luxury hotel, Loudonville, Ohio, castle
Just where you least expect it: A luxury castle inn in the middle of rural Ohio.

Why I love small town travel

Like John Mellencamp, I was born in a small town, and I’ve spent most of my life in small towns. So I appreciate the value that small towns bring. Over the years, my husband and I have taken to seeking out what we call “Little America” as we travel – those off-the-beaten path places where real people, real America still exist.

Small town travel in Ohio

Earlier this year, we discovered three Ohio towns that fit the small town travel description: Loudonville, Wooster and Delaware. Each one is charming in its own way, seeped with nostalgia, history – and even a little luxury.

Small town travel: Delaware, Ohio

About 30 minutes north of Columbus, Delaware feels like a 1950s movie set. The main street (Sandusky Street) is lined with cute shops and restaurants. The city is also the hometown of Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th president of the United States and one of eight U.S. presidents who hailed from Ohio – more than any other state.

Delaware, Ohio, antiques

We found a delightful, well-curated antique store, Sandusky Street Antiques, right on the main street. It’s full of truly fabulous treasures at really great prices.

Antique store, Ohio
Antiques and vintage finds are wonderfully curated in this three-floor antique paradise.

Where to eat in Delaware, Ohio

Whatever you do, don’t eat before you go to Delaware, because you do not want to miss The Hamburger Inn, an old-school diner that started in 1932. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time, and the prices feel retro, as well. And the cinnamon rolls are perhaps the best I’ve ever eaten.

cinnamon roles, old-school diner, Ohio
The cinnamon rolls are to die for at The Hamburger Inn in Delaware, Ohio.

Next stop: Loudonville, Ohio

About an hour northeast of Delaware is Loudonville, known as the Canoe Capital of Ohio. The picturesque Mohican River flows through the town, and it’s also the home of Mohican State Park

Where to stay in Loudonville

In the midst of this rich natural world is an unexpected delight: a luxury castle inn. Landoll’s Mohican Castle is inspired by the great European castles but was built near Loudonville in the late 1990s by Jim Landoll, founder of the Landoll Publishing Company.

The castle itself features 11 luxurious suites, and outbuildings and cottages provide additional rooms. Our suite, the Gale Suite, in the main castle included a fireplace, a fabulous jacuzzi tub, a separate kitchen and living area and an incredibly comfortable king-size bed. It was truly divine.

Shrimp and grits
The shrimp and grits at the Black Fork Bistro in Loudonville, Ohio.

Where to eat in Loudonville

The castle has a restaurant, the Copper Mug Bar & Grille, which is convenient if you want a secluded stay at the castle. Otherwise, I’d suggest the Black Fork Bistro in downtown Loudonville. The salads and burgers were delicious, and the shrimp and grits were to die for.

Wooster, Ohio
Wooster, Ohio, is a charming small town with a hip, artsy vibe.

Small town travel: Wooster, Ohio

On to Wooster, a 20-minute drive from Loudonville. Wooster is home to Wooster College, and the town has a hip, artsy vibe while keeping its small-town charm. The Secrest Arboretum is lovely, and the area is filled with wineries, including Troutman Vineyards, Blue Barn Winery and Lincoln Way Vineyards.

My husband, ever the comedian, enjoying himself with the dinosaur statue at Landoll’s Mohican Castle.

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