23 Best & Fun Things to Do in Athens (Ohio)

Having a vacation in Athens might be the best vacation decision anyone can make, especially if they are more inclined to the adventurous world of arts, culture, and learning.

There are quite some unique and fun things to do in Athens, Ohio as Athens is a well-known city where arts, culture, history, and learning thrive. It has a beautiful and well-preserved history which many people describe as the city’s bragging right.

Athens is situated at the center of Athens County, located in the southeastern part of Ohio, about 105 km southeast of Columbus.

The Hocking River is one of the city’s major highlights because many hotspots of Athens city are located along the river. The magnificent Hocking River gracefully meanders between huge hills and scenic landscapes. The climate in Athens is also charming and suitable for tourists

Apart from the Hocking River, Athens is also home to one of the most prominent public research institutes, Ohio University. It is a prestigious university responsible for educating over 20,000 students.

It has this combination of modern charm and old-school beauty. Athens is also naturally endowed with many lakes and gardens for recreation.

Athens is an excellent place to visit. However, here is a bucket list of 23 fun things to do in Athens, Ohio, that will make the travel experience more thrilling.

Things to Do in Athens, Ohio

1. Stroud Run State Park

Stroud Run State Park
Credits: Don Bilski / Shutterstock
Stroud Run State Park

One of the best things to do in Athens is some outdoor time at Stroud Run State Park.

Stroud Run State Park abounds in nature’s beauty and has fantastic hiking trails along with water bodies like lakes and beaches.

One of the famous beaches in the Park is the 900-foot sand beach on the east side. Visitors can also enjoy free diving as scuba diving kits are always available. Hence, visitors can have a close-up experience of the dazzling sea life.

Wilderness and rugged terrains with many trees scattered across large acres of land is also a significant trait of the Stroud Run State Park.

Photographers describe the Park as a picture haven due to its geographical location advantage, well nested in the Appalachian plateau, and has panoramic and breathtaking views.

You can also enjoy various boating experiences on Dow Lake, with tie-up stakes provided on-site.

Nature walks are another attraction that helps you catch your breath as you hike through miles of forested lands.

If Bird watching is your hobby, this aviary paradise can satisfy you as many birds fly through the forested terrain.

Most importantly, camping grounds are also available here, and that is why it is the perfect place to visit if you require a safe camping trip. Stay for a day or two in the lap of nature while the Stroud Run State Park has to offer every other thing.

2. Escape Rooms

escape rooms
Credits: Michal Durinik / Shutterstock

Escape Rooms, Athens is one of the most exciting places where modern and entertaining games are invented constantly.

Recently, “Escape Room Games” are quickly gaining popularity in the country because it’s a perfect way to spend some fun time with friends or family.

You can rub minds together to try and solve mind-twisting mysteries at these sorts of games before it’s too late.

With over six different types of escape rooms available to be chosen that will leave anyone in a mesmerizing puzzle of choices

Escape rooms will offer you a great time to have fun finding clues and solving intricate and quirky puzzles to find a way out.

The players have to make good use of both their wits, smarts, and intellect to solve puzzles and other interactive multiplayer games to exit the room before the deadline for the match expires

Participating in games like these is a fantastic choice if you want to indulge in an entertaining and exciting activity.

Escape room games at Athens are fun, thrilling, and exciting, with beautiful memories to be made.

3. The Spring Literacy Festival

The Spring Literary Festival
Credits: Ohio University Libraries / Flickr
The Spring Literary Festival

The Spring Literary Festival is a terrific three-day festival which is hosted at the famous Ohio University.

Authors from all disciplines are invited, and various genres are also explored, ranging from fiction, non-fiction to poetry.

The Spring Literary Festival has hosted book readings and reviews of various classical and famous books and authors since its inception in 1986.

It is sponsored by the university and hosted by the English department. Attending the festival is cost-effective for tourists as there is no entry fee charged to visitors.

