Around Ohio: Resources for Planning Summer Trips
As summer is now here, many people are wondering how and when they can safely enjoy a summer vacation. Destinations around Ohio are now starting to re-open and offer outdoor activities, dining options, and overnight stays. Below is a list of resources for state parks, metro parks, liveries, campgrounds, and communities across Ohio with information about to how safely enjoy the outdoors during the warmer months.
Most of the Ohio State Parks are open to guests with new guidelines and limitations. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) website states, “Public outdoor spaces at Ohio state parks, wildlife areas, forests and nature preserves remain open, including trails, dog parks, and docks with a few exceptions.” Parts of the parks still remain closed, such as most restrooms, visitor centers, nature centers, playgrounds, fire towers, and group facilities. For more information, visit their website.
One major exception to the State Parks being open to the public is Hocking Hills State Park. Only an hour outside of Columbus, it is a major attraction to Central Ohioans. ODNR is working with the Hocking Hills Tourism Association to gradually re-open the park. Their website states, “Currently, Rock House, Cantwell Cliffs and several areas of the Hocking Hills State Forest are scheduled to open June 15.” Some trails will be rerouted and hikers will be directed to follow one-way travel. They are planning to open the campground and cabin areas on July 15. For more information, visit their website.
Most public campgrounds and state park campgrounds are open to campers with safety precautions and guidelines. State park campgrounds are requiring advance reservations and are not accepting walk-in campers. As mandated by the state, campers should practice self-contained camping, should not have more than one household per site, should not exceed 10 people, and should keep sufficient distance between sites. Additionally, restrooms and shower houses are limited. For the full list of guidelines for camping, visit the Responsible Restart Ohio website.
The Ohio State Park reservation site states, “Other overnight accommodations and amenities, such as cabins, getaway rentals, group camps, shelters, camp stores, pools, and splash pads, will remain closed.” For more information, visit their website.
In addition to State Park campgrounds, Ohio has tons of privately-owned campgrounds. While they are all subject to the state guidelines of limiting the number of campers on one site, some have chosen not to allow weekend campers at all. For information about a specific private owned campground, contact that park directly.
Liveries are now permitted to operate, implementing social distancing and limiting groups to 10. Locally, Trapper John’s in Grove City is open and accepting invitations. Near Mohican State Park, three liveries (Loudonville Canoe Livery, River Run Canoe Livery, and Mohican Adventures Canoe Livery & Fun Center) appear to be taking reservations on their websites or by phone. For the full list of guidelines on livery operations, visit the Responsible Restart Ohio website.
In the northern part of the state, the Lake Erie area offers several communities and outdoor attractions for summer vacationers. Put-in-Bay’s website states that most of their attractions, restaurants, and accommodations are open. More information can be found on their website. Geneva-on-the-Lake also lists most things as being open, but cautions that some businesses might choose to remain closed and others might have specific guidelines to follow. For more information, visit their website.
The Lakeside community is taking a more cautious approach and has begun implementing a gradual re-opening. In addition to most restaurants and shops, the public beach and outdoor recreation such as kayaks, stand up paddleboards, mini golf, shuffleboard, tennis, and pickleball are all open. A few other attractions remain closed such as swimming pools, splash pads, playgrounds, basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, gaga ball, and all indoor facilities. They are also limiting gate access. For more information, visit their website.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is currently open, but the visitor’s center, most restrooms, and some trails are still closed. For more information, visit their website.
All Columbus Metro Parks are open, and most have public restrooms available. However, playgrounds, exercise stations, obstacle courses and natural play areas are still closed. For more information, visit their website.
Ohio’s two main amusement parks, Cedar Point and King’s Island, both remain closed. While a number of re-openings were announced for June 10 including aquariums, playgrounds, public recreation centers and zoos, a date has yet to be set for amusement parks. In response, HB 665 has been introduced in the Ohio House and calls for the immediate re-opening of Ohio amusement parks and water parks. Cedar Fair Entertainment Company CEO Richard Zimmerman (operators of both parks) has issued a statement in support of HB 665. For more information on Cedar Point, visit cedarpoint.com or King’s Island visitkingsisland.com.
While Airbnb is still operating, some rental owners may choose not to rent their properties at this time. For those who do, Airbnb has posted their updated cleaning guidelines, and for travelers who wish to cancel or reschedule trips, they have posted an extended cancellation under the new “extenuating circumstances policy.” For more information, visit their website.
This is not a comprehensive list nor a travel endorsement. These resources are available to you to use at your discretion, and if you chose to take advantage of these places, be sure to confirm with the specific location you are visiting about their current recommendations and guidelines as they can change unexpectedly.
While traveling to and from locations around Ohio, rest stops remain open with guidelines for social distancing and hand washing, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation’s website. Most importantly, remember to respect employees, other travelers, and nature itself so these places can be enjoyed by all.
Editor’s Note: The information on this list was current as of June 4, 2020. This article will be updated as necessary with pertinent information.
All photos by Randi Walle