Wondering where to go in Ohio? On the lookout for cool and amazing things to do in Ohio? From the obvious and iconic to the lesser-known treasures, we’ve got an extensive list of attractions, activities and experiences that will surely make trip to Ohio memorable and fun.
Ohio isn’t usually the first place that pops into mind when people think of a travel destination in “America’s Heartland”. Let’s face it, a lot of travelers think of this Midwestern state as Amish Country, wherein the only leisurely activity worth trying is cow tipping. But the truth is, Ohio isn’t as boring unappealing as most people think.
And though dairy farming does play big role in state of Ohio, it is also home to an internationally renowned rock and roll museum as well as to one of the fastest roller coasters in the United States. Furthermore, Ohio is a heaven for art connoisseurs, with tons of notable museums and galleries, housing outstanding collections that vary from classical pieces to modern art.
Believe it or not, Ohio is a superb place to experience authentic America. From the world-class museums to lake beaches, the state of Ohio truly has all hallmarks of an ideal and epic American vacation destination.
Ever since it has opened its doors in 1995, the 92-million-dollar glass pyramid designed by the renowned I.M Pei has brought tourists from all corners of the world, giving Cleveland a new energy as well as cementing its identity as one of the birthplaces of rock and roll. With a visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, you’ll get to see plenty of iconic music artifacts, including Bono’s first guitar, John Lennon’s report cards, the “Thriller” mask of Michael Jackson, and a whole lot more.
Experience a wildlife adventure like no other with a visit to The Wilds in Cumberland. While you won’t get an up-close encounter with the exotic animals here, you’ll board of an open-air safari transport that lets you observe them from a safe distance. With this one-of-a-kind tour, you’ll get to roam around the 10,000-acre conservation freely, and see tons of trumpeter swans, zebras, American bison, cheetahs and more. As an added plus, it will also give you the opportunity to stop and explore areas like the Outpost, the Lake Trail, the Wetlands, and the Carnivore Conservation Center.
A visit to Hocking Hills should be, as far as I’m concerned, on every adventurer’s list of things to do in Ohio. Famous for its camping facilities, cottages and hiking trails, the Hocking Hills State Park appeases outdoor aficionados, with its shelf caves, verdant forests, rock formations, fern-filled valleys and sweeping overlooking views. Plus, the park also has a ton of exciting events throughout the year, including winter hikes and bird watching.
Check out the intriguing state-of-the-art exhibits and bronzed busts of several football legends displayed inside Pro Football Hall of Fame. Here, you’ll get to lay eyes on a plethora of artifacts, including game balls, shoes, famous helmets and replica Super Bowl Rings.
The Union Terminal – a stunning mosaic-filled Art Deco gem built in 1933 – houses remarkable science, history and children’s museums. Kids will find their bliss exploring areas like Kid’s Town, Little Sprouts Farm, and Energy Zone at Duke Energy Children’s Museum. For history buffs, there are costumed interpreters at the Cincinnati History Museum who’ll help you make a connection with the past. Likewise, you may step back into Ohio Valley’s Ice Age (19,000 years ago) by dropping by the Museum of Natural History and Science.
Let your imagination take flight in Dayton – a midsize city known for its incredible aviation history. At the beloved Wright Cycle Company Complex, displays and rangers answer questions about the aviation history of Dayton as well as give you an overview of the lives of the Wright Brothers. Acres of hangars with over 300 missiles and planes await you at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force – the largest military aviation museum in the world.
Traveling with a bunch of kids? Columbus – the biggest city in Ohio – offers an appealing array of family-friendly attractions, like the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – home to the Polar and over 700 animal species. Another family favorite in Columbus, Ohio is the Franklin Park Conservatory, which features plants of the rainforest, the Himalayan Mountains and other climates as well as a collection of fabulous glass works by artist Dale. You may also visit the Center of Science and Industry – a wondrous hub fusing a museum and a playground, with a movie theater and over 300 interactive exhibits.
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati is stirring, even from the outside. It’s wavy and unique building, after all, mirrors the Ohio. One of the most moving and powerful exhibits at the center is the slaved pen moved from a farm in Kentucky.
