WORTH THE DRIVE: At Hocking Hills, visitors can practice ‘Natural Social Distancing’

New and existing guests at The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills can now book a stay in large, fully-loaded lodges that sleep up to two dozen guests.
New and existing guests at The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills can now book a stay in large, fully-loaded lodges that sleep up to two dozen guests.

Credit: Matthew Lovette

Credit: Matthew Lovette

Looking for a way to enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, or just seeking out a change of pace that involves (finally) leaving the house for more than a few hours at a time? Explore Hocking Hills might just be able to offer this safe escape from your new normal.

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Beginning this week, local businesses, lodging, campgrounds and other establishments in the Hocking Hills area are again open to the public. Visitors will find a safe, clean, and in some cases, contactless experience at these businesses to ensure that all customers have an enjoyable and worry-free experience in Hocking Hills.

For those who desire a chance to explore nature’s beauty while maintaining an appropriate social distance, the Hocking Hills region, just 40 miles southeast of Columbus, offers more than 900 lodging opportunities, including cabins, tree houses, luxury lodges, tipis, yurts and more. Nearly all of these offerings are located in secluded, forested areas, with many offerings contactless entry codes and other recent additions that promote the well-being of guests.

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“So many of us are eagerly awaiting an opportunity to travel safely and unplug from all the negative noise and suffocating monotony that’s bombarded us for two months,” said Explore Hocking Hills Executive Director Karen Raymore in a press release. “In the Hocking Hills, the only noise you hear is the joyful sound of nature. But our initial experiences need to be safe and allow us to travel not far from home and socially distance.”

Though Hocking Hills State Park remains closed until new safety and distancing protocols are finalized, other area parks and hiking destinations, like Lake Logan and Lake Hope State Park, are still open to the public. Visitors will be able to participate in a number of fun outdoor activities, like rappelling and climbing, guided hikes, canopy tours, waterfall tours, kayaking, canoeing and horseback riding.

Ready to get a bite to eat? Similar to the Dayton area, many Hocking Hills restaurants, bars and breweries are now offering outdoor dining, and beginning on Friday, May 22, indoor dining. Hocking Hills Winery and Brewery 33, for example, are open and offering tastings and outdoor seating with live music. Additionally, the popular Hocking Hills Moonshine distillery is open for tours, tastings and retail sales. A number of other local shops and businesses, like Homegrown on Main and Jack Pine Studio, are open and ready to welcome visitors.

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If you’re still uncertain about leaving the safety of your home, those at Explore Hocking Hills assure future visitors that all staff members at local restaurants, lodging facilities and other establishments are required to abide by strict health and safety protocols, with the well-being of guests and local residents remaining as the top priority. These new safety protocols come in the form of frequent deep cleaning, the use of masks and sanitizer by hosts and guests and contact-free check-ins. Visitors can also do their part to ensure that locals are taken care of by bringing their own groceries or supporting the area’s many restaurants to avoid taxing local resources.

For more Hocking Hills travel resources, pay a visit to ExploreHockingHills.com or call 1-800-Hocking (800-462-5464).