These 15 day trips from Columbus, Ohio are best rated and there is a lot you can do on these short trips. As the capital of Ohio, there’s lots to see and do in Columbus. There are also plenty of great destinations within a few hours drive of Columbus that you can explore within a day.
When you’re ready to get out of town, here are the 15 best day trips from Columbus.
1. Cincinnati, Ohio
Located around 105 miles southwest, Cincinnati is one of the best day trips from Columbus. Enjoy panoramic city views from Carew Tower. Afterwards, explore the Over-the Rhine district and admire the historic architecture.
To enjoy the outdoors, head to Smale Riverfront Front or Eden Park. The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is a great place to spend a few hours, especially if you have kids. Sports fans will want to catch a Cincinnati Reds game. Or visit their Hall of Fame and learn all about the oldest professional baseball team in the country.
Visit several different museums at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, including a children’s museum, history museum and natural history museum. Afterwards, stop by the Findlay Market and browse for food and goods to enjoy or to take with you. To make the most of your time, join a guided tour that combines food and sightseeing.
Once you are done exploring town, you can extend your trips and explore amazing destinations close to Cincinnati, You can travel to homes county, it’s an amazing drive through Amish Country Byways. Yellow spring is another beautiful destination 70 miles away from Cincinnati, You can check our best day trips from Cincinnati for some inspiration.
2. Amish Country
Take a day trip to the largest Amish and Mennonite community in the world, located around 20 miles away from Columbus.
Enjoy pretty scenery while driving along the Amish Country Byways. Learn about the Amish way of life, their culture and history at the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center or Yoder’s Amish Farm. Shop for hand-made goods, such as candles, quilts and furniture, or sample wine from a family-run winery.
Enjoy simple, but hearty and homemade food at a local restaurant. Amish Country is also known for their cheeses. Go on a cheese tasting tour or pick up cheese products to take home with you. Popular shops include Grandpa’s Cheese Barn and Heini’s Cheese Chalet.
3. Dayton, Ohio
Located around 70 miles west of Columbus, Dayton is known for its deep connection with aviation history. Home to the Wright Brothers, you can learn more about their contributions to flying at the Aviation Heritage National Park.
Dayton is also home to the largest and oldest military aviation museum in the country, the National Museum of the US Air Force. See classic vehicles at America’s Packard Museum. Experience history at the Carillon Historical Park and the SunWatch Indian Village. Or get artsy at the Dayton Art Institute.
Families with kids can have fun while learning at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery or explore at the Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm. Dayton also has five great MetroParks where you can enjoy nature and the outdoors.
4. Cleveland, Ohio
Set on the shores of Lake Erie, around 145 miles northeast, Cleveland is the second largest city in Ohio.
Immerse yourself in music history at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Then go check out the house featured in A Christmas Story. If you like art, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art are both fantastic. Catch a baseball, basketball or football game in season. Various Metroparks across the city offer a great way to enjoy nature and the outdoors.
If you’re visiting with kids, a stop at the Cleveland Children’s Museum, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo or the Greater Cleveland Aquarium are wonderful options.
Before you leave Cleveland, stop by the historic West Side Market. You can purchase various goods to go, and find a great place to eat or have a few drinks. Join a guided food tour to take the guesswork out. If you are looking to extend your trips here you can check 15 best day trips from Cleveland, Ohio.
5. Springfield, Ohio
Enjoy a number of interesting attractions with a small town charm at Springfield, located around 45 miles west of Columbus.
Don’t miss Frank Lloyd Wright’s Westcott House. It’s the only prairie style house designed by the famous architect in Ohio. Afterwards, check out the interesting structures at the Hartman Rock Garden. Learn about the history of the region at the Heritage Center Museum.
The Smithfield Museum of Art is excellent, and affiliated with the Smithsonian. To enjoy the outdoors, head to Buck Creek State Park, with its massive lake, or Mad River Gorge & Nature Preserve. Go caving at Ohio Caverns and see the largest stalactite in the state.
If you like antiques, a must-visit is the Heart of Ohio Antique Center. It’s the largest indoor antique mall in the country. Before leaving, pick up some souvenirs at the Champion City Guide and Supply.
6. Hocking Hills
Located around 60 miles southeast, Hocking Hills is one of the best day trips from Columbus to escape the big city and to enjoy nature and the great outdoors.
The Hocking Hills State Park offers more than 25 miles of trails to enjoy. See some really unusual rock formations and explore a number of interesting caves and waterfalls. Top attractions include the massive Ash Cave, Old Man’s Cave and Cedar Falls. There is even a trail that connects all three sites. Keep your eye out for wildlife while you are in the park.
You can also enjoy kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, horseback riding and ziplining and canopy tours in the area. For a different perspective, ride the Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad or take to the air in a plane tour.
7. Mansfield, Ohio
See where the movie The Shawshank Redemption was filmed on a day trip from Columbus.
Located around 65miles north of Columbus, Mansfield was a key filming site, You can tour the Ohio State Reformatory. Then follow the Shawshank Trail around town to see additional filming locations.
Kids will enjoy a spin on a historic carousel at the Richland Carrousel Park. Then get up close with wildlife at the Ohio Bird Sanctuary or at Shady Lane Alpaca Farm.
