The urge to get away from it all and escape to a simpler time and place is strong, especially these days. Cambridge/Guernsey County, Ohio is ready to welcome you and your family with fresh air and wide-open spaces. Whether you seek serene hideaways or come to enjoy our multiple lakes and parks, trails, shops and restaurants, , we are conveniently located at the crossroads of two major interstates (I-70 and I-77). This region is just a few hours’ drive from Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati.
GET OUTDOORS at Salt Fork State Park which at 20,181 acres is Ohio’s largest state park! Snap photos of wildlife as well as seasonal wildflowers. Cast a fishing line. Lounge at one of Ohio’s largest inland beaches. Boat, swim or waterski in the nearly 3,000-acre lake. Bring a picnic and sprawl out in a scenic spot. Hone your swing at the driving range or play a challenging round of golf. Hike 14 different trails. Ride horseback on six bridle trails.
MAKE A SPLASH at Seneca Lake where 3,550-acres of water ripple invitingly. Come boat, swim, waterski, and reel in catfish, bass, walleye, yellow perch, and bluegill. Ohio’s third-largest inland lake offers three public boat launch ramps, so bring your speed boat, sailboat, pontoon, jet ski, fishing boat or rent a watercraft from Seneca Lake Marina. There’s a 399 horsepower limit, but if you prefer to paddle, rent a kayak or join a guided kayaking program. When you’re ready to dry off, explore the park’s 4,060 acres of land. www.mwcd.org
CHECK OFF A BUCKET LIST ADVENTURE at The Wilds where visitors get a taste of an African safari with the affordability of Midwest prices. The Wilds resides on over 9000+ acres that were formerly used for strip mining in Cumberland, Ohio. The repurposing of the land allows for important animal conservation and education. During the 2+ hour open-air safari tour, you will see several rare and endangered species, along with rhinos, ostriches, and giraffes roaming around in a natural setting. Tours offered May-October. Tours are 2.5 hours long and are offered daily at 1:30 p.m. (July – October). Advance reservations are required. www.thewilds.org
Are you a fan of Nat Geo WILD TV series, Secrets of the Zoo? Join one of The Wilds’ Animal Management team members who appear on the hit show for a special tour as they make their rounds. You might help take a head count of the Bactrian deer, see Albert the Sichuan takin, be introduced to the resident giraffe herd or drive among the herd of southern white rhinos.
Bring on the holiday season with a trip to Cambridge, Ohio. The Dickens Victorian Village and the Guernsey County Courthouse’s light show are just two of the many wonderful things to enjoy during your visit.
We spent an entire day (10 hours) in Cambridge and we were on the move the entire time. It was such a fun filled day with so much diversity. This town of 11,000 people has a great Ohio heritage. The historical downtown area is filled with boutiques, restaurants and of course the Dickens characters.
Coffee and Pastries
Kennedy’s has been serving delicious and adorable pastries for generations. They offer your tried-and-true as well as unique, seasonal treats. Stop in and grab your favorite and then head a few doors down and enjoy your snack with a great cup of coffee at Ladders Coffee Bar. This coffee shop has original stamped tin ceilings, cozy seating, and a great atmosphere to sit, talk and relax.
Both places offer step-by-step visuals of how the Dickens characters are created and put together. The Welcome Center offers a great place for family pictures and shopping. You can purchase Victorian era hats for $5!
Interested in Cambridge’s history? Hopping on the trolley and being given a guided tour is one of the best ways to learn a lot about Cambridge that you might not normally have found out about. The ride is an hour long and is extremely informative. The trolley will take you up on mansion hill and tell you about the beautiful homes built over 100 years ago.
Trolleys runs on the hour. You can purchase your tickets inside the Dickens Victorian Village Welcome Center (647 Wheeling Ave). The trolley is available on December 12th and 19th from 10:00am – 5:00pm. Tickets are $10.
Cambridge is a great town to stroll through and do some holiday shopping. Both sides of the street offer multiple boutiques with a great assortment of merchandise. Supporting locally owned businesses is so important.
