Ohio Holiday Planning Guide
Nicknamed the "Heart of It All" because of its heart-like shape, Ohio is perhaps best described as a mosaic of big cities and small towns, with vast tracts of farmland in between. Always a major industrial and political force in the country, the state has been home to eight American presidents and the Wright brothers, inventors of the airplane. The first man to walk on the moon also hailed from Ohio, as have 23 other astronauts. More than just a shining star in science, industry, and politics, the state welcomes vacationers who come to visit both traditional sites, like Amish farms, and bustling cities with a great selection of things to do.
Places to Visit in OhioCleveland
: Newly revitalized and attracting an ever-increasing number of visitors, Cleveland's once gritty downtown today hosts world-class museums, hip music venues, and quirky shopping experiences. Its diverse neighborhoods include some superb ethnic restaurants.Cincinnati
: A lively and growing city, Cincinnati boasts one of the largest collections of Italianate architecture in the world along with European-style neighborhoods.Columbus
: Home to one of America's highest concentrations of students, Ohio's capital city of Columbus has a youthful feel and budget-friendly prices. Its position at the meeting point of the "Bible Belt," the Great Plains, and Appalachia keeps things diverse. Sandusky
: Best known for its large amusement park, Sandusky is also home to a historical downtown and a charming waterfront area. Butler County
: Offering a rich and diverse assortment of historical landmarks, museums, and monuments, Butler County is a top Ohio vacation for history aficionados.West Chester
: West Chester is the proud host of the biggest indoor train-themed entertainment center in the world, along with some excellent shopping and dining destinations.Dayton
: Home of the Wright brothers, Dayton continues its reputation for intellectual excellence today with superb museums and cultural centers. It's Miami River shores provide a pleasant place to rest the mind.
Things to Do in Ohio
Popular Ohio Tourist AttractionsCedar Point Amusement Park
: Opened in 1870, the famed Cedar Point Amusement Park has grown to encompass 72 rides along with family-friendly games and attractions. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
: Narrating the story of rock music and highlighting some of its most influential protagonists, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a must for the musically minded.National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
: The world's largest and oldest military aviation museum, National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, showcases more than 360 aircraft and missiles. West Side Market
: West Side Market was established in 1840, making it Cleveland's oldest market space; today hundreds of sellers congregate here to sell fruit, vegetables, and other foodstuffs. Kings Island
: Kings Island is best known for its superb wooden roller coasters, but the popular park also offers more than 80 other rides rides, shows, attractions. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
: Home to the oldest zoo building in the United States, parts of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden have been designated as National Historic Landmarks. However, its tigers, gorillas, and pythons tend to attract more visitors than its 19th-century architecture. Easton Town Center
: Easton Town Center has been designed to resemble an early American town, however, its excellent array of stores and ethnic restaurants give away its 20th-century services. Columbus Zoo
: Columbus Zoo provides a safe home for more than 7,000 animals from all over the world. The Cleveland Museum of Art
: The proud owner of over 40,000 permanent works, the Cleveland Museum of Art is best known for its Asian and Egyptian collections. Cincinnati Museum Center
: Housed in a working Art Deco train station, Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal includes several museums, a library, and an Omnimax theater, along with travelling exhibitions that are featured throughout the year.
Planning a Ohio Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Ohio with Kids
Home to big cities, small towns, and great expanses of nature, the state of Ohio has something to suit all families and tastes. Cincinnati
is the ideal place to teach your little ones about American history, as it offers a number of child-friendly museums and historic sites. If you've got sports-crazy kids, include Cleveland
in your Ohio itinerary, where you can watch the Cleveland Indians or Cleveland Browns play. Sandusky
is not to be missed by thrill-seeking families with active children who will enjoy Cedar Point Amusement Park
, Challenge Park activity center, and Soak City waterpark. If you’re looking for more relaxed and traditional fun with your little ones, head to Geneva on the Lake
. Situated on Lake Erie, this classic resort town is home to arcades, water slides, restaurants, and miniature golf. At Hocking Hills State Park
, you’ll find ample opportunities for outdoor adventure as you explore towering rock formations, 14.5 km (9 mi) of hiking trails, a 17-acre lake, and a number of accommodation options, including camping.
