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If you are seeking fun things to do in Ohio, look no further! We’ve got it covered with our list of top Ohio attractions. From cool cities to must-see museums to epic parks to quirky Ohio roadside attractions, we highlight the best places to visit in the Buckeye State!
What To Do in Ohio?
Visitors (and sometimes residents) are befuddled by the question: What is there to do in Ohio?
Many travelers consider Ohio to be a flyover state – with nothing to see but flat farmland. While it is true, the state is primarily flat and there are a lot of farms, there are also a ton of fun things in Ohio to discover.
Even though I’m an Ohio native, I’ve recently been put to the challenge to find fun places to visit in Ohio.
After 6 consecutive years of nomadic travel, we suddenly found ourselves in Ohio for several extended stays. Rather than wallow in our involuntary international travel hiatus, we spent our time vigorously researching top Ohio destinations that we could explore on day trips or weekend getaways.
In search of the best attractions in Ohio, we went north, south, east and west…and we had an absolute blast.
So, what’s in Ohio that is worth seeing?
Quite a bit! We detail the top things to do in Ohio for both visitors and Ohioans in our comprehensive list.
THE 22 BEST THINGS TO DO IN OHIO
We have rounded up a list of the top attractions in Ohio. Whether you are a visitor making a trip to Ohio or a local in search of a little inspiration for new places to explore in Ohio, you can use our list of the best Buckeye State destinations!
#1 Experience the Culture in Columbus, Ohio
Columbus, the capital city, is one of the best places to visit in Ohio – especially for the culture. Columbus proudly boasts an incredible number of museums, theaters and fantastic cultural activities.
The best Columbus, Ohio attractions that serve up a big dose of culture are COSI (Center of Science and Industry), the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and the Columbus Museum of Art. The famous Columbus Zoo is also one of the best Ohio attractions for families.
Theaters abound in the city – and catching a live performance is one of the top Columbus things to do. From Broadway plays at the Ohio Theater to Shakespeare in the Park to concerts at Newport Music Hall, Columbus offers a full line up of stellar stage performances.
Another way to experience the superb culture in Columbus is at one of the many festivals and events. The best Columbus events are the annual Arts Festival, the summertime Jazz and Rib Fest, the monthly Short North Gallery Hop, the iconic ComFest and the festive Pride event.
More Activities in Ohio: What To Do in Cap City
We have highlighted some of the best Ohio cultural experiences in the city, but there are so many more things to do in Columbus!
Visitors interested in history can tour the Ohio Statehouse, visit Ohio Village or wander through German Village. Foodies can embark on a epicurean journey through North Market, sample some of the best Ohio craft beer or hit the Columbus Coffee Trail.
Outdoor enthusiasts have heaps of options to explore some great Ohio nature, too! Some of the top outdoor things to do in Central Ohio are kayaking on one of the many waterways, walking the Scioto Mile and hiking in Columbus Metro Parks.
Where To Stay in Columbus: Charming, sophisticated and historic, Hotel LeVeque is a boutique hotel in the heart of Columbus, OH and close to the top cultural attractions.
#2 Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland
Looking for fun things to do in Ohio? Visit Cleveland – it rocks! The city is home to the top attraction in Ohio: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. The famous Cleveland museum is a must-see in Ohio for visitors and Ohioans alike.
Cleveland has a close connection with rock and roll; it’s where the first rock-n-roll concert was held and where the term was coined. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame celebrates the connection between people and music. It aims to engage, teach and inspire – all through music and legendary rock musicians.
The exhibits at the Rock and Roll Museum are constantly changing – but visitors can listen to live musical performances, learn the history of rock legends and stroll through the Hall of Fame Gallery.
More Fun Things To Do in Northeast Ohio
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a highlight of any trip to northeastern Ohio, but there are more things to do in Cleveland!
Downtown Cleveland is filled with historic sites and as a sports-loving city, visitors can catch a game in every season (the city hosts teams for the NFL, NBA and MLB – among others).
Top attractions lie beyond the Cleveland city center, as well. The Ohio City West Side Market is a must for foodies. On the east side of the city, visit attractions like the Cleveland Museum of Art, Lake View Cemetery and Little Italy.
A quirky sight (and one of the fun winter activities in Ohio) is the beloved Christmas Story House, which stands in Cleveland’s southern Tremont District.
Cleveland Accommodations: The Hotel Indigo is a contemporary hotel in the heart of Cleveland that is just a short walk from the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Museum.
#3 Learn about Aviation in Dayton, OH
Ohio is globally recognized as the Birthplace of Aviation – and in no city is it celebrated more than in Dayton. Aviation fans likely already have Dayton on their list of cool places to go in Ohio, but you don’t have to be a plane enthusiast or history buff to appreciate the aviation sites in the city.
The best place to start – and one of the very best Ohio tourist attractions – is the National Museum of the United States Air Force. It ranks as the largest military aviation museum in the world and is one of the best free things to do in Ohio. The NMUSAF features displayed aircraft, a flight simulator and military artifacts.
