23 Essential Ohio Bucket List Activities and Food

Updated

Ohio is bordered by Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, making it a destination location that offers plenty to do in and around the state. While you may know the state as being home to seven presidents, 24 astronauts, and two Major League Baseball teams, there is much more to discover.

Jump ahead to these sections:

If you’re creating a travel bucket list for Ohio, consider adding several of the must-do items on our list. You may not be able to do it all, but we know you’ll love everything you fit in.

Ohio Bucket List Trip Destinations

Are you looking for a spot where you can stay for a while and explore? Check out these fun destination areas that offer plenty to do all year long.

1. Get your adventure on at Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Hills is one of Ohio’s most-loved state parks, and once you get there, you’ll see why. Abundant hiking trails and rock formations, waterfalls, and caves all call the eager traveler to explore. Plan to spend a good half-day or more for the hiking lovers in your group.

2. Go spelunking in the Ohio Caverns

Head over to West Liberty, Ohio, where you’ll find an underground wonderland dubbed “America’s Most Colorful Caverns.” Choose from a variety of tour options while there and treat the entire group to sights of awe and wonder as you wander passageways filled with stalagmites, stalactites, and intriguing cave formations.

3. Explore Amish country

Ohio is famous for its large Amish and Mennonite communities. Not only is a drive through the area well worth it for its scenic beauty, but there is plenty to explore and discover. From Lehman’s Hardware and Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen to Walnut Creek Cheese and Schrock’s Heritage Village, there is so much to do you might want to stay a few days.

Outdoor Activity, Hike, and Adventure Bucket List Ideas for Ohio

Ready for some hiking and outdoors fun? Check out these bucket list adventures!

Pro tip: When you make a travel bucket list, consider grouping activities based on activity level. 

4. Hike Brandywine Falls

Deep inside Cuyahoga Valley National Park, you’ll find Ohio’s most treasured waterfall, Brandywine Falls. Plan time for your hike to the falls and extra time for exploring the rest of the park.

5. Go on a safari

You don’t have to go to the deepest part of Africa to satisfy your desire for a safari. Just head over to The Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio. Here, you can board a safari transport to watch animals roam free while you learn about them. Expect to see animals ranging from giraffes and rhinos to cheetahs and endangered species.

6. Fulfill your need for speed at Cedar Point and Kings Island

You may not know it, but Ohio has some of the best amusement parks and rollercoasters in the nation. Cedar Point and Kings Island are by far the cream of the crop. If you have adrenaline junkies in your group, you’ll be glad you planned a visit.

Spring and Summer Ohio Bucket List Ideas

Spring and summer are perfect times to visit Ohio. Expect plenty of sunshine, beautiful weather, and lots to do.

7. Tour a lighthouse

Think there are no lighthouses inland? Think again! Lake Erie is home to Marblehead Lighthouse, a fully-functioning lighthouse that is open to the public. Learn about its history in the keeper’s house museum and tour the lighthouse itself for $2. Then, enjoy walking around or picnicking on the grounds. 

8. Explore a real castle

Château Laroche, more commonly known as Loveland Castle, is a Medieval-style structure that was constructed one brick at a time by a single builder. The castle is open year-round, and there are plenty of fun activities for the whole family to enjoy.

9. Cruise the Ohio River

Towns along the Ohio River offer riverboat cruises of all shapes and sizes for your enjoyment. Choose between a short sightseeing cruise to a wine cruise for couples to a sunset dinner cruise for the whole family.

Pro tip: Are the riverboats on the Ohio side fully booked? Check out BB Riverboats in Newport, Kentucky, just across the river!

10. Shop the West Side Market

This is one of the most well-known markets in all of Ohio, and it’s been up and running for more than 100 years. Wander through the area and purchase souvenirs, loads of locally crafted goods, and plenty of food for when you’re hungry.

Fall and Winter Ohio Bucket List Ideas

Fall and winter are great times of the year to visit, especially if you’re looking for that classic fall foliage. Whether you drive or ride the rails, stay indoors or explore outside, you’ll enjoy your visit.

11. Ride the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

Want a chance to tour the entire Cuyahoga Valley from the comfort of a rail car? Take a ride on the scenic railroad and treat yourself to stunning scenery, interesting history, and more. Choose from day rights, night rides, wine rides, dinner rides, and other themed rides offered on a seasonal basis.

