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25 Unique Columbus Day Trips

Looking for a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of Columbus? Whether you’re a long-time resident or just passing through, Ohio and its neighboring states offer an incredible array of day trips that cater to every type of adventurer. From the serene beauty of natural parks and the thrill of amusement parks to the rich tapestry of Midwestern culture and history, there’s something within a four-hour drive for everyone.

We’ve curated a list of 25 unique destinations, each offering its own set of unforgettable experiences. These spots have been meticulously ranked from closest to furthest from Columbus, ensuring you can make the most out of your travel time. So, whether you’re looking to explore outdoor wonders, dive into the culinary scene, or simply enjoy a change of scenery, you’re just a short drive away from your next adventure. Let’s discover the hidden gems and popular attractions that lie within a stone’s throw of Columbus. Buckle up for a journey through picturesque landscapes, historic sites, and the heart of the Midwest’s warm hospitality.

1. Yellow Springs, OH (Approx. 1 hour drive)

yellow springs fall foliage
via Facebook

Explore: The vibrant downtown area brims with street art and unique shops, while John Bryan State Park offers serene hiking trails through Clifton Gorge Nature Preserve.
Eat: The Winds Cafe delights with its menu of local, seasonal dishes, providing a cozy, delicious pit stop.
Experience: The eclectic vibe of the town, where creativity and nature meet.

READ MORE: The Best Things To Do In Yellow Springs

2. Hocking Hills, OH (Approx. 1.5 hours drive)

Old Man's Cave, Hocking Hills, Ohio
via Facebook

Explore: Discover awe-inspiring natural wonders at Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, and Cedar Falls.
Eat: Savor rustic comfort food at The Olde Dutch Restaurant, a perfect recharge spot after exploring.
Experience: Thrilling canopy tours and zip-lining adventures for a bird’s-eye view of the lush landscape.

READ MORE: The Best Things To Do In Hocking Hills

3. Cincinnati, OH (Approx. 2 hours drive)

elephant at Cincinnati zoo
“Cincinnati Zoo” by Joe D. Good, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Explore: Visit the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden for a mix of animal encounters and beautiful gardens.
Eat: Dig into the iconic Skyline Chili for a taste of Cincinnati’s famous culinary creation, or if you’re feeling fancy, hit up some of their most highly rated restaurants.
Experience: Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Ohio River at Smale Riverfront Park, capturing the essence of the city. If you feel like staying the night, there’s even an Airbnb with a 30-foot swing!

READ MORE: This Unique Cincinnati House Has An Awesome 30-Foot Swing

4. Dayton, OH (Approx. 1 hour 15 mins drive)

via Air Force Museum Facebook

Explore: The National Museum of the United States Air Force offers an extensive look into aviation history. If the great outdoors are more your speed, you can visit Aullwood Audubon to take a hike with some massive trolls!
Eat: Tank’s Bar & Grill serves up hearty meals perfect for any time of day, especially their acclaimed breakfasts.
Experience: The historic charm of the Oregon District, with unique shops and dining options.

READ MORE: These Massive Troll Sculptures In Dayton Are Totally Worth A Road Trip

5. Cleveland, OH (Approx. 2.5 hours drive)

aerial photo of the rock and roll hall of fame
Explore: Dive into the history of music at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. For the nature lovers, a visit to Cuyahoga Valley National Park is an absolute must.
Eat: West Side Market offers a smorgasbord of food vendor options, perfect for the indecisive eater.
Experience: The excitement of a Cleveland Cavaliers game at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, especially if you’re a sports fan.

6. Toledo, OH (Approx. 2.5 hours drive)

via Toledo Museum of Art Facebook

Explore: Marvel at the Toledo Museum of Art and its stunning Glass Pavilion. For those interested in maritime history, the National Museum of the Great Lakes is an exceptional way to spend the afternoon.
Eat: Enjoy local brews and pub fare at Maumee Bay Brew Pub.
Experience: A peaceful stroll along the Maumee River at the Toledo Riverwalk is the perfect way to end your day in Toledo.

READ MORE: Cool And Unusual Things To Do In Toledo

7. Put-in-Bay, OH (Approx. 3.5 hours drive, including ferry)

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Put-in-Bay,_Ohio

Explore: Visit Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial for history and views.
Eat: Dine at The Boardwalk for fresh Lake Erie perch and walleye.
Experience: Explore the island with ease by renting a golf cart.

READ MORE: 5 Fun Things To Do On A Weekend Getaway At Put-In-Bay

8. Amish Country, OH (Holmes County) (Approx. 2 hours drive)

fall foliage amish country ohio
via Facebook

Explore: Take a scenic drive through the rolling hills and farmland.
Eat: Savor home-cooked Amish meals at Boyd and Wurthmann Restaurant.
Experience: Shop for handmade furniture and goods.

READ MORE: The Best Things To Do In Ohio’s Amish Country

9. Pittsburgh, PA (Approx. 3 hours drive)

downtown pittsburgh
via Facebook

Explore: The Andy Warhol Museum and Carnegie Museum of Natural History await.
Eat: Try the famous sandwich at Primanti Bros.
Experience: Enjoy stunning city views from the Duquesne Incline.

10. Louisville, KY (Approx. 3.5 hours drive)

downtown louisville kentucky
Photo by David Grant (Flickr)

Explore: The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory for baseball fans.
Eat: Get a taste of Kentucky-style barbecue at Feast BBQ.
Experience: Wander through the historic Old Louisville neighborhood.

