Road trips don’t have to be expensive.
Aside from the gas you’ll need to purchase to arrive at your destination, Ohio is full of several fantastic day trip destinations that require little to no spending money. This summer, take advantage of the sunshine and get out there and explore your home state. (You might surprised by how much fun you’ll have.) The following are 11 of our favorite road trip destinations in Ohio that won’t break the bank:
1. 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.
2. Baylor Beach Park (Navarre)
Unless you're a local, you've likely never heard of Baylor Beach Park, which features a 2-acre manmade swimming lake with sandy beaches. It's picture perfect for a family day of fun in the sun, as there are activities for all ages here. Regular admission on Monday - Thursday is $7 and $8 on Friday - Sunday. You'll find it at 8777 Manchester Ave. S.W. Navarre, OH 44662.
3. Olander Park System's Fossil Park (Sylvania)
Release your inner paleontologist and fossil hunt at the Olander Park System's Fossil Park in Sylvania. Admission and fossil hunting are free, and the fossil park is open from April 11 - November 13. It is located at 5675 Centennial Rd., Sylvania, OH, 43560.
4. Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum (Hamilton)
Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park in Hamilton, Ohio is a hidden gem you need to explore this summer. Year-round, it’s a fun day trip destination you can spend hours exploring. 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.
5. Hocking Hills (Logan)
April Dray/Only In Your State
Spend a day or two hiking in one of the state's most beautiful regions. You can't go wrong with any of the parks or nature preserves within the Hocking Hills. They're all gorgeous and free of charge to explore. (If you’ve yet to take hike the Old Man’s Cave trail within Hocking Hills State Park, you’re truly missing out. It’s arguably the most beautiful hiking trail in Ohio—and it will make you feel like you’re temporarily living in a Lord of the Rings film.)
6. 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.
7. Idle-Hour Ranch (Troy)
Idle-Hour Ranch in Troy, Ohio offers visitors a truly unique experience with animals you wouldn’t really expect to find in Ohio. From camels to elephants, you never know what you’ll encounter at this family owned and operated ranch. It takes the concept of a petting zoo to a whole other level. Admission is $10 for children 3-12 and seniors 65+, $12 for adults 13+ and children 2 and under are free. It's located at 4845 W Fenner Rd., Troy, OH 45373.
8. Headlands Beach State Park (Mentor)
Headlands Beach State Park in Mentor, Ohio features a mile-long natural sand beach that’s unbelievably picturesque. A beach day here will make you temporarily forget you’re in Ohio—because Lake Erie really is our own special sort of ocean here. With free admission and free parking, it's a great family day trip destination.
9. Oak Openings (Swanton)
Close to Toledo you'll find what's considered to be Ohio's rarest ecosystem (and one of the world's rarest ecosystems) where rare plants and animals, oak forests, sand dunes, savannas, tall-grass prairies and swamp forests all thrive in harmony. The Oak Openings Preserve Metropark is located at 4139 Girdham Rd., Swanton, OH 43558.
10. Art museums
Ohio is full of several impressive art museums that are free of charge, including The Cleveland Museum of Art (pictured) and The Toledo Museum of Art.
11. Marblehead Lighthouse State Park (Marblehead)
Picnic at Marblehead Lighthouse, which is the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes, and visit the lighthouse’s museum in the Keeper’s House. Tour the actual lighthouse for just $2. You'll find it at 110 Lighthouse Dr., Marblehead, OH 43440.
How many of these places have you visited? What other road trip destinations would you add to this list? Share your thoughts and experiences with us!