Summer is the time to truly seize the day. Take a weekend to road trip to a city, state park or small town you’ve seen before. Take a day and escape to your favorite, little-known lake. Or take the whole family to a nearby resort or camping destination for the week. Whatever free time you have, be sure to visit these 12 destinations everyone in Ohio should visit this summer:
1. Headlands Beach State Park (Mentor)
While Lake Erie is home to more than 30 beautiful beaches, Headlands Beach State Park in Mentor stands out among the rest. It is the largest natural sand beach in Ohio, and it features the Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse, a beloved local landmark. No summer in Ohio is complete without a day on this beach.
2. Holden Arboretum Canopy Walk (Kirtland)
Not many people are aware that Ohio is home to an incredible canopy walk. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful experience—unless you’re absolutely terrified of heights, that is. The Judith and Maynard H. Murch Canopy Walk at Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio features a 500 ft. long elevated walkway suspended 65 ft. above the forest floor. (And as an added bonus, there’s an observation tower on site that takes you up even further up—so much further that you end up above the trees.)
3. Put-In-Bay (South Bass Island)
South Bass Island, often called the “Secret Midwest Playground” is home to the small town of Put-In-Bay—which has plenty to do and see. Popular locations and attractions to check out are The Butterfly House, Adventure Bay Amusement Park, the Antique Car Museum, the Chocolate Museum, Put-In-Bay Winery, Kimberly’s Carousel, Perry's Cave and Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial.
4. Kelleys Island State Park (Kelleys Island)
In addition to the traditional camping options, Kelleys Island State Park features two yurts that sleep up to six. Each yurt features an efficiency kitchen, private bathroom with shower and a furnished living/dining area. It's a great camping destination for the whole family.
5. The Scioto Mile (Columbus)
This beloved riverfront park in Columbus features miles of recreational trails, a cultural arts center, water fountains, local food vendors and complimentary Wi-Fi. Be sure to check it out this summer if you haven't already.
6. Long’s Retreat Family Resort (Latham)
This southern Ohio family resort in Latham has transformed its swimming hole into a mini water park, complete with a splash pad, diving board and three water slides. Camp here in a tent, cabin or RV and make a weekend out of it.
7. Nelson Kennedy Ledges State Park (Nelson Township)
Nelson Kennedy Ledges provides a similar adventurous experience to Old Man's Cave. Portage County is home to this 160-acre park, which features rugged cliffs, unique hiking trails (complete with a "Dwarf's Pass," pictured above) and diverse plant life.
8. Tappan Lake (Uhrichsville)
Near a restored Indian village at Shoenbrunn State Park and the outdoor historical drama, "Trumpet in the Land," Tappan Lake serves as a popular camping destination. While you're here, be sure to check out the Moravian Trail Scenic Byway in addition to the usual camping activities available here such as boating, swimming and hiking.
9. Whiskey Island (Cleveland)
At the mouth of the Cuyahoga River you'll find this small Cleveland island, which features a 22-acre public park (known as Wendy Park) sand volleyball courts, a public marina and a bar/restaurant. It's a great way to spend a day away from the hustle of the city.
10. Clay’s Park Resort (North Lawerence)
At this camping resort, you have a unique option to choose from the traditional campsites if you wish. The canvas cabins at Clay's Park Resort in Lawrence are "where comfort meets a starry night." With custom, Amish built log furniture and wood platforms, these canvas tents feature one queen bed, one set of bunk beds and a trundle bed.
11. Ye Old Mill (Utica)
A visit to the Velvet Ice Cream Company and Ye Old Mill in Utica not only offers smooth, freshly made ice cream, but also an inside look into the production of it. It's a one-of-a-kind experience.
12. Baylor Beach Park (Navarre)
This 2-acre water park lake in Navarre features tons of family fun, including a miniature golf course, paddle boats and other amenities. Make a mini summer vacation out of it and camp at one of their 60 sites.