2020 has been a weird year for everyone.
My husband and I had big dreams for international travel in 2020, but as COVID-19 took off across the globe, that hope quickly disappeared. Even national travel started to seem unlikely as state restrictions increased. We soon came to the realization that we’d really have to lower the bar on any sort of “vacation” we were going to take this year.
So, in true optimistic form, we tried to look for the silver lining. Instead of a jammed packed summer like usual, most of our weekends were now free, thanks to a global pandemic. We decided that we were going to stay in Ohio and camp as much as we could. We explored everything from tent camping, to glamping, to going completely off the grid. It was the perfect time to explore Ohio’s great outdoors.
Here’s our list of all 14 places we stayed in 2020, complete with reviews, advice about booking and how to get the best prices. I’ve also included tips about how to find unique places to stay in your area.
Strong Cabin | Madison, Ohio | Rustic Cabin
This is one of two cabins available through Lake Metroparks.
We stayed at this cabin with a group of friends the weekend before everything hit the fan with COVID. It’s weird to think about because I remember sitting around the fireplace and talking about coronavirus. We had NO idea what was going to unfold the following week.
To start off, one of my biggest pieces of advice for booking neat places is to check with local park districts in your area. Often times these organizations have inexpensive campsites and cabin rentals available. With our local park district, you get a price discount if you live in the county, but you can still book even if you don’t. This cabin through Lake Metropark ranges from $70 to $80 a night.
Things to know:
- There is a great fishing pond right next to the cabin, but since it was March, we didn’t have much luck with catching anything. I imagine it would be awesome in the summer.
- The cabin sleeps eight people – all in bunk beds. As a group of 20 and 30-year-olds, we found this hilarious.
- There is running water and a bathroom, but no shower.
- There is a full size kitchen, but we did see a mouse in there! I would describe this cabin as very rustic. It has decent amenities, but it’s still a cabin in the middle of the woods.
- It’s located in Hodge Ridge Park and is within walking distance to some great trails.
- Dogs are allowed at this cabin.
Getaway House Cleveland/Pittsburg | Lisbon, Ohio | Glamping
This was our second time staying at Getaway House Cleveland as we were there in November 2019. In May, my parents, husband and I rented two separate campers. We went mid-week and were able to use a referral code (more on that below). Both the code and traveling during the week saved on the price.
Things to know:
- If you’re coming from the Cleveland area, you’ll drive about 1.5 hours to get to the site. My advice would be to book two nights, because by the time you drive all the way out there and get settled, it feels like you have to turn around and drive home. (Check-in is at 3PM, checkout is at 11AM.)
- The sites are dog friendly, but you’ll have to pay extra.
- The Cleveland/Pittsburg location is located near Beaver Creek State Park. You can find some pretty decent hiking trails in that area.
- This site is perfect for “glamping” if you’re not used to camping or don’t like roughing it, but it can be pricy.
Tips to save money: My suggestion for Getaway is to book during the week. It’s cheaper and there’s more availability. Getaway has a phenomenal COVID cleaning policy, but unfortunately it limits what’s available. There’s also a referral discount on the website. If someone books using your code, you each get $25 off. If you have access to two email accounts, try signing up with one email and sending the referral code to the other.
I’ve also seen a few people on Instagram post Getaway House discount codes, but that would require some serious social media hunting. Getaway House comes stocked with food and firewood, but using it will cost you extra. In theory, it’s great for people who don’t feel like planning or know too much about camping. But you could easily save money by bringing your own stuff.
Lakeshore Reservation | Perry, Ohio | Primitive Tent Camping
This tent camping site is available through Lake Metroparks. It does not include water or electric. Firewood is provided. This site is a Lake Erie lover’s dream!
Things to know:
- The bathrooms are a .3 mile walk from the site and does not include a shower. I recommend only staying one night if that’s important to you!
- The site is located overlooking Lake Erie, so although you can hear the waves, you cannot access the beach directly from the site.
- We’ve seen quite a few bald eagles at this campsite, which is always very cool.
- There are walking paths and trails surrounding the site, so depending on the leaves, this site isn’t completely private.
