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Which 3 Ohio Cities Were Named Among the Top US Winter Vacation Destinations?

Falling snow, cold temperatures, and cold weather in the winter aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. But in Ohio, wintertime means it’s time to have some fun.

That’s why we weren’t surprised to learn that three cities in Ohio — Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland — were chosen among 32 of the best winter destinations in the United States by WalletHub. Cincy snagged the highest spot on the list, coming in at No. 6, while Columbus and Cleveland were ranked 18th and 19th respectively.

The list ranked cities based on a cumulative score calculated by ranking them in five categories: cold-weather activities, weather, attractions, travel costs and hassles, and local costs.

Cincinnati, which scored 58.39, ranked in the top 10 in travel costs and hassles, local costs, and cold-weather activities. Columbus, which scored 51.64, ranked in the top 10 in local costs, and Cleveland, which scored 50.61, ranked in the top 10 in travel costs and hassles and local costs.

Atlanta Georgia took top honors on the list (66.77), followed by Washington D.C. (63.88), Chicago Illinois (63.30), New York City (61.52), and Denver Colorado (60.09).

With Lake Erie bordering Ohio to the north, cities like Cleveland are right in the heart of the Lake Erie snowbelt. But Ohioans know that the arrival of winter is a joyous occasion and a little snow is the perfect excuse to go outside. For Ohioans and out-of-state visitors alike, the Buckeye State is a wonderland during the winter that’s ripe for exploring.

"A Christmas Story" House, Cleveland - Winter Festivals, Cleveland Children's Museum
“A Christmas Story” House | photo via @robby_robinette

Embrace the Chill With Cold Weather Fun in Ohio

From Kurentovanje to its WinterLand celebration to its magnificent light displays, it’s no secret that Cleveland goes all out for the holidays in the winter.

But the city holds a special reputation as a Christmas town because its Tremont district is home to A Christmas Story House & Museum. The house is a full replica of the home from “A Christmas Story” and is visited by thousands of people each year.

Related: Ohio is home to more than a dozen Christmas towns that are perfect for visiting in the winter, whether you want to see magnificent light displays or visit Santa’s workshop.

Cincinnati and the surrounding area have some of the best Christmas light displays during the holidays. One of the best ways to enjoy the lights is at the PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Related: Cincinnati and the surrounding area are also home to lots of great breweries and a multitude of delicious beers.

Columbus, Ohio’s capital city, is home to the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, whose collection of tropical plants is amazing to see for those looking to get out of the cold.

The ultimate sign of dedication and embracing cold weather in Columbus is attending an Ohio State football game. The Buckeyes are one of the premier teams in college football, and watching a game at The Horseshoe, even in wintertime, is a thrilling experience.

Cincinnati Chili - Iconic Ohio Foods
Cincinnati Chili

Enjoy Some (or all) of Ohio’s Iconic Foods

Of course, every Ohioan knows that one of the best ways to embrace (or brave) winter’s chill is to savor some of the Buckeye State’s iconic food. Nothing can warm a weary traveler faster than a warm, stick-to-your-ribs meal in Ohio.

In Cleveland, hungry revelers can enjoy a Polish Boy, a magical sausage sandwich that includes coleslaw, BBQ sauce, and French fries.

Or, they can head south to Cincinnati to enjoy a bowl of hearty Cincinnati chili, which is best enjoyed on a plate of spaghetti and a delicious, heaping pile of cheese.

Don’t discount Columbus either, which serves the gigantic, juicy Thurmantor burgers at The Thurman Cafe.

Columbus Commons
Columbus Commons

Visit More of the Top Cold-Weather Destinations in the United States

Atlanta Georgia

Georgia’s capital city is a favorite winter destination because the weather is usually mild and more comfortable. This makes it the perfect time to enjoy Atlanta’s outdoor attractions like the Atlanta Botanical Garden, indoor activities like the Georgia Aquarium, or kids’ activities like trampoline parks and go-karting.

Washington D.C.

As the hub for our nation’s government, Washington D.C. is always full of hustle and bustle. But during the winter, the city is often less crowded. That means there’s a lot less congestion at sites like the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial. There’s a lot to see in our nation’s capital, and winter is the perfect time to see it all.

Chicago Illinois

Make no mistake, when the winds come whipping off Lake Michigan, the Windy City can get downright cold during the winter. But, snow gives Chi-Town an added sparkle in winter, and there’s always plenty to do — from visiting popular tourist sites to sledding to ice skating and more.

New York City

The city that never sleeps is always busy in winter, but residents and visitors alike will tell you that being in the city when the snow is falling is magical. Prices on hotels tend to be cheaper in winter too. Plus, there’s always plenty to see, lots to eat, and no shortage of things to do.

Denver Colorado

The Mile High City is also chilly in wintertime, but it offers unparalleled opportunities for outdoor recreation. The city is home to more than 4,000 acres of parks and parkways, which offer chances to cross-country ski, snowshoe, and hike in the winter.

Festival of Lights-Cincinnati Zoo
Festival of Lights – Cincinnati Zoo

Make Your Way to Ohio for Winter Fun

Trust us, we know that winter in Ohio can be bone-chillingly cold at times, but it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom for those who are willing to bundle up. Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland are bursting with winter activities, inviting visitors of all ages to enjoy festivals and events, staple foods, attractions, and much more.

Exploring Ohio is the perfect way to embrace winter and shake off cabin fever. Many amazing winter day trips in Ohio are well worth the trip. Winter road trips will take you to frozen waterfalls, through small towns for a warm meal, and along scenic pathways to see the very best of the Buckeye State in winter.

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