There is definitely nothing more exciting than the thought of going on a trip with the people closest to you. While there are a lot of amazing hidden gems in the United States there is one place that you should not dare miss and that is the beautiful, enchanting state of Ohio.
Ohio is an exciting tourist destination with lots of things to do and places to visit across the state. Explore the attractions that tell a bit of the state's history, natural beauty, notable figures from Ohio, and some of the most unique museums in the US.
Whether you are in for adventure-filled days or to dazzling and lively nights in the town, there is always something to look forward to. If you are planning to make Ohio your next travel getaway, here are the top 20 attractions that you must see and do.
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This amusement park may be located in the leading pork and agriculture state of the country, but don’t come expecting anything less than one of the best places to visit for rides, games, and the best food.
Cedar Point is consistently rated as the best in the world, as it is one of the biggest, too. This is a big stop among international tourists. The main reason why is that Cedar Point houses two great wooden coasters, 14 modern coasters, and plenty of other rides for the whole family to enjoy.
Just make sure you get express tickets for the rides, if you want to ride as many as possible. This amusement park is packed all year around, so plan accordingly and plan ahead!
Accommodation: Where to stay in Sandusky
Address: 1 Cedar Point Dr, Sandusky, OH 44870
Also Read: 25 Best Amusement Parks in the US
Discover the Cleveland Museum of Art, one of the wealthiest and most visited museums in the US, located in Cleveland's University District. Established in 1916, the museum continues to grow its extensive collection of art, featuring over 61,000 works of art from around the world.
Cleveland Museum of Art features permanent and temporary exhibitions, showcasing collections such as Egyptian, Asia, European, and Native American Art. Visitors can see well-curated photos, sculptures, paintings, textiles, and other mediums of art.
Amongst the most famous art pieces in the museum are from world-renowned artists Vincent van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, and Renoir.
In addition to art, the museum frequently hosts events, lectures, film screenings, and more. Inside you'll find one of the largest art libraries in the US with thousands of volumes about art. Other facilities in the museum include a food court with a variety of restaurants.
Cleveland Museum of Art is free to the public, attracting over 750,000 visitors every year.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Cleveland
Address: 11150 East Boulevard, Cleveland, OH 44106
Also Read: Cleveland, Ohio Top 10 Attractions
You don’t have to be a rock god to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. All you have to do is go to the museum on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland. The museum includes records, archives, and instruments from some of the most influential names in modern music.
You’ll find collections from stars like David Bowie, Michael Jackson, and the Beatles. No two trips to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are the same.
That’s because they constantly open new installations of artifacts and have a rotating list of interactive exhibits.
Address: 1100 E 9th St, Cleveland, OH 44114
Hocking Hills State Park has some of the most beautiful natural sceneries in Ohio. The state park, established in 1924, represents a protected area for conservation of the Hocking Hills region. The diverse landscape includes cliffs, waterfalls, gorges, rock formations, and more.
Tourism is a significant economic driver in the area, with millions of people arriving at the park to experience Ohio's great outdoors. It's a popular destination for hiking trails, cave exploration, rock climbing, and outdoor recreation.
Hocking Hills State Park includes points of interest such as Cedar Falls, Old Man's Cave, Ash Cave, and the Hemlock Bridge Trail. There is also an artificially made lake, Lake Logan, specially designed for recreational activities like swimming, kayaking, and canoeing.
Thanks to the massive influx of visitors all year round, the park features hundreds of camping sites, developed with electricity and plumbing for modern comforts. There are many visitor facilities throughout the park – the visitors center is a hub for finding out the best places to visit within the park.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Logan
Address: 19852 OH-664, Logan, OH 43138
Also Read: 25 Best State Parks in the US
Home to a hugely impressive collection of air craft, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force boasts hundreds of missiles and air craft for visitors to feast their eyes on. This is a hugely popular attraction that sees huge numbers of visitors pass through each year.