Dickens Victorian Village
While walking along the downtown sidewalks, you will encounter 86 different scenes depicting life in England during Queen Victoria’s reign. They are all quite charming, dressed in real clothes from that time. By reading the short descriptions on each scene, you will learn about many various aspects of the Victorian era: games, traditions, culture, economics.
A few fun facts:
The average life of a mannequin’s head is seven years.
This is the 15th year for the Dickens Victorian Village
The vocational school in nearby Buffalo makes the wooden frames
Over 200 volunteers are needed to make this event happen
It will be hard to decide which one is your favorite!
Volunteer Opportunity: If you would like to help, contact the Visitors Center. Help is needed throughout the year to not only set up, but to disassemble, mend and repair.
Just like Kennedy’s, Theo’s is a time-honored restaurant. Opening in 1931, it is known for their Coney Dogs, Fish n Chips, and pies. Oh, the pies! If you’re too full after your delicious, homemade meal, you might want to consider taking a pie home to enjoy.
Cambridge is home to two remarkably interesting museums. The Guernsey County Historical Museum is full of wonderful displays throughout their 16 room home. A tour guide will show you the miniature coal mine, the war room, a one room schoolhouse and so much more. This is a great place for adults and kids alike to learn about, not just Guernsey County, but Ohio history as well.
Be sure to notice the mile marker out front. Originally located all along the National Road, Route 40, these markers note how far from the beginning point in Cumberland as well as the distance to the next big cities. There is also a marker in front of the courthouse.
Glass production was huge all over Ohio from the turn of the century until around the 1950s. Cambridge was no exception. The National Museum of Cambridge Glass has an extensive display of many of the pieces that were hand blown and created throughout those decades. A short video starts off your tour, giving you insight into just how much work went into making the exquisite glass pieces. From there, you’ll be guided through the glass making process. You’ll learn about the displayed pieces which are in chronological order, given the opportunity to make rubbings from the etchings tiles and taught how to identify Cambridge Glass.
Cambridge Glass can be purchased as well as glass ornaments made from recycled pieces of Cambridge Glass. These ornaments serve as a fundraiser for the museum.
Volunteer Opportunity: The museum is always in need of volunteers regardless of how much time you can give. Contact the museum for more information.
Come early to get a seat on one of the benches in front of the courthouse or bring your own chair. Layer up and bring a blanket because once the show starts, you’ll want to stay for the entire hour, if not longer. Synchronized to music, this light show is fantastic! The front of the courthouse springs into life at 5:30pm with tens of thousands of lights put into action. The show runs until 9:00pm every night through January 1st.
More than 2000 control circuits are used during each presentation
The computer-controlled circuits operate in 1/4th of a second increments
One song is sung by the Cambridge area grade school
15,000 lights outline the 1881 courthouse
Over 55,000 lights are used to create the show
There are three, 23’ Christmas trees that become part of the light show
Horse Drawn Carriage Rides
Hearing the nostalgic clopping hooves going down the street takes you back to a slower time when riding to Grandma’s house for eggnog was the highlight of the season. If you visit Cambridge on the weekends, you can sit back and enjoy a ride around town in the beautiful white carriages pulled by horses. The city has a whole different glow once the sun goes down and the streetlights come on, highlighting the Dickens scenes. Riding around in the carriage adds to the magic.
A small shed is set up on 8th Street, across from the courthouse. Tickets can be purchased here on Friday and Saturdays from 5-9:00pm, weather dependent.
Holiday Traditions in Cambridge
Wow! What a fun day and a great holiday tradition. I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic experience in Cambridge. Feel free to comment below what your favorite memory was from your day.
Upcoming events include:
Victorian Tea (12-12-20 @ 1:00pm)
Dickens Christmas Candlelight Walk (12-19-2020 @ 6:00pm)
Labor Day has just passed, and we are all looking forward to the next long weekend. That beautiful time when you are given an extra day, or take off early on Friday for much needed relaxation and fun. Shouldn’t we be doing this more than just national holidays? If you have not yet discovered a great place to retreat next, My Town has the perfect place for you.
