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day trips from columbus ohio winter

8 Winter Destinations That Make Cold Weather Cool

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When I think of getting away, the thing I most want to escape is the cold weather.

But what if you enjoy winter? What if winter sports are totally your jam? Maybe your perfect idea of winter is hopping in a hot tub while snow falls gently overhead. (Ok, that doesn’t sound so bad.)

If you’re ready to fully embrace winter, and you’re not afraid of a road trip, then stick around. This list is most definitely for you.

Hocking Hills

day trips from columbus ohio winter

For those who want to get away, but not too far away, Hocking Hills is a great place to spend a winter weekend. You can rent an epic cabin and hop in the hot tub or book a stay at Glenlaurel Inn where you can be pampered and relaxed with in-room spa services. Head out for a winter hike to see some incredible frozen waterfalls or go stargazing at John Glenn Astronomy Park .

Chicago, Illinois

day trips from columbus ohio winter

Chicago is one of my favorite ways to spend a winter weekend. For one thing, there aren’t nearly as many tourists, so you can explore without all those pesky people getting in your way. Hello, uninterrupted Bean photo! Grab some grub, go curling on the roof of a hotel, or strap on some ice skates and hit Millenium Park. Just be sure to bundle up. It may not have been nicknamed the windy city for its weather, but it is cold and windy!

Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia

day trips from columbus ohio winter

Itching to carve down the side of a mountain but heading out to the Rockies isn’t quite in the budget? How about something a little closer to home. Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia is the definition of a winter playground, with skiing, snowboarding, tubing, an epic heated pool, snowmobile tours, and more. I know all of that sounds like it will cost you, but they have some pretty affordable packages.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Frozen waterfall

Having been in Gatlinburg in the snow, I can tell you, it’s a magical place to curl up and read a good book. Even if you don’t plan on hitting the slopes at Ober Gatlinburg, you should definitely hop on the aerial tram for an awesome view of the Smokey Mountains as you make your ascent. Gatlinburg has tons of family-friendly activities to take part in, like the Mysterious Mansion and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

If you’re traveling without the kiddos, you can get a real taste for the Smokies by throwing back some moonshine at one of the distilleries in town! That’ll warm you up. If you’re looking for an easier hike in the winter weather, I can’t recommend Cataract Falls enough. The trail is gentle, well marked, and it leads to a waterfall that’s truly hard to grasp the size of until you’re in front of it for yourself!

Louisville, Kentucky

day trips from columbus ohio winter

There’s no better place to spend a blustery, winter day than Louisville. That’s because you can warm yourself up pretty dang quickly on a Bourbon Tour by Mint Julep Tours. The tours include stops at Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, Woodford Reserve, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Barton 1792, Lux Row, and Stitzel-Weller (Bulleit). If you’re feeling adventurous, it would be criminal to skip out on the Louisville Mega Cavern. You can zipline through the massive cave system or take a shot at the underground aerial ropes challenge course. The cavern does close for government-issued weather warnings, so be sure to double-check just how “wintery” it is outside before you book.

Deep Creek, Maryland

wisp ski resort maryland

Niagara Falls, NY

day trips from columbus ohio winter

It’s hard to imagine something as powerful as Niagara Falls freezing over, but when it does, it’s absolutely breathtaking. Since it’s not exactly boat tour weather, you may be wondering what else there is to do. Highlights of the winter itinerary include hitting up the Niagara Wine Trail , grabbing some authentic Buffalo Wings at Anchor Bar , or popping over to the casino for a fun night of cards, dice, and slots. Responsibly, of course.

Blue Mountain Resort, Ontario

snowboarding blue mountain resort ontario

Featured image via Facebook .

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Chelsea Wiley

Chelsea Wiley, first of her name, Queen of the Seven Andals... wait. That's not right. Joking aside, Chelsea is a writer and photographer born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. She is an avid reader and a lover of animals.

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White Oak Inn

What Is One of the Best Winter Getaways from Columbus, OH?

It’s so important to take a step back, slow down, and make  time for yourself. If you’re looking for a fun  and relaxing   trip, Ohio’s Amish Country  make s  for  one of the  best winter getaways from Columbus, OH.   Our charming Danville Bed and Breakfast sets a breathtaking   winter wonderland scene for those in need of a  break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  Read on to learn more about what makes The White Oak Inn the perfect destination for your vacation. Then,  request a free copy of our free  Amish Country Vacation Guide  for more thoughtful, local insight.   

Request a Copy of the Guide    

6  Reasons  The  White Oak Inn  in Ohio’s Amish Country  Is One of the Best Winter Getaways from Columbus, OH  

“To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake it is necessary to stand out in the cold.”  — Aristotle  

1. Experience a True Winter Wonderland

The snow is aplenty in Ohio this time of year.  Views  of frosted treetops and fresh ,  white blankets of snow  over farmland   capture a sense of serenity that is less common in the city.  We recommend unplugging and spending some time outdoors with activities such as:   

  • Skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing at  Snow Trails Ski Resort  
  • Embarking on a  winter hike  at  Mohican State Park ,  Honey Run Highlands Park , or  Kokosing Gap Trail  

2. Celebrate the Holiday Season

If you’re planning a getaway for the holidays, you’re in luck. There are so many amazing opportunities to find cheer in Ohio’s Amish Country! Get in the holiday spirit with these fun ideas:   

  • Experience the  Mount Vernon Christmas Parade & Festival  
  • Don’t miss the incredible views at Fire and Ice at Honey Run Waterfall   
  • Honor a local tradition and see the  Wachtel Family Christmas Lights  

3. Support the Arts

If you’re not up for hanging outside in the snow, opt for a live, indoor performance! Stay warm and support the arts at the same time.  The  Amish Country Theater  features show after show, especially in the winter.   

4. Shop for One-of-a-Kind Treasures  

Shop ‘til you drop in Amish Country!  Peruse antique stores, shop for handmade   quilts,  admire handcrafted furniture, and more. Some of our favorite  local stores  include:   

  • Friendly Meadows Country Store  
  • Holmes County Pottery  
  • Helping Hands Quilt Shop

5. Eat Delicious, Home-Cooked Meals

Trying all the tasty food when visiting somewhere new is one of the best parts  of  traveling.  We’re proud to offer some  great dining options !  When you stay  with us , you can count on a mouth-watering country breakfast every morning. Some of our guests’ favorite dishes include the stuffed French toast, articho ke tomato strata, and lemon pancakes with warm berry sauce. In addition to breakfast, we also serve a four-course dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings.   

6.  Cozy up in a Charming Room or Cottage   

Stay in one of  our   cozy accommodations  to make the most of your winter getaway from Columbus, OH!  You can choose between  uniquely adorned  rooms in our Main House  or Guest House or a private log cabin . Each accommodation captures the essence of  peaceful  country living  through charming décor, beautifully restored hardwoods, and comfortable furnishings. We even offer  pet-friendly  lodging  for those traveling with their furry family members.  Allow yourself to be pampered and plan the relaxing getaway that you deserve. We can’t wait to host you!   

Check Availability    

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  • Last Updated On
  • August 23, 2023

40 Best Day Trips From Columbus — Places Nearby!

Anna Taylor

Living in Ohio, I’ve had the pleasure of exploring the vibrant heart of our state, Columbus. 

As the capital and the largest city, it’s perfectly positioned between Cincinnati and Cleveland, making it a hub for some of the best day trips from Columbus. 

Trust me, as a local, I’ve experienced these places firsthand, and I can tell you that the adventures waiting just a short drive from the city are nothing short of amazing. 

Whether you’re looking to escape the bustling city life for a tranquil retreat or seeking a weekend filled with excitement and exploration, Columbus has it all. 

Here’s a guide to some of my favorite spots, crafted to help you plan the perfect getaway from Columbus.

Best Day Trips From Columbus Compared 

Ready to explore beyond the city limits? 

Dive into our handpicked selection and discover the best day trips from Columbus.

Editor’s Choice

day trips from columbus ohio winter

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh is the second-largest city in Pennsylvania and is known as the “Steel City” and the “City of Bridges.”

  • Family Friendliness: 4/5
  • Safety: 3/5
  • Affordability: 3/5
  • Accessibility: 4/5
  • Fun Factor: 4/5

#2nd Best Choice

day trips from columbus ohio winter

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati, located on the Ohio River, is known for its 19th-century architecture. This charming city is an hour and 45 minutes away from Columbus and is worth every second.

  • Family Friendliness: 5/5
  • Safety: 4/5
  • Affordability: 4/5
  • Accessibility: 5/5
  • Fun Factor: 5/5

#3rd Best Choice

day trips from columbus ohio winter

Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis is the most populous city in Indiana, founded in 1821. It’s a 2-hour and 45-minute drive from Columbus, but it’s worth it since there’s so much to see and do.

  • Accessibility: 3/5

Here are top 40 day trips from Columbus.

1. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Editor’s Choice)

Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, PA (412) 281-7711 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Ratings Criteria

  • Cultural diversity: Pittsburgh offers a rich blend of cultural experiences, from museums to theaters, appealing to a wide range of interests.
  • Scenic beauty: The city’s rivers and bridges provide a picturesque backdrop for outdoor activities and sightseeing.
  • Traffic: Pittsburgh can have heavy traffic, especially during peak hours, which might affect travel plans.
  • Safety concerns: Some areas of the city may have safety concerns, so it’s wise to research and plan accordingly.

This gem is a 3-hour drive from Columbus, but if you’re thirsty for adventure and fun, you’ll make it just fine.

With a host of fun attractions, it’s one of the best day trips from Columbus.

You’ll love the Carnegie Museum of Art and its sprawling mix of modern and historic art, both in exhibitions and architecture.

Then visit one of the largest zoos in the region known as the Pittsburgh Zoo.

You can tour the African Savanna, Bear Park, Asian Forest, or the PPG Aquarium.

If you’re feeling impulsive and adventurous, try locating all 446 bridges in the city.

Or explore the downtown area for a plethora of even more activities.

This city also has some of the country’s most renowned restaurants and bars, so bring out the foodie in you and branch out your tastebuds.

Recommended Hotel: Comfort Inn & Suites Pittsburgh

2. Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati, OH (513) 621-2142 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

  • Family attractions: Cincinnati is packed with family-friendly attractions like the Cincinnati Zoo and the Children’s Museum.
  • Accessibility: Being relatively close to Columbus, it’s an easy and convenient day trip.
  • Weather: The weather can be unpredictable, so it’s good to check the forecast and plan accordingly.
  • Parking: Finding parking in popular areas can be challenging, especially during peak times.

Cincinnati , located on the Ohio River, is known for its 19th-century architecture.

This charming city is an hour and 45 minutes away from Columbus and is worth every second.

You can head to Findlay Market to explore the different cuisines and craft vendors.

Or head north to where the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is located.

It’s where you’ll find animal and plant species beyond your imagination.

Learn more about the city’s history at the Cincinnati Museum Center, or visit the children’s version of it at the art deco Union Terminal.

Recommended Hotel: Hampton Inn and Suites Cincinnati – Downtown

3. Indianapolis Indiana

Indianapolis Indiana

Indianapolis, IN (317) 262-3000 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

  • Sports venues: Indianapolis is known for its sports culture, with venues like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway offering thrilling experiences.
  • Cultural districts: The city’s cultural districts offer a mix of dining, shopping, and entertainment options.
  • Distance: The drive from Columbus might be a bit long for a day trip, depending on your preferences.
  • Limited outdoor activities: Compared to other destinations, Indianapolis might have fewer outdoor recreational opportunities.

Indianapolis is the most populous city in Indiana, founded in 1821.

It’s a 2-hour and 45-minute drive from Columbus, but it’s worth it since there’s so much to see and do.

Explore interactive exhibitions at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and learn a thing or two.

Then take a relaxing stroll with vibrant flowers at Newfields.

Finish it with a visit to the Indianapolis Zoo to check out the most adorable and fascinating animals.

Recommended Hotel: Tru By Hilton Indianapolis Downtown, IN

4. Mansfield

Mansfield

Mansfield, OH (419) 755-9722 Visit Website Open in Google Maps

Mansfield is a city and the county seat of Richland County, founded in 1808.

This is the perfect one day trip from Columbus if you don’t mind driving for an hour.

Soak in the beauty of exotic flowers at the Kingwood Center Gardens, and bring your camera.

Then take the young ones for a few hours of fun at the Ohio Bird Sanctuary, where stellar birds can eat out of their hands.

Or revisit some of your favorite classic medieval movie scenes at the Mansfield Reformatory.

It feels like stepping into a different timeline with the latter and is a must-visit.

Recommended Hotel: Travelodge by Wyndham Mansfield

Lucas

Lucas, OH (419) 213-4000 Visit Website Open in Google Maps

Lucas is a village in southeastern Richland County with plenty of family-friendly things to do.

If you’re looking for day trips from Columbus for families, drive an hour to this gem.

Bring your little ones for a day of fun at the Little Buckey Children’s Museum, where they can learn through interactive exhibits.

For older kids, the Clear Fork Adventure Resort is a must-visit for its adventurous recreational activities.

There are also plenty of restaurants and bars for you to explore downtown and theaters and cinemas.

Whether you’re looking to blow off some steam or have a relaxing day, Lucas has your back.

Recommended Hotel: Best Western Richland Inn Mansfield

Related: Weekend Trips in Ohio

6. Cedar Bog Nature Preserve

Cedar Bog Nature Preserve

980 Woodburn Rd Urbana, OH 43078 (937) 484-3744 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

The Cedar Bog Nature Preserve is a 450-acre protected area of fen established in 1942.

This natural wonder is only a 1-hour drive from Columbus, so get your tunes and hiking gear ready.

It’s a relaxing walk through a rainforest of ferns with fascinating plants and flowers.

You’ll also see different wildlife along the way, such as birds, frogs, turtles, and more.

Bring bug spray and don’t forget your camera.

Recommended Hotel: Cobblestone Hotel & Suites – Urbana

Related: Best Weekend Getaways From Columbus

7. Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Hills State Park

19852 State Route 664 S Logan, OH 43138 (740) 385-6841 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Hocking Hills State Park is 9.5 square miles big, filled with natural beauty and winding trails.

If you’re down for a fun hike with the family, this park is only a 1-hour drive away from Columbus.

Visit Old Man’s Cave, filled with beautiful gorges and waterfalls.

It’s also one of the easiest parts to visit in the park, so it’s perfect for kids.

Next is the Ash Cave, a vast cave filled with several easy trails and overlooks.

Then finish your trip by checking out Cedar Falls, a scenic walk that ends with beautiful views of the waterfall.

This is one of the best Columbus day trips to take advantage of for adventure.

Recommended Hotel: MainStay Suites Logan Ohio-Hocking Hills

8. John Glenn Astronomy Park

John Glenn Astronomy Park

20531 St. Rt. 664 S Logan, OH 43138 (877) 403-4477 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

John Glenn Astronomy was established in 2018 to educate travelers about the science of the skies.

This engaging activity is located just one hour away from Columbus.

Learn about the wonders of the sky, both day and night, through intriguing exhibitions.

You’ll get to look through the telescope when night falls to see stars and galaxies.

If you’re looking for day trips from Columbus for families, this is well worth the stop.

Recommended Hotel: Lake Logan Inn

9. Kings Island Amusement Park

Kings Island Amusement Park

6300 Kings Island Dr Mason, OH 45040 (513) 754-5700 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Kings Island is a 364-acre amusement theme park in Cincinnati, established in 1972.

It’s only a 1-hour and 15-minute drive from Columbus, and the rides alone are worth the drive.

There are over 100 whopping rides you could enjoy here, which provides fun and thrill for all ages.

Check out the legendary Beast and Mystic Timbers for a thrilling roller coaster ride.

Or try the Kings Mills Antique Autos for a shot at driving classic cars.

The Flight of Fear is the scariest ride in the park and is its only indoor coaster.

It’s a local favorite, and the line might be long, but it’s worth it for the experience.

Heading here is a fantastic idea for day trips from Columbus for couples looking for a thrill.

Recommended Hotel: Comfort Suites Mason near Kings Island

10. Dayton, Ohio

Dayton, Ohio

Dayton, OH (937) 333-3333 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Dayton is the sixth-largest city in Ohio and was established in 1796.

This bustling urban city is a 1-hour and 15-minute drive from Columbus, so get your tunes ready for the drive.

Check out the National Museum of the US Air Force to see magnificent metal beasts of the air.

Then head to the Dayton Art Institute for a glimpse of masterpieces from renowned artists.

Or learn more about the history of the city at Carillon Historical Park.

You can end your day with a window-shopping stroll down Oregon District and its historical buildings.

This city is one of the most stunning places to see near Columbus.

Recommended Hotel: Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Dayton Southwest, an IHG Hotel

11. Cumberland, Ohio

Cumberland, Ohio

Cumberland, OH (401) 728-2400 Visit Website Open in Google Maps

Cumberland is a small village located in Guernsey County, with a population of fewer than 500 people.

This quaint and charming village is a drive of an hour and a half from Columbus.

The Wolf Run State Park is a must-visit and is known as one of the most scenic places near Columbus.

Go for a thrilling zipline ride at the Wild Zipline Safari, or head to the Baker Family Museum for exciting artifacts.

If you’ve got a soft spot for vintage items, check out the Urban Twigs for gift ideas.

Cumberland is the perfect choice for a one day trip from Columbus.

Recommended Hotel: Quality Inn & Suites

12. Miamisburg Mound

Miamisburg Mound

900 Mound Rd Miamisburg, OH 45342 (937) 866-8999 Visit Website Open in Google Maps

The Miamisburg Mound is a 37-acre park known as Ohio’s largest prehistoric burial mound.

This museum is located an hour and a half from Columbus, so it’s a relatively quick drive.

