24 exciting things to do in Southeast Ohio this summer
Ready to venture beyond your own backyard this summer?
If the answer is a resounding "yes," then this guide is perfect for you.
We know that everyone has been longing for the change of season and a return to more normal circumstances, Well, here we are!
To help guide you on your journeys throughout the Buckeye State, we sought the help of media partners from around Ohio. The result is a guide to statewide fun, split up into sections of the state, including this guide to Southeast Ohio.
Things to do in central Ohio:Looking for things to do around Columbus this summer? Here are some attractions worth visiting
Cincinnati and beyond: Plenty of adventures, festivals and music await in Southwest Ohio
Just as some semblance of normalcy has begun to blossom in Southeast Ohio, so have dozens of exciting opportunities to take advantage of the region’s festive summer season. Take a moment to check them out below.
Conservatories, botanical gardens and zoos
14000 International Road, Cumberland (Muskingum County)
The Wilds is a nonprofit safari park and conservation center where zebras, cheetahs, camels, rhinos, giraffes and many other exotic animals freely roam 9,154 acres of reclaimed coal mine land. Spend a day exploring the park on an open-Air Safari, or make your adventure an overnight one and stay in one of The Wilds’ various accommodations, including the cabins at Straker Lake, each of which can house up to six people. Many other activities, such as catch-and-release fishing, zip lining, horseback tours, and more, are also available.
Pricing: Open-Air Safari (2.5 hours): Board an open-air vehicle to enjoy a day tour experience with a wildlife guide for $35 per person; Wildside Tour (2.5 hours): Pair up with someone on the Wilds’ animal management staff to see the inner-workings of The Wilds: $125 a person. for other tour and activities pricing; check website for details.
Information: TheWilds.org, 740-638-5030
Blue Bell Preserve
Athens (Athens County), visit website for directions https://www.athensconservancy.org/bluebell-preserve/
Made up of 230 acres adjacent to both the Hocking Adena Bikeway and the National Wayne Forest, Athens County’s Bluebell Preserve is famous for its dazzling array of eye-catching wildflowers. Managed by nonprofit land trust The Athens Conservancy, the Blue Bell Preserve features a popular bikeway, a collapsed coal mine, the remains of a railroad, and several Native American mounds.
Mission Oaks Gardens
424 Hunter Ave., Zanesville (Muskingum)
Although nearly undetectable from the residential streets that surround it, the Muskingum Valley Park District's Mission Oaks Gardens is made up of a bountiful seven acres showcasing rare and unusual plants. In addition to extensive collections of rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias, Mission Oaks Gardens also has two waterfalls, several walking paths, a natural bog, a creek and a widely renowned conifer garden.
Admission: free, and the gardens are open seven days a week from dawn to dusk.
Outdoor music and drama
Stuart’s Opera House Summer Concert Series
Robbins Crossing Historical Village, 3301 Hocking Parkway (southeast Intersection by Loop Road/Hocking Parkway), Nelsonville (Athens County)
Throughout July, August, and September, Stuart’s Opera House is hosting free, outdoors musical performances on the grounds of Robbins Crossing Historical Village. Scheduled shows are July 15 (Columbus rockers Dawna), Aug. 12 (TBA), and Sept. 16 (TBA).
Blame My Roots Country Music Festival
Valleyview Campground, 43263 National Road, Belmont (Belmont County)
Those who may have despaired over the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 Jamboree in the Hills country music festival have a reason to rejoice: the Blame My Roots County Music Festival is headed to the Jamboree’s traditional setting, the Valleyview Campground, July 16-17. The festival’s lineup includes Lee Brice, Adam Doleac, Walker Montgomery, headliner Miranda Lambert, and more.
Admission: single-day, $59 Friday, $85 Saturday (concert only); two-day (concert only) from $145; various VIP packages available; check website for details
Camping: primitive, $165; camping at West Pike, $400; camping with electric on-site, $400
Secrest Summer Concert Series
Secrest Auditorium, 334 Shinnick St., Zanesville (Muskingum County)
Throughout the summer the Secrest Auditorium in Zanesville will host a series of free, outdoors summer concerts in the auditorium’s parking lot. The series kicks off July 1 with McGuffey Lane and continues on July 15 (Hotel California: A Tribute to The Eagles), July 29 (The Hillbilly Way); and Aug. 12 (The Menus). Attendees are encouraged to take chairs, and refreshments will be available for purchase.