12. Go on the Ashtabula Covered Bridge Tour

Though you can certainly do this tour during the spring or summer, there’s nothing like seeing covered bridges against a backdrop of stunning fall foliage. During this tour, you’ll drive through stunning scenery, America’s shortest and longest covered bridges, and 16 other beautiful bridges.

Pro tip: Stop into a local gas station or visitor’s center for an updated driving map that highlights the routes you can take.

13. Tour the world of food at Jungle Jim’s International Market

You’ve gone grocery shopping before but you’ve never seen anything like this! Jungle Jim’s has over 200,000 square feet of grocery space and over 180,000 products from around the world! The store is so large that they offer maps to all who enter and give pre-booked tours. 

Pro-tip: Call ahead to plan a tour at least a week or two in advance to make sure you get a spot.

14. Make discoveries at the Center of Science and Industry

Regularly touted as one of the best science museums in the US, the Center of Science and Industry offers much to do, explore, and discover. Every member of your party can get hands-on as they learn and take part in activities.

Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in Ohio

Feeling hungry? Check out these foodie finds from one end of Ohio to the other.

15. Chow down on Skyline Chili

You’ll be glad you put this on your food bucket list! Head over to Cincinnati and stop at Skyline Chili, where you’ll be served up a heaping plate of spaghetti topped with chili and heaped with a pile of cheese. It’s messy and gloriously delicious. Trust us, you’ll be glad you tried it.

16. Sip ice-cold, homemade root beer

Ohioans love their root beer and possibly nowhere more than the Root Beer Stand in Sharonville. They’ve been making it from scratch at this location since the 1950s, and they still use the same equipment they had back in 1957. This is the best and most authentic root beer at its finest.

17. Sample pierogies at Sokolowski’s University Inn

This Cleveland institution has been serving up delectable pierogies for generations. It’s loved by locals and tourists alike and has become a must-try spot. If you think you’ve heard of it, you probably have! The restaurant was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations.” Need we say more?

18. Enjoy ice cream at Jacky’s Depot in Maumee

Ohio is known for craft ice cream, and if you’re in the Northwest portion of the state, you’ll want to stop in at Jacky’s Depot. They make homemade ice cream daily and create both unique and traditional flavors for all to try. Want a little something more? Try their gourmet homemade ice cream sandwiches with cookies made fresh daily.

19. Fill up with Ohio’s best grilled cheese sandwich

Stop on over at the Melt Bar and Grilled and ask for their famous Parmageddon sandwich. It’s filled with potato and onion perogies, sauerkraut, and bubbling cheddar cheese. It’s amazing, and you might decide to go back to Ohio just for this.

Pro tip: There are 10 Melt Bar and Grilled locations across the state, so no matter where you travel, you might run into one!

Columbus, Ohio Bucket List Ideas

Columbus isn’t thought of as a destination spot as much as, say, the ever-popular Cincinnati, or “Cincy” as the locals say. However, there are plenty of things to do, and you’ll be glad you planned a stop in the state’s capital. 

20. Have fun at the Scioto Mile

Looking for a place that offers a whole day of fun for the family? Check out the Scioto Mile where you can find a splash park (during summer), miles of hiking and biking trails, an arts center, local cuisine, and more. 

21. Step back in time at the Ohio Village

Travel back to the 1890s the moment you step foot into the Ohio Village. In this real, working 1890s village, you’ll get to see what life was like back before modern conveniences, tour buildings, try gardening with 1890 implements, and listen to residents tell fascinating stories. This is a fun stop for the whole family.

22. Catch a fun festival

Columbus is home to numerous festivals including the Italian Festival, the Asian Festival, the Dublin Irish Festival, the Arts Festival, and the Jazz and Rib Fest. Head out for a day of activities, food, and adventure at either one of these well-attended events.

23. Have an up-close encounter at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Get up close to all sorts of animals and sea creatures when you spend the day at Columbus’ well-loved zoo and aquarium. There are activities and adventures that will delight animal-lovers of all ages, and you’ll want to plan at least a half a day to check it all out!

Enjoy Your Time in Amazing Ohio

The Buckeye State is loaded with fun, adventurous activities for the whole family. Whether you want to hike and discover or explore and learn, there’s something for everyone. In fact, there’s so much to do that we know we didn’t get it all in! Give us a shout if you travel to Ohio and discover a favorite activity that we didn’t include.

Categories:

Icons sourced from FlatIcon.