Welcome to Marietta, Ohio! A charismatic, inviting, historical town located on the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers. Marietta oozes charm and is notably proud of its distinguishable, rich history.
Marietta was the first permanent organized settlement of the Northwest Territory, serving as the catalyst for the northwestward expansion of the new United States. Marietta is also is home to many earthworks and played an important role in the Underground Railroad.
Prior to your visit, you may want to read David McCullough’s highly acclaimed, The Pioneers, which tells the story of the settling of the Northwest Territory, which largely took place in Marietta.
Upon entering Marietta, crossing over either the Muskingum or Ohio River, it’s instantly recognizable that this is a unique town, evidenced by the charming brick streets, lovely Victorian architecture, and old trolley tracks.
Nic and I had the pleasure of visiting Marietta and we can now attest that it is an absolute must-visit – especially if you are an Ohioan! Here are our top things to do in Marietta, in no particular order… let’s get to it!
1. BIKE THE MARIETTA RIVER TRAIL.
Rent bikes from Marietta Adventure Company and hit the paved 3.4-mile River Trail, situated alongside the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers! You’ll see numerous historical markers located on the trail. Pro tip: Take a cruise at sunrise or sunset, which is a teaser for #10 on this list! 🙂
2. EAT GOOD FOOD.
There is a plethora of fantastic dining options in Marietta! Enjoy Italian on the patio at Spagna’s or a tasty breakfast at Busy Bee in Harmar Village. For fine dining, try steak or seafood at Austyn’s, Mediterranean fare at The Buckley House, or the ever-changing + fresh menu at newly opened + historic Barker House. Grab a coffee from Jeremiah’s Coffee House, located on Front Street. In a BBQ mood? Try Boathouse BBQ on the river.
3. MARVEL AT THE HISTORICAL HOMES.
Peruse down Fifth Street to see the unique, beautiful homes featuring stunning architectural elements, including the Cotton House, an 1853 Greek Revival, and the House of Seven Porches (yes, that’s right, there are seven)! The Wilcox-Mills House is home to Marietta College’s President. Venture to Fourth Street to tour The Castle, a stunning 1856 Gothic Revival home.
4. TAKE A TROLLEY TOUR.
Hop on the 1.5 hour Trolley Tour to learn all about the rich history of Marietta! The tour departs from the Visitor Center in the Armory. Enjoy a tour of Marietta from guides that know it best (we can attest Harley Noland was wonderful)!
The tour highlights the Victorian Front Street shops, First Congregational Church, Start Westward Monument, Ohio River Museum, W.P Snyder JR. towboat, Campus Martius Museum, David Putnam House, Historic Harmar Village, Henry Fearing Museum, Mound Cemetery, Marietta College, The Castle Museum and historic Churches. The Trolley Tour is a Marietta MUST!
5. TOUR THE MUSEUMS.
To fully grasp the past of Marietta and its important role in Ohio history, browse the exhibits in its local museums. Campus Martius houses General Rufus Putnam’s blockhouse, part of the civilian fortification that was built in 1788. Fun fact: In 1788, the first band of pioneers set out from New England for the Northwest Territory under the leadership of Revolutionary War veteran General Rufus Putnam, settling in what is now Marietta. The Ohio Company Land Office, the oldest known building in Ohio, was also moved to the museum site.
The Ohio River Museum showcases the past of river life, highlighting steamboats and ecology of the river. Outside of the museum, take a tour of the W.P. SNYDER JR. – the last intact steam-powered “pool-type” stern-wheeled towboat in the United States.
6. SHOP FOR HOURS DOWNTOWN.
Downtown Marietta is home to numerous charming, vibrant shops! To touch on just a few, Wit & Whimzy, The Cook’s Shop, and Just a Jar Design Press are local favorites. As are American Flags & Poles, Teri Ann’s, and the Schafer Leather Store, all of which have been in business for years!
7. BOARD THE VALLEY GEM STERNWHEELER.
Have a drink, sit back, and enjoy a serene tour around Marietta Island in the Ohio River on the Valley Gem Sternwheeler.
8. RELISH IN THE NIGHTLIFE.
Catch some live music at The Adelphia Music Hall, grab a micro-brew at Marietta Brewing Co., enjoy a drink while noshing on the “Soon to be Famous Fried Bologna Sandwich” at Harmar Tavern, or go for a speakeasy/lounge vibe at the newly opened 740 Social. For a glass of wine along the Muskingum River, House of Wines is a must!
9. BUY SOME PRETTY FLOWERS.
For those that personally know me, you didn’t think I could craft this list without mentioning the gorgeous florals in Marietta, right?! 🙂 First up, Passiflora Studio in Harmar Village. Passiflora sells GORGEOUS bouquets during their Flower Bike Friday, at their studio, 9AM – 1PM. You also can’t miss Wildroot Flower Co. – it’s a U-Pick farm that hosts workshops and also has a CSA flower subscription service.
10. SEE THE SUNRISE + SUNSET ALONG THE OHIO RIVER.
We may have saved the best for last! The color from the sunrise and sunset is fantastic and will complete your trip to this charming Ohio town on the river.
This list rounds up some of the very best in Marietta, Ohio! But, there is more to be explored! If you go for an overnight trip, we recommend The Lafayette Hotel, The Hackett Hotel, or this Airbnb in Harmar.
Please share – what are your favorite spots in Marietta? Leave a comment, below! 🙂