French Art Colony’s Hot Summer Nights 2021 Concert Series
French Art Colony, 530 1st Ave., Gallipolis (Gallia County)
Select evenings throughout the summer, multi-arts center the French Art Colony will open the gates to their pavilion starting at 6:30 p.m. for live music that begins at 7 p.m. This summer the series is spotlighting musicians such as Southeast Ohio songwriter Brent Patterson and acoustic act The Stringbenders. Snacks and a cash bar will be available. The lineup:
- July 1 (The Stringbenders)
- July 8 (Next Level)
- July 15 (Brent Patterson)
- July 22 (Matthew Adam Metheney)
- July 29 (Hard Reign)
- Aug. 5 (The Stringbenders)
- Aug. 12 (TBA)
- Aug. 19 (Next Level)
Admission: $5; or free for French Art Colony members
Information: frenchartcolony.org, 740-446-3834
Adelphia Summer Concert Series
205 2nd St., Marietta (Washington County)
The series brings a wide variety of local, regional, and national (“national” as in hip-hop giants Bone Thugs-N-Harmony!) acts to historic downtown Marietta. The lineup: July 30 (Paul Thorn); July 31 (Buckcherry); Aug. 27 (The Lonely Ones and RA); Aug. 28 (Afroman & Nappy Roots); Oct. 1 (TBA); Oct. 2 (Bone Thugs-N-Harmony)
Admission: tickets vary by performer, but range from $30 to $50
Information: https://www.theadelphia.com/summer-concert-series/, 740-374-8278
The Living Word Outdoor Drama
6010 College Hill Road, Cambridge (Guernsey County)
Kicking off their season on Aug. 6, The Living Word Outdoor Drama is Ohio’s only outdoor passion play, staging a dramatization of the life of Jesus Christ.
Admission: $18 for ages 13 to 59, or $16 for senior citizens 60 and older, $6 for ages 4 to 12
Information: livingworddrama.org, 740-439-2761
Dairy Barn Arts Center
8000 Dairy Lane, Athens (Athens County)
Every two years, the Dairy Barn Arts Center stages Quilt National, an internationally renowned juried fine-art quilt exhibition that is the longest running of its kind in the world. This summer Quilt National is on display at the Dairy Barn Arts Center through Sept. 3.
Admission: $10, or $8 for students and senior citizens; fee for members; face masks are mandatory.
Information: dairybarn.org, 740-592-4981
Belmont County Heritage Museum
101 E. Main St, St. Clairsville (Belmont County)
The museum is located in the historic grounds of what was once the Belmont County Sheriff’s residence, showcasing the history of Belmont County with a wide range of artifacts. This summer the museum is showcasing aspects of the county’s history with their Second Saturday Speaker Series, featuring presentations from a variety of speakers with ties to Belmont County History. On July 10, learn about Hendrysburg’s Hopalong Cassidy (the beloved cowboy played by William Boyd) with Laura Bates, founder of the Hopalong Cassidy museum in Cambridge. On Aug. 14, hear attorney, author and historian Dan Frizzi Jr. speak on his recently published book “Just a Grocer’s Son,” which looks back on his family’s history owning regional grocery store Frizzi’s.
Information: belmontcountyheritagemuseum.org, 740-298-7020
Clark Gable Museum
138 Charleston St., Cadiz (Harrison County)
Explore the humble beginnings of one of old Hollywood’s most internationally recognized stars at the Clark Gable Museum. Housed in Gable’s birthplace and childhood home, the museum boasts a collection of artifacts from Gable’s life, including both his boyhood wintertime sled as well as a 1954 Cadillac he purchased in the prime of his career.
Admision: $5.75, or $5 for senior citizens, $3.50 for those 5 to 16
33rd Annual Beast of the East Baseball Tournament
Ohio Valley Mall, 67800 Mall Ring Road, St. Clairsville (Belmont County)
Over 160 teams will take part in the 33rd annual Beast of the East Baseball Tournament July 1-4, which includes a “baseball showcase” for aspiring baseball players to demonstrate their skill for more than 50 college coaches and professional baseball scouts.
