Located 45 miles south of Columbus within picturesque Deer Creek State Park, sprawling, flagstone-accented Deer Creek Resort and Conference Center is a woodland wonderland that's equally appealing to families and conventioneers seeking state-of-the-art facilities. Situated on the eastern edge of the Great Till Plains — named for the glacial debris that formed them — and adjacent to Deer Creek Lake, this serene, 3,600-acre property features indoor and outdoor swimming pools as well as a sauna, fitness center, tennis courts and walking trails.
The lodge's interior is both rustic and contemporary with Mission-style furniture, a soaring atrium lobby and jutting patios that are perfectly in line with its naturalist setting. Accommodations range from comfortable lodge rooms — all of which have balconies with forest, lake or pool views — to roomy, two-bedroom cottages with screened-in porches, charcoal grills and fire-pits. The historic Harding Cabin — built in 1918 as a retreat for its namesake president — was constructed by U.S. Attorney General Harry M. Daughterty at the close of WWI. Included in the National Register of Historic Landmarks, the quaint-but-cool eight-person cabin has been restored and is equipped with a full kitchen, stone fireplace and private boat dock. There's also a campground with 227 electric outlets, five rent-a-camp units and a primitive horseman's camp.
In the main lodge there are two dining options: The more upscale Rafter's Restaurant, is both casual and sophisticated with panoramic lake views through oversized windows. Animals are known to gather before the waterfront at sunset, offering a great backdrop from which to enjoy the menu's sustainable and organic dishes. Dark, bustling and loud, the adjacent Harding's Lounge is a popular choice for those looking to watch the game, snag a burger and sip a few brews.
Equally popular among wedding parties and businesses, full-fledged meeting facilities are housed in the resort's 12,000-square-foot conference and banquet center. Spaces accommodate up to 450 people and range from a grand ballroom to an executive boardroom — all of which have high-speed, wireless Internet access.
When it's time to kick back, recreational options abound. Beyond swimming in the pools or lounging on the beach, guests can rent bikes, play tennis, basketball, volleyball or shuffleboard or ride horses on fourteen miles of bridle trails. Open year-round, Deer Creek Lake allows unlimited horsepower boating on the 1,277-acre reservoir. A fully equipped, seasonal marina rents boats — from pontoons to paddleboats, motorboats and rowboats — as well as wave runners.
Not surprisingly, fishing for largemouth bass, early spring saugeye, white bass and catfish is a favorite pastime among licensed visitors. The lake is 40-feet at its deepest point near the dam, a man-made site created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. And hunting for pheasants, rabbits and deer is permitted in the adjacent wildlife area.
An eighteen-hole, 350-acre public golf course operated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources is open throughout the year and has a grass tee driving range, chipping area with sand traps, a putting green and a pro shop that carries a full line of golf apparel and equipment. Even history buffs will be fascinated by the park's Tick Ridge Mountain District, a registered historical landmark where Native American artifacts have been found.
Whatever your leanings and whatever the time of year, this resort promises to be a both a recreation enthusiast's dream and a respite for those looking to get away from the rigors of daily life.