A state of contrasts Ohio offers everything from trendy, feisty cities, lively party islands, hippy towns, and vast acres of sprawling farmland. Throw in Amish communities, tech startups, and even a few rock n’ roll lovers and you have one seriously potent mix.
It’s also very easy-on-the-eye and offers gorgeous protected parks shrouded in mist, picturesque waterfalls, and endless roads which truly make the most of the unspoilt scenery, especially during the Fall. Here are the best and most beautiful places to visit in Ohio…
1. Old Man’s Cave and Hocking Hill State Park – one of the most stunning places to explore in Ohio
Luring the visitors with splendid natural settings, towering cliffs, hemlock-shaded gorges, and recess caves, the Hocking Hills State Park is Ohio’s soothing natural retreat.
Located in Hocking County, the state park is Ohio’s world-renowned eco-adventure destination. The heart of the park is the iconic Old Man’s Cave which served as a home to the reclusive old man, Richard Rowe.
Comprising the Upper Falls, Upper Gorge, Middle Falls, Lower Falls, and Lower Gorge, the magnificent cave travels along the marveling Black Hand sandstone gorge.
Whether you explore the largest waterfall of the hocking region in Cedar Falls, hike the Ash Cave and Whispering Cave, or the rugged Cantwell Cliffs, each visit to this Ohio’s majestic park is a surreal experience.
2. Marblehead State Park – one of the state’s best known and most-
The quaint town of Marblehead in Ottawa County is known for its most-photographed landmark, the Marblehead Lighthouse. A beloved beacon of Lake Erie, the Marblehead Lighthouse has been a guiding light to sailors on the rocky shores since 1822.
One of the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes, the limestone shoreline was often mistaken for marble. The Marblehead Lighthouse State Park offers excellent picnic areas with mesmerizing views of Lake Erie, Sandusky Bay, and South Bass Island.
Peek into the historical museum or climb the top of the lighthouse, this seaside state park is an iconic wonder.
3. Cleveland Botanical Garden – a scenic gem to visit in Ohio’s cultural town
A garden paradise in the middle of the city, Cleveland Botanical Garden is truly a sight to behold. Featuring a variety of exotic plants and creatures, beautiful indoor gardens, a greenhouse, an art gallery, and a learning center, the botanical garden is a peaceful retreat.
The charming glasshouse with a forest canopy viewing platform and a wide array of colorful flowers is a sight to behold. Enjoy the walking trails through various themed gardens, birds, butterflies & museums with climate-controlled greenhouses.
With the year-round exhibits, events like Orchid Show in March & Glow event during winters, you’ll be amazed at Cleveland’s marveling landscape.
4. South Bass Island – a pretty and popular island vacation resort
Midwest’s favorite island vacation destination, South Bass Island lies three miles from the south shore of Lake Erie. The 33-acre South bass Island is a quiet getaway with beaches, wooded areas, camping sites, and much more.
A gleaming beacon since 1897, the South Bass Island Lighthouse offers stunning views of Lake Erie.
Nicknamed Key West of the North, Put-In-Bay is the gem of the South Bass Islands. Commemorating the Battle of Lake Erie, the famous Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial stands tall in the Put-In-Bay. With miles of shorelines, historic sites and water views, Put-In-Bay has something for everyone to enjoy.
5. Yellow Springs – Ohio’s fun and eclectic village surrounded by gorgeous Ohio scenery
Just about 45 minutes west of Columbus, Yellow Springs’s free-spirited history is reflected in many of its bright buildings and shops.
Visit the magical Yellow Spring cascading through the pine forest in Glen Helen Nature Preserve or hike the Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve for a calming escape in nature.
Just a mile from Yellow Springs is the John Bryan State Park with a stunning limestone gorge cut by the scenic Miami River. Hit the Little Miami Scenic Trail or check out Young’s Jersey Dairy with family-friendly activities, Yellow Springs is a must while visiting Southwest Ohio.
6. Cuyahoga Valley National Park – a beautiful jewel to visit in northeast Ohio
Ohio’s only designated National Park, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is located at a short distance from the urban areas of Cleveland and Akron. Roughly following the Cuyahoga River, rugged gorges, tree-covered hills, and open-farmlands, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park protects over 33,000 acres of natural resources.
Hike the Towpath Trail and Virginia Kendall Ledges with miles of trails along the beautiful forests. The most popular falls within the park are the Brandywine Falls cascading 65-foot along the limestone gorges.
Take a scenic ride to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad with themed trips and fascinating scenery.
7. Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens – a popular and pretty attraction to explore in Ohio
Offering world-class horticulture and nature-based exhibitions, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is just two miles east of downtown Columbus.
Set within the 88-acre Franklin Park, the conservatory and botanical gardens features exotic plant collections, displays, outdoor gardens, and seasonal exhibits.
Built-in 1895, the conservatory is a National Historic Place of Ohio. On the eastern side of Franklin Park is the historic John F. Palm House which sparkles in the evening. Franklin Conservatory offers something unique every time you visit this magical place.
8. Mohican State Park – for a quiet and beautiful escape to the woods
Originally called the Clear Fork State Park, the Mohican State Park is located just 5 miles south of Loudonville in Ashland County. The State Park and its adjacent Mohican-Memorial State Forest offers unparalleled beauty. Nestled in northwestern Ohio, Mohican State Park is spread over 1,110 acres of sprawling land.
