Ohio is one of those states that surprised me.
It’s in the middle of the United States surrounded by states that have no ocean and a lot of land that stretches for miles. To be honest, I wasn’t real enthused about touring around Ohio, but after a few weeks in this state, I became a believer.
Ohio has places of quiet solitude, but it also features areas that have the hustle and bustle of city lights and everything that comes with the glitz of a fast-paced town.
Visit a national park, or walk the city streets of Columbus, Cincinnati or Cleveland. You can have it both ways in this state that represents what the essence of America is so well. Come with me as we tour around Ohio and find out what this state is all about!
Read on for a list of my favorite interesting and beautiful places to visit in Ohio.
This place has breweries, stadiums, museums and chili. Now, a city that is famous for its chili must be visited, am I right? Cincinnati is one of America’s most bustling cities and it has all the gusto to prove it with a vibrant scene that captivates you from your first visit.
Start at Findlay Market and peruse all the wares that a world class city has to offer. From fish and meats to artisan cheeses and flowers, you can get just about anything you’re hungry for at this market that’s been operating since the 1850’s.
Next, take your lunch from the market and have a picnic at Smale Riverfront Park. This new 45-acre park is situated on the Ohio River where you can have a stroll while you enjoy the sight of the Roebling Bridge, the prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge. Walk through the garden maze, swing on the playground and take a selfie next to the “Sing The Queen City” sign.
If it’s an “inside” kind of day stop by the Krohn Conservatory and revel in the Victorian architecture mixed with magnificent plants from all over the world.
End your day with a tall frost mug at Rhinegeist Brewery, where you’ll sit in a grand hall amongst plenty of entertainment such as corn hole, ping pong tables and hoops to shoot.
No matter what you’re interested in, Cincinnatti is a great place to start your tour of the great state of Ohio and all it has to offer.
2. Hocking Hills State Park
Hocking Hills State Park is one of those quintessential parks that represents all the adventurous landscapes available in America. Waterfalls, caves, gorges and cliff overlooks await in this intriguing and adventurous park in Ohio.
My family’s favorite part of this park was Old Man’s Cave. This is where an elderly gentleman made a sandstone cave his home in the 19th century and is said to be buried there, somewhere in the cave.
Getting there was such an adventure! We took Upper Falls Loop Trail, Grandma Gatewood Trail, Broken Rock Falls Trail, Lower Access Trail, and Gorge Exit Trail, which meanders through Old Man’s cave. Later, we would sit around the campfire at our campsite and recount the days exploration.
This is a park that keeps you wanting to come back for more. This is just what we will do next time as we continue to venture around the fascinating places of Ohio.
3. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Did you know there are eight national parks in Ohio? Cuyahoga Valley National Park is at the top of that list and is one of THE top things to see in Ohio.
With an impressive display of native plants and animals, set deep in a lush green forest, this can be an inviting reprieve from the demands of everyday travel. Take a hike or ride your bike on the 20-mile section of the Towpath Trail through the canopy as you discover Ohio’s scenic interior.
Stop by the Boston Mill Visitor Center and see all that there is to do at this park. Our favorite adventure here was the Cuyahoga Scenic Railroad that rides through the park. It’s an amazing way to see many features of the park and get acquainted. After, we took a hike to the Brandywine Gorge Loop that has stunning scenery and a stop at Brandywine Falls, which is absolutely gorgeous.
Taking the time to stop at this fantastic national park is definitely something you should make time to do as you make your way around the state.
4. Lake Erie Bluffs
Lake Erie Bluffs is more reminiscent of the ocean shores of Maine than the shores of a lake. Its picturesque setting is great for a day of hanging out with your family or a romantic picnic lunch. But, whatever you do, you will love the scenery and the vibe that comes with one of Ohio’s most beautiful places to visit.
Start the day with a stroll on the rocks along Lake Erie. From here, you can gaze at the 40-90 foot bluffs towering above you as you watch the sun rise. Next, you can hike one of the many trails that meander through the woodlands, wetlands and wide open spaces around the park.
To end your day, you can snag an amazing campsite like we did. The sites overlook the bluffs where you get vast views of the great lake below. Start a campfire and recount the day’s adventures for tomorrow is another day to keep trekking across and touring places to see in Ohio.
Cleveland is one of the most underrated cities in the United States. From world class museums, to fresh food markets to beautiful parks, Cleveland represents the state of Ohio well.
Start the day right in Cleveland at a National Park. Cuyahoga National Park is a great place to watch the sun rise and then take a little hike. After, take a stroll through the Cleveland Botanical Garden and watch the blossoms open as you eat your lunch. Later, you can take a jaunt through the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and check out your favorite band’s accolades.
To close the day, make sure you make reservations like we did at the House of Blues, where you can have a drink, listen to some tunes and chomp down on their famous Jambalaya. Have a good night sleep and then wake to do it all over again with a different itinerary in one of the best places to go in Ohio.
