20 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Ohio
Ohio is a state with wonderful possibilities for travelers looking for a cosmopolitan experience, a small-town retreat, or a full-on escape to nature. Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Dayton offer many of the state's best cultural attractions, great shopping, and a full repertoire of things to do.
Head into the countryside to discover the best of Amish Country, or hit the summer fun towns, like Sandusky, and spend a day at an amusement park. From spring until fall, the lakes and forests are inviting destinations to discover Ohio's best outdoor adventures, many of which can be found in the national and state parks.
In winter, you can even try your luck out on the lakes ice fishing. Regardless of the season, you can find interesting and fun places to visit. Explore the state with our list of the top attractions in Ohio.
1. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
On Cleveland's waterfront, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has become a pilgrimage site for music aficionados. It's the place to visit in Cleveland for music lovers. The museum offers an extraordinarily comprehensive look at rock and roll history on a decade-by-decade basis, featuring all the great artists from various time periods.
Among the seven floors of rock memorabilia, you will find one-of-a-kind musical instruments, costumes, and interactive exhibits. A must-see gallery during your visit is the wing of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees. Renowned architect I.M. Pei designed the building, which is one of the most recognized structures in Cleveland.
To add a little something extra to your visit, check the museum's Live Music & Events listings for outdoor concerts and music events taking place during your stay in Cleveland.
Address: 1100 Rock and Roll Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio
Official site: http://www.rockhall.com/
Accommodation: Top-Rated Hotels in Cleveland
2. National Museum of the US Air Force
The National Museum of the US Air Force is one of the top free things to do in Ohio. The museum is located on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton. With more than 360 aerospace items on display, you will walk through a time capsule of aviation history with indoor and outdoor exhibits.
The museum has special meaning in Ohio as natives Wilbur and Orville Wright invented the first successful aircraft. From the Wright brothers' invention to space travel, military aircraft, and the stealth technology of today, you do not have to be an aviation fanatic to enjoy the visit.
One of the most notable areas of the museum is the Presidential Gallery, where you can walk through several preserved aircrafts used by Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower.
Address: 1100 Spaatz Street, Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio
Official site: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Home.aspx
3. Cedar Point Amusement Park
Cedar Point amusement park is one of the most popular summer destinations in Ohio. Located near Sandusky on the shores of Lake Erie, Cedar Point has more than 17 world-class roller coasters, several kids' areas, and live entertainment.
Adjacent to the amusement park is the Cedar Point Shores Water Park, with equally thrilling water adventures. The park has a wave pool, lazy river, shallow pools for children, and a six-story aqua-drop water slide for the truly adventurous. The resort has a variety of accommodation options, from camping to cabins or suites in Cedar Point's Hotel Breakers.
Since the park is located on Cedar Point Beach, you can take advantage of water sports on Lake Erie like kayaking, jet skiing, and parasailing.
Address: One Cedar Point Drive, Sandusky, Ohio
Official site: https://www.cedarpoint.com/
Accommodation: Where to Stay near Cedar Point Amusement Park
4. Hocking Hills State Park
Hocking Hills State Park near Logan is a rugged natural area popular with outdoor enthusiasts. The area has hiking trails, caves, camping facilities, and cottages. It is also one of the best places for a weekend getaway in Ohio, especially in the fall, when the leaves are changing to vibrant colors in the forested areas.
Park naturalists host regular events throughout the year on topics like bird watching; photography; caves; and hikes, including a popular winter hike that draws thousands of participants. You can review the Hocking Hills State Park event calendar before your visit for the most updated programs.
Local outfitters offer other outdoor adventure options including canoeing, ziplining, and rock climbing. The top areas to visit in the park are Old Man's Cave, Cedar Falls, Cantwell Cliffs, Rock House, and wheelchair-accessible Ash Cave.
Accommodation: Where to Stay near Hocking Hills State Park
5. Amish Country
A drive through the rolling landscape of Amish Country on a summer's day is a wonderful way to escape the city and see a simpler lifestyle at work. Amish buggies ply the twisting roads, and farmers work in the fields.
Small communities offer opportunities to stop and pick up everything from household goods to locally made cheeses, candy, ice cream, produce, and much more. While Amish Country spans five counties, the best places to visit first are along the 160 miles of the Amish Country Byway, in Holmes County.
You will want to take your time and keep the agenda flexible as you drive through villages like Walnut Creek, Charm, and Berlin for impromptu stops at cheese factories or for a cup of coffee and fresh bakery items.
Shopping is popular for Amish-made furniture, antiques, and gifts from small independent shops. Keep in mind that nothing will be open in the area on Sundays.
6. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is consistently rated as one of the top zoos in the nation. More than 10,000 animals and eight regions are featured in the zoo, like Asia Quest, Heart of Africa, Congo Expedition, and North America. Regular stage performances and special educational programs are held throughout the year.
The winter draw is Wildlights, a spectacular celebration with more than three million lights throughout the zoo. It generally runs from late November through the holidays. It is a unique way to see the zoo animals at night and a fun way to enjoy winter in Ohio.
Next to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is Zoombezi Bay water park, which is a popular add-on to a day at the zoo in the summer.
