The Heart of Ohio Road Trip - U.S. Route 36

Story & Photos by Matt Bayman

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U.S. Route 36 cuts straight through the heart of Ohio. In fact, if you travel far enough east on the road from Miami County you’ll end up in the Village of Centerburg, which is the geographical center of Ohio and proudly known as “The Heart of Ohio.”
Centerburg has some beautiful murals and landmarks in its downtown, as well as a great little antique shop called Village Mercantile, and a tasty restaurant called Throwback Alley.
It is small towns just like Centerburg -- and the unique attractions found within and in between them -- that make a road trip along U.S. Route 36 a very colorful experience.
Starting in Piqua, this trip follows U.S. Route 36 east for 175 miles, ending at the eastern terminus of the road in Uhrichsville, Ohio. Along the way, travelers can discover covered bridges hidden in the quiet countryside, historic villages and canals, peaceful hiking trails, off-the-beaten path waterfalls, lakes and rivers, unusual and spectacular memorials and monuments, diverse architecture, and, of course, plenty of antique shops, variety stores and one-of-a-kind ma and pa restaurants.
The trip is very peaceful and easy to navigate. In fact, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation, U.S. Route 36 is classified as 83% rural and 17% urban, with only 6 of the 204 total miles in Ohio being coded as freeway. This means the route is a perfect mix of country roads and small villages and historic towns.
Additionally, once you've reached the end of the road in Uhrichsville, you can further your journey by heading north and then looping back toward Miami County via Ohio's Amish Country and Mohican State Park on Ohio Route 39 West. This road eventually meets up with Interstate 71, which leads back to Interstate 70 (or even U.S. Route 40) and then home.

It's a trip that can be taken over several days or more, and there are plenty of hotels, campgrounds, log cabins and bed and breakfasts to stay at along the way.

 
Some of the things you can see on this trip includes:
- Historic Roscoe Village (dining, shopping, history)
- Culbertson Covered Bridge
- Perkins Observatory

- The Caves Campground (very unique and secluded) 
- Bigelow Covered Bridge
- Canal boat rides by horse on the Monticello III
- Olentangy Indian Caverns

- Cy Young Memorial 

- Crosshairs Paintball Course
- Honey Run Waterfall

- The Old Stone Fort
- Rutherford B. Hayes Birthplace Memorial
- The Heart of Ohio Trailhead (cycling, hiking)
- Kokosing Valley Camp & Canoe 
- New Testament Stone Garden in Mt. Vernon
- The Alcove Dinner Theatre & Restaurant
- Coshocton Antique Mall
- Unusual Junction
- The Three Rivers Wine Trail
- Dennison Railroad Depot Museum
And much, much more...  

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, with the Knox County Courthouse in the background, in downtown Mt. Vernon. Mt. Vernon was platted in 1805 and named after Mount Vernon, the plantation owned by George Washington. The architecture in town reflects this colonial influence, as seen in the courthouse design.

The Cy Young Memorial in Newcomerstown sits, appropriately, in front of the town's baseball diamonds, where kids play to this day.

Bigelow Covered Bridge is one of four covered bridges that can be seen during this road trip along U.S. Route 36 in Ohio. 

Great shops and restaurants line the street in Roscoe Village. Nearby, ride a replica canal boat and see historic canal locks.

U.S. Route 36 was once a major highway in the United States. When the new interstate systems opened, things changed for many towns along 36. The relics of a more prosperous past are abundant in many small towns.

A road sign near the Culbertson Covered Bridge

near Milford Center sums up the rural setting of U.S. Route 36.

How to take this trip:
Bring a cellphone in order to use Google Maps and Hotels.com, a regular map for backup, a few clothes and snacks, and start driving east on U.S. Route 36 in Miami County.
As you travel east, visit the attractions and businesses listed below in the order they appear, including your choice of dozens of different restaurants and shops. While most attractions are located directly on U.S. Route 36, some are a few blocks or streets away. Use the addresses listed next to attractions to navigate off of U.S. Route 36. Attractions that are underlined are linked for more information and can help travelers choose the places they'd like to visit and the restaurants they'd like to try.

