Cleveland, Ohio is known for its vibrant energy and its beautiful waterfront, but if you want to get out of the city for the day, it also makes an excellent base for some excellent day trips.
The city's location on Lake Erie makes it easy to get to charming seaside resort towns and secluded swathes of wilderness, but if you're looking for something more exciting, check out the roller coasters at Cedar Point or the nostalgic rides at Conneaut Lake Park.
If you'd rather head inland, take a drive to Amish Country, where you can explore antique shops, heritage villages, and traditional working farms.
1. Lake Erie Islands
There's no shortage of beaches on the shores of the Great Lakes, but if you're looking for a more unique day trip or weekend destination, be sure to consider Lake Erie Islands in Ohio.
The most popular is South Bass Island and its charming village Put-in-Bay, which offers a choice of restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops. Kelleys Island and Middle Bass Island are great choices if you are looking for even more peace and quiet. All of these islands can be reached aboard Miller Ferries from the mainland.
Where to stay nearby: A Water's Edge Retreat
Conveniently located only 22 miles outside of Cleveland, the city of Avon offers a welcoming blend of small-town charm and big-city amenities. The town is full of locally owned shops selling everything from fresh produce to antique furniture, and if you're lucky enough to be here during the annual Aunt Tique and Uncle Junque garage sale, you'll certainly be able to find some unique treasures to take home. After an afternoon of shopping, stop at one of the city's excellent restaurants to refuel with wood-fired pizza, homemade ice cream, or a succulent steak before heading back to Cleveland.
3. Cedar Point
Fondly known as the roller coaster capital of the world, Cedar Point in Sandusky is a 364-acre amusement park that has been open since 1870.
Set on a peninsula on Lake Erie, the park boasts more than 70 exhilarating rides, including 18 roller coasters, a supersized swing that carries passengers more than 12 stories high, and a unique interactive adventure park.
The park also offers upgrades like an All-Day Dining Plan and a Fast Lane pass that allows visitors to skip the regular lines, and anyone who gets tired of the rides can take a wine tour, watch a glassblowing demonstration, or visit the petting zoo.
1 Cedar Point Dr, Sandusky, OH 44870
4. Amish Country
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Home to the largest Amish community in the world, Amish Country is a family-friendly destination where visitors can learn about Amish history and culture in a fun, interactive way.
Driving through the scenic countryside is an enjoyable activity in and of itself, and there are plenty of interesting places to stop along the way, including family-run wineries, artisan shops selling handmade candles and wooden furniture, and traditional Amish farmhouses open for tours.
Whatever you decide to do, you can be certain you don't need to pack a lunch; there are dozens of local restaurants serving up hearty roast beef, butter noodles, and homemade fruit pie.
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5. Conneaut Lake Park, PA
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Set on the western shore of Conneaut Lake in Pennsylvania, Conneaut Lake Park is a vintage theme park that looks much the same as it did 100 years ago. Many of the park's original rides are still in operation, including a circular ride from 1925 known as the 'Tumble Bug', and a charming carousel dating back to 1910. Other features include a public beach, a boardwalk overlooking the lake, and a mini golf course. Visitors are required to purchase a wristband in order to enjoy the rides.
12382 Center Street, Conneaut Lake, PA 16316, Phone: 814-382-5115
6. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
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Tucked between Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park boasts excellent hiking trails, a marsh teeming with wildlife, and sandstone gulches believed to be approximately 320 million years old. The park is home to more than 100 waterfalls as well, but the most popular is the spectacular 60-foot Brandywine Falls, which is just as breathtaking in the winter as it is in the summer. Unlike many other national parks, this one also encompasses several important pieces of man-made history, including several tiny historic villages and a scenic railroad that visitors can use to travel through the park in comfort.
7. Geneva State Park
Occupying almost 700 acres of land on the shore of Lake Erie, Geneva State Park is an excellent destination for anyone who wants to enjoy water recreation activities. The centerpiece of the park is its sandy 300-foot swimming beach, but if you'd rather stay on dry land, there are also six miles of multi-use trails and a picnic area with a horseshoe pit. The lake is also known for its excellent fishing, particularly when it comes to walleye, and visitors who want to get out on the lake are welcome to use the boat ramp at the Geneva Marina.
4499 Padanarum Rd, Geneva, OH 44041
One of the first resort towns in the state, Geneva-on-the-Lake was established in 1869 to provide visitors with everything they needed for an enjoyable vacation on Lake Erie. The town has done plenty of growing in the last century and a half, but its purpose hasn't changed; it's still one of the area's most popular vacation spots. Many visitors choose to spend the day at the beach or out on the lake, but there are plenty of things to do in the town as well, including arcades, wineries, and a heritage walking trail that leads past some of the area's most historic sites.
