A recent post by a fellow CMB mama reminded me of my own carefree summers here in Ohio. We have family all over the state, so when we weren’t vegged out on the sofa watching the Price is Right, or crafting away at summer camp, my family and I would take to the highways and hit every corner of Ohio. Below are 5 of my favorite things to do in Ohio that will get you out of Columbus and into far reaching corners of our amazing state.
Cedar Point/Kings Island
This is my most obvious Ohio summertime activity, but I believe it bears repeating. We Ohioans are lucky enough to have two of the best amusement parks in the whole country! (The whole world!?) Less than 2.5 hours away, dubbed “The Roller Coaster Capital of the World,” Cedar Point offers daring roller coasters, a water park, and of course, kids’ rides. With plenty of hotels, both on site and off, you can easily make a weekend out of it. Kings Island, a childhood favorite of mine, is even closer at less than 1.5 hours away. Dubbed “The Largest Amusement Park in the Midwest,” Kings Island will not disappoint the thrill seeker in your family. For the little ones, there’s a great kids’ area, as well as a replica Eiffel tower the whole family can go up to catch a great view of the surrounding area. Check out the links below for more info. If you’ve never been, at lease one of these should be on your summertime bucket list!
Lake Erie Beaches
Growing up my Grandma would take us to the beaches of Lake Erie near Toledo. Later, as an adult, my now husband and I would spend a few hours each weekend relaxing on the beach at Mentor-on-the Lake outside of Cleveland. Wherever you go, be assured that even this ocean loving gal enjoys the lake just as much as I do the Atlantic or the Gulf. Give it a try. You might be surprised at how much fun you can have on our beautiful Great Lake. Make a weekend or a week out of it by combining your trip with a wineries tour, a trip to Cedar Point, or a visit to the world-renowned Toledo Museum of Art and/or Toledo Zoo (members of the Columbus Zoo enjoy admission reciprocity!). Check out the links below for more info.
Lake Erie Islands
Along the same lines as the Lake Erie beaches, but definitely deserving of its own bullet point. Put-in-Bay, as well as Kelly’s Island offer a great get-away for families, couples, or a group of friends. The island has many B&Bs, hotels, and rentals to choose from, delicious restaurants, a beautiful carousel, a giant geode (you can actually go inside of it!), a cave you can tour, and let’s not forget the fun of riding around in a golf cart. While there is plenty for the kids to do on PIB, choose your timing carefully as certain weekends (such as Christmas in July) tend to attract a partying crowd and the place turns into one big party town, definitely not suitably for kiddos. Other times of year (especially early or late season) are sublime. Not looking to spend the night on the island? No problem, just catch the first ferry over and the last ferry back. Day trip, weekend get-away, or week long vacation, you truly can’t go wrong on the Lake Erie Islands. Check out the links below to plan your trip.
Right after we moved to Ohio, way back in 1992, one of the first trips we took as a family was to see Serpent Mound in southern Ohio. I was only 7, but that visit has stuck with me all these years. Serpent Mound is an effigy mound created by a native Ohio society over 2000 years ago. Although burial mounds are located close by, the Serpent Mound is thought to have been used for ceremonial purposes. At less than an hour from Chillicothe, Ohio’s first capital, Serpent Mound can easily be a fun part of an Ohio history trip. Of course, Serpent Mound is only one of many, many historical sites around the state of Ohio. For many more visit OhioHistory.org. No matter where you are in the state, there is bound to be something historic nearby.
Okay, this idea is a little bit off-the-beaten-path, but hear me out. Ohio is home to some of the most beautiful campuses in the country, not to mention, many, many universities. AND they are literally ALL over the state. From our very own Ohio State, to the idyllic campuses and small towns associated with Miami University (my alma mater!) and Ohio University, to the more urban setting of Case Western Reserve. From the large schools like Bowling Green and University of Cincinnati, to the smaller liberal arts colleges such as Kenyan, Oberlin, and Denison. Ohio is teeming with higher ed institutions that are definitely worth checking out. And -BONUS- you can be sure to find some amazing subs, hamburgers, pizza, and fries in any college town you go to. Not only does visiting college campuses expose your kids to the idea of college at a young age, but it can also introduce them to Ohio history and a new part of the state. Although it may be a bit late in the season this year, most, if not all of Ohio’s universities offer summer programs/camps for kids, anything from sports, outdoor training and wilderness skills, to art, music, and summer scholar’s programs. Go check out some campuses this summer and I guarantee your little one and especially your older kids will be eager to try a summer program next year, or at least get them thinking about summer experiences further along in their academic, sport, or art “career.” Below are just a few links to some of the many Universities and summer programs offered around our state, it’s never too early to start planning!
I hope I’ve given you some good ideas of how to get out of Columbus and explore the great state of Ohio. Please feel free to add your own ideas for Ohio summer hot spots in the comments section below.