6. Nelson Kennedy Ledges State Park
Devil’s Icebox, Indian Pass, and Old Maid’s Kitchen are just a few of the amazing rock formations that you will see at Nelson Kennedy Ledges State Park, one of Ohio’s most fun places to visit.
Grab your hiking stick and don your boots, for you are about to embark on a thrill of a journey as you trek through some of the state’s oldest and most beautiful rock formations. At the 167-acre park, you can traverse through gorges, squeeze through crevices and gaze at waterfalls all through short but amazing hikes.
Once you’ve had all the fun there is to have, check out the nearby Nelson Ledges Quarry Park. Here, you can camp for the night and wake up to cliff diving, swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving in the quarry. How do you like that for some adventure on your trip?
7. Ohio Amish Country
In Northeast-Central Ohio you will find the most beautiful country roads that lead to enchanting farms and fields that look like they have been frozen in time. The Ohio Amish Country is some of the most picturesque countryside you will ever find and one of the most unique places in Ohio.
Stop by one of the stands that sells honey and candles or enjoy a lesson in weaving. Don’t leave the area without trying homemade Amish cooking at one of the area restaurants like Plain and Simple, where their bone-in fried chicken is to die for.
While you’re at it, make sure you bring your camera to this gorgeous area of the country and photograph some of the most beautiful parts of Ohio.
You haven’t seen a state until you’ve been to its capital. Columbus is the state’s hub in everything pertaining to government and finance and fries dipped in milkshakes. What? Yes, you read that right. When a city has a delicacy such as this, I know I’m in the right place!
Recent investments by major corporations have allowed companies like Intel and Honda to base their operations out of Columbus, which have brought many younger representatives to the city to start their lives.
With this new blood has come amazing festivals, vibrant streets for entertainment and modern restaurants and nightlife. Columbus is in the middle of its own Renaissance and you can get a front row seat by visiting one of the many things there are to do.
Visit the exciting dining scene on Gay Street and have your pick of tapas, Italian, Pan-Asian and even Argentinian fare. You can have an appetizer in Japan, the main course in South America and dessert in Italy. Make a night of making your belly full at one of the best places to eat in Ohio.
The next day do some sight seeing at the Franklin Park Conservatory and take in the serenity that plants from all over the world can inspire. Next, visit the Center for Science and Industry (COSI) and take in the amazing exhibit of Tutankhamen and the treasures of his tomb.
Later that evening, visit one of the many rooftop bars and sip a cocktail as you watch the sun set to the west closing a perfect day in one of the up and coming and exciting cities in America.
9. Underground Railroad and Museum
Imagine living your life tethered by chains, with no freedom and no decisions of your own. Now, imagine your entire family is in the same situation. This was the life of a slave in the United States in the 1860’s.
The Underground Railroad was started by brave souls who decided they had had enough. Escaping and being killed was better than the life they were living, so they decided to make a run for it in an organized and carefully executed plan, helped by many along the way.
The Underground Railroad Museum commemorates the bravery of these courageous people and the many that helped them and is one of the most educational places to go in Ohio.
By telling their stories and experiences, their heroism can be remembered and celebrated. The triumph of the human spirit is evident in all that escaped the hellacious conditions and tormentors that held them captive for centuries.
Come visit this museum on your travels to learn about the stories through permanent and traveling exhibits that memorialize so many heroes that would change peoples lives.
10. A Christmas Story House
“You’ll shoot your eye out!”
This phrase rings inside my head every Christmas as “The Christmas Story” plays on a loop. If you are like me, then this was one of those movies that you grew up quoting and clamoring to watch when the holidays neared.
Well, for diehard fans on a road trip in Ohio, you can see the actual house that was featured in the movie. Ralphie and the rest of the Parker family’s home on Cleveland Street is definitely a must-visit destination in Cleveland, Ohio for super-fans!
Tour the house, peruse the gift shop and take selfies in front of this iconic mid-western home that is one of the coolest places to see in Ohio. When we visited, I couldn’t wait to display by photos on my Christmas card that year. So, bring your good camera and snap away!
11. Cleveland Museum of Natural History
I’ve been to countless museums on my travels and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History will always be on the top of the heap for me. Here, you can uncover the mysteries of science and nature through mind-blowing exhibits and artifacts in one of the most interesting places to see in Ohio.
Whether visiting the Smead Discovery Center for the little ones, where you can dig for dinosaurs and design you own constellations or exploring the Shafran Planetarium, you will leave the museum with your curiosity heightened.
However, my favorite exhibit was the Mineralogy exhibit where you can see over 41,000 specimens of minerals in their organic state as well as cut by humans. The beauty inside the earth is unfathomable and this display tops all of the previous I’ve seen, which are numerous!
Did we miss any of your favorite places in Ohio?
Let us know in the comments if there are anymore places in Ohio you’d like to see on our list!