Ohio is one of the Midwest's most charming states, stretching between the Ohio River landscape in the south and picturesque Lake Erie along its northern border. Regional residents and visitors can get to a plethora of nationally-renowned attractions within easy day driving distance, including world-class theme parks such as Kings Island and Cedar Point, known as "America's Roller Coast." Major cities such as Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland are home to award-winning theaters, zoos, and museums, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the National Museum of the United States Air Force. The city's 19th-century history is preserved throughout its charming small towns, including the Historic Zoar Village and the Amish Country towns of Holmes County.
Cleveland is a beautiful Ohio city located along the southern shores of Lake Erie, originally founded in 1796 and named in honor of General Moses Cleaveland. Today, the city is Ohio's second-largest city, known for its stunning historic architecture, which is considered to be an exemplary instance of works pertaining to the City Beautiful movement. Visitors can explore the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which inducts seminal figures in rock and popular music each year, or see performances at the city's Playhouse Square, the second-largest performing arts complex in the United States behind New York City's famed Lincoln Center. Other attractions include the renowned Cleveland Orchestra, the acclaimed Cleveland Museum of Art, and the lovely green chain of the Cleveland Metroparks system.
Columbus is the state capital of Ohio, best known as the home of the renowned Ohio State University, one of the United States' largest public universities. Visitors can attend prestigious sports games at the university, including home games by the acclaimed Ohio State Buckeyes collegiate football team, widely considered to be one of the nation's best college football programs. The renowned COSI Science Center offers learning experiences for visitors of all ages, while the Columbus Museum of Art is home to seminal American and European paintings and sculptures. Other attractions include the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, ranked as the nation's best zoo by USA Travel Guide. Annual special events in the city include the Ohio State Fair, one of the nation's largest state fairs, and the Rock on the Range music festival, which hosts top acts such as Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
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Athens is best known as the home of Ohio University, located approximately 65 miles southeast of Columbus along the banks of the beautiful Hocking River. The lively, progressive city is known for its vibrant college events and nightlife, including its massive, internationally-recognized Halloween Block Party, which draws more than 30,000 partygoers each year. Hip restaurants, coffee shops, bars, concert venues, and movie theaters line Court Street, which is filled with students and tourists alike late into the evening hours. Museums and theaters include the Dairy Barn Arts Center, the Kennedy Museum of Art, and the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery children's museum. The designated Tree City USA is also home to a wide variety of outdoor recreational opportunities at sites such as nearby Strouds Run State Park and Sells Park, which feature trails connected to the Athens Trail Network multi-use trail system.
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Canton is one of northeast Ohio's most vibrant cities, best known as the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which pays tribute to the greatest players of the National Football League throughout the years. Visitors can peruse permanent and traveling exhibitions related to the creation of the National Football League at the Hall of Fame, which hosts an annual induction ceremony with public festivities. The city is also known as the home of 25th United States President William McKinley, who is honored at the McKinley National Memorial and the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum. Over the past decade, the city has experienced a major urban renaissance thanks to programming by arts organizations such as the Canton Museum of Art, which hosts events such as the monthly First Friday art crawl celebration.
5.Cedar Point Amusement Park
Cedar Point Amusement Park is frequently considered to be the greatest amusement park in the world, home to a world-record 72 rides, including 17 record-breaking one-of-a-kind roller coasters. The 364-acre amusement park, which is located on a peninsula jutting into scenic Lake Erie, was originally opened to the public in 1870. Today, it operates daily between May and September, with extended autumn hours during the park's HalloWeekends celebration. World-renowned rides such as Maverick, Magnum XL-200, Millennium Force, and Top Thrill Dragster earn the park a designation as the only amusement park in the world to feature rides in all four coaster height classifications. Other attractions at the park include the outdoor Cedar Point Shores waterpark, the luxurious Hotel Breakers, and a one-mile stretch of public white sand beach along the Lake Erie coastline.
