Get Your Kicks On Ohio Route 66

Story & Photos by Matt Bayman

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Starting in Piqua and traveling the entire 118-mile distance of Ohio Route 66 to the north is a very colorful experience that can fill an entire day, if not several. There are more than a dozen historical towns to explore along the route, as well as four state parks, a portion of the Land of Cross-Tipped Churches, numerous historical sites and museums, and plenty of one-of-a-kind restaurants, shops and roadside attractions to enjoy, including the famous Bloody Bridge north of St. Mary’s and Sauder Village near Archbold. Even better, many attractions are free to visit.
The southern portion of the road follows the old Miami & Erie Canal towpath, which means many towns and cities along the route are canal-era towns filled with brilliant period architecture, historical buildings, landmarks and canal-themed attractions.
Piqua has Johnston Farm & Indian Agency, where visitors can take a ride on the General Harrison II canal boat, and just up the road, and a little off the path for a moment, is Lockington Locks.
Located in the quiet village of Lockington, this historical landmark features seven canal locks in one place, six at one end, and another further down. A small parking lot at the top of the locks provides access to the entire grounds. Visitors can take a walk up and down both sides of the cascading locks and enjoy the peace and quiet of the countryside. On the way back to the main route is Lockington Dam, which, once climbed, provides great views of the surrounding countryside and Loramie Creek.
Traveling north on Ohio Route 66, canal attractions continue, including the Fort Loramie Canal and Museum District, Lock One Park in New Bremen, Memorial Park and Miami Erie Canal Lock 13 in St. Mary’s (with a replica canal boat that visitors can explore), and the Delphos Canal Museum, just to name a few.

A large section of the old Miami & Erie Canal towpath now serves as the Buckeye Trail, and there are several trailheads where travelers can park and hike, including Bloody Bridge Trailhead and the Deep Cut Trailhead. Bloody Bridge, the historical marker and the actual bridge, are at the same location as the trailhead. (Learn the full story of the bridge HERE). Throw in hiking trails at the four state parks, as well as opportunities to canoe and kayak along the way, and there's plenty of recreation to be had.
Ohio Route 66 also passes through a large section of the Land of Cross-Tipped Churches. Highlights include the breathtaking St. Michael Catholic Church in Fort Loramie, St. Augustine Church in Minster, the St. John the Evangelical Catholic Church in Delphos, and the Immaculate Conception Church in Ottoville, among others.

After passing through Defiance, the scenery changes from canals to the Great Plains. This is also where Sauder Village is located. Sauder Village is a living history village that also has its own inn, restaurant and campground, among other features. 
By the time travelers reach the quaint town of Fayette, and the end of the road, Michigan is only a few miles away. To return home in another unique way, from Fayette, take U.S. 127 South. Not as scenic or historic as Route 66, U.S. 127 showcases Ohio's wind farms and several wonderful towns, including Bryan, Van Wert and Celina. 

Those wishing to spend the night along the route will find plenty of hotels and bed and breakfasts, as well as campsites and RV parks, including in those four state parks. 
Enjoy! 
Other things you can see and do on this trip include:

  • Harrison Lake State Park and spillway

  • Bicycle Museum of American in New Bremen

  • Deep Cut Historical Park & hiking trails

  • Abandoned movie theater in St. Mary's 

  • Two underground houses north of New Bremen

  • Independence Dam State Park

  • Dine in the bottom floor of the amazing Fort Piqua Plaza at Mulligan's Pub

  • Famous Keyhole Pizza 

  • The Wilderness Trail Museum in Fort Loramie

  • Lake Loramie State Park

  • Bigfoot statues in Fort Loramie 

  • The famous Wooden Shoe Inn in Minster

  • 17 West Restaurant in New Bremen (try the outdoor patio in the evening)

  • Lions Park and statues in New Bremen

  • The Green Thumb Farm Fresh Café, located just north of New Bremen

  • Several steel bridges, some of historic note

  • Covered bridges and parks in St. Mary’s

  • Grand Lake St. Mary’s State Park

  • Kendrick Woods (outside of Spencerville)

  • Pete’s Mayflower restaurant in Delphos

  • The Museum of Postal History in Delphos

  • Miami & Erie Restaurant and Lounge in Defiance

  • The Andrew L. Tuttle Memorial Museum in Defiance

  • Old Fort Defiance Park in Defiance

  • Defiance County Courthouse (very impressive!)

  • Mom’s Diner in Archbold

  • Goll Woods State Nature Preserve near Archbold

  • Fayette Opera House

And so much more. Take your time in each town. Park, get out, and walk around, hike, sightsee, shop, snack, and get your kicks on Ohio Route 66. 

Click on the map below to go into Google Maps and find directions for this trip, and to plan side trips along the way. 
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