Roughin' it isn't for everyone.
Do you prefer climate control and plush surfaces to the night breeze and a sleeping bag? We get it. The great outdoors is for everyone, but forgoing modern amenities isn’t. Luckily, options in Ohio abound. These sites offer the best of both worlds: access to Mother Nature, with all the creature comforts of home. They’re ranked from “most like your house” to “most like actual camping.”
Perfect for first-timers, camping in a cabin can be every bit as comfortable as staying home. Options range from “camper cabins”—basic wooden shelters that may have cots or bunks, for those who can’t quite cut it in a tent—to luxe lodging with amenities like air conditioning, king-size beds and hot tubs. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources offers cabins throughout the state, though proximity (and extraordinary natural beauty) makes the Hocking Hills the destination of choice for many Central Ohioans. hockinghills.com/cabins, parks.ohiodnr.gov/cabins, parks.ohiodnr.gov/getaways
Standard cabins too boring? The Box Hop made waves in Ohio this spring when it debuted, thanks to its ultramodern aesthetic and unique design. Nestled on 18.5 acres in the Hocking Hills, this “cabin” is actually three shipping containers stacked to create one amazing space. Owners Emily and Seth Britt of Columbus built the concept for family getaways, but they also rent it out via Airbnb. It sports three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a gas fireplace, a full kitchen, a deck with a hot tub and more. theboxhop.com
There’s also the Hocking Hills Caboose, an authentic 1950s rail car that sleeps five. (Kids will love the upper bunk beds in the cupola.) It was converted from a working car to its current state in the late ’90s and renovated in 2016, so no worries about coal dust here. You’ll have central air, a kitchenette and a full bath, plus a deck and gas grill for cooking. hockinghillscaboose.com
Head to Glenmont, Ohio, near Mohican State Park, to sleep among the trees—literally. The seven treehouses at The Mohicans are a step up from the childhood hangout you may remember. Two of them were designed by Pete Nelson, of Discovery Channel’s Treehouse Masters, and one was even featured on the show. Each treehouse sleeps two to six and includes a toilet. Some have a full bath, while others feature a seasonal, secluded outdoor shower. They’re accessed via staircases and bridges, so acrophobes beware. Once inside, you’ll enjoy cozy, tiny house-style environs—each treehouse has its own distinct vibe—plus kitchenettes, sitting/eating areas and private decks. Owner Kevin Mooney says three more treetop accommodations—a treehouse featuring stunning glass walls, plus an Airstream camper and glamping tent lofted on platforms—will be completed in June. themohicans.net
Farther east, near Berlin, Ohio, you’ll find stunning treehouses featuring fine Amish craftsmanship. Built in 2016, the accommodations of Amish Country Lodging soar 30 feet in the air, giving you a birds-eye view of the surrounding woods. With models that accomodate two or six guests, each treehouse includes a two-person Jacuzzi tub, a full kitchen and a wraparound deck. The larger models are multistory wonders of architecture, while the smaller, studio-style versions pack a big punch. amishcountrylodging.com
This circular, wooden-framed structure dates back 3,000 years or more, to Central Asia. Today’s offerings are noticeably more luxurious, however, and they tend to be permanent fixtures as opposed to the easily packable dwellings used by nomadic tribes. You already may be familiar with the concept thanks to The Wilds in Cumberland. The sister property to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium features Nomad Ridge, an adults-only collection of 12 private yurts. They feature bamboo flooring, private decks (with views of roaming animals), screened windows, ceiling fans, private bathrooms and even complimentary Wi-Fi. Some yurts are climate-controlled; portable A/C and heating units are available for those that aren’t. Also included in your rental: an open-air safari tour, dinner and breakfast for two and a 24-hour staff concierge. thewilds.columbuszoo.org
Back in the Hocking Hills, yurts at The Inn at Cedar Falls are similarly outfitted: ceiling fans, a gas log stove, a full bathroom, a wood deck, a kitchenette and climate control are found in each one. You can choose between a king-size or two twin beds for your accommodations. The property itself comprises 75 acres and is surrounded by Hocking Hills State Park on three sides. The full-service spa offers everything from facials and massages to cupping, reflexology and mud wraps. innatcedarfalls.com
If you think you’re nearly ready to take the tent-camping plunge but want to dip a toe in the waters first, check out The Eco Camp in Northwest Ohio. You’ll be camping in the forest, with an eco-friendly blend of comfort and roughin’ it. Each site includes a carpeted, 16-foot-diameter Lotus Belle tent featuring a queen-size bed, solar lights, a battery pack for electronics, a charcoal grill and more. You’ll be able to stand upright inside the tent, too. There are shared toilets and a shower house, a community fire ring and—if the wilderness isn’t entertainment enough for you—a social hall with pool tables and games. theecocamp.com
A little closer to home, in Granville, you’ll find Orchard House Boutique Inn. The main house is your typical bed and breakfast, but out back you’ll find a charming little bell tent. Inside, there are modern comforts such as hardwood floors, windows to the surrounding woods, indoor and outdoor sitting areas, a queen bed and electrical outlets. A secluded, outdoor, passive solar shower provides a unique opportunity to commune with nature. There’s also a private half-bath in the main house. Hot breakfast is included of course, and you can add on a massage, an evening bonfire and more. orchardhousegranville.com
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