Cincinnati Museum Center

31 Best Museums in Ohio to Explore Any Time of Year

With more than 1,200 museums in Ohio to choose from, you’ll never be at a loss for choices. Whether you like art, history, science, or sports, you won’t be disappointed.

Ohio museums are some of the finest in the country and, in some cases, even the world. No matter where you live in the Buckeye State, the museums will fascinate and delight every member of the family.

Best Northwest Ohio Museums Near Toledo

Toledo Museum of Art

2445 Monroe St, Toledo, OH 43620

Founded in 1901, this museum has one of the finest glass collections in the world. The collection of over 30,000 objects includes fine and decorative arts.

With more than 30 galleries, special exhibits, and a wide selection of art classes available for children and adults, this is a fabulous museum. And you don’t want to miss the Calder sculpture in the sculpture garden. Best of all, it’s always free.

Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo - Ohio Museums
Toledo Museum of Art | photo via @trailsedgefineart

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums

Spiegel Grove, Fremont, OH 43420

For history lovers, this is a must-visit attraction. The 19th president and his wife lived and are buried here at Spiegel Grove. You get to visit the charming house, the museum, and the grounds.

The Hayeses are a much more interesting couple than you might suspect. Lucy Ware Hayes was the first First Lady with a college degree, and Rutherford B. Hayes was a Major General in the Civil War. Come with an open and curious mind, and you won’t be disappointed.

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums, Fremont - Ohio Museums
Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums | photo via @perkinshouse

National Museum of the Great Lakes

1701 Front St, Toledo, OH 43605

The Great Lakes have played a vital part in the history of America, and this museum celebrates that. From the fur traders in the 1600s to the sailors of today, the Great Lakes are a vital link in the economy of the area.

This Ohio museum has over 300 artifacts on display, including photographs, audiovisual displays, and 40 hands-on exhibits. Two ships offer guided and self-guided tours as well.

Merry-Go-Round Museum

301 Jackson St, Sandusky, OH 44870

You can take a trip into your childhood in this charming and nostalgic museum. Housed in a historic post office building, the center of the museum is a working carousel, and one ride comes with your ticket. You can’t help but smile as soon as you hear the music.

While you’re here, you can watch a carver create a beautiful merry-go-round animal, and learn about the ongoing restoration of the merry-go-round. It’s one of the unique museums in Ohio that adults and children will love.

Liberty Aviation Museum

3515 E State Rd, Port Clinton, OH 43452

The Liberty Aviation Museum is a unique aviation museum dedicated to the preservation of important pieces of American aviation history. The museum has grown to encompass so much more than just aircraft.

An impressive collection of military memorabilia has been added to the aircraft. But, no visit is complete without a visit to the Tin Goose Diner, where proceeds help to support the museum.

Best Museums in Cleveland & Northeast Ohio

Cleveland Museum of Art

11150 East Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44106

This is a very fine art museum that’s particularly known for its African and Asian art collections. The museum owns over 45,000 pieces, and on average, it acquires an additional 300 pieces every year. It’s always free to view the permanent collection.

At the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Armor Court is a children’s favorite, and the Tiffany Collection is small but exquisite. Old Masters, Impressionists, and so much more keep visitors coming back again and again.

Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland - Spring Things to do, Ohio Museums
Cleveland Museum of Art | photo via @ma_24_o5

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

1100 E 9th St, Cleveland, OH 44114

This building was designed by architect Ieoh Ming Pei and is almost as interesting as the collection houses. If you love rock ’n’ roll and want to honor those who have created it over the years, this is the place to come.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is chock full of memorabilia — frankly, overwhelmingly so. Young children may not enjoy it, but if you visit with your favorite rockers, you’ll enjoy the entertainment and exhibits that honor the artists.

In our opinion, it’s one of the best things to see in Ohio before you die!

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland - Things to See Before You Die, Columbus Day Trips, Ohio Museums
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame | photo via @wheresraetoday

A Christmas Story House & Museum

3159 W 11th St, Cleveland, OH 44109

If Ralphie and the story of his ongoing desire to get an “official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time” are part of your yearly Christmas tradition, don’t miss this house.

