If you’re looking for new things to discover, check out these scenic drives Ohio has to explore!
Ohio is full of beautiful places — forested regions, rolling hills, ample farmland, lakes, rivers, caves, waterfalls, islands, and prairies — and even borders one of the Great Lakes: Lake Erie. The state is home to 75 state parks, a national park, and many nature preserves.
Plus, it’s rich in history and culture. You can step back in time throughout the state via historic house museums, 1800s architecture, Victorian mansions, Gothic Revival churches, protected cemeteries, fine art and history museums, and more.
But, did you know that you could experience many of these via the scenic drives Ohio has to offer? According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, the state has 27 official scenic byways that encompass hundreds of miles (some even continue across state lines), each with unique features.
The following scenic Ohio drives are some of the top road trips ever. They’re organized by region, so you can easily hop in your car and explore all corners in the Buckeye State!
Scenic Drives in Northern Ohio
Start just west of the Pennsylvania border in Conneaut Ohio
This nearly 300-mile scenic byway follows Lake Erie’s beautiful shores and sandy beaches, lighthouses, and surrounding state parks, nature preserves, small towns, and major cities. Some portions also offer views of the Maumee State Scenic River.
This is one of those scenic Ohio drives with the potential to turn into an all-week-long road trip. There’s something for everyone to enjoy — from fishing, boating, and camping to touring, dining, and shopping.
Families may want to stop in Cleveland to visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame or take a ferry to Lake Erie’s islands! There is so much to see and do on the islands, including Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center, Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial, multiple state parks, and Crystal Cave (the world’s largest underground geode).
The byway is also near Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Just continue south from Cleveland to follow the Ohio & Erie Canalway.
Start just northwest of Sugarcreek/Shanesville, driving east to west
You can start from a variety of areas on the Amish Country Byway because it branches in various directions.
Before you drive too far, visit the world’s largest cuckoo clock in Sugarcreek. It’s 23 feet tall by 24 feet wide.
This massive, 160-mile sprawling Ohio scenic byway has beautiful views of Amish Country’s rolling hills, farmland, and quaint, peaceful towns. Learn about the history of the Amish and German people at various historic sites, such as the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center.
You’ll definitely need to indulge in some of the local, fresh-made Amish cheeses and fare at various destinations along the way, including Hershberger’s Farm & Bakery and the Boyd and Wurthmann Restaurant & Bakery.
Stay at a bed-and-breakfast for a longer trip if you really want to immerse yourself and enjoy the simple pleasures of the Amish culture’s quiet, friendly lifestyle.
Start in Cleveland
This scenic Ohio drive is designated as one of America’s Byways. It follows the historic trail of the Ohio and Erie Canal, which was the first American waterway link between the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes.
This byway highlights the evolution of modes of transportation. Its path is often next to the Towpath Trail and the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad line. Along your drive, you can expect to see stretches of farmland, river corridors, nature preserves, forest, brick buildings, and historical architecture.
One of the most-loved portions of this route winds through 20 miles of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Paddle the river, mountain bike, fish, bird watch, horseback ride, or hike one of the many nature trails (you can intersect the statewide Buckeye Trail here).
Follow this byway north from Cleveland to pick up the Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail.
A Scenic Drive in Eastern Ohio
Start at the Egypt Valley Wildlife Area
Belmont County’s scenic byway features homes with historic architecture and beautiful vistas along its 37 miles. It was a frequently traveled route during the 1800s, especially by farmers who were transporting their goods to various markets.
Drovers’ Trail Scenic Byway acts as a connector between the Ohio River Scenic Byway and the Historic National Road.
Enjoy the outdoors in the over 14,000-acre recreational area of Egypt Valley Wildlife Area before continuing to the Belmont County Victorian Mansion Museum, an exquisitely crafted 26-room Victorian mansion.
For more intriguing architecture, explore the Barnesville Historic District (don’t miss the First Presbyterian Church — a “Chinese Gothic,” red sandstone church with elaborate stained glass windows from Belgium), the Belmont Village Historic District, and the Village of Bellaire.
Central Scenic Ohio Drives
Start in Logan where US-33 intersects the Hocking Hills Scenic Byway
This byway is one of the most beautiful scenic drives Ohio has to offer. The about 26-mile route meanders through the Hocking Hills region and features ample hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities, such as horseback riding, zip lining, canoeing, hot air ballooning, and more!
There are some must-see destinations along the byway. Hocking Hills State Park is an Ohio favorite with hollows and caves that were first inhabited more than 7,000 years ago. Hocking Hills is well known for its beautiful and vivid fall foliage and blankets of spring wildflowers. Some of its amazing trails include Ash Cave, Old Man’s Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Cedar Falls, Rock House, and Whispering Cave.
Another must-see spot is Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve, which has one of the deepest, rocky gorges in Ohio at up to 200 feet above the gorge’s mouth.
Start in Plain City
You’ll find miles of prairie in the Big Darby Plains area, much of which can be seen while motoring along this scenic Ohio drive. It’s one of the largest areas of prairie ecosystem in Ohio, featuring remnants from the about 1,000 square miles of prairie that existed prior to European settlement.
