The adorable and charming town of Marietta is known as the oldest town in Ohio with a history that was strategic in the positioning of the Revolutionary War. The strategy of carving out a settlement on the Confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers was led by Marietta’s founding father General Rufus Putnam. Marietta is also known for its iconic Sternwheelers and local historic buildings that are now beautiful hotels, B&Bs, boutique shops, restaurants, & preserved sites for visitors to enjoy along the Ohio River.
Marietta has been on the rise as a destination small town for years, and that’s because new businesses are seeing the potential to offer visitors great experiences, food, & more while highlighting Marietta’s important, historical past. If you’re looking for a unique experience for your next road trip Marietta should be top of your list.
Your Quick Run Down of Marietta’s Important History
”Marietta, Ohio was founded in 1788, the oldest town in Ohio, but the area’s history goes much further back. The Adena and Hopewell cultures built large earthworks structures now surrounded by charming Victorian mansions. Visiting Marietta allows you to step back in time. Walk in the footsteps of Native Americans, Revolutionary & Civil War soldiers and New England pioneers (hiddenmarietta.com).”
Now You Can Explore The Home of General Rufus Putnam And More Through Hidden Marietta
One of my favorite experiences while visiting Marietta, was discovering the offerings through a nonprofit called Hidden Marietta. My Town explored “The Anchorage” also known as Elmwood, Putnam’s Folly, & Putnam’s Villa. The experience is more than memorable, as it gives a glimpse into the past while also being spookily entertained.
This organization has a great mix of teaching the true history of The Oldest Town in Ohio and combining it with additional folklore and ghostly stories & encounters. I am a complete scaredy-cat when it comes to ghost tours of any kind- and Marietta is a place you can find them!
But Hidden Marietta has a different approach to how they tour. They combine historical facts and must-see locations making their experiences as fun as they are educational. Don’t get me wrong, they can be spooky if that’s what you’re into. But if being scared is not your goal, the job of the guide is not to scare you, but to let you experience what’s truly there, and you can decide that for yourself….
What To Expect From Tours
“Hear the stories of remarkable lives, shop in the historic buildings they built, visit their mansions and discover what may yet linger in the shadows. Unlock the secrets of the past with Hidden Marietta. On our tours, we will uncover the hidden history of the town’s darker past: crime, disasters, eccentric characters, and ancient history. We will take you around town on walking tours and inside historic buildings to experience Marietta’s history for yourself” (hiddenmarietta.com).
Additional Experiences You Don’t Want To Miss
You will board from Point Park on 2nd Street in Parkersburg. Once on the island, you can explore the Blennerhassett Mansion and several other historical buildings, jump on a horse-drawn carriage, or explore the island on foot or on a bike. The history here is truly fascinating. Regarding the Blennerhassett’s; the story of these wealthy Irish aristocrats is quite infamous. Wealth, Treason, Deceit, Spies, and tons of secrecy. I will let you discover the story for yourself….
Have you ever ridden an authentic Steamboat? When in Marietta, this iconic experience known to the area should be on the top of your list.
Not only do you get a relaxing, and scenic trip on the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers, but you get narrated history as you float along. Plus, the Valley Gem has a family story of its own. It’s been run by several generations of the Sands family, and their tradition is currently being carried on by Captain Jason (J.J.) Sands. Click here to read their story.
Nowadays everyone wants a unique experience when they travel. While in Marietta, you have a lot to choose from, but a super fun way to learn the history and the “lay of the land” of Marietta is on Segway! You will ride on the Riverwalks and Sidewalks all over Marietta that pass beautiful scenery and historic locations.
It only takes s a few minutes to learn how to ride one of these, and then you are off on your historical tour! You are given an earpiece to hear your guide. Then you can just glide along and enjoy the ride while listening to the narration of what you’re passing along the way! Click here for video.
Get Your Marietta History In Two Special Locations
Marietta is known for its iconic Sternwheeler History. Located on the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers, Marietta was a THE DESTINATION for River Boat Merchants from the late 1700s into the 1950s.
At the Ohio River Museum, you can experience what this massive River Boating industry would have been like.
The highlight: Exploring the W.P. Snyder. The last “pool type” boat of its kind, The W.P. Snyder gives you a glimpse into the world of a living and working on a real Steamboat. You can explore all its decks including the pilothouse (where I am pictured) and staterooms!
It’s a unique experience into the past that’s preserved, but not recreated, so it’s completely authentic!
A Sister Museum to The Ohio River Museum is the Campus Martius Museum. Celebrating Marietta’s founding as the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory, this museum walks you through the early pioneers of Marietta. Learn how Marietta was settled, why it’s named after Marie Antoinette, and all you need to know about Marietta’s journey through the French-Indian, Revolutionary, and Civil Wars.