Besides the Air Force Museum, other top aviation attractions to see in Dayton are the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the Wright Brothers Memorial, Huffman Prairie Flying Field and the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. Visitors may also want to time their vacation to Ohio for the Dayton Air Show – a nearly 50-year tradition and one of the top things to do in Ohio in the summer.
One of the fun things to do in Ohio with kids is to go on the Dayton Aviation Trail. Visitors who check off the sights on the list will get a free aviation teddy bear.
More Dayton, Ohio Activities
While the history of aviation sites are must-see places in Ohio, there are other reasons to visit Dayton.
The Dayton Art Institute, the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery and Carillon Historical Park are the city’s top attractions.
In downtown Dayton, visitors can take in a theater performance at Victoria Theatre or the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center. For a taste of Ohio, feast on fare at the 2nd Street Market and pop into some of the excellent craft breweries in Dayton.
Lodging in Dayton: If you want to stay in downtown Dayton, then the Radisson is a solid choice. However, if you would rather stay closer to the National Museum of the US Air Force, then the Comfort Suites is the best option.
#4 Hike through the Ohio Forest in Hocking Hills State Park
Hocking Hills is the Buckeye State’s natural gem – and hiking in Hocking Hills is one of the fun and adventurous things to do in Ohio. In fact, it is one of the absolute best Ohio summer activities.
Located in southeastern Ohio, Hocking Hills marks the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The abundant hills, waterfalls, caves and gorges make it one of the most unique places to visit in Ohio (because, it’s true, Ohio is otherwise relatively flat).
Visitors seeking outdoor things to do in Ohio can make a trip to Hocking Hills to hit the trails. The park’s most popular trail is Old Man’s Cave – but there are 7 areas of the park, each featuring some of the best Ohio hiking trails, plus an interconnecting network for long distance treks.
What To See in Ohio near Hocking Hills
Although hiking reigns supreme in the Hocking Hills region, there are a few more attractions that travelers should make time to see when visiting this area of Ohio.
One of the best things to do in Hocking Hills is to tackle the zipline course – which is a source of both fun and challenging entertainment in Ohio. Hocking Hills is also one of the best places to go in Ohio for canoeing and kayaking, an activity that is fun for families, friends and couples!
More Southern Ohio attractions in the region are the interesting roadside museums – such as the Pencil Sharpener Museum and the Washboard Factory.
Spend the Night in Hocking Hills: There is no better place to stay in Hocking Hills than at one of the cozy cottages or unique yurts at the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls.
#5 Cheer on the Reds in Cincinnati, OH
One of the best things to see in Ohio is a Cincinnati Reds baseball game. The city is where professional baseball was established – and the Reds baseball teams ranks as the oldest and first pro baseball club, dating to 1869.
The Great American Ball Park, where the Reds play home games, is one of the best stadiums in Major League Baseball. In addition to catching a game, visitors can learn more about the history of baseball in the on-site Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.
More Things To Do in Southern Ohio
While many trips to Cincy have been planned for the sole reason of watching Reds baseball, the Queen City features a multitude of excellent sites to see in Ohio.
Some of the best things to do in Cincinnati are visiting the iconic Fountain Square, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden and Spring Grove Cemetery.
The Cincinnati Museum Center (inclusive of the Cincinnati History Museum and Children’s Museum) is a top Ohio destination. Other museums to visit are the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Contemporary Arts Center and the American Sign Museum.
That said, we think the top Cincinnati, Ohio attraction is the city itself. In addition to exploring downtown, visitors should spend time discovering the historic and happening Over The Rhine District and crossing the Ohio River south into Covington, Kentucky (where there is a thriving food scene).
Cincinnati Accommodations: The best place to stay in Cincy is in the heart of the city. We recommend the Hilton located within the historic art deco Carew Tower, just steps from Fountain Square and the Reds ballpark.
#6 Tour the Adena Mansion in Chillicothe, Ohio
Chillicothe is one of the best places to visit in Ohio to learn about the history of the state…and the Adena Mansion is the place to do it.
The historic Adena Mansion was the residence of the Thomas Worthington family in the early 1800s. Worthington served as the 6th Ohio governor and a US senator. Today, visitors can tour his home to learn more about the family, the time period and Worthington’s efforts to achieve statehood for Ohio.
More Chillicothe, Ohio Entertainment and Attractions
Learning about the state’s history is one of the interesting things in Ohio for residents, but there are other reasons to visit Chillicothe.
As a matter of fact, one of the top places to visit in Ohio to learn about Native American Indians is the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park that is just north of Chillicothe. The park features ancient burial mounds and some of the Native American artifacts found beneath them.
The city of Chillicothe is fun to visit, too! The preserved First Capital District, picturesque architecture, unique art and fun breweries are all good reasons to spend at least one night in Chillicothe (which served as both the first and third capital of Ohio).
#7 Canoe the River at Mohican State Park
Mohican State Park is one of the fun places to go in Ohio for outdoor adventures – and specifically for canoeing. You don’t even need to pack any gear – as there are multiple rental companies on site.