This vast, green space is filled with rich history and a fascinating find.

There’s plenty to learn from here, whether you walk alone or have a guide.

Head to the observation platform to see spectacular views.

Or have a picnic at one of its picnic tables.

Recommended Hotel: Homewood Suites by Hilton Dayton South

13. Loveland Castle & Museum

Loveland Castle & Museum

12075 Shore Dr Loveland, OH 45140 (513) 683-4686 Visit Website Open in Google Maps

Loveland Castle is a museum on the Little Miami River that’s also known as Chateau Laroche.

It was established in the 1920s and built in a Medieval castle style.

This unique attraction is an hour and a half from Columbus, so take your time there.

Tour the ground and surrounding landscape, learn about its history, and take plenty of photos.

This is one of those Columbus trips you won’t want to miss out on.

Recommended Hotel: Marriott Cincinnati Northeast

14. Salt Fork State Park in Lore City

Salt Fork State Park in Lore City

14755 Cadiz Rd Lore City, OH 43755 (740) 439-3521 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Salt Fork State Park is a 17,229-acre public recreation space established in 1960.

It’s the largest park in Ohio, so there’s plenty to see and do.

This fun spot is a mere 1-hour and 30-minute drive from Columbus.

If you’re looking for things to do outside Columbus, you’ll find plenty here.

Aim true and shoot your heart out at the archery area.

Or go boating, kayaking, and fishing at the lake.

Of course, don’t forget to take a walk through the trails to enjoy beautiful sceneries and nature.

Recommended Hotel: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Cambridge, an IHG Hotel

15. Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum in Hamilton

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum in Hamilton

1763 Hamilton Cleves Rd. Hamilton, OH 45013 (513) 868-8336 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

The Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum is a 300-acre outdoor sculpture park and museum.

It showcases antiques and artifacts dating to 1550 BC.

It’s a worthwhile drive of 1 hour and 45 minutes from Columbus, so get started early to explore.

There are over 60 monumental modern sculptures, each as strange and unique as the next.

Stroll through the grounds of antiques that go back thousands of years.

This is a fascinating find of modern art, so take the time to visit if you can.

Recommended Hotel: Courtyard Hamilton

16. West Liberty

West Liberty

West Liberty, OH (937) 465-2716 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

West Liberty is a quaint and charming village in Logan County, with a population of about 1,800.

This place may be small, but it’s worth the 1-hour drive from Columbus.

Visit Ohio Caverns to see the majestic “Crystal King,” which is a huge stalactite.

Then you could head to the Piatt Castles for pictures of a pair of eccentric castles as your background.

If you’ve got kids with you, take them to the Hartman Rock Garden to see a miniature world of stone and concrete.

You can even go ziplining at Markin Farms Zipline Adventures.

There’s plenty to do for everybody, so it’s best not to judge this town by its size.

Recommended Hotel: Comfort Inn Bellefontaine

17. Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Brecksville

Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Brecksville

9141 Riverview Road Brecksville, OH 44141 (330) 657-2752 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a 32,572-acre American conservatory park established in 1974.

It’s a 2-hour drive from Columbus and is a beautiful place for a hike.

You’ll be hiking and walking through fascinating rock formations, trees, and stunning waterfalls.

There’s plenty of walking space despite it being popular on the weekends.

You’ll even find a restaurant on-site if you don’t feel like bringing your own food.

Have a picnic, take a trek, and enjoy nature.

Recommended Hotel: Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Cleveland-Richfield, an IHG Hotel

18. Pro Football Hall of Fame

Pro Football Hall of Fame

2121 George Halas Dr NW. Canton, OH 44708 (330) 456-8207 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Did you know the NFL was first founded in the city of Canton in 1920?

All their stories and history are recorded and showcased in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, established in 1963.

This attraction is a 2-hour drive from Columbus, so you should get started early in the morning.

Check out the different memorabilia of football superstars over the years, including players and coaches.

You’ll also learn about their hard work and what it took to get their names featured in the Hall of Fame of Football.

This is one of those Columbus trips you can take a football fan to.

Recommended Hotel: DoubleTree by Hilton Canton Downtown

19. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland

1100 E 9th St Cleveland, OH 44114 (216) 781-7625 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a museum for rock legends established in 1983.

This museum is a 2-hour and 15-minute drive from Columbus and is perfect for rock fans.

Once you get there, you’ll need 2-3 hours to tour the museum to make the most of it.

You’ll see memorabilia, original handwritten iconic songs, instruments, and outfits of rock and roll legends.

Listen to the guide as you learn about the history of rock and roll and its most iconic figures.

Buy your tickets a few days in advance since it tends to sell out quickly.

Recommended Hotel: The Westin Cleveland Downtown

20. Chagrin Falls Ohio

Chagrin Falls Ohio

Chagrin Falls, OH (440) 247-5050 Visit Website Open in Google Maps

Chagrin Falls is a small village built and grown around the Chagrin Waterfalls.

It’s a 2-hour and 15-minute drive from Columbus and is worth a day of your time.

What’s interesting about this place is that it’s actually the birthplace of the Popeye comic strip.

Of course, visit the Chagrin Waterfalls for scenic views and pictures of the three gorgeous waterfalls.

Then head to Chagrin Valley Little Theater to watch a fun musical or play.

Take a leisurely stroll through Frohring Meadows, or head downtown to go window shopping.

Recommended Hotel: Hampton Inn Cleveland-Solon

21. Greater Cleveland Ohio

Greater Cleveland Ohio

Cleveland Metropolitan Area, OH (216) 621-3300 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Greater Cleveland is the metropolitan area surrounding the city of Cleveland , known for its urban infrastructure.

This city is a 2-hour and 15-minute drive from Columbus and is filled with activities you could do.

Check out priceless art pieces at the Cleveland Museum of Art, where it’s filled with exhibits from all over the world.

Or go hiking at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to see beautiful nature views.

Take your gang to see and learn about animals at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, which is something the kids would love.

Then visit A Christmas Story House downtown to see what it’s like to be on the live set from the movie itself.

There’s also plenty to see at the West Side Market, so visit there when you can.

Recommended Hotel: Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Cleveland Tiedeman Road

22. Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky

Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky

1 Cedar Point Dr Sandusky, OH 44870 (419) 627-2350 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Cedar Point is a 364-acre amusement park in Sandusky, established in 1870.

This fun hotspot will take you 2 hours and 15 minutes to drive from downtown Columbus.

It’s home to over 70 amazing rides, ranging from thrilling and exciting to fun and casual.

Whether you’re looking to enjoy a good roller coaster or a relaxing Ferris wheel ride, you’ll find it here.

There’s something here for everyone of all ages, even a carousel for toddlers.

You can also find plenty of food and drinks here, just in case you need to replenish after a thrilling ride.

Recommended Hotel: Cedar Point Hotel Breakers

23. Lake Erie Shores & Islands in Sandusky

Lake Erie Shores & Islands in Sandusky

125 E Water St Sandusky, OH 44870 (419) 625-2984 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Lake Erie Shores and Islands is a local center offering tours of regional attractions and exhibits on wildlife and history.

This family-friendly activity is a 2-hour and 15-minute drive from Columbus.

This is a popular destination for fun for the whole family, and there’s plenty to do for everyone.

Head to the lake for a myriad of water activities you could enjoy.

Or spread out a picnic blanket and enjoy your favorite foods with the best people.

Whether you’re here for lazy days on the beach or fishing with buddies, it’s an excellent choice for a quick getaway.

You can also tour Lake Erie and learn all about its history and the wildlife that lives there.

Recommended Hotel: Cedar Point’s Express Hotel

24. Newport Aquarium in Newport

Newport Aquarium in Newport

1 Levee Way Newport, KY 41071 (800) 406-3474 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Newport Aquarium is a local aquatic exhibition center showcasing marine wildlife and more.

This marine life wonder is a mere 1-hour and 45-minute drive from Columbus.

Check out amazing aquatic creatures such as sharks, penguins, clown fishes, crocodiles, and more.

There’s an aquarium tunnel you walk through while stingrays and sharks swim over your heads.

It’s a beautiful place to learn more about the deep secrets of the sea and its attractive inhabitants.

Recommended Hotel: Hampton Inn & Suites Newport/Cincinnati, KY

25. Cooper Rock State Forest

Cooper Rock State Forest

61 County Line Dr Bruceton Mills, WV 26525 (304) 594-1561 Visit Website Open in Google Maps

Cooper Rock State is a beautiful historical park established in 1936 that offers plenty of family activities.

It’s a drive that will cost you 3 hours and 30 minutes of your time from Columbus, so we recommend starting the day early.

This park offers some of the most stellar views of Almost Heaven, with plenty of overlooks to check out.

You can hike through scenic trails, visit historical sites, or have a picnic.

There are also sandstone cliffs for climbing and bouldering and a lake perfect for fishing.

There’s plenty to see and do here, so it’s worth the drive.

Recommended Hotel: The Cranberry, Ascend Hotel Collection

26. Olentangy Indian Caverns

Olentangy Indian Caverns

1779 Home Rd Delaware, OH 43015 (740) 548-7917 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Olentangy Indian Caverns are a series of caves formed millions of years ago by an underground river.

It’s a fast drive of just 26 minutes from Columbus, so it’s perfect for quick weekend fun.

You can tour the fascinating caves and learn about their history and how they were formed.

There’s even a petting zoo where the kids will have a blast with the cutest animals.

You can also go gem mining for fun, which is a popular activity with kids from Columbus.

Or, if you’re feeling a bit tense, try having a satisfying stretch with cave yoga.

Recommended Hotel: Nationwide Hotel and Conference Center

27. Tecumseh

Tecumseh

5968 Marietta Rd Chillicothe, OH 45601 (740) 775-0700 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Tecumseh is an outdoor theater performance of the great Native American chief.

The drive to this family-friendly show will be under an hour from Columbus, and it’s worth it.

This outdoor museum also features a museum with plenty of fascinating artifacts you could explore.

There’s also on-site dining you could enjoy while you watch the play unfold before you.

I mean. Who doesn’t love a good meal and a fantastic show, right?

You’ll not only enjoy the stories brought to life, but you’ll also learn a lot about Chillicothe’s history and its founders.

Enjoy the behind-the-scenes tour after the show, and check out their other live performances.

Recommended Hotel: Hampton Inn & Suites Chillicothe

28. Amish Country Ohio

Amish Country Ohio

87 W Jackson St Millersburg, OH 44654 (330) 674-3975 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Amish Country is also known as Holmes County and is home to the largest Amish community in the world.

It will take you 1 hour and 42 minutes to get there from Columbus, so get your road tunes ready.

It’s a fascinating town filled with rich history and fascinating culture.

You’ll often see buggies driven by horses, different farmhouses, and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet.

You can learn about the history and traditions of the Mennonite and Amish peoples through their food and handicrafts.

Sample locally-made cheese with chocolates, check out the stunning Behalt cyclorama, or take a scenic walk through the roads.

Did we mention you also get to pet giraffes?

Recommended Hotel: Hotel Millersburg

29. Seneca Caverns

Seneca Caverns

15248 E Township Rd 178 Bellevue, OH 44811 (419) 483-6711 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Seneca Caverns is located in Bellevue, Ohio, and is known as one of the region’s largest underground caverns.

This is America’s most fascinating geological miracle, and you can drive just under 2 hours to get there from Columbus.

This 45-minute trek is worth every second as you descend 165 feet below ground.

You’ll find unique rock formations with miraculously-cut straight edges.

And you’ll also learn about how they were formed, some interesting facts, and even funny stories.

Wear comfortable, grippy shoes to battle the slippery rocks, and enjoy the fascinating tour of this hidden gem.

Recommended Hotel: Bellevue Hotel and Suites

30. Ludlow Falls

Ludlow Falls

Ludlow Falls, OH (937) 776-0166 Open in Google Maps

Ludlow Falls is a small village in Miami County with a population of just 300+ people.

The drive here from Columbus will take you approximately 1 hour and 16 minutes.

Visit Ludlow Creek Falls for a view of a beautiful picturesque landmark.

You could even have a picnic next to this waterfall, which is a fantastic date idea.

The hike itself is a great scenic change from the busy city, with all its beautiful foliage and birds.

It’s an easy hike that even kids can do, so take the whole family on this trip.

Once you’ve reached the end, head downtown to explore local restaurants and boutique shops.

Recommended Hotel: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Troy, an IHG Hotel

31. Clifton Mill

Clifton Mill

75 Water St Clifton, OH 45316 (937) 767-5501 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Clifton Mill is a historic landmark known to be one of the largest water-powered grist mills to exist.

It was established in 1802 and is located about 50 minutes from Columbus.

Explore the vintage mill and take a few pictures of its charming age.

Then head to the covered bridge for a bit of self-reflection.

Don’t forget to check out the 40s-era gas station and finish it with a meal from a nearby casual American restaurant.

Recommended Hotel: Mills Park Hotel

32. The Wilds, Cumberland

The Wilds, Cumberland

14000 International Rd Cumberland, OH 43732 (740) 638-5030 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

The Wilds is a safari park and conservation center established in 1994.

This safari is worth the 1-hour and 17-minute drive from Columbus, and you don’t want to miss it.

You get to tour the “Wilds” on a jeepney truck while giraffes and monkeys come near you in curiosity.

There are also zebras, cheetahs, rhinos, deer, and so much more.

You can even go ziplining and horseback riding here, so there’s plenty to do for everyone.

33. German Village

German Village

German Village Columbus, OH (614) 221-8888 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

German Village is a quaint, laidback village known for its charming brick houses and fascinating history.

You don’t have to drive far to get here at all since it’s only 3 minutes from downtown Columbus.

You’ll love exploring the antique buildings housing charming gift shops and restaurants.

Check out old books from one of the stores, look through handmade jewelry, and explore art galleries.

There are also plenty of German pubs and American bistros to dine in.

And don’t leave without trying the iconic traditional fudge there.

Recommended Hotel: Holiday Inn Express – Columbus Downtown, an IHG Hotel

34. Athens, Ohio

Athens, Ohio

Athens, OH (740) 592-1819 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Athens is an urban city known for its many bars and parks.

It’s located 74 miles away from Columbus, which takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes to drive.

Have some wine while touring the gorgeous vineyard at Pleasant Hill Vineyards.

Or stay inside and have a beer at Little Fish Brewing.

If you happen to visit during the weekends, we highly recommend checking out Athens Farmers Market for the best fresh products.

For history buffs who love hot dogs, check out the whimsical O’Betty’s Hot Dog Museum.

Recommended Hotel: Athens Central Hotel

35. Marietta, Ohio

Marietta, Ohio

Marietta, OH (740) 373-1387 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Marietta is a city in Washington County known to be the oldest city in Ohio, established in 1788.

This historic city is located 2 hours away from Columbus.

This beautiful, charming town is home to vibrant festivals, quaint shops, and all kinds of trails.

This is one of those places you go to for escape and relaxation or need pictures of vintage buildings.

It’s a gorgeous place to live in and an even better spot to visit.

Recommended Hotel: Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Marietta

36. Cambridge, Ohio

Cambridge, Ohio

Cambridge, OH (740) 439-2238 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Cambridge is a city in Guernsey County well-known among glass collectors for its many factories.

It’s located 1 hour and 28 minutes away from Columbus and has beautiful scenery.

You’d expect nothing less from a city located at the foot of the gorgeous Appalachian Mountains.

Visit the National Museum of Cambridge Glass to find out why this city is so well-known.

Then head to Salt Fork State Park for a little hike or picnic.

Finally, stop by the John and Annie Glenn Museum for a step back in time with fascinating living history presentations.

Explore the wilds, indulge in a restaurant, or check out the unusual Dickens Victorian Village downtown.

Recommended Hotel: Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Cambridge

37. Fort Wayne Indiana

Fort Wayne Indiana

Fort Wayne, IN (260) 424-3700 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Fort Wayne is the county seat of Allen County, known for its scenic outdoor spaces and museums.

It’s a 2-hour and 45-minute drive from Columbus, but worth it.

Check out the indoor tropical and desert paradise at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory.

Or head to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art to see fascinating American paintings and sculptures.

There’s plenty to do here for all ages, so take your friends and family for a fun road trip.

Recommended Hotel: Hampton Inn & Suites Fort Wayne Downtown

38. Yellow Springs

Yellow Springs

Yellow Springs, OH (937) 767-2686 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Yellow Springs is a village in Greene County home to Antioch College and has a long history with the Shawnee Native Americans.

If you’re looking for places to visit near Columbus, this is only a 1-hour drive away.

Hike through the Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve and adore the spectacular limestone and dolomite gorges.

It’s the perfect hiking spot with a 2-mile trail that leads to stunning scenic views of wildflowers.

If you prefer staying in, head to the Yellow Springs brewery to sample local craft beers.

Or spend your day admiring handmade art at Village Artisans for unique pieces and pocket-friendly prices.

Also See: Best Day Trips From Cleveland

39. Ann Arbor Michigan

Ann Arbor Michigan

Ann Arbor, MI (734) 995-7281 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Ann Arbor is a city in Michigan well-known for its iconic University of Michigan and its research programs.

But that’s not the only thing this fun city offers.

It’s a 3-hour drive from Columbus, so start your day early to get more done.

Visit during June to experience the vibrant Ann Arbor Summer Festival, featuring some of the most famous artists in the world.

Check out the dinosaur bones at the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History (this is usually the kids’ favorite.)

Then admire the beautiful sprawling gardens at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum.

Recommended Hotel: Ann Arbor Regent Hotel and Suites

Newark

Newark, OH (740) 670-7500 Visit Website Open in Google Maps

Newark is the county seat of Licking County and is the 15th largest city in Ohio.

This spot is a quick 45-minute drive from Columbus, so it’s perfect for a quick daycation.

