25 Best Things to Do in Ohio

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Many tourists think of Ohio as Amish Country where the only activity worth doing is cow tipping. This idea could not be farther from the truth and, while dairy farming does play a huge part in the state of Ohio, the state is also home to one of the countries fastest roller-coasters and a rock and roll museum.

The state is also an art lovers paradise with a number of notable museums housing collections varying from modern art to classical pieces.

Ohio is a great state to experience authentic America and has it all to offer, lake beaches, three large cities, world-class museums, record breaking roller coasters and the worlds largest Amish enclave. We have narrowed the endless activities to a list of the best things to do in Ohio:

1. Fountain Square

Fountain Square, CincinnatiSource: EQRoy / shutterstock
Fountain Square, Cincinnati

Fountain Square, found in the city of Cincinnati, is used as a meeting and hangout spot in the summer months by office workers and residents of the city.

The ornate fountain, which was made by Tylor Davidson in 1871, regularly plays hosts to music and other live entertainment.

In the winter season, an ice ring can also be found at the square.

2. Cleveland Museum of Art

Cleveland Museum of ArtSource: Jennifer Stone / shutterstock
Cleveland Museum Of Art

Founded in 1916, the Cleveland Museum of Art is renowned throughout the world for its impressive collection.

The original building has been expanded several times over the years to accommodate the growing collection.

Today, the museum covers a wide range of art including Asian, European and American pieces from various historical periods.

3. Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Garden

Franklin Park Conservatory, in Columbus, OhioSource: matteo_it / shutterstock
Franklin Park Conservatory, In Columbus, Ohio

This year-round attraction in Columbus features an ever-changing landscape of flowers and plants.

The park’s Victorian-style greenhouse, Palm House, was built in the late 19th Century and displays impressive palms originating from all parts of the world.

The park is also home to another glass greenhouse, The Conservatory, which displays hundreds of species, displays and exhibits throughout the year.

4. Cincinnati Museum Centre

Union Terminal CincinattiSource: DBrower / shutterstock
Union Terminal Cincinatti

This complex, located in a 1930s art deco building, houses multiple museums including the Cincinnati History Museum, the Museum of Natural History and Science and the Duke Energy Children’s Museum.

If none of the museums here are of interest to you then the Union Terminal building, which cost $40 million dollars to make, is still well worth visiting.

There is also an OMNIMAX Theatre within the complex.

5. Wright Brothers National Memorial

Wright Brothers National MemorialSource: Action Sports Photography / shutterstock
Wright Brothers National Memorial

Located in Dayton, the Wright Brothers National Memorial is can be found on the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The base is famously where Wilbur and Orville Wright worked on their aircraft and learned to fly.

The Memorial itself is situated on Wright Brothers Hill overlooking the Huffman Prairie Flying Field and  was first erected in 1940.

6. Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens

Stan Hywet Hall and GardensSource: Milena Ramirez / shutterstock
Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens

Stan Hywet, Old English for “Stone Quarry”, is a stunning country house and gardens designed by Warren Henry Manning and Ellen Biddle Shipman.

Stan Hywet was built by F A Seiberling, the founder of the Goodyear Tire Company and is one of the largest homes in the United States.

The house, gardens, gate lodge and conservatory are now open to the public and guided tours are available.

There is also a café and gift shop on site.

7. Hocking Hills State Park

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

The rugged State Park of Hocking Hills is located near Logan and is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

The park contains popular features such as Ash Cave, an enormous natural cavern, and Old Man’s Cave.

The park has many hiking trails, cottages and camping facilities and organizes a number of exciting events throughout the year such as bird watching and winter hikes.

The Hocking Hills Event Calendar on their website is a good place to find more information about these special events.

8. Cedar Point

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

This 365-acre theme park in Sandusky was opened in 1890, making it the second oldest operating park in the United States.

The popular amusement park and resort contains thrilling roller-coasters, less extreme rides for children and water rides guaranteed to leave you soaked.

The accommodation options on the resort are extremely varied and range from camping, to luxury hotel suites or cabins.

9. Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical ParkSource: RozenskiP / shutterstock
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

Dedicated to Ohio’s famous pioneers of flight, the Wright Brothers, this National Historical Park contains the Wright Cycle Company shop and the Huffman Prairie Flying Field.

The park also contains the Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial, which is dedicated to the famous writer and poet.

The park offers several different tours and accommodates around 57,000 visitors per year.

10. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Rock and Roll Hall of FameSource: f11photo / shutterstock
Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

This pilgrimage site for music aficionados is located on Cleveland’s waterfront.

The museum provides an informative and entertaining look at the history of Rock and Roll music, including a decade by decade breakdown featuring the greatest artists from each period.

The I.M Pei building which houses the museum is a modern looking construction featuring a large glass pyramid.

11. Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Cincinnati ZooSource: kanphitchaya / shutterstock
Cincinnati Zoo

The Cincinnati Zoo opened in 1875, just fourteen months after Philadelphia Zoo, making it the second oldest zoo in the United States.

The zoo is a popular tourist attraction and houses animals such as African lions, polar bears and apes.

The Zoo is currently celebrating its 140 year anniversary with a selection of temporary special exhibits.

12. National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

National Underground Railroad Freedom CenterSource: EQRoy / shutterstock
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

The Cincinnati stop was once a prominent stop on the Underground Railroad and was used for abolitionist activities at the time.

The Freedom Centre tells the story of these abolitionists and explains how slaves were able to escape the north.

The museum also explains how slavery still exists today and can be done to stop it. An informative iPhone app is available to be used in conjunction with a tour of the museum.

13. Ohio State Reformatory

Ohio State ReformatorySource: ehrlif / shutterstock
Ohio State Reformatory

First opened to 150 young offenders in 1896, this prison housed over 155,000 men in its lifetime before closing on 31st December 1990.

Today the Historic Site receives visitors from all over the world including a varied mix of movie fans, paranormal investigators and tourists.

Daily tours are available as well as seasonal events including the infamous Halloween Haunted Prison Experience, guaranteed to give you goose bumps.

14. West Side Market

West Side Market, ClevelandSource: psching / shutterstock
West Side Market, Cleveland

The West Side Market can be found in Ohio City, Cleveland and is the oldest operating market in the area.

The European style market features over 100 vendors from all cultures and corners of the world.

Within the market, gourmets will find Hungarian sausage, Polish pierogi and Mexican flatbreads as well as ginormous piles of the freshest fruit and vegetable produce in the whole state.

The market is open on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

15. Spring Grove Cemetery

Spring Grove CemeterySource: Anne Kitzman / shutterstock
Spring Grove Cemetery

This US National Historic Landmark can be found in Cincinnati.

It is the second largest cemetery in the United States and has served the families of Cincinnati and Ohio for over 150 years.

The grounds cover an impressive 733 acres and are available for tours and events throughout the year including tram and twilight tours.

Self-guided tours are popular and maps are available to help visitors appreciate all of the architecture and history within the grounds.

16. Imagination Station

Imagination Station, ToledoSource: Susan Montgomery / shutterstock
Imagination Station

The Imagination Station is a hands on, not-for-profit science museum situated in Toledo. It is home to over 300 entertaining exhibits for children of all ages.

There are many interactive exhibits throughout the museum and currently an explosive Mythbusters exhibition modelled on the programmes set and filled with props and gadgets.

The museum also hosts several educational workshops for children that are both informative and fun.

17. The German Village

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

The German Village is a historic neighbourhood in Columbus that was inhabited by a large number of German immigrants in the mid to late 19th Century.

The large, all brick village has been restored to its 19th Century glory and features beer halls, parks filled with arts and cobbled streets along with impressive Queen Anne and Italianate architecture.

Self guided tours are popular and tourist maps highlighting the villages must see attractions are available from the German Village Meeting Haus.

18. Playhouse Square

Playhouse SquareSource: Kenneth Sponsler / shutterstock
Playhouse Square

The Playhouse Square in Cleveland is the largest performing arts centre in the US outside of New York.