Tips to save and important booking information: In early May, Lake Metropark campsite registration opens up and most are available from the first weekend of May through mid-November. BUT, you have to be quick as the best weekends throughout the summer are booked within minutes. It’s $10 a night if you’re a resident of Lake County and $20 if you’re not. Compared to most state parks, this is a steal for a campsite. Combine this price point with the fact that firewood is provided and it can’t be beat!
Punderson State Park | Newbury, Ohio | Tent & RV Camping
We stayed here in early June, but I think it’s important to note that I booked this site in December! We’ve tent camped at Punderson before and have had a blast, but I really wanted to get a site along the lake. I happened to check in December and was shocked to see many of the lake sites already booked for the summer, so I didn’t hesitate.
This state park offers full RV hookups, tent sites with electric and primitive (VERY secluded) campsites. We stayed at site 23, but the real gem you want is site 21, which has a beautiful view of the lake.
Things to know:
- If you’re new to camping, this is a great first place to start since there are plenty of shower houses and restrooms. There’s also a camp store for purchasing firewood and other random stuff you might have forgot.
- Some sites have an electric box so you can charge your phone or Bluetooth speaker, but make sure you book one with those amenities.
- There is plenty to do at this park including a beach for swimming, boat rental, playgrounds, hiking and lots of picnic areas.
- Although separate from the state park, there are also cabins available at Punderson.
Important booking information: Check often and book early as the best sites fill up quickly. Also make sure you know exactly where you’re booking because some sites are no more than camping in a parking lot and others are so secluded that they can be difficult to get to (read: dragging your stuff there would be a huge pain).
Regarding prices: I’m always a little annoyed at how expensive state park camping is. It’s $28 a night, plus tax and processing fees. For a typical 2 night, weekend stay, it’s going to cost you about $65. Relatively speaking that’s nothing, but for sleeping in the woods it always seems a bit pricey to me! 🙂
Hidden Lake | Leroy, Ohio | Primitive Tent Camping
This tent camping site is available through Lake Metroparks. It does not include water or electric. Firewood is provided. All things considered – this is my favorite campsite in Northeastern, Ohio!! If you’re looking for a beautiful, somewhat private campsite, this is your spot.
Things to know:
- You’ll want to bring some sort of wagon to help carry your stuff since it’s a long haul from the parking lot to the campsite. BUT, it’s extremely worth it because this site is gorgeous!
- This site sits directly next to the water, giving you perfect access to fishing. We also brought kayaks and were able to launch them from the bank of the campsite.
- There is one, wood tent pad, but multiple tents will fit in the area.
- Walking trails surround this site and you’ll see many fishers and people walking from the other sides of the lake. Be sure to close the gate leading into the campsite, otherwise you might be surprised by people walking into your area if they don’t know the campsite is taken!
Regarding booking: This site will fill up the quickest – because I’m telling you – it’s amazing. When registration opens every year, this is the campsite I try to book first because every weekend will be booked within a matter of minutes. In the past, we’ve taken Friday off work and stayed here on a random Thursday night if we couldn’t reserve a weekend night.
Tappan Lake | Deersville, Ohio | Cabin
We stayed at this cabin with family in July. It’s about 15 minutes from Tappan Lake and comfortably fits eight people. We booked this site on Vrbo, which I had never used before, but my sister-in-law came across it and it had amazing reviews – plus it was only $89 a night!
We have family down in the area and were able meet up with them during the day at Tappan Lake and had a blast swimming and hiking.
Things to know:
- This is pretty much a complete dead zone with wifi and cell service. We knew this going in, but even our hotspots were having difficulty connecting. You really are very secluded.
- I ran with our dog one morning and I saw all sorts of little hideaway cabins tucked into the woods along the road. Some were nice and some weren’t more than a shack that looked like a horror movie.
- This cabin comes fully stocked with pretty much anything you could think of and my nieces had a blast in the basement with tons of games and toys.
- Since you are so far in the country, be careful of ticks. I pulled one off our dog one night, but thankfully he is treated and it didn’t stick.
