Get out on the water in Springfield and experience gorges and other examples of nature’s beauty around the city. Paddle down a calm creek, water ski on a sizable lake, scale boulders and even go whitewater kayaking downtown. It’s all within close proximity — making for an adventure-packed weekend getaway!
Mad River Adventures, located southwest of the city, provides kayaks and canoes for use along the Mad River from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Test your skills along two Class 1 rapids, or take it easy along the more placid stretches of the river, which are great for tubing.
Go water skiing at Buck Creek State Park, just outside downtown Springfield. The 2,120-acre lake doesn’t have horsepower limits, so it’s perfect for water skiing. There are areas safe for fishing and swimming, too. The park also offers campsites, cottages, many hiking trails and great spots for picnicking.
Take in the scenic beauty from atop a cliff at Mad River Gorge & Nature Preserve. There are several climbing cliffs to scale, all set up in 2017 by the Ohio Climbers Coalition in partnership with the Clark County Park District and the Access Fund.
Want to go whitewater kayaking? Head to ECO Sports Corridor Whitewater Park to ride the rapids with the city’s skyline in view — making for an amazing photo op! Paddle through several whitewater areas and engineered rock arch rapids along the creek. There are no lifeguards on duty, so it’s always best to go with a buddy. The experience will leave you rooting for rainy days: the whitewater comes after natural rainfall.
Feel like horsing around in Springfield? Head to Blue Horseshoe Farm for a fulfilling equestrian experience that caters to both novices and experienced riders. Explore the 110-acre farm from horseback as you follow a staff-ridden lead horse through flower-filled meadows and into a shady forest. There’s just four riders per trip — making it an intimate, safe experience. The farm’s staff introduces riders to their well-trained horses in an indoor arena and then, once you’re comfortable, demonstrates how to saddle the horses. If the experience leaves you wanting more, you’re in luck. Riding lessons are available.
The scenic acreage is protected by the Tecumseh Land Trust, which is dedicated to preserving natural habitats for plants and wildlife. A portion of ride proceeds contributes to Hoofbeats and Heartbeats, which provides equine-assisted services to veterans.
Springfield is a bicyclist’s dream city. The Little Miami Scenic Trail and the Simon Kenton Trail run through downtown, and there’s also easy access to Buck Creek State Park from downtown.
See the local area by pedaling along the Little Miami Scenic Trail, a 78-mile paved route that begins in Springfield and goes southward. Take the trail to the hip college town of Yellow Springs, where you can stop in art galleries and cafes. Visit Young’s Jersey Dairy for an ice cream treat and fun activities for the kids like feeding goats and zipping down a slide.
Follow the Simon Kenton Trail 32 miles northward from downtown Springfield to Bellefontaine.. It begins at the Heritage Center, a 132-year-old, Romanesque building that’s the home of the Clark County Historical Society.
Another option is to hop on Buck Creek Scenic Trail that connects downtown’s Veterans Park to Buck Creek State Park. There you can find river kayaking, bouldering and wind surfing, in addition to biking and hiking. As you ride along Buck Creek, you’ll pass the Springfield Museum of Art and the Ferncliff Cemetery & Arboretum, as well as Buck Creek Nature Park before you reach the huge Clarence J. Brown Dam and Reservoir at the state park.
After a day of outdoor adventures, sip a pint at downtown at Mother Stewart’s Brewing Co., located a few minutes south of the Wittenberg University campus. Order a Disco Dancer IPA, Witbier and Vienna Lager and take a seat outside on the patio.
Time your visit for one of the many events hosted there throughout the year. Among the most popular is IndieCraft, a three-day festival held every May that combines indie rock bands and craft brewers. Mother Stewart’s indoor and outdoor stages host local and regional bands during the event, with a headliner appearing on Fridays. The Saturday Beerfest brings together a variety of breweries that are perfect for sampling. Sundays focus on acoustic sounds and food trucks. In 2022 a third stage was added, at the nearby COhatch Springfield alleyway.
The area’s scenic views are just as beautiful at night. Stay overnight at the treehouse cabins at Simon Kenton Inn, just north of downtown. Look out at the trees from the deck of the three cabins that are perched 16 feet above ground. The treehouses are a fun way to get away from the ordinary and relax, while still enjoying all the amenities of this classic Ohio inn.
Each treehouse has a large deck for lounging and star gazing, along with handmade wooden furniture, a wet bar, refrigerator, microwave and coffeemaker. They’re about a football field away from the inn, offering a private escape from it all.
Established in 1828, the four-room inn is among the oldest in Ohio, standing on the grounds of the first white settlement in the state. Kenton was a frontier pioneer who fought in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 and was deeded the land where the inn stands by the U.S. government.
Owner Theresa Siejack purchased the inn in 2005 and has since added a pub, restaurant and additional guest rooms. The main inn has four rooms and there are four more in the neighboring barn.