When it comes to Ohio (and even American) history, the best place to find it is in the small towns and cities that often get overlooked.
The following are 12 towns and small cities in Ohio that simply don’t get enough attention. They have charm, scenery and an interesting story or two to tell. Be sure to add these 12 underrated towns to your Ohio bucket list—many of them make great day trip and weekend road trip destinations.
April Dray/Only In Your State
This gorgeous Warren County city is home to a beautiful downtown, several antique and gift shops, a scenic railway and more. Be sure to grab a meal (or stay overnight) at The Golden Lamb, which is Ohio's oldest continually operating hotel and restaurant. Established in 1803, it's hosted several famous guests such as Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and several U.S. Presidents.
2. Center of the World
Did you know the center of the world is actually right here in Ohio? Well, kind of. Actually, Ohio is just home to a small community named Center of the World, which most people don’t know about. Near Braceville Township, you'll find this unique (and tiny) community. It consists of homes and a few small retail establishments near the crossroads where State Routes 82 and 5 diverge.
The historic riverboat town of Marietta is known as the first permanent settlement of the Northwest Territory. The town borders West Virginia and is nestled along the banks of both the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers. It's also known for its Victorian-style houses, European ambience, brick streets and sternwheelers.
One of the most charming, overlooked towns in Ohio is Granville. It’s a quaint college town with New England charm, it’s full of history and there’s plenty to do and see. The town prides itself in its history and heritage. You'll find several historical markers and museums throughout town
This Montgomery County town is home to about 5,500 residents. With strong German roots, it's a charming town that was founded in 1804 by German-speaking settlers from Pennsylvania. Although it covers a little more than four square miles, there's a lot of history to observe in Germantown.
If you’ve ever heard of a tiny town called Peninsula, Ohio, you should know it’s a must-visit that belongs on your bucket list. Blending natural beauty with modern amenities, this town beautifully preserves a rural setting in an urban environment. It's a charming village that sits in the middle of the stunningly beautiful Cuyahoga Valley National Park
The small town of Zoar, Ohio is a historic German village most people in the state (surprisingly) don’t know about. Beautifully preserved and full of fun places to explore, you’ll fall in love with this little-known town. The village of Zoar has more than 50 of the original historic structures and buildings still standing today. Consequently, the town has preserved much of its old world charm.
April Dray/Only In Your State
Most people don't know Ohio's first capital was actually Chillicothe. Today, it's home to a historic downtown, Great Seal State Park, Mound City (also known as the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park) and other notable sites. This small city is a historic gem when it comes to Ohio history.
With more than 150 years of history, a charming train depot and an iconic deli, this small village that's home to just 2,700 residents is one of Ohio's most underrated small towns. Stroll the historic streets, visit the train museum, enjoy the local park and make a day trip out of Dennison.
10. Grand Rapids
If you try to find a village like the charming village of Grand Rapids, Ohio, you likely won’t be able to. Along the southern bank of the Maumee River, just southwest of Toledo, you’ll find a restored canal town that’s truly one of a kind. With a population of about 986, it’s a quaint place to live and the perfect place to visit for a day trip. (At the town's Providence Metropark, you can even ride on a canal boat pulled by mules down the restored Miami & Erie Canal.)
At the tip of the scenic Marblehead Peninsula the charming town of Marblehead features the iconic Marblehead Lighthouse, beautiful views of Lake Erie and Sandusky Bay and boating culture. The lighthouse is the Great Lakes' oldest continuously operating lighthouse and is open for tours during the summer.
The small city of Bellefontaine proudly claims "America’s Oldest Concrete Street," which dates all the way back to 1891. (Don’t worry; it’s not falling apart. It’s been maintained since the 19th-century.) Today, you can find the Court Avenue street sign by the courthouse, but you can no longer drive on the street itself. (As an added bonus, nearby is the "World's Shortest Street," McKinley Street, which is only 15 ft. long.)
Have you been to any of these towns before? What other underrated Ohio towns deserve a second look? Share your thoughts, experiences and recommendations with us!