If you are My Town Today reader, you probably have seen previous visits to Guernsey County, OH. You may be wondering, why Guernsey County? Well for starters, their county seat of Cambridge, is ideally located at a frequented crossroads for travelers (I-70, I-77, and State Route 40-The National Road). Cambridge has historically been a great stop to and from larger cities such as Columbus and Cleveland. Their location has given rise to becoming a destination small town, with incredible preserved history, generational family owned businesses, and signature events recognized statewide.
So specifically, what is it that keeps bringing My Town back to this area? The continued discovery. Guernsey County is also home to places like the famed Cambridge Glass Museum, Dickens Victorian Village, Salt Fork State Park, and is the home of Big Foot (no, I’m not kidding). It is also one of the most economical places to travel in Ohio for the Perfect Three-Day Weekend. Here are My Town’s recommendations for The Perfect Three-Day Escape.
Salt Fork is a great destination for families and adventurists of all ages. Its beautiful setting in over 17,000 acres (nearly 3,000 covered by water) is near one of the most important travel routes in the state. This makes Salt Fork a no brainer destination, especially for Ohioans.
“Salt Fork is said to have derived its name from a salt well used by Native Americans which was located near the southeastern corner of the park. Historically, this part of southeastern Ohio was one of the first areas of the state to be settled by the pioneers emigrating westward from the crowded eastern seaboard. Some of these settlers may have followed Zane’s Trace into the Ohio wilderness -a route that led a few families into the Guernsey County area. From Zanesville east to the Ohio River, the Trace became part of the National Road, a major east-west transportation route constructed in 1811. Today, the old National Road is known as U.S. Route 40 and passes near Salt Fork State Park.”(stateparks.com)
Salt Fork has so many amenities, you could spend your entire three days just exploring its grounds, but I suggest getting a well-rounded Guernsey County experience and venturing out of the park too. Here a few recommendations not to miss at Salt Fork:
SALT FORK MUSTS
*Reserve a room with bunk beds-Salt Fork is tailor made for families, they have great options for groups of all sizes. Rooms with accommodations such as, queen size and bunks beds in the same room, and a balcony which My Town loved.
*Play in the outdoor pool– If you are traveling in summer, you can’t miss this recently renovated area. It’s large, has several pergola areas, and comes complete with an outdoor cabana for adult drinks and more.
*Grab a Bigfoot sighting map– Salt Fork may be THE U.S. Destination for Bigfoot sightings, and is also the home of the Ohio Bigfoot Conference. Stop in at the Gift Shop and join in the fun. Maps are free, and a great way to get out on the trails! There are several other fun events throughout the season. When staying at the lodge, you can sign up for Bigfoot Night Hikes or Creature Weekends, where you learn how to collect evidence.
*Rent a boat-A great way to spend a day at Salt Fork, is to rent a boat at Sugartree Marina and take it over to the Stone House Museum. This is the ancestral home of the Benjamin Kennedy Family built in 1840. Now part of Salt Fork State Park, and run by volunteers, this home on the water offers a glimpse into the past, and is a great family boat trip.
*Spend time by a fire-Salt Fork has outdoor fire rings and iconic stone fireplaces all throughout its property. Take advantage of the experience of staying in a lodge!
You cannot visit Guernsey County without stopping in at the National Museum of Cambridge Glass. The Cambridge Glass Company started in 1901, making beautiful hand-crafted, opaque colored glass pieces. The site was chosen because of the abundance of gas and coal in Cambridge the factory needed.
The glass company was so famous- especially in the 1920’s and 1930’s, that several famous individuals also owned the glass collections. Many famous collectors were actors (like Clark Gable). The famed pieces can be identified by distinct markings on the glass.
One of the best parts of visiting, is seeing all the different types of glass that were made, and what the rarest pieces to find are now. There is a National Organization dedicated to collecting this glass, that makes up much of the thriving volunteer base. Many artifacts from the original factory can be seen here. This includes glass presses and etching plates, which the museum uses for interactive fun! When you first walk in, you will be greeted with a wonderful blast from the past volunteer. Which makes the experience very special and memorable. This museum is truly a unique and fun experience no matter your age!
Connecting to Cambridge Glass, and continuing the glass making tradition in Cambridge, is Mosser Glass. Another Cambridge town staple started by Orie Mosser. Mosser Glass began when the Cambridge Glass Company closed in 1954. Now, Mosser’s beauty and craftsmanship are known internationally.