The Mohican River runs right through the park and canoe trips on the river vary in length from 3- to 23-mile trips. Additionally, visitors to Mohican can choose to kayak, raft or float in a tube.
Regardless of what vessel you use, spending time on the Mohican River is one of the fun things to do in Ohio in the summer.
More Ohio Points of Interest at Mohican State Park
As one of the top places to visit in Ohio, Mohican State Park has more to offer than just watersports. Some of the other stuff to do in Ohio at Mohican Park is hike the trails, climb the fire tower and visit the covered bridge.
The historic Grist Mill is a top tourist attraction in Ohio, and also features a small and informative museum. Visiting the nearby Memorial Shrine is one of the activities to do in Ohio, where you can find the names of every Ohioan who have lost their lives in US conflicts. Check out our complete list of things to do in Mohican.
#8 Stand in the Field of Corn in Dublin, Ohio
One of the odd and fun attractions in Ohio is the infamous Concrete Field of Corn located in Dublin, OH. An art installation dedicated to the area’s farming past, oversized concrete corn cobs stand in an open field in the Columbus suburb.
While not everyone considers the obscure attraction a must-do in Ohio, we can tell you from personal experience that posing with the large corncobs is a fun activity for photo ops!
More Dublin, Ohio Best Places to Visit
Regardless of whether you think giant cobs of corn are one of the best things to see in Ohio or not, Dublin is still an excellent Ohio destination. The suburb is my hometown – and I know the top things to do in Dublin, OH.
The Dublin city center is split by the Scioto River – with the historic old town on the west side and modern downtown to the east. The unique Dublin Link Bridge – an S-shaped pedestrian bridge – connects east and west. The downtown Dublin, OH area buzzes with the city’s top eateries, breweries and nightlife.
The city exudes a small-town, close-knit community feel, but also hosts big annual events – like the PGA Memorial Tournament and the Dublin Ohio Irish Festival. Plus, the Columbus Zoo and adjoining Zoombezi Bay waterpark are in the immediate vicinity.
Stay the Night in Dublin, OH: The contemporary AC Hotel in modern downtown Dublin, OH is the best place to stay!
#9 Watch a Ohio State Buckeye Football Game at the Shoe
It is said that people from Ohio bleed scarlet and gray – and nowhere is that more apparent than on an autumn Saturday afternoon at Ohio Stadium. The magnificent horseshoe-shaped stadium was built in 1922 and solidly stands as a top Columbus, Ohio landmark.
Hands down, one of the top Ohio things to do is to join 102,780 screaming fans to cheer on the Ohio State Buckeyes football team at The Shoe. Visitors who can’t score a ticket should still head down to the Ohio State University Campus on game day to revel in the electric atmosphere.
More Things To Do around Ohio State University Campus
As the 3rd largest university in the United States, the OSU campus has a lot more to offer than sports (although OSU athletics are one of the best things about Ohio).
In addition to The Horseshoe, campus highlights are beautiful Mirror Lake, the spacious Oval, the student-focused Ohio Union and the Wexner Center for the Arts. Of course, any trip to the Ohio State campus should be complemented with a treat from the long-standing Buckeye Donuts.
Place To Stay on OSU Campus: Visitors looking for a place to stay that is close to the campus action should check availability at The Urban.
#10 Eat a Tony Packo’s Hot Dog in Toledo
One of the unlikely tourist spots in Ohio is Toledo’s Tony Packo’s – a Hungarian hot dog restaurant that dates to the 1930s. Step inside the restaurant for a meal and you will understand why it ranks as one of the favorite things to do in Northern Ohio.
The walls are decorated with celebrity-signed hot dog buns and memorabilia from the MASH television series (which aided in the restaurant’s rise in popularity) is on display.
A meal at Tony Packo’s should start with fried pickles and peppers and a Packo’s Original Hungarian sausage hot dog (slathered in mustard, onions and made-in-house chili sauce). Finish the meal with the signature dish, chicken paprikas. Definitely a must-eat while in Ohio!
More Things To Do in Northwest Ohio
I would drive to Toledo just for a Tony Packo’s hot dog, but there are other Ohio landmarks and tourist attractions – and even a few good reasons to stay the night – in the often-overlooked city.
The Toledo Museum of Art is outstanding – and it just so happens to be one of the free Ohio things to do. Masterpiece paintings, glass artworks, Egyptian mummies and demonstrations are top reasons to visit. Other family friendly attractions are the interactive Imagination Station kids’ science museum, the beautiful Toledo Botanical Garden, the Toledo Zoo and Maumee Bay State Park.
A landmark sight not to be missed is the National Museum of the Great Lakes, which is housed in a docked freighter on the Maumee River.
There are some fun things to do in Ohio at night in Toledo, as well. Live music thrives in the city and Hensville – the Warehouse District near the Toledo Mud Hens Minor League Baseball stadium – has fun bars and hosts festive events.
Hotels in Toledo: It’s recommended that visitors stay in downtown Toledo – and the Renaissance Hotel is the best choice.
