This post is written by Robbie Banks, Senior Visitor Experience Manager for Experience Columbus and program manager for the Greater Columbus Tourism Ambassador Program.

HH2My mother, three sisters and five nieces recently spent a weekend in Hocking Hills, our family’s first girls’ getaway. The ages ranged from five to 73 with various activity levels. Prior to the trip, we took a poll of who was interested in doing various activities and assigned meal preparation to teams of two where we were responsible for planning the meal and bringing the necessary food. Our weekend trip was not only fun, but it was inexpensive. And, we managed to select a weekend with perfect weather—low to high 70’s.

Day one: We carpooled from Columbus and arrived at the Creekside Cottage at Humm Inn Haven in late afternoon. The spacious three-bedroom, three bathroom cottage was completely stocked with bed linens, towels, cookware, kitchen supplies and outdoor grill—all we had to bring was food, beverages and charcoal. Soon after we arrived, five of us departed for Hocking Hills Canopy Tours.

HH1Since we only had time for a brief activity before dinner, we chose the SuperZip.* My heart raced as they hooked us on the line as this was my first time zip-lining, but I felt better that I would be zipping alongside my sister in the "super hero" flying position. It was an exhilarating experience, and I will try the Canopy Tour during my next visit. While half of us were zip-lining, two of my sisters prepared dinner, and the others took in the beauty of our outdoor surroundings. We ate dinner on the patio deck and made s’mores. Later that night, a few of my nieces and I soaked in the hot tub on the deck.

Old Man's Cave 2013Day two: We had breakfast at the cottage before setting out for a few hours of hiking at Old Man’s Cave. Though it was my first time there, it appeared to be a popular attraction as it was full of people and dogs. My family stopped several times to take in the nature, snap photos and eat our packed lunches. Ice cream from the visitor center was our post-hike treat. We returned to the cottage to freshen up and eat dinner. The second day ended with much laughter over a game of Taboo.

Hocking Hills Canoe Livery 2013Day three: After packing up the cars, we headed to our last group activity: canoeing at Hocking Hills Canoe Livery.** We selected Trip A since we are not canoeing experts, and it took us about two hours. No one tipped their canoes though we got stuck a few times! Finally, we enjoyed the buffet next door at Olde Dutch Restaurant—a place that my mother had been wanting to try for years—before heading home to Columbus.

My family agreed that we will make this an annual trip and look forward to returning to experience even more of the Hocking Hills area.

*As a Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) for Greater Columbus, I got to zip for free as Hocking Hills Canopy Tours provided CTAs with one free SuperZip as part of the 2013 National Travel & Tourism Week.

**I used a discount available through the CTA Freebies and Discounts program—another benefit of being a CTA!