Assignment: South Central Ohio
By Giles Kennedy
Family and Travel Columnist
Recently the United States and the world has been ridden by the COVID-19 virus.
With recent restrictions lessening in Ohio, we continue the Assignment series with this installment.
Columbus Wired’s goal with this series bring you fresh content and great ideas for stuff for the family.
This time we travel along the old route of the Ohio and Erie Canals to three towns.
One, a former canal and major railroad village. Another, Ohio’s first capital with a gem of a large city park.
A brief stop in a famous town for its pumpkins reflects what the majority of the country is rebooting to, a sense of regular life.
Many Ohioans know that Chillicothe was indeed its first capital in 1803. However, it did not get there by accident. It was founded on 1798 and placed as the Territorial Capital of the Northwest Territory.
Another lessor known fact to those outside Ross County, that Ross County was indeed the 1st county. It acted as this in the Northwest Territory until Ohio was admitted into the Union.
Even more less known today; Downtown Chillicothe has been going through a renaissance. Many business owners (even before COVID-19) was taking back many empty store fronts.
Chillicothe has many pubs, restaurants, antique stores and unique shops.
I visited a hometown diner with a historical tie to the World’s Fair as well as a family owned bookstore.
Carl’s Townhouse on the far west end of Second Street, was literally moved from the 1930 New York’s World Fair.
The 1st owner, Carl Reinhard; reassembled the diner in an original location on the other side of town.
Through a few more owners, in 2000; it was moved again to its current location.
The moderately priced and tasty fare complements the friendly staff.
They are open from 6:30 a.m. to 4:00 Monday-Saturday, 8:00-3 on Sundays.
Literally down the street is Wheatberry Books, one of many businesses who are keeping Downtown vibrant even with these trying times.
They are a fully stocked bookstore with a great selection for everyone. Since Chelsea and Matt Bruning (owners) are parents; a separate children’s section caters to young readers .
Another gem for non-Chillicothe residents to discover is its city park.
Many locals take advantage of Yoctangee Park. 48 acres of trails, ponds, shelters and tree lined paths; this is a nice refuge from the daily grind.
If you wish for a larger area to explore; the birth of our state is embraced at Great Seal State Park.
It features trails, picnic areas (currently due to COVID-19 restrictions, closed; may lift in future) and even open outdoor restrooms.
As mentioned in our Westerville article; please travel with hand sanitizer and wipes.
Circleville is young compared to Chillicothe. Founded in 1836, it along with Chillicothe was on the Ohio and Erie Canal.
It also has many small shops, cafes and stores. A few bakeries in town offer their world famous pumpkin donuts year round. (The 2020 Circleville Pumpkin Show hasn’t been cancelled yet; stay tuned if cancelled)
Restrictions are stricter in Pickaway County’s hometown seat than most surrounding areas. Be mindful and use rest areas and businesses outside of Circleville for rest stops.
Circleville is a nice walking tour of history as well.
A unique food stop; longtime State Fair and Pumpkin Show vendor Big G’s has a semi permanent outside restaurant. At the corner of Scioto and Main streets; they are open Monday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
The small village has had many events in the past. But with COVID-19 restrictions; their Ribs and Blues Fest was cancelled for 2020.
It doesn’t mean many businesses are taking this laying down. The Canal Wigwam, a local diner; has done their part for the locals. Basic diner fare brings folks in. As many of the businesses, they abide by Ohio’s COVID-19 safety and sanitary standards.
If you want to visit them or any of the restaurants in the area, a great place to explore and have a picnic meal is the grounds of the Canal Winchester Historical Society.
The restored C&O/Hocking Valley depot, C&O and Southern Railway cabooses, old school house and old mill make a great backdrop for a day getaway stop.
With proper safety and sanitary items, you can get out and about to spend time with your family.
For more detail virtual tours of this day trip; please see our Facebook page.