Ohio’s First Adventure: Marietta

Kayaking the Muskingum River with Marietta Adventure Company

Marietta, Ohio is a sleepy town along the Ohio River in the South-East corner of the state. Before my visit, Marietta (or Ohio for that matter) was not really on my travel radar. My compass almost always points West to the mountains, but I am so glad I took the opportunity to visit Marietta. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of outdoor activities in Ohio. It’s no wonder that National Geographic named Marietta Ohio’s Best Adventure Town!

Marietta is the oldest city in the state of Ohio (founded in 1787) and the first American settlement of the Northwest Territory. Marietta’s history goes back even further to the Hopewell and Adena tribes, who left behind ceremonial mounds which you can still see today. Marietta grew popular as a riverboat town, and still celebrates their steamboat heritage.

Historic Bike Tour with Marietta Adventure Company

What to Do in Marietta

You will be surprised at the variety of activities to explore in Marietta. I spent 48 hours and could have easily filled twice that amount of time!

Kayaking in Marietta

Kayaking the Muskingum River with Marietta Adventure Company

Marietta Adventure Company has everything you need for a day of adventure on local water. They offer guided tours, rentals, shuttle service and kayak sales. Even if you have your own boat and shuttle, they have some useful links on their website that you should check out.

When I visited, we had a short guided tour from our launch on the Muskingum River, into the confluence of the Ohio River, past downtown Marietta, a quick stop at Buckley Island and on over to West Virginia, where the van picked us up. In addition to the guided tours, it looks like they will have some special events, like full moon paddles, in the summer!

Marietta Adventure Company

Biking in Marietta

Historic Bike Tour with Marietta Adventure Company

Marietta Adventure Company also offers bike rentals and sales. We were given a historic bike tour by one of the owners, who said they are considering offering these tours in the near future. I hope they do, because it was a great experience. We all commented on how comfortable the cruiser bikes were, too! As someone who occasionally bike commutes in Chicago, I found the wide streets and low traffic to be very relaxing for our ride around town.

The paved River Trail follows the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers for 3.5 miles through town. The Marietta Trail Network has over 20 miles of groomed single-track and the Marietta unit of Wayne National Forest features technical mountain bike trails if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush!

Hiking in Marietta

Wayne National Forest

Marietta offers excellent hiking opportunities, including the Frontier trail right in town, and nearby Wayne National Forest. We hiked part of the Archer’s Fork loop with a forest ranger, where we saw natural arches and caves in just a short hike. The North Country Trail also passes through this area.

Less than an hour away, you will also find Hocking Hills State Park, which is a beautiful park filled with waterfalls and hiking trails.

Ghost Tours

Ghost Trek with Jessica from Hidden Marietta

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, Hidden Marietta offers tours chock full of history and ghost lore. We joined the owner, Jessica, for an evening ghost trek around town. As we strolled through the Front Street area for about 2 hours, Jessica (in 1800’s apparel!) regaled us with stories from Marietta’s past, which was quite scandalous at times!

Marietta College Planetarium

I was really excited to visit the Anderson Hancock Planetarium for a special show with Dr. Bragg. The planetarium holds public programs each month, so check the website for details. (Tip: bring a sweater!)

Covered Bridges

Hune Bridge, Wayne National Forest

Nine covered bridges remain in the Marietta area. You can plan a self-guided tour with help from the Marietta CVB.

Festivals in Marietta

Marietta Sweet Corn Festival – this July festival celebrates the agricultural history of the region, with music, food and entertainment.

Rivers Trails & Ales – it’s just what it sounds like – a celebration of paddling, biking and local ales. Taking place in August, RTA offers fun for the whole family.

Ohio River Sternwheel Festival – this September festival seems to be the talk of the town. The Lafayette Hotel keeps a running wait-list for this big weekend, which brings dozens of authentic sternwheel boats, and over 100,000 visitors to town!

Where to Eat in Marietta

Blue Cheese Chips at The Galley

Marietta has a great variety of dining options, from casual cafes to trendy bistros. Here are the places I visited in Marietta:

  • Busy Bee – located in Harmar Village, this small cafe uses fresh ingredients from local farms. Great breakfast spot to fuel up for outdoor adventures!
  • Harmar Tavern – Harmar Tavern offers a classic menu of American favorites, including the “soon to be famous” bologna sandwich. Great patio for outdoor dining!
  • Third Street Deli – I had a delicious Southwest chicken panini from this deli! Grab a picnic lunch before heading out on a hike.
  • The Galley – this restaurant in the Hackett Hotel was the most upscale that we tried, although still casual. Really enjoyed the blue cheese chips appetizer!
  • The Gun Room at Lafayette Hotel – hearty breakfast menu with a ton of classic breakfast options.
  • Over the Moon Pizza – this was my favorite spot! Not only was the pizza delicious, but the owner, Moon (a former mayor of Marietta) entertained us with stories of growing up in Marietta, and his encounters with Bigfoot.

