Southern Ohio’s Paint Valley is a hidden gem, offering a wealth of history, natural beauty, and charming small towns. Whether you’re a history buff, outdoor enthusiast, or simply looking for a relaxing weekend getaway, the Paint Valley has something to offer everyone.
Things to do
- Visit the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to some of the largest and most impressive pre-Columbian earthworks in North America. Visitors can explore the largest of the earthworks, Seip Mound, just outside the village of Bainbridge. The property is managed by the National Park Service and is a wonderful place to learn about the Hopewell culture.
- Hike Highlands Nature Sanctuary: A visit to this Arc of Appalachia property in Bainbridge, Ohio is a rewarding experience for nature lovers of all ages. The sanctuary features over 6 miles of hiking trails that wind through scenic forests, meadows, and wetlands. Visitors can keep an eye out for a variety of wildlife, including deer, wild turkeys, and songbirds. The sanctuary also offers a variety of educational programs for all ages.
- Stop in the Dr. John Harris Dental Museum: This unique museum in Bainbridge, Ohio tells the story of dentistry from its earliest days to the present. The museum is housed in the former home of Dr. John Harris, who founded the first dental school in the United States in 1827. Visitors to the museum can learn about the history of dental instruments and techniques, see a variety of dental artifacts, and even experience what it was like to visit a dentist in the 19th century.
- Join the circus: Bainbridge’s Circus Ohio Museum is a must-visit for any fan of the circus. The museum houses a collection of circus memorabilia, including posters, costumes, props, and photographs. Visitors can learn the history of Bainbridge native Clyde Beatty and of dozens of other Ohio circus performers and owners. The showpiece of the museum is the 360 sq. ft. circus model.
- Visit the Adena Mansion and Gardens: This beautiful 19th-century mansion was once the home of Thomas Worthington, one of Ohio’s founding fathers. Visitors can tour the mansion and gardens, and learn about Worthington’s life and legacy.
- Take a hike in the Paint Creek State Park: This park offers over 15 miles of hiking trails, winding through scenic forests and meadows. Visitors can also fish, camp, and boat in the park.
- Go canoeing or kayaking on Paint Creek: This scenic stream is perfect for a leisurely paddle. Visitors can rent canoes and kayaks from several local businesses.
Where to eat
- The Paxton’s Restaurant: This local favorite is known for its fried walleye and other classic dishes.
- Country Crust Bakery: This bakery, in the heart of Southern Ohio’s Mennonite Country, offers a variety of fresh-baked breads, pastries, and sandwiches.
- Frednecks Pizza: Located at the crossroads that is Nipgen, Frednecks is home to award winning pizza.
- 634 Coffee+Cafe: This cafe, located inside the historic Paxton Theatre, features a large drink menu and delicious sandwiches and wraps.
- Crafts Unlimited: The lunch counter inside Crafts Unlimited is owned by a local Mennonite family and is a must-visit for anyone spending time driving the countryside visiting local Mennonite farms and businesses.
Where to stay
- The Arc of Appalachia: The beautiful properties rented by this local nature sanctuary are always incredibly relaxing and very well-appointed.
- Upstage Stay: This suite is located above the historic Paxton Theatre and is a must for history or entertainment buffs.
- Lazy H Cabins: 20+ rental cabins adjacent to Paint Creek State Park.
- Fruitdale Farm: Fruitdale Farm is a quaint, sustainable farmstead amid the beautiful rolling hills of Southern Ohio. Choose an adorable cabin or primitive camp site, and don’t miss the sauna!
Tips for planning your trip
- The Paint Valley is a popular destination for fall foliage viewing, so be sure to book your accommodations in advance if you’re planning to visit during the fall months.
- The weather in the Paint Valley can be unpredictable, so be sure to pack for all types of weather.
- Many of the attractions in the Paint Valley are located outdoors, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
- Be sure to bring your camera to capture the beautiful scenery and historic sites.
Southern Ohio’s Paint Valley is a perfect weekend getaway for couples, families, and solo travelers alike. With its rich history, natural beauty, and charming small towns, the Paint Valley has something to offer everyone.