7 Best Day Trips from Columbus Ohio

September 18th, 2020 by

A Columbus park is lit up at dusk.

If you’re looking to explore the area in and around Columbus, Ohio, then you’re in for a treat. There’s so much to do around the Ohio capital because of its great location in the center of the state. From here, you can easily get to neighboring cities like Cleveland and Cincinnati, or visit all the surrounding attractions in the Buckeye State.

Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Hills is a State Park area that lies about an hour to the southeast of Columbus and services nearly four million visitors each year. Hikers, bikers, canoers, and nature enthusiasts can enjoy the different trails and waterways throughout the park. There’s plenty to see and explore, including caves, cliffs, and waterfalls. Popular landmarks within Hocking Hills include Old Man’s Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Whispering Cave, and Conkle’s Hollow. Campers are also welcome and can choose from over 100 available campsites. For alternative lodging options, book one of the available cabins, lodges, or cottages and enjoy your stay in comfort.

The Wilds is a non-profit conservation center located about an hour and 20 minutes to the east of Columbus. The conservation land sits on about 10,000 acres of land that was once a coal mining area for many decades. Now, The Wilds serves as an essential resource for connecting people and wildlife and teaching everyone about important environmental issues.

Within The Wilds, you can enjoy a unique safari-like experience that includes fishing, zip line tours, horseback riding, and more. And, of course, you can see plenty of wildlife! You might have the opportunity to see animals such as rhinos, giraffes, and many other rare species.

While a visit to The Wilds is certainly going to be an exhilarating experience, always remember that it should be an educational experience as well. Over its decades-long history, the area has been transformed into a beautiful and natural area where wildlife can grow and flourish. If we learn how to coexist with our environment and animal neighbors, we can take better care of our planet and its inhabitants, including ourselves.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Nearly two hours to the northeast of Columbus lies the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Established as the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area in 1974, the Cuyahoga Valley has become a welcome refuge for local urban dwellers seeking nature’s respite. Although the park sits just south of the busy city of Cleveland, the 33,000 acres of nature offer plenty of space to get lost in an outdoor paradise.

There are hiking trails and bike paths to explore, plus plenty of other activities to keep you entertained. Canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and horseback riding are all commonplace, and there’s even a scenic railroad for the train enthusiasts. Kids can learn about being a park ranger or park scientist, and everyone can gain knowledge on the local history, flora, and fauna.

A waterfall is shown in Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Columbus, OH.

Cincinnati

The city of Cincinnati lies about an hour and a half away from Columbus to the southwest, making it a fairly easy destination for a day trip. Even better, The Queen City is well worth the short drive away if you’re up for a day trip. For families, attractions like the Cincinnati Zoo and Newport Aquarium can provide plenty of entertainment for your day out. Or, you might opt for a visit to the Kings Island amusement park instead for a day of fun-filled rides and laughter.

For a fun and free experience, check out the beautiful scenic areas of the city. The Great Miami Riverway is a perfect area to walk around and explore. You can also check out the Cincinnati Art Museum or the Hauck Botanical Gardens. In Cincinnati, there are activities for all ages and plenty to do throughout the whole year.

Cleveland

For a visit to a popular city in the opposite direction of Cincinnati, try out Cleveland. Located about two hours northeast of Columbus along the banks of Lake Erie, here you’ll find the home of the Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Cavaliers. Within Cleveland and nearby, you’ll find popular attractions like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Cedar Point amusement park. There’s also the Children’s Museum of Cleveland and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

For more of an outdoorsy vibe, check out the Cleveland Metroparks. The Cleveland Metroparks consists of over 300 miles of hiking trails and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, a 183-acre facility housing over 3,000 different animals. Entrance to the 18 separate parks that make up Cleveland Metroparks is completely free, which makes for an ideal day out that doesn’t break the bank.

A horse and buggy are in front of a house in Amish Country.

Amish Country

Amish Country is a rural area and community in northeastern Ohio, about two hours away from Columbus. It’s not necessarily one city or landmark, but rather a collection of restaurants, antique shops, outdoor activities, and much more. The residents of the area are predominantly Amish, so it’s important to be respectful of their beliefs and culture.

Within Amish Country, you can visit one-of-a-kind shops to buy handmade crafts and goods. Possibly the best part, though, is engaging with the friendly locals and taking part in a traditional Amish meal. Dinners are always family-style and prepared with local ingredients, so you know you’re in for a unique experience. You also know the food is going to be good witht options like peach pie, Amish noodles, peanut butter spread, buckwheat pancakes, and broasted chicken. The list goes on and on – which means a day trip might actually not be enough to get your fill!

German Village

If you don’t want to leave Columbus at all, just pay a visit to one of its well-known districts by heading over to the German Village. This historic neighborhood was originally settled by a large number of German immigrants in the middle of the 19th century, and their presence is still felt today. The architecture of the neighborhood has been well maintained, but it’s a natural feel and not one created for tourists.

If you want to visit German Village, it’s easy to get around. The neighborhood structures are densely packed together, and it’s easy to walk from one destination to another. As you stroll around the area, be sure to check out the unique shops, restaurants, and other businesses. You can find multiple art galleries, pubs, and a variety of dining establishments.

Enjoy Your Day Around Columbus

As you can see, there’s no shortage of things to do if you’re in Columbus, Ohio. From an outside perspective, Ohio may not seem like a happening place, but that’s clearly not the case. Where else can you go on day trips within the U.S. and experience authentic German cuisine and culture, a special safari adventure, real Amish heritage, and so much more? Ohio is in an ideal location for outdoor activities, and Columbus is in the perfect spot for quick and easy trips to have these experiences.

And let’s not forget the city itself. With a rich and vibrant history, Columbus houses neighborhoods like the German Village where you can step back into the past and taste a bit of the old days. Or, just stroll around the city and relax in one of the many public parks. With so much to do in the area, where are you going to start?

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