Shawnee State Park Provides A Great Weekend Getaway


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September 27, 2012
Page: 3
Shawnee State Park provides great weekend getaway
I love surprises!

My husband, John, knows that too. When he secretly planned a trip to Portsmouth and Shawnee Lodge and Conference Center for my birthday, I was thrilled. Although, I have to confess, he let me in on the secret well before the weekend of our trip. Still, that's okay. It is the thought that counts; and, this thought was filled with things I love!
Given our busy fall schedule, he decided against a full weekend getaway. Instead, John planned for us to leave early enough on a Saturday to grab a late lunch in Portsmouth before heading out Ohio 125 for an overnight stay at Shawnee Lodge. Not only did this fit into our schedule, but it fit our budget as well.
John had read about an Irish Pub in Portsmouth called Port City Café and Pub. Once he saw pictures of the inside of this local eatery as well as its menu, John thought it would be just the quaint sort of place to begin celebrating my special day. He was not wrong. Port City Café had a beautiful wood and stone filled interior with your choice of traditional tables, booths, bar seats; or, a seating area filled with comfy, overstuffed leather furniture.
The menu was simple enough not to be overwhelming, while still offering enough variety to suit an assortment of tastes. I enjoyed a half of a turkey breast sandwich that was made from slices of actual turkey breast (think Thanksgiving turkey, not lunch meat) with an amazing whisky sauce topping on freshly baked sour dough bread, as well as a "side" salad that was proportionally much larger than its name suggests. Plus, if that wasn't enough, my sandwich was served with a generous helping of freshly made potato salad. John does not like potato salad -- yet, he kept stealing bites of it off my plate! He had a monster-sized sandwich stuffed with ham, pepperoni and provolone cheese also on freshly baked sour dough bread. Needless to say, we are planning on returning here in the future.
Bellies stuffed, we headed up the beautiful, winding road toward Shawnee Lodge. I regaled John with childhood memories of the numerous trips we made to this park on Sunday afternoons after church. Mom would load up our wooden picnic basket with canned Treat, loaf of bread, jar of mustard, bag of Snyder's potato chips, and a pan of homemade brownies. Dad would fill our cooler with ice and fruit flavored sodas: grape, red, orange and so forth. We four kids would pack up our swimsuits and towels. Then, into the Gran Torino we all went, ready for a day in the sun. It was a treat to not only have my own can of soda, but also eat dessert for lunch! Then, once we scarfed down our food, we kids were set free to splash about the lake for the day.
As I recall, we drove Dad nuts begging him to come play in the water with us. He was a usually a good sport about it. He'd take turns reading a book, listening to the battery-operated radio that we sometimes brought with us and playing with us in the water. Looking back on it now, some of my best kid memories were spent doing this simple and fairly low-cost family activity. Therefore, I was tickled to see the swimming beach area had changed little, if at all, since I was a young child frolicking about its waters.
The lodge itself is stunning! Just like Port City Café, Shawnee Lodge is filled with wood, stone and a plethora of overstuffed, leather couches and chairs. However, it is also filled with Native American artifacts as well as beautiful paintings. Plus, there is plenty of decking and outside seating that blends the lodge seamlessly into its natural surroundings. Additionally, the lodge restaurant is lined from end to end with windows overlooking the lake and rolling hills.
Entering our room, we discovered a comfortable, well-appointed room with a sink both inside and outside the bathroom, which I always find handy. Other amenities include coffee maker, hair dryers, iron and ironing board (full-sized), large, flat screen TV, refrigerator as well as private outdoor seating for each of the 50 rooms. However, if the staying in a lodge is not your thing, Shawnee also has 25 fully furnished cabins for guests.
If you have kids or adults who need "entertained", this lodge if full of ways to do just that and more. Not only is there a game room filled with all the traditional table games, but there is also a basketball court, tennis courts, corn hole games, horse shoe pits, canoeing, fishing, indoor and outdoor pools, sauna, hot tub, bonfire, fireplaces, archery range, hayrides, volleyball, nature center, backpack trails, playground, equestrian camping as well as a traditional campground, plus over 65 miles of hiking trails -- two of which John and I checked out. Additionally, the Lodge offers a fully licensed lounge; and, the dining room offers breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Needless to say, I loved every minute of our stay. We were able to complete one hike upon checking into the lodge, the Beach Trail. Then, the next morning, due to the late checkout time of noon, we were able to complete another hike on part of the Knighton Nature Trail. Another lodge guest told us about hiking the Lampblack Nature Trail and stated that it was a perfect "hike" for those who do not like hills or other trail challenges.
Dining in the restaurant was pleasant. Service was prompt and extremely courteous. An acoustic guitar player, who specialized in light rock music of the 1970s, provided live music. Then, much to our great surprise, after working such a late evening, the exact same dining room staff was there to greet us early in the morning with their same friendly demeanor!
If you are looking for a reasonably priced, close to home day trip or weekend getaway, look no farther than Portsmouth, Ohio, and Shawnee State Park and Lodge.
You will not be disappointed!
May we all take time to enjoy the beauty of our Ohio southern hills.
Stephanie Hill is a freelance writer and an eighth-grade reading and writing teacher at South Point Middle School. She is also a lifelong resident of Lawrence County. She can be reached at


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