>Exploring the Hocking Hills

>This weekend we headed to the lush Hocking Hills to celebrate Mother’s Day. I’d heard so many great things about the area, and I couldn’t wait to explore it myself.

We drove up and down winding roads, relishing the highly unusual feeling of climbing little peaks in Ohio. The pastoral landscape was so lush, dotted with the occasional cow or horse.  The kids were craning their heads to take it all in, eager to be the first to spot our final destination.

They couldn’t believe that we were going to stay in an actual castle, right here in Ohio. I couldn’t quite believe it myself. But when we pulled up to Ravenwood Castle, we stood in front of a real castle, complete with turrets and gargoyles.

In addition to the castle, Ravenwood also has a number of cute little cottages that provide a little more privacy, quite handy when you’re traveling with little kids. We were booked in the Silversmith Cottage, painted a sweet petal pink, much to Juliette’s delight. It looked like something straight out of a fairytale, and we all slept like royalty. We were guests of Ravenwood for the night, but room rate for our cottage, which slept six, is $195. Other rooms average $150 a night.

We spent the next day doing a lot of hiking and exploring. The Hocking Hills have a network of state parks filled with spectacular caves and waterfalls. Ash cave was our first stop, a huge recessed cave made by centuries of dripping water that continues to pour over the edge today. The kids had a blast running around, climbing the rocks, and getting messy in the water. Their favorite part of the hike was the walking stick each one chose along the way.

Beautiful ash cave

On the way home, we stopped off at the most amazing, idiosyncratic place. Etta’s Cafe and Lunchbox Museum. This little place is filled with hundreds of lunchboxes, and the owners, Ladora Ousley and Tim Seewer, will happily walk you through the cultural history of the US as told through decades of schoolchildren’s lunchboxes.

Every major character and TV show from the 1950s on is represented including Charlie’s Angels, Rambo, Little House on the Prairie. One wall is dedicated to the evolution of Barbie, decade by decade. After indulging in a walk down memory lane, we sat down to have lunch. The food was delicious, and homey. Our favorite was the steaming bowls of chicken noodle soup with rough, homemade noodles. The kids played with the chickens and cats milling around outside while Steve and I slurped our bowls clean.

If you’re ever in the area, Etta’s is not to be missed.

We returned from our weekend in the Hocking Hills thoroughly relaxed from all that fresh air. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend Mother’s Day weekend.

2 Responses to >Exploring the Hocking Hills

  1. >My husband and I spent an anniversary weekend at Ravenwood Castle. We stayed in one of the "village" building too. I was surprised that the Castle had rooms with ye olde hot tubs!

  2. >I have lived in Ohio all of my life and you continue to teach me new things about it! I had no idea about the castle at Hocking Hills, or the fun cottages (and I even went to college nearby). Thanks for sharing…I'll have to check into it! 🙂

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