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State park lodges make perfect getaway destinations for spring break

by Staff

If you’re looking for a destination for your first trip of the spring, whether for a relaxing couple’s getaway or for spring break with the kids, consider Ohio’s lovely state park lodges.

Ohio’s 10 park lodges are all located in beautiful natural settings and are fairly economical. And each has unique features that will make Buckeye travelers eager to try out all 10.

Deer Creek Lodge

For a relaxing getaway not too far from home, Deer Creek Lodge near Mount Sterling is the perfect destination. The lodge sits on Deer Creek Lake, where visitors will find a full-service marina and boat rental that opens later in the spring.

The spillway below the lake’s dam is also a popular fishing spot — I’ve seen many a whopper pulled from the spillway, although my own luck there has been lacking.

Maumee Bay Lodge

The spring weather might yet be too cold for wading or sunbathing, but Lake Erie still presents a dramatic backdrop at Maumee Bay Lodge.

The lodge, about 20 miles east of Toledo, is also a prime location for birdwatchers from around the region during spring migration, when a wide variety of species stop along the shoreline after their wearying trip south across Lake Erie.

Golfers should also check out the lodge’s unusual Scottish-links style 18-hole golf course.

Burr Oak Lodge

Unless the weather is bad, the trip to Burr Oak Lodge is always a driver’s delight. But when the spring trees start to leaf out, the drive along scenic Ohio 78 through the hills of east central Ohio becomes a verdant thrill. (Just be sure to keep your eyes on the winding road.)

More: Planning a spring break getaway? Here are 8 family-friendly things to do around Ohio

The isolated, classic A-frame lodge seems a thousand miles away from civilization, but offers all the comforts of home and then some, including an indoor swimming pool and a cozy fireplace in the glass-enclosed lobby with a beautiful view of Burr Oak Lake.

Hocking Hills Lodge

The gorgeous Hocking Hills region gets a lot of love, for good reason. One great place to stay while exploring the area’s many attractions is Ohio’s newest state park lodge, Hocking Hills Lodge.

The lodge is gorgeously appointed and has 81 comfortable rooms. But visitors might find themselves spending most of their time in the lobby in front of one of the huge and beautiful twin stone fireplaces.

The lodge also boasts the Rock House Pub and other amenities such as an indoor pool and a magnificent outdoor terrace with a view.

Hueston Woods Lodge

Hueston Woods Lodge near Oxford, about 20 miles northeast of Hamilton, is a terrific family destination that usually has a variety of family-friendly activities on the schedule. Four bonfire pit tables, a treat to sit at on a slightly chilly spring day, are available behind the lodge on a first-come basis.

The park is also home to a large nature center and the Raptor Rehabilitation Center, where eagles, hawks and owls can be seen as they recover from injuries suffered in the wild. Several of the majestic birds, who cannot be released, are permanently housed in the center.

Mohican Lodge

Mohican Lodge near Loudenville is the perfect base for travelers looking for a first hike of spring.

Mohican State Park has 13 miles of scenic trails, with an additional 32 miles of hiking trails in adjacent Mohican State Memorial Forest.

Mountain bike enthusiasts can also use the forest’s 25-mile loop bike trail.

Mohican is also home to lovely Clearfork gorge National Landmark and is near Ohio’s Amish country, just in case pie or quilt shopping is on the agenda.

Salt Fork Lodge

If you’re yearning for room to roam, consider Salt Fork Lodge in Guernsey County, surrounded by Ohio’s largest state park, with more than 17,000 acres of woodlands, meadows and, some say, Bigfoot habitat.

History buffs can also check out the pretty Kennedy Stone House, built shortly after 1837 of native sandstone blocks. Today it’s a museum restored to its original appearance inside and out.

More: Travel: Remarkable artifacts reveal Pompeii history in Cincinnati Museum Center exhibit

Shawnee Lodge

If Salt Fork is too close to civilization for your liking, consider Shawnee Lodge in Adams County. 

Inside, the lodge is furnished with all the amenities a visitor might desire. Take a few steps outside, however, and there’s wilderness aplenty.

The lodge and park are surrounded by 63,000-acre Shawnee State Forest with more than 65-acres of hiking trails, including a section of the Buckeye Trail.

Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake

Wine lovers should feel right at home at the Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake, next to Geneva State Park in Ashtabula County.

The lodge is located near the heart of Ohio’s most acclaimed wine-producing area, the Grand River Valley viticultural region, where vineyards are warmed (relatively speaking) by breezes from Lake Erie.

The lodge offers shuttles to nearby wineries for tours and tastings. Visitors can also check out the view from tree-top level when Lake Erie Canopy Tours, a zip-line adventure at the lodge, opens for the spring.

Punderson Manor Lodge

Punderson Manor Lodge, about 40 miles east of Cleveland, is, in many ways, the most unusual of Ohio’s state park lodges. The lodge was originally built as a private mansion and features interesting English Tudor-style architecture.

The lodge has apparently attracted at least one ghost, as English Tudor-style manors are wont to do. I can’t vouch for the ghost, but I can certify that Punderson is a lovely and comfortable place for a stay.

Also, check out the park’s 150-acre lake, an unusual (for Ohio) natural feature formed by glacial melt some 12,000 years ago.

For reservations or information about The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake visit

For reservations or information about the other Ohio State Park lodges visit

Steve Stephens is a freelance travel writer and photographer. Email him at [email protected] .

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