Address: 4850 Powell Road, Powell, Ohio
Official site: https://www.columbuszoo.org/
Accommodation: Best Hotels in Columbus
7. Cincinnati Museum Center
The Cincinnati Museum Center is a multi-museum complex inside Union Terminal giving visitors a range of scientific, historical, and educational experiences. There are several museums with combined collections of 1.8 million artifacts.
Visitors can spend time exploring the museums, which include the Cincinnati History Museum, the Duke Energy Children's Museum, the Cincinnati History Library and Archives, the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center, the Museum of Natural History and Science, and an OMNIMAX theater.
It can easily be a multi-day visit. The center is worth a visit just to see the 1930s Art Deco train station building. With several cafés located throughout the center, it is easy to find snacks during your visit.
Address: 1301 Western Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio
Official site: http://www.cincymuseum.org/
Accommodation: Best Hotels in Cincinnati
8. Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus is a year-round tourist attraction that features indoor and outdoor exhibits of plants and flowers, with special exhibitions that change throughout the year.
The horticultural institution has exotic plant collections that take you around the world. The conservatory is home to several glass greenhouses that feature more than 400 species of plants from the Himalayas, rainforest, desert, and Pacific Islands.
You might see a wedding taking place during your visit to the Palm House, which is a popular backdrop for events. The Victorian-style glass greenhouse was built in the late 1800s and is one of the oldest and largest wings of the facility. The exquisite glass room features 43 species of palms from around the world.
Address: 1777 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio
Official site: http://www.fpconservatory.org/
9. The Cleveland Museum of Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art has been an institution in the city since it was founded in 1916. By the 1950s, it had established an international reputation for its collection. The collection has grown and changed directions over the years, and the original Neoclassical building has been repeatedly expanded and renovated.
Today, the museum focuses on a number of different areas, with outstanding collections of European, Asian, and American art. One of the most interactive areas is the ARTLENS Gallery, which lets visitors use digital technology to engage more intimately with the collections of art on display. You can even use the inspiration to create your own masterpiece in the ArtLens Studio.
Address: 11150 East Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio
Official site: http://www.clevelandart.org/
10. Kings Island
Kings Island amusement park near Cincinnati has been a top family destination in Ohio since it opened in 1972. The park is known for its world-class roller coasters, Planet Snoopy Kids' Area, and special events throughout the year including concerts and themed celebrations like Halloween Haunt and WinterFest.
The park has thrilling roller coasters, like the iconic Beast coaster, Diamondback, and Orion and adventurous rides like Delirium and Flight of Fear. It is just as fun to walk around the park to enjoy attractions like the Eiffel Tower, a popular meeting spot for families throughout the day.
Kings Island also has Soak City Water Park with over 50 water rides and activities, including 36 water slides, float lagoons, and two wave pools to cool off in during the Ohio summers.
Address: 6300 Kings Island Drive, Kings Island, Ohio
Official site: https://www.visitkingsisland.com
11. Pro Football Hall of Fame
Anyone who is a fan of football should visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. It is a comprehensive museum focused on professional football and the legends who have made history in the game. The museum opened in 1963 as a small space to recognize football excellence.
Today, it has expanded to showcase the historic moments and players who have elevated the game throughout the decades. A must-see exhibit is the Hall of Fame Gallery, which features a bronze bust of the more than 350 Hall of Famers, along with interactive displays with inductee bios, photos, and their greatest moments in football.
Another multi-sensory exhibit is the "A Game for Life" holographic theater, which lets fans see pro football legends like Vince Lombardi and Joe Namath up close by using state-of-the-art interactive technology. Several types of tours are available including a behind-the-scenes VIP tour.
Address: 2121 George Halas Dr. NW, Canton, Ohio
Official site: https://www.profootballhof.com
12. Ohio Caverns
With a history of more than 125 years, the Ohio Caverns is one of the most fascinating natural experiences in the state. While there are several caverns located throughout Ohio, the Ohio Caverns is the largest, with more than two miles of winding underground passageways.
Take a sightseeing tour to experience the twisting tunnels that take you from 30 feet to 103 feet below the surface to explore the natural geological wonders like stalactites, including the largest one in Ohio, and other formations. The temperature below ground is always at 54 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can visit anytime of the year.
There are several types of tours available, including a Discovery Lantern Tour. The park on the grounds has additional activities like a mining station for fossils and gems that is a hit with kids.
Address: 2210 East State Route 245, West Liberty, Ohio
Official site: https://ohiocaverns.com
13. The Wilds
You do not expect to see animals like giraffes and rhinos roaming the plains of the rural landscape in Ohio, but a visit to The Wilds in Cumberland will let you experience just that. This is a conservation facility that offers open-air safari tours and even zipline experiences over the landscape to learn about the animals that live at The Wilds in this natural setting.
You will see rare and even endangered animals, and learn about the important efforts that are underway to protect them. A visit to The Wilds gives visitors a chance to see animals like a Bactrian camel, Central Chinese goral, Persian onager, and Sichuan takins.