Things to Do in Ohio with Kids
Cedar Point may be the state's most famous amusement park but the thrills and spills don't stop there, with Kings Island
and Coney Island
offering up heaps of rollercoasters and family attractions. Cincinnati Museum Center
is a fantastic destination for a family day out; you can appreciate the Art Deco building and your kids can enjoy the Duke Energy Children's Museum. For more child-oriented learning, visit OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children's Center for Science & Technology
or Little Buckeye Children's Museum"
on your Ohio trip. The Cincinnati Art Museum
includes a number of kid-friendly exhibits and was ranked the "Top Art Museum for Families" by Parenting magazine. The state's working Amish farms provide lots of activities for little ones; kids can feed animals and enjoy a wagon ride at The Farm at Walnut Creek
Tips for a Family Vacation in Ohio
As is the case with most U.S. states, traveling by car is the best bet for your Ohio vacation. Public transportation is limited outside major cities, making it a challenge to transport your whole family between towns and attractions without your own vehicle. Pack games, snacks, and audiobooks to keep your younger passengers entertained on long drives.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Ohio
Cuisine of Ohio
Though influenced by its "Corn Belt" positioning, the Midwestern state of Ohio has far more to offer foodies than just grain. Many of its most distinctive dishes are a product of its historic European immigrant communities, particularly those from Central and Eastern Europe. Cincinnati
has been deeply influenced by its German heritage, so you’ll find multiple Bavarian restaurants here. The German-inspired dish goetta can be found almost exclusively in the Greater Cincinnati area. Inspired by stripgutze, it is a sausage pattie made from pork and oats typically served for breakfast. Perhaps the only dish that can be considered more quintessentially local is the city’s Cincinnati chili, which features a Greek-inspired meat sauce served over spaghetti or hot dogs.
has been known for its predominantly blue-collar demographic, so it’s not surprising that many of the city's iconic dishes focus on hearty and inexpensive ingredients. Its numerous large immigrant groups have also played a large role in the metropolis' gastronomic development. A number of Polish dishes, such as pierogi (fried dumplings) and kielbasa (a thin sausage) have become staples of the city, with the latter incorporated into a popular Cleveland sandwich called Polish Boy. Hungarian dishes such as paprikash, and Italian specialities, including rigatoni, can also be found throughout the city.
If you're craving something sweet on your Ohio holiday, look no further than the Buckeye--the unofficial state candy. It is a local variation of a peanut butter cup, featuring peanut butter fudge coated in chocolate but leaving some of the fudge exposed to resemble the chestnut that grows on the state tree, the buckeye. Alternatively, pick up some traditionally baked treats at one of the state's many Amish bakeries. The plethora of fruits that grow in Ohio's great swathes of fertile farmland offer a healthy dessert option. The tropical-tasting pawpaw, America's largest tree fruit, grows in southeastern Ohio.
Shopping in Ohio
Ohio offers up a wide variety of shopping destinations, ranging from mega malls to farm shops, with the major cities, such as Columbus
, providing the state's most diverse destinations. Cleveland
combines shopping with historical Ohio sightseeing, featuring its 19th-century West Side Market
and Old Arcade
. The arcade, which contains a number of stores and restaurants, was built in 1890 and was first building in the city to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Serious shoppers will want to take a tour of Columbus' Easton Town Center
, an outdoor shopping center packed with over 200 stores, and the Dayton
Mall which encompasses over 150 shops. If you prefer a more sedate shopping experience, take a trip to some of the handmade craft shops and antique emporiums of Ohio's Amish County, Berlin
and Walnut Creek
contain some particularly popular stores.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Ohio
History of Ohio
Ohio's history includes millennia of human activity, with Paleo-Indian, Archaic, and Native American populations living on the land for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. The Adena, Hopewell, and Mississippian tribes represent some of the cultures that resided in the region. Visit Hopewell Culture National Historical Park
on your Ohio trip to witness the largest collection of Hopewell burial mounds in North America and learn more about the Hopewell culture.
In the mid-17th century, the Iroquois claimed Ohio as hunting grounds during a series of brutal conflicts known as the Beaver Wars, killing and assimilating existing tribes such as the Erie and Shawnee. War and epidemics (spread from European settlers) emptied Ohio of its indigenous people. However, it was later repopulated as Native American groups slowly moved westwards, driven by the expansion of colonialist settlements along the Atlantic Coast. The Ohio History Connection
showcases a wide variety of Native American artifacts from this period.
