My youngest son was four when he broke the news to me that he was going to be a soldier. He never wavered.
My grandfather’s had both served, but we didn’t come from a “military family.” I didn’t discourage him, but I didn’t want to romanticize war and military life. When he was younger, I sought out veterans that he could talk to and we went to a ton of military museums in Ohio. Some of those are listed below.
Whether you have a child who is considering serving our country or you’re simply interested in history, I think you’ll enjoy checking out some or all of these.
Military Museums in Ohio
From the world’s largest Doric column that symbolizes peace between two countries, to the largest D-Day reenactment in the country, to a national museum to honor our veterans, you’ll find plenty of memorials and monuments to honor our military in Ohio. Listed are some of each.
American Civil War Museum of Ohio
Address: 217 S Washington St, Tiffin
Tiffin’s 1915 Post Office now houses eight rooms of Civil War exhibits, including artifacts, informational displays, dioramas, and audio-visual tools.
Start your visit to the American Civil War Museum of Ohio with the 20-minute film, “Ohio’s Role in the Civil War” before you explore the 10,000 square feet of exhibit space.
For kids, there are hands-on experiences, and period clothing to try on. They also have a research library with hundreds of Civil War-themed books, and a gift shop with additional titles.
Boneyfiddle Military Museum
Address: 421 Front St, Portsmouth
This Portsmouth Ohio Military Museum is small but informative and interesting. With an emphasis on local history, the museum honors Ohio veterans and military personnel. They have military vehicles, uniforms, photographs, medals, and other archives.
Special events include reenactments on Memorial Day.
This is a small museum, so it’s best to call ahead to make sure they will be open when you are passing through.
Butler County Soldiers, Sailors, and Pioneers Monument
Address: 1 S Monument Ave, Hamilton
This downtown Hamilton monument is a stunning tribute to the soldiers, sailors, and pioneers of Butler County. Located at the original site of Fort Hamilton, you can go inside the monument to see the vast collection of Civil War artifacts.
The Butler County Historical Society also has an extensive list of Butler County residents who have served in conflicts going back to World War I.
Rotating exhibits feature uniforms, photos, and artifacts from all of the wars represented at the monument.
Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery
2900 Sullivant Ave, Columbus
This Columbus cemetery was once a Civil War POW camp, and therefore houses a handful of Union graves, as well as 2,000 Confederate graves.
There are not many Confederate cemeteries in the north, so this is a unique opportunity if you are near Columbus.
Camp Chase is also reputed to be haunted by a lady who lays flowers on a certain soldier’s grave.
The Cuyahoga County Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument
3 Public Square, Cleveland
The Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument stands in Public Square and chances are, if you”ve ever driven downtown, you’ve see this gorgeous structure. But, did you know that you can go inside too?
The monument was built in 1894 by the Veterans of the Civil War to honor those from Cuyahoga County who served as well as other great men who aided in ending slavery.
The monument was designed by architect Levi T. Schofield who utilized every inch – inside and out- of this unique monument to tell Ohio’s story in the war.
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
If you’re intrigued by the memorial’s design, make sure you check out our Levi T. Schofield Road Trip through Ohio.
283 Buffalo St, Conneaut
If you have an interest in World War II, then mark your calendars for this annual summer event in Northeast Ohio. Each August, Conneaut hosts the largest D-Day reenactment in the country.
Since 1999, D-Day Conneaut has brought thousands of spectators to the shores of Lake Erie for the three-day event that includes artillery and tank firing, big band performances, boat rides, weapon demonstrations, and more!
If you can’t make it in August, Conneaut also has a D-Day museum that is free to visit and is open on weekends from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Fort Amanda Park
22800 OH-198, Lima
Just outside of Lima, Fort Amanda is a small park and cemetery on the Auglaize River.
Originally, Fort Amanda was an Army supply depot during the War of 1812 and was one of a series of forts that General William Henry Harrison built throughout Ohio. While the fort is no longer standing, there is a monument in its place, as well as historic plaques and a cemetery.
There are also walking trails and a boat launch, making this the perfect spot to combine outdoor adventure and education!
Fort Jennings Fort Fest
360 N Water St, Fort Jennings
Another fort on the Auglaize River is Fort Jennings, Ohio. The original fort was built in 1812, and the village was settled around 1850.
Since 2012, a group of local veterans and military supporters have been gathering for Fort Fest, a celebration of veterans past, present, and future. The three-day event happens each August and features war encampments, POW displays, morning colors, gun raffles, reenactments, and more. The event kicks off with a biker escort, and each night also features live entertainment.
