Disclosure: Columbus Date Night Guide was hosted by Visit Fairfield County. Vouchers were provided at no cost to the writer. However, as always, all opinions are my own.
I know what most of you are thinking, what could there possibly be to do for a weekend in Lancaster, OH?!? Honestly, quite a bit! It’s the perfect weekend getaway destination, even if it’s just for a Saturday day date. It’s close, historic, and different than Columbus in many ways. Even the scenery on the drive there makes it totally worth it. Here’s how to spend a weekend exploring Lancaster, Ohio.
Holiday Inn Express
Five minutes from the downtown and right next to the mall. This is really your best option if you want convenience.
Rock Mill Cottage Bed & Breakfast
Privately owned and located directly across the street from the historic Rock Mill and covered bridge. This is ideal for couples who are looking for a more homey option that is close to the outdoor activities. It’s just 15 minutes from downtown Lancaster, but gives you a more secluded feeling. They even have a hot breakfast for you on the weekends. Oh, and bonus, it’s also right across the street from Rock Mill Brewery.
Attend the Lancaster Festival
The Lancaster Festival celebrates art, music, and community. It has been around for over 30 years and hosts daily concerts featuring a variety of artists like celebrity musicians, tribute bands, and the Lancaster Festival Orchestra. The ten day festival is held every July and draws over 40,000 visitors to the city.
Create a piece of art at Art & Clay on Main
Art & Clay on Main and Square Seven Coffee House are a social purpose enterprise that works with Fairfield County Board of Developmental Disabilities to train and employ people with developmental disabilities. They have pottery painting, live music, and other art events throughout the year. Every Sunday is sensory Sunday, so some coffee might be limited on that day due to the sound of the machines.
Follow all the #local trails
We are trail happy in Ohio and Fairfield County is a huge part of it. They offer six “local trails” you can follow to find all the cool local spots. The most popular one is the Route 33 Brew Trail. It takes you to six breweries located along Route 33. Then there is the Covered Bridge Trail, the Ohio Art Corridor, and the Throttle, Bottle, & Grub Motorcycle Trail (this is actually a very popular area to ride motorcycles through, even my own mom and dad used to do it!). Two additional trails are not complete yet, but they are the Trail of Scarecrows and the HandMade & Homegrown Trail. All of the information on these trails can be found here.
Hike through the local parks
Along with several state and county parks, Lancaster also has its own city parks. During the summertime, these parks can be very popular. If you only have time for one, make sure it is Rising Park, you won’t want to miss this view. The hike itself isn’t long, but can be kind of tough since you are taking a fairly steep walk up to the top of Mount Pleasant. Other parks and activities to consider: Maple Tapping Festival at Charles Alley Park and live music at the Bandstand throughout the summer!
Learn something new at the local museums
Lancaster really has such a rich history, so if you are into that kind of thing, the museums in Lancaster won’t disappoint! Decorative Arts Center of Ohio is free and has rotating exhibits. Paid museums include the Georgian Museum, the Ohio Glass Museum, and the Sherman House Museum. All are $6 and you are encouraged to check their schedule because some are not open year-round.
Shop around downtown Lancaster
If you take time to walk around the downtown, you will notice cute shops with tons of items from local makers inside. My favorite shop was Miss Molly’s Mercantile. Also, on your way out of town be sure to stop at Happy Goat, a gluten free bakery and Crazy 4 Popcorn to get some treats for the car ride home!
Eat and Drink
When you are visiting Lancaster, it seems like everywhere you go in town, everyone wants to know where you are going to hang out later. And consistently, Alehouse 1890 kept coming up. It seems like it is THE place to be on a Friday or Saturday night. Once walking inside, you will be able to see why. The historic location has been serving alcohol since the 1890s and in 2014 it expanded to become a larger restaurant and event space. With live music on the weekends, made-from-scratch food, and an outdoor patio with a firepit, this place is the ultimate Lancaster date night spot.
Cherry Street Pub
Clearly this place is loved by the locals. It is small, eclectic, and packed, so be prepared to wait a bit on a table. While you are waiting, cozy up to the bar for a drink. You might even want to order their very own Cherry Street Ale made by Buckeye Lake Brewery. “The Bar” itself was built in the early 1900s and is one of the top five oldest bars in Ohio. While you are looking at the menu (it’s extensive), take some time to look at the memorabilia on the walls, there is so much local history to see. Oh, and for those of you that love a challenge, ask about the Cherry Street Challenge!
RockSide Winery & Vineyards
Nothing says date night like a winery, and RockSide proves it. This place looks and feels exactly how a winery should. Most of the wines produced are made from the grapes grown on site, a special grapevine that can make it through Ohio’s winter. Wines are $1 per taste, and you can taste as many as you like. Not a wine person? No problem, they also offer beer and whiskey for you to taste or drink by the glass. Small plates are available if you are hungry. Don’t leave without trying their trio of wine cakes! If you choose to visit RockSide, I recommend going on Saturday night for live music starting at 5pm. The owners also own Wyandotte Winery in Gahanna.
Private, comfortable, warm, cozy, romantic, rustic, those are all words to describe the feeling you get when you walk into the taproom at Rockmill Brewery. Some of those words may be switched out with others during the warmer months. But believe me, in the winter with snow on the ground, you will feel all the feels. During the summer,, you’ll find people wandering the grounds, sitting by the pond, or hanging out at the rustic tables. Set up like a cabin in the mountains, there are large and small sitting areas scattered around the two floor building. You can bring your own food in or enjoy the Backcountry BBQ during the summer season. Rockmill Brewery is also the brewery behind Rockmill Tavern in the Brewery District. Check their website for closures in case there are private parties scheduled.
On your way to or from Lancaster, break up the 45 minute drive by making a pit stop at one of these two places!
An unexpected surprise in Lithopolis, OH is a truly delicious Mexican restaurant. El Pedregal is everything! Their extensive menu gives you every option you would want from a Mexican restaurant and all for a very reasonable price. El Pedregal is Family owned by brothers who come from a line of restaurateurs. This place is worth a date night drive to Lithopolis all by itself.
Hidden Lakes Winery
Full disclosure: I haven’t been here yet, but when researching Fairfield County, I couldn’t help but think of date night when I saw this place. Plus, it’s also a distillery that specializes in Moonshine and that’s a bonus in my book.
Looking for another getaway? Read about Three Perfect Days Discovering Cincinnati