1 Cedar Point Dr, Sandusky, OH 44870, Phone: 419-627-2350
Chagrin Falls is a lovely village in Ohio's Cuyahoga County, named in honor of its beautiful waterfall of the same name, which is located along the Chagrin River in the city's downtown district. The charming village, which was established in 1844, is known for its National Register of Historic Places-listed 19th-century buildings in its downtown district, which showcases vibrant shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Visitors can catch plays at the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre, one of the United States' oldest community theaters, or explore local history at the Chagrin Falls Historical Society's public museum. Major annual special events include the Art By the Falls art show, hosted each year in the city's downtown district in June.
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Cincinnati is considered to be the first fully American city, as it was the first city to be founded in the nation following the American Revolution. Today, the vibrant southwestern Ohio metropolis is home to more than two million residents, known throughout the nation for world-class sporting teams like the Cincinnati Bengals football team and the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. Visitors can soak in the city's lively arts and culture scene at attractions such as the Art Deco-style Cincinnati Museum Center, the historic Findlay Market, and the nationally-recognized Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. Hip neighborhood Over-the-Rhine is noted for its historic architecture, craft microbreweries, and annual festivals. The city's culinary scene is noted as one of the most unique in the nation, home to renowned regional chains like the Greek-style Skyline Chili and French pot-style ice cream parlor Graeter's.
COSI, formally known as the Center of Science and Industry, is a nationally-renowned family science museum in Columbus that has been named as the nation's best science center by Parent Magazine. The museum, which was originally opened to the public in 1964, relocated in 1999 to a state-of-the-art 320,000-square-foot facility along the banks of the Scioto River. Today, it showcases more than 300 interactive exhibits throughout seven exhibit areas dedicated to nature, outer space, technology, and human life and biology. A planetarium facility showcases outer space-themed presentations, while a Dinosaur Gallery operates in conjunction with the American Museum of Natural History. Nearly 30 million visitors have been served by the museum's outreach programming, which focuses on camp-in experiences for Girl and Boy Scouts.
333 W Broad St, Columbus, OH 43215, Phone: 614-228-2674
9.Cuyahoga Valley National Park
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Cuyahoga Valley National Park is Ohio's only national park, spanning more than 32,000 acres along the majestic Cuyahoga River between the cities of Cleveland and Akron. The lovely national park was originally established as a National Recreation Area in 1974 and remains the only recreation area to be redesignated as a national park today. It is one of America's most unusual national parks due to its proximity to major urban areas and its many privately-owned visitor attractions. Visitors can explore the restored Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail or view exhibits on the region's canals at the Canal Exploration Center. Beautiful natural attractions within the park include the picturesque Brandywine Falls, northeast Ohio's tallest waterfall, which can be accessed via the park's extensive trail system.
15610 Vaughn Road, Brecksville, OH 44141, Phone: 330-657-2752
Dayton is one of Ohio's largest and most cultural cities, located in Montgomery and Greene Counties north of Cincinnati within the lovely Miami Valley region. The city is best known as the birthplace of aviation pioneer Orville Wright, poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, and entrepreneur John H. Patterson. Its long history of innovation can be explored at Carillon Historical Park, which showcases an authentic Wright Brothers airplane and exhibits related to many of the city's turn-of-the-century inventors and patents. The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, showcasing significant collections of historic and modern military aircraft. Performing arts organizations such as the Schuster Performing Arts Center and the Victoria Theater make the city one of the top mid-sized arts destination cities, showcasing touring Broadway and professional theater and dance productions.
11.Hocking Hills State Park
Hocking Hills State Park is a delightful Ohio state park spanning seven non-contiguous sections in Hocking County that total a land area of more than 2,300 acres. The park, which is mostly located within the boundaries of Hocking State Forest, is known as one of southeastern Ohio's top spots for outdoor recreation, attracting more than 4.2 million visitors each year. Parkgoers can enjoy year-round opportunities for canoeing, boating, fishing, and swimming at sites such as Rose Lake and Lake Logan and can explore the park's stunning natural caves and land formations, including areas such as the Conkle's Hollow gorge and Old Man's Cave. Hiking is offered along the scenic Buckeye Trail and Conkle's Hollow Rim. Other attractions include a zipline touring route, a free archery range, and 99 acres of rock climbing and rappelling lands. Visitors can select from a wide variety of primitive or modern accommodations, ranging from electricity-equipped campsites to rental cabins.
