Situated in east-central Ohio, about 35 miles east of Columbus, you’ll find charming Newark. Located along the western edge of the Appalachian plateau in Licking County, Newark features various art forms. Performing arts? Check. Artistic yet functional glass? Check. Artisan beer? Check. Even their outdoor spaces offer something for art enthusiasts.
The closest airport is Port Columbus International Airport (CMH) in Columbus. Since Newark is 35 miles from the airport, you’ll want to rent a car to maximize your experiences with ease.
Here are eight things to do in Newark that you’ll want to include on your next visit.
Note: My visit to Newark was a hosted trip by Licking County, Ohio. The opinions are mine based on my experience.
1. Investigate The Works: Ohio Center For History, Art And Technology
The Works, named for the building’s original occupants Scheidler Machine Works, offers the works, everything from art to technology and manufacturing. History, art, and the science of technology are often thought of as disparate disciplines. The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art and Technology sits at the intersection of these fields and demonstrates that the areas are intertwined.
The learning through play activities in this center connect science concepts to real-world applications. The museum offers hands-on STEM activities for all ages; one example is the SciDome planetarium with a 30-foot, 4K projection.
The Works isn’t just for children, and many spaces are adult-centric. The art gallery on the main floor has free admittance. The hottest area in the entire center is the glassblowing demonstrations offered throughout the day. With pre-registration, you can make your own hot glass, or if you’re more of a shopper, hand-blown glass pieces are available for purchase. If you like to purchase ornaments for your Christmas tree from your travels, this is a place you’ll want to shop.
Pro Tip: While this center had me captivated, even your smallest grandchild will find activities to suit their age.
2. Explore The Newark Earthworks
Constructed between 100 B.C. and 500 A.D, the Newark Earthworks was part cemetery, part temple, and part astronomical observatory. Built by the Hopewell culture, it’s the world’s most extensive geometric earthworks.
The Octagon Earthworks comprises a circular earthen enclosure that connects to an octagonal space by a short section of parallel walls. One area of the Newark Earthworks includes the Octagon Earthworks. The circle consists of about 20 acres and the octagon about 50 acres.
About 1,200 feet from crest to crest, the circular hill of earth ranges in height from 4 to 14 feet. Built for use as a ceremonial center, at the center of the enclosed space, the Eagle Mound, visitors can view the entire perimeter of the Great Circle. Exploring the site takes about an hour, which also features the Great Circle Museum.
Pro Tip: The site offers guided tours from July through October.
3. Walk Around Dawes Arboretum
Dawes Arboretum, an outdoor museum for trees, provides a year-round multi-sensory experience on almost 2,000 acres. Those who enjoy hiking will appreciate the 12 miles of trails. The Auto Tour is a good starting point for getting an overview of the property, making the arboretum an enjoyable experience for those who choose not to get out and hike. They offer guided audio accompaniments for both the north and south Auto Tours on their website.
Climb the Observation Tower for a bird’s-eye view of the Dawes Arboretum Hedge letters. Conifer Glen is an evergreen area that stands out in winter when other trees are bare. Explore the Japanese Garden for a bit of peace and tranquility.
The East Trails are suited for more adventurous travelers. The trails in this part of the park have seasonally muddy, wet areas and uneven terrain, rating them moderately tricky.
While we visited, the Lyman Whitaker Wind Sculptures were on exhibit. The art installations periodically change but are always a charming addition to the arboretum.
Pro Tip: Download the free Dawes Arboretum app to your phone to receive guidance as you explore.
4. Visit The National Heisey Glass Museum
Newark, Ohio, had the key ingredients that Heisey Glass required. They had excellent silica sand, plenty of natural gas, and a labor force. Heisey’s glass designs and color found their way around the world, including into the hands of celebrities and their movies. Heisey Glass Factory operated from 1896 to 1957, but its history and art live today in the National Heisey Glass Museum. We found the video on Heisey Glass’s past to understand the factory’s importance and hand-made glass in the town’s history.
