The mid-western state of Ohio has a lot more to offer than you would assume on the surface. From modern cosmopolitan cities to lazy lakeside towns, and don't forget amazing BBQ, there is a little something for everyone in the Buckeye State. 

With the majority of the northern part of the state bordering one of the most stunning of the great lakes — Lake Erie — there is no shortage of lake beaches and secret island get-aways to escape to in Ohio. 

You just have to know where to look! To help kick-start your day trip bucket list, here is a list of some awesome spots for exploring and adventuring around Cleveland.

Visit the insane Ash Cave at Hocking Hills

Time from Cleveland: 3 hours
Where: Hocking County, Ohio

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This incredible natural wonder is breathtaking, and the best part — it's easy to access! It only takes a short walk along a well-paved trail to get there. Photos ops galore! 

Spend the day playing in the water at Middle Bass 

Time from Cleveland: 2.5 hours
Where: Ottawa County, Ohio

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You have to hop on a ferry to get to this lazy summer vacation island — just getting there is an adventure. Once there, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery, wildlife, and charming small town vibe this island town has to offer.

Enjoy the beautiful waters of Maumee Bay State Park

Time from Cleveland: 2 hours
Where: Jerusalem County, Ohio

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Need a place to escape to while in Ohio, check out the stunning Maumee Bay State Park on the quiet banks of Lake Erie. This state park has modern facilities offering everything you need for a day of adventure. From boat rentals to fishing equipment, there's a ton to do in this beautiful park.

Visit the charming seaside town of Marblehead

Time from Cleveland: 1 hour
Where: Ottawa County, Ohio

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This historic lighthouse sits at the tip of the scenic Marble Head Peninsula, an area that is known to attract summer tourists because of its beautiful shorelines and aquatic activities. This quaint waterfront village boasts picture-perfect sunrises, hometown restaurants, and friendly pubs. Basically, it's the perfect romantic getaway.

Enjoy the vibe of busy vacation town Put-in-Bay

Time from Cleveland: 2.5 hours
Where: South Bass Island 

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Put-in-Bay is the main town in South Bass Island and is a popular summer destination for tourists looking from an escape from the big city. The boardwalk at Put-in-Bay is all about lake-side charm. Stop at one of the many restaurants for a drink and a bite while you enjoy the view.

Enjoy the scenic charm of Headlands Beach State Park

Where: Painesville, Ohio
Time from Cleveland: 40 minutes

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This spot is home to the longest natural beach in Ohio. It's very popular in the summertime for city folks looking for a place to relax and unwind. They don't only have beaches to enjoy in the area, though. The park is filled with tons of other recreational facilities and activities as well, like easy hiking trails and fishing!

Visit the quaint historic district "German Village" in Columbus 

Time from Cleveland: 2 hours
Where: Hocking County, Ohio

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If you're less of a nature escape type of person and more of a city explorer, than check out this charming and historic neighborhood located in Columbus. This pedestrian neighborhood is filled with stunning preserved architecture and is a pleasure to explore.

Go on a real safari at "The Wilds" safari park

Time from Cleveland: 2 hours
Where: Cumberland, Ohio

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This is a place where you can go admire some beautiful animals but I wouldn't call it a zoo, it's an animals conservation center and safari park where animals get to roam around freely on the massive 9,154 acres land. Like a real safari park, you can even stay overnight!

Go hiking at the Nelson Ledges in Quarry Park

Time from Cleveland: 1 hour
Where: Garrettsville, Ohio

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The entrance to this national park is totally free. The park is home to some beautiful cascades and unique hiking trails. Located in the northwest of Ohio, the park is also perfect for bike rides and just a quick escape into nature. 

Explore the beautiful Luvin Lavender Farms

Time from Cleveland: 45 minutes
Where: Madison, Ohio

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Not only are lavender fields an absolute dream to wander through, this family-owned Lavender farm also boasts a gift shop filled with beautifully handcrafted products all made from their fresh lavender fields such as soaps, shampoos, and perfumes. 

Relax on the beaches of Bay Village on Lake Erie 

Time from Cleveland: 22 minutes
Where: Bay Village, Ohio

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Bay Village is a charming town located on the banks of Lake Erie. The main beach in the area that is popular with tourists and locals alike is called Huntington Beach. The beach is popular for its beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Another popular attraction in the village is the Lake Erie Nature & Science center, which is an awesome spot to bring the whole family. 

Visit the buzzing village of Geneva-on-the-Lake

Time from Cleveland: 1 hour
Where: Ashtabula County, Ohio

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If your idea of fun is exploring new towns, then definitely visit Geneva-on-the-lake. This prime vacationing town is buzzing with fun and visitors in the summer months, and its entertainment strip is filled with arcades, bars, restaurants and more!

Relax on the beaches of Geneva State Park

Time from Cleveland: 1 hour
Where: Ashtabula County, Ohio

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Located on the shores of Lake Erie this quiet park is a great place to enjoy the banks of the lake or go camping for a weekend. They have a whole range of accommodations available to good old fashion tent camping or fully equipped cabins as well.

Explore the colorful and scenic town of Granville 

Time from Cleveland: 2 hours
Where: Licking County, Ohio

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This colorful and scenic little town is the perfect place to go when you're looking for quaint New England vibe. I'm taking cute boutiques filled with local crafts and goods, charming local pubs and restaurants, basically that small community vibe you can't ever get in a big city. I'm not exaggerating,  the town's slogan is even "New England charm in the heart of Ohio."

Visit Cedar Point Amusement Park for a thrilling day

Time from Cleveland: 1 hour
Where: Sandusky, Ohio

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Cedar Point calls itself "the roller coaster capital of the world."  And they are not joking — the numbers speak for themselves. The park features a world-record 72 rides, including 17 roller coasters, that's only two behind the mega Six Flags. So if you love a good adrenaline rush, this place is for you.