Newark is best known for the fascinating Newark Earthworks, which is a series of earth mounds built by the Hopewell Indians.

You could visit there for a few pictures or head to the Dawes Arboretum for a leisurely walk.

Don’t forget to stop by the gorgeous Infirmary Mound Park, which hosts a beautiful lake for fun water activities.

This is one of the best places to visit near Columbus for a quick drive and relaxation.

Recommended Hotel: Courtyard Newark Granville

Day Trip Guide 

Comparing destinations: which one is right for you.

As a local who’s explored these fantastic destinations, I can share a bit of insight to help you choose the right day trip from Columbus.

In Pittsburgh, I was captivated by the blend of old and new, where historic neighborhoods meet modern art scenes. 

The view from Mount Washington at sunset? 

Unforgettable.

Cincinnati felt like a family playground. 

The time I spent at the Cincinnati Zoo watching the playful antics of Fiona the hippo still brings a smile to my face. 

The city’s charm is undeniable, and the food scene is a delight.

Indianapolis, with its bustling downtown and iconic Speedway, offered a different thrill. 

I remember the roar of engines and the excitement of race day like it was yesterday.

Each city has its unique flavor. 

Pittsburgh for the culture lover, Cincinnati for family fun, and Indianapolis for the sports enthusiast. 

Your perfect day trip awaits, and I can’t wait for you to discover it. 

How I Picked The Destinations

Living right here in Ohio, I’ve not only experienced these places and activities but also dug deep into research, chatting with fellow locals and travelers. 

It’s more than a list. 

It’s a collection of shared experiences and local insights, all woven together to guide your next adventure.

Our Rating Method

I rate these destinations based on the following criteria.

  • Family friendliness: This criterion assesses the family-friendly appeal of every destination. Does it offer attractions suited for the whole family? Does it have facilities and services that entertain and engage all age groups? I use these questions to evaluate family friendliness. 
  • Safety: I use this to evaluate safety and security. Does the area have a low crime rate? Is public transportation secure? Are local authorities reliable and helpful? I ask myself these questions when evaluating safety. 
  • Affordability: This is used to assess affordability. Will visitors get a lot of bang for their buck? Is it cheaper compared to the other options? I consider these factors when rating affordability. I consider these factors when rating affordability.
  • Accessibility: This criterion evaluates the accessibility of every location. Is it easily accessible by public transportation? How walkable is the area? How far is it from the base? These are the questions I ask myself when assessing accessibility. 
  • Fun factor: I use this to evaluate how enjoyable the day trip is for visitors. Will it create positive and memorable experiences? Does it offer attractions that promise fun experiences for the whole family? Are there theme parks, beaches, and hiking trails? I use these questions to evaluate this criterion.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What are the best family-friendly destinations for day trips from columbus.

Family-friendly destinations are abundant near Columbus. Places like Cincinnati, with its zoo and children’s museum, or Hocking Hills for outdoor exploration, offer engaging experiences for all ages.

How Far Are These Day Trips From Columbus?

The distance for day trips from Columbus varies. Pittsburgh is around a 3-hour drive, Cincinnati is approximately 1.5 hours away, and Indianapolis might take around 3 hours, depending on traffic.

Are There Affordable Options For Day Trips From Columbus?

Affordability is a key feature in many day trips from Columbus. Options like exploring nearby parks, visiting smaller towns, or enjoying cultural experiences in cities like Cleveland can fit various budgets.

Conclusion 

After exploring the vibrant heart of Ohio and venturing out on the best day trips from Columbus, I’ve got to say, Pittsburgh stands out as our top choice. 

Its blend of cultural diversity and scenic beauty offers something for everyone. 

While Cincinnati’s family attractions and Indianapolis’s sports venues have their own charm, Pittsburgh’s rich tapestry of experiences left an indelible mark on me. 

Whether you’re a culture lover or just seeking a picturesque escape, these day trips are more than just destinations.

They’re memories waiting to be made. 

So grab your map, and let’s hit the road.

40 Best Day Trips From Columbus — Places Nearby!

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The 16 Best Day Trips From Columbus, Ohio

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  • Post last modified: September 5, 2023
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Columbus, Ohio is a great place to live and a great place to visit! In addition to tons of activities and festivals throughout the year, there are lots of great day trips that are within a 2-hour drive of Columbus.

These day trips can make a quick daycation (a day of vacation, get it?!) or an easy overnight trip. Whether you’ve got kids in tow or you just want to spend a relaxing day in nature, these day trips are sure to please.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Sign

Legal Stuff: This post may contain affiliate links and/or credit card referral links.  We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

These 16 day trips from Columbus, Ohio are great ways to get away when you aren’t able to take a big vacation. Hop in your car and enjoy your day-long vacation at these great spots.

1. The Wilds 

The Wilds, located in Cumberland, is one of the most unique places you’ll find in Ohio (maybe even the whole country!) Without leaving the midwest, you can experience an open-air safari tour at this 9,000+ acre non-profit wildlife park and conservation center (which is a partner of the Columbus Zoo). You’ll get to see some incredible animals, including zebras, rhinos, antelopes, giraffes, cheetahs, and more.

For more activities near The Wilds, check out these things to do in Muskingum County.

Location: 14000 International Road, Cumberland, Ohio 43732

Contact: 740-638-5030 | The Wilds

Approximate Drive Time From Columbus: 1 hour 35 minutes

Rhino at The Wilds Ohio - day trips from columbus, Ohio

2. Ohio Caverns 

Ohio caverns have crystal stalactites, stalagmites, and other amazing formations. The caverns are the largest in the state and are recognized as “America’s Most Colorful Caverns.”

You can take a guided tour that lasts about 1 hour…and don’t forget to bring a jacket! The caverns remain at a constant 54 degrees throughout the year.

Location: 2210 East State Route 245, West Liberty, Ohio 43357

Contact: 937-465-4017 | Ohio Caverns

Approximate Drive Time From Columbus: 1 hour

Ohio Caverns day trip from Columbus

3. Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is located between Cleveland and Akron along the Cuyahoga River. It’s one of the nation’s 61 National Parks and the only National Park in Ohio . Inside the park, you’ll find forests, hills, trails, and waterfalls. Highlights include:

  • Beaver Marsh
  • Brandywine Falls
  • Blue Hen Falls
  • The Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail

Location: 15610 Vaughn Road, Brecksville, Ohio 44141

Contact: 440-717-3890 | Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Approximate Drive Time From Columbus: 1 hour 55 minutes

More Info: Cuyahoga Valley National Park Trails

The Ledges Hiking area

4. Loveland Castle

Did you know that you can visit a castle — in Ohio?! Loveland Castle is located in Loveland and was built in the 1920s. You can take a self-guided tour, explore the grounds, play some games, or enjoy a picnic by the river.

Location: 12025 Shore Drive, Loveland, Ohio 45140

Contact: 513-683-4686 | [email protected] | Loveland Castle

Approximate Drive Time From Columbus: 1 hour 25 minutes

5. Ohio Bird Sanctuary

The Ohio Bird Sanctuary, located in Mansfield, is home to over 30 different species of birds, who, because of injuries, can’t live in the wild. The 90-acre preserve also has hiking trails, a children’s play area, and picnic areas.

Location: 3774 Orweiler Road, Mansfield, Ohio 44903

Contact: 419-884-4295 | [email protected] | Ohio Bird Sanctuary

Approximate Drive Time From Downtown Columbus: 1 hour 5 minutes

Ohio Bird Sanctuary

6. Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum, located in Hamilton (in Butler County ), is a fantastic 300+ acre outdoor sculpture park that you can drive through in your car, or you can rent a golf cart (I highly recommend this). Be sure to stop into the Ancient Sculpture Museum to see the Greek, Roman, Etruscan, Syrian, and Egyptian sculptures that date back to 1550 B.C.

Location: 1763 Hamilton Cleves Road, Hamilton, Ohio 45013

Contact: 513-868-1234 | Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum

Approximate Drive Time From Columbus: 1 hour 45 minutes

Ancient Sculptures at Pyramid hill

7. Young’s Jersey Dairy

Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs is a great spot to visit with young kids. You’ll find different events and activities throughout the year, including mini-golf, goats and cows, rides, pumpkin picking, and more! If you’re visiting in late summer, be sure to check out the sunflower field in Yellow Springs, too.

Location: 6880 Springfield-Xenia Road, Yellow Springs, Ohio 45387

Contact: 937-325-0629 | Young’s Jersey Dairy

Approximate Drive Time From Columbus:   50 minutes

Young's Jersey Dairy - Day Trip from Columbus

8. Salt Fork State Park

This isn’t just another state park. Salt Fork State Park, located in Guernsey County , is legendary for its ties to the legend of Bigfoot ! It’s also Ohio’s biggest state park, covering over 17,000 acres of land. At the park, you’ll find a walk-through archery course, a lake for fishing and boating, a dog park, golf and mini-golf, a beach for swimming, over 14 hiking trails, and more.

Location: 14755 Cadiz Road, Lore City, Ohio 43755

Contact: 740-439-3521 | Salt Fork State Park

9. National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

The National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton is the world’s largest military aviation museum. It houses over 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles and features exhibits illustrating military aviation history. There’s also a flight simulator and 3D theater.

Location: 1100 Spaatz Street, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio 45433

Contact: 937-255-3286 | [email protected] | National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

Approximate Drive Time From Columbus: 1 hour 10 minutes

National Museum of the US Air Force

10. The Farm at Walnut Creek 

The Farm at Walnut Creek, located in Sugarcreek, is a working farm that features over 500 animals, including giraffes, camels, zebras, and kangaroos.  You can drive along the 2.3-mile trail or take a horse-drawn wagon ride to feed the animals.

Location: 4147 County Road 114, Sugarcreek, Ohio 44681

Contact:  330-893-4200 | The Farm at Walnut Creek

Approximate Drive Time From Columbus:   1 hr 45 min

Day Trips from Columbus Ohio - Farm at Walnut Creek

11. Cedar Bog Nature Preserve

Cedar Bog Nature Preserve is a 450-acre nature preserve located in Urbana. You’ll enjoy the mile-long boardwalk where you can view many rare plants and animals.

Location: 980 Woodburn Road, Urbana, Ohio 43078

Contact: 937-484-3744 | [email protected] | Cedar Bog Nature Preserve

Approximate Drive Time From Columbus: 55 minutes

12. Hocking Hills State Park 

Hocking Hills in Logan is a gorgeous area for enjoying the outdoors and one of the most popular day trips from Columbus, Ohio. You’ll find plenty of hiking , mountain biking, and camping. If you want to make this an overnight trip, there are lots of great cabins to choose from. I enjoyed the private cabins at the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls and Cherry Ridge Retreat for a romantic getaway.

Location: 13178 Route 664, Logan, Ohio 43138

Contact: 1-800-HOCKING | Hocking Hills

Approximate Drive Time From Downtown Columbus: 1 hour 10 minutes

Hocking Hills State Park | Logan, OH | USA

13. Kings Island

King’s Island is an amusement park located just north of Cincinnati in Mason, Ohio. It’s been around since the 1970s and was even featured on The Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch ! Highlights include thrill rides, Planet Snoopy, and Soak City Water Park.

Location: 6300 Kings Island Drive, Kings Island, Ohio 45034

Contact: Kings Island

Approximate Drive Time From Columbus : 1 hour 20 minutes

14. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a great place to visit for anyone who loves music. The museum features traditional exhibits along with The Garage, a hands-on area featuring 12 instrument stations with instructional videos to try. The museum’s building and iconic glass pyramid were designed by famed architect I.M. Pei, who also designed the pyramid in front of The Louvre in Paris, France.

Location: 1100 Rock n Roll Blvd, Cleveland, Ohio 44114

Contact: 216-781-ROCK | Rock n Roll Hall of Fame

Approximate Drive Time From Columbus: 2 hours 5 minutes (if you drive fast, this comes in under the 2-hour mark – ha!)

Day Trips from Columbus - Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

15. Pro Football Hall of Fame

The Pro Football Hall of Fame, located in Canton, is a mecca for football. You can wander the Hall of Fame at your leisure or take a guided tour.

Location: 2121 George Halas Drive NW, Canton, Ohio 44708

Contact: 330-456-8207 | Pro Football Hall of Fame

Approximate Drive Time From Columbus: 2 hours

16. Newport Aquarium

The Newport Aquarium isn’t in Ohio, actually. It’s located across the river from Cincinnati in Newport, Kentucky, but it’s still close enough to make a great day trip.

My favorite parts were the giant Pacific octopus (seriously, the trip is worth it to see this guy alone!), the 2 white alligators, and the huge tank that features sharks, a sea turtle, a giant 300lb grouper, and shark rays.

Location: One Aquarium Way, Newport, Kentucky, 41071

Contact: 800-406-3474 | Newport Aquarium

Approximate Drive Time From Downtown Columbus : 1 hour 40 minutes

white alligators at newport aquarium in newport, kentucky

For more information about everything there is to do in Columbus throughout the year, check out my detailed guides to Columbus!

  • Spring Activities and Festivals in Columbus 
  • Summer Activities and Festivals in Columbus
  • Fall Activities and Festivals in Columbus
  • Winter Activities and Festivals in Columbus

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The best day trips from Columbus, Ohio (USA). These fun day trips are all within a 2 hour drive of Columbus, Ohio! #columbus #ohio #daytrip #midwest #travel #familytravel #ohiotravel #daytripsfromcolumbus #staycationideas

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I like the variety of places you list. I love the Pyramid Sculpture Park and would like to try some of the other art and nature options!

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10 Day Trips from Columbus, Ohio—Local’s Guide

pinterest pin for day trips from Columbus, Ohio

People love to joke about how there’s nothing to do in Ohio, and as a native Ohioan, I’ve made my fair share of those jokes. While Ohio doesn’t have the most varied landscapes compared to the coasts, there are still plenty of interesting places to go and things to do.

I was born and raised in Columbus, so I’ve had plenty of time to explore the surrounding area. Here are some unique places to take a day or weekend trip, all within 2 hours of the city. Stay till the end for a free, interactive map!

This post contains affiliate links, meaning that I may earn a small comission at no extra cost to you if you book through those links. This helps me keep my blog running, and I appreciate your support!

Table of Contents

Day/Weekend Trips from Columbus, Ohio

Note: Ohio doesn’t have a very robust public transport system, so all the time/distance estimates are based on driving times.

1. Yellow Springs

Distance: 1 hour Best for: small town charm, hippie vibes, hiking

The town of Yellow Springs in the fall with a yellow-leaf tree on the left and a mint building on the right with people selling tie dye shirts

Yellow Springs was originally founded in 1825 as a socialist utopian society. These days, it’s a colorful hippie town full of unique shops and restaurants. Rose & Sal is my personal favorite with its wide selection of vintage decor.

If you enjoy hiking, there’s around 11 miles of easy to moderate trails across three parks, including the Glen Helen Nature Preserve, John Bryan State Park, and Clifton Gorge .

Clifton Gorge is my favorite, as it has the most dramatic lanscapes with the layers of worn-away rock and turquoise waters. Nearby, you’ll find the 19th-century Clifton Mill where you can buy freshly-ground flour, take quaint photos, or have a meal overlooking the water. (Clifton is technically another town, but it’s only a few miles away).

See my post on things to do in Yellow Springs for more recommendations!

Want to extend your trip? Consider staying at this two-story cabin in Clifton.

2. Walnut Woods Metro Park

Distance: 30 minutes Best for: easy walks and photoshoots

Back of woman walking on a paved trail through a forest of tall pine trees at Tall Pines Area Walnut Woods

If you’re looking for a pleasant walk or photoshoot location, you can get both at Walnut Woods. In this metro park, you’ll find paved and unpaved trails, with one of the paved trails going through the stunning Tall Pines Area . This part of the forest feels especially peaceful and almost otherwordly. The impressive trees make for a lovely photo backdrop, and you’ll frequently see engagement or family shoots in the woods. If you do come for a photoshoot, be sure to be mindful of others using the trails.

For a similar forest experience, you can also visit Oak Openings Preserve Metro Park near Toledo. The park there is much larger and has more trails, but is further away (about 2.5 hours).

3. Hocking Hills

Distance: 1 hour Best for: hiking, antiques

Me with my back facing the camera looking at Rock House

Hocking Hills is a classic destination, and some of you may be groaning since you’ve been there countless times on school and family trips.

Most people do the Old Man’s Cave trail, which is just over 1 mile total and features some small waterfalls and interesting rock formations. You can also extend the hike to Cedar Falls, which is 6 miles round-trip.

If you’ve been-there-done-that, consider some of the other trails in Hocking Hills! I enjoyed the short 1-mile hike at Rock House , which had some impressive sandstone caves. Cantwell Cliffs is another 2-mile hike that has some scenic views. You can also try ziplining with Hocking Hills Canopy Tours .

If you like antiques, make a stop at the Logan Antique Mall on your way home. There are countless booths with quirky housewares and decorations.

Want to extend your trip? Consider staying at Hocking Cottage or this quaint guesthouse .

4. Mansfield

Distance: 1 hour Best for: thrifting, small town charm

City News neon sign in downton Mansfield Ohio

In my opinion, Mansfield isn’t a super interesting destination in itself, but it’s home to an incredible Volunteers of America thrift store. The one at 1280 Park Ave W is full of affordable and stylish finds. I purchased a handful of things from there four years ago, and I still regularly wear all of those pieces.

While the town itself is small, there’s a cute carousel for families and a popular coffee shop called Relax, It’s Just Coffee.

5. Mohican State Park

Distance: 1 hour Best for: hiking, kayaking

Mohican is another classic destination for outdoorsy folks. There are miles and miles of trails for hiking, trail running, and mountain biking. In fact, there are annual ultramarathons and ultra bike races in the park that go up to 100 miles! The trails can be pretty hilly and rocky, so I’d recommend wearing hiking boots.

