Interested to know the hidden gems in Ohio? Ohio, known for its vast farmlands and bustling cities, is also home to many hidden gems that often go unnoticed. While many people may be familiar with popular tourist destinations like Cincinnati, Cleveland, or Columbus, Ohio’s true beauty lies beyond these urban centers.
From breathtaking natural wonders and rich historical sites to captivating cultural experiences and unique festivals, there is something for everyone in the Buckeye State.
When it comes to travel, most people tend to overlook Ohio as a top destination. However, digging a little deeper, you’ll find a state brimming with hidden treasures offering unforgettable experiences.
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Hidden Gems in Ohio You Should Visit
Ohio boasts diverse attractions, including natural wonders, historical landmarks, cultural delights, outdoor adventures, and much more. Let’s dive into the depths of Ohio’s hidden gems and uncover the secrets that make this state a true hidden gem.
Uncover Natural Wonders
1. Hocking Hills State Park
Tucked away in southeastern Ohio, Hocking Hills State Park is a haven for nature lovers. Immerse yourself in its rugged landscapes adorned with lush forests, dramatic cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and awe-inspiring caves. Take a hike through Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, or Cedar Falls, and be captivated by the raw beauty surrounding you.
2. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Just a short drive from the bustling city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers a serene nature retreat. Explore its picturesque hiking trails, pedal along the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath, or take a scenic train ride through the park. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the majestic Brandywine Falls or catch a concert at the renowned Blossom Music Center.
3. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Nestled on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame pays homage to the iconic legends of music. Delve into the history and evolution of rock and roll through fascinating exhibits, interactive displays, and an extensive collection of memorabilia. Feel the rhythm and let the melodies guide you through this music mecca.
4. Lake Erie Islands
Escape the mainland and embark on a journey to the Lake Erie Islands. Put-in-Bay, Kelleys Island, and Middle Bass Island offer a tranquil oasis surrounded by the shimmering waters of Lake Erie.
Indulge in leisurely activities such as fishing, boating, or simply relaxing on the sandy beaches. Explore the island’s unique shops, savor fresh seafood, and experience the vibrant nightlife. It’s one of the hidden gems of Ohio.
Discover Historical Treasures
5. National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Located in Cincinnati, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a testament to the struggles and triumphs of those seeking freedom. Trace the footsteps of freedom fighters and learn about the Underground Railroad through immersive exhibits, poignant artifacts, and inspiring stories. This museum is a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit.
6. National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
In Dayton, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is the world’s largest military aviation museum. Step into the past and witness the evolution of aviation through a vast collection of aircraft, artifacts, and interactive displays. From the Wright brothers’ first flight to modern fighter jets, this museum showcases the rich history of aviation and the brave individuals who shaped it.
7. The Ohio Statehouse
Standing proudly in Columbus, the Ohio Statehouse is a magnificent architectural masterpiece. Take a guided tour of this historic building and marvel at its grandeur.
Learn about Ohio’s political history, admire the artistry displayed in its murals and sculptures, and stand in the very spot where Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous “House Divided” speech. It’s one of the hidden gems in Ohio.
8. Toledo Museum of Art
Nestled in Toledo, the Toledo Museum of Art houses an impressive collection spanning thousands of years. Immerse yourself in a world of artistic beauty as you explore galleries filled with renowned masterpieces and contemporary works. From ancient artifacts to modern sculptures, this museum is a treasure trove of creativity that will ignite your imagination.
Embrace Cultural Delights
9. German Village in Columbus
Transport yourself to a quaint European village by visiting German Village in Columbus. Stroll along its charming cobblestone streets, admire the well-preserved 19th-century architecture and savor authentic German cuisine at local restaurants. Experience the warmth of the community through vibrant festivals, such as Oktoberfest, and immerse yourself in German culture and traditions.
10. Amish Country in Holmes County
Step into a world where time slows down, and simplicity reigns in Amish Country. Located in Holmes County, this serene countryside is home to a thriving Amish community. Experience the Amish way of life by visiting farmers’ markets, sampling homemade goods, and taking a horse-drawn buggy ride through scenic farmlands. Let the peaceful ambiance and genuine hospitality leave a lasting impression on you.
11. The Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland Museum of Art is one of the best-hidden gems in Ohio that you should visit. Enrich your cultural journey in Cleveland by visiting the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Housing a vast collection spanning thousands of years and diverse cultures, this museum showcases works of art from renowned artists such as Monet, Picasso, and Warhol. Wander through its galleries, attend engaging exhibitions, and let the power of art touch your soul.
12. The Cincinnati Music Hall
As the hub of the performing arts in Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Music Hall offers a captivating blend of architectural splendor and world-class performances. This historic venue hosts symphonies, ballets, operas, and Broadway shows.
