A whirlwind weekend exploring things to do in Lancaster, Ohio, leads to scenic overlooks, delicious food, and the new Green Thumb Trail.
On our drive to Hocking Hills, we often passed signs encouraging us to detour to the small town of Lancaster, Ohio. Curiosity frequently gets the better of me because I have learned over the years that good things come in small packages, which is the case in Lancaster.
Whether you are planning a visit for the day or the weekend, there are plenty of fun things to do in Lancaster for the whole family. Sit on the patio at a local winery, shop trendy boutiques or tour the Ohio Glass Museum!
Our complete guide will help you plan your perfect itinerary for exploring Lancaster, Ohio.
We want to thank Visit Fairfield County for hosting our visit. All opinions, as always, are my own.
Where Is Lancaster, Ohio?
Lancaster is in Fairfield County in southeast-central Ohio. It is roughly 30 miles southeast of Columbus, Ohio. From my hometown of Cincinnati, it is approximately a two-hour drive. State Route 22 runs through the middle of town, while many will access the city from State Route 33.
Tip: I recommend downloading the Visit Fairfield County App to help plan and use it to get around during your visit. Search Visit Fairfield County in your App store.
Where To Stay In Lancaster, Ohio
During our recent visit to Lancaster, I loaded up three of my best gal friends to get away for a fun weekend of exploring and checking out the new Green Thumb Trail. We are all big plant enthusiasts, so we found this trail of particular interest.
The Holiday Inn Express & Suites of Lancaster was the ideal accommodation for us. The hotel offers spacious rooms with a variety of options to choose from. We opted for two full beds and a pull-out couch. A little kitchenette was perfect for keeping cold drinks, heating up a late-night snack, and brewing a fresh cup of coffee.
Each morning the Holiday Inn Express & Suites offers guests a complimentary hot breakfast that includes breakfast meats, eggs, and a pancake maker! Other breakfast staples such as cereals, fruit, yogurt, and bakery items were available.
The Holiday Inn in Lancaster, Ohio, has an indoor pool and fitness center for its guests to enjoy. However, my favorite part of staying at a Holiday Inn Express is that checkout is at noon!
TIP: If you’ll be in town exploring the Green Thumb Trail, Let them know when you call to book for a discounted rate!
Best Things To Do In Lancaster, Ohio
The Green Thumb Trail
If you are a plant lover, schedule a visit to check out Fairfield County. Their Green Thumb Trail takes plant enthusiasts on a fun botanical journey where you tour greenhouses, shop local nurseries, and participate in various plant-related activities and programs.
Create a magical fairy garden, learn how to make a terrarium, or take a class on gardening. There is always an opportunity to get your hands in the dirt along the Green Thumb Trail.
One of my favorite stops along the trail was at the cutest shop called STUMP. If you are looking for your very first plant or adding to your growing collection, STUMP’s incredible staff will help you find your perfect match! Did I mention they include care cards? Every plant that goes home with you comes with a detailed card on properly caring for your plant.
Discover the listings of participating stores and upcoming events along the Green Thumb Trail.
Soak in breathtaking views of Lancaster by climbing to the top of Rising Park’s Mount Pleasant. Arguably one of Ohio’s most spectacular views, Mount Pleasant overlooks the city of Lancaster with the surrounding foothills in the distance.
To get to the top of Mount Pleasant, visitors enter through Rising Park. A parking lot is adjacent to the trailhead, directly past the tennis courts. The climb is moderate; however, keep in mind that you will be gaining 206ft in elevation in about .7 miles. It took us roughly 45 minutes round trip, but you can stay up and enjoy the view for hours.
During your visit to Rising Park, take a stroll around the beautiful lake, take the kids to the playground and pack a lunch to enjoy at one of the many picnic shelters.
Fun Fact: The Native Americans used to call the 250-foot high sandstone bluff “Standing Stone.”