Hunt for treasure at this famous antique barn

Time from Cleveland: 1.5 hours
Where: Alliance, Ohio

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This is the type of place that only locals and serious antiquers know of. If you're bored of seeing everyone with the same old Ikea decorations, make a trip out to this antique barn because you'll be sure to find something special and unique hiding there. 

Take a trip to Kauffman's Country Bakery for some local treats

Time from Cleveland: 1.5 hours
Where: Millersburg, Ohio

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This isn't just any kind of bakery; this is an Amish county bakery that is famous in this area of the state. They bake everything fresh each day. I mean everything. It's worth the day trip down if only just to bring some of these amazing country goodies back home. 

Visit the mysterious Ravenwood Castle

Time from Cleveland: 3 hours
Where: New Plymouth, Ohio

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Forget about Airbnb! Have you ever thought about staying overnight in a medieval castle? That's exactly the experience you will get at this B&B Ravenwood castle that's tucked away in the woods of the scenic Hocking Hills area of Ohio. If you're looking for an offbeat romantic get-away, look no further.

Spend a day relaxing in a Tranquility Salt Cave Spa

Time from Cleveland: 2 hours
Where: Columbus, Ohio

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You know that amazing feeling you get after spending a week by the ocean? You return home feeling refreshed and recharged, physically and mentally. There is something about the salt water and air that does wonders for the mind and soul. These salt cave spas are designed to mimic the healing nature of seawater without having to travel to the ocean. Take a trip to a unique wellness attraction in a while discovering Columbus Ohio, too.

Visit this beautiful sunflower farm 

Time from Cleveland: 20 minutes
Where: Avon, Ohio

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Sunflower farms are such a pleasure to roam through and are a wonderful photo taking opportunity. This sunflower farm is open to the public, and the great part is the fields are planted as a means to raise awareness and funds for children who are battling cancer. Late September is the best time of year to visit! 

Spend the day swimming at Nickle Plate Beach

Time from Cleveland: 1 hour
Where: Huron, Ohio

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If you're looking for a relaxing day on the lake with nothing more, nothing less, look no further than the very relaxed Nickle Plate Beach on Lake Erie. A large and pristine beach with fully functioning facilities, it's a great place to pop in for a dip.

Explore the lively village of Yellow Springs 

Time from Cleveland: 3 hours
Where: Greene County, Ohio

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The town of Yellow Spring Ohio is perfect if you're looking for a spot that's buzzing with activity in the summer months. This area is known for bringing tourists from the state and nearby to visit its local charm and calendar of festivals. With tons of cute shops and restaurants, there is always something to do and discover in this charming town.

Take a "cheese tour" around the state 

Time from Cleveland: 2 hours
Where: Sugar Creek, Ohio

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Some states are known for their wine, others for their landscapes, and some — for cheese. Few people know this, but Ohio is home to a lot of cheese manufacturers. If you're a fan of cheese you must check out some of the cheese farms that are open to the public, Heinis is just one of them. Check out the link for a list of the others!

Hunt for gold at the biggest antique mall in the state 

Time from Cleveland: 3 hours
Where: Hocking County, Ohio

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This is antique heaven. When I'm talking antiques, I don't just mean kitchenware and furniture, Heart Of Ohio Antique Center is one of the biggest in the country with 122, 000 square feet of stunning antiques. 

Explore the famous Topiary Park 

Time from Cleveland: 2 hours
Where: Columbus, Ohio

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This park is for art-lovers. It's famous for its beautifully trimmed garden statues which are modeled after famous painters Georges Seurat’s painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. This is the only park in the world that brings such a unique representation to this classic work of art.

Visit the beautiful shores of Pelee Island 

Time from Cleveland: 3 hours
Where: Ontario, Canada 

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The border of the U.S and Canada runs through Lake Erie, and Pelee island is technically located in Ontario, but the island can be accessed by ferry from the banks of Lake Erie in Ohio. The remote nature of this island is the main motivator to go there, and many of the attractions on the island are seasonal themselves. If you're looking to go on a unique adventure, a trip to Pelee Island might just do the trick. 

Visit Presque Isle Bay beaches 

Time from Cleveland: 1.5 hours
Where: Erie, PA 

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If you want to experience a beautiful beach but don't have the time to hop on a ferry or a drive too far, this is the spot. It doesn't get too overcrowded in the summer, and the area is full of fun and exciting recreational activities to do all summer. 

Visit the iconic Niagara Falls Ontario 

Time from Cleveland: 3 hours
Where: Ontario, Canada 

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Niagara Falls is a touch over 3 hours away from Cleaveland but well worth the drive. This is an iconic and jaw-dropping site that attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world each year. If you live within a couple of hours drive of this spot, you have no excuses not to visit. 

Spend a weekend outdoors at Mohican State Park 

Time from Cleveland: 1.5 hours
Where: Ashland County, Ohio

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If you're more into camping and canoeing and the whole great outdoor experience, visit the beautiful Mohican State Park with a special someone, family, or a big group of friends. There are tons of activities to do in the area, hiking and canoeing among many others. And there are some beautiful lookout points with scenic vistas to enjoy as well. 

Visit Conneaut Lake Park for an old-school amusement park and mini golf 

Time from Cleveland: 1.5 hours
Where: Conneaut Lake, PA

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This is a "historic" attraction park that looks like it has been frozen and preserved in time. This park has not only rides but also a mini-golf course, slash city, kiddie land, and a boardwalk and beach.  It's like everything you wanted from a summer day all wrapped into one neat little package. 

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