The museum with original props is right across the street. If you can’t get enough of “A Christmas Story,” you can even stay overnight in the house, a one-of-a-kind experience of sleeping in Ralph’s and Randy’s beds.

A Christmas Story House & Museum, Cleveland - Ohio Museums
A Christmas Story House & Museum | photo via Nina Thomas

James A. Garfield National Historic Site

8095 Mentor Ave, Mentor, OH 44060

The James A. Garfield National Historic Site is operated by the National Park Department, and it does an amazing job. You want to begin your visit at the visitors center where rangers will arrange a guided tour of the home.

While you’re waiting, you can enjoy the exhibits about Garfield’s presidency and assassination, as well as an 18-minute film in the theater. The tour of the house is 45 minutes long, and there are two cellphone tours you can take of the grounds.

Plan to spend several hours learning about the 20th President of the United States.

James A. Garfield National Historic Site, Mentor - Ohio Museums
James A. Garfield National Historic Site | photo via @joethefaker

Yoder’s Amish Home

6050 OH-515, Millersburg, OH 44654

Open seasonally, this is a great opportunity to learn about Amish life and culture. A local guide will take you on a guided tour of two houses, a one-room schoolhouse, and a barn.

Depending on whether or not you’ve traveled around the area, this will bring the Amish to life for you. Your entrance fee doesn’t include a buggy ride, which is optional and very cool.

An on-site bakery sells canned jams and jellies, as well as other goodies. Kids will love petting the farm animals, and you can bring a picnic to enjoy at one of the tables at this Ohio museum.

William McKinley Presidential Library & Museum

800 McKinley Monument Dr NW, Canton, OH 44708

William McKinley was very popular during his lifetime, and the monument to his presidency shows just how popular he was. This is a very entertaining museum and a tribute to the tragic way his presidency ended.

This is a museum the entire family can enjoy with an interactive science center, a planetarium, a street of replica shops, The McKinley Gallery history museum, and the Stark County Story. Hours of entertainment are guaranteed.

McKinley Gallery, Canton - William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum, Ohio Museums
McKinley Gallery – William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum | photo via @canton_hof_house

Pro Football Hall of Fame

2121 George Halas Dr NW, Canton, OH 44708

Football lovers will be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of memorabilia displayed at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame Gallery is amazing with the busts of all those who have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Looking for your favorites is half the fun.

You can learn more about the players at the interactive kiosks. Uniforms, footballs, helmets, and lots more memorabilia are on display too.

Allow three to four hours to explore everything and visit the phenomenal gift store.

Pro Football Hall of Fame, Canton - Things to See Before You Die, Columbus Day Trips, Indoor Things to do in Canton, Things to do in Canton, Ohio Museums
Pro Football Hall of Fame | photo via @visitcanton

Great Lakes Science Center

601 Erieside Ave, Cleveland, OH 44114

Interact with hundreds of interactive exhibits, and enjoy the domed theater that surrounds you in sounds and sights. Science, technology, engineering, and math all come alive in interesting ways that engage children and adults alike at the Great Lakes Science Center.

The Biomedtech Gallery brings medicine, technology, and engineering into exhibits, videos, and displays that make them relatable to everyday life. Your ticket also includes touring the steamship, William G. Mather.

Best Columbus & Central Ohio Museums

Columbus Museum of Art

480 E Broad St, Columbus, OH 43215

This community art museum is very family-friendly. In particular, special events are geared toward family participation.

The Columbus Museum of Art has a fine permanent collection of late 19th-century and early 20th-century American and European art. Local artists are featured, as well as glass, photography, and folk art. Entrance is free on Sundays for every member of the family.

Ohio Craft Museum

1665 W 5th Ave, Columbus, OH 43212

Ohio crafts have been popular for hundreds of years, and the Ohio Craft Museum features contemporary crafts, such as glass, fiber, clay, metal, and jewelry. In addition, special exhibits bring more items and mediums to the museum.

You can sign up for classes or workshops to learn a craft. Also, the museum hosts free events periodically. This is a small but colorful Ohio museum with great crafts for sale too.

Ohio History Center

800 E 17th Ave, Columbus, OH 43211

The Ohio History Center is a museum dedicated to preserving the history of the Buckeye State. It’s a great way to learn Ohio history while having family fun.