Cellphone reception is available along 90% of the route, so if you lose reception, don't worry, you'll get it back in no time.
NOTE: Side trips that are just a short drive from U.S. Route 36 are listed in
red. 
Finally, when looking for lodging, Hotels.com provides access to numerous hotels and bed and breakfasts found along the route. Most are very reasonably priced. A few lodging highlights are linked below. Also, if the weather is right, there are some very unique campgrounds along the route. Enjoy!


Directions & Attractions
From Interstate 75 in Piqua, take U.S. 36 East for 175 miles until reaching Uhrichsville.

Fletcher
- Dilbone Massacre Monument

- Fletcher Covered Bridge
- The Fletcher Cemetery (bell tower & log cabin gravestone)
- Poor Farmer’s Campground, 7211 N. Lost Creek-Shelby Road


Conover
- A.B. Graham Memorial Center, 8025 U.S. 36
- Caven’s Meats, 7850 U.S. 36 


St. Paris
- Switzer’s Antiques & Collectibles, 135 S. Springfield St.
- Elvira’s Unique’s & Collectibles, 102 S. Springfield St.
- Davey Woods State Nature Preserve, 7661 Lonesome Road


Westville
- Studebaker’s Country Restaurant, 4679 U.S. 36


Cedar Bog Nature Preserve
To visit Cedar Bog Nature Preserve, take U.S. Route 68 South in Urbana, then turn right on Route 91. It’s just right up the road. Take the boardwalk trail to see one of the rarest landscapes in Ohio, including spots where fresh water bubbles up through the ground. NOTE: There is a fee to enter the boardwalk. 

Urbana
- Kaleidoscope (antique shop), 117 N. Main St.
- Fruit Salad Antiques, 224 Scioto St.
- Robert Rothschild Farm, 3143 E. U.S. 36
- Coppertop Restaurant, 116 Miami St.
- The Farmer’s Daughter (restaurant), 904 Miami St.
- Freshwater Farms of Ohio, 2624 N. U.S. 68


Three Rare Bridges Detour
- Culbertson Covered Bridge
- Bigelow Covered Bridge
- Streng Road Steel Bridge

To see these three bridges, after Urbana, U.S. Route 36 will join with Ohio Route 4. The first road on your right after this junction is Homer Road. Turn right on Homer Road, then take your next left on Winger Road. Culbertson Covered Bridge is on Winger Road.
After visiting this bridge, return to Homer Road on Winger Road from the way you came in. Turn left on Homer Road, then make your first left on Ohio Route 161. Bigelow Bridge is 3 miles after the turn.
To reach the Streng Road Steel Bridge, go through the Bigelow Covered Bridge on Axe Handle Road. Turn right on Dellinger Road until it dead-ends into Streng Road, where you’ll take a left. You'll cross the bridge.
To return to U.S. Route 36, continue over the Streng Road Bridge and take the first left onto Orchard Road. This leads to Milford Center and U.S. Route 36.


Milford Center
- Historic architecture, old signs


Marysville
- Uptown Antiques, 117 S. Main St.
- Rusty Plow Farms, 12140 US Route 36
- CherryHawk Farm Apple Orchard, 16220 Springdale Road
- Thompson Road Covered Bridge


Ostrander
- Leeds Farm, 8738 Marysville Roadd (Fall Only)

Delaware
- Perkins Observatory, 3199 Columbus Pike
- Bun’s Restaurant, 14 W. Winter St.
- Ohio Wesleyan University campus (seen from US 36)
- Stratford Ecological Center (organic farm), 3083 Liberty Road
- Olentangy Indian Caverns, 1779 Home Road
- Rutherford B. Hayes Birthplace, 17 E. William St.
- Meeker Homestead Museum, 2690 Stratford Road
- Staas Brewing Company, 31 W. Winter St.
- Restoration Brew Worx, 25 N. Sandusky St.
- Blend of Seven Winery, 1400 Stratford Road
- Barley Hopsters, 1 N. Sandusky St.
- Son of Thurman (restaurant), 5 N. Sandusky St.
- The Flying Pig Ale House (restaurant), 12 S. Sandusky St.
- Ollie’s Fine Ice Cream, 19 S. Franklin St.
- Vito’s Wine Bar, 30 S. Sandusky St.
- Alum Creek Lake (trails, camping, boating, and scenic views at east side of bridge)


