One-Tank Getaway: Buckeye Lake in Central Ohio

Discover the charm of Buckeye Lake, Central Ohio's premier lake destination.

Buckeye Lake, located in central Ohio, is a top destination for all things lake and leisure. This region of quaint villages houses Buckeye Lake State Park, a beloved vacation destination and Ohio’s oldest state park. It also offers plenty of boating and fishing opportunities, as well as (and most importantly) a place to relax: either as a family trip or a place for the grown-ups to get away.

Whether you’re visiting with children or you’ve planned an adults-only trip, Buckeye Lake is the perfect place to escape to when the water is calling you. Here are some recommendations that work for either a family trip or a grown-ups-only escape.

Where to Stay in Buckeye Lake

For the ultimate comfort — and to really get a feel of the lakeside life — it pays to check out the rental options around the lake.

I lucked out and was able to stay at Terrace Retreat, a cute little canal-front cottage. It had all of the luxuries of a home away from home (including a fully outfitted kitchen), and also included an outdoor patio with a fire pit and a “Party Barn” on the side of the house, which was a great place to relax with a beverage and watch the boats pass by on the canal. This rental house also had a boat dock just steps from the back patio. I didn’t have a boat with me when I visited, but I could have rented a canoe or kayak, and journeyed to some of the local watering holes and restaurants in the area with dockside access. Next time!  


What to Do at Buckeye Lake

No mater your interests, Buckeye Lake has something to entertain and delight. You’ll find plenty to do here — either on land or in the water.

Buckeye Lake Dam & Walking Trail

Of course, one of the main things to do at Buckeye Lake is spend time at the lake! You can always rent a canoe, kayak or pontoon boat from one of the many boat rental places around town. But as for me, I like enjoying the lake from land, so walking along the Buckeye Lake dam and walking trail was the perfect way for me to enjoy the lake. This four-mile shoreline path meanders across the top of a dam that connects the North Shore to Lieb’s Island. As you make your way along the paved walking/biking trail, you’ll see beautiful lakeside homes on one side (each decorated with their own unique flair), and the serene Buckeye Lake on the other. Benches line the path every so often, so you can sit, relax and enjoy the view. | 2871 Leibs Island Road, Millersport


Charles Holliday Covered Bridge

The Charles Holliday Covered Bridge was built in the late 1890s, and then was reconstructed in 1982 and moved to its current location at the Historic Lions Club park in Millersport. A short walk through the park will take you right to this bridge, which you can explore and sit inside. This is the only covered bridge around Buckeye Lake, but Fairfield County has many more covered bridges to explore in the area — 15 original covered bridges, to be exact, which is the most for any county in Ohio! | 2905 Chautauqua Blvd., Millersport

Charles Holliday Bridge

Historic Lions Park Heritage Village

On your way to see the covered bridge, you can’t help noticing an area of the park with vintage buildings and signs. This is Heritage Village, an ongoing preservation project by the Millersport Lions Club to move local landmarks and buildings to the park, restore them, and open them up to the public. Visitors to Historic Lions Park can check out the village whenever the park is open (which is every day, from dawn to dusk), but the buildings are typically only open during the Sweet Corn Festival at the end of the summer, and by appointment during the rest of the season. | 2905 Chautauqua Blvd., Millersport


Brooks Park

Families will find a nice little playground at Brooks Park that’s surrounded by big trees and views of the lake. This 2.5-acre park is also a wetland habitat, and was created to reduce nutrients and pollutants entering Buckeye Lake. Enjoy taking a walk through the park and overlook the wetland — you might also spot some animals that live in it! | 3500 S. Bank Road NE, Millersport


Lakebound Pizza Gameroom

This local pizza joint is known for their pizza flights: four individual-sized pizzas with unique combinations of signature recipes. But along with great pizza, you can also get your game on at Lakebound Pizza‘s new gameroom, which features video games, basketball shot games, a selfie station, board games and more. Afterward, cool down with a scoop of Lakebound Pizza’s Philly water ice, available in several flavors. | 12404 Lancaster Street NE, Millersport



A good way to immerse yourself in all-things Buckeye Lake is by going shopping. You’ll find lots of specialty shops in the area, including Buckeye Lake Place, which is a great place to find home goods that celebrate life by the lake. And I couldn’t pass by Teresa’s Boutique at the Lake without stopping in and trying on a few things (and eventually leaving with a cool pair of joggers!). This clothing boutique offers comfortable and cute clothing, shoes and accessories for women.


