Looking for outdoor attractions in Ohio? We’re sharing 30 of our favorite outdoor places to visit in Ohio to show you how diverse our state is.
One of the best things about living in Ohio is the abundance of outdoor activities to enjoy throughout the year. From the shores of Lake Erie in northern Ohio to the rolling hills of Appalachia in southeast Ohio, there are outdoor adventures for everyone. From city parks and gardens to National Forests and even a National Park, these are the top Ohio outdoor attractions to visit this summer! Don’t forget to grab your free printable bucket list at the end of the post!
The Top Outdoor Attractions in Ohio
If you’re looking for things to do outdoors in Ohio right now (and who isn’t?) we’d love for you to consider some of the best outdoor places to visit in Ohio that happen to be our favorites.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Ohio’s first and only national park covers 50 square miles between Cleveland and Akron. One of the highlights of the park is the 20-mile Towpath Trail, a bike path along the Ohio and Erie Canal. You can bike one way and take the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad back to your starting point. There are also great hiking trails, waterfalls, and historic sites.
Find more information and addresses for the park on their website.
Leo Petroglyph Site
Just outside the village of Leo in southeast Ohio, there is a petroglyph site featuring 37 rock carvings of humans and animals. The Leo Petroglyphs can easily be seen on a short walk from the nearby parking lot, so you don’t need to allocate a lot of time here. However, there is a one-mail trail that loops around the top of the gorge, if you are looking for more outdoor time.
Address: 400 Park Rd, Ray, OH 45672
Worden’s Ledges are located in the Hinckley Reservation of Cleveland Metroparks. This is both a natural attraction and a quirky roadside attraction. The Worden family homestead stood at this site until 2017, but the ledges and their unique carvings remain for visitors to see. Following a nearby trail for about one mile, you’ll see all kinds of unique stone carvings, from an Egyptian Sphinx to Ty Cobb and George Washington.
Address: Wordens Ledges Loop Trail, Hinckley, OH 44233
Another interesting spot in the Hinckley Reservation is Whipp’s Ledges. Popular with rock climbers, Whipp’s Ledges are known more for their natural beauty than the artistic transformation of nearby Worden’s Ledges. Even if you prefer to keep your feet on the ground and leave rock climbing to others, Whipp’s Ledges is a great spot for a hike near Cleveland.
Address: Hinckley Lake Loop Trail, Hinckley, OH 44233
Malabar Farm State Park
Malabar Farm State Park is a local favorite spot for our family. There are 12 miles of trails for hiking, including the hike to the top of Mt. Jeez, one of the highest points in the county. There is a primitive campground if you want to spend the night and enjoy the park after the tourists go home.
Address: 4050 Bromfield Rd, Lucas, OH 44843
Mohican State Park
The Mohican region is known as the Camp and Canoe Capital of Ohio. At the center of the region is Mohican State Park, which is located on the south end of Pleasant Hill Lake. Surrounded by the Mohican-Memorial State Forest, there are outdoor activities year-round in Mohican State Park.
Address: 3116 OH-3, Loudonville, OH 44842
Headlands Beach State Park
If the outdoors for you means sandy shores and lapping waves, then Ohio’s longest natural beach is the perfect outdoor spot for you. You’ll have a hard time believing you’re in Ohio when you visit Headlands Beach State Park. There’s even a lighthouse and maritime museum here!
Address: 9601 Headlands Rd, Mentor, OH 44060
The Hocking Hills region surrounding Hocking Hills State Park near Athens is an outdoor adventure paradise. The State Park features over 20 miles of hiking trails, tons of cool waterfalls, and interesting rock formations. The greater Hocking Hills region features tons of cabin rentals and outdoor activities such as horseback riding and canoeing.
Check out our free Hocking Hills Scavenger Hunt.
Magee Marsh Wildlife Area
Between Toledo and Sandusky on the shores of Lake Erie, Magee Marsh draws birds and birders in great numbers every year. Specifically, the North American warblers stop here each spring during their migration route. Mid-May is the best time to visit Magee Marsh, although wildlife can be spotted here year-round.
