Whether you’re just visiting Ohio or you’ve lived here your whole life, there’s a decent chance that you’re missing out on some truly charming small towns.
Ohio’s big cities may get most of the attention, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have some wonderful hidden gems throughout the state. There are quaint, waterfront towns that rival New England, small artistic enclaves, places full of history, and so much more.
If you’re ready to start exploring Ohio, this list is a great place to start.
Yellow Springs is one of my favorite places in the entire state. Founded in 1825 as a utopian community, Yellow Springs has long had a reputation as being an art-focused town. In addition to shopping, dining, and strolling through town, visitors to the area can also visit some beautiful natural areas, like the springs the town was named for. Go for a hike, grab a bite to eat after, and enjoy the vibes. Top highlights include Glen Helen Nature Preserve, John Bryant State Park, Young’s Dairy Farm, and Yellow Springs Brewery.
MORE LIKE THIS: The Best Things To Do In Yellow Springs
If a weekend of water, waves, and fun is what you’re craving, Put-in-Bay is the place. The village is located on South Bass Island in Lake Erie. It’s a popular summer destination, for good reason. With boats sailing in and out, waterfront restaurants, and visits riding around the island on bikes and golf carts, you’ll feel like you’re much further away from Columbus than just a few hours. Top highlights include South Bass Island State Park, the Butterfly House, South Bass Island Lighthouse, and Put-in-Bay Winery.
MORE LIKE THIS: 5 Fun Things To Do On A Weekend Getaway At Put-In-Bay
Are you a lover of all things historical? If the answer is yes, then a day trip to Granville should definitely be on your radar. The streets are dotted with beautiful Greek Revival homes built in the early 19th century, and the countryside surrounding the village is home to some impressive ancient earthworks that are over a thousand years old. Top highlights include Alligator Mound, The Granville Inn, and the Denison Museum at Denison University.
Heading north, you’ll find the sleepy little town of Chagrin Falls. With a stunning waterfall running right through the middle of town, it’s easy to see why this picturesque place has become a popular tourist destination. You absolutely have to stop at the Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop, located just above the falls. Top highlights include The Glass Asylum, Frohing Meadows, and of course, the falls themselves.
MORE LIKE THIS: 15 Waterfalls That Make The Perfect Day Trip From Columbus
Marietta is one of the oldest cities in Ohio, founded way back in 1788. Nestled along the Ohio River, all things outdoors are popular in this small city, including hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, and more. Top highlights include The Ohio River Museum, a boat ride on The Valley Gem Sternwheeler, and dinner at the Lafayette Hotel.
MORE LIKE THIS: Road Trip To The River! The Best Things To Do In Marietta
Wine and water are two of my favorite things, which is just one of the reasons I love visiting Geneva-on-the-Lake. Spend your days relaxing on the beach, exploring the charming town, or relaxing with a great glass of wine from a local winery. Top highlights include the Old Firehouse Winery, The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake, Breakwater Beach, and Geneva State Park.
Known as the “Little Switzerland of Ohio”, Sugarcreek exudes charm. Originally known as Shanesville, the town was founded in 1814 and only became Sugarcreek in 1969. The town is quaint and just so happens to be home to one of my favorite roadside attractions in the state, one of the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clocks. Too highlights include the Alpine Hills Museum, Ohio Star Theatre, several wineries, and The Age of Steam Roundhouse (open April-November).
MORE LIKE THIS: 15 Unique Ohio Road Trips From Columbus
Embark on an epic adventure in Logan a not-so-hidden gem that seamlessly blends nature’s wonders with quirky delights. Get ready to hike through the mesmerizing landscapes of Hocking Hills, where waterfalls and scenic views await your exploration. The area is one of Ohio’s fastest growing tourist regions and there’s no shortage of incredible things to do. Top highlights include hiking in Hocking Hills State Park, visiting the Pencil Sharpener Museum, and in the fall, stunning fall foliage.
MORE LIKE THIS: The Best Things To Do In Hocking Hills