If you miss the event, you can also visit Memorial Hall in Fort Jennings.
Fort Laurens Museum
11067 Fort Laurens Rd NW, Bolivar
Set on the banks of the Tuscarawas River in northeast Ohio, Fort Laurens is the site of the only Revolutionary War fort in Ohio.
Originally built in 1778 as a wilderness outpost, the Fort is no longer standing, but a fantastic museum sits in its place. Inside, you can watch an informative video and see artifacts that have been excavated from the site.
The Fort Laurens’ Tomb of the Unknown Patriot is also located here. In addition to fun events throughout the summer, they have an annual Revolutionary War Reenactment in July.
Fort Meigs Historic Site
29100 W River Rd, Perrysburg
Set on the Maumee River in present-day Perrysburg, Fort Meigs played an important role in the War of 1812.
Today, you can visit the reconstructed fort and museum and learn about the British sieges on the fort, and its role as a supply depot afterward. The site includes the visitor center and museum, open year-round, and the fort, which is closed from November through March.
The fort has guided tours twice per day when it is open, and after-dark tours by lantern on select summer evenings. Reenactments and workshops are also held throughout the warmer months.
205 N Broadway St, Greenville
In northwest Ohio, Greenville is best known as the site of the 1795 Treaty of Greenville, between the United States and the Native Americans of the Northwest Territory.
The Garst Museum in Greenville is a great place to learn more about the treaty, as well as information about locals who served our country in most wars of our history.
The building itself is on the National Register of Historic Places. All told, there are over 300,000 artifacts on display.
George Rogers Clark Park
930 S Tecumseh Rd, Springfield
Colonel George Roger Clark was a Revolutionary War hero and namesake of the County and this park. You can visit the actual battlefield that made Kentucky-born Clark a war hero and learn more about him at the Davison Interpretation Center on-site.
George Rogers Clark Park is really geared for enjoying the outdoors, with fishing, hiking, and outdoor events, but each Labor Day historians gather for the Annual Fair at New Boston, a fun event with reenactments.
Historic Zoar Civil War Reenactment
D-Day Conneaut isn’t the only major military history event in Ohio. Historic Zoar Village, on the banks of the Tuscarawas River, is home to Ohio’s largest Civil War event.
Each September, hundreds of Civil War reenactors descend upon the village of Zoar for a weekend of reenactments and demonstrations.
You will be amazed at the events and activities they can pack into the Historic Zoar Civil War Reenactment over three days.
101 N Paint St #2427, Chillicothe
Need a gift for someone obsessed with military history? The History Store in Chillicothe has one of the largest collections of military figurines and miniatures in Ohio.
The store is practically a museum in its own right, so even if you’re not in the market for military collectibles, it’s still fun to browse.
From rare collectibles to whimsical toys and puzzles, there’s a little bit of everything in this unique Chillicothe shop.
Johnson’s Island Confederate Officers Prison Cemetery
Johnson’s Island, Marblehead, Ottawa County
Of the many Civil War sites in Ohio, this is one of the most significant. On the Marblehead Peninsula, Johnson’s Island was once the site of prisoners of a war camp of Confederate Soldiers.
Nearly 10,000 Confederate soldiers were imprisoned here between 1862 and 1865. Of course, many prisoners of war died in custody, so the prison cemetery has around 200 graves.
The cemetery is open daily from sunrise to sunset; to reach it, you’ll need to pay a toll to drive the causeway from Lakeside Marblehead.
Lauer Historical Farm
800 Roush Rd, Lima
Lauer Historical Farm is a fun place to visit any time of year, with a working farm, trails connecting to the Ottawa Metro Park and the Ottawa River Bikeway, and reservable facilities for private events.
But the reason it’s on this list is Lauer Farms 1944. This annual event is one of the largest WWII reenactments in Northeast Ohio.
Each October, over 150 reenactors put on a great show, with demonstrations, displays, and a speaker series.
Liberty Aviation Museum
3515 E State Rd, Port Clinton
Just next to the Erie-Ottawa International Airport, you’ll find the Liberty Aviation Museum. They have a fabulous collection of military memorabilia and a great gift shop.
This is a working museum, so you’ll often see various vehicles or aircraft under renovation, which is part of the fun.
The collection is housed in two hangars, so make sure you allow plenty of time to explore both areas.
They also have an on-site restaurant, the Tin Goose Diner, with a WWII-themed menu. The calendar of events is pretty fun, too!
