Celebrating in Hocking Hills

If you aren't from around here, you probably haven't heard of Hocking Hills. Parts of Southern Ohio are in the foothills of Appalachia, and the closest of these is Hocking Hills State Park. Beautifully carved by glaciers and shaded by lush forests, this land is a great getaway for weary Columbus residents looking for some RandR.

It should be noted that RandR do not occur with toddlers. But it was still an amazing weekend to celebrate Matt's birthday and Father's Day, both on Sunday.

We stayed at Country Vista Cabins, owned by a lovely couple (The Montgomerys) who greeted us at the office (offsite) with a smile and lots of helpful information about the area. They could not have been friendlier and their attention to detail was in every aspect of our cabin, the Wild Dove. It was immaculate and included everything but the food!

The cabin was situated on top of a grassy hill (again, mowed to perfection) and was hidden by pine trees. This was actually the right amount of woods for us. I didn't know how much we needed that open green space until Larkyn got out there with the ball (provided by CVC) and never wanted to leave.

Our backyard felt like we had the world to ourselves, looking out over the other side of the hill. We got to check off another Summer List item, making S'mores!  Larkyn ate all 3 items separately before we were able to put them together. We put her to bed and ate the rest....heaven, I tell ya.

The bottom of the hill had a swingset (that sealed the deal when I was searching for the perfect location) and a stocked fishing pond.

All day Saturday, we headed out to the parks. We were a little further away from them than I realized, but the drive was pretty and it was a fine trade-off in my opinion (the closer you get, the less privacy you get). This is where things got interesting.

2 hours before we left Columbus, I got a little nervous about having Larkyn walk these trails with us. There are "DANGER: Cliff Area" signs everywhere. But we couldn't take a stroller....so enter the backpack carrier. That I bought an hour before we left. And that she hated. Oh well. They sure looked cute with it, didn't they?

Old Man's Cave was so cool because around every corner, we saw something new. Maybe a rock bridge, a recessed cave, a tunnel, or a waterfall. Because Larkyn was grumpy about being in the carrier, we kind of zoomed through it. But, we decided to let her out and held her hand during the last half and she LOVED it!  It was one of those moments when you feel you know your child and if you felt unsafe, you wouldn't let them do it. She was finally happy!

I loved watching daddy/daughter time, especially in nature. Ash Cave was really where we all enjoyed ourselves because it was an easier walk without too many dangerous places and the largest recessed cave East of the Mississippi. Pictures can't capture how huge it was. A couple was getting married in it, actually. We got married in Hocking Hills, but missed the whole part where we could have done it in a cave! Oh well. Larkyn was fascinated with the waterfall and then throwing rocks into the pool.

We had a fantastic lunch at Millstone BBQ, suggested by the Montgomerys. Good call. The staff was friendly, patio was perfect, and all 3 of us ate our weight in BBQ.

But the biggest hit on this vacation? The hot tub! That was Matt's dream come true. Unfortunately, it wasn't very restful because *someone* wanted to go "swimmin" every time he got in. Her version of "swimmin" is standing precariously on the steps and pouring water in and out of a plastic cup. But not getting in. A waterbaby she is not.

It's safe to say we will be back soon. There are several other caves to visit, local stores, and spas (please?) to try. Happy birthday and Father's Day, Matt!  Love you.

The details:
We stayed at Country Vista cabins, which has been fabulous two times (we stayed in the Wild Dove). It is perfect for a couple, fine with one child (they provide a pack and play so you don't have to pack that--just ask!), but we probably cannot make it work with two adults and two little ones (older kids might be fine). Country Vista is not located very close to the parks, but we did not mind the drive in order to maintain our seclusion. The cabins have every amenity you need and thoughtful touches everywhere. The family who owns the group of three cabins is delightful and easy to work with.  There is no bedroom per se, but a sleeping loft. For some reason, we couldn't discern that from the photos, so we were a little surprised. The cabin is definitely warm in the winter with a heater and an amazing fireplace, and it is air conditioned in the summer. PS- your cell phone will probably not work and there is no phone in the cabin.

The parks with kids:
We tried three parks, as noted above. One was perfect for kids, one a little concerning, and one was a huge mistake. Ash Cave is by far the best bet for little walkers. It is safe and interesting for them explore. And the overhang cave is pretty cool! This can be your starting point so you feel comfortable. After Ash Cave, you can try Old Man's Cave, which is the most popular park and the most crowded. If you have a child below 2, you definitely need a carrier of some sort or you will lose your mind chasing them around. There are lots of steps, cliffs, and hills. It is a long trail that you can't easily turn around and go back to get a carrier. Cedar Falls was a total disaster. 5 billion tall steps that are impossible for toddlers and for the person carrying the extra weight of the child, a killer. I actually wanted a rescue helicopter to come get us at the bottom so we wouldn't have to climb back up.

I suggest:
Going shopping on your way out of town and bringing lots of food with you. There is a good size refrigerator, microwave, and oven. And the fire pit is perfect for s'mores!  We don't want to spend all our time driving, so we only go out to eat once while we are there.

Where to eat?  We have been to Millstone BBQ a few times and love it! They are friendly and definitely good with kids. Their menu is extensive and a good treat for lunch after the parks.

I am a sucker for Christmas decorations and boutiques, so I loooooove the Christmas Treasures Shop.  There is a Walmart and a Kroger in Logan. Kroger is a little more convenient and sells liquor (Walmart does not). Just in case anyone wants to make some bonfire cocktails;)

1 comment:

Schneider 4.0 said...

Crap...I was supposed to get your our back pack carrier before your trip! BLAH!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...