Surrounded by the rolling hills of Central Ohio, Granville is a charming New England style town established in 1805. The shady tree-lined streets of downtown offer plenty of boutique shops and cozy coffee houses, and visitors can easily stop by attractions like the historic Bryn Du Mansion, the Denison Museum, and a unique alligator mound built during prehistoric times. If you're looking for something more active to do, you can go for a swim in Lake Hudson, play a round of golf at the Denison Golf Club, or walk or cycle along the scenic TJ Evans Trail.
10. Headlands Beach State Park
Best known for its mile-long sandy beach, the biggest in Ohio, Headlands Beach State Park is one of the area's most popular summer destinations. The beach offers endless opportunities to swim and sunbathe during the summer months, and it offers plenty of amenities, including public restrooms, a picnic area with tables and barbecue grills, and a seasonal concession stand selling snacks and drinks. There is also a breakwater on one edge of the park, where visitors are welcome to fish for bass, salmon, carp, and more. During the winter, the park is open for cross-country skiing when conditions allow.
9601 Headlands Rd, Mentor, OH 44060
Kids will love: Kalahari Resorts
11. Huntington Reservation
Situated on the shore of Lake Erie in Bay Village, Huntington Reservation is a 103-acre park home to a wide variety of botanical specimens brought over from Europe. The trails that wind their way through the park are excellent for bird watching and wildlife spotting, but most visitors are drawn here by the beach, which offers an abundance of opportunities for swimming, fishing, and boating. A lifeguard is on duty during peak times in the summer, but if you'd rather stay out of the water, you can settle in at one of the picnic areas overlooking the lake to enjoy stunning views of the water.
28728 Wolf Picnic Area Dr, Bay Village, OH 44140, Phone: 216-635-3200
Despite what you might guess from its name, the city of Huron can be found on the southern shore of Lake Erie. Like most of the other small cities and towns on the shores of the Great Lakes, Huron is known for its laid-back atmosphere and its incredible views of the water, and it's the perfect place to spend a day at the beach. If you're traveling with children, Huron Lake Front Park offers both a playground and an inviting stretch of sand, but if you want a more peaceful experience, check out the lesser-known Nickel Plate Beach.
If you'd like to trade the busy streets of Cleveland for the hustle and bustle of an even bigger metropolis, you should be planning a day trip to Columbus. You could easily spend hours strolling the streets of the city's various neighborhoods; no matter where you end up, you'll likely end up taking a break at one of the many farm-to-table restaurants or cafes serving locally roasted coffee. However, if you'd like a more structured visit, your options include the fascinating Center of Science and Industry, the kid-friendly LEGOLAND Discovery Center, and the National Veterans Memorial and Museum downtown.
14. Madison County
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Named in honor of James Madison, the fourth President of the United States, Madison County is an all-American agricultural community that welcomes visitors with open arms. The county is at its busiest during the Madison County Fair in July, which offers attractions like horse racing, livestock shows, and tractor pulls, but it's an excellent place to visit year-round. Drive from town to town to explore their unique shops and homey restaurants, stopping at farm markets and honey farms along the way, and take a break to stretch your legs in one of the area's beautiful parks when you get tired of being in the car.
4601 Payne Ave, Cleveland, OH 44103, Phone: 216-851-8833
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Sitting on a rocky peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic, Marblehead is a charming seaside town with humble fishing village roots. Today, the town has more of a summer resort feel, and it offers an excellent selection of seafood restaurants, boutique shops, and yacht clubs. The historic center also boasts around 300 colonial-era homes, all of which have historical plaques, and visitors often spend their time simply strolling around town and admiring the architecture. Before you leave, make sure to take a drive down Marblehead Neck to see the lighthouse and marvel at the beautiful view of the harbor.
16. Maumee Bay State Park
Established in 1975, Maumee Bay State Park consists of more than 1,300 acres of land on the shore of Lake Erie. However, it's not the landscape you might expect; much of the terrain here is the result of the convergence of the land and the water, and it's a swampy marshland that can be thought of as a northern version of the Florida Everglades. These wetlands are crisscrossed by several miles of trails, and visitors can learn about the park's environment and history at the beautiful nature center, which also offers an interpretive boardwalk trail.
1400 State Park Road, Oregon, OH 43616, Phone: 419-836-7758
The largest city in Ohio's Amish Country, Millersburg is located approximately halfway between Columbus and Cleveland. The biggest attractions here are Yoder's Amish Home and the historic Victorian House, but after you've seen these, the main thing to do is stroll around town. The oldest part of the town was laid out in 1815, and although it's still home to only a few thousand people, its charming streets boast plenty of historic buildings and antique stores. The roads around Millersburg are full of small shops as well, so allow time to stop and check out the wares on your way to and from the city.
