1. Exploring Ohio’s largest state park
Salt Fork State Park offers boating, fishing, hunting, hiking, and a dog park, but the scenic golf course might be the most unique thing about it. The views and rugged terrain earned this course a four-star rating in Golf Digest’s “Places to Play.”
There’s plenty to do before and after tee time in the park’s 17,000+ acres. The terrain includes open meadows, forested hills, and streams that can lead to a number of inevitable adventures — some of the most popular are boating on Salt Fork Lake (nearly 3,000 acres of open water for fishing, jet skiing, and kayaking) and geocaching.
2. Getting away from it all (in the middle of town)
Cambridge City Park is Americana at its finest, back before Americana meant cubicles and fast-food Italian. You’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time spending a day here, fishing in the pond, grabbing some ice cream, and walking the trails through a covered bridge. The lazy vibe does wear off leading into the weekends; it’s common for there to be city band concerts (Thursday evenings May-Sept.) and festivals.
3. Honing your outdoor skills at Deerassic Park Education Center
Deerassic Park may not have a blockbuster movie to its name, but it’s a great place to work on your canoeing, hiking, archery, and a general outdoor adventure resume. In addition to the curriculum of classes, there are trails, a pond, and a herd of deer living at the 130-acre park. On display are replicas of ancient animals like the Megaloceros, an Irish Elk that was seven feet tall at the shoulder and went extinct over 10,000 years ago.
If your idea of “outdoor adventure” is less hiking and more sitting in the grass, double fisting a hot dog and a beer, the Deerassic Classic Giveaway & Outdoor Expo is worth a visit. It’s a mix of trade show, charity raffle, and outdoor education events that takes place in August.
4. Checking out a free youth rodeo at the Rocky Fork Ranch Resort
Few things are as humbling as watching a 7-year-old ride a bull, except maybe you and your friends flailing around on the guided trail ride at Rocky Fork’s Horse Camp. The resort also runs barn tours and pony pulls for those of us who aren’t up for extreme sports. If you’re the living-vicariously-through-7-year-olds-braver-than-you type, the rodeos happen every other Saturday after Memorial Day, with the finals taking place in September.
5. Touring the local S bridges
These historic bridges were constructed when the National Road was built back in the 1820s (yep, highway planning goes back that far) to open the nation up to the west, becoming a corridor for the movement of goods and people. The “S” shape was chosen because, when a road crossed a river at an angle, the main span of the bridge was built perpendicular to the flow of water to cut construction costs. Only a handful remain along the National Road today, and Guernsey County has two of them.
6. Camping on Seneca Lake
Ohio’s third largest inland waterway offers tons of options for outdoor adventure. Campgrounds are open year round; you can rough it in a “primitive” site or rent a cabin if you want the outdoor experience without the whole sleeping-on-the-ground thing. There’s more than just a campground, though — check out the large beach along the lakeshore with plenty of room for volleyball and other sand-centric activities, and boat rentals and a restaurant at the marina.
7. Browsing art at the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival
Every year, Cambridge City Park fills with tents, juried artists, live music, and delicious Ohio-made food during the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival. A hundred or so artists from around the country display their skills and wares at the lively three-day creative gathering. The main attraction may be the arts and crafts, but thousands of people turn out in mid-August every year for the cold drinks, good food, and to show their appreciation for Ohio’s student artists and performers.
8. Hunting for ghosts at the Colonel Taylor Inn
Many guests of this B&B have spotted Colonel Taylor and his wife or caught a whiff of his pipe wafting through the halls of the beautiful, rambling Victorian home. The many porches, winding staircases, and fireplaces are perfect places for ghosts to hide. Even if the spirits don’t show up, you’re still situated two blocks from the City Park, a five-minute walk to downtown, and within striking distance of the Appalachian foothills.