#11 Find Phantoms at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield
Once housing the most heinous criminals and now said to be haunted by ghosts, visiting the State Reformatory is one of the creepiest and most unique things to do in Ohio.
The prison was built in the Romanesque style in 1886 and served as the setting for the powerfully dramatic film, The Shawshank Redemption.
Today, guests can tour the prison cells, visit the movie set and hunt for paranormal activity. Travelers looking for spooky fall things to do in Ohio can book a Halloween haunted house tour.
More Mansfield, Ohio Things To Do
After searching for phantoms at the prison, visitors should stick around to see more sights in Mansfield.
The Kingwood Center Gardens (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) and the Ohio Bird Sanctuary are two fantastic places to catch your breath and relax.
Travelers with kids in tow could skip the prison and head for the Little Buckeye Children’s Museum or the Richland Carrousel Amusement Park instead. They are two of the top Mansfield, Ohio things to see for families.
On the other hand, if you want to see another obscure Ohio tourist attraction, go to the Biblewalk Museum, which presents almost 80 bible scenes in life-size wax figures.
Mansfield Places to Stay: There are not an abundance of hotels in Mansfield. The M-Star Hotel in the city center is one of the only central hotels – but the Marriott TownPlace Suites on Route 30 might be a better option depending on what you want to see and do Mansfield, Ohio.
#12 Walk Court Street at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio
Home to the picture-perfect Ohio University, Athens is one of the cool places to visit in Ohio. College Green, which consistently ranks as one of the most beautiful campus quads in America, is marked by the Alumni Gateway, Cutler Hall clocktower and classic red-brick buildings.
Walking the charming and lively cobblestone Court Street that extends north from College Green is an absolute must on your visit to Athens, OH. The historic buildings on Court St. are occupied by apartments, bookstores, thrift stores, shops, restaurants and bars…so many bars.
In fact, bar hopping in Uptown should most definitely be on your Fun Things To Do Ohio list! My top picks for the best bars in Athens are The Cat’s Eye, The C.I., Pawpurr’s and The J Bar. However, if craft beer is more your jam, detour off Court Street and go to Jackie O’s Public House on Union.
More Tips for Athens, Ohio: What To Do
Spending time on Court Street is a highlight of a trip to Athens, but there are a few more fun things to do in Southern Ohio – like art museums, nature and festivals.
The Ridges, which long stood as the abandoned Athens Lunatic Asylum, now houses the Kennedy Museum of Art and The Dairy Barn Cultural Arts Center.
The nearby Lake Hope State Park is a favorite place for recreation and one of the cheap, fun things to do in Ohio in the southeast. There is no charge to enter the park for outdoor activities and campsites are affordable.
Athens hosts numerous festivals throughout the year. Springtime is the OU ‘Fest Season,’ but the biggest event is the Athens Halloween Block Party. Other annual events to check out are the autumn Ohio Pawpaw Festival, the tasty Chili Cookoff and summertime Boogie on the Bricks.
Where to Stay in Athens: The Ohio University Inn was long the only place to stay near campus, but the new Athens Central Hotel offers modern rooms at a good rate and is just steps from Uptown and Court Street.
#13 Get Mellow in Yellow Springs, Ohio
Ohio does not have a reputation as being particularly free spirited, but the hippie town of Yellow Springs stands out for its bohemian atmosphere. It’s one of the best Ohio places to visit to embrace the hippie vibe.
A colorful and diverse destination, Yellow Springs has been progressive since its inception as a utopian communal society. The establishment of liberal Antioch College in 1850 accelerated the trend.
Today, visitors can celebrate the eccentric side of Ohio in the many locally owned Yellow Spring shops. Active travelers can get in touch with nature by hiking to the namesake Yellow Spring or on the trails at Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve.
More Yellow Springs, Ohio Sites
Yellow Springs might be a destination for hippies, but it has wide appeal and all quests can find an abundance of things to do in Yellow Springs.
Picking your own apples is one of the cool things in Ohio to do during the autumn – and there are orchards in Yellow Springs where families, friends and couples can pick their own produce.
The Young’s Jersey Dairy just outside of town makes the absolute best cheese curds and the Yellow Springs Brewery is not to be missed.
The historic Clifton Mill is an excellent place to learn about grist-mill production, but their wintertime holiday lights make it one of the top Christmas attractions in Ohio.
Best Place To Stay: Visitors staying overnight in Yellow Springs should check room availability at the Mills Park Hotel – the most popular hotel in town.
#14 Hop Aboard a Train at Cuyahoga Valley National Park
The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Train is a big hit for Northeast Ohio family fun, unique adult adventures and couples’ date night.
The Valley Railway was established in the 1880’s as a means to transport natural resources from the region…which was almost 100 years before the Cuyahoga Valley National Park was founded. Today, visitors can experience classic train travel in an epic environment.
