Hocking Hills — which refers to Hocking Hills State Park, Hocking Hills State Forest and the town of Logan in southeast Ohio — is a nature-lover’s paradise. It’s also a great place for families! There is an abundance of adventure and natural beauty within Hocking Hills’ rolling hills, caves and waterfalls, as well as family-friendly attractions everywhere. Here are our favorite spots to visit when exploring this corner of Ohio.
Where to Stay in Hocking Hills
As you drive around the Hocking Hills area, you will see lots of signs for cabins tucked into the woods. It won’t take you long to notice that Hocking Hills is cabin country, baby! If you have the means and the desire, staying in a cabin will make your Hocking Hills experience that much more authentic.
We stayed at The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, a cozy bed and breakfast surrounded on three sides by Hocking Hills State Park. It offers lots of unique lodging options, including luxury cabins perfect for a family of four, all the way up to lodges that sleep 12. Our two-story cabin offered all of the comforts of home — like wifi and a full kitchen — as well as some bonuses, like a two-person whirlpool tub, a gas fireplace and a large grill on the deck to cook out. All of the cabins are set just close enough to the main Inn that you can walk to breakfast and dinner at the Inn’s restaurant, Kindred Spirits (and a full breakfast is included each morning of your stay). But the cabins are also far enough into the woods that they provide a respite from all noise except the sounds of bird calls and scurrying woodland critters. The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls is the place to stay for peace and quiet.
For parents who are looking to get away kid-free and want to glamp in style, The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls offers yurts and geodomes, which have expansive viewing windows inside that let you experience the majesty of the wilderness from the comfort of your room.
Cabins aren’t the only lodging option in Hocking Hills, though. If you’re looking for a place to stay that’s a little less country and a little more rock ‘n roll, then check out The Worthington of Logan, a brand-new (as of winter 2021) boutique hotel in downtown Logan. Decked out in Easter-egg colors, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a mid-century modern tiki lounge. This 36-room hotel is built around an indoor atrium with skylights to give the feel of the tropics all year. Guests can take a dip in the Bali swimming pool, get a bite to eat at the tiki breakfast bar that’s included with your stay, and relax in environmentally friendly rooms that are outfitted with LED lights and minimal disposable plastics. Because The Worthington of Logan is located downtown, it’s within walking distance to restaurants and other amenities.
What to Do in Hocking Hills
A visit to Hocking Hills wouldn’t be complete without exploring the vast and beautiful nature that surrounds you in this part of southeast Ohio. In Hocking Hills, there are a plethora of caves to see, hills to hike, waterfalls to witness and nature to explore.
Old Man’s Cave is one of the area’s seven major hiking trails, and rewards you with gorgeous views of waterfalls and caves. This hike starts at the visitor’s center — which has indoor bathrooms, so be sure to make a stop there before you set off! — and makes a one-way loop 1.5 miles around. This was my family’s favorite hike, because it was easy for little legs and not too strenuous, and had us walking through tunnels and caves, which is always fun!
If you’re looking for something more adventurous for older kids, take a hike to the Rock House, the region’s only true cave in the park. You’ll see breathtaking scenery on this mile-long hike as you descend steps to view The Rock House, a 150-foot cliff of Black Hand sandstone. Signs at the start of the hike warn visitors to stay on the path and keep young children within arms reach, and for good reason: This hike will take you very close to the edge of cliffs!
Other hikes in Hocking Hills include the short and paved hike to see Ash Cave, a cave that measures nearly 700 feet from end to end and is 100 feet deep. If you’re hiking to Old Man’s Cave, make a detour to also see Cedar Falls, which is a half-mile hike that will take you to a seasonal waterfall that usually runs in the spring, summer and early fall. A visit to Rockbridge State Nature Preserve will send you on a hike to view Ohio’s largest natural bridge, which arches across a ravine.
Hocking Hills is filled with fun things for families to do, and filled with passionate people who love to show you how much they love what they do.
Jack Pine Studio is an example of one of these places that you will find in Hocking Hills. At this glass art studio, you can watch artisans blow glass and create the Jack Pine signature pumpkin. There’s no need to book a tour — just show up at the studio and take a seat, and you’ll be treated to a free and educational demo. When you’re done, you can pop into the gift shop and purchase a souvenir, if you wish.
If you’ll be in the Hocking Hills area on a Saturday, sign up for a class at Lockhart Ironworks, where children ages 12 and older can spend the day learning the lost art of blacksmithing with Southern Ohio School of Blacksmithing. This family-owned and operated blacksmithing shop offers hands-on classes where children can learn the basics of blacksmithing, and then take home their creations at the end of the day.