Athens is one of the most unique and educative places to visit. Whether you love the Arts, History, or thrilling adventures on your holidays, Athens got you covered.

The Spring Literary Festival is such a ubiquitous event offering all kinds of touristy attractions that will keep your eyes shining in awe of archived knowledge.

4. The Dairy Barn Arts Center

The Dairy Barn Arts Center
Credits: Ed! [CC BY-SA 3.0], Wikimedia Commons
The Dairy Barn Arts Center
The Dairy Barn Arts Center is one of the few places in Athens with an inscribed significance in the city’s history.

It is a constant reminder of how a democracy help saves historical monuments in the dairy farm where the arts center is situated.

In time, the Dairy Barn provided milk for the residents of The Ridge, and the barn covered great expanses of land.

It was finally converted to an art center. The magnificent art center still offers its visitors various forms of immersive artworks.

Some of these breathtaking forms of art include quilting which is one of the prime forms of art displayed here, and the artifacts are gorgeous and carefully made.

Art studios are available, here classes and art workshop practices are tutored. A visit to The Dairy Barn Arts Center will expose you to the intricate knowledge of beautiful art, leaving a definite smile on your face.

5. Old Man’s Cave

Old Man's Cave
Credits: Benjamin Simeneta / Shutterstock
Old Man’s Cave

This cave is one of the most exciting tourist attractions located just on the outskirts of Athens. Old Man’s Cave is a geographical wonder which can be best described as a natural gorge.

This impressive gorge has picturesque, soothing, and scenic views, which will leave you lonely in a sea of awe. Most nature photographers describe the Old Man’s Cave as a delightful treat in nature photography.

The Old Man the Cave has been supposedly named after an elderly hermit named Richard Rowe, who lived at the gorge with his two dogs.

He also had two brothers, Nathaniel and Pat Rayon, who gorge their homes after he died. But after the death of his brothers, no other person has lived there since.

Although the cave gives you an Erie feeling, the scenic view around you compensates for keeping you and your senses feeling calm and at peace.

There are various fun spots along the gorge as the gorge itself cuts through some massive Blackhand sandstone.

One of the ways to enjoy your time at Old Man’s Cave is hiking. They are various trails around the gorge to choose from for hiking.

The whispering cave trail is one of the few outstanding trails around the Old Man’s Cave. However, it is moderately complex but extremely fulfilling to undertake.

Address: 19852 OH-664, Logan, OH 43138

6. Southeast Ohio History Center

It will be an excellent idea to have more fun by visiting the Southeast Ohio History Center before having a great time at the Ridges as both of them the same vicinity.

It is a great learning center where the history of the asylum is well exposed. It also showcases many exhibits from the hospital.

This history center was also home to the well known Billy Milligan, who was housed here with his paintings

Some other beautiful items at this historical center include old handmade Quilts from the civil war era, intricate photograph gallery housing portraits by great artists like Elise Mitchell Sanford.

The genealogy department of this center has an area where visitors can research their heritage while having fun. The gift shop is also packed with various memorabilia to depart home, like toys, t-shirts, and mugs.

Address: 24 W State St, Athens, OH 45701

7. Hiking trails in Athens

Hiking trails Athens ohio
Credits: Rico S / Flickr
Nature Preserve Trail at The Ridges

Hiking is one of the most fun activities that anyone can indulge in and feel a sense of accomplishment.

You can put on your hiking shoes and make a choice from any of the many trails available and enjoy the hiking experience.

Athens has over 9 State Parks and 3 State Forests, and 1 National Forest, which offer such a lovely hiking experience in Athens.

Some great places to go hiking and trekking are Cedar falls, Cantwell cliffs, and Ash Cave.

The Rock House is one of the places recommended by various tourist guides. It is also regarded as the only actual cave in Hocking Hills. It is stunning and tiring but also enthralling.

Rock house is situated midway of a 150-feet cliff and has beautiful tunnel-like corridors.

