If you say you’re traveling to Ohio, people will probably ask about Cleveland, Sandusky, Cincinnati, or Dayton. But anyone who has lived in Ohio knows that most of the state is made up of small towns and villages, some of which have been there for centuries!
These can be some of the most fascinating places to visit, revealing cultures and curiosities that you can’t find anywhere else. If you’re planning a trip to small towns in Ohio, you won’t want to miss these hidden gems.
In the early 1800s, Yellow Springs Ohio was founded to create a utopian community. Although the efforts floundered, the village remained and took its name from the nearby springs, which have a heavy iron content, causing a yellow color.
Today, Yellow Springs has a population of less than 4,000. Nevertheless, it is a popular tourist destination thanks to its charming small-town atmosphere and numerous parks and nature preserves.
Also, the village is known as a highly diverse and accepting community.
Sugarcreek is a small village located in Northeast Ohio, popularly called the Gateway to Amish Country. Its unique history and architecture were influenced by Swiss immigrants and Amish farmers whose descendants still make up the majority of the residents today.
Thanks to its location on the edge of Amish Country, Sugarcreek is a popular tourist spot. Visitors come to stay in the historic buildings and enjoy local goods from farms in the region.
The village is known for its nickname Little Switzerland, for its annual Swiss Festival, and for being home to the world’s largest cuckoo clock too.
Ashtabula is a small city located just outside Cleveland in the area of Ohio known as the Rust Belt. Like many other towns in this region, it experienced an economic and population downturn in the 1960s as local factories shuttered.
Unlike many others, however, the city has managed to bounce back and is now considered one of the nicest small cities in the state.
Situated on both Lake Erie and the Ashtabula River, it has a pleasant climate and plenty of things to do outdoors. Plus, it is situated in Ohio wine country within driving distance of several excellent vineyards and wineries.
Chagrin Falls is a small but charming village in the greater Cleveland metropolitan area. With a population of fewer than 5,000 residents, this tiny town is named for the waterfalls of the Chagrin River, which flows through the area.
The village is known as a hub of arts and culture and has a host of well-maintained historical architecture, including many Victorian homes that make up the town’s official walking tour route.
The waterfalls are undoubtedly the biggest tourist attraction, though. There are several viewing platforms where visitors can see the falls, which shelter a variety of native animals and reptiles.
Geneva-On-The-Lake is known throughout Ohio as one of the most beautiful villages in the greater Ashtabula area. As the name suggests, it borders Lake Erie on the southern shore.
With an official population of fewer than 1,000 residents, Geneva-On-The-Lake is truly tiny. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful place that is well worth a visit!
The village is home to a state park with a beach and campgrounds, a museum, and a carousel and Ferris wheel. It’s a popular spot for lake activities, as well as camping, hiking nature trails, and enjoying stops along the nearby wine trail.
Bedford Ohio is located in the greater Cleveland area. This small city has a long history of European settlement, having been established in the early 1800s.
It’s known as an ideal spot for a day trip from Cleveland with plenty of small-town charm and interesting things to do.
Bedford is home to many parks and green spaces and is famous for Tinker’s Creek where the small falls draw plenty of visitors year-round. While the nearby Bedford Reservation attracts hiking enthusiasts, the city itself is worth a stroll to admire the charming shops, restaurants, and historical buildings.
Conneaut Ohio is a small city located on the banks of Lake Erie. Nestled in the northeasternmost corner of the state, it’s just a few miles from the Pennsylvania border yet feels like a beachside paradise.
The city is located on the Lake Erie Coastal Scenic Byway, offering views of famous landmarks such as the Conneaut West Breakwater Lighthouse. It’s also in the heart of Ohio wine country.
Conneaut is full of picturesque places as well. Visitors and residents alike enjoy activities such as picnicking, hiking along the beach, strolling the beautiful main street, or touring the historic architecture.
Southwest Ohio isn’t always called a vacation spot. In the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, this part of the state is known for being, well… remote. But Logan Ohio is one of the exceptions.
This beautiful city is famous for being the site of Hocking Hills State Park, which features some of Ohio’s most stunning hiking trails, gorges, caves, and waterfalls. Logan is a great place for stargazing and camping too.
Hocking Hills Winery is another popular attraction where visitors can enjoy local wines grown in the mountain foothills. For a city of just 7,000, Logan has countless things to do.
Oberlin Ohio is a small city located in the greater Cleveland area. Though it’s widely known as the site of Oberlin College, it is also steeped in history.
Since the 19th century, Oberlin has led the state in advocating for equal rights for women and persons of color. It even played a vital role in the abolitionist movement. This history is still evident in the architecture and traditions of Oberlin, which draw visitors from all over the country.
Today, the city is known as a place to enjoy festivals, historical reenactments, and performances at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
The City of Marietta stands in the southeast corner of Ohio. Once a settlement on the Ohio River, it became the first established town in the region in 1788. Today, Marietta is a place of rich history, architecture, and many interesting things to do.
You’ll find countless historic locations and museums, as well as locally owned shops and restaurants. The city offers boat tours on the Ohio River and an entire museum dedicated to the history of the river and its cultural influences. Two-and-a-half centuries haven’t slowed this adorable city — only made it better.
Millersburg is synonymous with Amish Country. This quaint village has a population of just over 3,000 but is known as an unmissable destination if you are exploring Ohio’s rural farmland.
