Shawnee Lodge and Conference Center: Rich in history, rich in relaxation.

By Mary Casey-Sturk

You’re sitting in the trees drinking coffee. Well, not really. But, on a cool late summer morning following a stormy overnight, the porch of the third floor room at Shawnee Lodge & Conference Center in southeast Ohio certainly makes you feel this way.

The sky is clearing and the only sounds are the birds singing. Woodpeckers are too quick for photographs and the squirrels only rest long enough to catch their breath on a nearby branch.

This will be a good morning.

ShawneeHillsMCSNestled within the Shawnee State Forest, where the Appalachian foothills greet the Ohio River, the Lodge and park offer up a multitude of activities for everyone. Exploring the property, you wonder about those who came before you. Not just the families on vacation, but the Shawnee Indians who lived on the 63,000 acres that now comprise the forest. Historians state that Shawnee means “those who have silver” and it was on this land that they traded until settlers claimed this area as their own. With each vista and every tree, it’s hard not to be curious about how they lived and whether their view and vantage points differ from yours today. In 1949, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Division of Parks and Recreation created the park and generations have treasured this forest as a natural retreat ever since.

Today, the Lodge seeks to respect the history of the land and people with vignettes and programs throughout the property. Packed with amenities, the Lodge features two swimming pools, hot tub, sauna, tennis courts, playground, game room, gift shop, restaurant and lounge-to name a few. There are plenty of cozy spots inside and outside to relax. From overstuffed chairs in front of massive LodgeCozyNookMCSfireplaces, to rocking chairs where you can take in Mother Nature’s panorama. The area has been referred to as “The Little Smokies of Ohio” and upon visiting, you will see why. The rooms are comfortable and well-appointed with quality linens, and those extras many parks don’t offer, such as coffee makers, hair dryers and mini-fridges. The Lodge makes a great destination for reunions, meetings and special events (including weddings) and has reception and meeting spaces available. The nearby cottages can accommodate up to six people each.

The fun does not end when summer does, General Manager Robin McIntire shares some great things to do in the winter months, “every year from mid-November until the first week of January, thousands of lights on approximately 40 trees along with many other holiday decorations are put up by area garden clubs”, McIntire adds, “we also have a Holiday Open House the first Sunday in December with music, crafters, a buffet, and cookies and hot chocolate.”

Dining is a delicious distraction from Mother Nature and the Smokehouse Restaurant manages to be spacious and intimate at the same time with an updated menu with hearty choices including the Raven Rock Pork Chop with peach compote and the Roosevelt Meatloaf-which is baked then grilled! Breakfast the next morning was French Toast and a generous create-your-own omelet. Simply delicious. The atmosphere is casual and their staff is efficient, friendly and happy to recommend their personal favorite dishes to you. The Tecumseh Lounge has more offerings, with pizza, burgers and local brews including the Portsmouth Pilsner. Last year, some 60,000 people dined on site!

ShawneeCabinsMCSThe Park as well as Shawnee State Forest offer many hiking trials and bridle trails (and equine camping) . Campgrounds and cottages are available near the Lodge and Conference Center . Outdoor offerings are in abundance, from fishing to an 18-hole golf course, there is something for every traveler to enjoy. Public beaches can be found on Turkey Creek and Roosevelt Lakes, you can rent rowboats and canoes at Turkey Creek Lake and boaters can visit the nearby Ohio River marina. The camp store is open to all park visitors and here you can rent bikes, boats and have access to the miniature golf course. The nature center has a variety of programs and exhibits, check in advance for a full schedule.

Whether you choose to hike these ancient hills, sit by the pool with a good book or settle in on your porch with a cup of coffee, the relaxing atmosphere of the Lodge fits the bill.

More to see:

Nearby Portsmouth offers up their outstanding Flood Wall Murals. This ongoing project, led by Robert Dafford of Lafayette, PortsmouthMuralsLongShotMCSLouisiana has been creating outstanding works of arts along Portsmouth’s Flood Wall. From hometown hero, Roy Rogers, to a celebration of industry, these murals tell the story of this river city in vibrant scenes. These are masterful and have to be seen to truly be appreciated. Guided walking tours are offered or you can tour on your own.

MuralRoyRogersMCSSouthern Ohio Museum presents an array of changing exhibitions all year, programs and has a fascinating “Art of the Ancients” collection including 10,000 objects from the Adena , Hopewell and other early indigenous peoples on display. Other permanent collection pieces include photographs and paintings from local artists.

The Boneyfiddle Historic District is comprised of century old buildings now housing antique and specialty shops as well as cafes. Ghosts in the Attic Antique Mall alone offers three floors of shopping!



For more information:

Shawnee Lodge & Conference Center

4404B State Route 125

West Portsmouth, Ohio 45663
Phone: 740.858.6621