The French became the first modern Europeans to explore Ohio, and in 1663 the country incorporated it into New France, a royal province of the French Empire. They set up a system of trading posts to control the fur trade that had extended to the region. Great Britain also laid claim to the area and succeeded in gaining control in the French and Indian War, a conflict that embroiled the Native American population.
In July 1783, British control over Ohio came to an end with the American Revolution, in which all claims over the land were ceded to the newly created United States of America. The United States created the Northwest Territory, and European Americans began to settle in the area. Native Americans resisted the settlement in the Northwest Indian War but were defeated in 1794 and forced to relinquish much of present-day Ohio to the United States. To learn more about life as a European settler on your Ohio trip, visit Beaver Creek State Park's
recreated pioneer village. Although many Native Americans migrated further west to resist American encroachment, a significant number remained in Ohio. In 1830, the U.S. government forced the remaining Indian tribes into designated Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River.
The U.S. Congress banned slavery in the Northwest Territory. Although this could have been overturned when Ohio became a state in 1803, its citizens chose not to do so. The state became a key stop on the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses used by African Americans to escape from southern slave states to the free states of the north. Include the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
in your Ohio itinerary to learn more about slavery in America and this iconic route.
Ohio's central position earned it an important role in during the American Civil War. Not only was the Ohio River and the state's railroad vital for troop and supply movements, its population contributed more soldiers per-capita than any other state in the Union. A number of important generals came from Ohio, including Ulysses S. Grant, whose birthplace
is available to tour.
After the Union's victory in the Civil War, Ohio became a major industrial state and attracted a great number of immigrants from Europe. Though it is less dependent on industry today, Ohio remains a global player within the U.S. economy.
Landscape of Ohio
Although Ohio generally conjures up images of rolling plains, its landscape consists of three distinct topographical regions. In the north, Ohio borders Lake Erie, one of America's Great Lakes, providing the state with 502 km (312 mi) of sandy shoreline and undulating hills. In the east, Ohio becomes rugged and forested as it approaches the Appalachian Mountains. If you include this region on your Ohio tour, you can admire the state's highest peaks, including the 469 m (1,539 ft) Campbell Hill. The Central or Till Plains dominate the western portion of the state with a gentle rolling landscape that includes some of the most fertile farming regions in the United States. In the south, the hills that cover much of Ohio decrease in altitude as they reach Ohio River, which forms the state's southern border.
Holidays & Festivals in Ohio
Attending an Ohio festival or holiday event is a fun and informative way to learn more about the state's local culture and food. If your Ohio trip falls during the summer, don't miss the opportunity to witness the Ohio State Fair in Columbus
--one of the largest state fairs in the United States. Dating back to 1850, the 12-day festival celebrates Ohio's people, products, and achievements with stalls, live music, competitions, and rides.
You can find evidence of Ohio's German heritage during any time of year, but nowhere is it more proudly displayed than at Cincinnati's
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, based on the Munich original. It's the largest of its kind in the U.S., with around 500,000 attendees enjoying German food, music, and, of course, beer. The annual Sauerkraut Festival, held in Waynesville
, provides a further taste of many Buckeyes' German ancestry. If cabbage isn't your thing, head to Albany for the annual pawpaw festival, where competitions such as a pawpaw cook off and pawpaw eating contest take place.
Ohio Travel Tips
Climate of Ohio
With a humid continental climate throughout most of the state, Ohio experiences hot, humid summers, warm springs, crisp autumns, and cold winters. The Bluegrass region in the southern part of the state generally experiences slightly warmer temperatures at it straddles the northern periphery of the U.S.'s humid subtropical region. Precipitation is moderate year-round, but some regions suffer from heavy winter snowfall, especially the southeast shore of Lake Erie, dubbed “the Snowbelt.”
Transportation in Ohio
Although it's America's 16th smallest state, Ohio has the nation's 10th largest highway network. Car is certainly king in Ohio, and you will struggle to see much of the state without access to your own vehicle. That being said, Amtrak offers three passenger routes through Ohio, serving Toledo
, and Cincinnati
. Popular long-distance bus company Greyhound also connects some of the state's cities and major towns and can serve as an economical, though sometimes inefficient, way to tour Ohio. Keen cyclists might want to make use of Ohio's well-developed network of state bicycle routes, several of which follow railroad trails and offer picturesque scenery.