19852 OH-664, Logan, OH 43138, Phone: 740-385-6842
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Holmes County is the second-largest Amish community in the United States after Pennsylvania's Lancaster County, home to approximately 36,000 practicing Amish citizens. The county was founded in 1824 and named in honor of War of 1812 officer Andrew Holmes. Today, it is known as one of Ohio's top historic tourism sites, attracting visitors from throughout the Midwest to its charming villages, including Millersburg, Walnut Creek, Mt. Hope, and Sugarcreek. Visitors can explore the route of the Holmes County Trail, a shared-use bicycle and Amish buggy trail, and stop at attractions such as Berlin's Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center, which details the traditional ways of the Amish in interactive exhibits. Antique stores, art galleries, flea markets, and local cheese and pantry good stores abound, along with some of Ohio's top microbreweries and boutique wineries. Millersburg is also home to the Black Diamond Golf Course, one of the state's top 25 golf courses.
13.Jungle Jim's International Market
Jungle Jim's International Market is one of the world's most unique supermarket chains, offering two locations throughout the Cincinnati area, including a flagship location in Fairfield. The self-described "theme park of food" was founded in 1971 by entrepreneur "Jungle" Jim Bonaminio. Today, it showcases more than 300,000 square feet of shopping at its Fairfield location, including a massive international food selection and one of the United States' largest selections of wine. Animatronics create a whimsical atmosphere throughout the store, including a massive Campbell's Soup can and and Elvis Presley-esque singing lion. A collection of humorous "adult-oriented" hot sauces are sold at the store, along with many specialty foods that are difficult to locate elsewhere in the Ohio region. Outside the store, a strip mall is home to a reconditioned monorail from Kings Island's former Wild Animal Habitat attraction.
14.Kings Island Amusement Park
Kings Island Amusement Park is the Midwest's largest amusement park, spanning 364 acres throughout the city of Mason, approximately half an hour north of Cincinnati. The park was opened to the public in 1972 and showcases more than 100 rides and attractions, including 14 world-class roller coasters. Its iconic Racer wooden roller coaster, which appeared in an episode of The Brady Bunch, is credited with sparking the revival of modern wooden roller coasters in the 1970s. Other major attractions include coasters such as Diamondback, Banshee, the Beast, and Mystic Timbers, which received Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Award as the Best New Ride of 2017. A ?-scale replica of the Eiffel Tower serves as the park's anchor attraction and can be ascended via elevator as an observation tower. Annual special events include the beautiful Winterfest celebration, which drapes the park in millions of Christmas lights.
6300 Kings Island Dr, Mason, OH 45040, Phone: 513-754-5700
Loveland is a charming city in the greater Cincinnati metropolitan region, known as one of the top stops along the Little Miami Scenic Trail. The city, which is actually named for its former postmaster, has embraced its accidental love-related theme in recent years, showcasing unique heart-themed logo signage and operating a plethora of Valentine's Day-themed events, including a Valentine Lady poetry contest and an open marriage policy for non-residents on the big day in February. Visitors can bike along the famed Loveland Bike Trail or enjoy opportunities for canoeing along the scenic Little Miami River. Area attractions include the unique Château Laroche museum and historic building, which is located along the banks of the Little Miami River and constructed in the style of a classic European castle.
Ohio Caverns are one of Ohio's most beautiful show caves, located approximately half an hour outside of the city of Dayton in Salem Township. The stunning cave, which is Ohio's largest cave system, is located within the Bellefontaine Outlier Devonian-age bedrock formation and was formed due to the erosion of the region's glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age. Gorgeous crystal formations such as the massive five-foot Crystal King are showcased throughout areas such as the colorful Palace of the Gods room, the Natural Bridge pathway, the whimsical Jewel Room, and the 0.5-acre Big Room. Visitors can enjoy standard Natural Wonders tours or take special tours of the cave's Historic Section, which includes the Old Cave and Reams' Cave. Families can also enjoy opportunities for gemstone mining at the caverns' lovely gift shop center.