In addition to the fascinating exhibits and collections, the museum has many other things for visitors to explore and enjoy such as flight simulators and the Air Force Museum Theater amongst other things.
There are many different galleries where you will be able to take in the exhibits such as the WWII Gallery and the Cold War Gallery.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Dayton
Address: 1100 Spaatz St, Dayton, OH 45431
Also Read: Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Dayton, Ohio
Known as a national treasure located in Akron, Ohio, Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens is a stunning country estate with beautiful grounds that surround it. One of the largest homes in the whole country, this is a wonderful place that is well worth a visit.
The estate has a history that dates back to the early part of the 20th century and there is plenty to explore if you want to delve into its past. There are also various events that are held here each year in addition to the fascinating guided tours that you can take.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Akron
Address: 714 N Portage Path, Akron, OH 44303
A truly iconic building and an important part of Ohio transport history the Union Terminal is now home to a host of fabulous attractions.
In addition to admiring the unique architecture of this structure, which boasts a long and fascinating history, you can explore attractions such as the original control tower, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History and Science, the OMNIMAX Theater, and a host of travelling exhibitions.
This is an attraction that is suited to all ages as there is something here for everyone to enjoy.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Cincinnati
Address: 1301 Western Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45203
Situated in Columbus, Ohio, the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a place where you can enjoy a combination of natural beauty, fascinating exhibitions, and education.
You will find hundreds of plant species to explore when you visit this attraction and you can even explore different climate zones such as the dessert and the rainforest.
The conservatory is situated within ninety acres of botanical gardens that surround it, so there is plenty for visitors to enjoy and explore.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Columbus
Address: 1777 E Broad St, Columbus, OH 43203
Also Read: Top 10 Columbus, Ohio Tourist Attractions
Nothing excites children more than seeing animals up close and getting to learn more about them. At the Cincinnati Zoo, they are surely going to have the time of their lives exploring the zoo's exhibits such as the Cat Canyon, the Night Hunters and Africa.
Make sure to take them to the Spaulding Children's Zoo where they get to feed, touch and pet goats and some of the tamer animals.
Address: 3400 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45220
When you visit the hugely popular Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio you will find yourself with access to a collection of tens of thousands of objects.
Dating back to 1901, this art museum is home to some wonderful and fascinating art exhibits and displays including glass art, European art and American art collections.
There are a number of famous pieces of art housed here too including works by the likes of Rembrandt and Henry Moore.
In addition, you can enjoy exploring the fabulous sculpture garden as well as the concert hall in the eastern wing of the building.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Toledo
Address: 2445 Monroe St, Toledo, OH 43620
Fountain Square is the central hub in Cincinnati, featuring a prominent fountain centerpiece serving as the symbol of the city. Locally known as "The Square," Fountain Square was first established in 1871 as the central district of the city.
Fountain Square is an entertainment and restaurant district, continuously updated with many shops, dining, hotels, and office buildings surrounding the square. It's a popular public gathering space where you'll find lots of events, concerts, outdoor movies, political showcases, and exhibitions. Many seasonal activities also happen in the square, including an ice rink during the winter and the largest Oktoberfest beer festival outside of Germany.
The iconic Tyler Davison Fountain, or The Genius of Water, is the centerpiece of Fountain Square. The bronze statue reaches 13-meters high and symbolic of the significance of water in Cincinnati. The statue is used in a lot of media and showcases of the city, making it one of the most recognizable figures in the city.
Address: 5th and Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Ohio is home to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, a US national park, and the only one of its kind in the state. The park was designed in 2000 to preserve the region along the Cuyahoga River. The rural landscape consists of forests, hills, wetlands, and rivers.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a vast space of natural scenery between two urban centers of Akron and Cleveland. Millions of people visit the park every year to experience the rich biodiversity in the park and outdoor recreational activities.