Explore Ohio’s most unique regions in the striking Clearfork Gorge, hemlock forest, and the sparkling Mohican River in the vast wilderness.
Enjoy the covered bridge, hike the Lyons Falls Trail or simply watch the surreal landscape from a fire tower, the park offers year-round recreation in Ohio’s remarkable region.
9. Great Falls of Tinkers Creek – a stunning attraction to visit in Bedford
An urban waterfall just to the south of downtown Bedford, Great Falls of Tinkers Creek is the little known waterfall of Ohio. Also called the Big Falls, the 20-foot tall waterfall cascades through Tinker’s Creek. One of the widest waterfalls of Ohio, the Great Falls is a part of the Viaduct Park.
Besides the scenic waterfall, the Viaduct Park also hosts the ruins of an old grist mill, sawmill, an old viaduct that carried trains over Tinker’s Creek, and a man-made tunnel through which the creek flows.
With stunning visuals, overlooks, and walking paths that blend with the amazing natural surroundings.
10. The covered bridges of Ashtabula County – a colorful and charming historic attraction
Ashtabula County is home to magnificent 19 covered bridges with each unique structure takes you to the bygone era. An easy way to time-travel in Ohio legendary bridges from the shortest bridge to the longest covered bridge. Set against the rolling hills and vineyards, the simple beauty of the structures and colorful crossings will simply leave you in awe.
Featuring the earliest document bridge, the Mechanicsville and Windsor Mills Bridge dates back to 1867, while the Netcher Road Bridge gives a peek into Neo-Victorian design.
The shortest drive through the bridge is Liberty Street while the longest bridge, the Smolen-Gulf Bridge at the length of 613 feet is an architectural marvel.
11. Headlands Beach State Park – a beloved beach getaway to explore in northern Ohio
The longest natural beach in Ohio, Headlands Beach State Park is located in Mentor near Painesville Township.
A mecca for anyone looking for a place to swim & sunbathe, Headlands Beach State Park on Lake Erie has miles of dunes, washed pebbles, and numerous plant species of the Atlantic Coast.
The adjacent Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve gives you a peek into the natural habitats of this beautiful landscape. Take a refreshing dip or hike along the trails, the northern shoreline of Ohio is a real gem of Ohio.
12. Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens – a charming historic house museum in Akron, Ohio
A historic house museum of the American innovator, Frank Seiberling, Stan Hywet mansion is a classic example of American Country Estate during the Industrial Age.
Located in Akron, the Rubber Capital of the World, the estate features a historic 650-room Tudor Revival Manor House, a Gothic Revival Conservatory and manicured gardens.
Completed in 1915, the mansion is one of the largest homes open to the public in the U.S. Spreading over 64,500 acres of land, Stan Hywet is Akron’s oldest National Historic Landmark.
13. East Fork Park – one of Ohio’s largest and most beautiful state parks
This gorgeous gem of a place is one of Ohio’s largest state parks, not only does it offer stunning hill country scenery in the form of rugged hills, open meadows dry-forested hills, pretty cascades, marshy grasslands, and swamp forests but it also offers glorious flora and fauna.
Visit here and expect beech, sugar maple, and wild black cherry trees as well as plenty of diverse wildlife, from deer to snakes.
14. Short North Arts District Columbus – a vibrant cultural gem to visit in Central Ohio
Ohio’s version of the artsy Soho district of New York, Short North Arts District in Columbus called a quirky region for many reasons. Just a few blocks north of downtown Columbus, Short North is filled with art galleries, restaurants, theaters, specialty shops and much more.
Visit the famous Studios on High Gallery, Hammond-Harkins to view some of the best art of Columbus. An urban neighborhood with quirky murals & booming boutiques, Short North is a wonderful cultural hub of Columbus.
15. John Bryan State Park – visit for dreamy and tranquil Ohio scenery
Just a few miles from Yellow Springs, John Bryans State Park is the most scenic park in Western Ohio. Located in Greene County, the park is well connected to the Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve.
One of Ohio’s first forest park, John Bryan State Park offers beautiful scenery and gorgeous nature walks.
Take a hike along the meandering Little Miami River and the historic South-Gorge Trail to experience the beauty under the trees. Rock climb the large limestone formations, kayak on the gushing river or go camping, this place is a pleasant surprise in Ohio.
16. Oak Openings Preserve Metropark – great views and gorgeous trails
Presumably the largest of the Toledo Area Metropark, Oak Openings Preserve Metropark is a unique nature preserve with rare species of plants and animals.
Located between Whitehouse and Swanton towns of Ohio, the park features oak savanna, vegetated dunes, and alternating wetlands.
Hike along the Oak Openings All Purpose Trail, camp under the stars, or indulge in bird-watching, the region’s 5,000 acres offers an abundance of oak woodlands, swamp forests, and a variety of bird species.
We also have posts on…
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Beth Pinches – writer and photographer
Beth was born under a wandering star, with drama in her veins and ink in her pen. After stints studying theatre in Dublin and Utrecht she used her creative streak to see as much of the world as she could on as little money. She toured Italian Schools with a children’s theatre troop, lived as an au-pair in both Rome and Washington DC, explored the British countryside, worked her way through much of Europe, Salsa danced in Cuba and road tripped down America’s west coast where she discovered her spiritual home; Portland, Oregon. Other places she loves include Croatia, Finland, Japan and India. In between adventures, travel writing and performing she resides peacefully with her family, cats and ukulele. Find Beth on Linkedin or Facebook.