Photo: Fireworks in night sky

Fireworks light the sky during in Marietta's annual Ohio River Sternwheeler Festival.

Photograph by Vinit Murthy, My Shot

Pop. 14,307
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 (www.mariettaohio.org/music); in winter the Marietta Brewing Company steps up with live blues and jazz (www.mariettabrewingcompany.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 (www.thewilds.org/visit/biking.asp).

PLAY

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).

EAT

Locals rave about Tampico Mexican Restaurant, which serves authentic bites in the middle of the Ohio River Valley (+1 740 374 8623).

SLEEP

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.

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