Ready to roll together all the best of the Midwest into one trip? Pack your bags and head to Ohio! Often overlooked, the Buckeye State is one of the most surprising travel destinations in the region, cramming together the Midwest’s finest urban and rural charms.
Culture-seekers will love starting their itinerary exploring Ohio’s urban trifecta of Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus. In each, travelers can savor delicious food in trendy restaurants, sip cold local brews in hip craft breweries, and visit some of the nation’s most-lauded museums.
Or, if you’re looking for a reprieve from the city buzz, head into the Ohio hinterlands. Outside of its biggest urban centers, Ohio teems with outdoor activities. Whether you’re working up a sweat on over 125 miles of hiking trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park or soaking up the rays on the sun-kissed beaches of Lake Erie, nature lovers will find plenty to keep them busy here.
Ready to plan the ultimate trip to the Buckeye State? Craft the perfect itinerary with this quick & easy Ohio travel guide.
Where to go in Ohio
There’s no better city to start exploring Ohio’s urban landscape than Cleveland. The state’s second-biggest city punches above its weight with a smattering of attractions, including the famed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Besides checking out the holy grail of rock music, culture vultures should carve out time to visit Cleveland’s other world-class museums, including the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of National History.
Families will have plenty to keep them busy in Cleveland, too. Marvel at the unique marine life of the Greater Cleveland Aquarium and Great Lakes Science Center or the land animals at the legendary Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.
After a long day of sightseeing, treat yourself to some of the state’s finest eateries in Downtown or the Ohio City neighborhood. Wash it all down with some local suds at one of Cleveland’s many craft breweries, including Market Garden Brewery and Southern Tier Brewery.
Ready to plan your trip to Cleveland? Get started with these travel resources and tips…
Hugging the northern bank of the Ohio River, Cincinnati is surprisingly striking for a former industrial city. The history of “Cincy” digs back to 1788, leaving the city with a handsome architectural palette that’s accented by its riverside perch.
If you’re searching out the usual urban tourist attractions, Cincinnati’s got ’em in spades. Watch Cincy’s history unfold at mid-19th century architectural gems like Harriet Beecher Stowe House, Old Mary’s Church, and the William Howard Taft National Historic Site. Or get a peek at its more modern charms at renowned art museums like Taft Museum of Art, the Cincinnati Art Museum, and the Contemporary Arts Center.
Sports fans will be at home in Cincinnati, too, with two pro sports teams calling the riverside city home. Catch a Bengals game at Paul Brown Stadium or watch the Reds in action at the famed Great American Ball Park, overlooking the Ohio River waterfront.
Visiting Cincinnati in mid-September? Inject a dash of Bavarian spirit into your itinerary at Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. Attracting over half a million visitors a year, Cincy’s annual Oktoberfest celebrations are the second-biggest in the world, trumped only by the original festival in Munich.
Ready to plan your trip to Cincinnati? Get started with these travel resources and tips…
Almost dead-center in Ohio, Columbus is the perfect pit stop on any road trip through the Midwest. Although lesser-known than the state’s two (smaller) urban centers, Ohio’s capital and largest city offers an eclectic mix of fun and sophistication for travelers.
Roam around Columbus to uncover a barrage of unique neighborhoods, from the 19th-century charms of the German Village to the trend-setting murals in Short North Arts District. Unwind by lazing around the Scioto Mile, a 175-acre stretch of lush parkland along the downtown bend of the Scioto River.
Need to fuel up for your itinerary? Get caffeinated with a trek along the Columbus Coffee Trail or imbibe some adult beverages along the Columbus Ale Trail. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for food trucks serving up delicious street food, from fusion tacos to Southern BBQ.
Ready to plan your trip to Columbus? Get started with these travel resources and tips…
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Had enough of Ohio’s cities? Seek out serenity at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, home to the 60-foot-tall Brandywine Falls. Just 30 minutes south of Cleveland, this easily accessible nature refuge hides a wealth of historical sites within its 33,000 acres. It’s one of Ohio’s hotspots for fun outdoor activities like hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, and fishing.
For an active visit to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, grease up your chain for a bike ride along the Towpath Trail. The trail follows the historic route of the Ohio & Erie Canal. If you aren’t up for the full return trip, bike the trail one-way and return via the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
History buffs will find plenty to explore at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, too, including the 1830s-era Boston Store, the 1855 Freed Mill, and the former tavern and blacksmith shop at the Canal Exploration Center.
Dubbed the “Outdoor Capital of the Midwest,” Dayton charms nature-loving urbanites with its mix of culture and outdoor adventure. While not as “buzzy” as Ohio’s three largest cities, Dayton features a handful of world-class attractions with America’s largest paved trail network.
Dayton’s big claim to fame is as the birthplace of aviation. Even if you’re not an aviation history buff, the city’s aviation museums, including the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park and the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, are fascinating and a must-see for any Ohio itinerary.
Other destinations in Ohio
- Hocking Hills State Park
When to visit Ohio
The best time to visit Ohio is from late April to October. The spring months of April and May and the fall months of September and October are fantastic choices, offering mild to warm temperatures without the heat, humidity, and crowds of summer.
The peak tourism season in Ohio generally lasts from late May to August. During these months, expect higher accommodation prices and lower availability.
How to get to Ohio
Ohio is home to six commercial airports. Most travelers flying into Ohio enter through its two major international airports:
- Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE)
- John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH)
Travelers visiting Southern Ohio can also choose to fly in/out of Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), located just across the state boundary in Kentucky.
Ohio is well-connected by road to the neighboring states of Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Popular road routes into Ohio and approximate driving times include:
- Detroit, MI, to Cleveland (2h42m)
- Indianapolis, IN, to Cincinnati (1h45m)
- Louisville, KY, to Cincinnati (1h36m)
- Charleston, WV, to Columbus (2h42m)
- Pittsburgh, PA, to Cleveland (2h12m)