Why Hocking Hills is one of the best romantic getaways in Ohio
Whether it’s the glittering fringes of frozen waterfalls that adorn the cliffs and rock walls or cozying up next to a fireplace with your guy or gal and a cup of hot chocolate, the Hocking Hills are one of the state’s most popular destinations for a romantic winter getaway.
Because the area is associated so closely with outdoor activities like hiking and camping, the hibernal charms of the Hills can be overlooked by fair-weather visitors — but even if you’re only slightly more than averagely intrepid, winter is the best season to go. Romantic adventures are better when the fair-weather crowds thin out a bit and the chilly weather gives fireside cuddling a heightened sense of urgency.
Warm by the fire
The Hocking Hills are almost synonymous with cabin camping, and any of many great cabins and lodge resorts are available for rent. But if your aim is a romantic getaway, there are few things to make sure your rental includes: a fireplace, a hot tub, and seclusion.
Luckily, the majority of cabin rentals offer all three. One option is the Old Man’s Cave Chalets’ bungalow called The Falls. The gas fireplace offers a convenient alternative to a wood fire, and the views are nothing short of stunning. Glass doors lead to the wraparound deck, and the main floor hosts a luxuriously appointed queen bed. The four-person hot tub is even better with just two, located in a special alcove on the spacious deck.
TIP: Plan to make sticky buns in the morning to enjoy with a coffee on the deck.
This is for the bona fides out there, for whom romance is still an adventure: The clank of the livery tack in the crisp air, the sound of hooves in the powdery snow, the romance of bygone times all lead to a memorable experience.
There are plenty of great choices for horseback riding in the Hills.
The folks at Equestrian Ridge Farm have a bit different attitude than some trail riding operations: Their horses are trained to respond to the rider’s touch, instead of merely following the horse in front of them.
All riders receive a mini-lesson as part of any package, but the wise will spring for an additional half-hour “Partnering with Your Horse” lesson that will help you maximize your time on the trail. Tours range from the least challenging Meadow Ride, relaxing and ideal for beginners, to the Caves and Secrets Places II ride, which is for experienced riders but affords an incredible adventure. Owner Jackie Stewart said that reservations may be made all year.
“The Four Seasons ride is popular because it’s mostly hilltops and so you get beautiful views but it’s still suitable for beginners,” she said, adding that the farm has hosted marriage proposal rides, in addition to serving as a great date for many couples since 2000.
Couple’s massage in your cabin
After your time on the trail in the county’s brisk weather, nothing will smooth out the saddle stiffness like a massage for two in the comfort of your cabin.
Who says you need a spa to get the spa treatment? A bottle of wine and a professional massage will surely do the trick. Blue Valley Massage offers traveling spa experiences in the area, and has been in business for over 15 years; in-cabin packages start at $140 for an hour of relaxing music, side-by-side massage tables, scented oil and more.
Free your creative side
You don’t have to be a brilliant painter to feel inspired by the scenery in this storybook paradise. You know the evening is going to end in the hot tub or by the fireplace — take advantage of the views that are a ubiquitous feature of nearly every cabin’s porch or deck.
Among the most romantic experiences we’ve had in years of trekking the state forests and parks and hiking the caves saw us set up easels and unpacking the watercolors and tubes of acrylic. Or, if you’d rather someone else make the art, there are countless craft stores, as well as art and antique malls, where you can browse art made by locals who find inspiration year round.
Be sure to browse the Hocking Hills Market, which features many shops and markets located conveniently next to each, with tons of great art, crafts, antiques, and primitive goods.
Don’t forget the flowers
Make sure he or she knows you thought of everything, and have flowers delivered to your cabin on your first afternoon. Flowers are not only a great way to add a zip of romantic color to your cabin, they are also a great way to create an attractive and long-lasting reminder of your romantic adventure.
Simply hang some of your favorite blooms upside down, tied around their stems, when you get home — the brilliant colors are best preserved that way, and the arrangement can be kept in a special vessel (maybe something handmade you found at the Hocking Hills Market).
Flowers by Darlene, based in Logan, Ohio, delivers across the area; this local florist has a sterling reputation for quick delivery and beautiful, hand-arranged presentations.