The Delicious and Delectable of Marietta
A local favorite, the Galley is a great place to get delicious pub-style food in a beautiful, historic renovated space. Known for their burgers, their Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger will not leave you disappointed. Pair it with a seasonal or local beer on tap!
Continuing your exploration of historic places in Marietta, you must make a stop for lunch or dinner at Levee House. Located on Ohio Street, this restaurant is the only remaining original riverfront structure in Historic Marietta. The atmosphere is great (eat outside with a river view as an option, see pictured) and the food is fantastic. It’s another way to explore Marietta’s past.
My Town has eaten at Tampico’s several times before we arranged an “official” trip. Why? Because they offer excellent Mexican cuisine at great prices in a wonderful downtown location. Plus, their margaritas are amazing! There is nothing my Town loves more than a taco and a margarita after a long day!
This is a place after My Town’s heart! Here is their opening welcome statement: “In 2015, the Lang sisters came together with a big idea! A beautiful place to relax and enjoy the perfect cup of coffee, take in the beauty of historic downtown Marietta, and celebrate all that is life in a small town. The result is Jeremiah’s Coffee House!”(jeremiahscoffeehouse.com/welcome)
Pretty much every location visited by My Town with this kind of attitude is going to be a My Town Go To! The baked goods here were wonderful, especially their donuts- I love trying local donuts in every town I visit. I do this mostly to bring them back for my boys, and I have yet to find a place that rivals my current hometown’s donuts from Donut World. Yes, they are that good!
But I have to say, Jeremiah’s turned my head with their donut and baked goods quality. I brought some home and sure enough, my kiddos approved per our Donut World Standard! Plus, I also loved their pepperoni rolls!
One of the newest locations in downtown Marietta, this location is offering the must-have vibe for those after work or after dinner drinks. Additionally, when you pass by you’ll see that its outdoor space is currently one of the most popular in town!
Unique – Interesting -Yours – of Marietta
What is it about a town that makes it special? A local attraction or event, a family-owned business that has been there forever? A piece of history you can’t find anywhere else, or a bookstore with just the right vibe? Here are a few of the Unique, Interesting, Yours, of Marietta.
Wouldn’t you be intrigued by a hotel whose tagline is “A Grand Riverboat Era Hotel”?? That’s exactly what this historic landmark is, also named after the Marquis de Lafayette who came ashore to Marietta, this location has been a hotel since 1892.
The hotel retains its historic charm in every room, with vintage pieces, like the secretary in My Town’s room (see pictures in Marietta gallery). There is a great on-site bar, restaurant, and one of THE BEST breakfasts for the price My Town’s ever had served in their “Gun Room.” No continental breakfast here! Full eggs, bacon, and pancakes. Yes, please! Additionally, the best part of this historic hotel is the view. Located right on the Ohio River, you can wake up to the hustle and bustle of the river, its beauty, and Starbucks Coffee from the shop downstairs!
While technically a museum, this is a collection unlike any other and a fun way to see something truly unique to Marietta. Owner Bill Peoples started the museum as a personal collection of one-of-a-kind items associated with mourning & the funeral business. Highlights include coffins and horse-drawn hearses.
But the museum also pays tribute to how funerals used to be displayed in homes, and what items were used throughout the last two centuries. It’s a unique historical journey like no other. Make sure to check out the “Ice Box Casket” and the “Studebaker President” (the last known of only six built), two of My Town’s favorites from the tour. The Museum is located behind the Cawley & Peoples Marietta chapel. Make sure to call ahead to schedule a tour.
The Castle & Historic Henderson Hall
If you love visiting historic homes while traveling, then you will love The Castle and Henderson Hall. The Castle is a beautifully preserved 1855 Gothic-Revival house where you can explore life in Marietta and those who lived there from this era! Learn how the landscape has changed, what you could see from the house when built versus now, and what sort of family could afford this type of home.
Additionally, located right across the river in West Virginia is Historic Henderson Hall. While not directly in Marietta, it’s so close you cannot miss this 29-room, perfectly preserved, Victorian-era, Italianate-style mansion. The mansion is on an estate that was owned by the same family for five generations, the last of which did not pass away until 2007.
Inside you get to see all the generational artifacts such as their actual belongings, priceless antiques, original linens, and important documents & family letters. These documents catalog everything from wartime activities, business affairs, and even a real-life duel! It’s a very well-preserved look into the true life of this plantation home. It was built on a beautiful terrace overlooking the Ohio River completed in 1859 using brick, stone, and timber from the Henderson property.
MTT Antique and Market Finds
Great Antique Shops, Boutiques, and Farmers Markets are familiar sights in small towns. This can include Thrift Shops, Local Eats, and The Like! In Marietta, there are great unique finds all over downtown. Here a a few of My Town’s Favorite Finds.
A Note From My Town & Photo Gallery
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