15 Best Day Trips from Cleveland

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
Our travel recommendations are based on our personal experiences and research, written by locals and travel experts with deep familiarity with the destination. When you book a hotel or tour that we link to, we may earn a commission.

Cleveland is a classic American city; sitting on the shores of Lake Erie there is even a seaside feel to the place.

In the balmy summer months you’ll find locals and visitors joining together to worship the sun on the lakeside beaches and dozens of immaculately kept gardens.

If you are a self-confessed foodie you will feel right at home in Cleveland, with a diverse range of cultures and communities happily coexisting here there is a restaurant or street food stall from almost every country in the world.

Cleveland is especially fantastic for its Italian, Polish and Lebanese food.

Once you have had your fill, literally and metaphorically, of Cleveland it’s about time you venture outside the city limits.

Let’s explore the best day trips from Cleveland:

1. Cedar Point

Sandusky, Cedar Point Amusement parkSource: David McGill 71 / shutterstock
Sandusky, Cedar Point Amusement Park

Cedar Point is one of Ohio’s best loved family fun days out.

This epic amusement park spans a whopping 365-acres and features dozens of rollercoasters and super soaking water rides.

Whether you like the steady and slow rides that allow you to take in the views over Lake Erie or would rather jump aboard for an adrenaline thrill, there is something for everyone here.

The GateKeeper is Cedar Point’s most iconic rollercoaster that attracts over 3.3 million people to the park every year.

As you would expect there is a great range of diners, eateries and grab-and-go food outlets dotted throughout the Cedar Point complex.

2. German Village, Columbus

German Village, ColumbusSource: aceshot1 / shutterstock
German Village, Columbus

Perhaps you have visited Europe and fallen in love, or perhaps you dream of setting foot on the continent, either way, at the German Village in Columbus you can get a taste of authentic German living.

Established over 150 years ago by German pioneers the village has preserved its cultural heritage and architectural gems.

The Book Loft is every wordsmith’s paradise, featuring 32 rooms filled to the rafters with books.

It is almost overwhelming.

In all honesty, you could easily spend a full day in this shop alone.

Be sure to visit Schmidt’s Cafe for an iconic homemade cream puff.

Being one of the longest serving businesses in the German Village you can find out a whole heap of history by chatting to the staff at Schmidt’s.

3. Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ViewSource: Shutterstock
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, View

Stray across state lines into Pennsylvania and take a trip around Pittsburgh.

Avid art lovers will surely already have Pittsburgh on the radar as it is home to The Andy Warhol Museum.

Not only does this contemporary gallery exclusively feature works from the great man himself but also offers visitors the opportunity to get hands on and learn about his innovative creation techniques.

For a relaxing afternoon head to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden.

Here you can take a casual stroll through the peaceful gardens or get chatting to the dedicated staff and expand your knowledge of botany and horticulture.

4. Toledo

Toledo, OhioSource: Michael Shake / shutterstock

Sitting right at the western top of Lake Erie is the city of Toledo.

Rich in art culture and family oriented experiences this is a city not to be missed.

Art aficionados will have their sights firmly set on the Toledo Museum of Art, perhaps too the city’s Glass Pavilion.

For those interested in military and maritime history should visit Fort Meigs in the morning and the National Museum of the Great Lakes in the afternoon, or the other way around, the choice is yours.

If travelling with children then the Imagination Station should be the first, and perhaps only, port of call.

This interactive science museum has a great selection of hands on exhibits that engage children in the sciences and the natural world.

5. Ohio Caverns

Ohio CavernsSource: Stanislav Vitebskiy / Flickr
Ohio Caverns

The Ohio Caverns are one of the state’s most popular natural tourist attractions.

There are a range of different tours to choose from, from the Natural Wonder Tour, their Historic Tour and you can even try your hand at mining for fossils and gemstones.

The Natural Wonder tour allows you to enter the caves through a sinkhole and during the tour you will learn about the geology and the geography of the caves and surrounding landscape.

The Ohio Caverns gemstones and fossils experience is particularly great for kids who like to learn by getting hands on.

6. Detroit

DetroitSource: f11photo / shutterstock

Detroit has a whole heap of culture and history to explore.

Sports lovers should time their visit so as to catch the Detroit Lions or the Detroit Tigers taking the sporting stage.

For shopaholics a day trip to Detroit could possibly see you spend the majority of the time at the Renaissance Centre.

If you fancy staying overnight you can check in to the Renaissance Centre 73-story hotel and enjoy incredible views of Detroit’s cityscape.

Detroit is famed for being the birthplace of Motown music and the locals will be quick to remind you.

There are dozens of bars and clubs that, to this day, take great pride in keeping this genre alive and kicking.

7. Chicago

ChicagoSource: Rudy Balasko / shutterstock

Chicago is one of the most versatile and vibrant cities in all of the United States of America.

With a strong sense of identity, Chicago is a real cultural melting pot and celebrates each of its diverse communities with pride.

Naturally must visit spots in Chicago include Navy Pier and Millennium Park.

There is nothing cooler, if you’ll pardon the pun, than getting out on the open air ice rinks with Chicago’s towering skyscrapers looking down on you.

You can really feel the rhythm of Chicago.

If you are up for a laugh be sure to swing by The Second City comedy club for a giggle or two.