Take a walk around the stunning Kingwood Center Gardens, and explore the historic Kingswood Hall. At the Malabar Farm State Park, you can tour Pulitzer Prize winning author Louis Bromfield’s house and farm.
Visit Newark for the day and see some interesting sites. Located around 40 miles east of Columbus, Newark is home to the world’s largest basket. Be sure to take your photo in front of this interesting structure.
See the world’s largest set of geometric enclosures at the Newark Earthworks. Built between 100 B.C. and 500 A.D., it’s a national historic site. Afterwards, learn about the ancient culture that lived in Ohio at the Great Circle Museum.
See some incredible glass artwork at the National Heisey Glass Museum. Or enjoy hands-on activities and interesting displays at The Works. If you prefer the outdoors and nature, spend some time at the Dawes Arboretum and see more than 15,000 plants
9. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Enjoy a day exploring nature at the only national park located in the state of Ohio, Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Located around 130 miles away from Columbus, the park offers miles of great hiking and biking trails, including the Brandywine Gorge Trail. There are caves and more than 100 waterfalls in the park. One of the most spectacular is the 60-foot Brandywine Falls.
Visitors can go birdwatching and other wildlife spotting at Beaver Marsh. There’s also quite a bit of history in the park – explore the restored remains of the old Ohio and Erie Canal along Towpath Trail, and living history at the Hale Farm and Village. For a different perspective, ride the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
Located around 120 miles north, Sandusky is one of the best day trips from Columbus for thrill seekers and families. It’s home to Cedar Point, a massive theme park spanning more than 360 acres.
Cedar Point is known as the roller coaster capital of the world, and offers 18 different roller coasters. There are also plenty of other rides and attractions to suit all tastes. Don’t miss the fun, interactive adventure park within the theme park.
You can also go on a wine tour or visit a petting zoo here. You can easily spend all day here, but there’s more to Sandusky than just Cedar Point. Explore the Sandusky Historic District, or check out the Merry-Go-Round Museum or the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area.
11. Canton, Ohio
Located around 130 miles northeast of Columbus, Canton makes for an interesting day trip. One of the most popular attractions in Canton is the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which covers the history of the sport and honors top players .
Canton is also home to the McKinley Presidential Library and Museum, the William McKinley Tomb, the First Ladies National Historic Site and the National First Ladies’ Library. If you’re into old cars or old airplanes, check out the Canton Classic Car Museum and the MAPS Air Museum.
Traveling with kids? Spend some time at the small Sluggers and Putter Amusement Park, or enjoy the waterparks at Clay’s Park and Baylor Beach. There are also several wineries in the area, including the beautiful Gervasi Vineyard.
Marietta is a charming and historic riverboat town. It’s situated along the banks of the Ohio River and the Muskingum River, around 120 miles south of Columbus.
The downtown area has many Colonial-era buildings and stately Victorian and Gothic Revival houses. Some of these houses are open for tours, such as the Castle Historic House Museum. If you want to learn about the area’s history, spend some time at the Campus Martius Museum.
At the Ohio River River, you can explore an old paddlewheel steamboat. Head to the Mound Cemetery to see a 2,000-year-old burial mound. The Toy and Doll House Museum is a great option for those traveling with kids. You can also enjoy many outdoor activities here, from hiking and biking to plenty of water activities.
Visit the largest city in Kentucky on a day trip from Columbus. Located around 205 miles southwest of Columbus, there’s lots to see and do in Louisville.
Learn all about horse racing at the Kentucky Derby Museum. If you happen to visit during May, watching the Kentucky Derby is a must. Other interesting attractions include the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, the Muhammed Ali Center and the Frazier History Museum. All three are located on Museum Row, making it easy to visit multiple sites in one visit.
See the animals at the Louisville Zoo, or enjoy the outdoors at Louisville Waterfront Park. To experience the river in style, go on a cruise on the oldest Mississippi-style steamboat in the world. And no visit to Kentucky would be complete without tasting some great bourbon, which you can do along the Bourbon Trail. Leave the driving to someone else and fully enjoy the tasting on a guided tour.
14. Yellow Springs
Yellow Springs is located only 55 miles away, Yellow Springs is one of the best day trips from Columbus to enjoy nature. See wildflowers, trees and waterfalls at the Glen Helen Nature Preserve.
At the Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve, you can explore spectacular limestone and dolomite gorges. This is also a great place to view the rare snow trillium flower. You can also bike, hike or rock climb in John Bryan State Park.
After an active start to your day, spend some time just walking around the laid-back and welcoming town. Grab a bite to eat then browse for souvenirs at Urban Handmade. If you like comic books, be sure to stop at Super-Fly Comics and Games.
Discover New England charm at Granville, located around 30 miles from Columbus. Since Granville is so close, you can spend most of your day exploring this charming town.
Walk around and admire the New England architecture all around. Stop in at one of the quaint shops in town and pick up a souvenir or two. For some history, check out the Avery-Downer House and the Robbins Hunter Museum. There are also several wineries and breweries nearby where you can sample the local flavors.
Don’t miss a visit to Ye Olde Mill, a former mill that now produces Velvet Ice Cream. In addition to some tasty treats, you can also visit the Museum of Milling and the History of Ice Cream Museum.
Photo Credits – Featured Photo – Greg