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Considered the “Gateway to the West,” Ohio is a quintessential Midwestern state that stretches from the Ohio River to Lake Erie. Nestled in the Great Lakes region, the Buckeye State is full of fascinating cities where you can experience a slice of authentic American charm. From beaches to big cities, the state offers an array of world-class museums, amusement parks, and natural beauty. From the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to the largest indoor water park and Brandywine Falls, Ohio is filled with vibrant attractions that are perfect for a fun-filled day trip. Whether you want to explore the big city or be one with nature, read on to discover the best Ohio day trips.
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Nestled on the shores of Lake Erie, Cleveland is a popular tourist destination and the second-largest city in the state, famous for its professional sports teams and cultural attractions. While it is a big city, it maintains its small-town charm with 23,000 acres of parks and nature preserves to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a big attraction, in addition to the Cleveland Museum of Art where visitors can pay homage to the city’s rich history. Visit some of the city’s unique architecture at the Historic Warehouse District, appreciate historic exhibits at the Cleveland Natural History Museum, or explore some of the top culinary treasures in the West Side Market. To soak in natural beauty, head to the Cleveland Botanical Garden for colorful displays of flora and fauna.
One of Ohio’s largest cities, Cincinnati is a historic town with a number of prestigious cultural institutions and family-friendly attractions. Explore the historic Over-the-Rhine district and stroll through the vibrant Findlay Market for local delicacies, or catch a show at the prestigious Music Hall, home of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Eden Park is a picturesque area that spreads out to the Cincinnati Art Museum, while visitors who want to cheer on the local team can visit the Bengals’ and Reds’ stadium. Filled with pleasant urban neighborhoods, the city’s other big family-friendly attractions include the lovely gardens of the Krohn Conservatory and the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. In the summertime, head to the pedestrian-friendly Fountain Square to find a lively gathering point for both locals and visitors.
Nestled on the banks of the Scioto River in Buckeye Country, Columbus is the capital of Ohio and home to various cultural attractions. From its thriving arts scene to the famous Ohio State Fair, visitors are spoiled for choice with activities. Art enthusiasts can visit the Columbus Museum of Art, while foodies will appreciate the treasures found at the North Market. Catch a baseball game at Huntington Park or cheer on the local football team at Ohio Stadium. Nightlife here is found at German Village, Short North, and the buzzing Brewery District, while more family-friendly activities can be found at the world-famous Columbus Zoo and Franklin Park Conservatory. The Center of Science and Industry is a prominent attraction for those interested in Science, while the artistically trimmed foliage found at the Topiary Garden is a tranquil oasis in the city.
An important city in the history of flight, Dayton was the home of the famous Wright brothers. Home of the Air Force Museum, visitors can explore the oldest and largest museums of military aviation with over 200 aircraft and missiles. The Aviation Heritage Park pays tribute to Wilbur Wright, Orville Wright and Paul Laurence Dunbar for their contributions to aviation, while families will appreciate the education opportunities at the family-friendly Boonshoft Museum of Discovery where kids will be delighted to explore the hands-on interactive exhibits at its zoo, planetarium, and observatory. Art enthusiasts can spend a day at the Dayton Art Institute and browse its comprehensive collection and unique outdoor sculptures, and visitors who like to explore historical landmarks should make a note to visit the 2,000-year-old archeological site at the SunWatch Indian Village.
A vibrant city on the shores of Lake Erie, both couples and families will find an array of things to see and do. Whether you want to stroll through the beauty of the Toledo Botanical Garden or visit the animals at the Toledo Zoo, visitors will have plenty of attractions to fill their itinerary. Browse the 30,000 works of art and collection of 19th and 20th-century glass art in the Toledo Museum of Art, or take the kids to Imagination Station to find hands-on interactive exhibits covering a range of topics such as engineering, math, science and technology. Other family attractions include the African Safari Wildlife Park, the Butterfly House and the historic West End with its display of old Victorian Museums. Catch a performance at the Toledo Symphony Orchestra or visit the 108-year-old Valentine Theatre for a variety of performing arts experiences.
A hotspot for creative types and nature enthusiasts, Yellow Springs is a beautiful town filled with local artists just a short drive from Dayton. Here you’ll find yarn bombers decorating trees with knitted graffiti situated next to a delightful downtown area lined with charming and colorful stores, coffee shops, salons, and yoga studios. Picturesque streets are full of street performers and buskers ready to entertain passing visitors, and the annual Yellow Springs Street Fair attracts people from around the state to its array of handcrafted arts, crafts and food. From the John Bryan State Park to the Glen Helen Nature Preserve, visitors can soak in the area’s natural beauty and diverse wildlife through scenic hikes and overnight camping spots. Geology enthusiasts will enjoy Clifton Gorge, where you can find unique displays of dolomite and limestone shaded by leafy trees.
A historic town founded in 1891, Marblehead is a great day trip for the entire family. Nestled on the tip of the Marblehead Peninsula, this charming village is postcard-perfect, to say the least. With breathtaking views of both Lake Erie and Sandusky Bay, visitors can capture a slice of true American charm. Boasting a laid-back personality and quaint ambiance, visitors can escape the hustle and bustle of the big cities and spend their days enjoying the area’s family-friendly outdoor activities. From fishing to boating, visitors can spend their days outside or browse the area’s local stores and family-run restaurants. Don’t miss a chance to stop by the Marblehead Lighthouse, as it is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse built in 1821.
A summer resort destination, Sandusky is stretched across 6 miles along the shores of Lake Erie. Boasting an array of recreational facilities, it is the perfect day trip destination come summertime. The Cedar Point Amusement Park is the area’s biggest draw for its thrilling roller coasters, but the Historic District is also worth exploration for its interesting buildings and museums, such as the Merry-Go-Round Museum. Outdoor enthusiasts will want to put Magee Marsh Wildlife Area on their to-do list, as it offers visitors a chance to capture views of some of Ohio’s finest remaining wetlands, with a 42-foot tall observation deck providing breathtaking views of the surrounding area.
Located on the small South Bass Island only five miles from Ohio’s mainland, Put-in-Bay is a small town that comes to life in the summertime. Featuring a number of lovely restored homes, restaurants and shops, visitors can experience this “Key West of the North” for a day of recreational activities. Boasting quaint small-town vibes, visitors can delight in walleye and perch fishing, or visit Perry’s Victory and International Peace Monument that represents one of the tallest monuments in the United States at 352 feet tall. Commemorating Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory over British forces, it serves as a centerpiece of the area. Climb the observation tower for fantastic panoramic views of the area and the Lake Erie Islands, visit the Antique Car Museum, explore the mesmerizing Crystal Cave, or simply spend your time soaking in the city’s historic charm.
On the banks of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers sits Marietta, a historic riverboat town nestled on the border of West Virginia. With roots that date back to 1788, this town draws in visitors for its small-town charm and European ambiance. Postcard-worthy brick streets line the area’s grand Victorian houses, converging at the lively downtown area with locally-owned restaurants and vibrant boutiques. Named America’s Best Adventure Towns by National Geographic, visitors have a wealth of activities to choose from here. Stroll around the downtown area to explore Colonial-era architecture and historic churches, or marvel at the Gothic Revival architecture at the Castle of Marietta to find period Victorian furniture and a variety of workshops and events. A visit to the Campus Martius Museum is a must for history enthusiasts, while the Children’s Toy and Doll Museum is a delightful activity for the kids.