It’s located a short drive outside of Cleveland. Here, you’ll find all the best offerings of Amish Country tourism — horse-drawn carriages, operating farms, locally owned stores, and homemade goods. One of the most famous landmarks is Yoder’s Amish Home, a 116-acre farm open for tours for six months a year.
There is plenty to do and see, but one thing is certain — Millersburg will make you feel like you’ve stepped back into a simpler time.
Peninsula seems like a strange name for a village that is landlocked, but this tiny village in the Cleveland Metropolitan Area is worth a visit. Though it has an official population of less than 600, Peninsula is a popular tourist destination thanks to its abundance of nature preserves and outdoor attractions.
The village is located in the middle of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the stretch of land following the shores of the Cuyahoga River. Subsequently, it is home to tons of wildlife and hiking trails.
Additionally, Peninsula is a place of community and history as evidenced by the dozens of registered historic sites throughout the village.
Even if you have lived in Ohio all your life, you may not have heard of Glenford. Don’t feel bad — this tiny village has a population of less than 200. Nevertheless, it offers some real amenities that make it well worth a trip.
Located in Perry County in Central Ohio, Glenford is a place with a tight-knit community, so most visitors get a warm and personable welcome. You’ll enjoy strolling the unique shops, eating at locally owned restaurants, and touring the abundant nearby wineries.
Plus, Glenford is home to several vineyards, offering the chance to sample Ohio vintages at their best.
Loveland Ohio is located within the Greater Cincinnati Metropolitan Area. Standing on the edge of the Little Miami River, this city of roughly 13,000 has become known for being part of the Little Miami Scenic Trail.
In recent years, locals have come to view it as a hidden gem of Southwest Ohio. This charming spot has a beautiful downtown full of unique shops and great places to eat. The city is full of biking trails and has plenty of scenic views and historic architecture. It’s known for being the site of Loveland Castle too.
Gallipolis Ohio is a village along the Ohio River that almost touches neighboring West Virginia. Settled by French immigrants fleeing the Revolution in 1790, it’s now a quaint spot with a population of about 3,000.
It’s marked by the main street that runs through downtown, seemingly frozen in the 20th century with many historic buildings that have now become homes, shops, and restaurants.
In addition, Gallipolis has a large park and a local bird sanctuary, offering a few unique things to explore. All in all, this tiny riverfront village is a charming spot to stop for lunch on a day trip.
Milan Ohio has one major claim to fame — it’s where Thomas Edison was born. But this small village of about 1,300 people, located on Lake Erie, has many other things to offer.
The village is beautiful, featuring elegant New England-style architecture, much of which dates back a century or more. The town square is the perfect place to spend an afternoon as you explore stores full of local curiosities, historic sites, and one-of-a-kind eateries.
Naturally, there are plenty of places to learn about Edison himself, including the Edison Birthplace Museum, where you can see rare personal items and take a tour.
Waynesville is located in Southwest Ohio and has a unique reason for attracting countless visitors every year. The tiny village, which has a population of less than 3,000, is called the Antique Capital of the Midwest thanks to its abundance of antique stores and fairs.
Of course, that’s far from the only thing to do in Waynesville. It’s also known for nearby Caesar Creek State Park, which is popular with outdoors enthusiasts thanks to more than 40 miles of hiking and biking trails. Waynesville might be small, but it has become a must-visit destination for shoppers and nature lovers.
Granville Ohio is located a short drive outside of Columbus. Though you’re in the middle of the state, you might feel like you are in New England as you stroll the appealing, old-fashioned streets.
The village is full of historical architecture, much of it dating from the colonial era. The downtown area is a wonderful place to take a stroll or enjoy some shopping at a locally owned boutique.
Nearby, the famous Alligator Mound draws visitors year-round to learn about local indigenous history. And, Granville is known for its hiking and biking trails, as well as small-time wineries and breweries serving up unique drinks.
No, they’re not being tongue-in-cheek — the small community of Charm in Amish Country really is full of charm. When you visit, you might feel as though you have stepped back in time.
Charm is surrounded by pristine farmland and has a sizeable Amish community, so you’re likely to see horse-drawn buggies and people bartering in small stores. The community even has annual merchant days when vendors meet in an open-air market to trade goods.
Visitors enjoy strolling the local shops, admiring the countryside, and buying homemade goods from the nearby Guggisberg Swiss Cheese factory.
Though it’s located in the Buckeye State, Marblehead is one of those Ohio villages that will make you think you’ve been transported to the ocean.
Located on the Marblehead Peninsula, this tiny village — with a population of less than 1,000 — stands overlooking Lake Erie and Sandusky Bay. It’s a breathtaking place, and it’s no wonder that it attracts tourists all year long.
The village has a slowed-down, small-town charm and plenty of local attractions — from freshly caught seafood to the oldest lighthouse still in use on the Great Lakes, Marblehead Lighthouse. It is a must-visit for a long stay or just a day trip from Toledo.
Taking a Tour Through Small Towns in Ohio
Ohio’s cities have a lot to offer, but they are only a small part of what makes the state so great. The state’s spirit is found in its tiny towns and villages. These range from coastal resort towns on the Great Lakes to colonial settlements nestled in the Appalachian Mountains and romantic communities in Amish Country.
You never know what you’re going to find in small-town Ohio — so you won’t want to miss the chance to hit the road for a day trip.