People also like to picnic, camp, and kayak in the area. For active travelers, Mohican Adventures has a 7- or 15-mile canoeing route and an aerial adventure park.

Want to extend your trip? Consider staying at this cabin nestled in the heart of the park.

6. Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Distance: 1-2 hours Best for: easy hikes, biking, farmer’s markets

The overlook at Ledge's Trail during the golden hour, with the sun filtering through the trees

Ohio’s only national park isn’t all that far from Columbus, depending on which part of the park you want to visit.

A popular trail is Ledges Trail , an easy two-mile hike with 200 feet of elevation gain. You’ll walk through impressive layered rock structures and finish at a scenic overlook, where many people watch the sunset.

There are also several waterfalls of all sizes, including larger Brandywine Falls and small (but lovely) Blue Hen Falls .

If hiking isn’t for you, you can bike along the Erie Canal Towpath, ride the scenic railway, or stop at the Szalay’s Farm & Market.

See my post on Cuyahoga Valley National Park for more details!

Want to extend your trip? Consider staying at  Country Inn and Suites , a 10-15 minute drive from the most popular parts of the park.

7. Amish Country

Distance: 2 hours Best for: rural landscapes, antiques, local food

Old white garage covered in vintage signs

Amish Country is home to the Amish community, a religious group best known for rejecting modern technology. You can learn about Amish history and their lifestyle at The Apline Hills Museum or The Amish Farm and House .

Popular stops include Sugarcreek, which is known as the “Little Switzerland” of Ohio. The small town has some classic Swiss architecture and the world’s largest cuckoo clock (it sounds more impressive than it is haha, but it’s still very cute). For all your fairy garden needs, visit the Secret Garden shop . It feels like a different world inside the store with the floral decorations, tiny figurines, and indoor fountains.

For a huge antique mall and craft mall, check out the Berlin Village Antique Mall . I would avoid the Walnut Creek Flea Market since it’s mostly mass-produced goods and isn’t really a flea market at all. There are some lovely local sellers, but it’s mainly a tourist trap.

As a plant-based traveler, I noticed that the area doesn’t have a lot of vegan-friendly options, but Park St. Pizza had delicious vegan pizza and a build your own option.

I also want to note that the area is very visibly pro-Trump and pro-gun (like most of rural Ohio), so certain people may not feel comfortable or safe there. The Amish generally don’t participate in politics, but the other residents of the area will have political signs in their yards and sell merch in local shops (it’s very prevalent at the Walnut Creek Flea Market).

Want to extend your trip? Consider staying at this cozy cottage .

8. Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

Distance: 30 minutes Best for: walking, nature center, bison

Herd of bison in their prairie enclosure at Battelle Darby

A herd of bison roams across two large prairies in Battle Darby Creek Metro Park. Come to see the bison, walk the trails, or visit the nature center. There are trails from .2 to 12.5 miles of all hiking levels across the park’s 7,000 acres of land. The nature center is small, but has a sunny observation deck overlooking the prairies and has plenty of educational resources on the bison and surrounding wildlife.

9. Cleveland

Distance: 2 hours Best for: food, rock n’ roll, art

Cleveland Arcarde Victorian architecture

Commonly mistaken as the capital of Ohio, Cleveland has plenty to do for families, friend groups, and solo travelers.

The Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame is probably the most iconic attraction, featuring interactive exhibits and items used by rock and roll legends.

Foodies will appreciate the West Side Market , which has 100 vendors offering produce, desserts, and ready-to-eat meals. Columbus residents may see it as the Cleveland equivalent of our North Market.

One of the most photo-worthy spots is the Cleveland Arcade , which was the very first indoor shopping center in America. The exposed beams and Victorian architecture are really stunning. Nowadays, the shopping isn’t that interesting, and individual stores have limited hours, but it’s worth stopping by just to admire the building.

The Cleveland Museum of Art has a wide collection of art from around the world. Admission is free, though some special exhibitions and events may have an extra charge.

Want to extend your trip? Consider staying at this downtown condo .

10. Cincinnati

Distance: 2 hours Best for:  city views, museums, sports

Suspension bridge overlooking the Ohio River into Cincinnati at sunset

Another major city in Ohio, Cincinnati is right along the Ohio River at the southern border of the state. Take a walk along the riverfront and laze around on the swinging benches overlooking the water. You can even stroll across the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge and end up in Kentucky!

The city is also home to the American Sign Museum , which is is dedicated to literal signs from 1870-1970. You can your fix of neon sign pics for your Instagram haha.

Want to extend your trip? Consider staying in this modern apartment with a lovely view of the city.

Map of Day Trips from Columbus

Use this Google Map to see the relative locations of these places and plan your trip!

Happy travels! Let us know if you have other favorite spots we should check out.

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That’s so interesting they wanted to start a socialist society. It seems the area has a lot of alternative lifestyle models in terms of people who want to live apart from the rest of society. Super interesting. The Amish have always kind of fascinated me because they speak a very outdated version of German, but I had no idea they were pro-Trump (or is that mainly the rest of the population in the area?).

It is such an interesting area! I adore Yellow Springs because it’s a super progressive bubble in the middle of rural Ohio haha. I believe the Amish don’t really participate in politics; it’s mainly the other residents of the area that have their Trump signs and merch in local shops.

Why did you say if they feel safe because it’s a pro Trump area. Are you insane? It’s not the East side of Columbus Ohio where gangs are at for God’s sake. So sad you felt the need to “go there” with that awful comment. You’re no longer welcome to our town with that horribly troubled attitude of hatred.😢

You’ve literally just proved my point by being hateful yourself and saying I’m not welcome in your area, after I merely pointed out that some people may not feel comfortable in an area where people visibly support a person who is hateful towards minorities. I myself had a very uncomfortable experience there that had racist undertones. Hope you find peace in your life.

Good list! I’m surprised Athens wasn’t mentioned, though.

I actually haven’t been yet! Adding it to my list since my parents went to grad school there actually 🙂

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Home » Travel Guides » United States » Ohio (OH) » 15 Best Day Trips from Columbus (Ohio)

15 Best Day Trips from Columbus (Ohio)

Columbus is the capital of the mid-western state of Ohio, and also its largest city.

Known for its numerous parks and world famous university, Columbus is also centrally located between Ohio’s two other big cities: Cleveland and Cincinnati.

It is in the perfect location to be used as a base to gain access to the entire state.

Within reach of Ohio are many opportunities for day tripping, with many historic mid-west cities and towns, such as Newark and Dayton, just a short drive away.

Nature lovers will find plenty of State Parks with hiking trails, cascading waterfalls and beautiful woodland scenery to explore.

Far north of Ohio lies the huge Lake Erie, along with the state’s only National Park: Cuyahoga National Park.

Around the state there are underground caverns, caves and even ancient Native American earthworks: lasting relics from a time long ago that have survived to this day and are an important part of the region’s long history.

1. Hocking Hills

Hocking Hills State Park

Just southeast of Columbus is the Hocking Hills State Park, a must do day trip from the city that takes you to some of the most unusual rock formations in Ohio.

Hocking Hills is the site of caves, cliffs and crevasses, with short and long hikes connecting different parts of the park, as well as opportunities for kayaking, rock climbing and even zip lining.

The real highlight of the Hocking Hills is the cavernous Ash Cave, which forms a huge open recess in the rock that can be walked in and around.

Aside from the Ash Cave, there are many other rock formations to visit; don’t miss out on Cedar Falls, a spectacular waterfall which plunges over giant rocks.

2. Cuyahoga National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga National Park is Ohio’s only National Park.

Found north of Columbus and close to the city of Cleveland, it is a stunning area of natural beauty that follows the course of the Cuyahoga River, containing walking and cycling trails, waterfalls, and caves to discover.

The National Park also has an historical canal that can be traversed on foot.

This was the first canal in the state, stretching to Lake Erie in the north.

It allowed Ohio to be opened up to the rest of the country and the world by providing a means of entry and exit for people and goods.

Dayton, Ohio

The small, unassuming city of Dayton has played a huge role in the history of aviation.

This is where the Wright Brothers came from, and where they built their first aircraft; going down in history as the pioneers of modern flight.

Dayton, just a day trip away from Columbus, should be visited to see where flight really began.

Today it is also home to the National Museum of the United States Air Force, a very fitting location for one of the largest aviation museums in the world.

World's Largest Picnic Basket, Newark, Ohio

Newark is just 40 miles away, and is a great retreat from the big city.

Here you can find the world’s largest basket, which is actually a huge, company headquarters building shaped and designed to look like a basket.

There is also the interesting Works Museum: a museum dedicated to Newark’s industrial and technical history, where you can learn about glass blowing and canal building alongside the history of the region.

Around Newark there are also numerous ancient earthworks: huge mounds constructed by old Native Indian civilizations, that have survived to this day.

5. Miamisburg Mound

Miamisburg Mound

The Indian mounds aren’t only found around Newark, but exist in most of the state of Ohio.

One of the most interestingly shaped is the towering, conical Miamisburg Mound, raised on a high ridge and visible from miles away.

At 65-feet tall, it features a staircase through the center of the grassy mound which takes visitors to the top for panoramic views out over the surrounding area.

The Mound is one of thousands that have been discovered, the relics of lost civilizations, but Miamisburg is unique because of its height; few other surviving mounds can match it for size.

6. Olentangy Indian Caverns

Olentangy Indian Caverns

If you are interested in Native American history, then another great day trip from Ohio is a journey to the Olentangy Indian Caverns.

This natural cave system was used by the local native Huron people as shelter.

The caverns stretch over three floors and would have provided a refuge and safe haven in times of war, being difficult to find from above ground, let alone enter.

The caverns can be explored on underground tours led by local guides.

7. Tecumseh

Tecumseh Outdoor Historical Drama

Tecumseh is not a place, but a historical show that has to be seen when visiting Ohio.

This is an outdoor drama set in the hills of Ohio, and it tells the story of the local Indians; in particular the chief Tecumseh, who tried in vain to defend his land and people from colonization in the 1700s.

Because it is held outdoors, the show is only performed in the summer months, but it is worth scheduling your Columbus trip to coincide with a showing, as it receives accolades worldwide.

8. Amish Country Ohio

Amish Country Ohio

Northeast of Ohio is Amish Country, made up of several towns and cities, the largest of which is Millersburg.

This is a completely different world, where the Amish communities live in varied ways according to their beliefs in the Bible, meaning there is little technology and lots of faith.

You will see horse drawn carriages on the roads and traditional houses in the towns, while many of the communities actually speak Pennsylvania Dutch as their first language, rather than English.

9. Seneca Caverns

Seneca Caverns

Seneca Caverns is a huge underground cave system with miles of passageways and underground rivers that feed the region’s entire water system.

The cave is multi-layered and to date there are seven underground levels which can be explored.

Guides will take intrepid visitors through the system; exploring the caverns and narrow passages that lead further and further down.

It’s not known how deep the system really goes, but it’s certainly a long way.

10. Ludlow Falls

Ludlow Falls

Ohio has an abundance of beautiful waterfalls due to its rocky landscape, but Ludlow Falls stands out amongst them as a spectacular cascade.

Located near Dayton, not far from Columbus, Ludlow Falls is in fact hidden away beneath a bridge, making it difficult to spot.

The walk there is easy as long as you know where you are going, and it’s a quiet, secluded spot to enjoy Ohio’s enticing natural scenery.

11. Clifton Mill

Clifton Mill, Ohio

Clifton Mill is a beautifully scenic piece of Ohio heritage which dates back to 1802. The Mill is on the banks of the Clifton River, and is spectacular to see, with man-made waterfalls cascading down from its position above the river.

The Mill is water powered, and these days is more of a tourist attraction than a working mill.

There’s an on-site restaurant, and at Christmas time they put on an extravagant light display that’s famous across the state.

12. The Wilds, Cumberland

The Wilds, Cumberland

The Wilds is a unique, open-air Safari in Cumberland Ohio, where the animals roam free and visitors are taken around on big safari trucks to see rare and endangered wildlife in natural settings.

The Wilds is a non-profit organization; they put the animals first, and that’s why the facility is so popular.

They have species from across the world and educate people on conservation and responsibility rather than just providing entertainment at the expense of the captive animals.

13. Salt Fork State Park

Salt Fork Lake, Ohio

Salt Fork State Park is the largest of Ohio’s state parks, covering huge areas of forest east of Columbus.

It’s a beautiful place to hike, bike and get into the heart of Ohio’s natural environment, but it’s also known locally for the legend of Big Foot.

Believe what you will, but local lore says that it’s the home of this mythical creature.

Reported sightings have been made all across Salt Fork since the first European settlers arrived in the 1700s.

Documentaries have been filmed here and hardcore explorers head out into the wild to try and find this legendary creature.

They even hold a Big Foot conference here to celebrate this monstrous legend.

14. Cincinnati

Cincinnati, Ohio

An hour and a half south of Columbus is the city of Cincinnati: the third largest city in Ohio.

It’s the home of the Cincinnati Reds, the oldest baseball team in America.

Once just a sprawling industrial city, Cincinnati has reinvented itself as a tourist destination, offering great food and a growing cultural scene, all spread along the banks of the Ohio River.

The cityscape itself is one of the best reasons to visit, as the center has a huge concentration of distinct, 19th century architectural buildings from Cincinnati’s industrial boom days.

15. Cleveland

Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio’s second largest city, is found in a beautiful setting on the banks of the huge Lake Erie.

It is a culturally and historically significant city, dating back to the early days of European exploration of the Great Lakes.

Today it is most famous for being the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: a museum showcasing the best of rock from across the world.

15 Best Day Trips from Columbus (Ohio):

  • Hocking Hills
  • Cuyahoga National Park
  • Miamisburg Mound
  • Olentangy Indian Caverns
  • Amish Country Ohio
  • Seneca Caverns
  • Ludlow Falls
  • Clifton Mill
  • The Wilds, Cumberland
  • Salt Fork State Park

day trips from columbus ohio winter

7 Super Fun Day Trips From Columbus, OH You Won’t Want to Miss!

Looking for a weekend getaway, but not sure where to go here’s a list of 7 day trips you can take from columbus, oh.

Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Jan 21, 2021

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Columbus, OH is a large city with many things to do. Whether you’re visiting the city, or you’re a permanent resident of Columbus , there is always something to do and something to explore here! However, you might at some point find yourself wanting to get away from the city life and the crowds. Living in a large city can be overwhelming at some points and you might want to get away, or perhaps you’re just looking for a new experience to take the family on! Maybe you have some extra PTO you want to use, or you’re simply just wanting to have a weekend out with friends. But the question you might ask yourself is where should you go? 

Before you can decide where you want to go, ask yourself what kind of trip you’re looking to take. You might be wanting a relaxing day trip, or an extended stay for the weekend. The good news is that Columbus, OH is stationed near so many other cities that can accommodate any adventure or escape you’re looking for! Whether you’re looking to travel hours away or stay closer to home, there are plenty of options for things to do! Whatever kind of trip you’re interested in, keep reading for a list of 7 fun day trips you can take from Columbus, OH. 

1. Put-in-Bay 

A sunset over a dock on the lake

431 Catawba Ave | Put In Bay, OH | Put-in-Bay.com

Time from Columbus, OH: 2 hours  

Put-in-Bay is one of Ohio’s hidden treasures. Located on the shore of Lake Erie, Put-in-Bay is only accessible by ferry and offers a small, beach town atmosphere to enjoy! When coming to Put-in-Bay, cars are allowed but parking is limited. The common way of getting around the island is by golf cart rentals, which can be rented at most hotels or house rentals. Put in Bay is great for a family trip, a girls weekend, or even a relaxing weekend away by yourself! 

Whether you want to enjoy your days lounging on the beach alongside the lake, biking around town, shopping, fishing, or riding golf carts through the village, there is something for everyone here! Put-in-Bay may be small, but the nightlife is huge here and there’s a bar for whatever atmosphere you’re looking for. If you’re a fan of going out, Put-in-Bay won’t disappoint. After a night out, wake up to a view of the lake and a relaxing day down by the water!   

“A mix of things for people of all ages to do in the Village of Put-In-Bay. It has been called "the Key West of The Great Lakes," and I can see why. The harbor has the fell of a seaside town. Views are beautiful. It is worth taking a short walk around the harbor. Lots of restaurants.” – Yelp Review  

2. Breitenbach Winery in Amish Country 

A row of wine bottles on a table

5934 Old Rte. 39 NW | Dover, OH | Breitenbach Wine Cellars

Time from Columbus, OH: 2 hours

Nestled in the Amish Country in Ohio , Breitenbach is a must see stop if you’re out exploring. Whether you’re looking to make just a day trip out of it or extend your stay, Breitenbach is a winery you have to check out! They offer samples of every wine they offer for 25 cents a sample, and the winery is stationed in a quirky home perfect for pictures to capture your memories! If you have too much to drink, Breitenbach is also a bed and breakfast! 

While you’re at Breitenbach’s, it is worth taking a look around and exploring all the Amish Country has to offer in Ohio! There are plenty of shops and restaurants to enjoy, and the beautiful landscape will make for the perfect backdrop to your family photo! From antique museums, great restaurants, and shops with homemade goodies, you can spend a whole day here. And if a day isn’t enough, stay the weekend and explore all the places you can at the Amish Country! 

