View of downtown Columbus Ohio Skyline at twilight

Things to do in  Ohio

In the heart of it all

Tucked into the northeastern edge of the American Midwest, Ohio is easy to miss and even easier to dismiss. Yet this often overlooked state offers a wealth of experiences that are unexpected and diverse—and you won’t have to battle tourist crowds to enjoy them. The state is largely rural and home to some beautiful state parks and waterways, yet its big cities are cultural heavyweights home to thriving dining, arts, and music scenes, as well as nationally renowned museums both sophisticated and swaggering—aka, the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.

Top 9 attractions in Ohio

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

For those who like to rock, Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame salutes you. A pilgrimage destination for music fans of all ages, the museum recognizes artists and musicians who have shaped music history since Cleveland DJ Alan Freed first coined the term “rock ‘n’ roll” in the early 1950s.More
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

One of the oldest zoos in the country, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is home to everything from black rhinos to red pandas. More than just exhibits, the zoo is dedicated to conserving and rehabilitating endangered species. Visit animals from multiple continents, or check out one of the zoo’s educational programs.More
Kings Island

Kings Island

Spanning 364 acres (147 hectares), Kings Island is one of the largest amusement parks in the Midwest. With more than 100 rides and attractions, including upwards of 15 roller coasters, family-friendly attractions, and a water park, Kings Island offers a day of diversion for families and thrill seekers alike.More

A Christmas Story House

Although the classic 1983 holiday movie A Christmas Story takes place in Indiana, the interiors were mostly filmed in this house in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood. An entrepreneur and fan of the film bought the 19th-century Victorian and restored it to more closely resemble the interior and exterior of the home in the film.More
Lake Erie

Lake Erie

Embraced by four US states and a Canadian province, Lake Erie seamlessly blends natural beauty and recreation. Major cities, including Cleveland and Toledo, grace its shores, making Ohio a preferred gateway to this Great Lake. Boasting everything from museums to tranquil state parks, it’s the perfect year-round escape.More
Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Ohio’s only national park, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, spans 33,000 acres of forests and farmland that follow the course of the winding Cuyahoga River. The national park also commemorates the history of the Ohio and Erie Canal, an important route for local industry. Today, it is a popular outdoor destination year-round.More
The Troll Hole Museum

The Troll Hole Museum

The Troll Hole Museum celebrates all things troll doll, with a world-record-holding collection of more than 20,000 troll items, from troll dolls stacked floor to ceiling to sculptures and artworks. Through its exhibits and themed rooms, which feature waterfalls and grottoes, the museum explores the cultural history of these popular toys.More
National Museum of the US Air Force

National Museum of the US Air Force

More than 360 planes, jets, missiles, and unusual aircraft are parked in Dayton’s National Museum of the United States Air Force—the world’s largest military aviation museum. Collection highlights include the Wright Brothers’ 1909 Flyer, a decommissioned atomic bomb, the first Air Force One, and a Sopwith Camel biplane from World War I.More
African Safari Wildlife Park

African Safari Wildlife Park

Embark on a safari adventure without the long-haul flight at Ohio’s African Safari Wildlife Park. Drive across more than 60 acres (24 hectares) of land to see hundreds of animals roam free and get a close-up view of giraffe, zebra, bison, alpaca, elk, and more. The animals may even approach the car to be fed.More
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All about Ohio

When to visit

Summer is undoubtedly the best season to visit Ohio. The days are long and sunny, and there are ample opportunities to cool off outdoors, from natural swimming holes to shaded waterfalls. Ohioans make the most of summer with a packed calendar of events. In Columbus alone you’ll find a festival nearly every weekend, from the renowned Columbus Arts Festival to Stonewall Columbus Pride and the Festival Latino.

Getting around

The car is king in Ohio. Driving is by far the main form of transportation, so renting a vehicle is highly recommended. If that’s not an option, you can make use of Amtrak train services to Cincinnati and Cleveland—though you can’t use the train to get around the state. Or try the Greyhound bus line, which serves more destinations. Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus all have public transport systems that are limited but useful for getting around the city centers.

Traveler tips

Between Cleveland and Akron, the sprawling Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers history and nature in equal measure. Cycle or walk along the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, a restored section of the Ohio Canal's original towpath; then dive into the 19th-century waterway’s rich history at the Canal Exploration Center. You can also take a picturesque ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

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People Also Ask

What is Ohio known for?

Nicknamed the Buckeye State after its buckeye trees, the state of Ohio is well known for its American football heritage. The American Professional Football Association, now known as the National Football League, was founded in Canton in 1920. Today, the Ohio State Buckeyes are a wildly popular college football team.

What is the most popular thing in Ohio?

Many visitors to Ohio make a beeline to Cleveland to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Through exhibits and memorabilia, the museum celebrates history's greatest popular musicians. The star-studded induction ceremony, in which legendary musicians are welcomed into the hall of fame, takes place here every other year.

What is the nicest city in Ohio?

With big-ticket attractions such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to its name, Cleveland offers the most bang for the tourist buck. But don’t miss Columbus, which is home to a great food scene, family-friendly attractions including the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and a youthful, diverse student population.

Is Ohio safe for tourists?

Yes, Ohio is generally safe for tourists. As is the case in any major city, you should be cautious of your surroundings in Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati after dark. If you stick to tourist areas and well-lit neighborhoods, you are unlikely to have any problems when traveling in Ohio.

What food is Ohio known for?

Ohio’s best-known food is the buckeye, a peanut butter fudge ball dipped in chocolate. You should also try Cincinnati chili, Cleveland-style barbecue and pierogies, and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, a nationally renowned brand that was born in Columbus’ North Market.

What is the prettiest place in Ohio?

About an hour's drive south of Columbus, Hocking Hills State Park offers a retreat from the city. One of the most naturally beautiful places to explore in Ohio, the park is home to towering cliffs, deep hemlock-shaded gorges, recess caves, waterfalls, and many miles of hiking trails.

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