Heading to the Hocking Hills

May 29, 2015

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For a Mother’s Day present, I took Mrs. Breakfast w/Nick down to Hocking Hills for an overnight stay at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls. Hocking Hills is always closer than you think, and if you plan your journey accordingly, you can create a small tour of central and southeastern Ohio’s culinary scene. Although check-in wasn’t until later in the afternoon, we took our leave of the kids that morning to stop first for breakfast – with REAL conversation! – at Fox in the Snow Cafe. The cafe is a favorite for so many reasons, not the least of which is Jeff and Lauren’s hospitality. We kept breakfast fairly light, splitting the egg sandwich, a hand pie, plus a cortado and an espresso.

Before we left town for good that morning, we first detoured to Cravings Carryout Cafe for their Mother’s Day special: lobster rolls. Last year I was too slow on the uptake and missed them, but this year we grabbed the rolls and some cookies and packed them in a cooler, then bolted for the hills.

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With lobster rolls in tow, we drove down to Lancaster to stop at Rockmill Brewery. We’ve enjoyed their beers many times over the years, but this was our first stop at the brewery grounds.

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Rockmill could easily win the award for most beautiful brewery in Ohio. The brewery and tasting room are set amidst rolling hills, with patios and fire pits and adirondack chairs looking down at the surrounding woods and a pond. Inside there’s a small bar, and a series of rooms with big tables and chairs, plus a couple fireplaces. The space and that fireplace smell reminded me immediately of my maternal grandparents’ old home on Lake Michigan.

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You can sample all of Rockmill’s beers at the tasting room (and pick up bottles to go) so we walked our way through the offerings: some cask-aged specialties, the new Le Boucher IPA, just about everything.

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This is your view from Rockmill’s patio. A few friends have gotten married on the grounds, and it’s easy to see why.

Quick note: Rockmill does not serve food, so you’re welcome to bring you own meals. Hence the lobster rolls and cookies for us. For the record, they pair very, very well with Rockmill brews.

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After we had our fill of beer and lobster rolls, we finished the drive down to Hocking Hills to The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls. We stayed there once years ago, and it was an easy choice for accommodations on our return. Part of the reason is the all-inclusive nature of the inn. They have private rooms as well as secluded cottages, plus a restaurant – which is a member of Dine Originals – a spa, and plenty of room on the grounds to relax and explore.

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We stayed in one of their cottages, a cozy little spot within walking distance of the restaurant, with its own little deck facing the woods.

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We made dinner reservations at the restaurant, and enjoyed everything, from the caesar salad…

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…to homemade wild mushroom tortellini…

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…to the Inn’s New York strip steak.

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After we dinner we strolled some of the grounds. There’s a small grove of trees with a few hammocks strung between them, where you can barely hear any noise from the road or the restaurant. The conference center attached to the main building has a small garden up on the roof.

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We remembered from our past visit that the owners were planning to keep bees on the property, and indeed they have. The hives are hidden away from the main outdoor areas, and in the quiet evening we could hear them busily buzzing around.

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Of course, if you’re staying the vicinity of Hocking Hills, you need to make one or two trips to the area caves and falls. The Inn & Spa is aptly named for its proximity to the falls. Cedar Falls, Ash Cave, and Old Man’s Cave are popular – and well-traveled – spots. We’ve been fans in particular of Cantwill Cliffs. They’re a little rougher and quieter. Better if you prefer hiking or exploring with fewer guardrails.

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The Inn serves breakfast in the mornings. You can huddle in the dining rooms or find a spot on the covered patio (recommended). They have a small fruit, granola, and yogurt bar. The granola is made in-house; I’m not sure what’s in it, but it’s better than granola has any right to be. One of those things you keep eating and asking “why is this so good?”

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Then you’ve given choices for hot breakfast offerings: pancakes, eggs, toast, sausage or bacon.

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Along the main road leading to Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, and Cedar Falls sits the Old Man’s Cave General Store. I’d hesitate to get any of the sandwiches or deli meats there, but I can attest to the quality of the soft serve ice cream and the root beer floats.

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The peanut butter and vanilla swirl is particularly good.

If you’re planning a weekend or just an overnight getaway between Columbus and Hocking Hills, consider some of these stops!

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FOOD + TRAVEL WRITER

I go by Dr. Breakfast, but in addition to restaurants and recipes, I write about family travel, breweries and distilleries, the arts, outdoor fun, and so much more.

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