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5 Ways to Experience the Hocking Hills

Head for the hills of southeast Ohio with our helpful guide.

Getaway to Hocking Hills1. Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls
Co-owner Terry Lingo really knows how to make you feel at home in the hills. "I do a little bit of everything around here, except the books," explains Lingo when we ask if he really made the creamy pumpkin pie we're enjoying for dessert. And, just like he built the log table in the Fireside Lounge (not to mention the rustic nine-room inn that houses it), he updated five 1840s cabins and constructed 12 cozy cottages, all scattered around this 75-acre property located on the western edge of Hocking Hills State Park. His favourite refuge? The secluded Strong Wolf Cabin, equipped with a kitchen, wood stove and whirlpool tub for two.
21190 State Rte. 374, Logan, 740-380-7489

Getaway to Hocking Hills


2. Rockmill Brewery
If there's a noticeably homey feel to this brewery, it may be because you're in the owner's actual house, on his family's 11-acre property. Working with a terroir similar to that of Wallonia (thanks to the prevalent Blackhand sandstone in the area), Matthew Barbee creates Belgian-style ales that are meant to enhance your meal, not wash it down. Pair the whisky-tinged Cask Aged Tripel with Stilton to see what we mean. 
5705 Lithopolis Rd. N.W., Lancaster, 740-205-8076


3. Pearl's
This family-run roadside diner, owned by Sandy Watrus, staffed by her sisters-in-law and named after her mother, serves down-home cooking with a side of country sass. The grilled biscuits are the best we had in the hills, but good luck getting your hands on its most famous dish. When we asked Watrus how early we had to get there for some of her fried cornmeal mush, her response was pragmatic, if not practical: "Yesterday." 
1545 E. Front St., Logan, 740-385-3663


4. Grandma Gatewood Trail
In 1958, Emma Gatewood, a 68-year-old grandmother of 24, became the first woman to hike all 3,516 kilometres of the Appalachian Trail (and she did it in her tennis shoes). This 10-kilometre stretch, named in her honour, was a favourite. Hike the hemlock-lined gorge from Old Man's Cave past huge Blackhand sandstone formations, south to Ash Cave. This 200-metre-wide natural auditorium still serves as a place of worship.
19852 State Rte. 664 S., Logan, 740-385-6842


5. Straitsville Special Moonshine
"You want the local stuff or the New Straitsville Special?" In Prohibition-era Chicago, those were your options. Today, you can get 90-proof high-quality corn whisky on the up and up thanks to local Doug Nutter, who took a 100-year-old family bootleg recipe straight, after state liquor laws were relaxed in 2012. Stop in for a Shiny Pickle, a shot of shine with a pickle-juice chaser.
105 W. Main St., New Straitsville, 740-394-2622


Nelsonville

3 ways to go to town in Nelsonville

In nearby Nelsonville, Rhapsody Music & Dining serves hardy seasonal fare – but make sure to leave room for its beignets.
18 Public Sq., 740-753-5741, rhapsodyrestaurant­nelsonville.com

Reopened in the late '90s after being boarded up in 1924, Stuart's Opera House hosts over 75 events each year: Arcade Fire, Lucinda Williams and Arlo Guthrie have all played this 395-seat auditorium.
52 Public Sq., 740-753-1924, stuartsoperahouse.org

The Nelsonville Emporium showcases the region's craftiness with knitwear, pottery, postcards and more by upwards of 80 local artists.
31 Public Sq., 740-753-1285, nelsonvillemporium.com

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