The Nelsonville Music Festival, which takes place in early June every year in Southeast Ohio. (WOUB Public Media/Marie Swartz)

Summer in Southeast Ohio: a 2018 Guide

Posted on:

< < Back to

Southeast Ohio is a diverse stretch of the state, and this summer the region will not disappoint with its numerous music festivals, a plethora of potential outdoor adventures, and delectable regional food and drink!

Conservatories/Botanical gardens/Zoos

The Wilds. (Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium)

The Wilds

14000 International Road, Cumberland, OH (Guernsey)

What was once an area devastated by strip mining has since become one of the premier spots in the country to spot endangered species, such as giraffes, antelopes, rhinos, and cheetahs.

Measuring in at nearly 14 square miles, the conservatory provides natural habitats to critters that you just wouldn’t ordinarily see in Ohio. Not only are the Wilds a spot where scientists and educators work to learn more about the art of conserving the world’s animals, it also serves as a fantastic place to set your own P.A.C.E. – Personal Adventure in Conservation Education.

Zip lining and horseback riding are now available at The Wilds, as well as their traditional tours of many sections of the conservatory, including the mid-sized carnivore conservation center, the wetland trail, the outpost, and others.

Pricing: Open Air Safari (2.5 hours): Get on board an open-air vehicle to enjoy a day tour experience with a wildlife guide $30 per person; Wildside Tour (2.5 hours): Get paired up with someone on the Wilds’ animal management staff to see the inner-workings of the Wilds: $125 per person.

Information:, 740-638-5030

Outdoor Music and Drama

The Nelsonville Music Festival (WOUB Public Media/Marie Swartz)

The Nelsonville Music Festival: May 31 through June 3

3301 Hocking Parkway, Nelsonville, OH 45764 (Athens)

The Nelsonville Music Festival, organized by regional nonprofit Stuart’s Opera House, never disappoints. This year the festival features the likes of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, The Decemberists, Alvvays, Twain, Ani DiFranco, The Black Angels, and much more. The festival takes place on the grounds of Robbins Crossing, a small pioneer village on the campus of Hocking College. Camping, regional food and art, and a general sense of community are the main drawing factors for the event.

Pricing: $70 (teen/Nelsonville resident pass); $140 weekend pass; $120 Stuart’s member pass; $350 VIP weekend pass; $40 camping pass; $100 motorhome pass; $75 non-electric motorhome pass.

Information:, 740-753-1924


Jamboree in the Hills: July 19 through July 22

43510 National Road, Belmont, OH (Belmont)

This festival has been taking place in the foothills of Southeast Ohio since 1977, and the event is still going strong, some 41 years later. The 2018 line-up for the festival features the likes of the Marshall Tucker Band, the Charlie Daniels Band, Toby Keith, Travis Tritt, Ti Montana, and more.

Pricing: Four-day pass (Before June 30) $215; after June 30: $225. Three-day pass: before June 30: $205, after June 30: $215. Two-day pass: before June 30: $140, after June 30: $150. Thursday only pass: before June 30: $65, after June 30: $70. Friday only pass: before June 30: $90, after June 30: $95. Saturday only pass: before June 30: $90, after June 30: $95. Sunday only pass: before June 30: $60, after June 30: $65. Camping pass: before June 30: $215, after June $30: $225.



Blackoutfest: July 26-28

The Union, 18 West Union Street, Athens OH, 45701 (Athens)

For the past 21 years, Blackoutfest has been attracting a variety of rock acts the The Union in Athens. This year’s fest marks the 22nd installment of the event.



Big Bend Blues Bash: July 27 through July 28

Riverside Amphitheatre, 100 East Main Street, Pomeroy, OH, 45769 (Meigs)

Always hosted on the last weekend of July in the picturesque Riverside Amphitheatre in quaint downtown Pomeroy, the Big Bend Blues Bash brings blues and brews to the riverside in style. Although this year’s line-up has yet to be announced, make sure to keep up to date with the festival at

Pricing: Friday: $20, Saturday: $25, Weekend: $40. Free camping and boat docking on the Ohio River.

More information:


Coshocton Dulcimer Days: June 15 through June 17

200 North Whitewoman Street, Coshocton, OH 43812 (Coshocton)

This festival has been taking place in the historic Roscoe Village in Coshocton for 44 years. The event celebrates the heritage instrument that is the dulcimer, a fretted instrument of the zither family. This year’s festival features headliners Walt Michael and Joe Collins, as well as 2018 National Hammered Dulcimer Champion Amanda Roberts.

Pricing: Entirely free, although the regular workshops that take place throughout the event are $15 each.

More information:



Southeast Ohio History Center

24 West State Street, Athens, OH (Athens)

The Southeast Ohio History Center, nestled in the city of Athens in a stunningly preserved church, serves a large surrounding region, preserving the rich, unique history of the area. 2018 marks the 150th anniversary of the Athens Asylum, a complex that remains relatively well preserved on a hillside outside of Athens proper, an occasion that the museum is marking with an extensive exhibition on the history of the asylum. Entitled “The Athens Asylum: 150 Years of a Healing Landscape,” the exhibition features everything from photos of the early glory days of the mental health facility to artifacts that attest to the structure’s original holistic health philosophy.