Hop aboard a historic train for a scenic ride through Cuyahoga Valley NP (Ohio’s only national park). The 2.5-hour daytime rides offer a unique vantage point for Ohio wildlife viewing. Passengers have a choice of ticket prices and seat options – including affordable coach tickets, vintage tabletop carriage and a dome car with a transparent roof for better sightseeing.
The ‘Friday Night on the Rails’ Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad events are one of the unique and fun activities in Ohio. Travelers can enjoy dinner aboard the train, participate in a murder mystery or join one of the beer, wine or cocktail tastings.
Things to do in Northeast Ohio at CVNP
Although the train is the most exciting way to experience the park, there are more outdoor activities in Ohio at Cuyahoga Valley NP.
Take a hike to Brandywine Falls to see the 65-foot flowing waterfall, trek the Ledges Trail to unique rock formations and search for wildlife – like turtles and beavers – at Beaver Marsh.
The national park is also an exceptional place to learn about the history of the Ohio and Erie Canal that was created as a statewide ‘water highway’ in the mid-1800s.
Overnight Stay: While there are many hotels located on the perimeter of the park, we recommend staying at the Embassy Suites in Independence, which is at the Rockside Station on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Rail.
#15 Take a Heritage Tour in Ohio Amish Country
Amish Country is one of the unique Ohio attractions; one that seems to transport travelers back in time.
While many visitors simply drive through the farmland and stop to experience Amish Country Ohio attractions – like the handmade goods sold in shops or the fabulous food at local Amish restaurants – joining a resident for a heritage tour offers spectacular insight.
Explorers who want to learn more about the Amish people and traditions can book a dinner inside an Amish home, ride in a buggy or spend an entire weekend immersing themselves into the culture.
Things To Do on a Day Trip to Amish Country, Ohio
That said, if you are short on time and just want a quick education on the Amish lifestyle, you will find that there are many things to do in Amish Country Ohio on a self-drive.
Start at the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center in Millersburg for basic information. Then plan your tour to the top destinations: The Farm at Walnut Creek, the Holmes County Flea Market and any one of the many incredible Amish restaurants in the region.
Stay the Night in Ohio Amish Country: The Berlin Resort offers exceptional accommodations in the heart of Amish Country.
#16 Ride a Roller Coaster at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio
The Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky is one of the most thrilling and popular attractions in Ohio. Claiming to be the 2nd oldest amusement park in the United States and nicknamed the Roller Coaster Capital of the World, Cedar Point boasts an astounding 17 world-class roller coasters.
Get an adrenaline rush on the Millennium Force or take a heart-pounding ride on Steel Vengeance. Go for a spin on the legendary Corkscrew or feel the extreme speed on the Top Thrill Dragster.
The park’s highest and fastest roller coasters rank as one of the most fun things to do in Ohio for teenagers, but Cedar Point is ideal for Ohio day trips for families with young kids, too. Cedar Point has an entire area with carnival rides and a huge 18-acre waterpark that’s perfect for all ages.
More Amusement Parks for Family Fun in Ohio
Amusement parks are one of the favorite family activities in Ohio…and Cedar Point is not the only place to experience the action.
Kings Island in Mason, Ohio is massive theme park aimed at thrill-seekers. The park has more than 100 rides – The Beast, Diamondback and Orion are among the favorites, but I’m partial to the classic wooden roller coaster, The Racer, that was my very first coaster ride. Kings Island is also home to a enormous and incredibly popular waterpark.
Other amusement parks in Ohio are Tuscora Park in New Philadelphia, Stricker’s Grove in Hamilton and the vintage Coney Island Park in Cincinnati.
Top Hotel at Cedar Point: The best place to stay when visiting Cedar Point is the lakefront Hotel Breakers, just steps from the park’s entrance.
#17 Step inside a Medieval Castle in Loveland, OH
Hidden along the banks of the Little Miami River just north of Cincinnati is an astounding Medieval castle – and it’s one of the best Ohio places to visit. In fact, with admission priced at just $5, it’s also one of the cheap things to do in Ohio.
The Loveland Castle was built by a single man, who began the project in the 1920s. Today, visitors can marvel at the architecture, explore the keep, visit the Swords and Weapons museum and learn about the life of the owner from one of the knights.
We recommend packing a picnic lunch – as the riverside spots beside the castle are sublime for a picnic lunch.
More Castles and Cool Places in Ohio
Visiting a castle might be one of the unusual things to do in Ohio, but somewhat surprisingly, there is more than one!
Squire’s Castle, built in the 1890s, is a chateau near Cleveland. Located in North Chagrin Reservation, the stunning castle sits among lush landscapes.
The Piatt Castles – both Mac-O-Chee and Mac-A-Cheek – are located in rural West Liberty, OH. Although not designed in the Medieval style, the elegant homes are open for tours (tickets required inside, but grounds are free to be explored).
Landoll’s Mohican Castle (our recommended place to stay while visiting Mohican State Park), is not at all old (it was built in the late 1990s) – but the natural setting and special touches make it absolutely charming.
