Ohio is full of hidden gems. Fort Ancient is one of them.
Located in Oregonia, OH, this National Historic Landmark boasts the largest and best-preserved manmade earthworks in the country. It’s 100 acres of beautiful mounds that were used for protection, ceremonies, functional and social purposes a long, long time ago. Fort Ancient is a living lesson in Ohio history that will definitely leave an impression on your kids. Even at 6, 4 and 2, my kids were interested and engaged as we spent an afternoon exploring this Warren County treasure!
Here are 5 kid-friendly things to do at Fort Ancient:
Hike the trails
Fort Ancient is beautiful — stunning, actually. The forests are lush and the light shines hazily through the trees. Hiking through these trails, you’ll see several mounds up-close, and really feel like you’ve stepped back in time. There are quite a few trails to explore; the Connector Trail is a great place for families to start. It’s just a quarter-mile long, so even little preschool legs can handle it. There are several other trails that are each less than a mile, so families have lots of hiking options at Fort Ancient. (My advice? Bring boots! Rain boots kept my kids’ feet dry and protected from sticks and shrubs on the trail.)
Learn about the earthworks
My kids were very intrigued by these large, man-made mounds — especially when history-loving Daddy explained that the mounds were all built by hand! These mounds helped the Hopewell people tell time and determine season changes, and we were all amazed at how this process worked. Their physicality makes you feel very connected to the past.
Explore the children’s museum
Museums aren’t always the most accessible for kids, but Fort Ancient has an entire room just for kids in its museum! There’s a dress-up area, instruments corner and several different stations with tools and artifacts for kids to interact and play with. For older kids, there’s a scavenger hunt through the museum that my husband really wanted to do.
Check out the garden
This was my favorite discovery. Just outside the children’s museum is an enclosed garden with hand-built replicas of Hopewell structures. These are just the right size for kids to explore, and mine loved going in and out of each one! The bark siding, stick frames and mud cement will surely impress and inspire any construction-loving kid.
When I was in fourth grade, there was a year-long segment about Ohio history. Although I learned about Fort Ancient then, I (regrettably) had never visited until now. For kids (and adults), you really have to experience history to get a good grasp on it. Hearing about the Hopewell earthworks is one thing; seeing them up close is another. The earthworks at Fort Ancient are beautiful, well-preserved pieces of the past, and definitely worth checking out.