Ohio can be an interesting place to visit for travelers and even for people within the state. What are the best day trips to take in Ohio?
What are the best day trips around Ohio?
Ohio has several great day trip destinations, including Cleveland for history and art, Columbus for a great art museum as well as the biggest college in the state, and Athens for a college and a bit older crowd with lots of nightlife and a vibrant waterfront
We’ll walk you through a few cities in Ohio and what you can do there. There is lots to do in Ohio – you won’t get bored.
You might have heard of Canton, Ohio as the home of the National Football League’s Hall of Fame. If that alone isn’t enough for an entire day trip, Canton actually has plenty more to offer.
President McKinley was born in Canton, Ohio and there is a museum dedicated to him and his Presidency in Canton as well as a library named for him.
There is also a museum in the Canton area named the First Ladies National Historic Site which is a place where some of the historical items of First Ladies (President’s wives) are kept. The museum is not especially large, but you might find yourself there for hours discussing Presidential history and reading.
Canton also has some art – with the Canton Museum of Art located near the city’s downtown.
People who are seriously into cars might also like the Canton Classic Car Museum, which isn’t actually limited to just cars and has plenty of other memorabilia and stuff to scour through too.
As you can tell – the city is a bit of a sports town – and you’ll also want to consider visiting Tom Benson Hall of Fame stadium – which is home to the NFL’s yearly preseason hall of fame game.
Another historical site within Canyon is just plain cool – the Blue Water Majesty Museum has handmade wood and bone replicas of 19th century and earlier ships.
Made by artist Larry Pulca, the ships are impressive works of art in their own right. This place is perfect for people who like a museum with some serious attention to detail.
A day trip to Cleveland will bring plenty to do. If you are into music – and even if you aren’t really a huge music fan – the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is full of exhibits from your favorite artists of the 20th century.
The museum has a downright impressive number of display, artifacts, and other fun things for kids and adults to do.
For kids on a day trip, especially in the spring, summer, and fall – there isn’t a better place than the zoo. Cleveland has a nice zoo in the Metroparks.
Apparently, the zoo actually gets more visitors yearly than the local baseball team, the Guardians, which says as much about Cleveland baseball than it does the zoo. A recently added rainforest exhibit will surely assist in keeping your kids engaged.
As a city bordering Lake Erie, Cleveland has its own maritime and science history center at the Great Lakes Science Center.
The Science Center is home to a 618-foot freighter steam ship built in 1925 that you can explore – and its actually quite interesting with or without kids.
In the summer – and again with a shore of Lake Erie, Cleveland actually has beaches.Edgewater Park and others are great places to have a picnic during your day trip.
Columbus, Ohio is home to Ohio State University, and for sports fans, that means potentially taking in a college basketball game or watching the highly ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in one of the largest stadiums in the country.
The city also has the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, which is often ranked as one of the best zoos in the country.
The zoo offers plentiful experiences and events, including being able to feed reindeer in the winter – put simply – there is a lot to do here with multiple exhibits dedicated to different countries from Africa and Australia to the dedicated aquarium full of a variety of sea life.
Within Columbus is a very well known museum called COSI – or the Center of Science and Industry.
There is so much there – including 7 separate exhibits dedicated to natural science with over 300 exhibiations.
With a couple of rivers running through it, Columbus is also a good place to do for a scenic kayaking trip, followed by a run on the many breweries located in the city. Sounds like a good day to us!
Cedar Point Amusement Park
Thrill seekers welcome! While the idea is still up the air, Cedar Point Amusement Park is considered to be among the best, if not the best amusement park in the world.
The place is big, and is considered the Roller Coaster Capital of the World. To say this is not your average “amusement park” is an understatement.
Try more than 70 rides including some serious roller coasters like Steel Vengeance and Millenium Force.
The park is also connected to the boardwalk for Lake Erie and has its own water park, which just adds to the fun. The park has numerous summer events and is a great place for kids and adults to go and spend a day, or even two.
Cincinnati has some history- it was actually the first city in the United States founded after the American Revolution – so they say.
Cincinnati has plenty going on! Cincinnati is a historical sports town with the Reds – and more recently the far more successful Bengals who played in the Super Bowl in 2022. Go and catch a game!
For the purposes of history, Cincinnati is home to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center which is dedicated to the abolishment of human slavery across the glove with local ties to the movement to free slaves from the southern US in the pre civil war era.
Cincinnati is home to another well designed and fun zoo as well as separate botanical gardens. You can also visit the well known Cincinnati Art Museum, which has 50,000+ works of art available to see in a sprawling building.
Cuyahoga National Park
Here is our first place to go that is not a city – and it’s also a rather unusual national park because it is the only national park in Ohio – and it is rather close to urban centers, which isn’t exactly the norm for a national park.
Still, you’ll find plenty of natural areas to explore in Cuyahoga, which is nestled between Akron and Cleveland.
The park has an extensive biking and trail system that leads to one of Ohio’s tallest waterfalls, Brandywine Waterfall.
For people seeking a beautiful, natural place to disconnect for a little while – but also stay near an urban city to get a good bite to eat or catch a show afterward, Cuyahoga is a great place to go.