Much of the route runs parallel to the Big Darby Creek Scenic River and provides access to the river, various parks, nature preserves, farms, historic cemeteries and homes (like the Smith Cemetery State Nature Preserve), many idyllic covered bridges, and more.
Here are some of the covered bridges that you can visit along this Ohio scenic byway:
- Bigelow Bridge
- Culbertson Bridge
- Buck Run Bridge
- Spain Creek Covered Bridge
- Pottersburg Bridge
- Thompson Road Bridge
- North Lewisburg Bridge
Follow I-270 in Franklin County to US-23 in Delaware County
This scenic byway is short at only 10.5 miles long, but it intertwines so much nature and history. It follows the Olentangy River’s Native American trails. On one side of the byway, you can see the Olentangy State Scenic River, and on the other, there are idyllic homes, barns, and churches.
One of the first points of interest on this Ohio scenic drive is the Bartholomew House, a historic house from the 1800s that is said to have ties to the Underground Railroad. Farther along the trail are the fascinating Olentangy Indian Caverns, limestone caves that were formed millions of years ago.
At the end of the byway is Delaware State Park, a forested area with a large reservoir that was once home to the Delaware Tribe of Indians. It’s a great spot to walk, camp, swim, boat, and fish.
Southern Ohio Road Trips
Start in East Liverpool
The Ohio River Scenic Byway is a massive, 943-mile, multi-state byway that runs along the shores of the river and provides nearly continuous views of it. The route runs through portions of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.
The Ohio section spans 14 counties and 452 miles of the Ohio River. There are many stops along the way that are rich with culture and natural beauty alike. We’ll name just a few!
The first stop is Beaver Creek State Park in East Liverpool, where you can enjoy access to the river and over 2,700 acres of forest. East Liverpool is also known as the “Pottery Capital of the Nation,” so stop by the Museum of Ceramics.
Start in Clarington
If you started a journey on the Ohio River Scenic Byway, you can switch gears and intersect the Appalachian Byway in Clarington. The over 100-mile route has some of the best rustic countryside views of the scenic drives Ohio has to offer.
Hike to waterfalls and through ancient Appalachian hardwoods in Piatt Park. Stop by the Thorla-McKee Oil Well, which marks North America’s first oil-producing well. Don’t miss The Wilds, a safari park featuring giraffes, zebras, rhinos, and more at one of the biggest wildlife conservation centers in the world.
Visit the Romanesque Revival-style Twin City Opera House, built in 1892 and still in operation today! The route ends in Nelsonville Ohio where you can walk around the historic district and admire the buildings’ beautiful brickwork.
Continue your Ohio road trip by heading to the nearby Hocking Hills Scenic Byway in Logan!
A Western Ohio Scenic Drive
Start in Fryburg
For church architecture enthusiasts, this is one of the most-loved scenic drives Ohio has to offer. The nearly 39-mile route showcases a multitude of cross-tipped churches, aspects of early settler life, and acres of farmland. Many of the buildings on the byway have been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979.
The first stop in Fryburg is the St. John Church and Parish Hall. Built in 1850, it’s one of the oldest in the area and features Gothic Revival architecture and a frescoed ceiling. But, there are 32 official stops on this Ohio scenic drive. Here are a couple more highlights that you can look forward to:
- St. Michael Church Complex — built in 1881 with a 200-foot-tall tower
- Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics — second largest collection of its type in the United States with over 1,000 relics on display
FAQs About Scenic Drives Ohio Has to Explore
Which scenic Ohio drives intersect?
Some scenic Ohio drives intersect, but not all of them. Many are located in proximity to one another so that your Ohio road trip doesn’t have to end. Here are some intersecting or neighboring Ohio scenic byways:
- The Ohio River Scenic Byway and the Appalachian Byway intersect in Clarington.
- The Appalachian Byway doesn’t quite intersect the Hocking Hills Scenic Byway, but it’s less than a 20-minute drive from Nelsonville to Logan.
- The Welsh Scenic Byway intersects with the Ohio River Scenic Byway in Point Pleasant.
- The Lake Erie Coastal Trail is adjacent to one section of the Ohio & Erie Canalway in Cleveland.
- The Lincoln Historic Byway intersects with the Miami and Erie Canal in Delphos.
- Follow the Miami and Erie Canal south to intersect the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches in New Bremen.
Where can I find interactive maps for these scenic Ohio drives?
The Ohio Department of Transportation has great resources, including interactive maps, for those looking to pursue some adventurous Ohio road trips. You can visit its Ohio Byways page for more information.
What’s the best time of year to take Ohio road trips?
The best time for a Buckeye State road trip depends on the features of the scenic Ohio drives. Spring and fall are the most temperate times of the year if you are interested in outdoor recreational activities.
An amazing Ohio scenic byway to travel in the fall is the Hocking Hills Scenic Byway with acres of colorful fall foliage!
Enjoying Ohio Road Trips
We’ve listed just a few of the amazing scenic drives Ohio has to offer. There are more scenic drives to discover so your Ohio road trips will never get old. You can even revisit these scenic Ohio drives time and time again during different seasons for new experiences!
Plus, Ohio is so much more than cornfields and major cities. Discover some of the best scenic views in Ohio, the most picturesque Ohio covered bridges, the top Ohio spots to enjoy fall colors, spectacular caves in Ohio, and much more!