Along with entrance into the museum, a ticket gets you into Ohio Village, a living history museum. You can walk through the streets and enter the buildings in an 1890s village. A church, a smithy, and an emporium are just some of the interesting buildings.

Ohio History Center, Columbus - Ohio Museums
Ohio History Center | photo via @lipscer

Sherman House Museum

137 E Main St, Lancaster, OH 43130

This historic house was the birthplace of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman and his brother, Senator John Sherman. The house is furnished with historical pieces, many of which belonged to the Sherman family.

You can take a guided tour of this pre-Civil War home of a well-to-do family — the father was a judge. The museum has a very nice collection of Civil War memorabilia as well.

Sherman House Museum, Lancaster - Ohio Museums
Sherman House Museum | photo via @davidwachholz

Ohio Glass Museum & Glass Blowing Studio

124 W Main St, Lancaster, OH 43130

Glassmaking played an important role in the history of Lancaster Ohio and the state. Today, you can watch a glassblower, learn to blow glass, and see the amazing glass that was created here and all over Ohio at the Ohio Glass Museum & Glass Blowing Studio.

Volunteers are hand to answer your questions and share their enthusiasm for glassware. Plus, a really beautiful gift shop sells many gift options.

Ohio Glass Museum & Glass Blowing Studio, Lancaster - Ohio Museums
Ohio Glass Museum & Glass Blowing Studio | photo via @classycaitlincolumbus

Ohio Railway Museum

990 Proprietors Rd, Worthington, OH 43085

An interesting Ohio museum for train and streetcar lovers, the Ohio Railway Museum features examples of steam, diesel, and electric trains, as well as streetcars and interurban cars.

The depot has a nice collection of memorabilia, and your entrance fee includes as many rides on the train as you like. There are plenty of cars to climb aboard, and enthusiastic volunteers enjoy answering your questions.

Center of Science and Industry

333 W Broad St, Columbus, OH 43215

If you have kids, you may want to invest in a yearly membership at the Center of Science and Industry (more commonly referred to as COSI). It’s a great place to spend a few hours on a rainy or snowy day.

With a planetarium, a National Geographic Great Screen Theatre, Dinosaur Gallery, and so much more, bored children will be the least of your worries. You might even find yourself intrigued by some exhibits.

Center of Science and Industry, Columbus - Ohio Museums
Center of Science and Industry | photo via @j_shawimages

Best Southwest Ohio Museums Near Cincinnati

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

50 E Freedom Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202

This fascinating Ohio museum delves into many aspects of slavery, abolition, and the underground railroad. But it doesn’t stop in the past. Some exhibits reflect the present.

The exhibits are located on the second floor along with the Harriet Tubman Theatre where two short films are shown. The third floor has more permanent exhibits, and the fourth floor has the John Parker Library and Family Search Center for genealogical research.

National Museum of the United States Air Force

1100 Spaatz St, Dayton, OH 45431

This museum is a great place for anyone who loves anything to do with aerospace because it has over 350 pieces in the collection. The National Museum of the United States Air Force is housed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and admission is free.

Guided tours are offered, and you actually get to board the Air Force One that carried President Lyndon Johnson back to Washington D.C. from Dallas after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton - Ohio Museums
National Museum of the United States Air Force | photo via Ashley Pichea

America’s Packard Museum

420 S Ludlow St, Dayton, OH 45402

The Packard was the luxury car of its day, and America’s Packard Museum showcases just how gorgeous these vehicles were.

The museum has the largest collection of Packard motor vehicles and memorabilia in the world. Located in a former dealership, it’s an attractive collection that’s beautifully displayed.

America's Packard Museum, Dayton - Ohio Museums
America’s Packard Museum | photo via @joerobinette77

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

16 S Williams St, Dayton, OH 45402

The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park is unlike a traditional park. It’s a complex of buildings that includes The Wright Cycle Company, Wright–Dunbar Interpretive Center, and the Aviation Trail Visitor Center and Museum.

As one of the best museums in Ohio, you get to enjoy interactive displays, exhibits, and introductory films. This complex is operated by the National Park Service, so rangers are available to answer your questions.

