A Weekend in Marietta, Ohio
As a travel blogger with a full-time job, I’m always seeking destinations that can be explored in a weekend. Bite-sized trips to see new places and learn new things are a smart way to travel without using your vacation days. [I call these Power Trips]
Marietta, Ohio is a destination easily experienced in a weekend.
The first settlement of the Northwest Territory, Marietta is a midwest city with a long history — from the native Hopewell tribe to the early pioneers to the modern day Mariettans who preserve and honor this long history.
For the weekend wanderer looking for small town charm, here’s my list of where to stay in Marietta, what to do in Marietta, and where to eat in Marietta.
[[Oh, and if you like ghosts, a weekend in Marietta is a perfect destination for ghost hunting.]]
Where to stay in Marietta
The Lafayette Hotel
Nearly a century of guests, the Lafayette Hotel was built in 1918 after the original structure, known as the Bellvue, was destroyed by fire.
Staying at the Lafayette is like crossing the “do not enter” barrier of a old-fashioned room display at a museum. The antique furniture and patterned decor give the room that nostalgic yearning for the era when craftsmanship and character were poured into every detail.
The hotel is pet-friendly.
Some say the hotel is ghost friendly as well (though I can’t confirm it by personal experience).
It’s location is ideal – on the banks of the Ohio river, in the heart of downtown, and walking distance to many of Marietta’s shops and restaurants.
The Lafayette Hotel is not your Holiday Inn. If you want a sterile room in a standard building, this would not be the right accommodation for you.
House on Harmar Hill
Known as the home with the best porch view of Marietta, House on Harmar Hill is a bed and breakfast perched atop Harmar Hill across the Muskingum River. This Victorian home is the life-sized dollhouse goal of any Barbie-wielding child.
Spacious and whimsical, with every detail meticulously considered, a stay at House on Harmar Hill is like a stay at your rich great aunt’s house, especially when paired with the hospitality of Judy and her dog, Cooper. If you request it early enough, you can enjoy proper high tea, accompanied by homemade, melt-in-your-mouth scones, cream, and lemon.
Not walking distance to downtown Marietta, you’ll need your car to get around.
What to do in Marietta
Watch the sunrise over the Ohio River.
Rise and shine early one of morning to practice your photography skills on the Ohio River when the sun begins to peek over the horizon. This gazebo along the riverfront is an excellent focal point to frame your sunrise photos. As this is a history-packed weekend in Marietta, think about all the people who have come before you who watched the same sun rise over the same river. Sure, the gazebo and bridge may be new, but it’s the same serene way to start the day.
Watch the sunrise at the park.
Wake up when it’s still dark to drive to any of Ohio’s state parks near Marietta. Against the soundtrack of birds and trees swaying in the morning breeze, this natural landscape is soul fulfilling to greet the day. And once the light has reached the sky, enjoy a refreshing walk along the trails.
Road trip Washington County’s covered bridges.
You may wonder, “What is the point of a covered bridge? What’s the big deal?” Besides being extremely photogenic, bridges were often covered or enclosed to protect the bridge from the elements and increase durability. Essentially, covered bridges lasted longer. They are a piece of US history worth a visit and there’s quite the concentration of covered bridges around Marietta. Plus, it’s easy to self-drive a covered bridge tour at your own pace.
Take a tour with Hidden Marietta.
With varying tour options to select based on a visitor’s interest, a tour with Hidden Marietta is a tour to Marietta’s past. In addition to the tour, take the opportunity to don Victorian attire and pose for an old time photoshoot. They have a collection of costumes and other historic Marietta souvenirs at their headquarters at the Lafayette Hotel. And to jump start your excitement for a history-filled weekend in Marietta, Ohio, take a look at their extremely engaging Hidden History blog.
Seek out ghost ads on the facade of old buildings.
Advertisements from Marietta’s past have faded to a shadow of words once painted freshly on the face of brick buildings, forcing visitors to pay more attention to the architectural details of this small town. Turn it into a game – whoever spots the least amount of ghost ads needs to buy a beer at Marietta Brewing Co. for the person who spots the most.
Purchase a souvenir at justAjar Design Press studio.
Owned by husband and wife, Bobby and Sara, justAjar launched as a creative venture to bring back the historic business of letterpress to meet modern demands of unique, creative, handmade branding, design, and marketing pieces. Their hours are limited, so check their website in advance to see when to drop in. Maybe you’ll even be lucky enough to catch Bobby pressing in action!
