Ohio is a state with wonderful possibilities for travelers looking for a cosmopolitan experience, a small-town retreat, or a full-on escape to nature. Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Dayton offer many of the state’s best cultural attractions, great shopping, and a full repertoire of things to do. Head into the countryside to discover the best of Amish Country, or hit the summer fun towns, like San dusky, and spend a day at an amusement park. From spring until fall, the lakes and forests are inviting destinations to discover Ohio’s best outdoor adventures, many of which can be found in the national and state parks. In winter, you can even try your luck out on the lakes ice fishing. Regardless of the season, you can find interesting and fun experiences in Ohio.
1 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
On Cleveland’s waterfront, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has become a pilgrimage site for music aficionados. The museum offers an extraordinarily comprehensive look at rock and roll history on a decade-by-decade basis, featuring all the great artists from various time periods. Among the seven floors of rock memorabilia, you will find one-of-a-kind musical instruments, costumes, and interactive exhibits. A must-see gallery during your visit is the wing of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees. Renowned architect I.M. Pei designed the building, which is one of the most recognized structures in Cleveland.
2 National Museum of the US Air Force
The National Museum of the US Air Force is one of the top free things to do in Ohio. The museum is located on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton. With more than 360 aerospace items on display, you will walk through a time capsule of aviation history with indoor and outdoor exhibits. The museum has special meaning in Ohio as natives Wilbur and Orville Wright invented the first successful aircraft. From the Wright brothers’ invention to space travel, military aircraft, and the stealth technology of today, you do not have to be an aviation fanatic to enjoy the visit. One of the most notable areas of the museum is the Presidential Gallery, where you can walk through several preserved aircraft used by Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower.
3 Cedar Point Amusement Park
Cedar Point amusement park is one of the most popular summer destinations in Ohio. Located near San dusky on the shores of Lake Erie, Cedar Point has more than 17 world-class roller coasters, several kids’ areas, and live entertainment. Adjacent to the amusement park is the Cedar Point Shores Water Park, with equally thrilling water adventures. The park has a wave pool, lazy river, shallow pools for children, and a six-story aqua-drop water slide for the truly adventurous. The resort has a variety of accommodation options, from camping to cabins or suites in Cedar Point’s Hotel Breakers.
4 Hocking Hills State Park
Hocking Hills State Park near Logan is a rugged natural area popular with outdoor enthusiasts. The area has hiking trails, caves, camping facilities, and cottages. It is also one of the best places for a weekend getaway, especially in the fall, when the leaves are changing to vibrant colors in the forested areas. Park naturalists host regular events throughout the year on topics like bird watching; photography; caves; and hikes, including a popular winter hike that draws thousands of participants. You can review the Hocking Hills State Park event calendar before your visit for the most updated programs. Local outfitters offer other outdoor adventure options including canoeing, zip lining, and rock climbing. The top areas to visit in the park are Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, Cantrell Cliffs, Rock House, and wheelchair-accessible Ash Cave
5 Amish Country
A drive through the rolling landscape of Amish Country on a summer’s day is a wonderful way to escape the city and see a simpler lifestyle at work. Amish buggies ply the twisting roads, and farmers work in the fields. Small communities offer opportunities to stop and pick up everything from household goods, to locally made cheeses, candy, ice cream, produce, and much more. While Amish Country spans five counties, the best places to start is along the 160 miles of the Amish Country Byway, in Holmes County.
6 Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is consistently rated as one of the top zoos in the nation. More than 10,000 animals and six regions are featured in the zoo, like Asia Quest, Heart of Africa, Congo Expedition, and North America. Regular stage performances and special educational programs are held throughout the year. The winter draw is Wild lights, a spectacular celebration with more than three million lights throughout the zoo. It generally runs from late November through the holidays. It is a unique way to see the zoo animals at night and a fun way to enjoy winter in Ohio. Next to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is Zambezi Bay water park, which is a popular add-on to a day at the zoo in the summer.
7 Cincinnati Museum Center
The Cincinnati Museum Center is a multi-museum complex inside Union Terminal giving visitors a range of scientific, historical, and educational experiences. There are several museums with combined collections of 1.8 million artifacts. Visitors can spend time exploring the museums, which include the Cincinnati History Museum, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, the Cincinnati History Library and Archives, and the Museum of Natural History and Science. It can easily be a multi-day visit. The center is worth a visit just to see the 1930s Art De co train station building
8 Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus is a year-round tourist attraction that features indoor and outdoor exhibits of plants and flowers, with special exhibitions that change throughout the year. The horticultural institution has exotic plant collections that take you around the world. The conservatory is home to several glass greenhouses that feature more than 400 species of plants from the Himalayas, rain forest, desert, and Pacific Islands. You might see a wedding taking place during your visit to the Palm House, which is a popular backdrop for events. The Victorian-style glass greenhouse was built in the late 1800s and is one of the oldest and largest wings of the facility. The exquisite glass room features 43 species of palms from around the world.
9 The Cleveland Museum of Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art has been an institution in the city since it was founded in 1916. By the 1950s, it had established an international reputation for its collection. The collection has grown and changed directions over the years, and the original Neoclassical building has been repeatedly expanded and renovated. Today, the museum focuses on a number of different areas, with outstanding collections of European, Asian, and American art.
10 Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, Akron
Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens in Akron is the nation’s sixth largest historic home that is open to the public. You will find yourself enchanted with the original furnishings in the Manor House and the elegant details in the five buildings and historic gardens throughout the 70-acre estate. F.A. Sterling, the founder of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, built the home and surrounding gardens. The name, Stan Hywet, is an Old English term referring to “story quarry,” which was the most significant natural feature on the property when it was purchased at the turn of the 20th century. Take your time as you stroll through the home, gardens, Corbin Conservatory, Gate Lodge, and Carriage House. A gift shop and café are also on the property.
11 Toledo Museum of Art
One of the highlights of Toledo is the outstanding Toledo Museum of Art. In existence for well over 100 years, the museum has amassed an extensive collection, which ranges from ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian pieces to American and European painting, and modern and contemporary art. Of particular note is the glass collection. Spread over 32 acres and six buildings, the main museum has a distinctive and grand Greek facade. Opened in 2006, the Glass Pavilion, which contains glass-blowing studios and galleries, is a unique postmodern structure with many walls, including the exterior, made entirely of glass.
12 Fountain Square, Cincinnati
Cincinnati’s Fountain Square is a central meeting place in the city where people can have an outdoor coffee in summer, skate the ice rink in winter, and escape from the confines of offices and apartments. Located in the center of Cincinnati’s expanding and vibrant Fountain Square District, Fountain Square offers great restaurants and free music and entertainment throughout the year. The main feature of the park is the ornate Tyler Davidson Fountain, dedicated in 1871. Fountain Square is just a few blocks from the Backstage District, Cincinnati’s arts district, so many people congregate at the square before or after theater and music shows.