Butterfly Ridge is another must-see for families, and is a great Hocking Hills attraction if you are visiting the area in the spring, summer and early fall months. Take a guided or self-guided tour around the 21-acre garden that’s bursting with foliage to catch a glimpse of butterflies and other pollinators in the wild. There’s also a nature play area for kids to explore, as well as a tree house where you can see the grounds from up high. For a unique nighttime experience, visit Butterfly Ridge for their weekly event, The Mothing Zone, where visitors can view hundreds of moths and glow-in-the-dark caterpillars that you can only see at night!
Adventure seekers can get their fix at Hocking Hills Canopy Tours, where you can soar through the treetops on one of their many zip-line adventure tours. Young children (between 35 pounds and 140 pounds) can try zip lining on the Dragonfly Tour, which includes eight kid-friendly zip lines, three fun bridges, and a sky tunnel. This tour is perfect for children who have never zip lined before (like mine!) because the people who work there are great with kids and nervous nellies (including nervous nelly parents), and everyone can go at their own pace.
An expertly guided tour through pristine Ohio nature with High Rock Adventures is great for families with children of all ages. Our ecotour took us on an adventure through High Rock Adventures’ private grounds, and had us climbing up rocks and through caves, shimmying between boulders and down hills, identifying edible plants, and using all of our senses to learn more about the Ohio wilderness. For families with older or more adventurous kids, High Rock Adventures can show you how much nature rocks with their rock climbing and rappelling experiences, including Ohio’s only canyon rappel.
Look sharp! The Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum is located next door to the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center, and it’s a must-see for families. (Plus, it’s free!) Open when the Welcome Center is open, this tiny museum houses more than 3,400 pencil sharpeners, in shapes both familiar and unusual. This is definitely one of the more unique museums you will see, and it’s right here in Hocking Hills!
Families looking for a game of putt-putt will find what they’re looking for at Hocking Hills Mini Golf, which is open year-round and is wheelchair friendly. If you visit during the off season (in the winter or early spring), you might be greeted with a sign to pay for your round of mini golf on the honor system, with a cash box affixed to the side of the building in which to deposit your fee. This mini golf course is located in the Hocking Hills Market shopping center, where you’ll find lots of antique shops and dining opportunities.
Where to Eat in Hocking Hills
One of the best meals we had during our trip to Hocking Hills was at Kindred Spirits Restaurant, located at The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls. Guests of the Inn and non-guests are invited to make reservations at this casual fine-dining restaurant, which serves breakfast and dinner all year long, and lunch from Memorial Day through early November. The menu at Kindred Spirits changes with the season, and they purposefully use ingredients from local Ohio purveyors, including local jam, honey, coffee and beer. The children’s dinner menu includes seven different options, so there’s something for every appetite!
If you’re looking for a casual sit-down meal that features familiar favorites, you’ll find it at Ridge Inn, a cute and comfortable restaurant in the Laurelville area of Hocking Hills. They offer a variety of specials and kid-friendly meals (also, smoothies!), as well as their area-famous donuts and donut holes, which you can find there on weekends.
Weaver’s Market & Deli is a great place to stop to grab a sandwich to go before you head out on a day of hiking and exploring Hocking Hills with the family. You’ll also find sweets (like homemade candy and pie slices) and beverages at this Mennonite carryout deli, as well as staples like packaged egg noodles and local popcorn to take home.
Coffee-loving parents who need their caffeine fix will find a great cup of joe at Hocking Hills Coffee Emporium, which offers fair trade, organic, shade grown coffee at this women-owned and women-produced coffee house. Their breakfast menu — which includes breakfast sandwiches and quiche slices — is served all day, and they also offer a wide variety of locally made baked goods, as well as unique gifts in their on-site gift shop.
In the mood for waffles and wings? How about axe throwing? You’ll find all that and more at Hungry Buffalo, located in the middle of Hocking Hills, with a restaurant on one side and an axe-throwing bar on the other. The menu at Hungry Buffalo includes family favorites like burgers and fries, as well as steaks, ribs and meatloaf, plus a full kids menu. Hungry Buffalo is currently offering indoor dining and takeout only (no outdoor seating). When you’re done with your meal, adults can try their hand at a game of axe throwing, which is located right next door.
Finish off your day with a cup of frozen yogurt from Hocking Hills Frozen Yogurt, where you can make your own custom cup of creamy deliciousness, and top it with your choice of anything from candy to cookies to boba balls. Located in the middle of downtown Logan, the parlor’s patio seating is a great place to enjoy your frozen yogurt and watch the town traffic and people mill by.
This is just a small taste of what there is for families to do in Hocking Hills. For more ideas and information about Hocking Hills, visit explorehockinghills.com.