Where To Stay near Loveland Castle: The Loveland Castle is a bit out of the way, so we recommend staying at one of the numerous hotels on I-71, like the Hilton Garden Inn (which is also a good place to base yourself when visiting the aforementioned Kings Island).
#18 Discover the Great Serpent Mound in Peebles, Ohio
One of the best places to see in Ohio to gain a better understanding of the Native Americans who once lived on the land is the fascinating Great Serpent Mound.
Estimated to be at least 900 years old – but likely older – the ancient effigy mound is shaped like a snake with a coiled tail. It is one of the most intriguing earthworks and one the most famous sites in Ohio. Already listed as a National Historic Landmark, the site has been submitted for consideration by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The on-site museum details the importance of the sacred site to Native Americans, how the serpent aligns with the solstice and equinox and shows a short film.
More Native American Places in Ohio to Visit near Serpent Mound
Just north of the Great Serpent Mound is the Fort Hill Earthworks and Nature Preserve. The two earthworks at the site – the Hopewell Hilltop Enclosure and the Circle Earthwork – can be reached by trails through pristine forest.
Fort Ancient is the site of a 2,000-year-old ancient hilltop enclosure, which has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. In addition to the earthwork, there is a museum and three miles of excellent Ohio hiking trails.
Where To Stay: The Great Serpent Mound is located in rural Ohio, but the Quality Inn in Seaman is just 15 miles away.
#19 Score Big at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH
A tribute to the greatest football legends, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is one of the premier Northern Ohio attractions.
While NFL fans will most certainly appreciate the exhibits, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is one of the fun places in Ohio where all sports enthusiasts can celebrate the game’s best athletes.
The cutting-edge museum features a timeline of NFL events, a holographic theater that brings fans into the action, a display of Super Bowl rings, the busts of Hall of Fame inductees and the cherished Lombardy trophy.
More Canton, Ohio Fun Things To Do
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is one of the most popular attractions in Ohio – and visitors who come to see the football memorabilia in Canton might want to stick around to check out a few other area attractions.
There are numerous museums in Canton – from the MAPS Air Museum to the Canton Museum of Art to the Classic Car Museum. The National First Ladies’ Historic Site and the McKinley Presidential Library are both located in Canton, too.
Visitors who want a taste of local Ohio fare can sip a pint at the Canton Brewing Company, eat the best burger in the city at George’s Lounge, or take a tour (and sample a sweet) at Harry London Candies.
Hotel in Canton: Travelers will want to stay in the heart of the city, just a few miles from the major attractions – and the DoubleTree by Hilton in downtown Canton offers clean rooms with comfortable beds.
#20 Stroll through the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens in Akron, OH
The Stan Hywet estate is a 65-room Tudor Revival Manor House that sits on exquisitely landscaped grounds. The home was built in the early 1900s for FA Sieberling, a co-founder of The Goodyear Tire Company.
The 70-acre estate is inclusive of 5 historic structures, 10 lovely gardens and a collection of antique furnishings.
The gorgeous mansion can be toured in summer months and visited throughout the year for special events (like the sensational holiday lights, which is one of the fun things to do in Ohio for Christmas!). Walking the manicured gardens and touring the rooms of the home is both family-friendly and one of the romantic things to do in Ohio.
More Akron, Ohio Places To Go
Akron ranks as the 5th largest city in the state – so there are quite a few Ohio sightseeing attractions. The Akron Zoo, Akron Children’s Museum and Akron Art Museum rank as a few of the top city sights.
Concerts, performances, festivals and sporting events are top reasons to visit Akron, too. The John S Knight Center, the outdoor Lock 3 Park, the Akron Civic Theater and BLU Jazz are all excellent venues. For local Akron eating and drinking, Luigi’s and Lock 15 Brewing Company are top picks.
Places to Stay: When sightseeing in Ohio near Akron, stay in downtown at the Courtyard by Marriott.
#21 Take in the View from Perry’s Victory Memorial at Put-in-Bay, Ohio
Put-in-Bay is a top vacation destination in Ohio. The bay is hugged by the northern shoreline of South Bass Island in Lake Erie. Although the island is only 3.5 miles long, there are loads of things to do in Put-in-Bay for a day or weekend of fun.
Of all the Put-in-Bay activities, riding to the observation deck at the top of the historic Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial is a must-do. The tower serves as a monument to the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. Today, visitors get a birds’ eye view from the 352-foot-tall column.
More Fun Things To Do in Ohio at Put-in-Bay
Put-in-Bay is definitely a top place for fun in Ohio – whether it be a family vacation or carefree debauchery. Naturally, boating and water activities are top choices, but there are island attractions, as well.
Families with kids might want to hop on the Tour Train for a ride to Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center. Going to South Bass Island State Park to watch sunset is one of the fun things to do in Ohio for couples.
Friends visiting Put-in-Bay for a party weekend should start off with a tour at Heineman’s Winery that includes wine tastings and seeing the famed Crystal Cave.
Nearby Kelleys Island is another entertaining Lake Erie destination. The best things to do in Kelleys Island are boating, fishing, drinking local wine and seeing the natural Glacial Grooves.
