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Visit Ohio for Family Vacations!

Updated on November 13, 2012

Why Visit Ohio?

When you decide to take a family vacation you may dream of exotic locations like tropical beaches or foreign countries with a lot of history and culture. Choosing a stateside destination may not be the most exotic option but it can be a lot of fun for the whole family. It is also a very affordable option and your money can go towards all the food and fun you will find in a place that is closer to home.

One great location for a family vacation is the Buckeye State of Ohio! If you have never been to Ohio let me assure you that is has more to offer than corn fields and Ohio State football. There are hundreds of exciting places to visit in Ohio and they are perfect for families. In Ohio you will many treasures... hidden castles, caves, beautiful lakes and waterfalls, unique museums, theme parks, amazing waterparks, and seasonal festivals galore. Even a house made of garbage!

My family calls Ohio home but every summer we find that we don't need to go far from home to have the perfect family vacation. Instead we have have many low cost ways to enjoy ourselves very close to home.

Photo Source: Deposit Photos

Best Travel Ohio Book for Families

KIDS LOVE OHIO: The newest and boldest edition yet! Hundreds of ideas for inexpensive, easy day trips or mini-vacations. More user-friendly. Save Time. More extensive reviews and insights. You will not find this kid-tested information all together in any other resource!

Castles in Ohio???

And here you thought you had to go all the way to Europe to see some castles didn't you? Not so. Ohio has at least 6 castles that you can tour. A couple of them even offer lodging and events, like weddings. What makes these castles so special is the story behind them and since it is US history that makes it all the more interesting.

The GreatStone Castle Bed and Breakfast in Sidney, Ohio is constructed of Bedford Indiana limestone, 18 inches thick, and features a wrap around porch supported by intricate stone columns. Three turrets give this massive structure its castle-like appearance. The bed and breakfast suites offer private baths, Victorian furniture, and fireplaces. There is also a spa on the lower floor. If you ever wanted to know what it would be like to live in a castle... here's your chance.

Ravenwood Castle is a fantasy world hidden in the beautiful Hocking Hills of Ohio. Fifty acres of forest and large rock formations surround the castle. Ravenwood Castle and Medieval Village offers enchanting castle rooms, delightful fairytale cottages or even a Gypsy wagon. It is an enchanting setting in one of Ohio's most beautiful areas.

Chateau Laroche in Loveland Ohio (pictured above) is the work of one man, Sire Harry Andrews, who started building the castle in 1929. When Mr. Andrews died at age 90 in 1981, the castle was willed to the Knights of the Golden Trail who now take care of it. You can tour the castle, host a wedding or event there, and visit it on Halloween when it is transformed into a haunted castle.

The Piatt Castles in West Liberty, Ohio were built by two wealthy brothers. They were named after the Mac-A-Cheek valley where they reside, Mac-A-Cheek and Mac-O-Chee. The names of the castles, the valley, and the stream that runs through it are all derived from the word, Macachack, the name of a Shawnee village that was located there in the late 1700s. One of them even has a secret underground passage found only 2 years ago. It led from the house to the conservatory. Both castles have their own chapels too, which was incredible to see.

Squire's Castle is a castle located in the North Chagrin Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks in Willoughby Hills, Ohio. It was built in the 1890s by Feargus B. Squire for use as the gatekeeper's house for his future country estate, which was never built. Willoughby Hills Public Library annually holds a history seminar there. The surrounding park offers a footpath, riding trails, cooking grills, and a large grassy field.

Mac-O-Chee Castle In Ohio

Mac-O-Chee Castle In Ohio
Mac-O-Chee Castle In Ohio
TV Studio inside COSI
TV Studio inside COSI

Ohio Museums and Art Galleries

Ohio has so many museums to visit I dare you to declare boredom!

In Central Ohio be sure not to miss COSI, the Center of Science and Industry. It is one of the country's finest science museums and if you go this summer be sure not to miss their Mummies Exhibit. They also have a submerged submarine kids can get inside, remote control hot air balloons and robots you can play with, and numerous other hands on experiences. There is an IMAX theatre too.

Also stop by the Columbus Museum of Art, the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, the Central Ohio Fire Museum, the Harding House, the Popcorn Museum, and the Kelton House Museum & Garden.

In Northeast Ohio hit up the Akron Art Museum, Akron Zoological Park, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Great Lakes Science Center, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and the William McKinley Presidential Library & Museum.

In Southern Ohio make sure to stop by the Cincinnati Art Museum, Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, and Southern Ohio Museum & Cultural Center.

The Ultimate in Entertainment!

Tecumseh is the name of the show and it is spectacular! It is an outdoor reenactment of the life story of the legendary Shawnee leader Tecumseh, as he struggles to defend his sacred homelands in the Ohio country during the late 1700's. It plays at the Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheatre and where else but outdoors could the audience be right there where the action is? Horses gallop around you, a live cannon is shot onstage, and you get an up close look at dazzling battle sequences. The script has been acclaimed as the best of its kind within the outdoor drama industry and continues to fascinate thousands each summer near Chillicothe, Ohio. Chillicothe is an hour south of Columbus and the show plays during the summer season only.