11. Detroit, MI (Approx. 3.5 hours drive)

via Facebook

Explore: Discover art at the Detroit Institute of Arts and music history at the Motown Museum.
Eat: Lafayette Coney Island offers a taste of Detroit’s famous coney dogs.
Experience: Cheer for the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

12. Indianapolis, IN (Approx. 2.5 hours drive)

indianpolis childrens museum
via Facebook

Explore: The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.
Eat: Indulge in a classic dining experience at St. Elmo Steak House.
Experience: Take a leisurely stroll along the Canal Walk in downtown Indianapolis.

13. Sandusky, OH (Approx. 2 hours drive)

Cedar Point's Giant Wheel and Troika
Explore: Thrill-seekers will love to indulge in a little adrenaline rush at Cedar Point Amusement Park.
Eat: Dockside Café offers casual waterfront dining.
Experience: Take a ferry trip to explore nearby islands like Kelleys Island or South Bass Island.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Roller Coasters In Ohio

14. Geneva-on-the-Lake, OH (Approx. 3 hours drive)

via Facebook

Explore: The shores of Lake Erie and Geneva State Park for outdoor fun.
Eat: Step back in time with a meal at Eddie’s Grill.
Experience: Enjoy the nostalgia of the Geneva-on-the-Lake strip, complete with arcades, shops, and wineries.

READ MORE: This Gorgeous Waterfront Resort Is Worth The 3-Hour Road Trip From Columbus

15. Mammoth Cave National Park, KY (Approx. 4 hours drive)

mammoth cave entrance
via Facebook

Explore: Tour the world’s longest cave system with a knowledgeable guide.
Eat: The Lookout Restaurant offers great food with views.
Experience: Outdoor adventures like hiking and canoeing along the Green River.

16. Lexington, KY (Approx. 3 hours drive)

keeneland race track
via Facebook

Explore: Dive into equestrian culture at The Kentucky Horse Park and Keeneland Racecourse.
Eat: Enjoy Southern comfort food at Ramsey’s Diner.
Experience: Embark on a tour of the Bourbon Trail for whiskey lovers.

17. Fort Wayne, IN (Approx. 3 hours drive)

fort wayne indiana
via Facebook

Explore: Discover the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo and Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory.
Eat: Bite into a local treat at Coney Island Wiener Stand.
Experience: Catch a TinCaps baseball game at Parkview Field.

18. Ann Arbor, MI (Approx. 3.5 hours drive)

ann arbor michigan
via Facebook

Explore: Wander the University of Michigan campus and Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum.
Eat: Don’t miss a legendary sandwich at Zingerman’s Delicatessen.
Experience: Take a stroll through the Kerrytown District for unique shopping and dining.

19. The Wilds (Approx. 1.5 hours drive)

people on safari in ohio
Wildside Tour, photo by Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Explore: Visit one of the largest wildlife conservation centers.
Eat: Bring a picnic to enjoy amidst nature.
Experience: Go on safari tours to see rare and endangered species.

READ MORE: Go On A Safari Adventure This Summer At The Wilds

20. Mohican State Park, OH (Approx. 1.5 hours drive)

mohican state park covered bridge fall foliage
via Facebook

Explore: Adventure through hiking, canoeing, and zip-lining.
Eat: Dine with a view at The Mohican Lodge.
Experience: Spend the night in a treehouse or cabin for a memorable stay.

READ MORE: The Best Things To Do At Mohican State Park

21. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, OH (Approx. 2 hours drive)

brandywine falls
via Facebook

Explore: See Brandywine Falls and hike the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail.
Eat: Refuel at The Winking Lizard Tavern.
Experience: Enjoy the park’s beauty on a Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad ride.

READ MORE: A Road Trip To Cuyahoga Valley National Park Should Be On Your Fall Bucket List

22. Athens, OH (Approx. 1.5 hours drive)

athens ohio university
via Facebook

Explore: Experience the serene beauty and vibrant culture of this college town. Whether you’re looking to stroll through town or take in the beauty of the Appalachian’s at Strouds Run, you’ll have a blast.
Eat: Visit Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery for craft beer and tasty pub fare.
Experience: Shop local at the Athens Farmers Market.

READ MORE: Strouds Run State Park Is A Perfect Summer Road Trip From Columbus

23. Bellefontaine, OH (Approx. 1 hour drive)

bellefontaine ohio rainbow row
via Facebook

Explore: Visit Ohio’s highest point at Campbell Hill and Mad River Mountain.
Eat: Enjoy modern American cuisine at The Syndicate.
Experience: Walk on America’s first concrete street, Main Street and take a stroll down Rainbow Row.

24. Newark, OH (Approx. 1 hour drive)

newark earthworks
A small part of the Newark Earthworks via Wikimedia Commons

Explore: Marvel at the Newark Earthworks, an ancient architectural wonder.
Eat: Savor American classics at Park Place Bistro.
Experience: Wander through Dawes Arboretum for a dose of nature.

25. Zanesville, OH (Approx. 1 hour 20 mins drive)

zanesville ohio
via Facebook

Explore: Discover the Y Bridge and cultural treasures at the Zanesville Museum of Art.
Eat: Indulge in a nostalgic treat at Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl.
Experience: Extend your wildlife adventure with a visit to The Wilds nearby.