- The listing says “no pets” but I reached out to the host and she allowed us to bring our dog for an extra $30 for the weekend.
Resource Center Cabin | Madison, Ohio | Cabin
This is the second of two cabins available through Lake Metroparks. The first one (Strong Cabin) we stayed at in March. We stayed at this cabin near the end of July with family.
Things to know:
- This cabin is not as rustic as the other park cabin, which appeals more to people who don’t like “roughing it.”
- The cabin was recently updated and has a really nice bathroom with a shower.
- All eight beds are bunk beds in two separate rooms.
- The kitchen is very nice with a breakfast table and then there is a very big dining room table off the kitchen. There is TONS of space at this cabin.
- There is a massive basement, which our nieces and nephews loved!
- This cabin is in the middle of a neighborhood, but is still surrounded by trees and is secluded.
- There is a trail off to the side of the cabin that connects to a park with a fishing pond. The weird thing was, people kept cutting across our cabin’s front yard and driveway as a short cut to the park instead of driving around to the official entrance. It was weird and annoying because the dogs would bark like crazy when they noticed a person out in the front yard walking by. We kept saying they needed to put up a sign.
- There are TONS of local parks in the area (plus wineries) and The Grand River is super close.
- Dogs are allowed.
Regarding prices: You typically get a discount if you live in the county, but you can still book even if you don’t. This cabin ranges from $70 to $80 a night.
Geneva State Park | Geneva, Ohio | Tent & RV Camping
I absolutely love this area! We stayed here for the first time in 2019 and picked the most awful site imaginable. (It was no better than camping in a field next to a road.) This year, I did research to make sure we had a site that was more woodsy and private!
Staying at this park is one of my favorite summer memories because there’s so much to do. Between the beach, trails and being less than 10 minutes from Geneva-on-the-Lake – you’ll have plenty to do. Geneva-on-the-Lake is a fun little strip of bars and restaurants that feels like a boardwalk. Even with COVID, we were able to safely walk around and sit outside at a few places with our dog.
Things to know:
- You’ll find that most people “camp” in their RVs at this park, although we did see other token tents here and there. (For the record, I don’t consider staying in an RV real camping, although many will disagree with me!)
- There are plenty of restrooms and one shower house. There’s also a store on site.
- You can walk or bike directly to the beach from your site (or drive). You can also walk/run on an awesome trail that runs along Lake Erie and goes directly into Geneva-on-the-Lake.
- Dogs are allowed on a section of the beach, which is always so much fun.
Tree House Cabin & Log Cabin | Near Canton, Ohio | Glamping
We took a long weekend near the end of August for our fifth wedding anniversary. I wrote a full review of the tree house cabin and log cabin here. In general, I highly recommend both, although the tree house cabin can be pricey. I found the log cabin through Airbnb.
One of my biggest tips for finding cabins and other unique places is to filter your search to “unique stays” when using Airbnb. This will pull up cabins, campsites, barns, campers, tiny houses, farm stays and even boats that you can stay overnight in. Also check out the app Hipcamp for more neat places near you.
Regarding prices: The tree houses are super popular and some of the best ones are booked a year in advance. Try staying during the week to lower the price and for better availability. It’s also cheaper to stay here in the off-season, which is typically November to April.
Hemlock Hideaway | Madison, Ohio | Rustic Cabin
I found this site through unique stays on Airbnb. This cabin is VERY rustic, with no electricity or running water, but it’s so much fun!
This off-the-grid cabin sits on a small ravine next to The Grand River. It’s a semi challenging hike, but if you’re up for it – head down the ravine to the river where you can fish and walk around. This cabin goes for $65 a night.
Things to know:
- You are super secluded at this site and there’s little to no cell phone service.
- Firewood is provided, so is the bedding, a few light sources and some other random camping supplies (think: wine opener, bug spray, paper towels, etc.).
- The cabin is wrapped in tiny LED Christmas lights, which looks very magical and cute at night.
- There’s a composting outhouse/toilet behind the cabin, which I was a little nervous about, but it was actually completely fine and very clean! There is no shower.
