23 engaging stops along St. Rt. 23 from Columbus to the Ohio River
With every twist and bend throughout southern Ohio’s Appalachian hills and valleys, St. Rte. 23 takes you past some of the best attractions, restaurants and shops in southern Ohio. Here are 23 engaging stops that’ll make the trip from Columbus to the Ohio River (and back) an alluring adventure.
1. Learn quirky facts about the village of Ashville at Ohio’s Small-Town Museum. Check out the futuristic traffic light designed by a local inventor in the 1930s.
2. Pick your way through Pickaway County at a cornucopia of pick-your-own produce farms and roadside stands. Watch for blueberries and tomatoes in summer, and gourds and pumpkins in fall.
3. See pumpkins, parades and lots of people at the annual Circleville Pumpkin Show, featuring four days of free fun, beginning the third Wednesday in October.
4. Discover an entertainment legend at the Ted Lewis Museum in downtown Circleville. The early 20th-century jazz clarinetist was known for his top hat, cane and the remark, “Is everybody happy?”
5. Savor a pumpkin doughnut every day of the year at Lindsey’s Bakery, home of the 400-pound pumpkin pie found annually at the Circleville Pumpkin Show.
6. Sit beneath the stars in Chillicothe as more than 100 “Tecumseh!” cast members tell the story of a legendary Shawnee leader’s struggles to defend his homeland during the late 1700s.
7. Stoke your sense of adventure by exploring Ross County’s five state parks. Follow hiking, biking and bridle paths, go boating and fishing, and stay in a cabin or tent and stargaze at night.
8. Visit the rustic landscape that inspired the Great Seal of the State of Ohio at the Adena Mansion & Gardens in Chillicothe. Stroll through the 1800’s mansion, once home to Ohio’s sixth governor, Thomas Washington.
9. Rekindle yesteryear inside dozens of antique shops on the Ross County Antique Trail. The treasure hunt meanders through Chillicothe, Bainbridge and Kingston.
10. Lose your head at Chillicothe’s Haunted Mountain, a family-friendly, Halloween experience that puts guests on a trail visited by the Headless Horseman.
11. Take yourself out to a Chillicothe Paints ballgame and feel the nostalgia of collegiate baseball in the 1954-built V.A. Memorial Stadium.
12. Enjoy a movie or live performance at Chillicothe’s Majestic Theatre, the oldest continuously operating theater in America. Built in 1853, it’s welcomed legends such as Bob Hope and Sophie Tucker.
13. Uncover the history behind the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Chillicothe, where visitors can find a dozen mounds and earthworks dating to A.D. 500 within a 21-mile radius.
14. Rediscover the vibrancy of downtown Chillicothe, Ohio’s first capital. Explore historic buildings, shop at independent boutiques and dine at local culinary standouts.
15. Experience the thrill of auto racing at Waverly’s Atomic Speedway, billed as “the fastest 3/8-mile dirt track in the country” that’s entertained fans for more than six decades.
16. Tune into Prussia Valley Dulcimers in Waverly for a major selection of acoustic instruments, including locally-crafted mountain dulcimers, guitars, banjos and Native American flutes.
17. Step into the Old West at Dogwood Pass, a replica town in Beaver complete with a saloon, jail, general store and many other tributes to the Wild West.
18. Reserve a spot on the U.S. Department of Energy’s popular, guided tour of a former uranium enrichment plant housed on more than 1,200 acres in Piketon.
19. Pop up a tent at a primitive site or sleep in an appointed cabin, at the 400-plus-acre Long’s Retreat Family Resort in Latham. Canoe or swim in a spring-fed lake or speed around the go-kart track.
20. Reap the rewards of Main Street Portsmouth, a collaboration of independent business owners and community leaders who’ve both preserved and revitalized this historic city along the Ohio River.
21. Celebrate Independence Day in historic downtown Portsmouth with live music and an annual fireworks display that beautifully reflects upon the Ohio River.
22. View 2,000 years of history depicted on Portsmouth’s floodwall murals, from Native American earth mounds to “King of the Cowboys” actor Roy Rogers.
23. Attend a gallery opening or catch a musical show at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts on the campus of Shawnee State University in historic Portsmouth.
(This story, written by Wendy Pramik for Great Lakes Publishing, printed in the Ross County Visitors Guide.)