Jul/Aug Issue
This Enhanced Editorial was paid for by a promotional fee from an advertiser.

Unplugged in the Hocking Hills
Southeastern Ohio’s Eden is where fun and excitement is anything but virtual.

Ever wonder if there is still a place where people talk instead of text, spend less time with their inbox, and where they spend more time with their tackle box and follow tweets coming from the sky instead of a screen?

There is such a place, and it is closer than you think. Come to Ohio’s Hocking Hills, where Facebook means relaxing with your face in an actual book.

Imagine a place where you can reconnect with your family and friends or with that special someone. You’re lounging on the deck, in the hot tub or around the campfire, completely relaxed and laughing as stories of the day linger in the evening air. It’s guaranteed to be one of those moments you’ll wish will never end, and it doesn’t have to because there is so much to experience in the Hocking Hills.

hocking hillsGo Outside and Play
Mother Nature outdid herself when she created this spot, and for millions of years her artistry has been on display for all to see. From the moment you enter the lush, rolling hills, you’ll know you've arrived someplace remarkable.

More than 10,000 acres of unbroken forest provide the ideal destination for the ultimate eco-adventure vacation. Not surprisingly, the Hocking Hills is world-renowned for incredible hiking. But that's just the beginning.

Test your endurance and pick your challenge at the annual Hocking Hills Indian Run featuring 60k, 40k, 20k, 10k and 5k races each September. Follow the footsteps of hiking’s most famous Grandma at the annual Grandma Gatewood Fall Color Hike in October. Emma “Grandma” Gatewood was the first woman to ever hike all 2,184 miles of the Appalachian Trail solo, and that was at 67 years young.

Indulge your adventurous soul in the Canopy Tour Capital of the Midwest, as you fly through the trees on more than fifty zip lines. Rise to new heights with rock climbing and repelling. Get up close and personal with wildlife on a guided kayak tour. Canoe under a full moon and discover the magic of the Hocking River in twilight.  Explore the region by horseback and see the paths less traveled. Drop a line for the catch of the day.

Less eco, but adventurous nonetheless, are rides on the same road Ford tests its Mustangs. The country roads also are perfect for escapes on your Harley, as are the refreshments and live music at Bike Night, Tuesdays through mid-September. And don’t miss the Hocking Hills Poker Runs in September and the Annual Labor Day Weekend Motorcycle Rodeo.

If you’re looking for something a little more relaxed, test your putting mettle at one of the most beautiful and challenging 18-hole miniature golf courses in America; hand feed hummingbirds at Lake Hope State Park; or try your luck gem mining for a little bit of natural bling. You can even visit the only Pencil Sharpener Museum in the world.

Creative Spirits
The hills also are a perfect place to get in touch with your inner artist. Learn stained glass techniques at the hands of a master. Have fun learning to melt glass while making your own glass beads and charms for bracelets, necklaces and earrings. Bring the scents of your Hocking Hills vacation home when you create a candle with your custom selected fragrances.

Meanwhile, you won’t be the only artist in residence because creative souls from all over flock to the hills for natural inspiration. Sculptors, potters, painters, glass blowers, wood carvers, furniture makers and more will help you bring a little bit of the Hocking Hills home with you.

Accordingly, wonderful boutiques, antique shops, farm stands and flea markets dot the landscape.

Local kitchens, too, are veritable studios. Find out as you refine your culinary skills with cooking and baking classes. From French cuisine to holiday cookies, you’ll learn to cook from expert chefs, who’ll share their talents in hands-on classes.

Feel the inspiration in another way, when the hills come alive with music. Legends and up and coming musicians headline the Nelsonville Music Festival in May. Revelers dance in the streets at the Annual Washboard Music Festival every June. Art, music and flower lovers marvel at the gardens of Lilyfest surrounded by artists as music floats on the breeze at Bishop Educational Gardens. Southeast Ohio’s version of Woodstock is Rootwire Music & Art Festival in August.

Seasonal Splendor
Winter brings a quiet beauty to the hills as waterfalls freeze in suspended animation and ice beards form over cave walls. Get a great start on that New Year’s resolution to get healthy at the annual Winter Hike in January, during which you’ll take a leisurely trek with 5,000 to 6,000 of your closest friends.

Looking for something more intimate? How about a romantic Valentine’s weekend complete with a Sweetheart’s Hike to Ash Cave? Speaking of sweet: Try a little maple sugaring in March, and see how maple products are made.

hocking hillsSpring brings thundering waterfalls and forest floors carpeted with wildflowers. Professional and amateur shutterbugs converge every April to “Shoot the Hills” in a 24-hour photography contest benefiting the Friends of Hocking Hills State Park.

Families and friends gather around campsites, in cozy cabins and vacation homes. Couples rekindle the flame in romantic inns. Girlfriends meet to indulge in gourmet cuisine and spa treatments. And don't forget your four-legged friends. They are always welcome in the Hocking Hills, too.

Sure, you can get online if you absolutely must, but there's no need for electronic leashes here. Why settle for a virtual vacation when the real thing is so close to home and a million miles from ho-hum?

For more information, visit www.hockinghills.com. For trip-planning assistance, visitAAA.com/Travel.