You can stay overnight at The Lodge at the Wilds; a cabin by the lake; or in a luxury yurt, where you can sit on your porch at night to enjoy an undisturbed view of the stars.
Address: 14000 International Road., Cumberland, Ohio
Official site: https://thewilds.columbuszoo.org
14. A Christmas Story House & Museum
A fun and nostalgic attraction tucked away in a quiet Cleveland neighborhood is the A Christmas Story House, which was featured in the 1983 holiday classic A Christmas Story. Take a tour inside Ralphie's movie-set home as the recognizable décor and home setting from the movie make the scenes come to life.
Be sure to go across the street to A Christmas Story Museum, which houses many original costumes and movie props, including the family's car, toys, and other memorabilia. The gift shop is where you can take home a piece of movie history with many prop replicas for sale, including the famous leg lamp.
Serious fans of the movie can even plan an overnight stay at the A Christmas Story House, which gives you access to the entire house. The Bumpus House, the home of Ralphie's fictional neighbors, is also available for overnight guests.
Address: 3159 W 11th Street, Cleveland, Ohio
Official site: https://www.achristmasstoryhouse.com
15. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Plan for a full and exciting day when visiting the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, as it is two attractions rolled into one.
The Cincinnati Zoo has habitats like the Cat Canyon, Elephant Reserve, Gibbon Islands, and Roo Valley, which feature species by category and regions. Interactive areas like the children's zoo and the Wings of Wonder bird encounter are popular places to visit.
In addition to the sprawling zoo grounds is the Botanical Garden, which started as a zoological garden in 1875. The gardens feature collections of tulips, endangered plant species, and a butterfly garden. Walk the grounds to learn about the native plants in the area, as well as gardens that are important for pollinators.
There are regular public events and even plant sales where you can pick up some new bulbs or species for your own garden.
Address: 3400 Vine Street, Cincinnati, Ohio
Official site: https://cincinnatizoo.org
16. Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, Akron
Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens in Akron is the nation's sixth largest historic home that is open to the public. You will find yourself enchanted with the original furnishings in the Manor House and the elegant details in the five buildings and historic gardens throughout the 70-acre estate.
F.A. Seiberling, the founder of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, built the home and surrounding gardens. The name, Stan Hywet, is an Old English term referring to "story quarry," which was the most significant natural feature on the property when it was purchased at the turn of the 20th century.
Take your time as you stroll through the home, gardens, Corbin Conservatory, Gate Lodge, and Carriage House. A gift shop and café are also on the property.
Address: 714 North Portage Path, Akron, Ohio
Official site: http://www.stanhywet.org/
17. Toledo Museum of Art
One of the highlights of Toledo is the outstanding Toledo Museum of Art. In existence for well over 100 years, the museum has amassed an extensive collection, which ranges from ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian pieces to American and European painting, and modern and contemporary art. Of particular note is the glass collection.
The museum's campus is spread over close to 40 acres, with 35 galleries in six buildings. The main museum has a distinctive and grand Greek façade. Opened in 2006, the Glass Pavilion, which contains glass-blowing studios and galleries, is a unique postmodern structure with many walls, including the exterior, made entirely of glass.
Official site: http://www.toledomuseum.org/
18. Fountain Square, Cincinnati
Cincinnati's Fountain Square is a central meeting place in the city where people can have an outdoor coffee in summer, skate the ice rink in winter, and escape from the confines of offices and apartments.
Located in the center of Cincinnati's expanding and vibrant Fountain Square District, Fountain Square offers great restaurants and free music and entertainment throughout the year. The main feature of the park is the ornate Tyler Davidson Fountain, dedicated in 1871.
Fountain Square is just a few blocks from the Backstage District, Cincinnati's arts district, so many people congregate at the square before or after theater and music shows.
Address: Fifth Street and Vine Street, Cincinnati, Ohio
Official site: http://myfountainsquare.com/
19. Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Train Ride
Train enthusiasts will want to ride the rails along the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Train route. This historical route winds its way from the Rockside Station in Independence down to the Northside Station in Akron.
Along the way, the train follows the Cuyahoga River through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This area is ideal for spotting wildlife, including deer and eagles.
Different seating options are available, and range from regular seats in coach and an upper dome car right through to an executive class car.
For a romantic rail trip, take the evening dinner train. On this excursion, you are served a full four-course meal in the beautiful domed dining car. Another great trip is to take the train in the fall, when the leaves in the Cuyahoga Valley burst into a riot of oranges, yellows, and reds.
A fun activity in the summer is to ride the train one way with your bike and then cycle back from your chosen stop along the Towpath trail to the beginning.
Official site: https://www.cvsr.org/
20. West Side Market
Looking for the freshest ingredients for that special dinner? Look no further than the West Side Market in Cleveland. Housed in a historical building and running since 1912, this market is a foodie must-do when in town.
You'll find over 100 vendors selling everything from cupcakes to the freshest seafood in town. All are small operators and are quick to offer helpful suggestions on what to do with a particular cut of meat, a vegetable, or spice.
Stay for breakfast or lunch at the West Side Market Café, which uses local ingredients to make specialties like Lake Erie walleye sandwiches and pierogis that are unique to the Cleveland area.