You never really know what sort of attractions you’ll find hiding in Ohio.
Sometimes you have to drive for a few hours to find a hidden gem—but that’s perfectly OK. From natural wonders you’ll spend hours exploring to enchanted castles hiding in the forest, the following are some of the greatest destinations in the state that most Ohioans overlook. Nineteen is really just a start, so be sure to let us know what other attractions and places you would add to this list:
1. The Wilds (Cumberland)
Although Ohio is full of several impressive zoos, The Wilds in Cumberland offer a unique way to observe exotic animals. Depending on the tour option you choose, you can get an up-close encounter with the animals or board a Safari Transport so you can observe them (from a safe distance) roam freely while learning all about the rare and endangered species the facility conserves. You'll find The Wilds at 14000 International Rd., Cumberland, OH 43732.
2. Hell Hollow Wilderness Area (Thompson)
Explore rugged slopes, little-known waterfalls and a deep ravine at this underrated park in northeast Ohio. With more than 200 steps leading down into the ravine, it feels like you're temporarily traveling to another world. Hell Hollow Wilderness Area is located at 14437 Leroy Center Rd., Thompson, OH 44086.
3. The Glacial Grooves Memorial (Kelleys Island)
Although you'll have to take a ferry to see this natural wonder, it's absolutely worth it. Few people are aware that Kelleys Island is home to the largest accessible glacial grooves in the world. The Glacial Grooves Memorial measures 400 feet long and 35 feet wide. You'll find them at 739 Division St., Kelleys Island, OH 43438.
4. Glenlaurel Inn and Cottages (Rockbridge)
This lovely little romantic getaway features Scottish-themed decor, private decks with hot tubs, gourmet breakfast and dinners with bagpipe entertainment. Glenlaurel Inn and Cottages doesn't allow children or pets and is located at 14940 Mount Olive Rd., Rockbridge, OH 43149.
5. The Ohio Railway Museum (Worthington)
The Ohio Railway Museum is a great day trip destination for train enthusiasts and the whole family to enjoy. It’s a train station, museum and railroad that offers fun, round-trip demonstration rides on some of the streetcars and interurbans. The Ohio Railway Museum is located at 990 Proprietors Rd., Worthington, OH 43085.
6. Lake Erie Bluffs (Perry)
This stunning beachfront metropark features 600 acres, including 40-foot-high beach bluffs, 9,000 feet of shoreline and perfectly picturesque beaches. The park recently opened a 50-ft. coastal observation tower that features 360-degree breathtaking views of the lake and bluffs. It is located at 2901 Clark Rd., Perry, OH 44081.
7. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (Peninsula)
A ride aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in Peninsula is the perfect way to embrace the beauty of Ohio. You can take a scenic ride through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year until the first weekend in October. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is located at 1630 West Mill St., Peninsula, OH 44264.
8. Crystal Cave (Put-In-Bay)
Crystal Cave on South Bass Island is a hidden gem that most people don’t about. Imagine a cave of nothing but celestine crystals. Pretty cool, right? In fact, Crystal Cave is the largest known geode in the whole world—and it’s hiding right here in the Buckeye State. You'll find it at 978 Catawba Avenue, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456.
9. African Safari Wildlife Park (Port Clinton)
April Dray/Only In Your State
Port Clinton is home to a unique park that’s perfect for a family day trip. The African Safari Wildlife Park is a walk and drive-thru park that features exotic animals―many of which you can feed yourself. It is located at 267 S Lightner Road, Port Clinton, OH 43452.
10. The Chateau Laroche (Loveland)
April Dray/Only In Your State
Also known as the Loveland Castle, this lovely little medieval structure was built by hand—brick by brick—by one man, Sir Harry Andrews. Today, it is open for the public to view for $6 a person, and is operated by modern day knights. You can visit in October - March on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. The Loveland Castle Museum is located at 12025 Shore Rd., Loveland, OH 45140.
11. Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum (Hamilton)
Within this outdoor museum, you'll find a wide variety of sculptures standing in meadows, forests and gardens. The park also features an indoor Ancient Sculpture Museum, which displays Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Etruscan sculptures that are thousands of years old. Admission is $8 per person. Children ages 6 - 12 are $3 and children 5 and under are free. (Prices for special events vary.) Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park is located at 1763 Hamilton Cleves Rd., Hamilton, OH 45013.
12. Ohio Caverns (West Liberty)
West Liberty is home to "America's Most Colorful Caverns" that are sure to make you feel like you're exploring another planet. Within the Ohio Caverns is one of the world's largest and most perfectly formed stalactites. Crystal King is nearly five feet long, weighing an estimated 400 pounds, and is estimated to be more than 200,000 years old. Ohio Caverns is located at 2210 State Route 245 East, West Liberty, OH 43357.
13. Velvet Ice Cream Factory (Utica)
There’s no place quite like the Ye Olde Mill in Utica—where you can see how Velvet Ice Cream is made, take a free tour of the mill and try delicious flavors of ice cream you won’t find anywhere else. It is located at 11324 Mt Vernon Rd., Utica, OH 43080.
14. White Star Quarry (Gibsonburg)
Tucked away in the small town of Gibsonburg, Ohio, you’ll find White Star Quarry. It’s a little-known diving resort that Ohio explorers will fall in love with. (And if you’d rather not scuba dive, you can always check out the designated swimming area in the summer months or have a picnic by the quarry.) White Star Quarry is located at 901 S Main St., Gibsonburg, Ohio 43431.
15. Ravenwood Castle (New Plymouth)
If you’ve ever longed for a Medieval experience (complete with many of the comforts of home,) you’ll definitely want to check out Ravenwood Castle. This lovely little Medieval structure is tucked away in the scenic Hocking Hills in New Plymouth. You can choose to stay in a castle room or a Medieval Village Cottage. You can even camp in a gypsy wagon or stay in a cabin in the Huntsman's Hollow out back. This unique getaway is located at located at 65666 Bethel Rd., New Plymouth, OH 45654.
16. Spangler Candy Company (Bryan)
Tucked away in northwest Ohio in the small town of Bryan, you’ll find the Spangler Candy Company. It’s a privately-owned candy store, museum and factory you can tour via trolley on select days of the week. (On average, the factory produces 12 million Dum Dums per day!) You'll find it at 400 N Portland St., Bryan, OH 43506.
17. Landoll's Mohican Castle (Loudonville)
Landoll’s Mohican Castle is one of those pleasantly unexpected places—and when you step foot onto its grounds, you feel like you’ve stumbled across an enchanted Ohio secret. Located in Loudonville, this lovely little getaway features gorgeous suites, murder mystery dinners and other amenities sure to make you feel like the king/queen of this whimsical castle in the middle of the forest. You'll find it at 561 Twp. Rd. 3352, Loudonville, OH 44842.
18. Fostoria Rail Park (Fostoria)
Open 24/7, this little-known park is a hidden gem train enthusiasts will absolutely love. Also known as the Iron Triangle, the park is laid out in the shape of a triangle, situated between three railways. Fostoria, "a city built on rails," saw several railroads and inter-urban lines pass through town in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Today, trains continue to pass through town. In fact, more than 120 trains pass through Fostoria each day. This unique park is located at 499 S Poplar St. in Fostoria, Ohio.
19. National Museum of the United States Air Force (Dayton)
Learn about the history of our nation's development in aviation at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, where admission is FREE. It is located at 1100 Spaatz St., Dayton, OH 45431.
How many of these places have you been to? What other attractions would you add to this list? Share your experiences and recommendations with us!