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, Dayton - Ohio Museums
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park | photo via @postcard.alley

Dayton Art Institute

456 Belmonte Park N, Dayton, OH 45405

The Dayton Art Institute has a fine collection of works of art. The upper level houses European works, while the lower level is home to American art. The museum also has a wing dedicated to Asian art.

About 1,000 pieces from the 27,000-piece collection will be on display at any given time. In addition, there are galleries for African, Oceanic, Native American, and ancient arts, as well as photography, glass, and more.

Dayton Art Institute, Dayton - Ohio Museums
Dayton Art Institute | photo via @annaeb29

Cincinnati Museum Center

1301 Western Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45203

Historic Union Terminal houses three museums at one location. The Cincinnati History Museum, The Children’s Museum, and the Museum of Natural History & Science. The Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX Theater rounds out the offerings.

The Cincinnati Museum Center is the perfect place to take kids on a rainy day or during a school break. There are hours of entertainment for every member of the family at these museums in Ohio.

Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati - Ohio Museums
Cincinnati Museum Center | photo via @d.murray_photography

Best Museums in Southeast Ohio

National Heisey Glass Museum

169 W Church St, Newark, OH 43055

For American glassware collectors, Heisey Glass is the gold standard. The National Heisey Glass Museum honors this gorgeous and innovative glass and the designs that kept it popular for so long.

The company was in business from 1896 to 1957 and developed over time from strictly pressed glass to colored and blown glass. The museum houses a beautiful collection of glass that’s worthy of a visit. You can also watch a movie to learn the story of Augustus Heisey and his glasswork.

National Imperial Glass Museum & Gift Shop

3200 Belmont St, Bellaire, OH 43906

For lovers of American-made glassware, Imperial Glass is a familiar name. This museum highlights not just the company and the glassware but also the employees who made it possible.

For over 80 years, Imperial glassware was found in many American homes. The museum’s collection includes over 3,000 lovely pieces. Docents are volunteers and passionate about Imperial glassware and love talking about it.

National Imperial Glass Museum & Gift Shop, Bellaire - Ohio Museums
National Imperial Glass Museum & Gift Shop | photo via @jcsullivan24

Adena Mansion & Gardens

847 Adena Rd, Chillicothe, OH 45601

This historic house was designed by Benjamin Latrobe, who also designed the White House. Only four of his buildings, including the White House, still exist.

The former owner was Thomas Worthington, a former Ohio governor and senator. It’s a beautiful home, with exceptional formal gardens and an interesting museum and visitor center. You can visit the house on a guided tour. Just make sure that you allow yourself enough time to do it justice.

John & Annie Glenn Museum

72 W Main St, New Concord, OH 43762

John Glenn was a national treasure, and the home where he grew up gives you a glimpse at what life was like at specific points in his life. His wife Annie was a lifelong friend and an amazing woman in her own right.

Costumed interpreters at the John & Annie Glenn Museum will bring three time periods to life — 1937, life during the Great Depression; 1944, the homefront during World War II; and 1962, John Glenn and the space race.

The tour takes about an hour.

Underground Railroad Museum

121 E High St, Flushing, OH 43977

This museum has a story to tell. It’s more than just about the underground railroad — It’s also about life on a plantation, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, African artifacts, the Civil War, and enslaved disciplinary items.

Touring the Underground Railroad Museum may be an emotional experience as you look through items in the collection. Many people were involved in the underground railroad, particularly the Quakers in the Ohio River valley who played an integral role in helping enslaved people reach freedom in Canada.

Frequently Asked Questions About Museums in Ohio

What halls of fame are located in Ohio?

Three halls of fame are located in Ohio:

  • Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • National Aviation Hall of Fame
  • Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

How many presidents have museums in Ohio?

Seven presidents have museums in Ohio — James A. Garfield, Rutherford B. Hayes, William McKinley, Ulysses S. Grant, William Howard Taft, William Henry Harrison, and Warren G. Harding.

Plan a Tour of the Best Museums in Ohio

Ohio never disappoints when it comes to museums to visit. History, science, transportation, and art — You name it, and the Buckeye State has it. Whether you want to enjoy indoor galleries or outdoor entertainment, there’s literally something for every member of the family.

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