This makes what to do in Athens, Ohio, for some outdoor time, consider an addition to your bucket list of things to do in Athens, Ohio.

8. Lake Logan State Parks

Lake Logan State Park
Credits: Dan Keck / Flickr (Public Domain)
Lake Logan State Park

Lake Logan State Parks is an excellent place to have a blissful day out with your family and friends, especially if you want to have a full taste of being close to nature

Lake Logan is filled with great fun spots that offer Canoeing and kayaking services.

Beginners and experts have a wide variety of choices with canoes and kayaks of various lengths, serving everyone’s varied goals of a fun time.

Leisure raft trips through the slow currents in the water will enable you to embrace the dazzling beauty around you.

Safety is also a priority at the Park as tubes are provided for kids and inexperienced swimmers.

At night, special moonlight outings are also present, offering magnificent views while on canoeing or kayaking trips on the lake

Fishing is one of the highlight activities at Lake Logan State Park. There are varieties of fishes present in the waters for your fishing.

9. Kennedy Museum of Art

Kennedy Museum of Art
Credits: Mike / Flickr
Kennedy Museum of Art

Athens is a city gifted with several important historical structures and is very rich in culture and heritage. To explore these historical landmarks in Athens, the Kennedy Museum of Art will have to take you on a joy ride.

The Kennedy Museum of Art is located in the Lin Hall, an administrative building for the Athens Lunatic Asylum or popularly known as The Ridges.

This museum is open to the public. It also has no admission fees and has exhibits that showcase many beautiful artifacts and antiques.

There are many exhibits in the museum showcasing the unique southwestern art in all its glory. Although, there are also special traveling exhibits that are displayed in seldom intervals.

 10. Athens Food Hunting

Avalanche Pizza
Credits: Avalanche Pizza / Facebook
Avalanche Pizza

Food hunting is one of the very few activities in which our primal instinct comes to play. Especially we food lovers who love exploring local cuisines, it might just be the most gratifying experience.

Visit the Avalanche Pizza if you have a craving for the taste of well-made pizza. Avalanche Pizza has been listed as the best pizzas in the United States. so why don’t you try and see.

Bagel Street Deli is another place that offers an excellent taste. The Bagels provided here are so delicious and also has a beautiful surrounding which will add a particular fairytale feel to your date night with your partner

Guests at Athens looking for a Mexican fill can visit the Casa Nuvea restaurant & cantina or Big Mamma’s burritos.

This is one of the best things to do in Athens Ohio, consider adding to your list of Athens Ohio activities.

11. Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Hills State Park
Credits: arthurgphotography / Shutterstock
Hocking Hills State Park

Spring break is an excellent time of the year. It is also the perfect time to go with them and your spouse on a short vacation trip.

A Camping trip is one of the best choices to make if you want to spend some fun and quality time with your family.

The High Rock Hideaways and Hocking Hills Campground are some great spots for camping.

You can have a nice and quiet weekend. Enjoy some star gazing at night and identify the twinkling constellations along with your family.

For those families who do not want to leave the comfort of civilization totally, an RV is the perfect option. This massive vehicle makes camping a lot less stressful and a lot more fun.

Parking your RV is never a problem at this Park. Hocking Hills has a beautiful RV park with panoramic views that will constantly keep your jaws ajar in awe of nature’s beauty.

Each parking area very beautiful and safe, with a scenic riverside view along with an electric hook-up.

12. The Ridges

The Ridges is another name for the Athens Lunatic Asylum.

It is a weird thing to visit a house for crazy people, but in truth, the architecture of this building is so beautiful that people come from all over to see it.

Although the building is out of operation, the building still stands strong after so many years.

It was designed by the architect Levi T. Scofield who is well known for works including very famous monuments like the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Sailors’ Monument in Cleveland, and the Cuyahoga County Soldiers.

The building has always been a bold reminder of wars will always causes loss to all the sides no matter what.

The Ridges used to house various Civil war veterans who had suffered traumatically from those wars.

