Ohio may not be the first state to come to mind when you start thinking of vacation destinations, but it nonetheless should be on your list. Not only is the state home to multiple large metro areas with plenty of things to do, you’ll also find natural habitats, amusement parks, family-friendly zoos and multiple must-see halls of fame. Whether you’re road tripping to Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus or Toledo, there are interesting sights and activities around every corner. Here are some of the best places to visit in Ohio
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
This hidden gem between Cleveland and Akron is the perfect spot for nature lovers in Ohio. The 51-square mile park preserves the natural landscape between two major urban areas and is home itself to several small towns and historical buildings. The Cuyahoga River runs through the park, and at one point, so did the Ohio and Erie canal.
The canal was an important carrier of freight traffic in the mid 1800s, but a flood in 1913 put the canal mostly out of order. Today, you can see remnants of locks and aqueducts from the once bustling waterway inside the park, and learn more about its history on the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail and at the Canal Exploration Center. There is plenty to be seen on the park’s 125 miles of hiking trails that cover everything from old rock quarries to the stunning Brandywine Falls. It’s a natural retreat that’s not too far from city life.
Who says you have to go to Florida to visit a great theme park? If you’re a midwesterner, it’s likely you know more about Cedar Point than you do Disney World. Cedar Point’s specialty is thrills, as it’s known as the Roller Coaster Capital of the World. Located on a peninsula that juts into Lake Erie in Sandusky, Ohio, the park was founded in 1870. Its 364 acres are home to 17 roller coasters, like the Millennium Force and the Steel Vengeance. If water parks are more your speed, Cedar Point has that too at the adjacent Cedar Point Shores. You’ll need a separate admission ticket to get in.
Hocking Hills State Park
A little over 2 hours east of Cincinnati and an hour south of Columbus sits Hocking Hills State Park. Its caves, cliffs and waterfalls, however, feel like worlds away. Discover lush flora lining sandstone formations on a multitude of different hiking trails. Explore the area’s only true cave, Rock House, or its most notable feature, Ash Cave. Cedar Falls pumps the most water of all the park’s falls, and the Old Man’s Cave area features multiple falls and gorges. If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s the elusive Corkscrew Falls, which will take some online sleuthing and careful navigating around private property to find.
Halls of Fame
There are multiple halls of fame that call Ohio home, and both are well-worthy of a visit. Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame sits right on the shores of Lake Erie. Inside this triangular building you’ll find performance outfits and personal artifacts from some of the names that shaped the sound of rock and roll. South of Akron lies the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Here, you can discover everything there is to know about the greats who played the game, as well as explore memorabilia from modern day NFL moments and football lore of years past. Pick which hall of fame suits your interests, or visit both! Either way, you’ll walk away with more respect for the legendary figures that shaped their fields.
It’s hard to pick which Ohio zoo to include on this list, so we’ll include them all! The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium consistently show up on lists of the best zoos in the nation. The Columbus Zoo is actually home to world-famous zookeeper and wildlife TV personality Jack Hanna, who became the zookeeper in Columbus in 1978. To this day, Hanna still attends events and visits with guests several times a year at the Columbus Zoo. If your visit takes you more towards northern Ohio, you can check out the Toledo Zoo, the Akron Zoo or the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. For a truly immersive experience though, check out The Wilds in Cumberland. It’s a 10,000 acre conservation center in southeast Ohio where you can take a safari past cheetahs, rhinos and giraffes living in open-range habitats.
Ohio’s Amish Country
America’s highest number of Amish congregations call Ohio home. The Amish first settled in Ohio in 1808, and today there are still 60,000 Amish who live there. Visit the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center in Berlin, Ohio for an overview of the culture, and try a tour of Yoder’s Amish Home for an up-close experience. There are a plethora of places to purchase Amish goods and souvenirs like the Walnut Creek Amish Flea Market, as well as different quiltmakers, furniture stores and cheese houses.
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park
Aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright hailed from Dayton, Ohio. Their home and cycle shop was relocated to Greenfield Village in Michigan by Henry Ford, and the actual location of the first flight was in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, but the brothers’ hometown still pays tribute to the duo that got us into the skies with the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park. Here, you’ll learn all about their beginnings with a visit to an earlier version of the Wright Cycle Company building, where the business was located from 1895 to 1897. You can also tour the Wright Brothers National Museum, which houses more Wright artifacts on display than any other location, including the 1905 Wright Flyer III, the brothers’ most important aircraft. Don’t miss Hawthorn Hill, the white-pillared mansion the family lived in after they achieved aviation fame. For history buffs, this stop is a must.
Best Places to Visit in Ohio
Whether you’re in it for the culture, the history, the nature or the thrills, there are plenty of reasons to take a trip to Ohio. It’s a great state for an RV road trip so you can hit each of Ohio’s big cities and nature parks!
Has this list of the best places to visit in Ohio convinced you to take a trip to the Buckeye State? Let us know where you’re headed next and check out our favorite RV destinations for more trip inspiration!