Address: Oak Harbor, OH 43449
Maumee Bay State Park
Another great outdoor spot along Lake Erie near Toledo is Maumee Bay State Park. With one of Ohio’s state park lodges on-site, it’s easy to spend an entire weekend at Maumee Bay. The best part of visiting Maumee Bay State Park is the two-mile boardwalk that winds through meadows, swampland, and marshes, right next to the lodge.
Address: 1400 State Park Rd, Oregon, OH 43616
Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve
Just outside of Sandusky lies another coastal wetland area along Lake Erie. With over 300 bird species migrating through here each year, it’s a great spot for birding, wildlife spotting, and nature photography. Sheldon Marsh Nature Preserve has over four miles of walking trails and several diverse habitat areas.
Address: 2715 Cleveland Rd W, Huron, OH 44839
Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park
Just southwest of Columbus, this Metro Park encompasses 7,000 acres of prairies and wetlands. The preserve is also home to a herd of bison, which is a major draw to the park. There are several hiking trails, as well as gravel biking trails. Canoeing on Big and Little Darby Creek is another popular activity.
Address: 1775 Darby Creek Dr, Galloway, OH 43119
Deer Creek State Park
Surrounding the shores of Deer Creek Lake southwest of Columbus, Deer Creek State Park has something for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. Deer Creek Lake is six miles long and offers ample boating opportunities for kayaks and fishing boats. Kayak rentals are offered on-site, and the Deer Creek State Park Lodge is the perfect place for an overnight stay.
Address: 20635 State Park Road 20, Mt Sterling, OH 43143
Salt Fork State Park
Ohio’s largest state park has more than 17,000 acres for visitors to enjoy. Swimming, boating, and hiking are all options for your trip to Salt Fork State Park. However, many people visit Salt Fork State Park for another reason entirely: a potential Bigfoot sighting. Over 30 sightings have been reported, and the park now capitalizes on the rumors with monthly Bigfoot hikes and an annual weekend celebration.
Address: 14755 Cadiz Rd, Lore City, OH 43755
Wayne National Forest
Covering nearly 250,000 acres of Appalachian land in southeast Ohio, this is the only National Forest in Ohio. In an area of this size, outdoor opportunities are endless. Backpacking, hiking, and mountain biking are all popular activities in Wayne National Forest. Additionally, it is home to the largest OHV trail system in Ohio.
If you enjoy seeking out covered bridges you may want to check out our post about Covered Bridges in Marietta. There are several in the forest.
Visit the website for addresses for the park.
In the northern suburbs of Cincinnati, Sharon Woods offers a nature-based getaway. Featuring a lake and several hiking and biking paths, the park is popular with local joggers and dog-walkers. Schrock Lake is great for fishing, and the entire park is a good place to spot wildlife like turkey and deer.
Address: 11450 Lebanon Rd, Sharonville, OH 45241
This metro park north of Dayton offers a more formal outdoor experience in Ohio. Founded in the 1970s as a horticultural center, Wegerzyn Gardens has ten formal gardens, including a Children’s Discovery Garden. A nature trail weaves through the gardens, and a boardwalk trail leads you into a Swamp Forest.
Address: 1301 E Siebenthaler Ave, Dayton, OH 45414
Smale Riverfront Park
For a more urban outdoor experience, check out Cincinnati’s Smale Riverfront Park. Covering 45 acres along the Ohio River, Smale Riverfront Park features a splash pad and playground for kids, as well as a paved path for biking, walking or rollerblading. If you’re on a romantic getaway in Cincinnati, an evening walk along the riverfront is the perfect nightcap.
Address: 166 W Mehring Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202
One of Ohio’s more mysterious outdoor attractions is the Serpent Mound near Ohio Brush Creek in Adams County. Not much is known about the origin of this mound, but it must have been of some significance, as it is over 1,300 feet long! In fact, it’s the largest serpent effigy in the world. You can also visit the nearby Serpent Mound Museum.
Address: 3850 OH-73, Peebles, OH 45660
40 minutes east of Columbus in the town of Newark, the Dawes Arboretum contains nearly 2,000 acres of plants, gardens, and natural areas. There are 12 miles of hiking trails, and a four-mile driving tour if you prefer. The Japanese Garden is particularly impressive, and I recommend visiting during several different seasons to see how the gardens change.