Where to Stay: Put-in-Bay caters to tourists, so there are plenty of options for accommodations. That said, Put-in-Bay Resort Hotel is the top pick!
#22 Visit the Rutherford B Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, OH
The city of Fremont might not come up on a lot of Ohio sightseeing lists – but the city’s Rutherford B Hayes Presidential Museum and Library is certainly a reason to visit.
Hayes served as the 19th US president – but prior to his presidency, he served as Governor of Ohio and US congressman (as well as a General in the Civil War). The Rutherford B Hayes Library, which was established in 1916, was the country’s very first presidential library. Today, it contains a collection of 90,000 books and documents.
Visitors can explore the Spiegel Grove estate, which houses the museum, a 31-room mansion and the burial site of President Hayes and Mrs. Hayes.
More Presidential Points of Interest in Ohio
Ohio has proudly produced more US Presidents than any other state; 8 of America’s Presidents have hailed from the Buckeye State. As such, there are numerous Ohio sites and attractions dedicated to the former Presidents who called Ohio home.
Top presidential sights to see in Ohio are the Ulysses S Grant Birthplace in Point Pleasant – as well as his boyhood home in nearby Georgetown, the James A Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor and his grave at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland and the Warren G Harding Home in Marion.
We have already mentioned the McKinley Presidential Library in Canton, but you can visit his birthplace in Niles, as well. The William Howard Taft National Historic Site is one of the top things to see in Cincinnati.
Where to Stay: When visiting Fremont to see the Rutherford B Hayes Presidential Library, the best place to stay is the nearby Hampton Inn and Suites.
Map of Ohio Tourist Sites
You can find our listed Ohio main attractions on an interactive map using this link to Google Maps.
Places to Visit Near Ohio
We have highlighted a few of the absolute best things to do in Ohio, but there are many fun things to do near Ohio, too! In fact, some of the best destinations in the USA are just a short drive from Ohio – and we are highlighting a few of our favorites.
Pittsburgh is a fantastic city to visit for a weekend of fun! The city’s walkable downtown boasts numerous cultural attractions, fun districts and iconic eats – and that is just the beginning of Fun Things To Do in Pittsburgh.
Indiana is often dismissed as a tourist destination, but Indianapolis has heaps on offer! Grand monuments, historic districts and a plethora of outdoor activities are just a few of the Best Indianapolis Things To Do.
Covington, Kentucky rarely makes it on lists of things to do around Ohio, but we think the city is an absolute gem! Sitting just south of Cincinnati across the Ohio River, visitors will find that there are quite a few intriguing things to do in Covington (as well as next-door in Newport!). What we love best about the city, however, is the thriving Covington food scene.
Not far from Ohio is fabulous Louisville. Known for the Kentucky Derby, there are so many more things to do in Louisville than ‘The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports’! Incredible museums, historic sites and whiskey tasting are all great reasons to visit the Gateway to the South – and the Louisville craft beer scene is not to be missed!
Nashville is an easy drive or short flight from Ohio and spending a weekend in Nashville is a fantastic getaway! Country music fans have no problem finding entertaining things to do in Nashville, but all visitors to Music City can revel in the fine Southern hospitality, history and cuisine.
Chicago is the biggest city in the Midwest – and it is within a day’s drive from Ohio. There seems to be an endless number of things to do on a trip to Chicago – but the architecture, food and baseball ranks as our top reasons to spend a weekend in the Windy City!
What To Eat in Ohio
We consider food to be one of the top attractions of Ohio, so we want to highlight a few of the best foods to eat during your trip so that you can feast on Ohio’s best fare!
Ohio Style Pizza
Pizza is not unique to the state of Ohio – far from it. However, there is a distinctive style that is an Ohio favorite. The important elements are cracker-thin crust, sauce-toppings-cheese spread to the edges and pieces cut into small rectangles.
Donatos Pizza (now available in many states) is the most popular example, but our favorite place for Ohio style pizza is Iacono’s in Columbus.
Ohio Style Chili
Getting a 3-Way (or a 4-Way or even a 5-Way) is one of the best things to do in Ohio…because what you are getting is a plate piled high with spaghetti, chili and cheese (and raw onion and beans if you push it to a 4- or 5-Way). The meat is flavorfully spiced and the portions are enormous. Skyline Chili is the top spot for this Ohio food tradition.
Most popular in Northern Ohio, but found throughout the state, pierogies are a product of Eastern European immigrants that settled near Cleveland. They also brought to Ohio the meaty Polish Boys (a kielbasa sausage topped with slaw, fries and BBQ sauce) and Paczki (a Polish donut). The best place to get an authentic Ohio pierogi is at Pierogi Palace at the famed West Side Market in Cleveland.
Corn on the Cob
Summertime in Ohio means sweet corn on the cob – so if you are visiting in the summer, be sure to put it on your list! Many Ohio restaurants with seasonal menus offer corn on the cob during the summer months.