Immerse yourself in the enchanting melodies and witness the magic of live performances in one of the country’s most exquisite concert halls.
Unleash the Adventurer Within
13. Cedar Point Amusement Park
Thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies cannot miss Cedar Point, the roller coaster capital of the world. Located on the shores of Lake Erie, this amusement park offers an exhilarating experience with its record-breaking rides and heart-pounding attractions.
Feel the rush of the wind as you soar through the sky on the iconic Millennium Force or challenge gravity on the Valravn dive coaster.
14. The Wilds Safari Park
Embark on a safari adventure unlike any other at The Wilds Safari Park. Located in Cumberland, this expansive conservation center is home to rare and endangered species from around the globe. Hop on a guided safari tour and witness majestic animals roaming freely in their natural habitats. Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature and support the park’s conservation efforts.
15. Mohican State Park
Nestled in the heart of Ohio’s Mohican Country, Mohican State Park offers a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Explore miles of scenic hiking and biking trails, paddle along the Clear Fork Mohican River, or go horseback riding through lush forests. Don’t forget to marvel at the breathtaking vistas from the park’s iconic Lyons Falls or embark on a thrilling zipline adventure.
16. Ohio River Scenic Byway
Embark on a picturesque road trip along the Ohio River Scenic Byway. This scenic route stretches along the banks of the Ohio River, offering stunning views, charming river towns, and historical landmarks. Discover hidden gems like Marietta, where the past comes alive through its well-preserved architecture and fascinating museums. Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature as you cruise along this scenic byway.
Indulge in Culinary Surprises
17. Findlay Market in Cincinnati
Foodies and culinary enthusiasts will delight in the vibrant atmosphere of Findlay Market. Located in Cincinnati, this historic public market offers a plethora of fresh produce, artisanal goods, and international cuisine. Browse the stalls, sample local delicacies, and embrace the flavors that make this market a true culinary gem.
18. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
Satisfy your sweet tooth with a visit to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. This artisanal ice cream shop originated from Columbus and has gained nationwide acclaim for its unique flavors and high-quality ingredients.
Indulge in scoops of ice cream infused with imaginative combinations like Brambleberry Crisp, Salted Peanut Butter with Chocolate Flecks, or Brown Butter Almond Brittle. If you enjoy a good time with your partner, then it’s one of the hidden gems in Ohio for you.
19. Mazza’s Mediterranean Cuisine
Embark on a culinary journey through the flavors of the Mediterranean at Mazza’s. With locations in Cleveland and Columbus, Mazza’s offers a menu inspired by the rich culinary traditions of Lebanon and the Middle East. From hummus and falafel to shawarma and baklava, savor the authentic tastes of this region and experience the warmth of Mediterranean hospitality.
20. Breweries and Distilleries
Ohio has a thriving craft beer and spirits scene, with breweries and distilleries scattered throughout the state. From well-known breweries like Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland to hidden gems like Rhinegeist Brewery in Cincinnati, beer enthusiasts will enjoy a wide selection of flavors.
Additionally, explore distilleries such as Watershed Distillery in Columbus or Tom’s Foolery Distillery in Chagrin Falls, where you can sample handcrafted spirits and learn about the art of distilling.
Experience Quaint Small Towns
21. Yellow Springs
Escape to the vibrant and eclectic town of Yellow Springs. Known for its artistic charm and progressive spirit, this small town offers a unique blend of creativity, nature, and community. Browse local boutiques and art galleries, hike in Glen Helen Nature Preserve, and soak up the bohemian atmosphere that makes Yellow Springs a hidden gem.
Step into a storybook village when you visit Granville. With its picturesque streets lined with Victorian-era homes and charming shops, Granville exudes small-town charm. Explore the stunning campus of Denison University, stroll through the quaint downtown area, and immerse yourself in Granville’s rich history and warm hospitality.
Nestled along the banks of the Ohio River, Marietta offers a captivating blend of history and natural beauty. Marietta is a hidden gem in Ohio which is a must-visit. Explore its well-preserved historic district, home to elegant mansions, quaint shops, and delightful restaurants.
Take a paddlewheel riverboat cruise, visit the Campus Martius Museum, and witness the convergence of past and present in this charming river town.
Dublin, a suburb of Columbus, combines modern amenities with Irish charm. Experience the Irish spirit at the Dublin Irish Festival, where traditional music, dance, and cuisine take center stage. Discover the beauty of the Scioto River, explore the Dublin Arts Council’s exhibitions, and indulge in the city’s diverse dining scene. Let the warmth of Dublin’s community envelop you.
