Our first visit to an Ohio State Park did not disappoint! As I listened to my kids’ laughter as they threw rocks into the creek, I knew we’d made the right choice to spend the day exploring Hueston Woods State Park and experience Ohio state parks for the first time.
Located in far western Ohio, Hueston Woods is between Dayton and Cincinnati near the Indiana state line. With a large lake, miles of trails, and several interesting amenities, it seemed like a great place to spend the day and we couldn’t have been more delighted with all that we found!
How to Spend the Day at Hueston Woods in Ohio
First of all, admission to Ohio State Parks is FREE, which makes entering and exiting the park is a breeze. Parking was plentiful and we did not experience any crowds the morning we arrived. I did have trouble finding a map so it might be helpful to print it out one from home if you’d like to navigate around the large park.
We toured the small nature center which opens early and found examples of many of the animals and plants native to the area. My kids loved seeing the various snakes and turtles in their tanks and I found the fossil collection very interesting. The park offices are also located nearby but were not open when we arrived. Clean bathrooms are located across the parking lot near the boat launch.
We didn’t get a chance to make it over to this area but there are places marked on the map for fossil collecting. You can see examples of what to look for in the nature center and we’ll be back to do a bit of digging since I know my boys would be interested.
There are a variety of hiking trails around the lake and through the nature preserve area. Most are fairly short but intersect with each other to create longer loops. The trails along the lake are well marked, much better than I’ve seen in other states.
There’s a large beach area of the lake that is open seasonally, which we skipped due to the cool morning air, but I know it would be very appealing on a hot day. There are also boat rentals available to explore the lake and we saw many fisherman out while we hiked.
Pioneer Home and Farm Museum
Open on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, the Pioneer Home and Farm Museum offers visitors the chance to tour an original homestead house built in 1836 and a nearby barn full of antique farming equipment. We took a tour with a local volunteer who had my kids in stitches with his interesting (and gross) facts about life in historic Ohio. I wasn’t sure if the visit would hold my boys’ (ages 4 & 8) attention but they were really engaged and loved asking questions.
Explore Nearby Oxford, OH
This nearby college town is home to Miami University and offers a quaint downtown area lined with brick streets and lots of restaurants. We ate lunch at Rapid Fire Pizza, a quick serve option that offers lots of yummy creations and was a hit with our whole family. Directly across the street is the village green space, perfect for letting the kids run wild for a few minutes.
Want to Make a Weekend of It?
Hueston Woods is also home to Hueston Woods Lodge and Cabins. Families can rent a room in the lodge or a private cabin close by. The lodge’s indoor pool is open year-round and programming includes bonfires and other activities for families to enjoy.
Spending a day with your kids, learning about history, and appreciating nature is always a good one in my books. Hueston Woods offers just the place to do it. Ohio’s state park amenities are enough to entice any family looking to unplug and reconnect for a day of family adventures.
What’s your family’s latest state park discovery? Make sure to let us know about your favorite places to explore!