Buckeye candies are Ohio’s favorite sweet treat! The small dessert is very simple: peanut butter dipped in chocolate…and it’s divine. Columbus candy maker Anthony Thomas is famous for their candy Buckeyes, but we think they are even better homemade (so try to find them in one of the local markets or cafes).
Chain Restaurants Established in Ohio
We love eating local foods, so we rarely dine at chain restaurants in our travels. That said, we do like to get a taste of food in the place that it originates from – and in Ohio there are numerous national chain restaurants that were established in the state.
City BBQ was started in a Dublin, OH home in 1999. Since then their American style BBQ has expanded across six states and it is always one of our must-eat Ohio meals.
Wendy’s was founded in Columbus in 1969 – and getting fries and a frosty (and specifically, dipping the fries in the frosty) is a classic Ohio treat. Speaking of treats, Jeni’s Ice Cream, which is known for its unusual flavor combinations, was also born in Ohio.
Bob Evans, which serves homestyle dishes, is another Ohio native – and White Castle, while not originally from the state, has long been based in Ohio.
Food Markets: Places of Interest in Ohio
The food markets in Ohio are superb – and are well worth a stop when visiting the Buckeye State.
The North Market in Columbus (now with a second location in Dublin) is one of the best places in Ohio to get a bite to eat. In Cleveland, the iconic West Side Market is a must-visit for foodies. Cincinnati’s Findlay Market ranks as Ohio’s longest running market and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Jungle Jim’s in Fairfield is a massive 200,000-square-foot international food market – and a top culinary destination in Ohio.
Embark on an Ohio Craft Beer Trail
With more than 350 breweries and an overall craft beer production ranking 5th in the USA, Ohio is without a doubt a craft beer destination. The award-winning breweries are the best places to go in Ohio for craft beer straight from the source!
How To Plan a Trip to Ohio
Now that you know all the cool things to do in Ohio, it’s time to start planning your trip! We have a few additional travel tips that will make your trip planning an absolute breeze.
Pro Tip: Get (and stay) organized for your vacation to Ohio by using our Travel Planning Printables!
How To Get to Ohio
Many Ohio visitors travel to the state by car. The state has one of the most robust interstate highway systems in the US – which makes getting around Ohio easy.
That said, visitors who are arriving by plane will likely opt to fly into one of the Three C’s – Columbus, Cincinnati or Cleveland – or possibly one of the smaller regional Ohio airports. Use our tips for How To Find Cheap Flights before you start your search.
Airports in Columbus
There are two airports in Columbus – John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH) and Rickenbacker (LCK). John Glenn is serviced by all major US airlines and is a 10 minute drive to the Columbus city center. Rickenbacker flights are offered by ultra-low-cost carrier, Allegiant, and is located 30 minutes from downtown Columbus.
The airport in Cincinnati – called the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) – is actually located in Hebron, Kentucky. That said, it’s typically just a 20 minute drive from the CVG airport to the Cincy city center.
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) is the largest airport for Northern Ohio visitors, but there are smaller regional airports with limited flights, such as Akron-Canton Airport (CAK) and Toledo Express Airport (TOL).
How To Get Around Ohio
Ohio, like most of the US, lacks a comprehensive public transit system. While each of the three big Ohio cities has some mode of public transport – be it bus or rail – they are not ideal for visitors. Instead, we recommend renting a car for the duration of your stay – but use our tips for getting the best car rental rates first.
Where To Stay in Ohio
For each of the Ohio sights to see that we outlined in our list, we also recommended a nearby place to stay. Before you book your accommodations, read our tips on How to Find Cheap Hotels and the Booking the Best Airbnb.
What To Pack for your Ohio Trip
Ohio road trips are a fun way to explore the state – but you will want a Ohio atlas to find your way, track your progress and make some notes!
Travel Camera and Day Pack
Ohio is a diverse and picturesque state – be sure to bring a travel camera to capture quality photographs. We carry our favorite travel camera, a Canon DSLR everywhere we go. Whether you travel with a backpack or a suitcase, you’ll also want a great day bag to organize all of your everyday travel items.
Weather Appropriate Gear
Ohio fully experiences all four seasons – so you will want to make sure you are prepared for the weather during your trip. Pack a travel umbrella in the spring, sunscreen in the summer, a sweater in the autumn and a hat and gloves for wintertime in Ohio.
Fun Facts about Ohio
Just a few fun facts for when you visit Ohio!
- An astounding 50% of the US population lives within 500 miles from Columbus, Ohio.
- The name Ohio comes form of the Native American Iroquois word ohi-yo’ – which means Great River…thus the Ohio River.
- Hang On Sloopy is the official state song. While singing the chorus, Ohioans spell out the name of the state – O-H-I-O – while forming the letters with their arms.
- Ohio became the 17th state in the US in 1803…but technically it didn’t. Congress omitted to approve the Ohio Constitution as an oversight. The mistake was not realized until 150 years later, in 1953 – and the error was corrected retroactively.
We Want to Know: Have you visited Ohio? What would you add to our list of things to do in Ohio?
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