Address: 7770 Jacksontown Rd, Newark, OH 43056
Ye Olde Mill
Just 30 minutes from Dawes Arboretum is Ye Olde Mill, which was once one of the largest mills in Ohio. Today, it is the corporate headquarters of Velvet Ice Cream. While the main draw is the ice cream tour and museum (which is currently closed due to Covid restrictions), there are still plenty of outdoor things to do at Ye Olde Mill.
Address: 11324 Mount Vernon Road, Utica, Ohio, 43080
Lake View Cemetery
Interesting cemeteries are one of my favorite roadside attractions to check out when traveling. Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery contains many interesting memorials, monuments, and mausoleums. The James A Garfield Memorial is an imposing monument to our 20th President. You can even climb to the top for excellent views of Cleveland.
Address: 12316 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106
Historic Roscoe Village
Coshocton’s Historic Roscoe Village is a great way to step back in time and enjoy some time outdoors. This 18th-century canal town has been restored to its original glory. Start at the visitors center before setting off to explore the various exhibits and attractions. Don’t miss the opportunity to take a boat tour on the canal!
Address: 600 N Whitewoman St, Coshocton, OH 43812
Peterson Park near Cedarville is a great place for an afternoon stroll through the woods. Within Indian Mound Reserve, Cedar Cliff Falls is a 20-foot man-made waterfall at the site of a former grist mill. You can also climb to the top of one of the mounds for aerial views of the park.
Address: 2750 US-42, Cedarville, OH 45314
Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheatre
For outdoor entertainment, head to Chillicothe’s Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheatre. Featuring Broadway hits like Mama Mia and the recurring productions of Tecumseh, attendees enjoy an entertaining night under the stars. (The theatre is closed for the 2020 season, and is scheduled to reopen in the summer of 2021.)
Ohio’s first “summer resort” is a great place to get outside in Ohio. This small village on the shores of Lake Erie offers a step back to a simpler time. Geneva State Park has beautiful wild beaches, while the Adventure Zone offers fun entertainment for the whole family. As an added bonus, Geneva-on-the-Lake is in the heart of Ohio’s wine country.
Why not turn this day trip into an overnight getaway and book a lodge room or cabin by the lake? Check out this review of a kid-free getaway to Geneva-on-the-Lake.
Address: 4499 Padanarum Rd, Geneva, OH 44041
This safari park and conservation center near Cumberland is a great place to view wild animals in an open area rather than confined pens of a zoo. The Wilds is fun for the whole family, as kids and adults alike will love seeing camels, wild horses, and even rhinos! The park offers a zipline and several different safari tour options.
Address: 14000 International Rd, Cumberland, OH 43732
Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum
Located in Butler County northwest of Cincinnati, this outdoor sculpture park is a must for art enthusiasts. 80 giant sculptures are scattered across 300 acres of the park, as well as an Ancient Sculpture Museum that contains sculptures dating to 1550 BC. For those not interested or able to hike to all of the sculptures, you can rent a golf cart for a tour of the park.
Address: 1763 Hamilton Cleves Rd, Hamilton, OH 45013
Alum Creek State Park
Just 25 minutes north of Columbus, Alum Creek State Park includes the 4,630-acre reservoir formed when Alum Creek was dammed in 1974. There are ten miles of hiking trails, 14 miles of mountain biking trails, and 38 miles of bridle trails. There’s also a swimming beach and a campground with nearly 300 sites, which also happens to be the site of one of our favorite Christmas light displays in Ohio.
Address: Lewis Center Rd, Lewis Center, OH 43035
Lake Erie Islands
The islands of Lake Erie offer a ton of outdoor recreation opportunities. The hardest part is choosing which island to visit! Kelley’s Island offers a more relaxed atmosphere, with sandy beaches and historic sites that include glacial grooves! On South Bass Island, Put-In-Bay is another great place to spend the weekend outdoors, albeit in a more festive atmosphere.
FREE Ohio Outdoors Bucket List
Explore Ohio outdoors and keep track of your outings with our handy bucket list. Simply download it here or click on the image below:
If you’re spending time outdoors, don’t forget these Must-have items:
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Do you have a favorite outdoor Ohio attraction you’d add to this list? Leave a comment and share it with us.