The park has abundant wildlife – bald eagles, peregrine falcons, coyotes, red foxes, and white-tailed deer. Hiking trails winding throughout the park gives visitors the best opportunities to see the wildlife leading up to some of the main points of interest such as Brandywine Falls, the tallest waterfall in the park.
Other favorite activities include cycling, golfing, and skiing in the winter. The visitor center features exhibitions and information about the park.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Brecksville
Address: 15610 Vaughn Rd, Brecksville, OH 44141
Also Read: Things To Bring When Exploring The National Parks and The Best East Coast National Parks
The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park (DAHNHP) takes visitors on a journey through the history of aviation. DAHNHP is a park complex dedicated in part to Wilbur and Orville Wright, the founding fathers of human flight.
DAHNHP is in the original neighborhood where the Wright brothers lived, consisting of one of the original bike shops, the Wright Cycle Company building, an interpretive center, a visitor center, and a museum. Guided tours are available to explore the bike shop where the brothers worked on constructing the first flying machines.
After building the first version of airplanes, the brothers tested flying on the nearby Huffman Prairie, also a part of the DAHNHP. Visit the prairie to see the landmark Wright Memorial, dedicated to many of the earliest flight records set on the field.
The museum complex preserves the Wright brothers' legacy along with other monuments around the country, such as the Wright Brothers National Monument in North Carolina and another bicycle shop in Michigan.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Dayton
Address: 22 S Williams St, Dayton, OH 45402
Cincinnati played an essential role in the historic Underground Railroad for slaves seeking freedom. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center captures the history and significance of the city on the road to freedom.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a though-provoking museum about the Underground Railroad history and for the human rights movements. It provides educational information about the dark side of US history, while also giving a reflection of the present and future of the country and what freedom means to us all.
The highlight attraction in the museum is the Slave Pen, a reconstructed slave jail relocated into the museum from Kentucky. Visitors can walk through the original structure to experience where slaves were held captive.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened in 2004, attracting approximately 180,000 people every year. There are a variety of temporary exhibitions throughout the year, interactive displays, and a FamilySearch Center to find information about family history in connection to slavery.
Address: 50 E Freedom Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Also Read: 30 Best Railway Museums in the US
A former civil war soldier training camp turned Ohio State Reformatory is a must-visit attraction in Ohio. The historic prison was built in the late 1800s and used until 1990. The prison is most famous for being the primary set of The Shawshank Redemption film and featured in several other movies and TV series.
Restoration efforts are in place for further preservation of the building's prisons, cell blocks, and prison grounds.
Ohio State Reformatory is in Mansfield, Ohio, and open to the public year-round. It offers visitors different experiences depending on the time you visit. During most of the year, it's a glimpse into the history of the prison, providing guided tours of the jail, the pop-cultural significance, and tours led by former inmates.
Halloween is a unique time to visit the prison as it converts into a haunted house or used for ghost tours. It's a popular location for local events and festivals.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Mansfield
Address: 100 Reformatory Rd, Mansfield, OH 44905
West Side Market is a popular attraction in Cleveland – a public market known for its great food and historic ambiance. The market opened in 1840 and still in operation, making it the oldest indoor and outdoor public market in the city.
There are two reasons to visit the West Side Market – shopping and tourism.
Shopping is still a prominent activity for people coming to the market. The market is open daily will stalls lined with vendors showcasing the best of Cleveland cuisine and a culturally diverse mix of food. Vendors sell everything from meat, dairy, baked goods, and prepared meals. There is also a café inside.
Tourism is another main draw to the venue. Due to its popularity, it expanded multiple times from its original size. The current building was built in 1912, giving it over a century's worth of history. Guided tours are available to learn more about the history of West Side Market. It's part of the National Register of Historic Places.
Address: 1979 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH 44113
Visit the American Sign Museum to see the most extensive collection of signs in the US. Located in Cincinnati, the sign museum was founded in 2005 by Tod Swormstedt, owner of one of the biggest publications in the signage industry.
