If you are looking for a “hidden gem” near Cincinnati, Ohio, Hueston Woods State Park Lodge is the place for you. Our family recently explored here over the 4th of July and fell in love with the whole resort. You know you are in for a fantastic weekend when you walk through the front doors and see the view of Acton Lake.
As I was drawn toward the view, which is hosted by the floor-to-ceiling glass wall, I was overwhelmed with the beauty of this Ohio State Park Lodge. My eyes were scanning the horizon and taking it all in; it was only when I felt my daughter tug my arm and say, “Come on, mom, let’s get checked in so we can swim!” that I gathered my wits to begin our adventure here.
Once we were all checked into the lodge, our exploration really began. There is one thing that I have to mention before I get too far; my first impression of the lodge was that I was walking into the Polynesian Resort at Disney. The ambiance is the same, and the decor is so reminiscent of our time there. It set the tone for a magical stay.
Visiting Huston Woods State Park is worth visiting during any season, but for our visit, we came over on the 4th of July and the firework display on the 5th. I had no idea that there was such a spectacular display to honor America’s birthday located here at Hueston Woods. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. (We’ve already booked for next year!)
When booking your stay use the code GLEASON for 15% off your stay
Full Disclosure: To help offset the costs of running Gleason Family Adventure, you’ll find affiliate links throughout the site. If you choose to purchase through one of these links, there’s no additional cost to you, but I’ll earn a small commission. You can read the entire legal disclosure on the full disclosure page. Thank you to Great Ohio Lodges for hosting us.
Best Things to Do at Hueston Woods State Park Lodge
Hike a trail: Hueston Woods features more than 12 miles of trails.
Sycamore Trail – 0.7-mile loop – Easy
Cedar Falls Trail – 0.8-mile loop – Moderate
Cabin Trail – 1.3 miles loop – Moderate
Mud Lick Trail – 2.2 miles loop – Moderate
Indian Mound Trail – 1.2 miles – Moderate
Equisetum Trail – 1.0 miles loop – Moderate
Gallion Run Trail – 0.7 mile – Moderate
Hedge Apple Trail – 0.8-mile loop – Moderate
We hiked the Cedar Falls Trail, which was terrific. I was ill-prepared for this moderate hike because I was in flip-flops. I do not recommend hiking in shoes that are not sturdy. We just happened along the trailhead and made the decision to go. It was fantastic even in my junky shoes. You can go creeking in the stream and gather fossils from the area off of this trail.
Hueston woods features a 36-hole disc golf course near the Lodge at no charge; on a first-come, first-served basis. You have to bring your own equipment because they offer no rentals. We’ve never played this, but it is on my bucket list of things to learn.
Did you know geocaching is a grassroots scavenger hunt game that is played around the world? Take your family, your GPS and get searching for these fun finds. Don’t forget to bring along a trinket to leave behind.
Swim in a pool:
We love the pools at Hueston Woods! Our family and grandchildren spent hours cooling off and splashing in the outdoors. During the winter or an occasional rainy day, the indoor pool will be just the ticket for state park fun.
Have a Bonfire:
Since we were here over a busy weekend, we did not have the opportunity to rent a space and make some smores; however, this is something I would definitely do on a return visit. Grab a smores kit and enjoy the evening by the fire. Pick up everything you need at the front desk.
Visit the Nature Center:
This family-friendly nature center is located a short distance from the lodge and is open seven days a week. Matt and I spent thirty minutes checking out all the native Ohio species housed in the nature center. If you are fortunate, you can take in a naturalist program during your stay. These are informative, and you can learn so much about the animals and the park. Check at the front desk for hours.
Find the Covered Bridge:
Just a short drive from the lodge, you’ll find the Hueston Woods Covered Bridge. It is located on Camden College Corner Road between Buck Paxton Road and Hedge Row Road. Spend a moment enjoying the beauty of the surrounding area and grab some photos! It is probably one of the most instagramable spots in Hueston Woods State Park.
Eat at the Smoke House at Hueston Woods:
I love to eat, and the Smoke House had my heart! Not only is the food fantastic but the views from the dining room are phenomenal too! Matt said, “The pork belly is the best I have ever had!” He ordered it on the last night of our stay and said he wishes he had tried it sooner because he would have eaten it at every meal! The Smoke House menu changes with the seasons, and you’ll want to make sure to check out the specialty seasonal dishes.
Hit the Donut Trail in Butler County
Visit 13 mom-and-pop donut shops located in Butler county along this 80-mile trail. It was interesting to drive through the community, looking for each location. Believe me, when I say, eating my way through a donut trail was the most delicious thing I have ever done!! Grab a passport here, and then begin your adventure. Click here to get the official Donut Trail map. After completing the journey, stop in at the Butler County visitor center and get your t-shirt.
Go Horseback Riding at National Road Horse Rental
There is something cathartic about taking an enjoyable horseback ride through the woods with a trail guide. National Road Horse Rental is owned and operated by a local family.
I am a history nerd and quite honestly fell in love with this place when we drove up. As I hopped out of the car and began to speak to the owners about the 1800’s school building located on their property, I quickly learned the land was a century farm. For over 100 years, this property has been in the family.
You’ll be treated like family when you come here, and they will get you saddled up onto the trail before you even know it. National Road Horse Rental offers five different styles of trail rides. You can find those here.
If you want a little alone time at the lodge alone and let the kids be Jr. Wranglers for a few hours, you can set up a time for that. The kids will get all the horse time they have been wanting and some education to boot!
6484 Morning Sun Rd.
Oxford, Ohio 45056
Visit a Winery
Old School House Winery
One of the things I noticed on my way to the lodge was the Old School House Winery. Sadly, we did not have time to make it to the winery, but it was calling my name. Preble County’s first winery is located in an original 1890’s one-room brick schoolhouse that has been lovingly restored and renovated just down the road from the lodge. If you are lucky, you can come when they offer live music on the beautiful and relaxing patio. #bucketlisted
Preble County offers eight covered bridges that are still standing, and on your driving tour, you can see the oldest covered bridge in Ohio. Throughout the 19th Century, from 1829 until 1896, 29 covered bridges were built in Preble County, Ohio. History has driven over these bridges, and I, for one, am thankful I can visit pieces of Ohio’s past.
The most notable bridge on the driving tour is Robert’s Bridge was built in 1829 and is Ohio’s oldest covered bridge. It is one of six double-barreled or dual wagon-way bridges remaining in the United States. Another little-known fact is that the Roberts Bridge is the second oldest covered bridge of any type in the United States.
If you want to read more about where to find the bridges, check out Consistently Curious blog on her experience, you can click here.
After all your adventures outside at Hueston Woods State Park and the surrounding area, you will be glad to be back at the lodge for an evening unwinding lakeside. Grab a drink and sit back and relax!
Pro-Tip: Make sure to book a room with a lake view. I found myself sitting on my deck, soaking in the sun and loving the outdoors from this space off of our room. If you come in the winter, Ohio can have days where it is warm enough to enjoy the view wrapped in a blanket with a steaming cup of coffee.