Seasonal Festivals & Events

One of the best things about summer and fall in Ohio are all the seasonal festivals and events! Here are just some of the festivals and events you can enjoy:

Asian Festival... Popcorn Festival... Bratwurst Festival... Strawberry Festival... Pumpkin Festival... Ice Cream Fest... Banana Split Festival... Columbus Arts Festival... Gene Autry Days... Hot Air Balloon Fest... Dublin Irish Festival... LillyFest... Red, White, And Boom... Corn Festival... Festival Latino... Zucchini Festival... AppleFest... Grape Jamboree... and more!!

The festivals draw people from many surrounding counties and the food is amazing. At the Circleville Pumpkin Festival for instance you can try pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin fudge, and pumpkin soup. Most of these events are held in small towns and several blocks are over taken with festivities. Not only do you get to have fun at a festival you also get to see these historic towns close-up. Ohio families will often travel to several of these amazing and unique festivals each summer and fall.

And for the men in your life there are plenty of sports events and cars shows to attend all year long.

Check Out Ohio's Gorgeous Lakes, Rivers, and Waterways!

Check Out Ohio's Gorgeous Lakes, Rivers, and Waterways!
Check Out Ohio's Gorgeous Lakes, Rivers, and Waterways!

Get the Scoop!

Pick up a copy of Ohio magazine. It is a great resource locals use to track all the seasonal events and shows that hit Ohio every year from the balloon festival in Grove City to the Irish Festival in Dublin. There are just too many to remember!

Ohio Magazine
Ohio Magazine

Ohio Magazine is savvy, dynamic and proud - just like its readers. Each issue explores the people, places and trends that define Ohios unique character and style. We tell you whos who, whats what and where to find the best things in Ohio life.


Why-Oh-Why-Oh Would You Ever Leave OHIO?

Natural Parks and Wonders In Ohio...

Ohio has so many beautiful parks you will be hardpressed to pick just one or two to visit. After Arizona, where I lived for many years, it is my favorite state for excellent camping, hiking, and park adventuring. Not only are the parks lovely, there are also many activities too. You can kayak, canoe, climb, bike, swim, rollarblade, take nature classes, go on guided tours, and even learn archery.

Hocking Hills (pictured above) can only described as one of those places where you can find a doorway to heaven. It is just otherwordly how beautiful this area is. It is FULL of must see locations... Ash Cave, Old Man's Cave, Cedar Falls, Conkles Hollow, the Rock House, the Rock Bridge, and many more.

Though a short distance from the urban environments of Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park seems worlds away. The winding Cuyahoga-the "crooked river" as named by American Indians-gives way to deep forests, rolling hills, and open farmlands. The park is a refuge for flora and fauna, gives a sense of times past, and provides recreation and solitude for Ohio's residents and visitors.

The Columbus Metro Parks are a network of 15 large parks near the capital city. Activities and nature abound at all of them. More than 23,500 acres of land and water in seven Central Ohio counties are ready to explore and Metro Parks offers free educational and recreational opportunities every day of the year.

See the book below for more locations!

Winter Sports In Ohio - Family Style!

Winter Sports In Ohio - Family Style!
Winter Sports In Ohio - Family Style!

50 Hikes in Ohio!

A lot of hiking can be found in a state as diverse and as committed to preserving its natural heritage as Ohio. In an extensive system of state parks, wildlife areas, natural preserves, and historic sites - not to mention the state-long Buckeye Trail - you will find trails that follow old wagon roads, primitive game paths, and abandoned railroad beds. The 50 hikes in this guide are grouped geographically and range over the entire state, from the rugged Appalachian plateau of Shawnee Forest in the south to the Ottawa Wildlife Refuge on the shores of Lake Erie. Even if you live in one of Ohio's major metropolitan areas, there's a hike just a short drive away. There are outings for every ability, from easy walks to rigorous overnight backpacks. Each hike write-up includes: trail access and parking information; route distance and hiking time; a contour map; and mile-by-mile directions. In addition, the author's commentary on plants and animals, geology and local history makes each hike a way to learn something new about a diverse and compelling region.

Columbus Zoo
Columbus Zoo

Zoos, Aquariums, and Waterparks

Ohio has some awesome zoos and waterparks. The two best zoos would have to be The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and the Cincinnati Zoo Botanical Garden. Be sure to hit up Newport Aquarium in Cincinnati too. All kids love the zoo and Ohio has some good ones.

The Columbus Zoo has an attached waterpark called Zoombezi Bay. Experience the thrill of speeding down 15 water slides, the adrenaline rush of riding the wave pool, and the calm of the lazy river. It even has a big funnel slide that feels like you are getting flushed down a big toilet!

Ohio also sports several indoor water parks so no worries if you visit outside the normal swimming season. Just visit Fort Rapids in Columbus, Kalahari Resorts in Sandusky, and Coco Key Water Resort in Cincinatti. The picture to the side is of Kalahari Resorts. They provide for great weekend getways during cold weather.

A House Made of Garbage?

