Cleveland is a fantastic Midwest city to explore. Perched on the southern shore of Lake Erie, the city has evolved from a heavy industrial town to a multicultural hub of arts, culture, and nature. But once you’ve finished exploring all the city has to offer it’s time to explore new horizons.
People often ask, “What are the best day trips from Cleveland“? Not surprisingly, there are a lot of great day trips to explore. Here are a few of what we consider the best Ohio day trips.
Day Trips from Cleveland
Distance from Cleveland: 40 miles, or 45 minutes
Once known as the “Rubber Capital of the World,” Akron was home to several tire companies during the automotive boom of the early 20th century.
A late 20th-century revitalization project has successfully turned Akron into a fun city to explore, and a perfect day trip from Cleveland.
Boasting more than 6,000 acres of natural space, Akron is a great spot for nature lovers to explore. A few highlights to check out on your Akron day trip include:
- Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens known as one of America’s castles (TIP: Christmas is a fantastic time to visit because the home and grounds are decked out for the holidays)
- Akron Art Museum
- The Akron Zoo may be small but it’s actually one of my favorite zoos in Ohio. If you’re not up for a day at one of the larger zoos, Akron may be just what you need.
- Take a trip back in time at Hale Farm and Village
If you’re lucky, you may even see the Goodyear Blimp which docks at the Wingfoot Lake Airship Hangar. It’s on my bucket list to ride in the blimp someday. How cool would that be?
Distance from Cleveland: 60 miles, or one hour
In just one hour from Cleveland, you can be in Ohio’s wine country. Ashtabula and the surrounding Grand River Valley is an officially recognized American Viticultural Area, thanks to a unique climate created by Lake Erie to the north.
Ashtabula County is home to 32 wineries, many of which have tasting rooms and vineyards to explore in the warmer months.
Ashtabula County is also known as the Covered Bridge Capital of Ohio, boasting 19 covered bridges including both the longest and shortest in the state of Ohio! If the weather permits, you can pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the view of the Harpersfield Covered Bridge as it spans the Grand River from the picnic area in the park that sits along the river bank. .
If you enjoy searching for beach glass, you won’t want to miss stopping at the beach in Geneva State Park.
Distance from Cleveland: 60 miles, or 1:10
American football fans will be sure to know about this popular day trip from Cleveland.
Home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Canton is a must for any sports fan visiting Northern Ohio. Canton is widely recognized as the birthplace of the National Football League.
It is also the home of President William McKinley, so you can add The McKinley National Memorial and the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum to the list of things to see in Canton. McKinley isn’t the only president honored in Canton, you’ll find the First Ladies National Historic Site one of the unique places to visit to learn more about presidential histories.
Over the last decade, Canton has undergone a downtown revitalization project, adding great dining and entertainment options. While you’re here, I highly recommend stopping at The Rail for lunch!
Distance from Cleveland: 81 miles or 1:40
The largest Amish community in the world is located in northeast Ohio and a short drive from Cleveland!
This popular spot for year-round visits provides visitors a glimpse into the Amish culture. Amish Country is a series of small towns connected by rolling hills, farmland, and gorgeous scenic views.
You’ll find fresh produce stands, bakeries, plenty of gift shops, restaurants, and family fun.
Cheese lovers will find Heini’s Cheese Chalet a tasty stop, young families will adore the petting zoo at the Farm at Walnut Creek and wine lovers will enjoy trying the Dandelion Wine at Breitenbach Wine Cellars.
A few more highlights:
- The Ohio Star Theater
- The World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock
Visit the Lake Erie Islands: South Bass Island and Kelleys Island
Distance from Cleveland: 84 miles, or two hours
Did you know you can take a day trip to two popular islands from Cleveland?
As part of Lake Erie’s Shores and Islands, Kelleys Island is a fantastic little day trip from the greater Cleveland area.
From Marblehead, you take a 35-minute ferry trip to Kelleys Island, which is home to Glacial Grooves State Memorial, the largest example of exposed glacial grooves in the world!
Once you step off the ferry, grab a golf cart or bike rental and hit the streets!
Kelley’s Island State Park is an excellent place to experience, with beaches, short hiking trails, and gorgeous Lake Erie views. Downtown you’ll find a few shops to explore. Don’t forget to pop in to the Village Pump for their famous Brandy Alexander. You can thank me later.
South Bass Island
South Bass Island is accessible by ferry, private boat or plane and totally feels like it is a world away.
We suggest that you grab a 20-minute ride on the Miller Ferry at Catawba Island to reach South Bass. Once on the island, you can take a bus to downtown Put-in-Bay or rent a bike or golf cart. The latter is our preference.
