Athena Cinema

13 Excellent Winter Things to Do in Southeast Ohio for Every Interest

Southeast Ohio lies in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains on the border of West Virginia. While there aren’t any major cities in this part of the state, the region has its own unique charms. Also, there are plenty of winter things to do in Southeast Ohio.

Whether you’re in Marietta, Chillicothe, or elsewhere, there are plenty of events to fill the winter season. Here are the top ones you can’t miss!

Winter Things to Do in Marietta

Take a Holiday Loft Tour

Marietta’s annual holiday loft tour combines all the best elements of tourism, fine dining, holiday festivals, and … real estate. This event is an opportunity for everyone to stroll through participating upper-level lofts and suites in the area in one moving celebration.

Boutiques, businesses, and residences alike can participate, offering exclusive access to limited-time goods, gifts, and more. This walking tour of a unique side of Marietta is only around for the holiday season and requires a reservation!

Shop Late on First Fridays

Holiday shopping is on everyone’s to-do list in December. But in Marietta, you don’t have to worry about getting to the store before it closes — at least on one day. This annual First Friday event involves all the shops and boutiques keeping their doors open until at least 9 p.m., and some until midnight.

Also, they offer unique deals and discounts during this time. So it’s a must for holiday shoppers. Celebration is in the air during the event, which involves plenty of fun, food, and music as well.

Shop Late on First Fridays, Marietta - Winter in Southeast Ohio
Shop Late on First Fridays | photo via @shopsugarmaple

Winter Things to Do in Zanesville

Visit the Festival of Trees

The annual Zanesville Festival of Trees is a huge event for local businesses to contribute holiday decor — wreaths, full-size Christmas trees, and mini trees — for auction. Visitors are welcome to bid on the decor or simply stroll around and admire all the offerings.

There are as many as 200 participating businesses, which means that there’s a huge range of options for bidding. The event goes all day, so you’ll have lots of time to stroll and place your bids.

Search the City for Snowmen

Every year, residents in Zanesville are welcomed to participate in a monthlong Snowman Trail Scavenger Hunt! From January to February, the city hides seven life-size snowmen throughout downtown and in the Putnam Historic District.

When you find them all, send a list of the hiding spots to the official Zanesville Chamber email address for the chance to claim your prize. It isn’t a single event, but it’s a fun and easy way to pass those slow days of winter!

Dickens Victorian Village, Cambridge - Winter in Southeast Ohio
Dickens Victorian Village | photo via @kyd227

Experience a Storybook Christmas

If you love to read, you’ll love the annual Storybook Christmas celebration. This event takes place all across Muskingum County! During December, you’ll find local businesses and other entities decorated to the nines, each with a specific story theme.

The event kicks off with a parade that features floats, a marching band, and other entertainment. Throughout the month, the celebration continues with a nightly show of lights and music in front of the Zanesville courthouse.

Winter Things to Do in Athens

See All Your Favorite Holiday Films 

Do you have a soft spot for all classic holiday films? Every December, the Athens Cinema does a holiday film series so that you can enjoy all the classics in the perfect atmosphere.

Past showings include “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” “The Santa Clause,” “Home Alone,” “A Christmas Story,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Elf,” and “A Muppet Christmas Carol.”

Visitors don’t have to pay cash admission. The only price is a canned good or donation to one of Athens’ nearby food pantries.

Holiday Films, Athens - Winter in Southeast Ohio
Holiday Films | photo via @the_reformedwife

Shop at the Athens Holiday Market 

There’s nothing like wandering an open-air Christmas market where you can find all the best local goods, treats, and crafts! The Athens Holiday Market takes place weekly throughout the month of December and features local goods made by residents.

That means that you can find the best locally-made food, art pieces, decor, jewelry, and other gifts just in time for the holidays. If you believe in shopping local (and want to find amazing holiday gifts), this is the perfect place to do your Christmas shopping.

Take a Winter Solstice Hike

The winter solstice takes place in the middle of December and is the longest night of the year. While it’s the longest and darkest time, it also means that, from here on out, spring is on its way!