18. Day Trips Near Me: Mohican State Park
Nestled in the heart of the 4,500-acre Mohican Memorial State Forest, Mohican State Park is a truly stunning piece of northeastern Ohio. There are all sorts of short hiking trails for visitors to explore, many of which lead to attractions like Lyons Falls and Clear Fork Gorge. If you're looking for a real challenge, there's also an incredible 25-mile trail that loops around the gorge, passing through the adjacent state forest. Visitors can also canoe, kayak, and tube down the 27-mile Clear Fork River, which is well stocked with brown trout for visitors to fish.
3116 OH-3, Loudonville, OH 44842, Phone: 419-994-4290
19. National Museum of the Great Lakes
© National Museum of the Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are one of the world's most significant natural resources, and the National Museum of the Great Lakes was created to pay homage to these magnificent bodies of water and the important role they've played in the history of North America. Visitors will learn what the lakes meant to 17th-century fur traders, 19th-century freed slaves escaping on the Underground Railway, and 20th-century rum runners, and they will also have the opportunity to explore two historic museum ships. The museum is open year-round, but the ships are only open to visitors between May and October.
1701 Front St, Toledo, OH 43605, Phone: 419-214-5000
20. Pelee Island
There aren't many places in Canada you can get to on a day trip from Ohio, but Pelee Island is one of them. This little island in Lake Erie is the southernmost inhabited place in Canada, and thanks to its location on two bird migration routes, it's a popular destination for birdwatchers. Other notable attractions include the Pelee Island Winery, the summer Saturday farmer's market, and a historic lighthouse built in 1833. The best way to get here is by taking a ferry from Sandusky, but you'll want to make a reservation as ferries often fill up days in advance.
21. Presque Isle State Park
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Located on a 3,200-acre sand spit that juts out into Lake Erie, Presque Isle State Park is the only accessible piece of "seashore" in Pennsylvania. The park provides plenty of opportunities for recreation both on and off the water; almost every type of boat is welcome on the lake, and there is excellent fishing to be had on both sides of the peninsula. Visitors who would rather stay on dry land can relax on the sandy beaches or explore the park's 11 miles of trails, which lead through a variety of ecosystems including sand dunes, marshes, forest, and of course, the shoreline.
301 Peninsula Dr, Erie, PA 16505, Phone: 814-833-7424
22. Pro Football Hall of Fame
© Pro Football Hall of Fame
If you're an avid sports fan, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is one of the best day trips you can take from Cleveland. Established in 1963, it serves as a tribute to the professional players who made football what it is today, and its awe-inspiring exhibits include a gallery filled with bronze busts of every Hall of Famer, an exhibit that chronicles the history of every Super Bowl, and a holographic theater that tells personal stories about football legends like Vince Lombardi and Jim Kelly. Visitors are advised to allow between 3 and 4 hours for a complete tour.
2121 George Halas Dr NW, Canton, OH 44708, Phone: 330-456-8207
23. Quarry Park
Formerly a working rock quarry, Quarry Park is now a popular destination for swimming, sunbathing, and cliff jumping. Visitors are welcome to spread out their towels and relax on the quartz and sandstone cliffs, but there is also an inviting beach area with a lifeguard and a roped-off swim area. Daring visitors can even go scuba diving, and there are several local dive schools that offer courses for beginners. An admission fee must be paid to use the park, and amenities include showers, picnic areas, a sand volleyball court, two fishing ponds, and a large children's playground.
12001 Route 282, Nelson Ledge Rd Garrettsville, Ohio, Phone: 440-548-2716
Found in Amish Country, the little village of Sugarcreek is often referred to as "The Little Switzerland of Ohio" thanks to its tradition of making Swiss cheese. Visitors will be charmed by the beautiful Swiss murals and architecture downtown, but the culture here is Amish at heart, and there are plenty of artisan shops selling quilts, handcrafted furniture, and traditional Amish food. If you're interested in learning more about how the Amish people live and work, make sure to stop by the Farm at Walnut Creek, which features a blacksmith shop, a petting zoo, and two authentic farmhouses.
25. The Wilds
One of the biggest wildlife conservation centers in the world, The Wilds is home to an incredible variety of rare and endangered animals, including giraffes, rhinos, zebras, and more. Visitors can take a safari-style tour to see the animals roaming around in their natural habitat, and if you'd like a more in-depth experience, you can also book an exclusive Wildside Tour that will give you the unique opportunity to see the center's staff at work. The center is only open to walk-in visitors between May and October, but special tours are available by reservation during the rest of the year.
14000 International Rd, Cumberland, OH 43732, Phone: 740-638-5030
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