“My wife and I took a day trip for some wine and music.  This place never disappoints. They make great wine and have such a beautiful winery and venue.  The food is good also. Especially the pizza. We met some wonderful people while sitting on the patio listening to love music and enjoying some wine.” – Yelp Review  

3. The Wilds

The Wilds welcome sign

14000 International Rd. | Cumberland, OH | The Wilds 

Time from Columbus, OH: 1.5 hours

The Wilds is a wildlife experience like no other. Unlike a traditional zoo where the animals are in habitats that you can see while you walk a guided path, The WIlds offers a different experience. At The Wilds, you can choose from several different guided tours that take you out to the pastures on a bus or truck where the animals reside so that you can see them as close to their natural habitats as possible. Unlike a traditional zoo, you can see the animals out in the wild as you explore The Wild’s fields. 

There are different tours The Wilds offer, ranging from a two-hour tour through the pastures on a bus to look at the animals, to a longer tour in the bed of a truck that goes off the traditional path so that you can get up close and personal with the animals. Another aspect of The Wilds is the chance to go on their zipline course where you can fly over the animals and see them from above! The Wilds offers two different zipline courses you can take, each ranging from a short zipline experience to a longer one with more trails and ziplines to choose from. 

“I love this place!! The Wilds is set on over 100 acres I believe and it feels like you're in another country ... not Ohio. The landscape is vast and beautiful!” – Yelp Review

4. Lake Erie 

People playing on the beach

1566 S Shore Dr. | Erie, PA | VisitErie.com

Time from Columbus, OH: 4 hours

Lake Erie is a great place to go if you’re missing the feeling of laying on a beach, or floating in the ocean. While you won’t find an ocean here and the sand isn’t quite like the Bahamas, Lake Erie is a beautiful place to go with the family if you want to enjoy a day in the sun! You can lay on the beach and enjoy the sun, or head to the water to partake in the water sport of your choosing. Or, bring a pool float and relax in the water!

Not only does Lake Erie offer you a sun-soaked getaway, but there are also many adventures you can go on at Lake Erie! From waterparks, going to the theater, sled riding in the winter, and many amazing restaurants to choose from, Lake Erie is the perfect place to spend the day or extend your trip for the weekend! There are many accommodations at Lake Erie to stay at, and even more activities to explore.

“A nice place to get away from typical city living! Early spring and fall, once the kiddos have gone back to school, make for great uncrowded beach time on Presque Isle.” – Tripadvisor Review

5. Ohio Caverns 

Stalacites in a cave

2210 State Rte. 245 E | West Liberty, OH | OhioCaverns.com

Time from Columbus, OH: 1 hour

Deemed “America’s most colorful caverns,” the Ohio Caverns are definitely a must see for anyone who lives in Ohio or is just visiting! There are two tours available at Ohio Caverns: the historic tour and the natural wonder tour. The historic tour is a guided tour through the original caverns that were discovered between 1897 and 1925. Each tour offers a different look at the caverns, and if you have enough time you can take both! 

The natural wonder tour is a guided tour through the caverns discovered after 1925. The natural wonder tour is the more scenic of the two with features like the largest stalactite cave in Ohio. After your tour, enjoy a picnic on the property and enjoy the nice day! The property has many picnic site options to choose from, so you can either picnic in the sun or under the shade of some trees while you watch the sun set. If you’re a fan of adventure and seeing new things, The Ohio Caverns are a must visit!

“We checked out the Ohio Caverns and we were glad that we did. There are two tours that you can go on, the historical and the Natural Wonder tour. The historical was the original cavern and is the less spectacular one. Natural Wonders tour is highly recommended. If you have time, you can actually do both caverns.” – Tripadvisor Review  

6. The Lakehouse Inn and WInery

A resort overlooking a lake

5653 Lake Road E | Geneva, OH | TheLakehouseInnandWinery.com

Time from Columbus, OH: 1 hour 

The Lakehouse Inn and Winery is the perfect place to go if you’re looking to unwind for the day with a glass of wine and a killer view. And if you’re enjoying yourself and want to extend your trip, you can book a room at The Lakehouse Inn attached to the winery! Wine and a view aren’t all The Lakehouse has to offer; they also have spa services you can book and they are always offering package deals to accommodate whatever stay you have planned! 

The Lakehouse Inn and Winery is also a great place to book a wedding along the lake, or even just a getaway with friends. Or if you’re looking for a single getaway to relax, enjoy a glass of wine and a view at The Lakehouse and enjoy a spa treatment! If you’re looking for your next girls weekend getaway spot, what’s better than a weekend full of sipping wine, lounging by the lake, and enjoying the amenities of The Lakehouse Inn. 

“There is no better one-day escape than this beautiful winery on a hill overlooking Lake Erie; my friends—who have toured New York’s Finger Lakes extensively—were impressed enough to make a second visit in September.” – Tripadvisor Review  

7. Holden Arboretum 

A rope bridge in the trees

9500 Sperry Rd. | Kirtland, OH | holdenfg.org

Time from Columbus, OH: 2.5 hours 

Holden Arboretum offers so many things to do for anyone who loves the outdoors! With bird watching, hiking trails, and waterfalls to explore, there is something for everyone here! Holden Arboretum’s Kalberer Emergent Tower, a 120 foot tower, allows you to get a 360 view of the park and surrounding area. If you feel up to climbing the tower, the 360 view allows you to see the property from a new perspective. You can even see Lake Erie from the tower! 

If you’re feeling adventurous, they also offer canopy tours. On a platform hanging 65 feet above the air, you can walk along the trees and see nature from a bird’s eye view! If you’re not a thrill seeker, visit one of Holden Arboretum’s many gardens, or have a picnic in the park! Located just 20 minutes from the Cleveland Botanical Gardens , you can make a whole day or weekend out of it and explore both the wildlife at Holden Arboretum, as well as the many gardens at Cleveland’s Botanical Gardens. 

“This is such a lovely place. The canopy walk was on my bucket list for Ohio. It was safe and beautiful. I also loved the overlook tower. There is something for everyone here. From Japanese gardens to nature trails. Plus they have visiting artists. I highly recommend this to anyone visiting north east Ohio.” – Yelp Review  

If you’re a resident of Columbus, OH or you’re just visiting, there’s a good chance you could explore the whole city and never run out of things to do there. But if you’re looking to get away every once in a while, then taking a trip out of the city is a great idea. This could mean taking a trip for the day, for the weekend, or longer if you want. WIth so many surrounding cities, it is only a matter of picking a city that matches your vacation expectations!

Finding a place to visit can be hard, especially if you aren’t sure what kind of getaway you want. But Columbus, OH is not only home to many site-seeing options, but it is also close to many other cities with plenty of activities to choose from. If you’re looking to take a day or weekend trip away from the hustle and bustle of Columbus living, then this list of 7 places to take a day trip can help get you started as you plan your next adventure or vacation away!

Discover your dream home in German Village, OH.

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Looking down a sidewalk in the German Village of Columbus Ohio. The houses are surrounded by flower pots with flowers in several different colors. There is a clock hanging on a wrought iron shepherds hook. The buildings are brick with terraces that have German flags hanging from them. One of the best Ohio day trips.

15 Best Ohio Day Trips (Hidden Gems, Small Towns, & More!)

February 28, 2023 by //  by  Midwest Explored 2 Comments

Are you looking for the best Ohio day trips?

Then I have got you covered! There are so many fun things to do in Ohio!

This list is full of the best day trips in Ohio, my home state!

I was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio , so I know firsthand where some of the best places to go in Ohio are.

On this list, you’ll find fun and interesting museums, beautiful state parks, and natural wonders, as well as charming small towns .

No matter what you are interested in, there is an option for fun day trips in Ohio to fit your needs.

So, let’s take a look at the 15 best Ohio day trips, full of hidden gems, small towns, and more!

Looking up at four Ohio state flags flying in front of a government building. You can also see a few high rises. The Ohio state flag has a triangle cut out from the middle of it form the the bottom, has red and white stripes, and a blue triangle with white stars and a white O with a red center.

15 Best Ohio Day Trips (Hidden Gems, Small Towns & More!)

Rock and roll hall of fame museum makes for an awesome ohio day trips activity.

If you are looking for an activity that is unique to Ohio, then consider heading to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum.

It is one of the most incredible things to do in Ohio because it is the only home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The museum is located in downtown Cleveland, right by Lake Erie.

Inside the massive 55,000 square foot building, you’ll find several levels of exhibits dedicated to the history of Rock and Roll.

The I.M. Pei-designed building also houses the offices of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and it’s where the artists who are inducted every year are decided on.

You’ll also find souvenir shops and a cafe, which means you can easily spend the entire day exploring this super-unique museum in Ohio.

This is one of the most perfect Ohio day trips for music lovers!

The exterior of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, one of the best Ohio day trips. It is a pyramid shaped glass building with a big red sign that says 'long live rock' in front of it. You can also see a sign that says 'Rock and Roll Hall of Fame' and looks like it has black and red speakers on it.

Explore The Ohio Caverns

The Ohio Caverns are definitely one of the best hidden gems of the Midwest .

Visitors have been flocking to these cool underground tunnels almost since they were first discovered between 1897 and 1925.

Now, the caverns are known as ‘America’s Most Colorful Caverns’ and still attract thousands of visitors every year.

Depending on the time of the year, the caverns are open for tours at different times.

There are several different types of tours you can take too.

But no matter when you go, you’re sure to enjoy this fun place to go in Ohio.

Looking down a narrow path inside a cavern in Ohio. You can see interest rock formations from both the top and bottom of the cavern that creates an optical illusion. The rocks are different shades of tan.

Visit Chateau Laroche

When you think of Ohio, castles probably don’t come to mind.

But they should!

Ohio is home to several castles , and one of those is Chateau Laroche.

Chateau Laroche is often called Loveland Castle by locals, simply because you can find it in the town of Loveland, Ohio.

The Chateau is a full-size replica of a European castle and features a mishmash of different architectural styles from different European countries.

You will see influences from English, French, and German architectural styles as well as four turrets, each of which has a different style.

The castle is now a museum, where you can tour the inside as well as the grounds, and learn about its eccentric builder.

The exterior of an eclectically designed stone castle in Ohio. There are several towers in different shapes, long narrow windows, and doorways with arched entries. Behind the castle you can see some trees. One of the best Ohio day trips.

Explore The German Village In Columbus

One of the best day trips in Ohio is a day spent in the German Village in Columbus.

The German Village is a charming neighborhood in Columbus.

You’ll find beautiful brick homes and buildings, many originally built in the mid-1800s by the area’s original German immigrants.

It is one of the best places in Columbus to explore one-of-a-kind boutiques, restaurants, and admire the antique architecture.

Just west of the German Village you can also find Columbus’ Brewery District.

The Brewery District was also originally built by the area’s German immigrants and was the hub of the city’s brewing culture.

Even today, it is still one of the best places in Ohio to stroll through.

Amish Country Is A Must For Ohio Day Trips

You can’t visit Ohio and not at least take a detour into Amish Country as it is one of the best Ohio day trips.

Ohio’s Amish Country is located in the east-central area of the state and is easily accessible from most major highways.

While there, you’ll find that there are a lot of unique things to do .

I suggest sampling some authentic Amish food, perusing through the shops and stalls full of Amish-made goods, and taking a scenic drive through the beautiful Amish Country landscape.

Amish Country is also one of the best places in Ohio to drive under one of the famous covered bridges .

The local Amish are very welcoming to visitors, but please be respectful of their lifestyle and religious beliefs.

That includes not photographing them, remembering that they take Sunday as a day of complete rest, and look out for horse-and-buggies while you’re driving.

Check out our list of other festivals and events in Ohio.

Two horse-and-buggies going down a hilly road. The road is surrounded by farm fields and trees. In the background you can see a large red barn.

Visit The Pro Football Hall Of Fame In Canton

Football fans will love this fun option for day trips in Ohio.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is located in Canton Ohio.

Inside, you’ll find tons of exhibits all relating to American football.

It’s no surprise that football fans travel from all over the world to spend the day exploring this really unique museum experience.

There are interactive exhibits and fascinating tours that teach you all about the history of football and some of its most iconic players.

You will even find exhibits dedicated to each Pro Football team, so you will be able to admire memorabilia from your favorite team.

Inside the Super Bowl Theater, you’ll also be able to view videos that highlight some of football’s superstars.

The exterior of the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. It is a partially brick building with a large entry made of floor to ceiling windows inside a white stone portion of the building. You can see a sign for the museum and pictures hanging in the building of different football players.

Step Into History At The National Underground Rail Road Freedom Center

You can find the National Underground Rail Road Freedom Center in Cincinnati.

It is specifically located along the banks of the Ohio River because the Ohio River used to be a natural divider between ‘free’ and ‘slave’ states.

The ‘free’ states were those above the Ohio River and the ‘slave’ states were those below the Ohio River.

So it was naturally one of the best crossing points for enslaved peoples looking to escape.

Now you can learn about the history of the Underground Rail Road in Ohio at the center.

The center highlights stories of those who helped enslaved peoples escape to Ohio as well as the stories of those who managed to find freedom in Ohio.

It is an incredibly moving museum.

While we believe that slavery ended in America with the end of the Civil War, that is sadly not the case.

Slavery continues to occur every day in the form of human trafficking, even in America.

Alongside the exhibits about the Underground Rail Road, you’ll also find exhibits that highlight and inform visitors about the modern-day slave trade.

The exterior of the National Underground Railroad Freedom center. It is a stone building with different angles and a dark brick roof and siding. Behind it you can see a small ferris wheel and in front of it is a courtyard with small trees.

Admire The Kelleys Island Glacial Grooves

The Kelleys Island Glacial Grooves are an Ohio natural wonder on Kelleys Island.

It is an island just off the coast of Lake Erie near Sandusky.

Kelleys Island is super tiny and you can only reach it via ferry.

So keep that in mind when you are planning this Ohio day trip adventure.

To get around the island you will need to walk.

There are no cars permitted, but at only four miles by two miles, that probably will not be a problem.

You can see a few things on the tiny island, but the most popular is the glacial grooves.

The grooves were created by a glacier slowly sliding on the landscape and carving the grooves over time.

It is one of the coolest places to go in Ohio.

Looking down the path of the Kelleys Island Glacial Grooves. They are smoothed out rock grooves in a dark grey rock. The grooves all fluctuate in depth and shape. In the distance you can see a metal bridge with trees behind it crossing the grooves. One of the best Ohio day trips.

Put-In-Bay For One Of The Most Romantic Ohio Day Trips

The small town of Put-in-Bay is a great spot for a romantic getaway or even just a romantic day trip.

It is located on an island on the shores of Lake Erie, so you’ll be surrounded by beautiful beach views.

You can walk around the island, check out the shops, get a delicious meal, or just stroll along the sand.

Put-in-Bay is also home to Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial.

The memorial was put in place to remember the Battle of Lake Erie and the peace that followed for Canada, Britain, and the United States.

The small island also has its own state park, which is near Put-in-Bay, called the South Bass Island State Park.

There are also a few museums, a butterfly house, and a limestone cave, all waiting for you to explore them.

An aerial view of Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island. You can see a large stone tower memorial, grassy areas with trees, a few buildings, and a boat marina. The island is surrounded by water in Lake Erie.

Hocking Hills State Park Is One Of The Best Ohio Day Trips

One of my favorite places to go in Ohio is Hocking Hills State Park .

Hocking Hills State Park is a natural Ohio attraction that everyone should take the time to visit.

While you explore the park you’ll find gorgeous waterfalls , scenic hiking trails , and unique rock formations dotted throughout the lush forest landscape.

The area around the state park is also full of fun activities. There are shops, restaurants, and historic museums.

If you are looking to escape to the great outdoors for one of your next day trips in Ohio, then you can’t go wrong with a day spent at Hocking Hills State Park.

A waterfall cascading over dark stone into a pool of blue water. The rock formation is surround by trees and in the distance you can see a stone bridge that goes over the waterfall. The trees have green, yellow, and orange leaves. One of the best Ohio day trips.

Explore Ashtabula Beaches And Parks

Ashtabula is an adorable small town, probably best known for its wonderful Lakeshore Park.

The Lakeshore Park is located on the shores of Lake Erie and is about 54 acres of trails, sandy shores, and park area.

What makes the park and the beaches of Ashtabula so popular are actually a few different things.

The beaches are very pretty, and Lakeshore Park is full of amenities.

There are grassy areas where you can picnic or relax and play some horseshoe, a playground for kids, volleyball courts, pavilions, and even a public boat dock.

You could easily spend an entire day in Ashtabula.

That’s what makes it one of the best small towns in Ohio for a day trip.

An aerial view of looking down the Lake Erie coast in Ashtabula. The water is very blue and the shoreline is mostly rocky or grassy. You can see a large area of trees and then some houses that are very close to the shore line, up a slight hill.

Westerville Is One Of The Cutest Small Towns In Ohio

If you are looking to explore one of the cutest small towns in Ohio , head to Westerville.

For those near Columbus, Westerville is just a short 20-minute drive away.

In the small town, you will find a great main street with unique shops and restaurants.

You can stroll through the Sharon Woods Metro Park or the Inniswood Metro Garden if you want to enjoy some beautiful small-town landscapes.

For those that are interested in history, Westerville is a cool place to visit.

A fun fact about the town is that it was called ‘The Dry Capital of the World’ because it continued the prohibition of alcohol long after the US rolled back prohibition laws.

While you are in town, history lovers should also make a stop at the historic Everal Barn and Homestead.

Westerville is a quaint little town that is easily one of the best places to go in Ohio.

Looking across a pond at a brick farmhouse that has a few smaller buildings around it. Near the shore of the pond is a large white church with a steeple. The area is grassy and there are trees with red, yellow, and orange leaves on them.

Explore Geneva-On-The-Lake Wineries

Geneva-on-the-Lake has a lot to offer for those looking to plan fun day trips in Ohio.

The town was one of the first lakeside resort towns in Ohio, is a great romantic getaway , and has tons of shops and restaurants to try out.