Don’t miss the World’s Largest Doric Column which serves as Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial. When open, the observation deck provides an amazing birds-eye view of the surrounding islands.
Other top spots include Crystal Cave, the world’s largest geode, located at Heineman’s Winery, South Bass State Park which offers camping and an amazing view of the sunset and the Put-in-Bay Foodie Trail.
The Lobster Bisque at the Boardwalk or the Conch Fritters at The Keys are two of our favorite treats on the island.
For a more lively island day trip from Cleveland, check out how to spend a day in Put-In-Bay!
Distance from Cleveland: 62 miles, or 70 minutes
Another popular destination along the shores of Lake Erie is the adventure town of Sandusky.
Widely known as the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World,” Sandusky has plenty of things to explore on a day trip. Of course, Sandusky is home to Cedar Point Amusement Park. Cedar Point has absolutely grown to become an entire resort destination on the peninsula in Lake Erie. But that doesn’t mean its the only attraction worth seeing.
Not a fan of giant roller coasters? No worries; there are plenty of other things to do in Sandusky!
- Go for a spin at the Merry-Go-Round Museum
- Visit the Maritime Museum of Sandusky
- Take a self-guided walking tour of downtown Sandusky or take a Segway Tour from Sandusky Segwaves
- Hop aboard a boat tour or dinner cruise from Sandusky Bay
- Enjoy water sports like kayaking, SUP boards or parasailing
- Give axe throwing a chance at Noble Axes
- Enjoy a dip of ice cream from Toft’s- Ohio’s oldest dairy
Distance from Cleveland: 114 miles, or two hours
Another industrial Ohio town undergoing a modern renaissance is Toledo.
Just one hour from Detroit, Toledo has long played a crucial part in the automotive industry and was once known as “the Glass City.” After some tough times, Toledo is bouncing back and makes an excellent day trip from Cleveland.
You’ll still find a lot of glass, more often in art, but you might also find some beach glass along Toledo’s beaches. For shopping, dining, and entertainment, head to the Warehouse District.
For more time in nature, Toledo Metroparks have over 10,000 acres to explore.
Popular attractions in Toledo include the Toledo Museum of Art (don’t miss the Glass Pavilion), the Toledo Zoo which is known for its WPA architecture as well as the diverse collection of animals, and the National Museum of the Great Lakes where you can tour the SS Col. James M. Schoonmaker which was once the largest freighter in the world.
Plan a stop at the quirky Tony Packo’s original restaurant for lunch or dinner to complete your day trip.
Want to turn this into an overnight trip? We suggest checking in to the Renaissance Toledo Downtown Hotel that offers stunning river views.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Distance from Cleveland: 20 miles, or 30 minutes
Ohio’s only National Park is just two hours from Columbus, making it an easy day trip for spectacular scenery.
The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail cuts right through the park, making it the perfect National Park to explore on bicycle. There are also dozens of hiking trails and fantastic waterfalls. Blue Hen Falls and Brandywine Falls are two of the most popular waterfalls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
There’s also a covered bridge you can check out, as well as the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway which is a great way to view the park. Be sure to reserve tickets in advance!
Plan a stop at the Szalay’s Farm & Market and grab some picnic fixin’s and head to one of the picnic areas for a relaxing lunch. You’ll also find some great lunch spots in Peninsula as well. We personally enjoyed Fisher’s Pub & Grill but have heard The Winking Lizard is a good option too.
Distance from Cleveland: 80 miles, or 80 minutes
My hometown of Mansfield, Ohio is the perfect day trip from Cleveland. Also known as the Carousel Capital of Ohio, the small size of Mansfield means you can cover a lot of ground in one day and still be back in Cleveland by evening. Top things to do in Mansfield include:
op things to do in Mansfield include:
- A Guided Tour of the historic Ohio State Reformatory
- A stroll through Kingwood Center Gardens
- Malabar Farm State Park
- Viewing the eclectic collection in the Mansfield Memorial Museum
- A self-guided driving tour of the Shawshank Trail
Finally, let’s not forget there are so many cool things to do in Cleveland!
Some of the best places include world-class museums within the University Circle that include the Cleveland Museum of Art (one of my favorite art museums, anywhere), the Cleveland Botanical Garden, and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Other top attractions include games at Progressive Field, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (perfect for music lovers), Westside Market (check out the murals in Ohio City while you’re in the area), Little Italy, the Lake View Cemetery and let’s not forget the new Van Gogh Immersive Exhibit that is in town for a limited time.
Grab my book Secret Cleveland: a Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure for more information and more ideas of things to do in Cleveland and the surrounding area.