Sunbury
- Old Sunbury Courthouse, 51 E. Cherry St.
- Oak Hill Barbecue, 60 N. Columbus St.
- Myers Inn Museum/Big Walnut Area Historical Society, 45 S. Columbus St.
- Sandel Legacy Hiking Trail, 168 S. Vernon St. & Ohio to Erie Trail (bike path)


Centerburg
- Geographical center of Ohio (with signage)
- Throwback Alley Restaurant, 29 N. Clayton St.
- Village Mercantile (antiques), 24 E. Main St.
- Centerburg Painted Murals, 8 N. Clayton St.
- Kristi’s Bakery, 18 W. Main St.


Mt. Liberty
- Heart of Ohio Trailhead (bike path)

In Between Mt. Liberty & Mt. Vernon
- Collins Country Greenhouse & Farm Market (plus, live bees), 7211 Patton Road

Mt. Vernon
- Pacemakers Dragway Park, 8926 Columbus Road
- Mt. Vernon Inn, 601 W High St
- C.A. & C. Depot Visitor Center, 501 S. Main St.
- Crosshairs Paintball, 18445 Proper Road
- Hiawatha Water Park, 100 Sychar Road
- Knox County Horse Park, 7360 Thayer Road
- Knox County Memorial Building, 112 E. High St.
- New Testament Stone Garden, 170 Mansfield Ave.
- Alcove Dinner Theatre & Restaurant, 116 S. Main St.
- Flapper’s Bar & Grille, 15 W. High St.
- The Cooper Water Fountain
- East High Street architecture (Colonial and churches)
- The Mount Vernon Grand Hotel
- Allison’s Finer Diner, 11587 Upper Gilchrist Road
- Wolf Run Regional Park (10 miles of hiking trails)
- Holiday Inn Express Mt. Vernon, 11555 Upper Gilchrist Road


Howard
- The Bad Apple Pub, 22001 Coshocton Ave.
- Apple Valley Lake
- Kokosing Valley Camp & Canoe, 25860 Coshocton Ave.
- Spearman’s Restaurant, 26155 Coshocton Ave.
- Honey Run Waterfall, 10855 Hazel Dell Road
- Caves Campground, 26941 Austin Road
- The White Oak Inn (B&B), 29683 Walhonding Road, Danville
- Sunset Ridge Log Cabins, 11772 Shoemaker Road, Danville


In Between Howard & Coshocton
- Peggy Sue’s Steak & Ribs, 32381 U.S. 36, Walhonding
- Roberta’s Diner, 124 Main St., Warsaw
- Whispering Falls Campground, 42539 U.S. 36, Warsaw


Coshocton
- Historic Roscoe Village
- Canal boat rides by horse on the Monticello III
- Roscoe Hillside Cabins, 46971 Co. Rd. 495
- Triple Locks Park
- Warehouse Steak n’ Stein Restaurant (in Roscoe Village), 400 N. Whitewoman St.
- Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum, 300 N. Whitewoman St.
- Coshocton Antique Mall, 315 Main St.
- C&M Collectibles Antiques, 603 S. 2nd St.
- Coshocton KOA, 24688 Co Rd. 10


West Lafayette
- Unusual Junction, 56310 U.S. 36
- Raven’s Glenn Winery & Restaurant, 56183 Co. Rd. 143
-
Three Rivers Wine Trail
- Old Stone Fort, 22921 Co. Rd. 254

Newcomerstown
- Cy Young Memorial 591 N. College St.
- April’s Country Kitch’n, 640 Heller Dr.
- Hampton Inn, 200 Morris Crossing Ave.


Gnadenhutten
- Gnadenhutten Museum & Park, 182 Cherry St.
- Tents of Grace Café, 120 N. Walnut St.


Uhrichsville
- Dennison Railroad Depot Museum
- Dennison Yard (restaurant), 313 Center St. 

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