But one of the best things about Geneva-on-the-Lake is the area’s wineries.

Within about a 30-mile radius, all around Geneva-on-the-Lake, there are at least 20 different wineries.

You can choose to take your own winery tour or take one that is offered by one of the wine tour companies in the area.

People come from all over the state to spend a day sampling one-of-a-kind wines and stroll through the picturesque vineyards.

A close up image of purple grapes on a vine in a vineyard. The leaves around the grapes are very green and you can just barely see a cloudy sky and a grassy path below the plant.

Stroll Through The Holden Arboretum

You can find the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland Ohio.

It is actually one of the largest botanical gardens and arboretums in the United States.

A trip to the Holden Arboretum can easily fill a day.

There are over 3,000 acres of natural areas and sensitive habitats.

Additionally, there are about 600 acres of planned gardens.

The arboretum has been open since 1931 and is one of the best places to go in Ohio if you want to explore a unique landscape.

A pond that has lily pads, grasses, and large plants in it. There is also a goose with goslings swimming behind it. In the distance, on the shore of the pond, you can see lots of trees and tall grasses. One of the best Ohio day trips.

Enjoy Family Ohio Day Trips To Cedar Point Amusement Park

One of the best family-friendly Ohio day trips is Cedar Point Amusement Park.

Cedar Point is located in Sandusky on a Lake Erie peninsula.

Ohio also has Cedar Point partly to thank for the title of “Roller Coaster Capital of the World”.

The amusement park has 18 roller coasters, all at different thrill levels.

Because it is also near the beach, there is a waterpark and you can also enjoy a private beach area with your ticket to the park.

Cedar Point is a popular family destination in the warmer months.

It is easily one of the best amusement parks in the Midwest , and it is one of the most fun places to go in Ohio.

Looking at a wooden rollercoaster. The sky is dark and there are a few trees near the rollercoaster.

There are so many fun options for Ohio day trips on this list, it is hard to pick just one.

But no matter what mood you are in or what interests you, there are cool places to go in Ohio for your next day trip.

Have you been to any of these fun Ohio destinations?

I would love to hear about your day trips in Ohio, so leave me a comment!

Packing Tips When Taking Day Ohio Day Trips

Read about how to travel with just carry-on sized luggage to make your trip easier and more organized.

A  concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items you bring along when taking day trips in Ohio.  It is  always   important  to protect your personal information. Identity thieves are everywhere.

This  unisex RFID-blocking concealed travel pouch is  lightweight and comes in several colors. It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind. You can place it under your hiking clothes next to your body to carry your ID safely.

If you have a pouch already that does not come with RFID protection, as I do, these  RFID  sleeves  are the perfect solution.

This configuration comes with enough credit card sleeves that the entire family would be protected. They are slim too, so they will easily fit into your pouch or wallet.

If you are planning on taking a lot of pictures with your phone you will definitely want to consider an  external  charging battery . This  Anker high-speed phone charging battery  is  the exact one  I carry with me on all of my trips.

It can be used on a variety of phones, not just an iPhone like I have. And wow is it fast!

I like that it holds its charging capabilities for several uses so I do not have to worry about it while out and about, and if I forget to recharge it at night, it will still be good to go the next day.

My daughter gifted me with this  FugeTek selfie stick and tripod   setup for my birthday. I absolutely love it! It is made of lightweight aluminum and is so easy to use.

It has Bluetooth connectivity and is a breeze to use for taking selfies with all those nature shots in Iowa.

Hydration is so important when hiking. You want to remain hydrated throughout your Ohio travels to support your immune system which in turn will be stronger to fight off any germs you will encounter during your travels.

You will want to bring your own  refillable water bottle  with you.

I never leave home on a trip without my  Bobble filtration bottle .  The 18.5-ounce size is perfect for hiking and it fits nicely in the pocket of a backpack.

The replaceable carbon filter ensures fresh water when you want it.

Perhaps you are traveling a long distance and packing space is a premium in your suitcase, or in your car. Then this  set of collapsible silicone foldable water bottles  would work well for you. Would not take up much space at all.

You will want a  backpack or daypack  with you to store snacks, your water bottle, phone, extra clothes, etc.. when celebrating Christmas in Ohio. No matter the time of day or evening.

This   foldable water-resistant backpack   would be great.

It is very affordable and is available in many color options for you to choose from. The fact that it folds down into a zippered pouch will make it easy to pack!

Romantic sunset with gazebo in Geneva Ohio

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April 12, 2022 at 8:36 pm

Being a Buckeye myself I loved your list. I’ve been to several of them. Just a quick shout out about Kelley’s Island-you are allowed to drive cars on the island. Thanks again for the nice post.

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7 small Ohio towns and villages perfect for your next day trip

Are you planning a getaway or day trip to Ohio?

If you're not, maybe you should. The Buckeye State doesn't always get the best rap as an exciting place to visit, but the state is actually home to plenty of unique and charming small towns worth checking out.

Here's some of the best towns and villages you can visit throughout Ohio (in no particular order):

Yellow Springs

Yellow Springs, located 30 minutes outside of Dayton, is renowned for being one of the coolest towns in the state. The town, just under 4,000 residents, is known for its unique culture, art scene and thriving downtown area.

Yellow Springs is home to many independent businesses, from art stores to restaurants to comic book shops. The town is also just miles from John Bryan State Park and Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve, which are among the best natural areas in the state.

More: From stunning views to trailside towns, here are the 5 best places to hike or walk in Ohio

Yellow Springs is also along the Little Miami Scenic Bike trail, a 78-mile paved bike path that connects cyclists to dozens of towns throughout southwest Ohio.

Another stop on the Little Miami Scenic Bike trail is Loveland, a historic town 20 minutes north of Cincinnati.

Loveland has a quaint (but bustling) downtown area settled right along the Little Miami River, which has businesses like restaurants, bike and kayak rentals and even a popular record store .

Another local attraction is the wacky "Chateau Laroche," also known as The Loveland Castle. Today a museum , the castle was built by hand beginning in 1929 by a World War I veteran who had seen castles in Europe and wanted his "Knights of the Golden Trail" to have a home.

Athens is a southeast Ohio pick on this list and holds a certain special place in the hearts of Ohio University alumni everywhere.

Besides being the home of OU, the city boasts multiple breweries (including the famous Jackie O's and a ciderhouse ), art shops and a slice of college life in a town nestled in the foothills of Appalachia.

Athens is also in a perfect position for some short drives to some of the best hiking trails in the state, including Hocking Hills State Park and Conkle's Hollow State Nature Preserve (both are around 30 minutes from Athens). There are also even closer options like Stroud's Run State Park and Radar Hill.

Granville is another college town that brings its own New England-style charm to the table. The town is the home of Denison University and features unique architecture throughout the campus and town.

Granville features shaded main streets with shopping and dining options as well as historic lodging options.

Only 10 minutes away from Granville are the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks in Newark, which were recently placed on a UNESCO World Heritage Committee list, which puts it alongside the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal, The Dispatch previously reported . There is also a mound located in Granville itself.

Chagrin Falls

You may not believe this, but the centerpiece of Chagrin Falls, a town located 40 minutes from Cleveland, is the natural waterfall in the center of its historic village.

Today, Village of Chagrin Falls residents and visitors enjoy a walkable and architecturally intriguing historic village with its natural waterfall and dam located in the center of town.

More: On a budget? Eight free things to do in Ohio from beaches to bison watching

The village has over 50 storefronts, offering many dining and shopping choices to guests. The waterfall is also a year-round attraction , freezing in the winter and cascading in the summer.

Founded in 1788, Marietta gets the unique status as not just the first United States settlement in Ohio , but in all of the Northwest Territory.

In addition to the downtown neighborhood, which features shopping and dining, centuries of history seems to be in the fabric of the city. Historic Harmar Village, just across the Muskingum River from downtown Marietta, gives visitors a taste of middle class Victorian-era life in Ohio.

There are also a number of museums in or around town detailing the centuries of history. A good museum to consider visiting is the Campus Martius Museum , which sits on the the original sight of the stockades of Campus Martius , the civilian fortress that would later become Marietta.

Vermilion, located on the south shore of Lake Erie, was once known as the “Village of Lake Captains," and today, many of those captain's homes are still beautifully preserved and give the town a New England feel.

The maritime tradition of Vermilion is still on display (as seen by the functioning lighthouse on the harbor), and residents and visitors can take advantage of the public boat docks and boat and paddle craft rentals. There are also beaches, shops, dining and more to check out while in town.

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Take a bike ride on the nationally recognized Virginia Creeper Trail, check out local artists, or see a show at the historic Barter Theater downtown. Abingdon is home to more restaurants per capita than New York City – with a great meal for just about any taste and plenty of cool places to stay including the Martha Washington Inn & Spa. You’re also a short drive from Bristol – the birthplace of country music.

2. Adventures On The Gorge – Lansing, WV

day trips from columbus ohio winter

The New River Gorge Bridge is one of the most impressive architectural feats in American history. One of the many daring activities offered through  Adventures On The Gorge  in Lansing, West Virginia is called “Bridge Walk”. You can literally walk along the catwalk beneath the third highest bridge in the U.S. It’s not for everyone, but an unforgettable experience for thrill seekers! During your stay at the adventure resort, you can zip line, climb trees, enjoy incredible sunsets, and of course – some of the best whitewater rafting in the world.

3. Put-In-Bay, OH

day trips from columbus ohio winter

Clocking in at just over three hours from Columbus, Put-in-Bay is a tropical getaway in the middle of Lake Erie just off the shore of northern Ohio. You’ll take a ferry to the island and find live music, nightlife, great shopping and food, as well as plenty of things to keep you busy! Rent a golf cart to tour the island in style! If the party atmosphere isn’t your style, take the ferry over to nearby Kelleys Island for a more peaceful, secluded atmosphere.

4. Pittsburgh, PA

day trips from columbus ohio winter

Famous for having more bridges than any other U.S. city, Pittsburgh is a terrific destination for a weekend or extended getaway. You can take in a baseball game with beautiful views of the Sixth Street Bridge, take a ride on the historic Duquesne Incline, or visit the city’s quirky bicycle museum. If you grew up watching Mr. Rogers, Pittsburgh was his home town and you can spend a day exploring all things Mr. Rogers – including seeing the very sets from the iconic television show and his puppets!

Check out my story:  Finding Mr. Rogers in Pittsburgh .

5. Parke County, Indiana

day trips from columbus ohio winter

Parke County, Indiana is best known as the “covered bridge capitol of the world”! Located less than than two hours from downtown Indy, you’ll find a great relaxing destination with some much needed peace and quiet. You can grab an old fashioned map (remember those?) at the local visitors center and then set out to find as many of the historic covered bridges as you can, making it a perfect romantic getaway. Consider booking a room or campsite at Turkey Run State Park, Indiana’s most popular state park, for your home base. They offer brand new, minimalist cabins as well. The park has plenty of great hiking trails for all skill levels.

You can check out my post on visiting Parke County for other tips and suggestions:  This is the Covered Bridge Capitol of the World

6. Detroit, MI

day trips from columbus ohio winter

Everything you think you know about Detroit – might very well be totally wrong. Despite the bad reputation it often seems to get, Detroit has got a lot of cool things to see and experience. Several years ago, I spent a few days downtown and walked around after dark by myself – never once feeling uneasy. If you love sports – they’ve got hockey, football, baseball, and basketball. They have a terrific restaurant scene and some really terrific hotels. Be sure to check out the incredible music history of Detroit with a tour of Motown and and a visit to the nearby Henry Ford Museum in the town of Dearborn – one of the coolest museums in America!

7. Fort Wayne, IN

day trips from columbus ohio winter

Fort Wayne is probably not a spot that’s been on your radar but Indiana’s second largest city has a lot going on.  Its minor league baseball stadium is award winning and its local library is known as the best genealogy research center in the country.  The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is one of the best designed kid-friendly zoos around and a brand new, beautiful  riverfront project  has injected new energy into the town.  You’ll also find lots of opportunity for outdoor recreation.

Bill’s Advice:  For something unique, visit the headquarters for Sweetwater – one of the largest music and instrument stores in the world.  Vera Bradley is also headquartered in Fort Wayne and has events during the year.  

8. Indianapolis, IN

weekend trips from Columbus

Indianapolis was one of the first cities I explored when I started this website back in 2013.  Obviously, it’s famous for hosting the Indy 500 and a tour of the famous speedway is a must when you visit.  But Indy is great for more than just race cars.  Start with a look at the famous Monument Circle downtown and work your way to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis – hands down the greatest museum for families in the country. It’s amazing!  Check out the beautiful  canal  walk that runs through White River State Park, or go for some  Duck Pin  bowling in Fountain Square.  History buffs can check out Benjamin Harrison’s house, and if you’re a foodie – Indy is loaded with great restaurants!

9. Babcock State Park – Clifftop, WV

day trips from columbus ohio winter

If you’re looking for a low-key adventure in the great outdoors – this is an amazing state park in West Virginia. Check out my article on visiting Babcock State Park – where you can rent a small cabin and have a front row seat to beautiful scenery, hiking trails, and other outdoor recreation. The old mill and waterfall in the park is awesome for pictures and you never know what kind of wildlife you’ll get to see!

10. Holland, MI

day trips from columbus ohio winter

If you thought Holland was in Europe – you are correct!  But, America’s Holland is located in Michigan and it’s a cool town worth exploring.  Pick up a pair of wooden shoes and walk along the streets of downtown for great shopping and lots of dining options.  (Fun fact:  the streets of downtown Holland are heated so they don’t have to plow snow in the winter. Genius!)  Holland is also home to the only authentic Dutch wind mill that is still operational in the U.S.  If tulips are your thing – visit during the annual  festival  each spring.  The Holland Bowl Mill is also very cool – ask them for a quick tour of the production and find a one of a kind wooden bowl to take home!

Bill’s Advice:  I eat a lot of pizza when I’m on the road and Holland has one of the best pizza places I’ve ever been to.  It’s called  Fricano’s Pizza  and sometimes, I have dreams about it. 

11. Pigeon Forge, TN

The Island in Pigeon Forge

Pigeon Forge clocks in at right about six hours from Columbus making it the longest road trip idea on our list. However, it’s worth every minute if you love the beautiful views of the Smoky Mountains. Pigeon Forge is loaded with family friendly activities and shows – from comedy to magic and country music. Take the kids on go-carts or mini-golf and enjoy some adult fun while you chill around the fountains at The Island at Pigeon Forge. It goes without saying to make time to explore Smoky Mountain National Park.

12. Nashville, TN

day trips from columbus ohio winter

Nashville is just under six hours from Columbus and an awesome destination for an extended road trip! Even if you are not a fan of country music – there is a lot to love about Music City. Broadway is rockin all night with fun bars and take your pic of exciting museums dedicated to great performers: Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Glen Campbell, and others. Don’t miss an exact replica of the Parthenon not far from downtown and some incredible southern restaurants!

13. Owensboro, KY

day trips from columbus ohio winter

Just south of Evansville is the bluegrass music capitol of the world – Owensboro, Kentucky. If you like the idea of watching local bands in a barn, taste testing bourbon, eating good barbecue, or catching catfish – you’ll love this place. Owensboro is also home to the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and music legend Bill Monroe. You can even  tour his childhood home .

14. Springfield, IL

day trips from columbus ohio winter

If you’re a history buff – a visit to Springfield, Illinois will be a memorable road trip experience. Illinois’ capital city was the where Abraham Lincoln lived before he became president and where his tomb is located. You can see the law office where he worked in his younger days and where he served as a state legislator. Springfield also the incredible Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library as well as some really great Route 66 history!

15. Dayton, OH

day trips from columbus ohio winter

Dayton is best known as the place that gave birth to modern aviation. The Wright Brothers called Dayton home and the city is full of historic places that will give you a front row seat to the history of the “flying machine” which is how the first airplane was trademarked. One of the original Wright Brothers bicycle shops is still in tact, and you can see an original Wright Flyer at the Carillon Historical Park. Take a ride over to Huffman Prairie Field where the brothers tested out there invention or tour the mansion where they lived. Best of all – Dayton is home to the Museum of The United States Air Force – an unbelievable airplane museum that consists of four different hangars and impossible to see in a single day. See rare military aircraft and even go on board a retired Air Force One plane. And it’s free!

16. Cambridge, OH

day trips from columbus ohio winter

The sweet treats at Kennedy’s Bakery is alone worth the road trip to small town Cambridge. Only a 90 minute drive from Columbus – enjoy a nice weekend getaway with small town shopping, some outdoor recreation at Salt Fork State Park, or a trip to The Wild’s animal experience a short drive from town. The holidays are best as this little town really dazzles with lights and charm!

17. Louisville, KY

day trips from columbus ohio winter

Of course most people know Louisville as the place where the famous Louisville Slugger baseball bats are made, but that’s just the start!  Downtown Louisville offers a wide variety of attractions from the Muhammad Ali Center to Churchill Downs where the Kentucky Derby takes place.  For an adventure – try out the world’s only underground zip line at Louisville Mega Cavern or a cruise on the historic Belle of Louisville.  Lots of great restaurants for all tastes and cool places to stay including 21c and The Galt House Hotel.

Bill’s Advice:  Louisville is a great weekend trip!  If you love Kentucky Fried Chicken, pay your respects to Col. Sanders himself.  His grave site is a short drive from downtown.  Just follow the yellow line at Cave Hill Cemetery and you’ll find it.  Don’t be surprised if you see a bucket of chicken sitting on the tombstone.  No, seriously. 