Children and people suffering from excessive alcoholism and various strains of tuberculosis (TB) also were housed in its premises during some parts of its operational years, which were from 1874 to 1993.

Most who came here never returned to their everyday lives. Some never went back home and were buried in the nearby cemeteries.

13. Cedar Falls

Cedar Falls
Credits: SNEHIT PHOTO / Shutterstock
Cedar Falls

Cedar falls a place where beauty, peace, and nature come out to play. It is located not too far from the Lower Gorge of Old Man’s Cave. These falls are sure to leave you heaving long sighs at its stunning beauty.

The scene here looks very much out of this world. Moreover, it’s usually a tranquil place making it perfect for couples.

It is a spectacle to behold. People regard it as one of the biggest waterfalls in Hocking. The Queer creek flowing nearby is very soothing and yet falls over the slopes with so much grace.

Hemlock naturally grows in every nook and cranny of this location, along with other wild vegetation.

The steep hills and caverns in the surroundings remind you of a fictional elven forest and all the beautiful magic of nature that comes with it.

So, after having fun at the older man’s caves, you can top the whole experience with a visit to cedar falls and get lost in its tremendous and uplifting beauty.

14. Nelsonville Antiques and Vintage Market

For all antique lovers who visit Athens, the lively Nelsonville antiques and vintage market offers a great collection of artifacts at affordable prices.

You will also love all the furniture and remarkable apparel from classical periods on display. You can also shop for souvenirs to take back home for yourself and your friends.

15. Athens Farmers Market

Athens Farmers Market
Credits: Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock
Farmers Market

The Athens Farmers Market is organized and administered by local farmers, craftspeople, and volunteers.

Here everyone plays a part in making locally grown food and craft very sustainable and constantly available.

There is a lot for both locals and visitors to enjoy at this jolly Farmers market. Athens Farmers Market is an excellent place to visit if you want a firsthand experience interacting with the people of Athens the people of Athens

The market is open on two different days of the week, from March to December. On Wednesdays, The Athens Farmers Market is held up at Creature Comforts Brewing Company, while on Saturdays, the farmers market changes its location and is held at Bishop Park.

Shopping at this market is very cost-effective and fresh produce for customers. This market is also vibrant as local musicians offer great entertainment.

16. Pleasant Hill Vineyards

Pleasant Hill Vineyards
Credits: True life photography / Shutterstock

Pleasant Hill Vineyards was initially a horse farm but was recently bought over by the Corder family and renovated in 2012. Thus, the vineyard has excellent scenery with beautiful rolling fields, which provide the perfect setting.

The Winery tasting room is one of the significant highlights of Pleasant Hills. The room is a log cabin with architecture that was rampant in the 1800s.

Apart from great wine, the tasting room has other amenities like wood stoves and outdoor decks, making it ideal for all seasons.

Some of the wines which make up the tasting experience include Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Merlot.

Some other unique brews include a variety of dry, sweet, and semi-sweet blends.

Pleasant Hill Vineyards also offers house-made food that will amaze your taste buds offer a lovely twist to the wine selection process.

17. Sells Park

Sells Park
Credits: Wesley Eller / Flickr
Sells Park

Sells Park is located just a few kilometers from the center of Athens. It is described by most as the hidden gem in Athens

The Sells family was the original owner of the property during the early 1900s. They later gave the land to the Federal United States Government in 1939. Hence, Sells Park was established in 1979.

Sells Park offers a glorious and thrilling hiking experience to its visitors. This extraordinary experience is made possible as there are several walking tracks in its pristine landscape. This new landscape also creates the perfect biking scenery.

On arriving at Sells Park, a calm and graceful view awaits you. This scenic view comprises a small pond, Benches beautifully arranged underneath trees that provide a beautiful shade from the sun.

This Park is a tranquil space designed for a great quality time with your family and pets.

Sells Park coincidentally shares a part of its trail with the Stroud’s Run State Park trail system, which means that Hikers in the area can walk in and out of the site without even knowing.