You cannot miss taking a tour of the production facility. It’s an up-close glass making experience you can only get at Mosser Glass, and an added bonus, it’s free! Afterwards, check out their beautiful showroom, where you will want to take everything home!
THE DELICIOUS AND DELECTABLE OF GUERNSEY COUNTY
There are wonderful choices in Guernsey County when it comes to great food. From casual downtown staples to lakeside hangouts, Here a few My Town Picks:
My Town has been to Cambridge more than a few times, and each time we stop at Theo’s. Known for their amazing Coney Island “coney dogs,” Theo’s has been serving a wide selection of delicious lunch and dinner entrees to Cambridge since 1931! Theo’s is a third-generation restaurant, and in addition to their great chefs, they are also famous for their pies. So, make sure to save room for the made fresh daily desserts!
Since 1925, Kennedy’s Bakery has been a family owned and operated bakery in downtown Cambridge. This place is the real deal with hand-made, passed down recipes, and a clientele that keeps coming back. Known for their famous tea cookies, the bakery continues to sell out of their treats each day!
Located at Seneca Lake Marina- Beautiful views, and a local favorite for food and fun. Sit out on the deck, and watch the boats go by on beautiful Seneca Lake, located in Guernsey County.
UNIQUE, INTERESTING, YOURS OF GUERNSEY COUNTY
What is it about a town that makes it special? A local attraction, a family-owned business that has been there forever? A piece of history you can’t find anywhere else, or a bookstore with just the right vibe? Here are a few of the Unique, Interesting, Yours of Guernsey County.
TheDickens Victorian Village, a walking tour experience with life-size displays, was the brainchild of local Bob Ley. It became what we see today from the work of several key visionaries and ongoing volunteers.
Bob and his dedicated volunteers and partners sparked a light in Cambridge that burns bright today. Their hard work has paid off from working the tourism and busing scenes, determined to bring folks from all over Ohio to see the unique attraction. Click here to read My Town’s Article about the Dickens Victorian Village.
You may have seen The Wilds listed in a recent My Town article about Muskingum County, but did you know part of this world-class conservation facility is also located in Guernsey County? The Wilds is a private, non-profit conservation center located on nearly 10,000 acres of reclaimed mine land in rural southeastern Ohio. The conservation center was founded by a group of civic and political leaders, and zoo professionals who believed that a serious scientific approach was required to find solutions to environmental concerns. The Wilds now offer a wide variety of tours and programming to continue their incredible mission. My Town did the Open-Air Safari Tour, a great way to get acquainted with all The Wilds has to offer.
After you visit The Wilds, make sure to stop in at Orr’s Drive In. A longtime local favorite located in Byesville, with the best strawberry ice cream cone you have ever seen!
Where am I sitting? On Pilot’s throne, made for the Only Outdoor Passion Play in Ohio. For over forty-five years The Living Word Outdoor Drama has been wowing audiences with its beautiful performance of the Passion. This moving two-hour performance will have you mesmerized by the detail of the costumes, and the grandeur of the sets. Over the years, this nonprofit organization has grown to the beautiful amphitheater you see today. You can take advantage of their VIP experience too. Come early before a show and get all the behind scenes insider information! This is truly a unique experience you can only get in Guernsey County. Make sure to check out their 2021 schedule.
MTT ANTIQUE AND MARKET FINDS
Great Antique Shops and Farmers Markets are familiar sights in small towns. This includes Thrift Shops, Local Eats, and the like! In Guernsey County there are great Antique and Market finds everywhere you look. Below are of My Town‘s Favorite Finds.
Fall deliciousness is in full swing at Nothing But Chocolate! A favorite of Cambridge residents and visitors alike, to get your favorite hand-crafted chocolate treats.
What I love most is their creativity, like their Cut Finger Specimen #79, made especially for the Halloween season. This is a great small town find for gifts. Even if you’re not from the Cambridge area, they will ship!
A unique storyin Downtown Cambridge, McKenna’s Market is owned and operated by a local investor and his wife, who wanted to see Cambridge come alive to what it is today. The Old world Market has Ohio made favorites, great wine, and the best deli in town.