are the directions for the hike. “Follow the path to the falls, then turn left onto the trail just before the boardwalk. The clockwise loop takes you through the gorge, over a footbridge over the stream, and back up the other side. Keep turning right at all trail intersections. After passing the Brandywine Falls Inn and crossing the creek – and the falls – turn right at the small notice board. The path leads to the Falls viewing boardwalk and parking lot. For a closer look at the falls, follow the signs and descend approximately 80 steps to a lower observation deck.
For more trails, visit nps.gov/cuva/index.htm.
Thing to do: Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
If you plan your trip right, you can hike part of the day and enjoy a scenic ride through the park on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway. This gives you a different view than the trails and protects you from the weather while viewing wildlife. Check cvsr.org for special events and takeoff times.
What to do and where to eat in Lakeside Chautauqua
Life is a bit slower in Lakeside Chautauqua in Ottawa County. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the community celebrates summer the old-fashioned way, with outdoor activities being the main source of entertainment.
Thing to do: Relaxed water ride
Start your day with a walk by the water. The peaceful sounds of nature will put you in a good mood. As you walk, enjoy the architecture of the beautiful riverside residences. Many have bright, cheerful facades.
Shopping places: Marilyn’s and Marilyn’s Two
Step back in time at Marilyn’s and Marilyn’s Two. These shops look like souvenir shops from the 90s. There is a nostalgic feel to it which is exciting for adults. Browse t-shirts, sweatshirts, sandals, sunglasses, books, toys, rock paintings and a large wall of candy at Marilyn’s. Marilyn’s Two features nautical decor, clothing, greeting cards and books, gourmet food, mugs, jewelry and more.
Thing to do: Shuffleboard
Try your hand at shuffleboard. The outdoor facility is open Memorial Day through Labor Day and welcomes all ages. Play with family or friends, or check LakesideOhio.com for the tournament program.
Where to eat: Bluebird Cafe
Have lunch by the water at the Bluebird Cafe. Serving salads, smoothies and more, it’s the perfect place for a light and healthy lunch.
Coffee/ice cream: Lakeside Coffee & Cream
If you can’t decide between coffee and ice cream, grab both at Lakeside Coffee & Cream. The shop sells gourmet coffees, teas, and baked goods, as well as premium hard ice cream and soft serve ice cream. Enjoy your treats inside the cozy shop or dine outside on the terrace.
Where to eat: Sloopy’s Sports Cafe
Sports Cafe Sloopy has a casual vibe. Many patrons come straight from the water, donning their bathing suits, and the atmosphere is fun and friendly. The walls are covered in memorabilia from the state of Ohio.
Choose from a variety of gourmet and traditional pizzas, plus salads, sandwiches and pastas with Sloopy’s signature red sauce.
For more information about Lakeside, including admission and parking rates as well as accommodations, visit LakesideOhio.com.
Another site to see in the region: the Marblehead lighthouse
In the area, it is worth stopping at Marblehead Lighthouse. You can climb the stairs to the top or just enjoy the view along the water. For more information, visit MarbleheadOhio.org Lighthouse.
What to do while hiking in Hocking Hills State Park and where to eat nearby
Ohio is a bit of a hiker’s paradise. After hiking Cuyahoga Valley National Park, keep your boots laced up for Hocking Hills State Park. Here are some hiking trails and local places to grab some food.
Coffee: Hocking Hills Coffee Emporium
Before you start your day of hiking, refuel with a coffee from the Hocking Hills Coffee Emporium. The cafe is locally owned and operated.
Beyond regular coffee, they serve Nitro Cold Brew and Kombucha Probiotic Tea on tap. They also offer homemade breakfast paninis, quiches, pizzas, lunch paninis and soups. Or grab a sandwich to go to enjoy your hike. The shop also offers desserts and souvenir-type items, which might be nice after a long day of hiking.
For more information, visit hockinghillscoffeeemporium.com.
Hike: Cedar Falls
One of seven major hiking trails in Hocking Hills State Park, Cedar Falls is about half a mile long and relatively strenuous. The one-way trail features a waterfall, bridges, and unique rock formations. In the middle is a seasonal waterfall, accessible by descending steps and along a dirt road.
The trail is clearly marked with signs, but can be challenging for those not in good physical shape or with health issues. It has a moderate incline and takes around 40 minutes to complete.
Hike: Cave of Ashes
Ash Cave is another beautiful hiking trail in Hocking Hills. It’s about half a mile long and takes about 40 minutes to complete. The paved trail is one-way and crosses a beautiful gorge lined with majestic hemlocks and cliffs.
The mid-point is marked by a recessed cave and a seasonal waterfall. After the waterfall, hikers should continue a series of steps to the rim trail which, if it turns right, leads back along the rim to the parking lot or, if it turns left, takes you to Cedar Falls in
Hike: Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve
Conkle’s Hollow offers two hiking trails. There is the upper trail and the lower trail. The Lower Trail is three quarters of a mile and takes about an hour to walk. The Upper Trail is a 2 mile long one way trail. This hike is considered strenuous for those who are not in good physical shape or who do not hike regularly. It has a steep incline, cliffs and paths with visible roots. It is not suitable for young children.
As with all trails, hikers should stay on the path and be aware of their surroundings. For more information, visit TheHockingHills.org.
Food: Pizza crossing
Voted the best pizza place in Ohio by USA Today, Pizza Crossing in Logan, Ohio is definitely worth a trip to town.
Beer: Brewery 33
End your day trip at Brewery 33. Choose from IPAs, stouts, porters, shandies, ambers, browns, pale ales, experimentals, seltzers, bocks, sours, cream ales, golden ales and more. If the weather is nice, enjoy them at the beer garden, the largest in southeast Ohio, according to Brasserie33.com.
Visit the site for more information.