You’ll want to spend about 2 hours at the museum that includes three buildings and three floors. Displays include not only the art of the glassware but also the business’ manufacturing.
Pro Tip: Film buffs will enjoy the Heisey in Hollywood display, where they’ll learn which actors used Heisey glass in their movies.
5. Catch A Performance At The Midland Theatre
Built in 1928, The Midland Theatre had fallen into disrepair and is now beautifully restored to its former grandeur. Many theaters from that era are gone, so I applaud Newark for having the foresight to save this theater. The Midland Theatre is a 1,800-seat theatre in the Newark Downtown Historic District.
The theater opened with a silent movie and two vaudeville acts but quickly moved to “talking pictures.” Over the next 50 years, they played all the great films from Hollywood’s golden years, everything from Gone with the Wind to Dr. Zhivago. Beginning in 1978, for 14 years, the theater sat unused. In 1992, David Longenburger started an 8-year, $8.5 million renovation that made the theater better than ever. Since 2000, the venue has been a performance venue for live music and other performing arts events.
Pro Tip: If you’d like a Midland Theatre tour, call the Midland Theatre Box Office to coordinate a time.
6. Experience The Cherry Valley Hotel
When you check into the Cherry Valley Hotel, you can stay the entire weekend and never leave the property. Indoors welcoming fireplaces abound, with one having been converted to wood-burning so that you’ll enjoy that aroma of burning wood. Outdoor firepits allow you to enjoy s’mores.
Situated on 16 acres, the outdoor space on the property is unique, with lush gardens that are part of the National Garden Association. Cherry Valley Hotel is the only hotel in the United States with its own certified arboretum. Each room has a furnished outdoor space to enjoy the outdoors while waking up with the morning cup of coffee. The courtyard rooms offer views of the pond and gazebo.
You’ll find an indoor pool and jacuzzi with sliding glass doors that open one wall to the outside, which gives you the best of indoors and outdoors in the summer.
The hotel offers three dining options, the Lobby Bar that features live entertainment on the weekends, the O and E Taphouse offering pub food and bar snacks, and a fine-dining experience at the Craftsman Kitchen and Terrace Restaurant. The restaurant provides patio seating, weather permitting.
Pro Tip: If you’re into biking, the staff will store your bikes so that they don’t occupy space in your room.
7. Enjoy A Meal At Red Oak Pub And Restaurant
Continue the art theme with the black and white murals of local venues on Red Oak Pub and Restaurant’s walls. The locally owned, family-friendly restaurant is a great place to stop in for a burger and a beer. When a place serves 1,000 burgers a week, you know it must be good. Their meat is a custom blend of Ohio-raised, grass-fed beef, combining T-Bone, ribeye, and sirloin ground at a local butcher shop and mixed to juicy perfection. The burger covers the entire bun, so you have meat in every bite. Their burgers are also chargrilled rather than cooked on a flat top, which provides added flavor. While you can order a standard burger, they’ve had fun with the burgers, and you also have a choice from unusual treats like the Bologna Burger or the Peanut Butter Bacon Burger.
Pro Tip: Make a reservation; since Red Oak is popular with local diners, it prevents waiting.
8. Taste Some Craft Beer At Trek Brewing
We enjoyed Trek Brewing’s most popular beer, Canteen, so much at the O and E Taproom in the Cherry Valley Hotel, we had to go over and check out the brewery. Canteen, named for the vital part of any trek, is a crisp and refreshing cream ale. It’s light in color and body. Canteen is brewed traditionally with malted barley and corn balanced with Nugget hops. Trek Brewing brews all beer styles, so you’re sure to find something you like.
John and Kristin Ream created Trek Brewing as a hangout brewery, the third place to gather and meet with family and friends after home and work. They welcome the whole family and have designed a play area with chalkboard walls and toys that will occupy the grandkids while the adults chat over a craft beer or two.
Pro Tip: With over 9,000 square feet of patio space, it’s the perfect venue for social distancing.