A Winter Road Trip Through Southern Ohio
And to 68 Antique Shops
By Matt & Rebecca Bayman
Winter road trips are underrated, especially in southern Ohio.
After a fresh snow (and of course after the roads have been cleared and salted), a drive through rural Ohio, and the many towns and attractions that can be found along the way, is a great way to beat the wintertime blues. Throw in some winter hikes, hot meals, maybe a cabin in the snowy woods and lots of antique shopping, and a relaxed getaway in southern Ohio might be just the thing you need this winter.
The following 405-mile loop, which can be done over several days and nights, visits 68 antique shops and malls. They are clustered together in several wonderful towns, including Waynesville, Wilmington, Hillsboro, Portsmouth, Ironton, Circleville, London and Springfield. Waynesville alone has more than 20 antique shops, most of which are located within walking distance of each other. There are also a number of destination shops located just off the beaten path.
In between these charming towns and shops are some of Ohio’s lesser-known attractions, such as ancient petroglyphs, amazing flood wall murals, huge dams and locks on the Ohio River and lonely covered bridges. It also passes some of the state’s most popular destinations. This includes Hocking Hills State Park, which is extraordinarily beautiful with snow on the ground, and in the pine trees. As long as hikers are dressed for the weather and wearing sturdy shoes, hours can be spent exploring this winter wonderland.
To make things even better, in the winter, cabins at Hocking Hills State Park (and many other places on this trip) can be had for half the price of summer and fall. Cabins come with hot tubs, fireplaces and amazing views of nature. It’s a chance to get away from it all, sometimes for as little as $125-$150 per night.
When you’re hungry, there are endless options for dining. Highlights include the world-famous Hickie’s Hamburger Inn in New Boston, The Hammel House Inn in Waynesville (which also offers lodging), Belini Cucina Italian Restaurant in Portsmouth and many others.
Along with cabins in the woods, most of the towns with antiques on this trip have plenty of hotels, Airbnbs and bed and breakfasts. Many of the bed and breakfasts are located in historic homes and on large farms, both of which have a unique charm in the winter.
In the end, this trip offers a completely unique experience. It’s a quiet and less-traveled path taken during an unusual time of year. There is little to no traffic. Antique shop owners are happy to see the foot traffic and willing to make deals. And, above all else, it really is one of the most beautiful times of year, especially in southern Ohio.
The following directions are meant to be driven counter-clockwise, starting from Interstate 75. Points of interest are located roughly in the order they appear on the trip. Antique shops are listed separately and an address is given for each one. Several destinations require the driver to go off the main route, but not for very long. As always, an Ohio Gazetteer is advised. Cell phone reception is not always guaranteed.
Enjoy, dress warm and drive safely!