WORTH THE DRIVE: Adventure awaits in Joe Burrow’s hometown

Ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals’ historic face-off with the Los Angeles Rams at Super Bowl LVI on Sunday, Feb. 13, many have begun to look more closely at one of the star players on the Cincinnati Bengals — quarterback Joe Burrow.

Aside from working in Cincinnati, Burrow has a connection to another area of Ohio. He grew up in Athens, graduating from Athens High School in 2015.

In celebration of perhaps the most important game in Burrow’s life, we have compiled a list of the best places to visit in Athens and surrounding cities.

Kennedy Museum of Art

Location: 100 Ridges Circle, Athens

In need of a local art fix? Look no further than the Kennedy Museum of Art in Athens. The art museum, located on Ohio University’s campus, offers a plethora of local and traveling exhibits. Currently, the museum is showing “The Van Gogh Affect,” “LACUNA,” and the “Visual Literacy Gallery.” More information about the Kennedy Museum of Art can be found by visiting ohio.edu/museum.

Southeast Ohio History Center

Credit: Southeast Ohio History Center

Credit: Southeast Ohio History Center

Location: 24 W. State St., Athens

Though the Southeast Ohio History Center is not currently offering tours of The Ridges (formerly known as the Athens Lunatic Asylum), there are still numerous reasons to pay a visit to museum. For example, you’ll still be able to get an idea of the spooky things that took place at the Athens Lunatic Asylum. After all, the Southeast Ohio History Center houses certain artifacts from the asylum such as the tool that doctor Walter Freeman used to perform frontal lobotomies in the 1950s and a painting by well-known patient Billy Milligan.

Those interested in genealogy can also take a look through certain aspects of their southeastern Ohio heritage in the museum’s impressive archives. Other exhibits will also be on rotation at the museum throughout the year. More information about the Southeast Ohio History Center can be found by visiting athenshistory.org.

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Dairy Barn Arts Center

Location: 8000 Dairy Ln., Athens

The Dairy Barn Arts Center was originally a dairy barn that sat on a farm dedicated to producing dairy and working experience for the patients at the former Athens Lunatic Asylum. Over a century later, the Dairy Barn Arts Center, as its name suggests, houses art exhibitions, festivals, touring exhibits, live performances and other local art exhibits and events. The Dairy Barn Arts Center has also gained national recognition for its Quilt National exhibit display, a biennial exhibition featuring dozens of quilts.

For more information about the Dairy Barn Arts Center, pay a visit to dairybarn.org.

Psylodelic Gallery at Fur Peace Ranch

Location: 39495 St Clair Rd., Pomeroy

In 1989, Jorma Kaukonen, a musician who has performed with Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, founded the Fur Peace Ranch with the intention it would be a place to foster emerging guitarists. However, in the years since its founding, the Fur Peace Ranch has offered other incentives for people to pay a visit. In particular, the ranch’s Psylodelic Gallery, which features a large collection of Kaukonen’s artifacts, photographs, and posters from his time touring and making music with Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna and other artists and musical groups.

Currently, Fur Peace Ranch is only accepting visitors who book an appointment in advance. Call Fur Peace Ranch at 740-992-6228. All guests must show proof that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 upon entering the ranch. For more information, visit furpeaceranch.com/psylodelic-gallery/

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Hocking Valley Scenic Railway

Credit: Isaac Miller

Credit: Isaac Miller

Location: 346 Railroad St., Nelsonville

For the past few decades, the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway has offered a unique way to traverse the idyllic landscapes of Nelsonville, Hocking Hills, Athens and the surrounding area. Each weekend, guests are able to board a historic train at the Nelsonville Depot and embark upon an hour-and-a-half or two-hour train ride to see sights like an old canal lock from the Hocking Canal, the remains of the Nelsonville Brick Company, the original depot at Haydenville and more.

Currently, guests can choose between a number of different train experiences, like the hour-and-a-half-long Haydenville-bound train, the two-hour-long East Logan-bound train, the Caboose Train ride, which features multiple cabooses and Ohio’s Friendliest Robbery Train, where passengers will be robbed of their fake money by a group of bandits on horseback at some point throughout the ride. Beginning in October and moving forward through the holiday season, guests will have a chance to embark upon special holiday train rides, like the Fall Foliage, Halloween, and Christmas-themed train rides. Prices start at $16 per person and vary depending on the train ride. Children between the ages of three and 12, senior citizens over the age of 60 and members of the military can receive discounted rates. Most train rides take place on weekends.

Guests will board each train ride at the Nelsonville Train Depot, located at 33 W Canal Street in Nelsonville. This location is also where the train ride ends. Most of the regular weekend trips, unless otherwise noted, include a 30-minute stop at Robbins Crossing, a recreated pioneer village on the campus of Hocking College.

For a full list of train schedules and to purchase your tickets, visit hvsry.org.

Hocking Hills State Park

Credit: Barbara J. Perenic

Credit: Barbara J. Perenic

Location: 19852 State Route 664 S., Logan

Located approximately 45 minutes outside of Athens, Hocking Hills State Park offers numerous ways for nature enthusiasts to spend their day (or long weekend). There are a total of seven different hiking areas at Hocking Hills State Park, including Ash Cave, Old Man’s Cave, Rock House, Conkle’s Hollow, Cedar Falls, Cantwell Cliffs and the Whispering Cave Trail.

If you’d like to spend a night or long weekend at the park, there are several cabins and camping options available for all kinds of travelers. More information about Hocking Hills State Park can be found by visiting thehockinghills.org.

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