Visit the Earth Ship!

No, its not some alien spacecraft. An Earthship is a type of passive solar home made of natural and recycled materials. They are generally made of earth-filled tires, utilising thermal mass construction to naturally regulate indoor temperature. They also usually have their own special natural ventilation system and grey water systems. Earthships are generally Off-the-grid homes,minimizing their reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels. They are probably the most eco friendly home you can find and since many use reclaimed materials they can also be lovely referred to as houses made of garbage.

There are many Earthships around the world and most of them are found in the Southwest United States but Ohio has one of these gems called Blue Rock Station. It is a 2,200 sq. ft. home made of tires, cans, bottles, salvaged lumber, mud, sand, sweat and tears. They also have a Straw Bale “Chicken Chalet" and a Pop Bottle Green House.

They offer tours of the homestead on a seasonal basis.

Popcorn Museum - Marion, Ohio

Popcorn Museum - Marion, Ohio
Popcorn Museum - Marion, Ohio

I am So Blessed!

This lens has been blessed by a SquidAngel. Thank you Jimmie!!

This is where readers and friends can post comments about your lens. We call it the "Guestbook" module. It's up to you to approve or delete comments as they come in.

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    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 5 years ago

      We visited Cleveland once -- nice zoo!

    • iijuan12 profile image

      iijuan12 5 years ago from Florida

      Excellent lens! I just came across it since I just published a lens on Ohio.

    • Scraps2treasures profile image

      Scraps2treasures 6 years ago

      I am from Ohio too! I just got around to finally visiting Loveland Castle last summer. It is an amazing place. I have been to the Piatt Castles but had no idea there were 4 others in our state. Might have to make a couple of day trips this summer!

    • profile image

      kellyjones44 6 years ago

      I love visiting Ohio. The last few times my family has visited we stayed at Hotels with Indoor Water Parks since we went in winter and had our little boy with us. Now that he is older and away at shool, my husband and I have been wanted to go back and visit. The bed and breakfasts sound like a gret place. I will have to do more research and see what is available for us.

    • profile image

      TheresaBesaw 6 years ago

      Hi there I am a fellow Ohioan. I love our northeast Ohio home. My husband and I have been visiting all the local parks around going on walking tours. It's amazing how many great little treasure there all around us. This lens was refreshing to see someone else enjoying all the things Ohio has to offer.

    • profile image

      thebestvillas 6 years ago

      Visit Ohio for Family Vacations! - Great lens.Thanks for your wonderful share.Also visit Florida villas for all your holiday deals.

    • profile image

      lox500 6 years ago

      I agree that jamboree in the hills is a must if you are near ohio.

    • Lynne-Modranski profile image

      Lynne Modranski 7 years ago from Ohio

      Great lens! Don't forget the biggest Country Music Festival - many attribute it to Wheeling, WV, but it's in Morristown, Ohio in Belmont County - Jamboree in the Hills - And it's good to meet you fellow Ohioan!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Just to let you know CoCo Key is in Newark Ohio not Cincy.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Well Tiffany you'll get no argument from me. We visit Ohio every year as one of a couple destination choices for the summer season. We love Yellow Springs to the south and to the north we love visiting the parks and special venues in the Akron-Cleveland corridor.

    • profile image

      GrowWear 8 years ago

      Well, now I know that Ohio is not to be missed!

    • profile image

      enslavedbyfaeries 8 years ago

      This is fantastic! What an eye-opener... I've never been to Ohio and was very surprised by the many wonderful and diverse places to visit in your photos.

    • verymary profile image

      Mary 8 years ago from Chicago area

      Wow, the Ravenwood castle area looks so sweet! Michigan and Wisconsin have been our travel mainstays close to home (we're in Chicago)--but I think I need to give Ohio a shot! 5***** and featured on my Paris lens :)

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 8 years ago

      Tiffany I have to go and research some of these castles! I never knew they were there and now I will have to see them. Beautiful lens!

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 8 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Wow! Ohio sounds like a wonderful state. I have been to Dayton and really enjoyed my visit there too, but now I have to go back. Beautiful lens!

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      You're officially blessed!

    • LakeMom profile image

      LakeMom 8 years ago

      Great lens! Love the castles! 5*

    • seashell2 profile image

      seashell2 8 years ago

      Great job, lovely photos!

    • profile image

      bdkz 8 years ago

      Another great Ohio lens!

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 8 years ago from USA

      Really nice. I'd love to visit.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Beautiful lens with beautiful pictures. I have never been to Ohio but this sure made me want to go. Great Travel lens.

    • hlkljgk profile image

      hlkljgk 8 years ago from Western Mass

      love the photos! well done.

    • EpicFarms profile image

      EpicFarms 8 years ago

      *HIC* 'scuse me...

    • EpicFarms profile image

      EpicFarms 8 years ago

      Great little lens ~ fabulous pictures (I'm ready to pack up and head to Ohio right now :o)

    • EpicFarms profile image

      EpicFarms 8 years ago

      Great little lens ~ fabulous pictures (I'm ready to pack up and head to Ohio right now :o)