MAPS Air Museum
2260 International Pkwy, North Canton
The MAPS Air Museum in North Canton is run by the Military Aviation Preservation Society (MAPS.)
This museum has over 130 educational displays, plus over 50 military aircraft in-house. The focus isn’t just on aircraft and vehicles; they’ve also taken great effort to highlight the veterans who served in the military.
There is a Medal of Honor display for the Ohio recipients of the award, as well as the Fallen Feathers Memorial of Ohio to honor all Ohioans lost in the War on Terror since September 11.
The museum is also home to one of the C-130’s that was part of the 179th Air Guard Base in Mansfield until the planes recent retirement.
Miami Valley Veterans Museum
2245 S Co Rd 25A, Troy
This museum in Troy was established to honor, preserve, and perpetuate the history of the veterans of Miami Valley.
What started as the private collection of a local veteran is now drawing visitors from all over Ohio and beyond. Continually a work in progress, the Miami Valley Veterans Museum is manned and maintained entirely by volunteers.
The museum also provides a meeting place for Miami Valley veterans and regularly hosts coffee gatherings.
Miami Valley Military History Museum
4 E Main St, Fairborn
Another Miami Valley military destination is the MV Military History Museum.
The collection used to be housed at the Dayton VA hospital but has since grown to its current location in Fairborn. Run entirely by volunteers, the collection is just one part of the museum.
They also offer a monthly speaker series and services like flag disposal and medal replacements.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday and on all patriotic holidays.
Mound Cold War Discovery Center
1075 Mound Rd, Miamisburg
For a more recent take on military history, the Mound Cold War Discovery Center is focused on the Cold War and is super informative.
The museum documents nuclear research and production in a building that was once part of the Dayton Project, which produced the trigger for the atomic bomb.
The museum displays are really well-done and fascinating for those interested in Cold War history. The facility also played an important role in the Space Race.
Fun fact: The museum name (Mound) comes from the Miamisburg Adena Indian Mound across the street.
Motts Military Museum, Inc.
5075 S Hamilton Rd, Groveport
Perhaps one of the most popular military museums in Ohio, Motts Military Museum was founded by George Motts in 1987.
After nearly a decade in his private home, the collection was moved to the current 5,000-square-foot facility.
Founder Warren Motts still frequents the museum, telling his personal stories about the collection. Exhibits date back to the Revolutionary War and continue in chronological order through the Vietnam War and Desert Storm, as well as military operations other than war, like NASA.
Many volunteers are also members of the military, making this a great spot to hear personal stories of the men and women who have served our country.
National Museum of the USAF
1100 Spaatz St, Dayton
By far one of the most popular military attractions in Ohio is the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force base near Dayton.
With nearly 400 aircraft and missiles on display, this is the largest and oldest military aviation museum in the world. And it’s free!
If you’re really into military history, you will want to spend at least two days exploring the vast collection of artifacts. It’s really that big!
Tip: Make sure you bring snacks or lunch because this is an all-day excursion.
National Veterans Memorial and Museum
300 W Broad St, Columbus
Set across the Scioto River from downtown Columbus, the National Veterans Memorial and Museum honors veterans from all branches of the armed forces.
As you approach the museum from the parking lots, the first thing you will notice is the striking design. The round, minimalist building is topped by a grass roof that offers amazing views of the Columbus skyline.
Inside, exhibits focus on telling individual stories through artifacts such as letters, photos, and films. The museum is very well-organized, following a timeline of historical events.
Workshops and special events are frequently held, and admission fees are waived for U.S. military Veterans, active-duty military members, and Gold Star families.
Ohio History Center
800 E 17th Ave, Columbus
The headquarters of the Ohio History Connection is not specific to military history, but this Columbus museum and research library has extensive archives you can access for your own research purposes.
If you have family who served in the military in Ohio, it’s quite possible you can find their paperwork and records in the archives.
They are part of a huge network of archives and records, including nearly 400 cultural heritage organizations from all over Ohio.
Ohio River Museum
601 Front St, Marietta
Rivers have always played an important part in military strategy, especially in earlier wars when soldiers traveled on foot or by horse. The Ohio River is no exception, and the Ohio River Museum sits at the confluence of the Muskingum River in Marietta.
For over 80 years, this museum has been educating locals and visitors with the vast collection that now includes a 1918 sternwheel towboat.
Three buildings house exhibits in chronological order, from “The Beginning of River Transportation” to “The Golden Age of River Travel.”