This is the prime tourist dream, especially if you are an outdoors-loving person, then Sells Park is worth visiting.

This makes one of the fun things to do in Athens, Ohio, consider an addition to your bucket list of Athens Ohio attractions to visit.

18. Riddle State Nature Preserve (Hawk-Woods)

Hawk Woods
Credits: Jaknouse [CC BY-SA 3.0], Wikimedia Commons
Hawk Woods
Hawk-Woods, also known as Riddle State Nature Preserve, is an ancient forest located in central Athens County, Ohio. The preserve covers over 100 acres of land.

The Riddle Street Nature Preserve is located adjacent to Stroud’s Run State Park and is owned and administered by the beautiful City of Athens, which protects the land from logging.

Hiking in this preserve can be best described as taking a trip into wildlife as Hikers won’t have to go too far into the woods before getting an up-close look at these amazing animals and birds.

Sun rays also litter the landscape, providing a varied habitat for native flora and faun

Picturesque views and a warm natural experience are what Hawks Woods famous in Athens.

19. Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery

Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery
Credits: Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery / Facebook
Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery

One of the best things to do in Athens, Ohio, with kids is an exploration of The Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery, it is a fun and educative place to visit.

They inspire visitors of all ages to explore and discover the world through creative and interactive exhibitions.

The Museum of Discovery usually rotates its exhibitions from time to time. However, they ensure that people of all age grades are comfortable with the exhibits.

There is no specific time at which the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery opens up to the public, though the entry tickets are very cheap and affordable.

20. Hockhocking Adena Bikeway

Hockhocking Adena Bikeway
Credits: Rails-to-Trails Conservancy / Flickr
Hockhocking Adena Bikeway

Instead of hiking the Hocking Hills, you could easily enjoy This 21-mile bike path that features a very easy, gentle slope that makes it an excellent choice for people of all age groups and physical ability

This magnificent trail offers an excellent opportunity for visitors to have some free meditation time for those who prefer feeling some air on their faces.

Besides, you can rent bikes at several points along the old and beautiful trail. This eliminates stress in transporting oneself.

21. Geocaching

Geocaching
Credits: photocrazed_jls / Shutterstock
Geocaching

For people that love spending their time outside, geocaching is just perfect for you.

Geocaching is just a treasure hunt where people enjoy finding unique items as well as hiding them.

One unique thing about geocaching in Ohio is that there are already accessible trails, which are not readily at people’s disposal in most countries.

22. Hunting

Hunting
Credits: Scharfsinn / Shutterstock
Hunting

Hunting is one of the most self-rewarding activities. The thrill and excitement you get during the hunt and the absolute thought of catching your meal is out of this world

Athens is the right place to visit if you are one of the few people who enjoy spending part of their day in the forest or closer to the wild.

To not be found wanting, be sure to check out all of the rules and regulations for hunting before leaving for the forests.

This is one of the best fun things to do in Athens, Ohio, consider an addition to your Athens bucket list.

23. Athens County Tours

The best way to get to know a place is to take a tour. As you have read, Athens County has so many wonderful and fantastic fun spots which offer some of the most Intriguing experiences

One of the unique tours in Athens, the Route 33 tour .it, is a free audio download to be used while driving on Route 33.

There are also so many other tours besides Route 33, which offer a more interactive session with tour guides. The Covered Bridge Tours is an example of one of these tours.

Plan to explore other parts of Ohio, do not miss our guide on things to do in Akron and things to do in Cleveland for a fun time.

Plan a Trip to Athens

Athens, Ohio, is a lovely city to explore. It has a beautiful blend of natural beauty and modern looks. There is always a long list of great things to do in Athens, Ohio, at any time of the year you visit.

If you are a festive person, it will encourage you to know that Athens hosts several annual events and festivals.

Create your bucket list of things to do in Athens, Ohio, plan your trip, and go get a fun vacation in Athens.