3 Super Days for Seniors at Deer Creek State Park
Golf, museums, antique shopping, hiking, historical sites, and more make a great early fall getaway
The summer-to-fall season in Pickaway County, Ohio, is the perfect time for seniors to take a road trip to Deer Creek State Park Lodge. The pace is slower, it’s less crowded with kids back in school, and Mother Nature treats you to more comfortable weather.
The relaxed pace of early fall is ideal for a morning kayak trip along the shoreline of Deer Creek Lake and fishing for abundant bass and saugeye. The plush woodlands that surround the lodge offer a quiet natural backdrop for an evening stroll to watch the sunset.
What’s more, the spacious rooms at Deer Creek State Park Lodge have private patios and balconies and the pet-friendly cabins allow you to bring Fido along. If you’re looking for a special experience, the historic Harding Cabin, a onetime presidential hideaway, can be your own private retreat. Deer Creek Lodge also has bunk and loft guestrooms for those who are traveling with grandkids.
Here’s a three-day itinerary for seniors seeking a vacation that both rejuvenates and relaxes.
DAY 1 (ARRIVAL DAY)
Spend the day before check-in at the championship Deer Creek State Park Golf Course. Enjoy a senior discount at the 18-hole course that sits on 350 acres, giving you the first glimpse of the park’s dense woodlands and waterways, and the course’s long manicured fairways. If you are traveling with a grandchild, there are discounts for children under 16. Kids play free after 3 p.m. on weekends. Golf carts are available.
After walking the greens you will be ready for check-in and some time to relax in your lodge room or cabin.
Stop in at Harding’s Lounge for a pre-dinner cocktail or appetizer. Then head to Rafter’s Restaurant where you can enjoy entrees like the ribeye that is sourced from Ohio farms.
After dinner, step outside and relax in the comfortable fall evening by the fire pit as you look for stars in the Ohio sky.
Have an early wake-up call and breakfast at Rafter’s Restaurant to fuel you for the day. On the agenda is a circle tour of the region starting at Slate Run Living Historical Farm in Canal Winchester, then winding through Circleville, and ending in Chillicothe before heading back to the lodge in the evening.
A short drive to Slate Run Living Historical Farm transports you back to a fully operating farm of the 1880s. Walk through the restored Gothic Revival farmhouse, barns, and fields as workers in period costumes duplicate 19th-century life on an Ohio farm. In addition to watching demonstrations like horse-powered grain threshing and canning, you will see plenty of farm animals like geese, turkeys, and pigs.
After working up a hearty appetite from several hours on the farm, take a short drive to Circleville and can stop at Gibby’s Eatery & Sports Bar for lunch. The restaurant is a popular local institution where you can grab a burger or enjoy one of the daily specials.
Spend the afternoon in Circleville where you can stroll through the quaint and historic downtown. Peruse the shops and boutiques as you make your way to Wittich’s Candy Shop on West High Street for dessert. A family-owned local tradition, Wittich’s has served ice cream sundaes and specialty candies for more than 177 years.
Your next stop is the Ted Lewis Museum with its impressive collection of jazz music memorabilia. Known as the “king of jazz,” Ted Lewis was an Ohio native and the museum showcases his musical arrangements, photographs, clarinet, and signature top hat worn during performances. The newly renovated museum is open on Friday and Saturday.
After the museum, take a 25-minute drive through rural southern Ohio to the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Chillicothe. The Hopewell earthen mounds are an Ohio treasure built by the Native Americans in the region more than 2,000 years ago. This national landmark preserves the 12-foot-high ceremonial earthworks that are spread out on the property in various geometrical shapes. After exploring the park, you’ll be ready for the 25-minute drive back to the lodge to relax.
A hearty dinner awaits at Rafter’s Restaurant at Deer Creek Lodge where you can try such culinary creations as blackened salmon, gorgonzola-encrusted strip steak, or pork chops with sautéed onions, accompanied with a glass of wine.
Wind down the day with a swim in the indoor pool or just relax in the hot tub.
Grab an early breakfast at Rafter’s Restaurant and head out to the hiking trails on Deer Creek’s 2,337 acres of park grounds. Most of the trails are flat and take you into the dense woodlands that surround the lodge, giving you the best opportunity to spot Ohio wildlife like white-tailed deer. Trails range from the ¼-mile Waterloo Trail to the 2.5-mile Rolling Hills Trail (a 5-mile round-trip hike) that takes you through hills and past the lake.
Before you pack your bags for checkout, don’t forget to stop by the Deer Creek Lodge Gift Shop for souvenirs, such as unique Fred Harvey Trading Company products.
For more shopping treasures, head south on I-71 when you leave the lodge so you can stop at Tanger Outlets in Jeffersonville and the Scott Antique Market in Washington Court House. (Be sure to check the hours for the antique mall as it’s not open every day.) And once you’re home, you can savor your purchases as a long-lasting reminder of your delightful getaway.
How to Explore
Open year-round, Deer Creek State Park Lodge has 110 lodge rooms, 25 two-bedroom cabins (some pet-friendly), and the Historic Harding Cabin, which sleeps eight. Deer Creek is part of the five lakeside lodges of the Ohio State Parks, which offer a variety of accommodation types, ranging from standard and bunk/loft rooms to two- and four-bedroom cabins. Besides hiking, they offer indoor/outdoor pools, golf, boating, full-service dining, and more.
Written by: Anietra Hamper
Ohio resident Anietra Hamper is an award-winning travel writer who specializes in covering outdoor activities.