Engage in Unique Festivals and Events
25. The Ohio State Fair
Join the fun and excitement at the Ohio State Fair, held annually in Columbus. Experience the vibrant atmosphere of amusement rides, live concerts, agricultural exhibits, and mouthwatering fair food. From thrilling attractions to entertaining shows and competitions, the Ohio State Fair offers something for visitors of all ages.
26. The Circleville Pumpkin Show
Celebrate the beauty of autumn at the Circleville Pumpkin Show, one of Ohio’s oldest and most cherished festivals. Located in Circleville, this lively event showcases colossal pumpkins, creative carvings, and a wide array of pumpkin-inspired treats. Enjoy parades, live entertainment, and the friendly community spirit that makes this festival a true hidden gem.
27. The Dublin Irish Festival
Experience the magic of Ireland in the heart of Ohio at the Dublin Irish Festival. This annual celebration brings Irish culture to life through live music, traditional dance performances, authentic cuisine, and cultural exhibits. Join the revelry, embrace the Irish spirit, and create cherished memories at this spirited festival.
28. The Toledo Museum of Art’s Artomatic 419!
Discover the vibrant art scene of Toledo at the Toledo Museum of Art’s Artomatic 419! This unique festival showcases the talents of local artists through exhibitions, performances, workshops, and interactive installations. Immerse yourself in the creative energy and explore the diverse artistic expressions that make Toledo a hidden gem for art enthusiasts.
Relaxation and Wellness Retreats
29. Glenlaurel Scottish Inn and Cottages
Escape to the peaceful oasis of Glenlaurel Scottish Inn and Cottages, nestled in the Hocking Hills region. This luxurious retreat offers elegant accommodations, serene landscapes, and world-class amenities. Indulge in spa treatments, enjoy gourmet dining, and rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul in the tranquil surroundings of this hidden gem.
30. The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls
Experience the perfect blend of nature and relaxation at The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls. Tucked away in Hocking Hills, this charming inn offers cozy accommodations, rejuvenating spa treatments, and delectable farm-to-table cuisine.
Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the surrounding forests, embark on invigorating hikes, and unwind in the serenity of this enchanting retreat.
31. Burr Oak Lodge and Conference Center
In the scenic Wayne National Forest, Burr Oak Lodge and Conference Center is a haven for those seeking relaxation and tranquility. Settle into comfortable lodgings overlooking Burr Oak Lake, explore the nearby hiking trails, or indulge in fishing and boating activities. Immerse yourself in nature’s embrace and let the stress melt away at this hidden gem.
32. Tranquility Salt Cave
Recharge your body and mind at Tranquility Salt Cave in Columbus. Step into a sanctuary of tranquility as you relax in a cave-like environment filled with Himalayan salt. Breathe in the therapeutic air, which is believed to offer various health benefits, and let the calming ambiance wash away your worries. Experience a unique form of relaxation in the heart of the city.
Explore Urban Charm
33. The Short North Arts District in Columbus
Immerse yourself in creativity and culture at The Short North Arts District in Columbus. This vibrant neighborhood has many art galleries, boutiques, and trendy restaurants. Explore the ever-changing art installations, attend gallery hops, and experience the dynamic energy permeating this artistic enclave’s streets.
34. Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati
Step into the historic neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati and be captivated by its charm. Wander through the streets lined with beautifully preserved 19th-century architecture, and discover an eclectic mix of shops, breweries, and restaurants. Experience the revitalization of this district, which blends the old and the new, and feel the city’s vibrant pulse.
35. The Flats in Cleveland
Situated along the banks of the Cuyahoga River, The Flats is a trendy neighborhood in Cleveland that has undergone a remarkable transformation. Explore its vibrant waterfront with dining establishments, entertainment venues, and picturesque views.
From bustling restaurants to live music venues, The Flats offers a lively atmosphere where you can soak in the urban charm of Cleveland.
36. The Oregon District in Dayton
Visit The Oregon District in Dayton, a historic neighborhood known for its unique shops, art galleries, and cozy eateries. Take a stroll along the tree-lined streets, explore the boutiques offering locally made goods, and savor delicious cuisine in the district’s diverse restaurants.
Experience the sense of community and the welcoming spirit that makes The Oregon District a must-visit destination.
Enjoy Outdoor Recreational Activities
37. Mohican Adventures Canoe & Fun Center
Located in the heart of Mohican Country, Mohican Adventures Canoe & Fun Center offers a variety of outdoor activities. Embark on a thrilling canoe or kayak trip along the scenic Mohican River, or go tubing for a leisurely and refreshing experience. For adventure seekers, Mohican Adventures also provides go-kart racing, mini-golf, and camping opportunities.