One of the biggest attractions to Holmes county is the Amish community. Between peaceful small cities with historical relics, overall quiet, and handmade crafts and furniture, the area is also a good spot for sight seeing and a great place to “slow down” from being in the cities.
For those interested in Amish history, there is an Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center as well as historical trails that were used a century and a half ago for covered wagons to travel to the area.
Those who enjoy exploring shops and small cities with serious charm will enjoy Holmes County.
Near Cuyahoga National Park is a small historic village.
While the population is pretty low at 600 – the city is very historic and loaded with old architecture with over 20 buildings on the National Historic Registry, including the Gothic Revival art style church called Bronson, which was built in 1835.
The city has an art academy and a small but bustling downtown area with an art academy and an art gallery.
The city is overall a great place for a relaxing day trip of enjoying some historic sightseeing and a good cup of coffe while enjoying tours.
Put-In Bay is accessible via ferry or jet ski, though if you plan to bring the whole family we would suggest the ferry.
Surprisingly, Put-In Bay offers decent nightlife with bars and restaurants available as well as being very family friendly including Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center, which includes a walk through limestone cave and a butterfly house.
Downtown is like its own little village with plenty of places to shop, eat, and grab some coffee or ice cream.
Toledo is on Ohio’s border with Michigan and offers some history and lots of art.
Toledo was a manufacturer of blown glass through the 20th century, which has transitioned to an artistic city, powered by the Toledo Museum of Art and a Glass Pavilion which shows off many creative uses of glass produced by the city.
As a great lake city, Toledo also hosts the National Museum of the Great Lakes, complete with a historic tug boat that is available for tours. The museum is also very interactive, which is great for the kids.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force
Into military history or aviation? You could spend the whole day here! The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located on an air force base in Ohio near Fairborn. It’s also the nations largest aviation museum!
The museum has several historic airplanes, including the B-29 that dropped a nuclear bomb on Nagasaki, the command module from Apollo 15, and the only surviving XB-70 Valkyrie, which for referenced, is a supersonic bomber.
Waynesville offers some fun variety. The city is fairly historic and is named after General Anthony Wayne.
Within the city, you have a historic downtown with dozens of small family owned shops and restaurants.
The city is also somewhat known for being haunted, and has a variety of hosted ghost tours as well as Christmas home tours.
Finally, as a city of German origin, they host the Ohio Sauerkraut festival which has all things german from food to activities and of course beer.
They call it the Ohio Sauerkraut festival because people actually do come from all over the state to attend and celebrate the state’s heritage.
German Village of Columbus
German Village is a whole neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio with its own unique German architecture stemming back to the mid 1800s.
There are many brick and stone buildings to look at and tour. The neighborhood and city also have several independent breweries that are worth checking out to also get a tour of German beer history.
Hocking Hills State Park
Looking to get into nature? Hocking Hills State Park is a great place to start. The park is loaded up with waterfalls, hiking trails, biking paths, and lots of scenery.
The city itself has plenty of small stores and places to eat to recharge after a day of getting around in the woods.
This small town is known primarily for its miles of sandy Lake Erie shore. The beaches are pretty for the midwest and have loads of activities available in the summer, ranging from kayaking to volleyball courts. The city itself is charming and small, which is just the way some people making a day trip will like it.
Ashtabula isn’t too busy and is also fairly peaceful. Go during the spring or summer for the best weather possible.
Geneva-On-The-Lake is off Lake Erie and is one of the first resort towns to be built in Ohio.
The result is many, many options for wineries and nice places to stay – there are actually more than 20 wineries in the city, so if you like wine and a slower pace of life, this is definitely a spot to spend a day!
The drive is also quite scenic, so you’ll enjoy slowly going from one winery or restaurant to the next.
Yellow Springs is a small town with history, and one of few mills left in the United States.
You can tour the old Clifton Mill to see how Ohioans used power and created grain over a hundred years ago.
The area also has beautiful covered bridges, closely linking the past two centuries without using too much of today’s concrete.
The city has a beautiful nature center with tours and wildlife. You can also head downtown and get homemade ice cream and find local snacks.
When should I tour Ohio?
We suggest choosing your time or year to drive around Ohio based on where you plan to go. If you want to do outdoorsy things or visit the amusement parks that make Ohio famous, go in the late spring or summer when water parks are open and the sun makes a day trip outside fun.
Fall in Ohio is also beautiful in small towns which will be bursting with the color of changing seasons.
If you plan to travel to a winery, check with the winery to see when they are open and their best times to visit. This will usually be during the spring, summer, and fall.
Take your time in Ohio
Ohio has lots of history, along with lakes and small towns. It’s also not too busy most of the time, so you shouldn’t struggle to get around in traffic too much.
Take your time and absorb the small towns and quiet places in Ohio. It’ll be relaxing!
- Ohio is an eclectic mix of small towns with historic downtowns and big cities with sports and abundant nightlife.
- Kids would enjoy the Science Center as well as the aquariums and Great Lakes museums located in the northern shores of Ohio.
- The National Football League Hall of Fame is in Canton, Ohio, which is a great place to visit if you are a sports fan, complete with the