Road Trips from Columbus – Mid-Ohio Valley

The Mid-Ohio Valley Region, known for its tourism, agriculture and manufacturing industries, is a charming place full of adventure and rich Appalachian culture. Featuring down-home cooking and intriguing folklore, this historic region is sure to tick all of your boxes.

Day 1 – Parkersburg

Begin your trip in Parkersburg, a city that is known for its beautiful attractions and great local eateries. Here, you can find West Virginia’s tastiest potato chips, Mister Bee’s. What once started as a small local business turned into a million-dollar enterprise by 1972. Founded in Parkersburg by Leo and Sara Klein in 1951, these chips are a yummy classic that you can’t miss out on. You can find Mister Bee’s at almost any store and shop around the state.

Looking to check out some local art? The Parkersburg Arts Center, located at the corner of Eight and Market Street, was chartered in 1938, making it the oldest cultural agency still in operation. The center includes five different gallery spaces to display the work of local artists and crafters, and a gift shop where some of the artists sell their work. The center also includes year-round art training classes for people of all ages to enjoy.

Another must-visit place in Parkersburg is the Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park. Located on a charming little island in the Ohio River, this park, accessed by a sternwheeler riverboat from Point Park on 2nd Street, is open yearly from May to the last weekend of October. Enjoy ground tours and horse-drawn carriage rides as you explore this historic island rich with American history.

The Blennerhassett Hotel, located on the mainland, is a stunning place that offers rides to and from the island, and is within a five-minute walk to the historic Smoot Theatre and the Oil and Gas Museum. While enjoying your stay, be sure to grab some house-made pita wraps and hummus at Cham’s Lebanese Cuisine. Parkersburg Brewing Co. is another great place to grab a bite and a glass of crafted beer.

Day 2 – Ripley

Looking for a small town with big-town fun and even bigger energy? The town of Ripley is just the place to go. With ample shops, great eats and lots of historic festivals and events, this town is sure to live up to your expectations. Home to the “USA’s largest small town Independence Day celebration” that dates all the way back to the 1800s, this 4th of July parade holds the title of the oldest parade in the entire country.

Another must-see place in the area is Cedar Lakes Park, a picture-perfect getaway to relax, unwind and enjoy the beautiful nature of the region. This park includes the Tug Fork Covered Bridge, one of just 17 covered bridges still left in the state. Built in 1887 and moved three miles to its current location in 1983, this bridge is a stunning piece of history that you’ll need to capture on camera.

A popular place to eat in the area is the Downtowner Restaurant – a family-owned establishment serving up casual vibes and yummy dishes. The Downtowner offers a cozy, diner-style atmosphere with friendly staff and comfort food at an affordable price. Savor a hearty meal like baked steak or satisfy your sweet tooth with an impeccable slice of homemade pie.

Day 3 – North Bend State Park

To put a more outdoorsy finish on your trip around the Mid-Ohio Valley, spend your third day at North Bend State Park near Cairo. While the 305-acre lake is what the state park is famous for, there is a plethora of activities that can be enjoyed in a single day. From hiking trails to flatlands around the lake, North Bend is certainly worth a day trip for you and your travel group.

You can start off your day hiking around the lake and through the the forest as there are 72 miles of trails throughout North Bend State Park. Hiking trails even stretch all the way to Parkersburg. If you’re always hauling your mountain bike on your bike rack, unload it here and enjoy the bends at a higher speed. If you want to sit up high while you’re hitting the trails, horses are allowed on the North Bend Rail Trail.

For adventures out on the water, hop on your paddle boat, canoe, fishing boat or kayak on the eight miles that make up the lake. There is a canoe-specific launch makes it easy to unleash your boat. Kayakers of all experience levels will enjoy the calm waters of Hughes River. For an even more relaxing experience, pack a picnic, unplug from your phone while you cast a line – or simply just enjoy the peace and quiet.

To fuel up after your day of adventuring, North Bend State Park Restaurant at the lodge has you covered. The menu features fresh seasonal vegetables as well as meats from local farms. If you decide that you want to spend more time at North Bend, there are plenty of lodge and cabin accommodations.

Rich Appalachian culture and fun-filled activities await you in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Are you in?

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This post was last updated on October 6, 2023