2210 East State Route 245, West Liberty, OH 43357
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Orrville is the world headquarters home of the J.M. Smucker Company, originally founded in 1897 by Jerome Monroe Smucker and known today as one of the world's top manufacturers of fruit jams and jellies, peanut butter, and ice cream toppings. Area visitors can stop in at the official J.M. Smucker Company Store and Cafe, which sells an extensive variety of the company's top products alongside branded merchandise such as kitchen accessories and apparel. Custom gift baskets are available for purchase, along with exclusive and hard-to-find Smuckers branded products. The company store's lovely cafe serves up excellent lunch and dinner fare crafted with Smuckers products at a lovely patio-style dining space.
333 Wadsworth Road, Orrville, OH 44667, Phone: 330-684-1500
Peninsula is one of Summit County's most charming historical villages, named as one of America's best small town neighborhoods by This Old House in 2012. The tiny historic village, which is located within the greater Akron region, is home to a population of less than 600 but is known throughout the Midwest as a top tourist destination due to its proximity to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. More than 20 buildings throughout the city are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Gothic Revival-style 1835 Bronson Memorial Church. The city's historic Main Street is lined with delightful shops, restaurants, and art galleries, while its outskirts are traversed by the scenic Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail. Visitors can also pick their own produce at Greenfield Berry Farm, take art workshops at the Peninsula Art Academy, or enjoy opportunities for hiking and rock climbing at natural areas such as Kendall Lake.
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Put-In-Bay is one of the liveliest tourist destinations on Lake Erie, located on South Bass Island near the cities of Sandusky and Port Clinton. The vibrant village, which is accessible from the mainland via regular jet boat and ferry services, is known for its family-friendly attractions and exciting nightlife. Visitors can explore historic sites such as the War of 1812-related Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial or the 18th-century Stonehenge Estate, the largest geode in the world. Perry's Cave Family Fun Center offers natural attractions like a butterfly house and a walkthrough limestone cave. The village's downtown district is home to bustling attractions, including ample shopping, dining, and brewery and winery options.
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The Wilds is a unique nonprofit safari park and conservation center in Cumberland, spanning more than 9,000 acres of reclaimed coal mine lands. The designated Audubon Important Bird Area is North America's largest wildlife conservation center, open to the public May through October, along with select hours throughout the winter months. Visitors can observe and engage with rare and endangered animals from around the world, including cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, rhinoceroses, and camels. Bus safaris are offered, along with horseback and fishing excursions, ziplining adventures, and overnight lodging packages. More than 15 miles of biking and hiking trails are showcased throughout the property, along with over 150 picturesque lakes and ponds.
14000 International Road, Cumberland, OH 43732
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Toledo is Ohio's northernmost major city, located at the western edge of Lake Erie on the state's border with Michigan. The city was originally founded in 1833 and was known as the "Glass City" throughout much of the 19th and 20th centuries for its glass manufacturing productions. Today, the city is experiencing a cultural renaissance, known for lovely arts and cultural institutions such as the renowned Toledo Museum of Art, which showcases significant collections of Renaissance and modern art. The beautiful Glass Pavilion showcases thousands of unique glassworks produced in the city, while the Valentine Theater presents performances by the Toledo Opera. Families can enjoy attractions such as the science-focused Imagination Station museum and the acclaimed Toledo Zoo.
22.The National Museum of the United States Air Force
© The National Museum of the United States Air Force
The National Museum of the United States Air Force is the premiere museum of the United States Air Force, located in Fairborn, Ohio on the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base facility. The museum is the world's oldest and largest military aviation museum, originally opened at Dayton's McCook Field in 1923, and is part of the Miami Valley's National Aviation Heritage Area. More than one million visitors attend the museum annually and view major exhibits of aviation memorabilia and artifacts, including an impressive collection of preserved and restored 20th-century military aviation aircraft. Significant artifacts on display include the Apollo 15 Command Module Endeavour, the world's only surviving North American XB-70 Valkyrie, and the Bockscar Boeing B-29 Superfortress that dropped the nuclear bomb on Nagasaki during World War II.
