Top 16 tourist attractions in Ohio that you can't miss

By Alina GoncharovaJul 1, 2023 12:18 PMOhio
Top 16 tourist attractions in Ohio that you can't miss
State capital on the Sayoto River. Source: Image David Mark/Pixabay

Ohio is a state in the northeastern Midwest of the United States that allows you to feel the special atmosphere of authentic America. It is not just "Amish country" with well-developed dairy farming. Columbus, Dayton, Cleveland, Cincinnati and other cities offer the best tourist attractions in Ohio, as well as a large number of interesting things to do for every taste.

Visit the various state and national parks in the summer or try your luck at ice fishing in the winter - no matter the season, the Buckeye State has something to surprise travelers. Embark on a wonderful adventure exploring the state with the following list of top tourist attractions in Ohio.

1. National Museum of the US Air Force

The best tourist attractions in Ohio include the National Museum of the United States Air Force. The advantage of this place is also free admission.

The museum is located on the territory of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton. There are more than 350 aerospace exhibits located both outdoors and indoors, demonstrating the development and history of the United States aviation.

One of the most popular attractions at the National Museum of the US Air Force is the Presidential Gallery. Visitors can visit the well-preserved unique airplanes that were once used by Presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Roosevelt.

The museum plays a special role in Ohio, as the first successful airplane was invented by local residents - Wilbur and Orville Wright. You don't have to be a devoted aviation fan to be impressed by space travel, modern technology, military air transport, and, of course, the invention of the famous Wright brothers.

2. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, located on the Cleveland waterfront, is a true "mecca" for music lovers. This Ohio famous place showcases the history of rock 'n' roll in chronological order, focusing on all the prominent artists who made a significant contribution to the development of the style.

The seven-story building contains one-of-a-kind pieces of musical instruments and costumes, and many interactive exhibits. The building itself was designed by the famous architect I.M. Pei, standing out against the backdrop of the city's urban landscape.

When visiting this more than a museum, be sure to check out the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees wing. Also, if you want to attend interesting events taking place in Cleveland and not miss anything exceptional, pay attention to the list of live music and events that reflects the latest news.

3. Hocking Hills State Park

Outdoor enthusiasts are especially fond of Hocking Hills State Park, located near Logan. This is one of the best tourist destinations in Ohio with its rich and varied landscapes - caves, hollows, forests, and even waterfalls. The park has equipped camping sites, and you can also rent a cozy rustic cottage.

It's great to visit this location in any season, especially in the fall, when the trees are dressed in bright colors. Throughout the year, naturalists hold a number of interesting events here, including:

  • birdwatching;
  • photography classes;
  • cave exploration;
  • hikes, including the most popular winter hike, which attracts the largest number of participants.

On the park's official website, you can view a list of current events to learn about upcoming activities and plan your next trip. There are many natural attractions worth visiting in Hocking Hill State Park:

  • Cedar waterfall;
  • Old Man's Cave cave;
  • Cantwell Rocks;
  • Rock House is a cave in the form of a corridor located in the middle of a 150-foot cliff;
  • Ash Cave, which is accessed by an asphalt trail, so it is wheelchair accessible.

If hiking trails and walks in the park are not enough, we recommend rock climbing, zip-lining, or canoeing.

4. Cedar Point Amusement Park

Top 16 tourist attractions in Ohio that you can't miss
The observation wheel for the best views. Source: Image Giovanna Orlando/Pixabay

Famous places to visit in Ohio in summer include Cedar Point. The location is located on the picturesque shores of Lake Erie, not far from Sandusky. The huge amusement park includes several children's areas and boasts about 20 world-class roller coasters. An adrenaline rush is guaranteed!

Next to the amusement park is the equally exciting Cedar Point Shores water park. A wave pool and separate areas for children, a six-story water slide, a "slow river" and many more adventures are guaranteed. It is quite possible that one day is not enough for you to visit these tourist sites in Ohio, so we recommend booking a room in one of the nearest hotels, such as Breakers Cedar Point, or enjoying nature at a campsite. In addition, thanks to its location on the shores of Lake Erie, you can practice various water sports, such as parasailing or kayaking, or just spend time on the beautiful Cedar Point beach.

5. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

If you plan to do some sightseeing in Ohio, don't forget to visit one of the best zoos in the United States. It features more than ten thousand species of plants from eight regions of the world. Throughout the year, numerous educational events, entertainment programs, and even performances take place here.

Columbus Zoo attracts the largest number of tourists in winter. At this time, the Wildlights show, illuminated by more than three million lights, takes place. As a rule, it lasts from November until the Christmas holidays. During this time, you can see the animals at night, a unique and amazing experience.

Next to the zoo is the large Zoombezi Bay water park, which will be a great addition to a summer day spent getting to know numerous representatives of the world's fauna.

6. Cincinnati Museum Center

Ohio's most popular tourist attraction is a multi-museum complex in Union Terminal. The collections of The Cincinnati Museum Center include about two million artifacts! A visit to the museum gives each visitor a lot of impressions, demonstrating historical, scientific and educational achievements.

The complex offers many separate locations, including:

  • Nancy and David Wolfe Center for Holocaust and Humanity;
  • Museum of Natural History and Science;
  • Cincinnati History Library and Archives;
  • Museum of History;
  • OMNIMAX Theater;
  • Duke Energy Children's Museum.

The complex has so many interesting things to see that you can spend more than one day here, finding something new and special every time. While exploring the Cincinnati Museum Center, visit the on-site café and take a stroll to the unique 1930s Art Deco train station building.

7. The Wilds

When planning a trip to a state in the north-central part of the United States, you don't expect to see rhinos or giraffes roaming the plains. However, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ohio will change your mind.

The Wilds is a conservation complex that offers safari tours and even zip-lining, which allow you to see the unique habitat from above. In this reserve, you can see endangered and rare animals, learn about how much effort and work is required to preserve and protect them. For example, Persian onagras, Sichuan takin, two-humped camels, and Central Chinese gorals live here.

If you want to get to know an important sightseeing place in Ohio, we recommend staying here for a night or even a few days at The Lodge at the Wilds. You can book a cozy lakeside house or a well-equipped yurt with a private veranda to enjoy the amazing views and the sky lit up by myriads of stars in a relaxed atmosphere.

8. Franklin Park Greenhouse and Botanical Garden

The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens stands out among Ohio's main attractions for its natural beauty. The botanical garden and greenhouse showcases flowers and plants from all over the world, and special exhibitions are often held, changing throughout the year. The location is open to the public regardless of the season, so you can have a great time here, both in rainy weather, which is unfavorable for walking in state parks, and hiding from the hot sun.

The conservatory includes several amazing glass greenhouses with more than 400 species of plants from deserts, rainforests, the Himalayas, and Pacific islands. A unique opportunity to travel around the world in one visit!

A well-known tourist site in Columbus, Ohio, in the Franklin Park Botanical Garden is the Palm House, which is often chosen for major events such as weddings. The glass building is a Victorian-style greenhouse that was built in the late 1800s. It is one of the largest and oldest wings of the Botanical Garden. The Palm House is proud of more than 40 species of palm trees from all over the world, presented in the interior.

9. Amish Country

Top 16 tourist attractions in Ohio that you can't miss
Numerous Amish farms. Source: Image David Mark/Pixabay

You can take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and see life from a different perspective and, as a bonus, enjoy the amazing mountainous landscapes when you visit the unique Amish Country. Buggies driven by locals continuously run along the winding roads, and farmers work tirelessly in the fields, just like many years ago.

The popular tourist destination in Ohio covers five counties, and the most visited and interesting locations are along the 160-mile Amish Country Byway in Holmes County.

In general, in each community you can stop and buy locally produced goods, such as cheeses, ice cream or candy, and various products. The Amish also make their own furniture, and small shops sell interesting souvenirs and gifts.

It is definitely worth visiting the villages of Berlin, Charm, or Walnut Creek to get to know the traditions of cheese making or simply enjoy a cup of delicious coffee with fresh pastries. It is worth noting that shops and cafes are closed on Sundays.

10. Cleveland Museum of Art

This Ohio state tourist attraction was founded in 1916 and has since played an important role as a cultural and educational center of the state. The original neoclassical-style building of the Cleveland Museum of Art has been repeatedly expanded and reconstructed. The collection has also been growing, and other areas have been added.