Festivals and fairs
Meigs County Fair
Meigs County Fairgrounds, 41850 Fairgrounds Lane, Pomeroy (Meigs County)
County fairs in rural areas are a little like annual family reunions for their close-knit communities — albeit family reunions with demolition derbies and good-natured competitions such as the Meigs County Fair’s “Pretty Baby Contest.” The fair will take place Aug. 16-21
Admission: $8 Monday-Saturday (Includes rides); free for children younger than 2 (must pay to ride)
Gallipolis River Recreation Festival
16 State St., Gallipolis (Gallia County)
Gallipolis’ River Recreation Festival, July 2-3, celebrates one of Gallia County’s greatest assets: the Ohio River. This Fourth of July adjacent festival has everything one could ask of a small town summer celebration: a community talent show, free inflatables, and, most important, fireworks.
Information: https://www.gallipolisriverrec.com, 740-446-0596
Breweries and wineries
Twisted Vine Family Vineyard
1712 Jackson Pike, Gallipolis (Gallia County)
This family founded and run winery crafts a number of sweet and dry wines in-house. They also serve cheeses and other snacks sourced from Ohio businesses to enjoy alongside their wines.
Information: https://www.twistedvinefamilyvineyard.com/, 740-446-3990
West End Ciderworks and Distillery
234 W. Washington St., Athens (Athens County)
Athens’ West End Ciderworks and Distillery crafts preservative-free and unfiltered cider from Ohio-grown apples and mixes up some of the most sophisticated cocktails in the region with craft spirits from their sister company, West End Distillery. The comfy and classy bar also features a number of tasty, locally sourced snacks to enjoy alongside your beverage.
Information: https://athenswestend.com/ciderhouse/, 740-590-5364
Wooly Pig Farm Brewery
23631 Township Road 167, Fresno (Coshocton County)
Occupying a converted barn on the grounds of a 150-year-old farm, the Wooly Pig Farm Brewery showcases brewmaster Kevin Ely’s exploration of the German tradition of teaming beer. Ely was trained in this art by travelling throughout Bavaria and visiting brewhouses, which is also where he admired the region’s curly haired mangalitsa pigs from whom the brewery gets its name. Now, wooly pigs live on the farm, consuming the brewery’s spent grain as a part of the brewery’s dedication to sustainable farming practices.
Information: https://www.woolypigfarmbrewery.com/, 740-693-5050
5400 Route 204, Glenford (Perry County)
Perry County’s Vinberige Vineyards promises “a wine for every palate” that can be enjoyed (sometimes with the accompaniment of live music) on their patio or in their tasting room.
Information: https://www.vinberigevineyards.com/, 740-605-4499
Salt Fork State Park
14755 Cadiz Road, Lore City (Guernsey County)
Salt Fork State Park is made up of thousands of acres of open meadows, wooded hills, winding trail systems for hikers, and more. The park features two marinas, eight launch ramps, and even a top tier 18-hole golf course.
The caves of Hocking Hills State Park
19852 Route 664, Logan (Hocking County)
The awe-inspiring caves spread throughout Hocking Hills State Park were carved thousands of years ago when the Wisconsin Glacier began to thaw and shrink, its water running across what would someday be Hocking Hills State Park and carving out rock shelters into the pliable sediment. The resulting caves are enormous — the Rock House cave alone has a 25-foot tall ceiling. Even after the glacier, the region had an intriguing history, reflected in the names of the caves. The enormously popular Old Man’s Cave got its name from a hermit who alledgedly lived in it more than 400 years ago. When colonists first explored the region, they found piles of ash in the cave now known as Ash Cave.
Summer 2021:Increased vaccinations spur demand for travel
Baileys Trail System
8389 W. Bailey Road, Millfield (Athens County)
The Baileys Trail System in Wayne National Forest is an ambitious and exciting project managed by the Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia that connects Chauncey to Doanville, and in the future will connect Buchtel to Nelsonville, via a series of hiking trails. The trails are organized and compiled on the Baileys Trail System website by difficulty, terrain, distance and status.
Information: https://baileystrailsystem.org/trails/, 740-517-8445
Funding for outdoor projects:Rural Ohio eyes expanded infrastructure as Congress brings back earmarks
Moonville Rail Trail
Township Highway 18, McArthur (Vinton County)
Hiking enthusiasts and paranormal thrill-seekers alike have long been aware of the Moonville Tunnel, one of the only reminders of the small mining town that once existed nearby, as well as one of the most proportedly haunted locations in the region. Currently, a 16-mile trail that winds through the Zaleski State Forest, Lake Hope State Park, the Moonville Tunnel and the nearby King’s Hollow Tunnel is in the works.