Close-to-home staycation options abound in and around Ohio

Press Staff Writer

        Those of a certain age remember the upbeat ad campaign to “see the USA in your Chevrolet,” encouraging families to use the car to explore this beautiful country.
        That temptation to discover faraway wonders is challenged these days by the reality of gas prices that drain the household budget.
        Staycations – enjoying attractions within easy drives from home – are back in vogue, offering a chance to enjoy the treasures in our own backyards.
        Long ago, a close friend shared his thought that Ohioans should get to know their own state before setting off to more distant horizons. Personally, I enjoy a mixture of near, not so near, and far, but I thought his point was well taken. What we have right here really is very special and it’s hardly a second-best to stay close.
        Some of the great choices, including nearby spots in Michigan and Indiana, are obvious – Metroparks Toledo, Maumee Bay State Park, Put-in-Bay, Cedar Point, the Irish Hills, Imagination Station, the Toledo Zoo, and Toledo Museum of Art.
        Expand the circle a bit more and you can add Indiana’s Pokagon State Park, Mohican State Park and Resort, Henry Ford Museum, and much more.
        It’s likely one of Ohio’s biggest landholders won’t come to mind, even though it should be high on the list.
        The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District is the largest conservancy in Ohio, owners of 54,000 acres scattered along the Muskingum River and some tributaries in a watershed that encompasses 20 percent of the state. The District’s mission is straightforward – reducing the impact of floodwaters and conserving water. But in performing its mission, the Conservancy is able to provide services that are wide and varied, venturing heavily into premium recreation experiences.
        You may not know the conservancy by name, but it’s very possible you know some of the lakes they’ve created including Atwood, Leesville, Clendening and 11 other lakes and reservoirs. In the process, they’ve become one of Ohio’s largest landholders, controlling 16,000 acres of water, 38,000 acres of land in a watershed that stretches from the Mohican Region near Mansfield to the Ohio River at Marietta.
        Most of those holdings are open to public use – hiking, nature study, boating, swimming, fishing, hunting, camping and more.
        For us, the closest lakes are Charles Mill and Pleasant Hill, both located near Mohican State Park in the heart of Ohio’s favorite outdoor vacationland, many taking advantage of the location near the canoe-friendly Clear Fork of the Mohican River, Mohican State Park, and Pleasant Hill Lake Park.
        There are many choices for camping and lodging. Before you visit, make sure you visit and check out the camping and cabins at Pleasant Hill.
        The vacation cabins are among the very best in Ohio. Only three years old and featuring all wood exteriors and interiors as well as fully equipped and able to handle six or more guests, these cabins are extraordinary. As a bonus they’re located close to swimming, marinas, great fishing and hiking.
        And it’s all only about 100 miles – a two-hour drive – away.


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