Over the Moon Pizza

Where to Shop in Marietta

Front Street

Marietta’s historic district has no shortage of charming shops to browse during your visit. Boutiques like The Cook’s Shop, Rossi Pasta, S|P Curated and Karen’s Crafts have a wide variety of items to bring home as souvenirs.

Where to Stay in Marietta

  • Historic District – I recommend staying in the historic district for a more authentic experience, as well as being in walking distance of great food and drink.
    • Lafayette Hotel – (Dog-Friendly!) check out my review here.
    • Hackett Hotel – the Hackett Hotel is another great option for your visit. This 5-room hotel is in a building with a long and colorful history (hint: more ghost stories!) The building also houses the Galley restaurant and Adelphia music hall.
    • If B&B’s are more your style, check out the options here!
  • Chain Hotels – if you prefer chain hotels (no judgment, I love my SPG and IHG points, too!) you will find plenty of options near the interstate.

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Ohio's First Adventure

I was hosted by Visit Marietta to learn about the variety of outdoor adventure opportunities in Marietta. These are solely my personal opinions/experiences and I was not financially compensated for this post.

This post is also part of the Weekly Postcard. Click the photo below to check out other posts this week!

Two Traveling Texans
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Getting Fit for Active Travel

Have you ever planned a big summer hiking trip only to realize you are not quite in shape for it?  Year after year?  Nope, just me?  This is a chronic habit of mine, which worked OK in my 20’s and 30’s, but the older I get, the more important it is to be well prepared so I can enjoy my travel adventures and avoid injuries. When I found Fit For Trips, a personal training company that tailors fitness programs specifically for outdoor adventures, I knew I had to reach out. For someone like me, who dreams of exhilarating adventures, but frequently falls off the fitness wagon in favor of Netflix and Chicago deep-dish, it’s just what I need to get ready for my summer hiking trip to the Swiss Alps!

“Since 2009, Fit for Trips has crafted over 1000 customized fitness programs that prepare adventure travelers to conquer the trip of a lifetime.”

Fit For Trips Programs

Fit For Trips offers 4, 8 or 12-week programs. You can choose from from a list of popular trips and outfitters on their site, or you can select a custom trip. My tour operator, Alpenwild isn’t a partner of Fit For Trips, so I chose a 12-week custom program for the Haute Route hike in Switzerland. I also provided a link to my itinerary so the trainer could see what kind of mileage and elevation changes I should be ready for.

Fit For Trips Tour List

I spent about 20-30 minutes setting up my profile, providing personal health and medical information, including how many days and hours I could devote to working out, whether I prefer to work out at home or the gym and whether I have access to a swimming pool. A few days later, a customized training program was available in my dashboard.

Fit For Trips Program Features

Each Fit For Trips program is a combination of endurance training and resistance training. The trainer did a great job of incorporating swimming (my preferred cardio), resistance training, stairs, interval training, treadmill workouts and outdoor hiking with increasing pack weight over the 12 weeks. What I love most about the program is that a lot of it can be done outside of a gym. (You can also choose a home-based option that does not require a gym at all.)

Fit For Trips Dashboard

The dashboard is really well built and easy to use.  There are tons of acronyms and at first it may look overwhelming, but with one click, I printed out a 22-page PDF that included detailed instructions for each workout.  For the resistance training, there are also videos showing each exercise.

Fit For Trips Video

The 12 weeks are broken out as follows:

  • Weeks 1 – 3:  Base – I selected beginner level as I’ve had a lazy winter so this was just getting me used to working out on a regular basis
  • Week 4: Recovery – cutting back on intensity for a week
  • Weeks 5 – 7: Build – increasing intensity
  • Week 8: Recovery
  • Weeks 9 – 11:  Peak
  • Week 12:  Recovery & Departure for my trip!

Fit For Trips Dashboard

Fit For Trips Support

The founder and Head Personal Trainer, Marcus, has been readily available via email and phone since he crafted my program.  A few days into the program, Marcus and I jumped on a conference call, where he walked me through the program, took my feedback on my first two days, and adjusted the plan based on that feedback.  I also receive regular emails with helpful tips and encouraging testimonials from previous clients who have achieved their goals.

At under $30/week for the 12-week program, it is much more affordable than a personal trainer. I loved working out with a trainer, but I could not afford more than 1 session per week, which wasn’t enough to maintain a good fitness level.

I am nearing the end of week 1 and so far, I feel really good about the program. I can tell that the exercises I’m doing will prepare me for the strength and stamina I need to power through the mountain passes of Switzerland. With two rest days each week, I don’t feel like this is overwhelming or unrealistic, and I look forward to tracking my progress for the next 11 weeks. Stay tuned for another post when I finish the program, or follow along on social media!

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This post contains affiliate links which means I will make a small percentage if you buy the item, at no additional cost to you. I received a complimentary training program in exchange for a review on my website.  All words and opinions are my own. 

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