It was constructed over a 19 month period in the 1920s and is home to a number of theatres including the State Theatre, The Helen Rosenfeld Lewis Bialosky Lab Theatre and Connor Palace.

Performances include national tours and local productions spanning the genres of ballet, opera, musicals and plays.

19. Contemporary Arts Centre

Contemporary Arts CentreSource: Amphay / shutterstock
Contemporary Arts Centre

This pioneering art museum, located in Cincinnati, showcases art from “the last 5 minutes,” focusing on new developments in sculpture, painting, photography and architecture with the building itself providing a stunning example of contemporary architecture.

Over the years, the museum has gained international acclaim for its thought provoking and cutting edge contemporary collections.

20. American Sign Museum

American Sign MuseumSource: EQRoy / shutterstock
American Sign Museum

The American Sign Museum preserves and archives a wide collection of signs and equipment used in their design and manufacture.

Opened to the public in 2005, the museum was founded by Tod Swormstedt, former editor of Signs of the Times Magazine.

The museum is a unique experience and provides plenty to look at, with over 19,000 square feet of exhibit space offering a comprehensive look into the history of signage in the United States.

21. Carillon Historical Park

Carillon Historical ParkSource: Susan Law Cain / shutterstock
Carillon Historical Park

Located in Dayton, Ohio, this Historical Park contains many historic buildings and exhibits detailing the history of Dayton’s residents from the late 18th Century to the present.

The highlights of the park include a tour of the Carillon Brewing Co. brewery and the original 1905 Wright Flyer. Self-guided tours are popular with maps of the park available and helpful staff situated around the campus.

22. A Christmas Story house

A Christmas Story house, ClevelandSource: Juli Scalzi / shutterstock
A Christmas Story House

This house was used in the filming of 1983 movie, A Christmas Story, and has been restored fully to its movie splendour.

The home is open all year for public tours and features original props, character costumes and rare behind the scenes photographs.

The gift shop offers visitors the chance to purchase their own Leg Lamp, one of the movies most famous props, and many other movie memorabilia items.

23. Greater Cleveland Aquarium

Pacific Spiny LumpsuckerSource: Chelsea Cameron / shutterstock
Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker

This aquarium in Cleveland occupies the historic FirstEnergy Powerhouse building and is located on the west bank of the Cuyahoga River.

The aquarium is passionate about educating guests on conservation and environmental issues as well as providing entertainment.

There are over 50 exhibits in the aquarium covering the marine life and ecosystems of various oceans and continents.

24. Ohio Statehouse

Ohio Statehouse, ColumbusSource: Nagel Photography / shutterstock
Ohio Statehouse

Located in Columbus, the Ohio Statehouse is the house of government for Ohio State.

The stunning Greek revival building is available for free guided tours between Monday and Friday.

The tours depart from the Map Room and last for about 45 minutes providing an insight into the buildings function throughout history and in the present.

25. Lake View Cemetery

Lake View Cemetery, ClevelandSource: NaughtyNut / shutterstock
Lake View Cemetery

Another historic cemetery within the state of Ohio, there are more than people buried here and over 700 burials take place here each year.

Points of interest include the Garfield Monument, Wade Chapel and the Rockerfeller Monument.

Self-guided tours are popular and there are many hiking trails and picnic sites within the grounds.

25 Best Things to Do in Ohio:

  • Fountain Square
  • Cleveland Museum of Art
  • Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Garden
  • Cincinnati Museum Centre
  • Wright Brothers National Memorial
  • Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens
  • Hocking Hills State Park
  • Cedar Point
  • Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  • Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
  • National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
  • Ohio State Reformatory
  • West Side Market
  • Spring Grove Cemetery
  • Imagination Station
  • The German Village
  • Playhouse Square
  • Contemporary Arts Centre
  • American Sign Museum
  • Carillon Historical Park
  • A Christmas Story house
  • Greater Cleveland Aquarium
  • Ohio Statehouse
  • Lake View Cemetery