When planning a fun family vacation or romantic getaway, Ohio isn’t usually the first state that comes to mind. Nevertheless, the great state of Ohio has plenty to offer visitors of all ages and life stages. Here’s how to spend seven days in the Buckeye State.
Day 1: Arrive in Cleveland – Explore Downtown
For this itinerary, it is imperative to book a multi-city, roundtrip flight landing in Cleveland (CLE) and departing from Cincinnati (CVG) to preserve as many sightseeing hours as possible. Be sure to organize a rental car for pick-up at CLE and drop-off at CVG (although an additional fee might be added). Catch an early morning flight to Cleveland so you can enjoy your first afternoon exploring all that Downtown Cleveland has to offer. With the skyline skirting Lake Erie, Cleveland locals and visitors enjoy an abundance of restaurants, retailers, and music venues in a scenic setting. Knowledge-hungry tourists flock to museums such as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Hungarian Museum, and the Great Lakes Science Center. If museums aren’t up your alley, the famous house filmed in the holiday classic A Christmas Story sits only eight minutes outside of the downtown area (just keep a sharp eye out for Scott Farkus).
Day 2: Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Although Ohio isn’t home to vast mountain ranges, nature lovers can still find solace in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Less than 30 minutes south of Cleveland, spend your morning hiking one of the park’s many trails or biking along the park’s 19.5-mile Towpath Trail. Many Cuyahoga Valley hikes are family friendly and only mildly strenuous, with minimal to moderate elevation gain. Aboard the National Park Scenic Railroad, Cuyahoga Valley visitors enjoy a train ride through the park with the opportunity to spot wildlife such as beavers, otters, and deer along the Cuyahoga River. Visit www.cvsr.org/ to purchase tickets and find the most up-to-date train schedules and events.
Day 3: Drive to Columbus
Check out of your hotel, hop in your rental car, and head a little over two hours southwest to the city of Columbus. After checking in to your hotel, take the afternoon to wander through the streets of the German Village to admire the architecture of its brick homes. Take a stroll through Schiller park, taste the village’s traditional fudge, and scarf down a wiener schnitzel for dinner at one of the village’s numerous German restaurants and pubs.
Day 4: Hocking Hills State Park
About an hour south of Columbus, ditch the metropolis and spend your fourth day in Ohio at Hocking Hills State Park. Home to gorgeous waterfalls, hiking trails, caves, and rock formations, this state park is a local hotspot and popular among couples for a romantic getaway. There are numerous cabins and campsites throughout the park for those wishing to spend the night (or two). After a day spent chasing waterfalls, head back to Downtown Columbus and cool off over tasty tacos paired with a sparkling margarita (or a flight of three margaritas) at Condado Tacos. This modern and colorful cantina even has pineapple guacamole – need I say more?
Day 5: Drive to Cincinnati
On day five, it’s time to drive just under two hours southwest to the great city of Cincinnati. After checking into your hotel, take a peek at the Ohio River and walk along the Smale Riverfront Park. The picturesque John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge links Kentucky and Ohio and is close to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Cross the suspension bridge to check out the World Peace Bell Center, a museum home to the largest swinging bell in the world.
Day 6: Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
In case you missed seeing wildlife in Cuyahoga Valley and Hocking Hills, your final full day in Ohio is the perfect time to peruse the massive Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. Aside from the impressive list of animals residing within the zoo (you name it, they have it!), the botanical garden houses over 3,000 plant species. When you’ve seen every exhibit and are ready for your final dinner of the trip, kick back and relax at Senate Over the Rhine – an American eatery in Downtown Cincinnati. Senate OTR specializes in serving up comical staples such as the Carole Baskin hotdog topped with goat cheese and bacon, along with the Not Today Satan, a tequila-based cocktail sporting the unique combination of honey and cilantro.
Day 7: Depart Cincinnati (CVG)
Wake up early enough to make the 30-minute drive west to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG). Grab a latte at one of the many Starbucks throughout the airport, or sit down for a bagel at Bruegger’s before boarding your flight – just go easy on the onions to spare other passengers from your dragon breath on the plane.