Admission: Adults: $7, Youth 12-18: $5, Seniors: $5, children 12 and under: free

Information:, 740-592-2280


The Lillian E. Jones Museum

75 Broadway Street, Jackson, OH (Jackson)

Miss Lillian E. Jones was an eccentric, wealthy Jackson resident who had a vision for her nicely appointed home in the midst of Jackson, an Appalachian town that has cycled through a series of industries, including salt and frozen food. She wished for it to become a place where the diverse history of her hometown could be preserved, even after her long life and many philanthropic contributions to the region. So is the story of the Lillian E. Jones Museum in Jackson, which opened in 1995 following Miss Jones’ death.

Admission: Always free

Information:, 740-286-2556


Sporting Events

Southern Ohio Copperheads (Athens)

Based out of Athens, the Southern Ohio Copperheads play out of Bob Wren stadium located on the grounds of Ohio University’s Athens campus. You can find more information on the Southern Ohio Copperheads on their website,


Festivals and Fairs

Y Bridge Arts Festival: August 3-4

Zane’s Landing Park, Zanesville, OH (Muskingum)

For two days each summer, the Y Bridge in Zanesville closes down and becomes a series of outdoor exhibitions. Zanesville has a rich artistic history that includes everything from oil painting to a long heritage of pottery and other earthenware art. The festival is organized by the close-knit Artist Colony of Zanesville, and provides the unique opportunity to meet more than 75 artists and purchase their wares.

Admission: Free


A photo taken in the Bishop Gardens in Hocking Hills, the setting for the annual Lilyfest. (WOUB Public Media/Emily Votaw)

Lilyfest: July 13-15

13200 Little Cola Drive, Rockbridge, OH 43149 (Hocking)

The Bishop Educational Gardens are one of the gems tucked away into the generally beautiful Hocking Hills region. All year long the bountiful and diverse gardens serve as a place to play and learn, but for one weekend in July, they also play host to one of the more meditative and family-friendly festivals in the region: Lilyfest. More than 70 artists take part in a juried show that also features peaceful, atmospheric music in the background.

Admission: Free

More information:


Wineries and Breweries

Shade Winery (Neal Dix)

Shade Winery

401 Gilkey Ridge Road, Shade, OH 45776 (Athens)

Few things are more picturesque than rustic wooden trellises hung with fat, juicy grapes, all alight in the golden late day summer sun. Such a sight can be found at Shade Winery, an intimate little establishment worn neatly into a relatively rural area where Athens and Meigs counties meet. The winery welcomes you to hang out in their tasting room, or to just take a bottle of their premium wine to enjoy with cheese, crackers, and even some tasty lox.

More information:

(Photo courtesy of Sixth Sense Brewing)

Sixth Sense Brewing Company

175 Main Street, Jackson, OH 45640 (Jackson)

Specializing in American ales, this brewery is conveniently located next to Arch & Eddie’s, which is a great spot to grab a burger or a sandwich to sample with your craft brew. The brewery holds some unconventional events, like beer and yoga on Wednesdays, as well as your more conventional burrito (and taco) Tuesdays.

More information:, 740-577-3681


Outdoor Adventures

A couple enjoys the picturesque scenery outside the Moonville Tunnel. (Emily Votaw)

Moonville Tunnel

Hope-Moonville Road, McArthur, OH 45651 (Vinton)

Once an integral part of the Marietta and Cincinnati railroad, the ghostly remnants of this picturesque railroad tunnel now stand abandoned in an eerily forested portion of Vinton County outside of Zaleski, OH. Although the tunnel is allegedly haunted, that doesn’t mean that the area doesn’t make for some fantastic hiking. The path through the tunnel is well trodden and easy to traverse for a good portion of the hike, and after the tunnel there is some more advanced hiking, which can become a full-fledged 10-mile trek if one so chooses.

More information:


Cantwell Cliffs

OH-374, Rockbridge, OH 43419 (Hocking)

Although getting yourself to the Cantwell Cliffs will take a bit more time than making it out to the usual suspects for fun in the Hocking Hills State Park, the trek is certainly worth it. The breath-taking cliffs are beautiful any time of year, created partially by the natural erosion caused by Buck Run. Check out the sarcastically named “Fat Woman’s Squeeze,” which is also the tightest corridor in the Cantwell region.

More information:


Forest Hill Lake

52176 Coshocton CR 425, West Lafayette, OH 43824 (Coshocton)

Summer memories are things to be cherished, and what is the matter of a classic summertime memory more than swimming in a lake, camping in the woods, and enjoying a nicely low-tech barbecue? All of these things can be enjoyed at Forest Hill Lake, a secluded six acre lake which features picnic shelters with tables and grills, as well as campsites with and without water and electric.

More information:, 740-545-9642


Veto Lake

State Route 339, Ohio Division of Wildlife District 4, Vincent, OH 45784 (Washington)

Veto Lake is an enormous, 160-acre lake with over six miles of shoreline perfect for hiking, fishing, and camping. The lake is filled with largemouth bass, bluegill, channel fish, and more. The spot has been designated as a place for people to enjoy nature since it was designated as such in 1954 by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Although fishing abounds, boats are limited to 10 horsepower, making the lake especially nice for kayaking and canoeing.

More information: