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THINGS TO DO IN OHIO

by Pankaj Upreti
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THINGS TO DO IN OHIO

Known for its theme parks with impressive roller coasters, Amish culture and famous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ohio is a state in the Midwestern USA which is blessed with all the favorite things that makes the United States. From picturesque sceneries to delicious cuisine, sports, music and whatnot.

With Lake Erie in the north and Ohio River in the south, it has a lot of diverse experience to offer in between. With Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati being the major cities, the state’s arts and culture can be experienced here. However, the authentic diversity in culture is found across the state. From solo travelers to families on tour, there are top-notch places for them all.

With lockdown restrictions loosening a bit in Ohio recently, we have curated a list of things to do in Ohio below to ease your travel.

CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART

The Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio | Photo Credit – Bruce Kratofil

The Cleveland Museum of Art is an internationally renowned museum . It is famous for its vast and varied collection from around the world, including Egyptian and Asian art.

The museum charges no entry fee and is one of the richest, most visited museums in the world. The museum has gone through various expansions in the past to house it’s ever growing collection. 

Situated in Wade Park, the building of the museum has a very idyllic neoclassical style and is an art fanatic’s great dream come true. Visiting this museum is one of people’s favorite things to do in Ohio.

In The Cleveland Museum of Art visitors can see the works of artists like Botticelli, Caravaggio, Goya, Dalí, Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Picasso etc. for free. Some examples of famous artworks here are Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period, Edwin Church’s Twilight in the Wilderness and Monet’s Portrait of Madame Monet.

GREATER CLEVELAND AQUARIUM

Greater Cleveland Aquarium, Ohio
Greater Cleveland Aquarium, Ohio | Photo Credit – Erik Drost

This aquarium is located on the west bank of Cuyahoga river in Cleveland, Ohio. All the water animals enthusiasts can find their peace here and also learn a lot about aquatic life. The aquarium exhibits both exotic and local aquatic creatures. 

This aquarium opened in January 2012, with 8 exhibition areas, including Ohio Lakes & Rivers, Lakes & Rivers of the World, Discovery Zone, Indo-Pacific, Northern Pacific, Coastal, Coral Reef and Shark Tube. The shark tube offers a photo worthy panoramic view of marine life, including sharks. The various species of weedy sea dragons and splitfin flashlight fish are visible here. 

The aquarium also hosts a lot of daily interactive tours and events to cater to the bright inquisitive minds of the visitors. The aquarium is also involved in a conservation program regarding Ohio turtle diversity.Make sure to see their website before making your travel plans to the aquarium.

ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME  AND MUSEUM

Located in Downtown Cleveland, Ohio
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame | Photo Credit – Erik Drost

Located in Downtown Cleveland, Ohio, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the most famous site in Ohio which was opened in 1986. The museum is housed in a very impressive modern architecture. It provides a great insight on the history of rock music and people who have a landmark contribution in the development of rock.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum also has a library which is the world’s biggest archive of stuff related to the history of rock music. Every year, the induction of new members in the museum garners a huge attraction from the people all over the world. Artists like Eric Clapton, B.B. King, U2, Metallica, Simon & Garfunkel, Patti Smith etc. are part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The museum exhibits stuff like Michael Jackson’s famous gloves, handwritten lyrics by Prince and letters of artists like Aretha Franklin and Madonna. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is one of the best tourist attractions in the country.

WEST SIDE MARKET

Situated in Cleveland, Ohio
West Side Market Cleveland, Ohio | Photo Credit – Erik Drost

Situated in Cleveland, Ohio, this is the oldest operation market. This is the best place to learn and explore the cuisine of Ohio. It is voted as America’s food lovers’ favorite market. 

This market also has historical significance as the market has been operating since the 1840s. 

The market is functional in a Neoclassical style building which is made of brick and has large interior ramps. On these ramps almost 100 stalls are working. At the rear end of the building, numerous outdoor shops are also placed. There is also a large clock tower. It is easily visible from a far away distance. 

This market has a lot of local family owned businesses of people with Irish, German, Slovene, Italian, Hungarian, Greek, Polish, Russian, and Middle Eastern, etc. descent.  The West Side Market shall give you an Ohio street experience. Around the market, there are a lot of hotels, restaurants etc.

A CHRISTMAS STORY HOUSE

Victorian style house in Cleveland, Ohio
A Christmas Story House | Photo Credit – Erik Drost

A Christmas Story House is a Victorian style house in Cleveland, Ohio. This house is also a museum and one of the people’s favorite things to do in Ohio. This 19th century house was used in A Christmas Story movie. All the movie buffs squeal in delight after visiting this place. The museum is open all year round. 

The museum mostly contains props from the movie. They also offer a night stay service here to experience the house properly.

CUYAHOGA VALLEY NATIONAL PARK

Brandywine Falls Cuyahoga Valley National Park,Ohio
Brandywine Falls Cuyahoga Valley National Park,Ohio | Photo Credit – Doug Kerr

This national park is along the river Cuyahoga and lies between the suburbs of Cleveland and Akron, Ohio. If you’re in search of a natural scenic view of American deciduous forests untouched by human civilization, this is your place. It is the only national park in Ohio.

Animals like  raccoons, muskrats, coyotes, skunks, red foxes, beavers, peregrine falcons, river otters, bald eagles, opossums, various moles, white-tailed deer, Canada geese, gray foxes, minks, great blue herons, bats, and numerous reptiles and insects. The flora of this national park is also very beautiful. 

There are miles of hiking trails in Cuyahoga national park. But the most famous trail is the 2.2 trail that takes one around Virginia Kendall Ledges. The difficulty of this trail is moderate but with a lot to offer. This trail will take you through forested landscape, mossy rock boulders and cliffs etc. 

There are many waterfalls also. A 65 ft. high Brandywine waterfall, Blue Hen and Buttermilk falls are famous. People can also do biking and cycling here at Towpath trail. Towpath trail is famous in the autumn when the park bursts into fall colors. Cuyahoga National Park also has a railroad running through it.

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is extremely popular with park visitors. There is also Szalay’s sweet corn farm and market that offers fresh fruits and sweet corn to buy.  You can also take a guided tour of the park to ease your experience.

STAN HYWET HALL AND GARDENS

Located in Akron, Ohio
Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens | Photo Credit – Tom Bower

Designed by Warren H. Manning, Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens is one of the largest houses in the States. Located in Akron, Ohio, this is a historic house museum. It is Ohio’s one of the most famous fairytale wedding sites. You’ll have to book a spot for yourself by logging on to their website.

This castle-like mansion has well kept floral gardens, a conservatory, a carriage house, a green house and a café and a gift shop. One can explore this beautiful property by taking guided tours here.

FRANKLIN PARK CONSERVATORY AND BOTANICAL GARDEN

Next up in fun things to do in Ohio is Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Garden that will wake your hidden botanist. Situated in Columbus city, Ohio, The Franklin Garden is home to some exotic plant species and exhibits the artworks of the country’s famous glass sculptor, Dale Chihuly. 

Annual exhibition in Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Garden will let the visitors enjoy tropical butterflies flying through the Pacific Island Water Garden and see various floral wonders.  The Franklin Park is also one of the most popular family attractions in Ohio.

GERMAN VILLAGE

German Village, Columbus, Ohio
German Village, Columbus, Ohio | Photo Credit – VasenkaPhotography

A laid back historic village situated in Ohio’s capital city, Columbus is a picturesque street that has its popular restaurants and cafes as its main attraction. Famous restaurants like Thurman café and Max and Erna’s chain are situated here. Schmidt’s Sausage Haus and Schmidt’s Fudge Haus have been a part of German Village for 120 years.

Make sure to check this website out by the locals to have an insight about all the dining options you can have in here. This quaint neighborhood of German immigrants is one of the most famous attractions in Ohio among people looking for a cinematic getaway for a while.

German Village is also the largest producer of stained glass. There are also a few unique shops here like a pre-Civil war era bookstore called The Book Loft of German Village, Franklin Art Glass Studio, Hausfrau Haven etc. the neighborhood is also dotted with various art galleries. 

You’ll be able to see the essence of Europe in this part of the state. Streets lined with brick houses and pubs and artisan coffee shops have a certain charm to them. In summer, visitors can enjoy outdoor performances of Shakespeare and other plays in Schiller Park.

CINCINNATI MUSEUM CENTRE

Located at the Union Terminal, Cincinnati Museum Centre has several galleries. It is an urban history museum. The museum gives you information about  Cincinnati’s role in World War II. Gallery called Cincinnati In Motion is a model of Downtown Cincinnati in the 1940s and it features working streetcars. 

Other museums in this complex are the Museum of Natural History & Science, the Cincinnati History Museum, and the Duke Energy Children’s Museum.

The OMNIMAX theatre has special popularity for providing one of a kind experience in screening. This is a great spot to share time with family.

CINCINNATI ZOO AND BOTANICAL GARDEN

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden | Photo Credit – Rawpixel Ltd

If you’re an animal lover and have a desire to watch animals and their social interaction, then this is the place for you. The Cincinnati zoo is the 2nd oldest zoo in the country. 

Popularly voted as America’s best zoo, this place is home to over 500 animals and 3000 plants. Internet famous hippo, Fiona, is also an inhabitant of this zoo. African lions, apes, California sea lions, tigers, monkeys etc. can be easily seen here.

FOUNTAIN SQUARE

Your visit to Cincinnati is incomplete without visiting Fountain Square. This is the best place to interact with locals and explore the local shops and food here. Many events keep happening here from time to time. Various office going people socialize here at the fountain.

The Fountain Square has a huge 43 ft. high sculpture installed there. The sculpture dates back to the 1870s. The centerpiece of sculpture is Tyler Davidson Fountain. That is how the Fountain Square got its name.

NATIONAL UNDERGROUND RAILROAD FREEDOM CENTRE

This museum in Cincinnati, Ohio, is dedicated to underground railroad. The museum also pays tribute to all efforts made to abolish slavery. 

The Center is one of the museums of conscience that offers knowledge about the freedom struggle and it makes the visitor question the meaning of freedom in their own lives.

The museum has three corridors that celebrate courage, cooperation and perseverance. The visit to this center will make you realise how important freedom is, and how important it is to be mindful of not only your freedom but also of others.

AMERICAN SIGN MUSEUM

American Sign Museum | Photo Credit – 5chw4r7z

If you always have an urge to read all the signs on the road and make something out of it, American Sign Museum is made for you. Located in Cincinnati, Ohio, this museum is involved in preserving, documenting, archiving and displaying collection signs. People with interest in design find their calling here.

The museum also has tools and machines utilised in designing and manufacturing of signs. The American Sign Museum exhibits over 200 curated designs and over 3800 items are catalogued. Signs of business like Big Bear Stores, McDonalds etc.can be found here.

HOCKING HILLS STATE PARK

Old Man’s Cave, Hocking Hills State Park | Photo Credit – Mark Spearman

Hocking Hills State Park is a state park in Hocking Hills, Hocking County, Ohio. This park is famous for its hiking trails which go over 25 miles. The park is also dotted with various natural rock structures, waterfalls, and recess caves etc. The park is open all year around, from sunrise to sunset. One of the most popular things to do in Ohio among hiking enthusiasts , the park has seven hiking trails in general. 

Hocking Hills State Park is well equipped with campsites, and  has various options for accommodations like inns, cabins and hotels. It also has flush toilets, shower houses with hot water, vending machines, a camp store, a pool etc. The Hocking Hills region is most popular among tourists. Various rock formations like Devil’s bathtub, Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave Complex are famous here. Lake Logan and Rose Lake provide swimming opportunities and beach vibes to the visitors.

