A Staycation In and Around Cherry Valley

September 2, 2021

Earlier this year, the family and I enjoyed a weekend at the newly renovated Cherry Valley Hotel in Newark while I was on assignment for Ohio Magazine. You can read about 3 Great Getaway Stays, and read my detailed blog post about An Overnight at Gervasi Vineyard (one of the other highlighted getaways).

While we spent the weekend at Cherry Valley, we got to experience their in-house dining and amenities, and explore a few sites around Licking County. Overall, it made for a fun staycation that included great food, pool time, hiking in parks, a science museum, local restaurants and breweries.

Cherry Valley underwent a $20 million renovation in 2019 and early 2020 that revamped the rooms, meeting spaces, and dining options. The new theme focuses on the outdoors, with funny deer portraits in the rooms, names like Red Hare and Jade Owl for the different sections, and an updated arboretum in the center. Eventually they plan to open on-site spa services as well.

The entire hotel has the feel of a cozy lodge, with big fireplaces in the lobby and throughout the grounds, plus lots of dark woods and stone. There are small alcoves for hanging out and relaxing tucked into parts of the building, which is laid out like a giant figure eight.

Our boys of course loved the pool and hot tub. It isn’t the largest pool we’ve seen, but it’s still great for a swim. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of the courtyard, with a small patio accessible from the pool. Next to the room is a small fitness center, too.

Cherry Valley put some resources into the courtyard arboretum. A selection of the rooms look into it from small patios or balconies. There’s a waterfall, pond, gravel walking path around it, plus a gazebo and firepit. At night it’s illuminated by lights strung throughout the grounds.

Cherry Valley offers four different dining options on site: the Granville Pantry, the Lobby Bar, the Craftsman Kitchen & Terrace Restaurant, and the brand new Homestead Beer Co. taproom.

Homestead’s new taproom just replaced the O&E Taproom at Cherry Valley; their production brewery and small taproom sits close by in Heath, while they also have a pub in Delaware.

Our first night we were treated to dinner and drinks in the Lobby Bar. As the name implies, it’s a pretty casual affair, offering beer, wine, and cocktails + wings, burgers, steaks, Lake Erie walleye, and other easy-to-love dishes.

The next morning for breakfast we visited the Granville Pantry, tucked into an alcove just off the lobby. The snack bar and coffee shop is open pretty much all the time, but in the morning they’re stocked with these lovely breakfast wraps. We especially loved the chorizo, egg, and cheese. We grabbed wraps, fruit, coffee, and pastries, and ate them in our hotel room.

That morning we ventured out of the hotel for a hike at Spring Valley Nature Preserve in Granville. The preserve features a few different trails that meander up and down the woodland hills.

For lunch we ordered carryout from The Pub on Broadway in downtown Granville. They serve a solid pub menu of apps, sandwiches, burgers, you name it. We brought the food back to our hotel room, but we’re excited to revisit for a sit-down meal in the future.

That afternoon we visited The Works in Newark. It had been several years since our last visit, so the boys were much older this time around

The Works is many things: a science center, history museum, art gallery, interactive space. The lower floor includes a gallery space, planetarium, and hands-on exhibits.

Upstairs is more of a history center, focused especially on Newark’s industrial past.

We loved the little section dedicated to Jerrie Mock, the Newark native who in 1964 was the first woman to fly solo around the world. They have artifacts from her record-setting flight, plus a partial recreation of her Cessna 180 (her actual Cessna is at the Smithsonian!).

Upstairs are a lot of great exhibit pieces focused on industry, science, and technology, as well as Newark’s history. I’m particularly fascinated by the canal system that used to run through Licking County, right out The Works’ front door (where the aptly named Canal Street now runs). You can still see a portion of the canal across the street.

Two other items of interest:

  • Be sure to visit the glass studio, where you can see resident artist Larry Tuber at work
  • Outside in a stand-alone building is a old streetcar you can explore

Beth and the boys relaxed at the hotel and pool the rest of the afternoon while I ventured out to meet John and Kristen Ream, owners of Trek Brewing in Newark. The family-run and family-friendly brewpub sits in an old Damon’s, so it’s got plenty of space to relax with beers, board games, and a bite to eat.

Back at the hotel that evening we were treated to the main feature: dinner made before the group by Chef Mynor Estrada. He cooked everything in the dining room of the Craftsmen Kitchen & Terrace, the centerpiece of Cherry Valley’s dining options. The dining room opens onto a beautiful terrace in the arboretum.

He was demonstrating their Valentine’s Day dinner, which included shrimp bisque, asparagus baked in puff pastry with prosciutto and gruyere, caprese salad, bacon-wrapped filets with shrimp and whipped potatoes, plus chocolate-covered strawberries.

We finished out the night with s’mores in the arboretum. They have a little gas firepit, and provided us with a s’mores kit.

The next morning we took one last look around the hotel. The eastern section is the Ohio Event Center, which was renovated out of the old CoCo Key Water Resort. Now that corner is dedicated to 60,000 square feet of event space.

We made two stops on our way out of Licking County. First was to take time and drive + hike around the Dawes Arboretum. Beth and I had visited a couple years ago during a trip around Licking County and loved it.

The weather was a little chilly that morning, so we didn’t do too much hiking, but we drove around to a few key spots and explored the features, including a climb up the tower to see the arboretum’s name spelled out in giant hedges.

Final stop was River Road Coffeehouse‘s location on the square in downtown Newark, then on to home!

Disclaimer: this stay at Cherry Valley Hotel was comped as part of an Ohio Magazine story. Pub on Broadway, The Works, and Dawes Arboretum were provided by Explore Licking County. Photos and opinions are my own.

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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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