GPS: 39°25'N 81°26'W
The biggest hamlet in Ohio's Appalachian foothills, bucolic Marietta is set where the winding Ohio meets the Muskingum River. Locals hit the banks for Music on the Levee, a summerlong open-air concert series (http://www.mariettaohio.org/entertainment); in winter the Marietta Brewing Company steps up with live blues and jazz (http://mbcpub.com/). Paddlers ply the Little Muskingum alongside century-old covered bridges, while mountain bikers take to trails in the Wilds, a wildlife conservation park with rhinos, zebras, and giraffes (https://thewilds.columbuszoo.org/).
Winding beside the Covered Bridge Scenic Byway, the Little Muskingum River provides a peaceful paddle through the Wayne National Forest. Marietta Harbor rents pontoon boats to explore the area ($400 for a day; +1 740 374 3600).
Locals rave about Tampico Mexican Restaurant, which serves authentic bites in the middle of the Ohio River Valley (+1 740 374 8623).
Overlook the Ohio and Muskingum rivers from your room in the historic Lafayette Hotel (doubles from $55; www.lafayettehotel.com). A few times a year, a Delta Queen steamboat will dock at the levee below.