For people interested in adventure sports, the park has everything to offer from rock climbing, zip lining, kayaking, canoeing, boating, hunting and fishing to horseback riding. Visitors can also enjoy sightseeing and see the birds here.

During the day, visitors can also see the John Glenn Astronomy Park and at night, they can enjoy star gazing. Nearby Hocking Hills State Park, there are other local attractions little drive away like Hocking State Forest, Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve, Lake Logan State Park, and Rockbridge State Nature Preserve. Check out their calendar on their website to plan your travel accordingly.

CEDAR POINT AMUSEMENT PARK

Lake Erie peninsula in Sandusky is home to one of the most popular amusement park in the whole country, called Cedar Point Amusement Park. It’s operating season is mostly in summer. Then during Halloween, Cedar Point provides Halloween themed weekend getaway.

Spread across 354 acres of land, the park is famous for its world renowned roller coaster rides, called America’s Roller Coaster. You’re going to get a bird’s eye view of the city during the ride and a huge adrenaline rush after this ride, for sure.

Several other attractions around Cedar Point Amusement Park are outdoor water park called Cedar Point Shores, indoor water park called Castaway Bay, and a white sand beach. There are also various child safe family rides also available in the amusement park. 

Cedar Point’s live shows are also quite an attraction for visitors who line up to see the show. Cedar Point Light is a lighthouse of historical importance. For accommodation near Cedar Point, various off-site and on-site resorts and hotels are there.

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE U.S. AIR FORCE

All the air force fanatics would want to visit this national museum. Situated in Dayton, Ohio, this is the largest aviation museum in the world. It has more than 365 military aircraft and missiles on display.

The museum has various exhibits and collections like presidential aircraft, uniforms of the air force, and many rare aircrafts of historical and technological importance to the air force. A hall of fame of this national museum is dedicated to the Wright Brothers.

DAYTON AVIATION HERITAGE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK- WRIGHT MEMORIAL

Dedicated to the pioneers of flight, the Wright Brothers, this national historic park celebrates their work in aviation. One can find the Wright cycle shop here. There is also a flying field open to the public here. It is called Huffman Prairie Flying Field. 

The park also contains the Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial dedicated to the famous writer and poet. Visitors can see traces of his life here. Take a guided tour of this place to have an insight in the life of these famous people.

TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART

Art Museum, Toledo, Ohio
Art Museum, Toledo, Ohio | Photo Credit – Sent from the Past

Ohio’s other world famous art museum, Toledo Museum of Art is located in Old West End of Toledo, Ohio. It has a collection of more than 30000 art pieces. The Toledo Museum of Art building includes numerous studios, lecture hall, a café, a concert hall called The Peristyle and a gift shop. 

The Toledo Museum of Art holds a beautiful collection of glass art popular in the world, and European, and American art. Visitors can see the works of artist like Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Moore, Turner, Picasso etc. 

Check out the website of Toledo Museum of Art to know about various exhibits happening in the museum at the time of your visit. 

OHIO STATE REFORMATORY

Ohio State Reformatory | Photo Credit – Ian McKellar

If you have seen the iconic movie The Shawshank Redemption, you’ll understand why cinephiles want to see this place. The historic Ohio State Reformatory, also called Mansfield reformatory, is situated in Mansfield, Ohio. The facility has been closed since the 1990s. The authorities offer a guided tour to the visitors four days a week. 

The tours range from historical to hollywood oriented tours. They also allow  tours by previous inmates of the facility to give a detailed tour of the Ohio State Reformatory to the visitors. 

A lot of events also happen here, most famous of which is INKcarceration, music, tattoo festival. It is a rock music themed festival that happens in mid july. You can check about the events and tours happening at the Ohio State Reformatory here.

Please also read about things to do in Atlanta.


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