18 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Ohio
Ohio is located in the Midwestern region of the United States and is often referred to as the "Birthplace of Country Music." It is the only state to have an actual live act that originated within its borders, in this case, Hank Williams, Jr.
It is known as the “City of 10,000 Cemeteries” because of its numerous battlefields and cemeteries dating from the American War of Independence to the Civil War. It has been one of the nation's most important manufacturing and industrial centers for much of the nation's history, while its colonial culture and capital, Columbus, has been home to many national and local cultural attractions.
Its rich heritage and diverse landscape has led to the birth of two separate countries, as the state borders the borders of three other states.
The state's capital is Columbus, a bustling city that is home to many cultural attractions. Other prominent cities and towns include Cleveland, Toledo, Cincinnati, and Dayton. And the region's beaches are a popular attraction, with popular beaches like Sandusky Bay.
Settle into your journey with a travel guide that is packed with information about Ohio's historical, cultural, and top attractions.
Although it is the smallest state capital in the US and serves as the seat of government only for three counties, Columbus, Licking, and Muskingum, the Ohio Statehouse is quite an impressive place. Finished in 1901, it was designed by Charles E. Waite, a rising star of the building industry and also a founder of the American Institute of Architects. Located across the Ohio River from downtown Pittsburgh, the Ohio Statehouse, with its 360-foot clock tower, is at once the state's oldest and largest building and its best preserved. The building has well-preserved original furnishings and architecture, and more than 6,000 of them are on display. The lobby houses one of the world's finest collections of historic clocks. Other highlights include The Government and Capitol Memorial Hall, which honors the most noteworthy lives of Ohioans and the state's military history; the Supreme Court, housing the first U.S. Supreme Court justice and his robes; and the Indiana Room, a tribute to those from that state who served in the Civil War. Columbus is a short drive from the city.
Cincinnati Museum Center
Cincinnati Museum Center has two components: the historic and downtown Central Library and the neighboring Children's Discovery Museum. The 12-acre site is a rare example of a planned civic park where art, history and nature blend seamlessly. Designed by renowned landscape architect Kenmore native Frederick Law Olmsted, who also created New York's Central Park, Cincinnati's Civic Center came into existence in 1930 as a utopian retreat from the city's traffic and pollution. The Children's Discovery Museum and the library are both worth visiting, both for children and adults. The library houses a priceless collection of books that span the centuries and has access to the entire main library collection in Chicago. The museum's children's exhibits engage children's brains as well as their senses.
Great Lakes Science Center
The Great Lakes Science Center is a state-of-the-art science and technology center and science museum in North Olmsted, Ohio, about 7 miles northwest of Cleveland. It's part of the world-famous Brookfield Zoo, and was designed to educate and captivate children and adults who love science and technology. The most popular of the exhibits are lab space experiments which are modified from the 1950s through the 1980s, with real-world problems such as electricity, pH, magnets and flow. A trip through time looks back in four decades of environmental change and how the Great Lakes have been threatened by droughts, melting ice caps, and overfishing. The facility, which has 400,000 square feet of display space, is extremely popular and the anticipation that envelops arriving visitors to the Center during hours of operation is palpable. With room to entertain an estimated 22,000 visitors daily during school holiday periods, it is also one of the most popular destinations for those traveling by school bus in the Cleveland, Ohio, area.
In addition to animals, Cincinnati Zoo is the home to the Skyfari Aerial Adventure, a unique attraction where visitors board small single-person capsules and glide across the sky in a glass-enclosed gondola. Once at the top of the 100-foot-high Skyfari tower, visitors ride in open capsules for a bird's eye view of Cincinnati's ever-changing landscape. As the largest zoo in the U.S., Cincinnati Zoo offers year-round entertainment and education experiences, including a planetarium, a conservation center, animal exhibits, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and other animal attractions. Its 2,200 acres are home to more than 2,200 animals. Once a horse-drawn street car route, Cincinnati Zoo is now a three-mile walkway within the city limits and home to some 2,200 animals representing more than 330 species and the world's only collection of African elephants.
Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) is the most visited art museum in Ohio. A premier collection of art is displayed in the two halls and numerous rooms of the museum. Although it was established in 1892, CMA only built its present structure in 1959, making it the world's first skyscraper museum. One of the most innovative art museums in America, its scope is European art from the 15th to the 20th centuries. Notable visitors include Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, and Picasso.
Akron Art Museum
The Akron Art Museum (Akron Museum of Art) is one of the largest museums in the state of Ohio and perhaps even the entire Midwest, with a large collection of American, modern and contemporary works that features installations, sculptures and paintings. What sets it apart is the vivid way in which the collection celebrates the full range of America's visual culture in works by Hopper, Rothko, Warhol and many other artists. The museum has an on-site exhibition space, The Louise G. Davis Center for Visual Arts, which shows works by living artists in addition to the impressive permanent collection. The museum also has an extensive temporary exhibition program. Highlights of the collection include Hopper's iconic paintings of the Kent region, Rothko's richly layered abstractions, Warhol's brilliant silk-screen works, and Joseph Beuys's world-renowned site-specific outdoor installations. Other notable areas of the museum include the 4th floor of the Louise G. Davis Center for Visual Arts, which has rooms and studios dedicated to photography and video, and the Paul J. Murray Social History Rooms.
Columbus Museum of Art
Columbus Museum of Art offers a window on the world of modern and contemporary art and design through its collection of works by luminaries such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder, Chuck Close, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Mapplethorpe, Francis Bacon, and Andy Warhol. You'll also find objects made by celebrated contemporary artists. Also on display at the museum are more than 500 archaeological treasures that range in date from 6000 BC to the 21st century. Exhibits include the magnificent Mural of Atlantis; a collection of Aztec masks and artifacts; the world's oldest arm-and-axe collection; an eclectic group of Old Masters paintings; Italian, Spanish, and American painting; and an extensive collection of African, Oceanic, and pre-Columbian art. A must for fans of all art forms.
Located in the Midwest, Cincinnati is the third-largest city in the US state of Ohio and one of the first US cities to be founded. The American Football Hall of Fame, Mardi Gras, Muhammad Ali, and The Big Red Machine football team are among the city's best-known tourist attractions. Although it is the third largest US city, Cincinnati is not always well known to visitors. An interesting way to get to know the city is to visit its main museums, including the Contemporary Art Center and the Cincinnati Museum Center, and its music venues, including Music Hall and Taft Theatre.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, 15 miles from Cleveland and located at the foot of Cleveland's Cuyahoga River, is home to the world's longest freestanding waterfall, Horseshoe Falls. First discovered by the Lenape Indians who gave the Cuyahoga its name, this area was later the site of a British trading post called Waparoosa. Renowned for its natural beauty, this national park is home to almost 200 miles of hiking trails and offers a scenic landscape of forest, river and lake. Visitors can also canoe, kayak or take a horseback ride in the park.
Cincinnati Art Museum
The Cincinnati Art Museum, set in the heart of the city on Vine St., includes a wide variety of art from different periods of human history. Highlights include medieval sculptures, 20th century art, an extensive collection of tribal art, a permanent exhibition of indigenous textiles, and changing shows from other institutions and artists. Attractions in the area include: the Art Academy of Cincinnati, Museum Center at Union Terminal, Great American Ball Park, and the Underground Railroad Center. The Great American Ball Park offers a view of the first professional baseball game played in the United States.
Located in Sandusky, Ohio, Cedar Point has been a popular summer theme park since it first opened its gates in 1972. At first a picnic park with a wooden roller coaster and picnic areas, Cedar Point has developed into a world-class amusement park, with the Thunderbolt roller coaster as its centerpiece. The entire park is made of wood and concrete and each ride is unique. This is especially true of the rides that are in operation. The park also boasts three water parks, which offer a completely different experience for the summer visitor. It's even possible to combine a visit to Cedar Point with a trip to the nearby beach.
Museum of Transportation
See the top ten best metal detector exhibits, the worlds largest metal detector and visit Cleveland's Museum of Transportation to find out about the incredible contribution the area has made to manufacturing in the United States. The museum features the world's largest collection of railway artifacts and a wide variety of exhibits that examine how manufacturing has changed over the years.