8. Oberlin

Oberlin CollegeSource: Daderot / Wikimedia
Oberlin College

The tiny city of Oberlin can be found hidden away in Lorain County in Ohio, sitting just southwest of Cleveland.

The highlight of a day trip to Oberlin is a visit to the Oberlin Heritage Centre.

Featuring three buildings, Monroe House, Little Red Schoolhouse, and Jewett House this gives great insights as to this city’s fascinating history.

Perhaps take a stroll through Tappan Square in the afternoon.

You’ll find locals walking their dogs, doing yoga and just hanging out.

As Oberlin is a college city there is a wonderful community of youngsters here who are friendly and open minded.

Get chatting with locals to find out about Oberlin’s secret local haunts and hangout.

9. Columbus

ColumbusSource: f11photo / shutterstock

Columbus is Ohio’s state capital, with that in mind there is a heap of history and heritage to explore.

Transected by the Scioto River Columbus is home to a wonderful selection of parklands featuring water fountains, manicured gardens and walking trails.

The Franklin Park Conservatory is vastly considered to be the finest of them all.

For science-bods the COSI Columbus science museum will be of great interest whereas art lovers will sway towards the Columbus Museum of Art.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is one of the best in the country and is great for young families.

It is possible to visit Columbus city’s top sights and spend time in the German Village in the space of a day trip.

10. Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail

Ohio & Erie Towpath TrailSource: Kevin Payravi / Wikimedia
Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail

If you like getting active, getting out and about, and getting in touch with your wild side then a day exploring the Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail is a fantastic option.

This much loved towpath runs for 85 miles through the winding Ohio and Erie Canal Way.

You can hike the towpath, although you would be ambitious to cover the full 85 miles in one day, many people cover upwards of 10 miles.

Keen birders may not see as much of the Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail but will certainly see it in more detail for there is a wonderful array of bird species to observe in this area.

Bicycles are permitted on the Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail as are horses for trekking.

No need to bring your own, although you are more than welcome to, you can hire bikes and book onto pony treks on the day.

11. Cincinnati

CincinnatiSource: Sean Pavone / shutterstock

Modern and happening Cincinnati is a city often overlooked, totally unfairly so.

With activities for solo travellers, couples and families it’s suffice to say, whatever your interests you can plan an action packed day in Cincinnati.

Findlay Market is a real treat, instagram-addicts, foodies and lovers of artisan handicrafts will feel like they have died and gone to heaven.

You will almost certainly end up spending more than you intend to, nothing wrong with that though.

Cincinnati has a thriving arts culture and the Cincinnati Art Museum has an incredible selection of exhibits, some dating back over 6,000 years ago.

12. Niagara Falls

Niagara FallsSource: TRphotos / shutterstock
Niagara Falls

The Niagara Falls are the United States of America’s most iconic landscape.

This incredible falls feature a 51m drop and span 670m in width.

In the space of a day you can take a trip on the Maid of the Mist and get as close as possible to the powerful natural wonder.

You can then head up to the observation deck for some splash free photographs.

You can couple a visit to the Niagara Falls with a hike around the Niagara Falls State Park.

Bring hiking boots and a waterproof jacket for sure.

13. Amish Country

Amish CountrySource: Photo Spirit / shutterstock
Amish Country

If you want to reconnect with nature and learn about the simple life then take a trip an hour and a half from Cleveland to Ohio’s Amish Country.

Cheese lovers listen up, Amish Country is heaven on earth.

Be sure to visit the Broad Run Cheesehouse and Heini’s Cheese Chalet, both offer copious free samples of their cheese and you can stock up before you head home.

If you fancy a bit of culture swing by the Amish Country Theatre where locals put on hilarious and family friendly music, comedy and dance shows.

At Schrock’s Amish Farm and Village you can take a traditional Amish buggy ride and visit farm animals aplenty.

14. Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Hills State ParkSource: StevenRussellSmithPhotos / shutterstock
Hocking Hills State Park

If you want to escape the city chaos then a visit to Hocking Hills State Park is just the ticket.

If you are an avid hiker you could perhaps tick off two or even three of the marked trails at Hocking Hills State Park.

The Ash Cave Trail is one the most popular and picturesque trails that takes you on a 2 mile round trip to Ash Cave itself.

The Cantwell Cliffs Trail can be found to the north of the Hocking Hills State Park and is generally considered to be off the beaten track.

Should you wish to feel like you have the forest all to yourself then the Cantwell Cliffs Trail is the route for you.

15. Kelleys Island

Kelleys IslandSource: Becky Swora / shutterstock
Kelleys Island

Interestingly Kelleys Island is both a village and an island.

This is one of Ohio’s best kept secrets and sits in the western basin of Lake Erie.

During a day trip from Cleveland you can take a hike around Kelleys Island State Park and there are numerous trails to explore.

There are plenty of picnic tables to go around and are dotted within some of the park’s most picturesque spot.

Before you head back go to the Kelleys Island Historical Museums to learn everything there is to know about this beautiful island and what life used to be like here.

The Glacial Grooves are not to be missed by any visitors with a keen interest in geography.

15 Best Day Trips from Cleveland:

  • Cedar Point
  • German Village, Columbus
  • Pittsburgh
  • Toledo
  • Ohio Caverns
  • Detroit
  • Chicago
  • Oberlin
  • Columbus
  • Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail
  • Cincinnati
  • Niagara Falls
  • Amish Country
  • Hocking Hills State Park
  • Kelleys Island