In Athens, people observe the solstice in a unique way — coming together for a nighttime forest hike, following the luminaries along the path. Hot drinks and snacks are on hand for everyone to enjoy. You can join the hiking trail whenever you like, enjoying the darkness and beauty of the winter woods.

Winter Things to Do in Chillicothe 

Visit the Winter Farmers’ Market 

Most farmers’ markets are bustling in the summer when produce is ripe and abundant and sunshine is bright. But don’t brush off the chance to visit the Chillicothe Winter Farmers’ Market!

No matter the weather, the vendors here hit the open-air market every week — and you’ll find plenty of unique offerings during the winter months, especially just before the holidays.

From locally-sourced maple syrup to seasonal produce and delicious homemade preserves and baked goods, the farmers’ market has everything to keep the cold at bay.

Winter Farmers Market, Chillicothe - Winter in Southeast Ohio
Winter Farmers Market | photo via @tworjs

Tour the Holiday Lights

Holiday lights are a staple of every winter, but nowhere does it quite like Chillicothe. Every year, dozens of homes put on their best displays in one of the most unique and impressive residential light shows in Southeast Ohio.

You’re welcome to stroll through and enjoy the lights, which feature a variety of themes, characters, and displays. Or, you can take a free bus tour. It’s a great expression of community holiday cheer and the perfect way to spend a chilly evening.

More Winter Things to Do in Southeast Ohio

Explore Hocking Hills in Logan

Hocking Hills State Park is one of the most impressive and famous state parks in Ohio. Adjoining Hocking Hills State Forest, the park draws countless tourists every year to enjoy its 25 miles of hiking trails and explore its many Ohio caves and waterfalls.

Winter doesn’t stop the activity because frozen waterfalls are a sight to behold! The breathtaking views of Cedar Falls and Old Man’s Cave are well worth the chilly hike. If you have the chance to visit, don’t pass it up because the winter offers unique views that you won’t find in any other season.

Stroll Through a Victorian Village in Cambridge

Have you ever wondered what Christmas was like during the Victorian Era? If you’ve read your Dickens, you know at least a little of the old customs of the day! But you’ve probably never experienced anything like it before.

In Cambridge, you’ll find Ohio’s famous Dickens Victorian Village. Before the holidays each year, historic downtown Cambridge takes a step back in time. Visitors are welcome to stroll through the display — which features 92 vignettes — and enjoy the depictions of an authentic Victorian Christmas.

The life-size figures were handmade by artists in Cambridge and wear clothing dating from Victorian times.

Dickens Victorian Village, Cambridge - Winter in Southeast Ohio
Dickens Victorian Village | photo via @kyd227

Go for a Winter Hike Through Tar Hollow State Park in Laurelville

Southeast Ohio has many state parks, green spaces, rivers, and hiking trails. Tar Hollow State Park is one of the best, and it shines in the winter in a totally new way. During this time, the evergreens are covered in snow and the forest is beautifully quiet, drawing native animal life like you’ve never seen before.

Even better, the offseason doesn’t draw as many visitors, which means you might feel like you have the park to yourself! This amazing park in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains is a winter destination you can’t afford to miss. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Winter Things to Do in Southeast Ohio

What are some winter getaways in Ohio?

There are many wonderful winter getaways in every region in Ohio. In the Southeast, Hocking Hills State Park has many inns, cabins, and other facilities available for booking. Amish Country is another popular place to have a winter getaway, with many options for bed and breakfasts and more.

What is Southeast Ohio known for?

Southeast Ohio is Appalachia country and is very rural. It lies in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and has a huge amount of natural, untamed land — state parks, rivers, hill country, and more.

It’s a popular region for outdoorsmen of all kinds, including hikers, anglers, hunters, and campers. The Muskingum and Ohio Rivers also pass through the region, providing a unique environment for outdoor activities at every time of the year.

Finding the Best Winter Things to Do in Southeast Ohio & Beyond

Though Southeast Ohio is the most rural of the state’s regions, you’ll find small-town charm and wild beauty here. This is true at every time of the year, but it happens in a special way during the winter!

No matter where your interests lie or what you’re looking to do this season, you can find all kinds of winter things to do in Southeast Ohio. You can even branch out and explore more Ohio winter things to do!

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