The American Sign Museum displays more than 500 signs out of a collection of thousands. The signs represent the history of style and technology of signs across the US from the 1870s to the 1970s. Some of the most iconic signs in the museum include McDonald's, Big Boy, and old Las Vegas signs.
The museum is an immersive experience, allowing visitors to feel a sense of nostalgia as they walk through "Signville" on an indoor street lined with glowing neon signs, wooden signs, hand-carved signs, and more.
Guided tours are available at the museum to learn about the design and manufacturing processes that went into making many of the signs.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Cincinnati
Address: 1330 Monmouth Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45225
A Christmas Story House is a pop culture icon from an American classic film. The house featured prominently in 'A Christmas Story' is now a museum open all year round for visitors to live like Ralphie!
A Christmas Story House is a must-see attraction in Cleveland, especially if you're familiar with the film, which still runs nonstop every Christmas since 1983. Owners renovated and restored the house to its exact appearance in the movie, which filmed on a sound stage in Toronto.
The 19th-Century Victorian house was built in 1895 and converted into a museum in 2006. Take a guided tour to walk through the house and see a lot of notable features such as the bedroom, bathroom, and even photo opportunities under the sink.
It's one of four buildings dedicated to the film. Neighboring houses include a museum filled with movie props and photos. Across the street is a gift shop for movie-related souvenirs and memorabilia.
Address: 3159 W 11th St, Cleveland, OH 44109
Just south of downtown Columbus is the well-preserved German Village. German Village derives its name after the German settlers who populated the area in the 1800s. It accounted for a large portion of the population during that time.
German Village is a neighborhood listed on the National Register of Historic Places and considered one of the best-preserved examples of a traditional community from the 19th-Century. It showcases original architecture from the houses that were part of a massive restoration project in the neighborhood.
Many of the businesses, restaurants, and shops remain family-owned for an authentic experience in the village. It also has a thriving German brewery district.
There are statues, and sculpture landmarks featured prominently in the popular Schiller Park – Schiller Statue and Umbrella Girl. The park is a favorite public space for local events, holiday celebrations, and recreational activities.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Columbus
Address: Columbus, OH
See some of the most exotic marine life from Ohio and around the world all at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. The privately-owned aquarium is the newest opened in Cleveland in 2012 after more than two decades of the prior closings. It's bigger and better than the former aquariums and features a more diverse offering of fish and underwater creatures.
Greater Cleveland Aquarium has themed displays across 55 exhibitions, displaying fish from designated regions in the world, including Ohio Lakes and Rivers. One of the visitor favorites includes the shark tank, giving panoramic views of the sharks swimming above and next to you while walking through it.
The aquarium features interactive areas for petting stingrays, starfish, and other small aquatic animals. Visit during feeding hours to see divers enter the tanks and swim amongst the sharks.
The primary purposes of the aquarium are for education and entertainment. It hosts special events, lectures, and promotes aquatic conservation of marine life around the world.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Cleveland
Address: 2000 Sycamore St, Cleveland, OH 44113
Also Read: 25 Best Aquariums in the US
Nature lovers might choose to explore the Ohio Caverns, Hocking Hills State Park, and Amish Country. The top attractions located in and next to big cities include Cedar Point Amusement Park, the National Museum of the US Air Force, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Ohio is famous for its unique flag (a triangular swallowtail one), buckeyes (dark nut-like seeds that grow on buckeye trees), and corn. By the way, the state is home to the longest wooden coaster in the world. It is also the place where Neil Armstrong, Thomas Edison, and the Wright brothers were born.
The best time to visit Ohio is between late April and October, but do bear in mind that it might get quite hot during the summer months. If you're a fan of winter sports, you might want to plan your trip around the middle of February, as that's when fresh powder is deepest.
Cedar Point is one of the most popular summer destinations that attract visitors from all over the world. This is also where you'll find the equally exciting Cedar Point Shores Water Park for the extra hot days. The most visited city in Ohio is Cleveland which is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Museum of Art.