18. Cincinnati, OH

day trips from columbus ohio winter

There’s a lot to see and do in Cincinnati! One of my favorite museums –  The American Sign Museum  is alone worth the road trip. Downtown you’ll find some fun places to eat, catch a game at Great American Ballpark, or take a stroll along the Ohio river on the beautiful hiking and biking trails. If you take a short drive (or walk) across the bridge downtown you’ll wind up in Covinginton, Kentucky. This historic town that was once notorious for gangsters is now a lovely area with dining and shopping, plus great views looking back at the Cincinnati skyline. Speaking of “skyline” – Cincy’s famous chili is available all over town. (I’m not personally a fan – but a lot of people like it!)

19. Maumee Bay Lodge

day trips from columbus ohio winter

Maumee Bay Lodge offers 120 guest rooms, each with private balcony overlooking the Maumee Bay of Lake Erie. Guests can enjoy the full-service dining room, cocktail lounge and snack bar. The lodge also offers free WiFi, racquetball courts, indoor racquetball/wallyball courts, game room, fitness center, saunas, hot tubs, whirlpools, indoor and outdoor pools and kids’ splash garden. Rent a bike and enjoy the trails or other outdoor recreational activities.

20. Chicago, Illinois

day trips from columbus ohio winter

The Windy City is full of world class museums and fine dining. Take in the views from the Willis Tower – formerly the tallest building in America, take a river cruise to learn about Chicago history and architecture, or book a Chicago Pizza Tour to enjoy the many delicious styles of Chicago pizza including its best known style – deep dish!

Things To See

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Southwest Ohio Parent Magazine

10 Columbus Attractions to Explore this Winter

If you’re looking for a fun way to spice up the next few months, consider a trip to Columbus .

Clocking in at just over an hour away, Columbus is an easy and very doable day trip from Cincinnati. Or, be a little extra and book an AirBNB for a weekend of family fun in our state’s capital. And if you’re worried about Columbus in the winter — don’t! Columbus boasts a very impressive resumé of indoor attractions, museums and activities to keep your family busy and warm all winter long.

Here are 10 Columbus attractions to explore this winter:

1. columbus blue jackets.

Ohio’s only NHL team, the Columbus Blue Jackets are a fun, indoor option for sports fans during the colder months. Their regular season runs into April, and games are very family friendly, with lots of afternoon matches and fun promotions. This is a really great option for older kids.

2&3: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium offers a one-of-a-kind experience that’s aimed to get families thinking about animals, the environment and conservation. The Columbus Zoo is huge; in each direction you’ll experience different habitats and species, all designed to be interactive and accessible. The “North America” area is especially fun; we saw (Santa’s) reindeer, Arctic foxes and a variety of bears. The polar bears, for example, can be seen both above ground and below; definitely visit the underground viewing area. Once you’re down there (if you’re lucky) , you’ll have a front-row seat to watch the bears happily diving and swimming in the water.

day trips from columbus ohio winter

The Zoo also boasts an Aquarium that’s extremely cool. Manatees, sea turtles, sharks and more — you can easily spend an entire afternoon at this Columbus attraction. My kids especially loved the Discovery Reef area, which was alive with lots of different water-bound creatures. (I personally loved the manatees; Stubby was massive and absolutely magnificent!) And the best part — the Aquarium is entirely indoors, making it a pretty perfect place to visit during the winter.

4. Columbus Museum of Art

day trips from columbus ohio winter

The Columbus Museum of Art (CMOA) is incredible. If the thought of taking kids to an art museum makes you nervous, I understand. However, the CMOA is one of the most accessible and kid-friendly places I’ve ever been, hands down. There’s an entire wing just for kids: the JPMorgan Chase Center for Creativity . This space has tons of craft options, open studio hours and classes, plus LEGO bricks for building. It reminded me of art class in elementary school, in all the best ways.

day trips from columbus ohio winter

Definitely visit on a Saturday, as there will be extra activities and events throughout the museum. Serendipitously, on the day we visited, there was a LEGO competition happening in the atrium. My kids entered and had 20 minutes to recreate their favorite movie scene, all from LEGO bricks. They each created a scene from The Empire Strikes Back … and won! It was such a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Also — special shout-out to the staff at CMOA. Every single staff member I interacted with at CMOA was so incredibly friendly and kind. I felt very welcome there with my family — and that makes all the difference in the world, when you’re out with kids.

5. National Veterans Memorial and Museum

day trips from columbus ohio winter

In 2018, the  National Veterans Memorial and Museum opened in Columbus, making history in a number of ways. Not only does this museum honor the men and women who have served in *all* branches of the U.S. military, but it also tells their stories. Never before has war and military service been so personal, making the National Veterans Memorial and Museum a must-visit for each and every American. This museum is absolutely worth the drive — read all about it here .

6. Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

day trips from columbus ohio winter

Here in Cincinnati, we are fortunate to have one of the best botanical gardens in the US right at our fingertips. In addition to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, budding botanists can also geek out at Krohn Conservatory, one of the city’s greatest treasures. And in Columbus, you’ll find a perfect marriage of the two at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. 

day trips from columbus ohio winter

The Conservatory itself is breathtaking. Located inside the John F. Wolfe Palm House, which dates back to 1895, it’s a huge  greenhouse divided into wings with different biomes. It’s bright and sparkling and stunning — a breath of fresh air during the winter. Right now, you can check out Chihuly: Celebrating Nature , an exuberant celebration of art and color, with Chihuly’s stunning glass artwork intermixed with the plants and flowers. It’s an indescribably beautiful experience that takes your visit to Franklin Park Conservatory to the next level.

And if you’re brave, bundle up the kids and let them explore  The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden . It’s a two-acre discovery garden and nature playscape that will keep your kids busy and happy for hours — you’ll hear zero complaints about the cold!

7. LEGOLAND Discovery Center

day trips from columbus ohio winter

LEGOLAND Discovery Center  opened in 2018 in Columbus and is the 12th ‘land in North America and the only location that’s a true day trip from Cincinnati. It’s 36,000 square feet of fun in Columbus’s Easton Town Center, and it’s everything your LEGO-loving kids could dream of… and more!  With indoor playgrounds, two rides, MINILAND Ohio, a 4D cinema, virtual “factory tour” and 10 themed play zones, LEGOLAND Discovery Center is absolutely worth the drive.

8:  Otherworld

day trips from columbus ohio winter

Otherworld was recently named one of TIME for Kids World’s Coolest Places — and it is . Each of Otherworld’s 47 (!) rooms is completely unique. There are endless spaces to explore, and like any art exhibition, the experience is personal and dynamic . It’s a completely immersive art experience that’s truly unlike anything else in the world. And somehow, it’s also kid friendly, accessible and completely wild and wonderful. Words don’t do it justice — you have to experience Otherworld for yourself!

9 & 10: COSI

COSI is reason alone to visit Columbus, and this museum is a place where you can happily spend an entire weekend. Every time we visit COSI, I discover something new, and this trip was no exception:

The Planetarium

day trips from columbus ohio winter

COSI’s Planetarium is the largest in Ohio, and being inside its domed walls puts the whole universe into perspective. (It’s very similar to the OMNIMAX in terms of layout and feel.) There are shows offered all day long, and while you’ll pay extra for a ticket, it’s worth it . Your Planetarium ticket is basically your key to, you know, the universe. (No big deal!)

Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes

day trips from columbus ohio winter

So I think we can all agree that COSI has the *best* exhibits, and the new Marvel exhibit is, hands down, the coolest and one I am very excited to visit after it opens on November 26.

As the single largest exhibition celebrating the Marvel Universe and features more than 300 original artifacts , including some of Marvel’s most iconic costumes, props, and original art, much of which has never been put on public display.

This winter, visit Columbus with your family. This Ohio city offers a world of experiences — all just a short drive away!

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Rooted in Ohio

Maumee Bay State Park

25 Spectacular Places to Visit in Ohio in Winter This Year

Winter is an amazing time in Ohio. Each region offers something unique, from the icy shores of Lake Erie to the snow foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. If you’re looking for places to visit in Ohio in winter , your calendar can be packed with skiing, hiking, or just enjoying a great meal and a glass of wine.

Best Places to Visit in Northwest Ohio

Maumee bay state park | oregon, oh .

Maumee Bay State Park is one of the most breathtaking state parks in Northwest Ohio. On the shore of Lake Erie , the park is a convergence of beach, cliffs, forest, and wetland. The winter offers a fascinating new experience of the outdoor world.

Visitors flock here throughout the winter months, ready for winter hikes and exploring the frozen beaches. The beach features fascinating ice formations created by the cold temperatures and the winds moving off the lake.

Also, winter offers the chance to see rare wildlife that you might not spot elsewhere, especially in the wetlands of the park. You might want to hike to a lighthouse for a pristine view of Lake Erie in the winter too. 

Maumee Bay State Park, Oregon - Places to Visit in Winter

Kalahari Resorts | Sandusky, OH

Going to a water park in Northern Ohio in the middle of the winter sounds crazy. But, Sandusky’s top indoor water park, Kalahari Resorts, draws visitors at every time of the year. This resort features a stunning 173,000 square feet of fun.

There’s something for everyone here, from a wave pool to waterslides, splash pads, a swim-up bar, and much more. The temperature outside may be frigid, but it’s summer all year long at Kalahari Resorts. It isn’t hard to see why this resort is one of the most popular places to visit in Ohio in winter!

56 Magnificent Waterfalls in Ohio To Visit This Year

Oak Openings | Swanton, OH

Oak Openings Preserve Metropark, located in Swanton Ohio, is one of the largest and best nature parks in the region. At 5,000 acres, it showcases all the natural features that make Ohio so beautiful at every time of the year.

This area is truly one-of-a-kind with a wide range of terrain from savanna to sand and wetlands. It’s the perfect environment for rare birds and plant life to thrive.

Additionally, Oak Openings has more than 70 miles of trails, making it ideal for hiking, horseback riding, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. No matter how you choose to get around, you don’t want to miss the winter scenery here. 

Oak Openings, Swanton - Places to Visit in Winter

Ohio Caverns | Salem Township, OH

The Ohio Caverns have been termed the “most colorful caverns in America.” These enormous underground passages are the biggest ones that you can find in the state, and some of them feature ceilings more than 100 feet high!

You can access tours here during every season, showcasing the unique and breathtaking attractions of the caverns. Amazingly, the caverns remain 54 degrees at all times, which might feel pretty toasty compared to the weather outside!

A special tour is available in the winter, highlighting special parts of the caverns that aren’t accessible during the summer. It’s one winter activity in Northwest Ohio that you don’t want to miss.

Ottawa Park | Toledo, OH

Ottawa Park is the largest park in the Toledo area and has dozens of activities and events going on at every time of the year. It’s an especially popular spot during the winter when visitors flock to the park for outdoor ice skating, sledding, skiing, and much more.

The ice rink is set up once the temperature drops every year. You can rent skates and participate in free skating, or watch a hockey game. The many trails throughout the park are popular for cross-country skiing, hiking, and snowshoeing.

On top of that, Ottawa Park is a top spot for sledding and snowboarding. It’s not hard to see why this amazing park remains busy no matter what the temperature is outside.

There are even more things to explore in Toledo and Northwest Ohio during winter !

Ottawa Park, Toledo - Places to Visit in Winter

Best Places to Visit in Northeast Ohio

Amish country | millersburg, oh.

Northeast Ohio is Amish Country, and it’s worth a visit during any season. However, winter is an especially beautiful time to tour this region and its charming inns and cozy getaways. The snow makes the farmland both peaceful and beautiful, making this a perfect spot for a romantic weekend retreat.

Every place you find will have unique offerings: beautiful furniture, delicious food, scenic views, and fantastic homemade goods. You can even find plenty of family retreats, including kid-friendly getaways where children can experience farm life and explore the surrounding countryside.

If you want a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of normal life, Amish Country is one of the most perfect places to visit in Ohio in winter.

Snow Trails Winter Resort | Mansfield, OH 

It should come as no surprise that there are countless places to enjoy fun in the snow in Ohio . Snow Trails Winter Resort is one of the best destinations in Northeast Ohio for skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing.

No matter how much experience you have on a slope, the resort has great offerings for you, from equipment rentals to lessons and slopes of all skill levels.

There are special events scheduled regularly here. On certain days of the year, visitors can enjoy glow tubing, for which the trails are lit artificially for a ride that you’ll never forget.

For more opportunities to hit the slopes, check out all five ski resorts in Ohio !

Snow Trails Ski Resort, Mansfield -Places to Visit in Winter

Cuyahoga Valley National Park | Peninsula, OH

Cuyahoga Valley National Park lies just a short drive outside Cleveland. Just beyond the hubbub of the city, you’ll find a beautiful and peaceful natural space that draws visitors all year long.

Winter is an amazing experience in Cuyahoga Valley. The park features a variety of terrain, from forest to farmland to nature preserves, all situated around the Cuyahoga River. The colder temperatures and falling snow offer the chance to spot rare wildlife and see some of the most breathtaking views in the region.

Whether you want to go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking, a trek through the snowy hills of Cuyahoga Valley is well worth the trip.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Peninsula - Places to Visit in Winter

The Chalet | Strongsville, OH 

Almost everyone has been sledding during the winter. But, you’ve never experienced sledding like it is at The Chalet in Strongsville, just outside of Cleveland. It looks out over the surrounding land of the Cleveland Metroparks, offering a breathtaking view of the Ohio countryside.

The huge toboggan slides are some of the biggest and fastest in the state, stretching a total of 700 feet. They’re refrigerated, which means that they’re in service from late fall to early spring, whether snow has fallen or not.

When you climb aboard, you get to look out on the gorgeous view before taking a ride at 50 mph down Ohio’s most famous toboggan course. Make sure to call ahead because reservations are required!

A Christmas Story House | Cleveland, OH

If you’re a fan of the cult classic film “A Christmas Story,” you need to drop by the Christmas Story house in Cleveland. This was the actual home used to film the movie. In 2004, the home was turned into a museum as an exact replica of the house from the film.

Visitors can stroll through the rooms where Ralphie and his family lived and see the infamous leg lamp won by Ralphie’s “Old Man.” You can even stay overnight if you book your visit ahead of time!

You can visit the house at any time of year, but winter is when it shines most authentically. Any fan of the movie needs to stop by this museum if only to say one of the famous lines.

Check out more possible stops on a day trip to Cleveland and winter things to do in Northeast Ohio !

"A Christmas Story" House, Cleveland - Winter Festivals

Best Places to Visit in Central Ohio

Mohican state park | loudonville, oh.

Ohio is full of state parks, so it can be difficult to choose which ones are really worth visiting — even in the middle of winter. Mohican State Park in Loudonville should be on everyone’s list.

The woodlands surround the Mohican State Scenic River, offering amazing trails for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. The natural attractions of the park are worth seeing, including the frozen waters of Lyon’s Falls and Clear Fork Gorge.

Fishing is also a popular activity throughout the winter. And, the park trails are maintained for snowmobiling if you prefer a slightly different way of getting around.

Mohican State Park, Mansfield - Winter NE, Places to Visit in Winter

Mad River Mountain | Zanesfield 

Mad River Mountain Resort is one of the top skiing and snowboarding resorts you can find in not only Central Ohio but in the entire state. With plenty of local hotel options and on-site dining, this is no rural ski site.

Many visitors book rooms and stay for several days to make sure that they can enjoy all the attractions of the resort, from ski slopes to food, snow tubing, and more.

The vertical drop here is 300 feet, and there are many slopes to cater to every person’s skill level. This includes a total of 20 ski trails and several areas for beginners, terrain parks, and a tubing park. The park has the largest snow-making operation in Ohio, ensuring that conditions are optimal all winter season. 

Pine Acres Reindeer Farm | LaRue, OH

Every child knows that Santa Claus keeps reindeer at the North Pole, but you can find them at Pine Acres Reindeer Farm in LaRue Ohio as well! This one-of-a-kind farm offers regular events where kids can see and interact with a real herd of reindeer.

Most of the herd consists of friendly and gentle females who kids get to pet and feed! The farm is only open seasonally, so it’s worth a visit when you get the chance. You may also get the chance to spot Santa Claus himself and take a carriage ride through the snowy farm.

Franklin Park Conservatory | Columbus, OH

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is one of the most popular and beautiful tourist attractions in Central Ohio. But, it’s one of the most worthy places to visit in Ohio in winter when the gardens are covered in snow.

No matter how cold it gets outside, the conservatory features a lush display of some of the rarest plants from around the world, including many tropical plants! This amazing experience is a welcome step out of the cold winter world and into one that’s always green and blooming.

In addition, you can enjoy special events and classes during the winter, as well as displays of certain plants. In January, for example, the conservatory showcases orchids in a lush and colorful display that’s amazing for midwinter.

Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus - Winter Central Ohio, Places to Visit in Winter

Chestnut Ridge Park | Caroll, OH

Chestnut Ridge Park is one of the best and most beautiful nature preserves in Central Ohio. It’s just one part of the Black Hand sandstone ridge, spanning 486 acres at the farthest foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

The park gets its name from the chestnut trees that cover the area, providing breathtaking views throughout every season. You’ll also find sugar maple, American beech, black and red oak, and hickory trees.

There are many hiking trails here, which draw outdoorsmen throughout the winter for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. A small pond offers fishing throughout the year too. The park is particularly beautiful in the winter and is well worth a chilly hike for the view!

Find out more of what Central Ohio offers during winter !

Chestnut Ridge Park, Carroll - Places to Visit in Winter

Best Places to Visit in Southwest Ohio

Christmas lights display | clifton, oh .

Clifton is a small town in Southwest Ohio with a big reputation for its Christmas lights display! These “legendary” lights come alive before the holidays every year, drawing visitors from all over the state. But, what exactly makes the light display so special?

The town doesn’t just decorate homes and buildings. The display, which includes more than 4 million lights, covers the bridge , gorge, mill, river and riverbanks, trees, and more.

