Whether vacationing specifically for sports and recreation, or adding a recreation component to any getaway, Ohio offers lots of sports-related activities that can put fun and fitness into a vacation. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy spectacular terrain for hiking, biking, hunting and fishing as well as one of the great birding areas in the country.
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Southeast Ohio is home to the breathtaking Hocking Hills. Hikers can discover Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, Cedar Falls, Lake Logan and Rock House, or wander through Conkle’s Hollow and the Hocking State Forest. Whether outdoor adventure means a gentle hike in the woods or rappelling down a massive rock face, the Hocking Hills attractions are ideal for hikers of all skill levels. More than 10,000 acres of deep forests, hidden trails, soaring cliffs and sheltering caves await visitors.
Ohio has unique ties to the bicycle. Not only was it the humble bicycle that provided the Wright brothers with the inspiration to create the airplane, but the padded bicycle seat was invented here, allowing millions of enthusiasts to sit comfortably while bicycling through Ohio’s meandering trails.
In fact, Ohio has more than 850 miles of cycling trails as part of the Rails to Trails Conservancy. Through the efforts of the conservancy, Ohio offers 88 trails, ranging from the one-mile California Junction Trail to the 1,300-mile Buckeye Trail. Many of these trails take riders past historic sites, through charming small towns and along pathways that traverse varied topography. Many of the trails are designated as multi-use for walking, in-line skating, horseback riding and even cross-country skiing. And, in Holmes County, the newest trail is also open to buggies. Bicycling maps from the Ohio Department of Transportation provide cyclists with additional routes for consideration. More than 30 State Parks also provide challenging off-road mountain biking experiences of varying lengths.
Bounded by Lake Erie to the north and the Ohio River to the south, Ohio boasts a great variety of water-related getaways. With more than 200 miles of Lake Erie shoreline boaters, swimmers, parasailers, snorkerlers, scuba divers and island hoppers will find plenty to do. Snorkeling and scuba diving have grown in popularity in recent years with the clarity of the lake waters allowing the exploration of numerous shipwrecks. Ohio’s 140 rivers and inland lakes are no less inviting. The majestic Ohio River provides boaters with unique opportunities to tour historic river towns.
Ohio’s location, directly on the migratory path of many bird species, makes it an ideal location for bird watching. Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, located along the Lake Erie shoreline in Ottawa and Lucas counties, is one of the top birding destinations in North America. Birders gather along the Lake Erie coast each spring and fall to witness the magnificent songs of the warblers and the brilliant colors of tropical species resting along the migration route.
Birders from throughout the world flock to Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. Consistently ranked among the top ten birding "hot spots" in the United States, Magee Marsh Wildlife Area is rich in plantlife, animals and history. But it's the spring and fall waterfowl and songbird migrations that tend to draw the most attention. This 2,000-acre area regularly produces more than 300 bird species, drawn to the marshland for food, protection, rest and breeding.
From Headlands Dunes on the banks of Lake Erie to Compass Plant Prairie in southern Ohio and the Lakeside Daisy Preserve in northwest Ohio to Cedar Bog in central Ohio, visitors can enjoy a getaway at 131 Ohio natural areas and preserves. Each has its own appeal, but all provide a chance to revel in the state’s natural beauty.
The Wilds (Cumberland)
The Wilds is North America’s largest wildlife conservation facility, comprising more nearly 10,000 acres of reclaimed coalmine land. The Wilds is home to the most rhinos in the United States, as well as giraffes, antelope, camels, bison, African wild dogs, dholes (Indian wild dogs) and cheetahs. The area is a reclaimed coalmine, and it offers eco-tourism experiences both with native flora and fauna as well as well as more exotic species.