Today, the museum presents examples of Asian, European and American art. The most popular area is the ARTLENS interactive gallery. Thanks to modern digital technologies, visitors have the opportunity to get to know the art collections on display at The Cleveland Museum of Art. You will even have the opportunity to create your own masterpiece thanks to the ArtLens Studio.

11. Kings Island

"Kings Island is a large amusement park near Cincinnati and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ohio for families. Kings Island was founded in 1972. Known for its high-class roller coasters, the park has a large number of other attractions for all ages, including:

  • Snoopy Kids' Area for children;
  • adventurous rides (Flight of Fear, Delirium, etc.);
  • themed holidays - WinterFest, Halloween Haunt, etc;
  • Orion and Diamondback slides.

It even has its own Eiffel Tower, a popular location for meetings.

You can also visit the Soak City water park, which consists of more than 50 entertainment and attractions, including more than 30 water slides of various sizes, two wave pools and artificial lagoons, and much more. Everything to make the best of a hot summer day with family or friends.

12. House and Museum of the Christmas Story

In a quiet neighborhood in Cleveland, this nostalgic and atmospheric tourist spot in Ohio pops up quite unexpectedly. The A Christmas Story House became famous in 1938, appearing in the classic "A Christmas Story". You can take a tour of Ralphie's house, where one of the most popular holiday movies was filmed. The recognizable original décor and interior have been preserved here, making you feel like you're in a fairy tale.

Across the street from the building is the Museum of the Christmas Story, which features original costumes and props from the movie, such as toys and other memorabilia. The shop offers a variety of interesting souvenirs. In particular, the famous lamp on one leg. If you wish, you can even stay overnight in the House of the Christmas Story and explore the entire building.

13. Professional Football Hall of Fame

A themed museum dedicated to professional football and the personalities who played an important role in its history is a popular tourist attraction in Ohio, especially for fans of the sport.

Pro Football Hall of Fame is located in Canton. The museum was founded in 1963 and initially occupied only a small space. Today, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a large, expanded complex that showcases the most important moments in the history of the sport. Its Gallery features more than 350 athletes and other personalities who have influenced the development and formation of this team game. Here you can see interactive displays with photos and biographies of football legends.

Famous attractions in Ohio include the Game of a Lifetime holographic theater. The multisensory exhibit allows you to get to know Joe Namath, Vince Lombardi and other prominent personalities with the help of modern interactive technology. The most devoted football fans can additionally purchase a VIP ticket, which includes a backstage tour.

14. Caves of Ohio

If you are planning to visit the best sightseeing in Ohio, unique caves should be a must-see on your travel itinerary. They have more than 125 years of history and are real natural wonders of the state. The Ohio Caverns include more than two miles of winding underground passages that can be explored.

Anyone can book a guided tour, choosing from several types of tours, such as the Discovery Lantern. The winding tunnels lead to a depth of 30 to 100 feet. Underground, you can see natural geological wonders, including Ohio's largest stalactite and other unique formations. The temperature in the caves is constant and always 54 degrees Fahrenheit, so any time of year is suitable for visiting.

15. Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Spend a day full of adventure by planning a visit to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. One of the best tourist places in Ohio showcases a variety of habitats, including:

  • elephant reserve;
  • "Cat Canyon";
  • Gibbon Islands and Ru Valley.

Children will especially enjoy interactive zones, such as the Wings of Wonder bird encounter or the petting zoo.

Another Ohio sightseeing attraction located at the same location is the Botanical Garden, which has been operating since 1875. It has a large collection of endangered plant species, and you can also visit the butterfly gallery. The Botanical Garden constantly hosts interesting events, even sales, which is a great opportunity to buy something special for your own corner.

16. Stan Hyatt Hall & Gardens, Akron

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens is an important tourist destination near Ohio, because here you can visit a unique historic house that is open to the public. The original furniture and decorative elements have been preserved in Stan Hywet Hall, and the gardens, which cover an area of 70 acres, provide almost unlimited opportunities for walks.

The house used to belong to F.A. Seiberling, the founder of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. The building got its name "Stan Highway" thanks to a unique quarry, which was an important natural object on the property acquired in the late 20th century.

We recommend that you not only stroll through the gardens, but also take a look at the Corbin Greenhouse, the Gate Lodge, and visit the cafe and gift shop to purchase something to remember this famous place in Ohio.

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