Ohio’s scenic byways provide lake views, charming small towns, covered bridges, and so much more that you’ll want to road trip along all 27.
When you think of Ohio, you may not think that’s the ultimate destination for a road trip. I’ve been trying to change that. I love living in Ohio and visiting attractions and destinations around this very diverse state!
You can count on me to share art trails, roadside attractions, small towns that we love, and romantic getaways but today I’m sharing another passion of mine. Scenic Byways. With 27 to choose from, Ohio has something for everyone!
What is a National Scenic Byway Anyway?
Wikipedia describes a scenic byway is a specific route recognized by the United States Department of Transportation of having a special feature. One of those special features has to include archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic.
With my love or road tripping, it’s only natural that I’ve traveled on some of these scenic byways. I’d love to share some of my favorites with you so follow along as we take you on several road trips right here in Ohio.
Road Trip Ohio’s Scenic Byways
Chances are you’ve heard of the Lincoln Highway. This unique and scenic byway is also an important part of America’s history as it was the first road to go all the way across America. Starting in Times Square and ending in San Francisco, the road connects hundreds of small towns and cities along the way.
In Ohio, the Lincoln Highway runs from East Liverpool to Van Wert. You enter the highway coming east on U.S. 30.
It’s my goal to one-day van camp the entire “Main Street Across America” route.
You will see brick paved sections, many historic buildings, and Lincoln Highway markers along the way.
- Gorgeous murals in downtown Bucyrus
- A reproduction of a 1928 Lincoln Highway marker in Mansfield
- An original 1928 Lincoln Highway marker in Massillon
Things to do along the Lincoln Highway
The National Road
Another scenic byway and well-known route in Ohio is called The National Road. Construction started in 1811 to connect the western settlements to the established towns of the east and was the first federally funded road in history.
The road was primarily bypassed when I-70 was built, but if you have the time to stay off the highway, you won’t be disappointed by what you find.
- The S bridges you’ll find in Guernsey County
- The Y Bridge in Zanesville
- Madonna of the Trail in Springfield
- The National Road- Zane Grey Museum
Things to do along the National Road
The Hartman Rock Garden is Ohio’s Most Unique Tourist Attraction
Hocking Hills Scenic Byway
If you live in Ohio, you’ve heard of Hocking Hills. However, have you heard of the Hocking Hills Scenic Byway? If not, this is something you must check out as it’s probably the most scenic byway on my list.
This byway begins on State Route 374 at US 33 in Rockbridge. The drive itself is picturesque and if you take time to get out of the vehicle and stretch your legs along the way, the views along the trails will transport you to another world. There’s a reason the area draws millions of people each year.
- Old Man’s Cave, Rock House, Conkle’s Hollow
- Ash Cave (accessible hiking trail)
- The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls- stop into the on-site restaurant, Kindred Spirits for one of their famous brownies.
Amish Country Byway
The Amish Country Byway takes you through the heart of Holmes County, the most heavily populated Amish community in Ohio. The serene byway travels through town and along the backroads where you’ll find the roadway full of gentle curves and rolling hills dotted with Amish homes, schoolhouses, and home businesses.
Along the Amish Country Byway, you’ll find plenty of Amish cooking and shopping. However, you’ll also have access to the history of the Amish and German people that settled here at the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center. This byway is around 160 miles long and you’ll enjoy every mile.
Pack your camera but please be respectful of the Amish way of life and refrain from taking photos of the Amish.
- The World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock
- The Victorian House Museum in Millersburg
Things to do along the Amish Country Byway
Darby Plains Byway
Darby Plains Byway is unique in the fact that you will be driving through what used to be prairies before European settlement. Like many of Ohio’s Scenic Byways, you’ll want to slow down and savor the drive.
In the 1800s, there were about 1,000 square miles of prairie that covered the area. As you drive through the Darby Plains Byway, you will discover many nature preserves, parks, and covered bridges!
- Century farms
- Old homes
- A scenic river
Things to do along Darby Plains Byway
Wally Road Scenic Byway
Wally Road may not be the most well-known scenic byway. You may even be wondering why this road is considered a byway in the first place. I’ll tell you. This historical road was once a popular railroad route.
Today, Wally Road is known as the largest outdoor recreational complex in the state of Ohio. With dozens of campgrounds, vacation properties, canoe liveries as well as the popular Great Mohican Pow-Wow that takes place each year. With all the great hiking trails in nearby Mohican State Park, this hub of outdoor fun is worth checking out.
Part of the route follows the Mohican River. You’ll also see wetlands, farmlands, and gently rolling hills on the Wally Road Scenic Byway. It is also the only scenic byway that is partially unpaved.
- The Mohican Reservation, home of the annual Great Mohican Pow-Wow
- A schoolhouse from the 1800s at Mohican Wilderness
- Bald Eagle and Bobcat sightings
Things to do along Wally Road
Johnny Appleseed Historic Byway
We’ve all heard of Johnny Appleseed, but have you heard of the Johnny Appleseed Historic Byway? This byway is over 30 miles long and runs through Loudonville and Mansfield and State Route 603 and past some of my favorite area attractions.
Johnny Chapman was popular for planting apple seeds throughout Ohio and surrounding states. Along this road, you’ll spot some of Chapman’s original landholdings and nurseries. Visit one of my favorite state parks to see where the pioneer settlers lived and to learn about Native American culture.
- Malabar Farm State Park (take in the view from the top of Mt. Jeez)
- The Workman Cabin in Loudonville’s Central Park
- A Pioneer Cemetery in Perrysville
Things to do along the Johnny Appleseed Historic Byway
Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail
The Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail follows Lake Erie along 293-miles from Pennsylvania to Toledo. You’re sure to find something of interest along the way.
Because of the location along Lake Erie, you’ll find historic lighthouses, big cities, and small villages. Whether you want to fish or shop, you won’t run out of things to do along this historic and scenic byway.
Don’t miss our Lake Erie Lighthouses Road Trip post that provides information and directions (via Google map) to all the must-see lighthouses along the great lake.
If you don’t have time to see the lighthouses but want to plan some stops to get out and stretch, we also share the best spots to find Lake Erie Beach Glass in this post.
- The Cuyahoga Valley National Park
- The Lagoons of Vermilion
- Johnson’s Island Confederate Cemetery
Things to do along the Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail
Leaf-Peeping Along Ohio’s Lake Erie Coastal Byway
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The Ohio River Scenic Byway
Last, but not least is The Ohio River Scenic Byway. This byway covers 14 counties in southern Ohio and travels the entire length of the Ohio River in Ohio. The history found here in the rural landscapes and river towns will fascinate you and the views are incredible!
- Chilo Lock 34 Park
- The Rankin House which was used in the Underground Railroad
As you can see, there are plenty of road trips worth driving in Ohio. It’s my goal to drive each and every one of them by the end of 2020! Too ambitious? You’ll have to follow along to find out.
What is your favorite part of driving along a scenic byway?
This post was originally published in January 2020.