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Waynesville is a charming village in Wayne Township, Ohio, named in honor of General Anthony Wayne. The village is known as one of Ohio's top historic downtown destinations, home to more than 60 delightful antique stores, art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. Visitors can explore the city's small-town shops, which are easily walkable within a five-block radius, and dine at excellent independently-owned restaurants, including specialty pizzeria Bentino's Pizza, the full-service Stone House Tavern, and the homestyle Village Family Restaurant. Many walking and guided tours of the city are offered, including Halloween ghost tours and Christmas home tours. Each year in October, the city hosts the renowned Ohio Sauerkraut Festival, which celebrates all things kraut, potatoes, and other German food favorites.
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Yellow Springs is one of Ohio's most socially liberal small towns, known throughout the mid-2oth century as a major Midwestern center for civil rights activism and anti-war protests. The village was founded in 1825 after the model of Harmony, Indiana's utopian community and is known today as one of Ohio's most diverse, LGBT-friendly cities. Private university Antioch University is known for its unconventionally-structured degree programs, including work-study programs. Visitors can peruse the city's charming downtown district, which is home to a plethora of health-conscious restaurants, boutique stores, and sidewalk cafes. Arts organizations populate the highly-cultural city, including the Yellow Springs Kids Playhouse, which presents a roster of award-winning summer theater programs each year.
25.Historic Zoar Village
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Historic Zoar Village is an historic communal settlement in the city of Zoar, originally founded in 1817 by the Society of Separatists of Zoar German religious dissenter group. The village is named in honor of the Biblical village in the story of Lot, a metaphorical reference to the group's escape from religious persecution. Though the separatist society has been disbanded today, many historic buildings from its era remain, including structures within the National Register of Historic Places-listed Zoar Historic District. Visitors can explore the village's living history elements, including attractions such as the Zoar Garden and Greenhouse and the village's No. 1 House, which is operated as a museum detailing daily Society community life in the 19th century. Local boutiques, restaurants, and pubs dot the city's downtown district, which is also home to quaint restored bed and breakfast facilities.
25 Best Day Trips in Ohio
- Cleveland, Photo: Michael/stock.adobe.com
- Columbus, Photo: Sean.Reid/stock.adobe.com
- Athens, Photo: Syda Productions/stock.adobe.com
- Canton, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Cedar Point Amusement Park, Photo: Alinsa/stock.adobe.com
- Chagrin Falls, Photo: Timothy/stock.adobe.com
- Cincinnati, Photo: Paul Lemke/stock.adobe.com
- COSI, Photo: COSI
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Photo: Photography by Jack/stock.adobe.com
- Dayton, Photo: John/stock.adobe.com
- Hocking Hills State Park, Photo: helgidinson/stock.adobe.com
- Holmes County, Photo: Glenda Powers/stock.adobe.com
- Jungle Jim's International Market, Photo: progressman/stock.adobe.com
- Kings Island Amusement Park, Photo: BillionPhotos.com/stock.adobe.com
- Loveland, Photo: Denys/stock.adobe.com
- Ohio Caverns, Photo: pedrosala/stock.adobe.com
- Orrville, Photo: Tim UR/stock.adobe.com
- Peninsula, Photo: anyaberkut/stock.adobe.com
- Put-In-Bay, Photo: Pix by Marti/stock.adobe.com
- The Wilds, Photo: Vladimir Wrangel/stock.adobe.com
- Toledo, Photo: Henryk Sadura/stock.adobe.com
- The National Museum of the United States Air Force, Photo: The National Museum of the United States Air Force
- Waynesville, Photo: Paul Lemke/stock.adobe.com
- Yellow Springs, Photo: Wild Compass Rose/stock.adobe.com
- Historic Zoar Village, Photo: W.L.Watson Photos/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com