Tour at The Castle.
Don’t be fooled by the name – not a castle, but rather a home built in 1855 by Melvin Clark, The Castle (as it’s know)n is an example of gothic revival architecture. There’s a professional archaeologist on site (Wes Clarke) who excavates various artifacts from the property, including pottery by Nathaniel Clark from 1808. Today, The Castle is run as a community asset and a seat for educational purposes. A perfect tour for architecture lovers.
Marvel at the grandeur of the Basilica.
If you’ve ever been to Europe, especially Italy, you’ve marveled at the majesty and richness of the architecture and design of the Catholic churches. You’re left with that feeling of awe, and perhaps a slight jealousy that “they don’t make ’em like this back home.” Enter The Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption. Steeped in a long history, though the parish began in 1838, the first Catholic mass in Marietta was held long before, in August of 1749. In 2013, it quickly was proclaimed a minor basilica, becoming 1 of less than 100 basilicas in the United States.
This basilica is beautiful and impressive. Pay attention to the gorgeous stained glass windows, which were sailed in from Germany in 1916.
Appreciate the restoration and watch a show at the Peoples Bank Theatre.
The splendor of its days as the Hippodrome and Colony Cinema have been restored with the purchase and redevelopment to the Peoples Bank Theatre, reopened in 2016. Since the early 1900s, this building has changed ownership, names, and purposes but at the heart of it all, has always been a hub for entertainment.
Experience Marietta’s past at the Campus Martius Museum.
The Campus Martius Museum tells a comprehensive story about the history of Marietta and the people who lived during those times. Though much to see, there are a few exhibits I highly recommend any visitor to Marietta focus their energy: Ohio’s First Peoples exhibit shows a collection of artifacts from the Adena/Hopewell moundbuilders. The Marietta Pioneers exhibit showcases the colonial migration, fort building, and city planning that began the civilization of Marietta as we see today. The largest artifact in Marietta is at the Campus Martius Museum. It’s a house. Yes, a full-on house in a museum. The Rufus Putnam House stands as a representation of pioneer life in the 1780s. You’ll learn in this museum that Rufus Putnam was a big deal – beyond being a Revolutionary War hero, he was buddy-buddy with the one and only George Washington. The Campus Martius Museum will give a well rounded look at Marietta’s history.
Walk among the Hopewell natives’ earthworks.
If you’re spending a weekend in Marietta, Ohio, it’s absolutely imperative that you make time to visit the two well-preserved Hopewell earthworks. The first (Conus) is located in the Mound Cemetery; the second, a flattop mound a few blocks away. According to archaeologist Wes Clarke, Conus is the best example of a mound you’ll ever see. These were considered sacred spaces for the natives. Within the mound, important people are buried. These people were considered as symbols of society or parts of the cultures social structure, including infants. The flattop mound is rare to find in Ohio, and the one in Marietta aligns to the winter solstice sunset.
Where to eat in Marietta
Stop and sip a cuppa at Jeremiah’s Coffee.
Nothing better than a local coffee shop to fuel the day. I sat at Jeremiah’s for a half day, plugged in remotely to the office while sipping a latte. The baristas are friendly and the atmosphere is cozy. As I focused on my work, a group of old men reading this newspaper reminisced about their drunken fraternity days at Marietta College. That’s small town memories!
Enjoy farm to table breakfast at Busy Bee.
Busy Bee is a culinary staple in Marietta. If you didn’t eat at Busy Bee, did you actually visit Marietta? Owned by lifelong Marietta resident, Larry Sloter, Busy Bee was transformed into a shining example of a farm-to-table establishment and scratch kitchen by supporting local farmers and culinary entrepreneurs. And yes, it is as delicious as you’d imagine.
Try a burger and craft beer at Marietta Brewing Co.
With a menu so delicious it will cause indecision, one really can’t go wrong with any choice from Marietta Brewing Co. I enjoyed the portabella gouda burger and brought home a growler of their IPA.
Eat with ghosts at Gun Room.
Located in the Lafayette Hotel, here’s your chance for more potential ghost sitings while you dine.
Here’s my Weekend in Marietta, Ohio map, that shows all the places mentioned in this weekend itinerary. Are there any other activities you would add to a weekend in Marietta, Ohio? Enjoy your trip!
Don’t forget to pin it!
Three cheers to Marietta’s CVB for inviting me to explore their charming city! Even with the historic site and delicious food, all opinions are genuinely and authentically mine. xo.
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