38. Wayne National Forest
Covering over a quarter-million acres in southeastern Ohio, Wayne National Forest beckons outdoor enthusiasts with its vast wilderness. Discover miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails that wind through picturesque woodlands.
Immerse yourself in the serenity of nature, camp under the starlit sky, and witness the beauty that unfolds in this hidden gem.
29. Ziplining at ZipZone
For a thrilling adventure in the treetops, head to ZipZone Canopy Tours in Columbus. Soar through the air on zip lines, traverse sky bridges, and rappel down from towering platforms.
Enjoy an adrenaline rush while taking in breathtaking views of the surrounding forest. ZipZone offers an exhilarating experience that combines adventure and natural beauty.
30. Kayaking on the Little Miami Scenic River
Escape the city and immerse yourself in the tranquility of the Little Miami Scenic River. Rent a kayak and paddle along the peaceful waters, surrounded by lush greenery and wildlife. Experience the serenity of this hidden gem as you glide along the river, savoring the beauty of Ohio’s natural landscapes.
What are some lesser-known attractions in Ohio?
While Ohio is known for its popular attractions, there are several hidden gems that often go unnoticed. One such gem is Hocking Hills State Park, located in southeastern Ohio. This park offers breathtaking natural beauty, including stunning waterfalls, picturesque hiking trails, and fascinating caves.
Another lesser-known attraction is the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, which sheds light on the history of the Underground Railroad and the fight for freedom. Glenlaurel Scottish Inn and Cottages in Hocking Hills provide a unique accommodation experience with their Scottish-inspired retreat.
Lastly, the Oregon District in Dayton offers a charming atmosphere with its historic buildings, local shops, and vibrant nightlife.
Which cities in Ohio offer a vibrant arts scene?
Ohio is home to cities that boast vibrant arts scenes, providing a thriving cultural experience. Columbus, the capital city, stands out with its Short North Arts District. This district is a hub of creativity, featuring art galleries, trendy boutiques, and lively cultural events.
Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood has transformed into an artistic haven, with its restored historic buildings housing art galleries, theaters, and a vibrant arts community. Toledo, known for the Toledo Museum of Art, offers a world-class institution showcasing a diverse collection of artworks from different periods and cultures. The city’s commitment to the arts is evident through its numerous galleries and creative events.
Can you recommend any unique accommodations in Ohio?
Ohio offers a range of unique accommodations that promise unforgettable experiences. The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, nestled in Hocking Hills, offers a rustic and charming retreat surrounded by natural beauty. Guests can indulge in luxurious spa treatments and savor farm-to-table cuisine.
Burr Oak Lodge and Conference Center, situated in Wayne National Forest, provides comfortable accommodations amidst serene surroundings. With access to outdoor activities, this lodge offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure.
Glenlaurel Scottish Inn and Cottages in Hocking Hills offer a distinctive Scottish-inspired getaway. Guests can enjoy cozy cottages, fine dining, and the peaceful ambiance of the picturesque surroundings.
Are there any famous events or festivals in Ohio?
Ohio hosts several famous events and festivals that draw visitors from all over. The Ohio State Fair in Columbus is a beloved annual event, showcasing agriculture, live music, thrilling rides, and mouthwatering fair food.
The Circleville Pumpkin Show is a popular festival celebrating the arrival of autumn, featuring parades, contests, and a wide array of delicious pumpkin-themed treats.
The Dublin Irish Festival, held in Dublin, is a lively celebration of Irish music, dance performances, cultural exhibits, and a festive atmosphere. These events and festivals offer vibrant experiences and a glimpse into Ohio’s rich traditions and diverse culture.
What outdoor activities can I enjoy in Ohio?
Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of activities to enjoy in Ohio’s diverse landscapes. The state offers opportunities for canoeing or kayaking on the Mohican River, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the tranquility of scenic waterways.
For thrill-seekers, ZipZone Canopy Tours in Columbus offers the chance to soar through the treetops on exhilarating zip lines, providing a unique perspective of the surrounding natural beauty.
Exploring Wayne National Forest’s hiking and biking trails is a fantastic way to discover Ohio’s stunning scenery, with options available for various skill levels. Whether it’s paddling, zip-lining, or hiking, Ohio’s great outdoors provides an abundance of adventures for nature lovers.
Ohio may be an underestimated gem in travel destinations, but it is full of surprises waiting to be discovered. From breathtaking natural wonders and captivating historical sites to vibrant cultural experiences and exhilarating adventures, the Buckeye State offers diverse hidden gems that cater to all interests. So, step off the beaten path, embrace the unknown, and unlock the treasures that Ohio has to offer. I hope you find the article “hidden gems in Ohio” helpful. Happy adventure!!