There’s a light show of epic proportions every night between Thanksgiving and the New Year. It even features a Christmas village with a light and music performance!

Clifton Mill at Christmas, Clifton - Places to Visit in Winter

The Christmas Ranch | Morrow, OH 

The Christmas Ranch is a life-size Christmas village located on a real ranch in Morrow Ohio! This seasonal event is open between Thanksgiving and the New Year for Christmas cheer that harks back to old-fashioned family holiday season celebrations.

Most impressive is the ranch’s massive lights display, with more than 350,000 lights. Stay for a music and light show, take a train ride around the grounds, have a cup of hot chocolate, and meet Santa to tell him your Christmas wishes!

The Christmas Ranch, Morrow - Places to Visit in Winter

Great Wolf Lodge | Mason, OH 

Great Wolf Lodge in Mason is an indoor water park that offers summertime fun throughout the year! There are 15 waterslides and tons of other attractions here that draw visitors even throughout the coldest months of the year.

The park features a four-story water fort, splash pad, lazy river, hot springs hot tubs, and waterslides for visitors of every age. If you’re missing summer fun in the middle of the Ohio winter, Great Wolf Lodge is one of the best places to visit in Ohio in winter!

Entertrainment Junction | West Chester, OH 

In case the name doesn’t give it away, Entertrainment Junction is one of the top train museums in Southwest Ohio. This indoor facility is 80,000 square feet of family-friendly attractions all related to the world of trains.

But, you could probably describe it as more of an indoor amusement park devoted to all things trains. The venue features the largest indoor train display in the world, a funhouse, a play area, and a self-operated train. Train-loving kids and adults alike will love exploring this indoor amusement park.

Entertrainment Junction, West Chester - Places to Visit in Winter

Shawnee State Park | West Portsmouth, OH

Outdoors enthusiasts can’t afford to miss the winter beauty of Shawnee State Park. This 1,095-acre park breaches the land between the Appalachian Mountains and the Ohio River, offering some of the most beautiful scenery you’ll find anywhere in Ohio.

There are two lakes in the park, making it a popular place for fishing, even during the winter months. Visitors also flock to the park throughout the winter for sledding near the lodge, hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and enjoying the serene snowy views.

These places only highlight a few of the winter things to do in Southwest Ohio !

Best Places to Visit in Southeast Ohio

Dickens victorian village | cambridge, oh .

The Dickens Victorian Village is one of the most fascinating and unique attractions in Southeast Ohio! Every year before the holiday season, this simple town transforms into a life-size replica of a Victorian Christmas village.

Visitors can wander the streets and see dozens of scenes with more than 200 life-size models dressed in authentic vintage clothing from the period! Many of the scenes depict famous stories like Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” You may even spot familiar figures like Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim.

This fascinating holiday presentation is one of the most extraordinary displays you’ll find anywhere in the state. And, it’s free to all visitors too!

Dickens Victorian Village, Cambridge - Places to Visit in Winter

Equestrian Ridge Farm | New Plymouth, OH

There’s nothing quite like taking a winter horseback ride, which you’ll find out for yourself when you visit Equestrian Ridge Farm in New Plymouth. This beautiful farm is nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, housing horses of all types.

Visitors can stop by at any time of the year to get a riding lesson or enjoy a guided tour. But, it’s well worth visiting in the winter when the fallen snow offers a peaceful outing and creates a winter snowscape like you’ve never seen before.

Hocking Hills State Park | Logan, OH

Hocking Hills State Park is one of the best-known state parks in all of Ohio! Visitors come from all over the world throughout the year. But winter offers a particularly amazing experience thanks to its unrivaled forest snowscapes and famous frozen waterfalls.

The most popular winter hike is a six-mile trek from Old Man’s Cave to Ash Cave . You can explore the frozen falls, some of which are truly enormous.

There are actually dozens of waterfalls to visit in Ohio !

Hocking Hills State Park, Logan - Places to Visit in Winter

Ravenwood Castle | New Plymouth, OH 

Have you ever wanted to visit or even stay in a real castle? As it turns out, there’s a castle in Southeast Ohio and the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Ravenwood Castle lies just outside of Hocking Hills State Park and features one of the most unique and breathtaking places for a winter getaway.

Filled with beautifully furnished rooms, the castle is worth visiting in any season. But, winter is a great time because not only is it the offseason, but the castle offers unparalleled views of the surrounding winter wonderland.

Conkles Hollow Nature Preserve | Rockbridge, OH

Conkles Hollow Nature Preserve is another breathtaking region of the Appalachian foothills that’s well worth a visit. Crowned by black sandstone cliffs, the nature preserve features one of the deepest gorges in Ohio and is filled with waterfalls.

It’s one of the perfect places to visit in Ohio in winter for exploring, especially when the falls freeze over and create beautiful ice formations. The trails here are maintained well and easy to navigate, making this a great winter destination for visitors of any age and ability.

Find more Southeast Ohio winter things to do !

Conkles Hollow Nature Preserve, Rockbridge - Places to Visit in Winter

Choosing the Best Places to Visit in Ohio in Winter

Winter in Ohio doesn’t have to mean hunkering down at home. Instead, it’s the perfect time to explore! Whether you want to grab your skis and fly down a slope or enjoy a glass of wine in Amish Country, these amazing winter getaways in Ohio have something for everyone.

However, you aren’t limited to this list of our recommendations. We can give you more than a dozen other things to do in Ohio in winter as well!

Born and raised in Ohio, Matt Heffner loves to share his knowledge of the state at the heart of it all. Founder and chief explorer of Rooted in Ohio, his articles provide local insight to some of the best hidden gems in Ohio.

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Winter in Columbus

Embrace the winter wonderland of Columbus this season with endless possibilities! Break free from the chill by embarking on exhilarating outdoor adventures along snow-covered trails, ignite that spark on a winter date night, and add our can't-miss winter events to your calendar this season. Whether you have an hour or an entire day to spend, Columbus is brimming with exciting new experiences for you.

Check out our recommendations below and make this season in Columbus truly unforgettable!

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Here Are 8 Unique Day Trips Near Columbus That Are An Absolute Must-Do

day trips from columbus ohio winter

Sonya Afanasyeva

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When you have a free day and you want to explore something new, the best day trips in Columbus will give you exactly what you are looking for. Incredible nature, historical sites, and charming cities are just a few hours from our city center and often even closer. Visit these spots to learn more about your surroundings and to make some great memories.

day trips from columbus ohio winter

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These 5 Waterparks Near Columbus Are Going To Make Your Summer AWESOME

day trips from columbus ohio winter

What are your favorite day trips to take from Columbus? Share them with us in the comments!

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Best day trips in columbus.

What are some beautiful road trips to take in Columbus?

The Buckeye State is a natural beauty, and while we’re all for getting out and exploring the Ohio naturescape on foot, there’s something wholly wonderful about a good, old-fashioned road trip. We’ve put together this scenic road trip in Ohio that showcases some of the most beautiful parts of the state, concentrating on the Greater Columbus region. One of our favorite points of interest along this 280-mile road trip is Gambier. Home to Kenyon College, Gambier is peak Buckeye State beauty, with the bucolic hills and idyllic farms dotting the landscape around this college town. This road trip also travels through Amish Country, a place of unspoiled and peaceful pastoral charm, as well as Marietta, one of the most darling river towns in Ohio -- and the first permanent settlement of the Northwest Territory !

What are some fun towns to explore near Columbus?

Columbus is just a stone's throw from so many adorable and charming little towns. We adore places like Gambier, Mt. Vernon, Dublin, Powell, Bexley, Worthington, Gahanna, New Albany, Westerville, Hilliard, and Sunbury -- but this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of fun towns to explore! Here are some more adorable little locales in Ohio -- several are located in the Columbus area .

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WSYX – Columbus

4 Ohio restaurants among most romantic in U.S., according to Open Table

A new list out just in time for Valentine's Day includes four Ohio restaurants among the most romantic in the U.S.

Unfortunately, Columbus residents will need to plan a road trip to enjoy any of these eateries.

According to Open Table, the four most romantic restaurants in Ohio are:

  • Carlo & Johnny – Cincinnati
  • Pier W – Cleveland
  • Primavista – Cincinnati
  • The Bistro at Gervasi Vineyard – Canton

Carlo & Johnny is owned by restaurateur Jeff Ruby, whose namesake steakhouse is a downtown Columbus favorite in the Arena District.

Five restaurants from Pennsylvania and three from Michigan made the list, but no other neighboring states were represented.

Click here to see the full list from Open Table.

4 Ohio restaurants among most romantic in U.S., according to Open Table

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  1. Places To Visit Near Columbus Ohio In Winter

    day trips from columbus ohio winter

  2. Here Are 8 Unique Day Trips Near Columbus That Are An Absolute Must-Do

    day trips from columbus ohio winter

  3. The Best Winter Activities in Columbus, Ohio 2023

    day trips from columbus ohio winter

  4. 8 Best Winter Places To Visit In Columbus

    day trips from columbus ohio winter

  5. 8 Best Winter Places To Visit In Columbus

    day trips from columbus ohio winter

  6. It's the first day of winter, Columbus: What to do for solstice

    day trips from columbus ohio winter

COMMENTS

  1. 15 Fantastic Winter Day Trips in Ohio

    15 Fantastic Winter Day Trips in Ohio By Matt Heffner Last Updated February 6, 2023 Reading Time: 7 minutes Table of Contents Loveland Castle Museum | Loveland A Christmas Story House & Museum | Cleveland Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens | Columbus Dickens Victorian Village | Cambridge Cuyahoga Valley National Park | Cleveland Area

  2. 8 Winter Destinations That Make Cold Weather Cool

    Grab some grub, go curling on the roof of a hotel, or strap on some ice skates and hit Millenium Park. Just be sure to bundle up. It may not have been nicknamed the windy city for its weather, but it is cold and windy! Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia via Facebook

  3. 31 Unique Day Trips From Columbus Ohio

    You can take a day trip to do some shopping, explore a new nature walking trail, or check out a new city. Here's a list of perfect day trips, road trips, and weekend getaways. Ohio Day Trips From Columbus Check Out Attractions in Newark Ohio 45-minute drive from Columbus Trending 27 Best Spring Things to Do in Ohio

  4. 14 Awesome Winter Things to Do in Central Ohio for All Ages

    Skate at Night With Your Valentine in Marion. Winter season events in Central Ohio don't stop after the New Year. In Marion, Valentines are welcome at the Zoomers Skate Club for a nighttime skate event. The event runs from 7 p.m. until midnight and includes food, beverages, and skate rentals.

  5. 11 Ohio Winter Getaways You'll Love

    1. Take a Train Ride through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Seeing Ohio's only National Park covered in a fresh blanket of snow is a special treat! You can hike the trails in the winter or enjoy the scenery from the comfort of a heated passenger train through the park.

  6. The 8 Best Winter Day Trips In Ohio You Can Take

    This family-favorite destination features the Timberline Trail which is one of the longest in Ohio, some of the longest tubing lanes in the state, a large Snow Trails Ski Shop, a beginner's area, children's programs, and so much more. Visit the Snow Trails website for more information. 2. Old Man's Cave (Logan) 19852 OH-664, Logan, OH 43138, USA

  7. What Is One of the Best Winter Getaways from Columbus, OH?

    6 Reasons The White Oak Inn in Ohio's Amish Country Is One of the Best Winter Getaways from Columbus, OH "To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake it is necessary to stand out in the cold." —Aristotle 1. Experience a True Winter Wonderland The snow is aplenty in Ohio this time of year.

  8. 40 Best Day Trips From Columbus

    5. Lucas. Lucas, OH. (419) 213-4000. Visit Website. Open in Google Maps. Lucas is a village in southeastern Richland County with plenty of family-friendly things to do. If you're looking for day trips from Columbus for families, drive an hour to this gem.

  9. The 16 Best Day Trips From Columbus, Ohio

    Katie Seemann Columbus, Ohio is a great place to live and a great place to visit! In addition to tons of activities and festivals throughout the year, there are lots of great day trips that are within a 2-hour drive of Columbus. These day trips can make a quick daycation (a day of vacation, get it?!) or an easy overnight trip.

  10. 10 Day Trips from Columbus, Ohio—Local's Guide

    6. Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Distance: 1-2 hours. Best for: easy hikes, biking, farmer's markets. Ohio's only national park isn't all that far from Columbus, depending on which part of the park you want to visit. A popular trail is Ledges Trail, an easy two-mile hike with 200 feet of elevation gain.

  11. 11 Most Popular Day Trips from Columbus, Ohio

    Prefer to go city-hopping? Cleveland is a global city on the shores of Lake Erie that presents the ultimate urban road trip opportunity. The journey takes about two hours and 10 minutes from Columbus if you have a car rental. You can also take a bus for under $50.

  12. 15 Best Day Trips from Columbus (Ohio)

    1. Hocking Hills. Source: StevenRussellSmithPhotos / shutterstock. Hocking Hills State Park. Just southeast of Columbus is the Hocking Hills State Park, a must do day trip from the city that takes you to some of the most unusual rock formations in Ohio.

  13. Day Trips from Columbus Ohio

    While Cincinnati is a fantastic weekend getaway destination, you can also see one or two highlights on a day trip from Columbus. A few great things to see in Cincinnati include: More than 200 outdoor murals Cincinnati Museum Center Taft Museum of Art Cincinnati Art Museum

  14. 12 Day Trips From Columbus, Ohio That Everyone Should Take

    Some of these are awesome family day trips from Columbus Ohio, while some of these day trips in Ohio are better for couples or kid-free adults. ... Things to do in Columbus in Winter to Avoid the ...

  15. 8 Ohio Day Trips That Are Even Cooler During The Winter

    Here are some of our favorite Ohio destinations that, in our humble opinion, are even cooler in the winter. Bundle up, grab your winter travel essentials, a nd embrace this sublime season in Ohio — whatever it may bring. Mad River Mountain. Mad River Mountain, 1000 Snow Valley Rd, Zanesfield, OH 43360, USA. Mad River Mountain/Facebook.

  16. 7 Super Fun Day Trips From Columbus, OH You Won't Want to Miss!

    Whatever kind of trip you're interested in, keep reading for a list of 7 fun day trips you can take from Columbus, OH. ... From waterparks, going to the theater, sled riding in the winter, and many amazing restaurants to choose from, Lake Erie is the perfect place to spend the day or extend your trip for the weekend! There are many ...

  17. 15 Best Ohio Day Trips (Hidden Gems, Small Towns, & More!)

    One of the best family-friendly Ohio day trips is Cedar Point Amusement Park. Cedar Point is located in Sandusky on a Lake Erie peninsula. Ohio also has Cedar Point partly to thank for the title of "Roller Coaster Capital of the World". The amusement park has 18 roller coasters, all at different thrill levels.

  18. These Ohio towns, villages are perfect for day trips

    Yellow Springs. Yellow Springs, located 30 minutes outside of Dayton, is renowned for being one of the coolest towns in the state. The town, just under 4,000 residents, is known for its unique ...

  19. 20 Great Road Trip Ideas From Columbus

    Clocking in at just over three hours from Columbus, Put-in-Bay is a tropical getaway in the middle of Lake Erie just off the shore of northern Ohio. You'll take a ferry to the island and find live music, nightlife, great shopping and food, as well as plenty of things to keep you busy! Rent a golf cart to tour the island in style!

  20. 10 Columbus Attractions to Explore this Winter

    November 17, 2021 If you're looking for a fun way to spice up the next few months, consider a trip to Columbus. Clocking in at just over an hour away, Columbus is an easy and very doable day trip from Cincinnati. Or, be a little extra and book an AirBNB for a weekend of family fun in our state's capital.

  21. 25 Spectacular Places to Visit in Ohio in Winter This Year

    Maumee Bay State Park | Oregon, OH Maumee Bay State Park is one of the most breathtaking state parks in Northwest Ohio. On the shore of Lake Erie, the park is a convergence of beach, cliffs, forest, and wetland. The winter offers a fascinating new experience of the outdoor world.

  22. Winter in Columbus

    Winter in Columbus. ... Whether you have an hour or an entire day to spend, Columbus is brimming with exciting new experiences for you. Check out our recommendations below and make this season in Columbus truly unforgettable! ... Columbus, OH 43215 (614) 221-6623 I 800-354-2657. Media; Partnership; About Us; Contact; Career Opportunities;

  23. 8 Best Day Trips In Columbus You Should Add To Your Bucket List

    Visit these spots to learn more about your surroundings and to make some great memories. 1. Serpent Mound. Serpent Mound State Memorial, 3850 OH-73, Peebles, OH 45660, USA. Krista Backs/Flickr. Located in Adams County, Ohio Serpent Mound is the largest serpent effigy in the world. It is 1,348-feet long and 3-feet high.

  24. Central Ohio's most romantic getaways

    2023 Central Ohio Heart Walk. Clear the Shelters. Hunger Action Month. Veterans Voices. A Journey through Alzheimer's. Double Your Donation Day. 2023 Firefighters 4 Kids Toy Drive.

  25. Most romantic getaways in Ohio

    11 free places to visit in Ohio, from museums to outdoor marvels. On the list of 22, some places in and near central Ohio include Hocking Hills State Park, Timbrook Guesthouse, Glenlaurel, and ...

  26. 4 Ohio restaurants among most romantic in U.S., according to Open ...

    A new list out just in time for Valentine's Day includes four Ohio restaurants among the most romantic in the U.S. Unfortunately, Columbus residents will need to plan a road trip to enjoy any of ...

  27. Ohio State's Ryan Day embracing great expectations after busy month

    Yes, all of them and more. "I do," was his two-word reply when Day was asked if he felt his Ohio State football roster is good enough to win the national championship. Day has shared such ...