Shop In Downtown Lancaster
Strolling historic downtown Lancaster is a fabulous way to discover your new favorite boutique, eatery, or event. Tour the Sherman House Museum, select the perfect book at Paperback Exchange, or relax by the fountain while music fills the air from the nearby Bandstand.
Downtown Lancaster is a part of the DORA district that allows alcoholic beverages in designated containers within the DORA boundaries. Grab a cocktail at The Downtown Bistro, a beer at Double Edge Brewing Company, or a bubble tea at Downtown Fruit Passions.
Friday Night Bandstand
Live music takes center stage as the square in downtown Lancaster comes alive all summer with a line-up of bands. Locals fill the street with lawn chairs and blankets every Friday and some Saturday nights to enjoy the summer sounds of music throughout the decades.
Food trucks and many local restaurants offer carry-out and DORA beverages. A tent with tables and chairs is open to the public to use on a first-come-first-serve basis. Our favorite place to enjoy the music was on the benches near the fountain.
Planning Tip: Lancaster’s Friday Night Bandstand is a unique event that only happens during the summer.
Donut World offers a huge selection of fresh donuts 24 hours a day! When I heard there was a 24-hour donut drive-thru, we had to check it out. Donut World offers more than donuts, such as cinnamon rolls, cream horns, and bismarks. We got a nice assortment to take back to the hotel to enjoy later.
Provisions Bakery & Deli
If you can only choose one place to stop at while visiting Lancaster, Provisions Bakery & Deli is it. A former hardware store turned deli; Provisions serves incredible pastries, delicious entrees, and brunch options. My recommendation, get the sourdough french toast with one of their mimosas.
Provisions has a fantastic selection of wine from around the world that you can purchase, including premade mimosas and bellinis.
While traveling, I try not to eat at the same place twice, but I made an exception to the rule with Provisions. I had to return to take home an assortment of those mouth-watering baked goods, especially a giant cinnamon roll.
Lancaster Farmers Market
Fresh flowers and produce abound at the Lancaster Farmers Market, which is also a stop along the Green Thumb Trail. Stock up on your local favorites, including homemade soaps, seasonings, jams, jellies, and more! The market takes place every Saturday from 8:30 am -12:00 pm. The market happens rain or shine and can be found on Chestnut Street between Broad and Columbus.
Planning Tip: The Lancaster Farmers Market runs from the first Saturday in May to the second Saturday in October.
AHA! Children’s Museum
If you are traveling with young children, a stop at the AHA! Children’s Museum should be on your itinerary. The museum is full of interactive exhibits that are meant to kick their imaginations into high gear. Build a house, dig up a dino, or try a new science experiment.
There are many different stations and areas for little kids, including train and block tables and areas designated just for those under two years old.
Tip: Don’t miss taking the kids out to explore the outdoor exhibit: Nature Playscape.
Pair this with a trip to Gypsy Joe’s Ice Cream for the perfect day!
Summer at the Round Barn- Vintage & Made Market
Rows upon rows of homemade goods, boutique clothing, and vintage finds can be found at Lancaster’s Vintage & Made Markets at the Round Barn.
Upon hearing that a shopping paradise was going to be in Lancaster during our visit, we immediately got tickets to the Summer at the Round Barn event. Don’t be alarmed when you see people entering the market with empty wagons. That is because there is an abundance of home decor, furniture, plants, and darling boutique clothing just waiting to come home with you.
Step into the market to find great vendors such as Tangled To Treasure, Betsey’s Boutique, and Ohio Hates Cancer. Ohio Hates Cancer was such a gem as my friend that was with me just beat cancer almost two years.
Planning Tips: Fall at Round Barn happens in September so mark the calendar! The Fall at Round Barn is when all the cute fall decor, clothing, and mums appear! Bring sunscreen as you will be out in the sun between shops.