Ohio Veterans’ Memorial Park
8005 S Cleveland Massillon Rd, Clinton
Funded entirely by private donations, the Ohio Veterans’ Memorial Park started as a memorial wall to honor those lost in the Vietnam War. They have since added names of those lost to the War on Terror, with plans to add Korean War veterans as well.
The outdoor exhibit is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. In addition to offering a peaceful place for reflection, the memorial has the only Gold Star Father monument in the country.
There is no admission, but online donations are welcome.
Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial
93 Delaware Ave, Put-In-Bay
The Battle of Lake Erie was a key point in the War of 1812, and this National Park site in Ohio is the perfect place to learn about them.
Located at Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island. The Memorial namesake, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry led a fleet to victory in this key battle.
At 352 feet tall, the monument is the world’s tallest Doric column. The Peace Memorial is meant to celebrate long-lasting peace between the US and Canada, which is just five miles away.
Plan ahead and save time by purchasing tickets to the Observation Deck online before you go.
Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums
Spiegel Grove, Fremont
Before he became the 19th President of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes served in the Civil War and was wounded in action.
Adjacent to the library is Spiegel Grove, formerly the estate of President Hayes. The Hayes family was the first to establish a Presidential library that was open to the public.
The collection contains several archives from his military service and his political career.
Sherman House Museum
137 E Main St, Lancaster
William Tecumseh Sherman was a Union Army General during the Civil War and was once called the first “modern general” due to his policies and tactics.
He later succeeded Ulysses S. Grant as Commanding General of the Army, leading the United States’ response to the Indian Wars. His memoirs remain one of the most well-known accounts of the Civil War.
He was born in Lancaster, Ohio and his birthplace and childhood home are now the Sherman House Museum, where you can learn more about this interesting historical figure.
Tri-State Military Veterans Museum
101 E Barrister St, Belmont
Honoring the veterans of Ohio Valley, this museum aims to educate future generations about the price of freedom.
The Heroes Wall out front is a work in progress, as they are continually adding names of heroes to be honored forever. Inside, the museum is small, but informative, with photos, uniforms, medals, and military papers on display.
They also accept donations of artifacts to help them continue to grow their collection.
Tri-State Warbird Museum
4021 Borman Dr, Batavia
This historic aviation museum just outside Cincinnati houses at least ten historic aircraft, including a P-40M Kittyhawk built in 1943 and was once used by the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
In addition to aircraft, the museum also has several exhibits from World War II.
Many of their restored aircraft make appearances at airshows and flyovers around the region.
US Grant Boyhood Home and Schoolhouse
219 E Grant Ave, Georgetown
Ulysses S. Grant is one of the most notable figures of the Civil War. Born in Southwest Ohio, Grant fought in the Mexican War and then went on to become Commanding General of the Union Army when Civil War victory was declared.
Of course, he then became the 18th President and his boyhood home and schoolhouse is now a public museum.
Every April, Grant Days are celebrated and in 2022, they threw a bash for his 200th birthday.
1201 N Marginal Rd, Cleveland
This WWII Navy submarine now serves as a floating wartime museum on Lake Erie in Cleveland.
It’s a National Historic Landmark, and self-guided tours are offered daily from May through September.
The first mission for the USS Cod was in 1943 and it was eventually retired in 1946. In 1954, the sub was towed through the St. Lawrence Seaway to its current location in Cleveland.
In addition to serving as a museum, the submarine has also been featured in several Hollywood movies.
To learn more or for more things to do in Cleveland, check out my book Secret Cleveland: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure.
The Veterans Memorial Museum Foundation
123 S Main St, Germantown
Just outside Dayton, this small volunteer-run museum contains thousands of personal artifacts and memorabilia from Ohio veterans.
It’s a small museum, but there are many items of interest to those fascinated by military history.
Plus, you’ll likely have a chance to talk to some of the veterans who are operating the museum.
The War Vet Museum
23 E Main St, Canfield
This Canfield museum has over 40,000 artifacts going back to the Revolutionary War through the War on Terror.
The 3-story house where the museum resides is the oldest house in Canfield, built in 1809. The basement has a huge model railroad set, while the upper three floors house all of the military collections.
Everything here has been donated and the museum is run by volunteers. The museum is open only on Saturdays, or by appointment.
103rd OVI Civil War Museum
5501 Lake Rd, Sheffield Lake
This small museum near Lake Erie focuses solely on honoring local soldiers who served in the 103rd Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War.
The organization is run by direct descendants of the veterans.
Do you have a favorite military museum or memorial in Ohio? Share below so we can check it out.