Where to Eat in Buckeye Lake

There’s something to please every palate at the dining establishments at Buckeye Lake. Here’s a sampling of some of the ones I tried during my visit.

Horvath’s Harbor

Great patio views of the canal await you at Horvath’s Harbor, a restaurant with creative cocktails and tasty food. This is a hot spot on the weekdays during happy hour (3 to 5 p.m.) and also on the weekends, when you’ll often hear musicians playing live on the patio. Pull up one of Horvath’s Adirondack chairs on the patio that overlook the canal, sip on a cold beverage and enjoy your time at the lake! | 14675 Zion Road, Thornville

Horvath’s Harbor

The Blue Herron Kitchen & Pub

One of Buckeye Lake’s newest dining spots, The Blue Herron Kitchen & Pub is known for their water-inspired fare. You’ll find an abundance of seafood dishes here, as well as classic American favorites like burgers, sandwiches and salads. Do yourself a favor and order a bowl of The Blue Herron’s lobster bisque, which is served with a perfectly toasted crostini and drizzled with olive oil. It’s absolutely creamy and dreamy. | 10880 Mill Dam Road, Hebron

The Blue Herron

Hereinafter Cocktail Tavern

Equal parts classy and unpretentious, Hereinafter Cocktail Tavern is the kind of place where you immediately feel welcomed — regulars and visitors alike. Their extensive menu of cocktails are elevated yet simple, served both shaken and stirred. The wine list is equally impressive and is thoughtfully curated from wineries all around the world. Stop in for some comforting Southern dishes, like shrimp and grits or fried green tomatoes. Or just go straight for dessert (like I did) and get a bubbling skillet of seasonal peaches-and-cream cobbler. | 3430 N. Bank Road NE, Millersport


Pappy D’s Island House

Located on Liebs Island, Pappy D’s Island House is a great place to visit after you’ve taken a long walk or bike ride around Buckeye Lake Dam & Walking Trail; it’s just steps away. The menu is large and straightforward, and there’s something for everyone here (even picky kids!). Be sure to pull out your phone and take a selfie in front of the colorful murals at the entrance. | 2977 Greenlawn Ave., Millersport


Weldon’s Ice Cream Factory

With its retro decor and inviting atmosphere, Weldon’s Ice Cream Factory has been a local Buckeye Lake institution since 1930. They offer a wide variety of ice cream flavors, from classics like chocolate and vanilla, to more modern creations like lemon blueberry cheesecake and salted caramel chocolate pretzel. Whether you decide on a single scoop in a cone or a decadent sundae topped with all the fixings, be sure to enjoy your creamy concoction on the huge covered porch, if the weather allows, which overlooks the canal. | 2887 Canal Drive, Millersport


Dockside Donuts

If you’re in Buckeye Lake on a Friday or Saturday, set an alarm to visit Dockside Donuts, available only on these two days between the hours of 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. Located inside Karen’s Bakery & Custom Cakes, Dockside Donuts serves yeasted and cake donuts, as well as donut holes and gourmet long johns — the perfect sweet breakfast treat to kick off your weekend at the lake. On days that aren’t Friday or Saturday, you’ll find many goodies to satisfy your sweet tooth, like cream puffs, pastries and cake slices. | 12478 Lancaster Street, Millersport


Millersport Coffee

Millersport’s favorite hangout, Millersport Coffee is a great place to find a cup of coffee and a quick breakfast before heading out to the lake. You’ll find lots of space to spread out, either in their spacious dining room with comfy couches and free wifi, or outside on the patio, where you’ll also find a basketball court nearby. | 11985 Lancaster Street, Millersport

Millersport Coffee


For more information about Buckeye Lake and the many ways to explore this beautiful central Ohio area, visit