Ohio Glass Museum
A unique museum in Lancaster is the Ohio Glass Museum. Sitting right in the middle of Main Street, the Ohio Glass Museum was established to reflect the importance of the glassmaking industry in the history of Lancaster and Fairfield County.
In addition, to highlight the importance of glassmaking to Fairfield County, the Ohio Glass Museum offers a variety of exhibits, programs, and classes.
Planning Tip: Schedule a Glass Blowing Class, and check their calendar for upcoming events.
Cherry Street Pub
With the rustic charm of an English Style Pub, Cherry Street Pub has been a local watering hole for Lancaster locals for over a hundred years. The Pub serves various unique dishes and cocktails at the antique bar, still operating a century later.
Dine on pub fare with a twist like peanut butter and jelly wings, pecan chicken and waffles, or one of their many gourmet mac n’ cheeses. Swing in for brunch on the weekend to indulge in a Pub Benedict or a Hillbilly Breakfast.
Rockside Winery and Vineyards
The Covered Bridge Country Wine Trail in Fairfield County will take you throughout the region, tasting Ohio wines at six local wineries while seeing a few of the county’s beautiful covered bridges. Not far from downtown Lancaster is Rockside Winery and Vineyards.
Rockside offers wine tastings in their tasting room with flight options and local beer and whiskey. Grab a glass of your favorite to enjoy on the patio overlooking the vineyard, or sample a variety to find your new favorite.
If you enjoy a drier wine, my preference was the Petite Pearl, a dry red.
Planning Tip: Check to see if the winery is closed for a private event before driving out to visit. You are also not allowed to bring your own food.
O’Huids Gaelic Pub
For a good time, swing into O’Huids Gaelic Pub for a wonderful Irish feast! Start with one of their signature cocktails, an Irish beer or stout, then add an order of the Irish Nachos!
The atmosphere feels like the Pub has been a local staple for decades, while in reality, they just recently opened about five years ago. Grab an order of the Fish N Chips, tackle the William Wallace, or sample the Eire Eggrolls from the scratch-made kitchen.
Planning Tip: The Pub does offer fun trivia and themed nights.
The Open Air Art Trail
One of my favorite things to do is find fun public art; Lancaster is full of it. You never know what you will stumble upon from painted alleys, intriguing sculptures, and fun murals. You can find all of the public art fixtures on Lancaster’s Open Air Art Trail. On Saturday morning, we got a coffee at L-City Coffee + for a sip and a stroll through the downtown area.
While strolling through town, you will find fascinating historical landmarks such as the birthplace of General William Tecumseh Sherman.
More Great Things To Do In Fairfield County, Ohio
Route 33 Brew Trail
Only a short drive from downtown Columbus marks the beginning of the Route 33 Brew Trail. Pick up your official passport at the Visitor’s Center to have stamped at each brewery to receive an Anchor Hocking Route 33 Brew Trail pint glass.
The Brew Trail is comprised of six different breweries, each offering fresh, tasty craft beers. During our visit, we were able to explore Rockmill Brewery, celebrate Outerbelt’s 3rd Birthday, and toast with locals at Double Edge Brewing Company.
Other breweries on the trail include; BrewDog, Brewery 33 Hocking Hills and Combustion Brewery & Taproom.
Planning Tip: Not all breweries have food, so make sure you plan a meal between those that do not.
Covered Bridge Trail
A beautiful scenic drive to add to your bucket list is discovering the covered bridges in Fairfield County, Ohio. Fifteen original bridges can be found throughout the beautiful countryside dotted with charming small towns.
Planning Tip: The only covered bridge that you can drive-thru is the Stemen House Bridge.
For a great time, plan a day trip to Buckeye Lake. It is the perfect place to beat the summer heat or enjoy the changing seasons. Sip wine overlooking the lake at Buckeye Lake Winery, rent a boat, or relax on Fairfield Beach.
We hope that our article has encouraged you to start planning your next weekend getaway to Lancaster, Ohio. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out these related articles.