Winter in Ohio is notoriously frigid and sometimes more than a bit gloomy. But, there is good news — There are plenty of winter activities to chase away the winter doldrums. No matter which part of the state that you explore, you can find some amazing winter day trips in Ohio to enjoy when the snow starts to fall.
Loveland Castle Museum | Loveland
Did you know that there is a real castle in Ohio? If you’re looking for an exciting getaway, Loveland Castle Museum is one of the most fascinating sites in the state. Located in Symmes Township, the castle was built as a tribute to the culture of knighthood and chivalry.
It was built single-handedly by Harry Delos Andrews over the course of 50 years. Today, Loveland Castle draws tourists from all over the world to explore the architecture, gardens, and history of the property.
Related: Castles in Ohio
A Christmas Story House & Museum | Cleveland
Almost everyone has seen the Christmas film “A Christmas Story.” Originally released in 1983, it has become a standard movie of the holidays. The film was set in Cleveland, and today, you can visit the Parkers’ house just as it was in the original story.
It has been turned into a museum and an exact replica of the house in the film. When you visit, you’ll get to learn all about the making of the movie and see some of the props from the set, including the leg lamp and the Red Ryder BB gun.
Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is stunning during the warmer months, but it is a wonderful place to visit at any time of the year. Though the temperature might be freezing outside, the conservatory is still full of tropical plants.
They are still in bloom throughout the year, including incredibly special and rare specimens from around the world. You’ll also find special exhibits and classes going on throughout the year. The annual orchid exhibit, which takes place in January, is especially popular.
Dickens Victorian Village | Cambridge
Dickens Victorian Village might be one of the most fascinating and unique tourist attractions in Ohio. Located in the town of Cambridge, it transforms into a life-size recreation of a 19th-century Christmas village.
During this time, visitors are welcome to explore the realistic holiday-themed vignettes, which feature more than 180 life-size figures in authentic Victorian clothing.
These depict scenes from popular literature as well as history. You might recognize Tiny Tim, Ebenezer Scrooge, Father Christmas, and others.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park | Cleveland Area
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a 33,000-acre park that lies outside Cleveland. This park is a popular spot for hiking, biking, and exploring throughout the year. But the visits don’t stop when the snow falls.
Instead, you’ll find tourists flocking to the park to enjoy snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and winter hikes. The visitor center offers snowshoe rentals every day. There are several trails throughout the park, ranging in length and difficulty.
Historic Clifton Mill | Clifton
One of the biggest water-powered grist mills that still exists, Historic Clifton Mill was built in 1802. During the holidays, the Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill are one of the most popular and famous holiday lights displays in Ohio. The display draws thousands of tourists every year.
The more than 4 million lights decorate the homes, bridge, gorge, historic mill, and trees. There is also a nightly light show set to music. As you admire the display, keep an eye out for Santa’s workshop and other holiday scenes.
Pine Acres Reindeer Farm | La Rue
You’ve probably been to a petting zoo before, but you’ve never been to a petting zoo like this one. Pine Acres Reindeer Farm in Central Ohio is the perfect place to meet and interact with live reindeer, just like the ones that draw Santa’s sleigh.
Kids love petting and feeding the friendly animals, who are only available to visit during the winter. The farm also features special events throughout the winter season, including visits with Santa Claus and snowy carriage rides.
Akron Art Museum | Akron
Craving some culture to chase away the winter gloom? Take a trip up to Akron to enjoy a tour of the Akron Art Museum. This modern art exhibit focuses on pieces produced after 1850 and includes everything from photography to sculptures, paintings, glasswork, and much more.
You’ll find new exhibits appearing regularly too, with more than 7,000 pieces at any given time. Exploring art is the perfect way to spend a somber winter day — and beer and wine are available for purchase!
Related: Museums in Ohio
Maumee Bay State Park | Oregon
Maumee Bay State Park is a stunning park that lies on the shores of Lake Erie. It offers some of the most breathtaking scenery of Lake Erie with views of forests, cliffs, and beaches. Although the park is popular throughout the summer months, you’ll find visitors exploring when the temperature drops.
The top attractions here include famous ice formations on the beach and the lighthouse, which offers unparalleled views of the frozen lake. Many people also enjoy the chance to spot wildlife not often seen throughout the rest of the year.
Related: Ohio State Parks
Equestrian Ridge Farm | New Plymouth
Taking a snowy horseback ride through the rolling foothills of the Appalachian Mountains? Sounds like a perfect day trip for a couple looking to get away.
Equestrian Ridge Farm is located in New Plymouth Ohio. You can sign up for either a riding lesson or a tour through the stunning farmland, all within sight of the edge of the Appalachian Mountains. This beautiful ride offers views of some of the most stunning winter scenery in Ohio.
Ohio Amish Country | Millersburg
Amish Country is one of the popular tourist attractions in the Buckeye State. This stunning region, located in Northeast Ohio, is perfect for both day trips and romantic weekend getaways.
There is no end to the options in Amish Country. Attractions here include everything from authentic Amish restaurants and cozy resorts to shopping, theater, winter carriage rides, or simply enjoying the stunning farmland scenery.
Whether you decide to kick back for the weekend in a country resort or enjoy an afternoon riding horses through the woodlands, there is something in Ohio Amish Country for everyone.
The Chalet | Strongsville
Just outside Cleveland is Ohio’s premiere winter destination for tobogganing and sledding enthusiasts. Located in the Mill Stream Run Reservation, The Chalet features two 700-foot chutes that are open for tobogganing between late November and early March.
Visitors come from all over the Cleveland area to enjoy the ride and the stunning view of the Cleveland Metroparks. The chutes are refrigerated, ensuring that they are available for sledding even if snow hasn’t yet made an appearance.
Kalahari Resorts | Sandusky
Heading to Northwest Ohio in the middle of winter for a water park might not be the top idea on your mind. But, this isn’t any ordinary water park — It is one of the biggest and best indoor water parks in the state.
Standing on the shore of Lake Erie, Kalahari Resorts offers 173,000 square feet of indoor water fun that you can enjoy at any time of the year. The temperature here is a steady 84 degrees all winter long, making it perfect for enjoying waterslides, wave pools, and much more.
The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake | Geneva-on-the-Lake
The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake is one of the top destinations in Northeast Ohio for both a day trip and a longer stay. The lodge lies on the edge of Lake Erie amid Ohio’s famous wine country.
Here, you can enjoy unique, locally-grown wine within view of the stunning lake. The resort also features plenty of activities and even has a spa. Explore the nearby beaches, book a couple’s massage, or kick back and enjoy a delicious meal while admiring the scenery.
Frozen Waterfalls in Hocking Hills | Logan
If you love exploring the great outdoors no matter the time of year, don’t miss the stunning frozen waterfalls in Hocking Hills State Park near Logan Ohio! Cedar Falls, Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, and dozens of other waterfalls throughout the park are picturesque during the coldest time of the time.
Take a winter hike, enjoy a hearty meal at a nearby restaurant, and check “seeing frozen waterfalls” off your Ohio things to do bucket list!
Plan Multiple Winter Day Trips in Ohio This Year
So many of these destinations are worth visiting that you might want to plan several winter day trips in Ohio. In addition to these, there are many fantastic places to visit in Ohio during winter. And around the holidays, you can visit several Christmas towns in Ohio.