Hocking Hills State Park
If you are looking for a great place to hike with some of the most striking and interesting rock formations in the world, you can't go wrong with Hocking Hills State Park. Here the sandstone of the Cincinnati Escarpment is shaped to an almost perfect, almost 2,000-foot-high peak with at least 13 named formations (Taber's Folly, Panther Knob, Nine Fingers, Crack-in-the-Rock, Chalk Cliffs, Beehive, Bullion Banks, Saddle Rock, Crystal Gate, Devil's Slide and the Chasm). Hocking Hills offers three main types of hiking: Long Distance Trails, Short Distance Trails and Hill Country hikes. It's worth noting that most of the State Park has been designated a National Recreation Area, and the park has great facilities, including an amphitheater, playgrounds, swimming and tennis pools, and an 18-hole disc golf course. If you are looking for a campground, look no further than the more than 40, primitive camping sites in the Hocking Hills State Park, which can only be reserved in advance through the Hocking Hills State Park Reservation Office (330-372-2069). This ensures that you get the best spot. Other campgrounds are the Imperial, which has 95 sites, and the Gulf View, which has 32 sites.
Museum of Natural History
Established in 1877, the Ohio State University's Museum of Natural History (MNH) houses one of the world's greatest collections of natural history specimens, from dinosaurs to Native American artifacts. Visitors can expect to see everything from small birds to elephants to shark and many other exhibits to explore on their visit. Covered by the planetarium, it also has hands-on exhibits. Kids will love the Discovery Room where they can find out what makes the zoo live. More exhibit space are available outside on the Children's Zoo.
Built into the hillside at the southern edge of the scenic town of Ellsworth, Mt. Adams was the site of an ambitious early 1900s construction project by the American Standard Steel Car Company. An observation deck now sits atop one of the four massive, open-hearth blast furnaces, while the scenic shops and inns of Ellsworth are just a short walk away. With an abundance of early 19th century buildings and plenty of hiking opportunities, the surrounding area is also popular with mountain bikers and joggers. Restaurants and shops also line up the main road where parking is available.
Franklin Park Conservatory
Franklin Park Conservatory is a lush, tropical retreat where you can relax under palm and banyan trees. The lush garden, filled with flowers, exotic fruits, and palm trees, is the perfect setting for a wide range of fun experiences from the home tours to learning how your favorite tropical plants, fruits, and vegetables are grown. There are also special kids' tours and activities that are perfect for families and kids of all ages. There are indoor and outdoor pools, a hot tub, a salt-water pool, a kiddie pool, playgrounds, a sculpture garden, a winding nature trail, and a 60-foot sand play area for kiddies. There are numerous displays and lectures, including one about endangered species, and there is a greenhouse that features tropical, semitropical, desert, and urban environments, among others. There are also interactive exhibits on plant reproduction and a variety of gardening-related topics. Open year-round, the Franklin Park Conservatory is at 134 East Brookfield Road, Hilliard, OH, 40674.
The Ohio Statehouse
Opened in 2002, this architectural landmark and another on his list of top 10 attractions, contains 15,000 square meters of magnificent marble floors and pews and a soaring glass dome. Inside, it features a vast atrium, soaring 42-meter-high walls with massive windows, colorful tiling and several unique monuments to Columbus's, his partner, Queen Isabella, and the cat Columbus. A monument honors the Columbus who has transformed the American experience and, in the words of Senator Mike DeWine, "an architect of the West".
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, which is the only zoo in the Midwest, is best known for the giant pandas that reside there. Located at 1235 Park Road, Columbus, the zoo is best enjoyed from the outside, by walking around or viewing animals from a distance. Feeding time and docent programs run several times a day, and the zoo has more than 2,000 animals in its zoo, including elephants, wolves, otters, beavers, a tiger, giraffes, pandas, and penguins. The zoo has several types of dolphin shows, nightly during summer and during daylight hours the rest of the year. While in the park, see if you can spot the dolphins jumping into the water and catching fish as they surface. The aquarium also offers its visitors the chance to see live sea creatures in a tank, some of which can be viewed by the public through glass walls. Be sure to visit the zoo's interpretive museum as well, which contains exhibitions about the zoo and its animals, information about the zoo's history, and film and video displays that educate visitors about nature.