Established in 1916, Ohio’s Cleveland Museum of Art is rather well-known throughout the world, for its wondrous collection. Over the years, the original building has been expanded numerous times, to accommodate its ever-growing collection. Today, the treasure trove boasts a wide variety of art, including American, European and Asian pieces from various historical periods.
Whether they are facing their arch nemesis Golden State Warriors or an Eastern Conference rival like the Indiana Pacers, watching the Cavs in their home turf is something you should do in Ohio. The Cleveland Cavaliers are an exciting unit that delights their fans with jaw-dropping basket plays and highlights.
The Franklin Conservatory and Botanical Garden is a year-round Ohio attraction that features a beautiful ever-changing landscape of plants and flowers. The Palm House – the gorgeous Victorian-style greenhouse of the park – was built in the 19th century, and showcases awesome palms that originate from all corners of the world. What’s more, the park is home to The Conservatory – another glass greenhouse that displays dozens of exhibits and species throughout the year.
A sculpture garden, the Glass Pavilion and a number of galleries showcase the museum’s collection of over 30,000 sculptures, paintings and other artworks. Make sure to lay eyes on the incredible demos in the Glass Pavilion, wherein skilled glassblowers deftly snip, stretch, twist and twirl fiery globs of molten glass into vases and animal shapes.
Looking for classy and memorable things to do in Ohio? Catch a classic film or a play in this grandiose historic theater in downtown Columbus.
A celebrated riverfront park in Columbus, Scioto Mile boasts a cultural arts center, complimentary Wi-Fi, local food vendors, water fountains and miles of recreational trails.
Stan Hywet is a sweet and striking country house designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman and Warren Henry Manning. Known as one of the largest homes in the US, the Stan Hywet was built by the founder of the Goodyear Tyre Company – FA Seiberling. The conservatory, gate lodge, gardens and houses are now open to the public, and guided tours are also available. There’s a gift shop and café on site as well.
The Cedar Point Amusement Park – the world’s largest – offers a nice mixture of mind-blowing thrill rides and timeless carnival classics like carousels and a Ferris wheel. Most of the 17 roller coasters in the park not only offer lovely lake vistas, but it can give a thrilling ride as well. Daredevils who find the park’s roller coasters a bit too meek should head to the nearby Challenge Park.
Established in 1875, the Cincinnati Zoo is the second oldest zoo in the US, next only to the Philadelphia Zoo. Of course, the zoo is a popular attraction in Ohio, and houses lovely animals, like apes, polar bears and African lions.
Just a 30-minute drive south of Cleveland, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a 33,000-acre haven with golf courses, a living history settlement, 160 miles of hiking trails as well as spectacular waterfalls and rock formations. Built in the 1970s as a recreation area to fight urban sprawl, Cuyahoga is now one of the most accessible national parks in the country.
Learn more about the fascinating culture and history of the Amish with the accessible exhibits of Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center. Then, make your to Yoder’s Amish Home in Millersburg, to further explore Amish customs and history.
There are 17 reconstructed and historic bridges spanning the Ashtabula River in Ashtabula County, Ohio. Take a drive to explore these bridges and the county’s scenic vineyards, orchards and lake towns. In autumn, Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival will offer tours of these bridges, coupled with a parade, country music and other forms of entertainment.
Ohio’s Playhouse Square is by far the largest performing arts center in the United States, outside of New York. It was built for 19 months in the 1920s, and currently serves as a home to a myriad of theaters, including the Connor Palace, The Helen Rosenfeld Lewis Bialosky Lab Theatre and State Theatre. Performances include local productions and national tours spanning the genres of plays, musicals, opera and ballet.
The American Sign Museum archives and preserves a broad and impressive collection of equipment and signs used in their manufacture and design. Opened in 2005 to the public, the museum was founded by the former editor of Signs of Times Magazine – Tod Swormstedt. The museum is quite a unique experience, and offers plenty of exhibits, with more than 19,000 square feet of space offering a deep look into America’s signage history.
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