Tappan Lake | Deersville, Ohio | Tent & RV Camping
This was our second visit to Tappan Lake this year since we have family down that way. I love Tappan Lake Park so much because it’s so beautiful and there’s a lot to do.
Things to know:
- There is a ton of camping at the park, but it’s primarily RV camping. I didn’t see any other tent in our area besides us!
- There are lots of restrooms with a brand new shower house built just last year.
- Our site wasn’t super scenic, but we set up camp as close as we could get to the woods.
- The beach allows dogs in one area and you can rent boats, kayaks and paddleboards.
- There are a few hiking trails throughout the park and it was fun to explore.
- We ended up visiting a farm not too far from the site and going horseback riding.
Regarding prices: Staying here is pretty comparable to staying at a state park, costing about $60 to tent camp for the weekend.
Penitentiary Glen Reservation | Kirtland, Ohio | Primitive Tent Camping
This tent camping site is available through Lake Metroparks. This site does not have water or electricity, but firewood is provided.
People are always surprised when I mention camping at this park because very few people know there’s a campsite here. I love this site since it’s so private and absolutely beautiful, especially in the fall.
- Bring a wagon or cart to carry your stuff. It’s probably .3 miles from the parking area to the site and although you can make it without, it’s just easier.
- There are lots of hiking areas and woods to explore all around the campsite. There is a ravine to one side that’s pretty steep, but it’s not super close to the site.
- There is a bathroom located at the actual park entrance, but it’s probably a 1.5 mile hike to it. If you stay here, it’s probably best to accept you’ll be peeing in the woods! There are no showers.
Farm Cabin | Hartville, Ohio | Rustic Cabin
This cabin was a bit pricey for me ($90 a night), but it had great reviews, looked adorable and dogs were allowed. We stayed here with my parents and there was plenty of room for four adults.
Things to know:
- The cabin is located on a farm with lots of stuff to do. It’s a kid’s dream!
- There’s a pond with a canoe, a swing set, a trampoline, goats, chickens, cats and dogs. There’s also a barn that guests have access to that has a basketball court, indoor swings, a rock climbing wall and lots of other games and toys.
- There’s no bathroom in the cabin itself, but guests have access to the bathroom in the basement of the host’s house, which was clean and easy to access.
- There is a full bed and twin bed downstairs and then two twin beds in the loft upstairs. I stayed in the loft on a rope bed and it was AWFUL. It was so uncomfortable that I tossed and turned all night and then woke up sore the next morning!
- Firewood is provided and there is a nice little outside area with a porch and picnic table.
Tiny Cabin | Perrysville, Ohio | Glamping
With COVID cases continuing to surge, it was the perfect Christmas to getaway. We rented this tiny A-frame cabin through Airbnb and it did not disappoint! It was about an hour and a half drive from Cleveland and it’s located within a 5-minute drive to awesome hiking trails in Mohican State Park. It snowed pretty heavily on Christmas Eve, so waking up to a winter wonderland in the woods was pretty amazing.
Things to know:
- Dogs are allowed at the cabin (in fact, I filtered Airbnb’s search to only include places that allowed dogs).
- The cabin was immaculate – like SUPER clean. They had a guest book where you can read about past traveler’s stays at the cabin and you can write down info about your own stay – and when I went to write down our stay I was a bit weirded out to see someone had been there the night before! But honestly you couldn’t tell. The place was spotless.
- I would love to come back here during the summer because they had an outdoor grill and fire pit. Plus, the backdrop of the cabin was so beautiful. Being so close to great hiking would be awesome for a summer weekend getaway.
Regarding prices: This tiny cabin was a bit pricey, clocking in at $225 a night. It was very quaint with not a lot of room, but it was a nice experience. The cabin says it fits four people, but with two adults and a dog I already felt a bit crowded. I feel for this price (we stayed two nights) we could get a much bigger cabin.
Here’s to 2021!
Overall, despite how weird and negative this past year was, I feel lucky that we were able to stay at so many cool places and make these memories. It was an adventure that booked many of our weekends and it was a welcomed distraction throughout a tough year.
Onward and upwards to 2021! Here’s to more exploring. CHEERS!