Chillicothe, Ohio is one of the oldest destinations in the state, with history dating back hundreds of years. It was named the capital of the Northwest Territory in 1800 and became the first capital of the state of Ohio in 1803.
My husband and I spent a weekend exploring the history and sites of Chillicothe. As a history enthusiast, I’m ashamed to say I had no idea the amount of historical significance that Chillicothe and Ross County provides for our state and country!
With a mix of historical sites and recent revitalization of the downtown area, Chillicothe makes for a great weekend getaway! Keep reading for my list of the best things to do in Chillicothe, Ohio!
Where Is Chillicothe, Ohio?
Chillicothe is located in Southern Ohio in Ross County. The city is about an hour drive south of Columbus, 1.5-hour drive northeast of Cincinnati and 3-3.5-hour drive south of Cleveland.
Looking for more things to do in Southeast Ohio? Read these Southeast Ohio Travel Guides.
Things To Do In Chillicothe, Ohio
We had the best weekend exploring Chillicothe and Ross County! Whether you’re planning a family-friendly vacation, romantic getaway or a friends’ retreat, here are a few of my favorite things to do in Chillicothe, Ohio.
Explore Historic Downtown Chillicothe
One of my favorite things about Ohio is the number of charming towns throughout the state. Historic downtown Chillicothe is no exception! I just fell in love with the beautiful historic architecture and the local shops and restaurants! With its compact size, the downtown area consists of just a few blocks which are easy to explore by foot. There’s plenty of on-street parking, and meters are free on weekends. I think historic downtown Chillicothe is the perfect place to start your visit to Ross County.
With more than 30 shops and restaurants, all locally owned, visitors can spend hours perusing the shops and admiring the historic architecture. A few of my favorite downtown stops include:
Paper City Coffee, Carl’s Townhouse, Chillicothe Antique Emporium (be sure to play a video game in their vintage arcade and have a milkshake at their 1950’s soda fountain!). Grounded Educational Plant Bar, Wheatberry Books, Highland’s Ice Creamery and Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop.
Watch the Outdoor Drama Tecumseh!
Tecumseh! is one of the Midwest’s most popular attractions of its kind. Over 3 million people have viewed the drama since premiering 50 years ago! The outdoor drama takes place at the 1600 seat Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheatre, which sits on 206 acres.
Written by historian and novelist Allan W. Eckert, the drama shares the life story of Tecumseh, the Shawnee leader and warrior, on his journey to defend his homeland in Ohio country in the late 1700s.
We had VIP Tickets which includes a backstage tour, souvenir program or poster, collectable lanyard and tote and more goodies. The backstage tour is given before the show, and we learned some neat behind the scenes information from several of the actors.
Tomahawk throwing with Southern Ohio Axe is also available before the show for an additional charge. This was my first time throwing a tomahawk and it was lots of fun! After a few throws, I got the hang of it and hit the bullseye repeatedly!
After throwing tomahawks, we had dinner at the amphitheater’s dining pavilion. Kenton House Food & Ale serves pub fare, snacks and alcoholic beverages before the show.
The show is about 2.5 hours long with a 20–25-minute intermission. The outdoor drama runs mid-June through early September.
The show was thrilling with live action stage-combat, roaring flintlock firing weaponry, live horses and wonderful actors. No photos or videos are permitted (image above courtesy of Tecumseh!).
You could spend an entire evening at Sugarloaf Mountain as everything we did makes for a fun date night. You can bring the whole family as well as it’s child friendly.
Hopewell Culture National Park
Hopewell Culture National Park is home to the reconstructed earthwork site of the Hopewell culture which dates to over 2,000 years ago. Visitors can walk amongst the mounds and visit the museum to see artifacts from the site.
Adena Mansion & Gardens Historic Site
The Adena Mansion and Gardens was the 2,000-acre estate of Thomas Worthington, the sixth governor of Ohio. The mansion was completed in 1806-1807 and has been restored to look much as it did when the Worthington family lived there, including many original Worthington family furnishings. The house and furnishings are so well preserved, and our knowledgeable guide provided lots of historical insight about the area during the 1800’s.
Start your visit at the Museum and Visitor Center which features interactive exhibits and is home to the original ceremonial pipe shaped like a tomahawk that Tecumseh gave to Thomas Worthington in 1807.
Take a short walk back to the mansion and gardens. Guided tours of the mansion are provided, visitors can take a self-guided tour of the grounds and gardens. Photos and videos inside the mansion are not permitted.
Before leaving the grounds, visit the north lawn of the mansion to see the Scioto River Valley which extends to the Logan Range. This view was the inspiration for the Great Seal of the State of Ohio!
Ross County Historical Society
Ross County Historical Society was founded 1896 to preserve and promote the history of Chillicothe. With hundreds of fascinating artifacts from the last 200+ years, this museum is a history enthusiast’s dream! Guided tours of the museum are provided. A few of my favorite artifacts include the prehistoric collection, 1820’s Conestoga Wagon, the Knoles Log House built during the early 1820’s and the 1851 hand-drawn and hand-pumped fire engine.
Where To Stay In Chillicothe
Located in historic downtown Chillicothe, the Blue Brick Inn was built in 1853. The Inn features a beautiful private courtyard and guests have their own private fully furnished apartments. It’s within walking distance to restaurants and shops and makes for a quiet retreat after a long day exploring the area!
Chillicothe makes for a great Ohio weekend getaway. From the revitalization of downtown, locally owned shops and restaurants to historical landmarks, there’s plenty of fun things to do in Chillicothe, Ohio!