10 Day Trips from Columbus, Ohio—Local’s Guide
People love to joke about how there’s nothing to do in Ohio, and as a native Ohioan, I’ve made my fair share of those jokes. While Ohio doesn’t have the most varied landscapes compared to the coasts, there are still plenty of interesting places to go and things to do.
I was born and raised in Columbus, so I’ve had plenty of time to explore the surrounding area. Here are some unique places to take a day or weekend trip, all within 2 hours of the city. Stay till the end for a free, interactive map!
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Day/Weekend Trips from Columbus, Ohio
Note: Ohio doesn’t have a very robust public transport system, so all the time/distance estimates are based on driving times.
1. Yellow Springs
Distance: 1 hour
Best for: small town charm, hippie vibes, hiking
Yellow Springs town center
Yellow Springs was originally founded in 1825 as a socialist utopian society. These days, it’s a colorful hippie town full of unique shops and restaurants. Rose & Sal is my personal favorite with its wide selection of vintage decor.
If you enjoy hiking, there’s around 11 miles of easy to moderate trails across three parks, including the Glen Helen Nature Preserve, John Bryan State Park, and Clifton Gorge.
Clifton Gorge is my favorite, as it has the most dramatic lanscapes with the layers of worn-away rock and turquoise waters. Nearby, you’ll find the 19th-century Clifton Mill where you can buy freshly-ground flour, take quaint photos, or have a meal overlooking the water. (Clifton is technically another town, but it’s only a few miles away).
See my post on things to do in Yellow Springs for more recommendations!
Want to extend your trip? Consider staying at this two-story cabin in Clifton.
2. Walnut Woods Metro Park
Distance: 30 minutes
Best for: easy walks and photoshoots
If you’re looking for a pleasant walk or photoshoot location, you can get both at Walnut Woods. In this metro park, you’ll find paved and unpaved trails, with one of the paved trails going through the stunning Tall Pines Area. This part of the forest feels especially peaceful and almost otherwordly. The impressive trees make for a lovely photo backdrop, and you’ll frequently see engagement or family shoots in the woods. If you do come for a photoshoot, be sure to be mindful of others using the trails.
For a similar forest experience, you can also visit Oak Openings Preserve Metro Park near Toledo. The park there is much larger and has more trails, but is further away (about 2.5 hours).
3. Hocking Hills
Distance: 1 hour
Best for: hiking, antiques
Logan Antique Mall
Hocking Hills is a classic destination, and some of you may be groaning since you’ve been there countless times on school and family trips.
Most people do the Old Man’s Cave trail, which is just over 1 mile total and features some small waterfalls and interesting rock formations. You can also extend the hike to Cedar Falls, which is 6 miles round-trip.
If you’ve been-there-done-that, consider some of the other trails in Hocking Hills! I enjoyed the short 1-mile hike at Rock House, which had some impressive sandstone caves. Cantwell Cliffs is another 2-mile hike that has some scenic views. You can also try ziplining with Hocking Hills Canopy Tours.
If you like antiques, make a stop at the Logan Antique Mall on your way home. There are countless booths with quirky housewares and decorations.
Want to extend your trip? Consider staying at Hocking Cottage or this quaint guesthouse.
Distance: 1 hour
Best for: thrifting, small town charm
In my opinion, Mansfield isn’t a super interesting destination in itself, but it’s home to an incredible Volunteers of America thrift store. The one at 1280 Park Ave W is full of affordable and stylish finds. I purchased a handful of things from there four years ago, and I still regularly wear all of those pieces.
While the town itself is small, there’s a cute carousel for families and a popular coffee shop called Relax, It’s Just Coffee.
5. Mohican State Park
Distance: 1 hour
Best for: hiking, kayaking
Mohican is another classic destination for outdoorsy folks. There are miles and miles of trails for hiking, trail running, and mountain biking. In fact, there are annual ultramarathons and ultra bike races in the park that go up to 100 miles! The trails can be pretty hilly and rocky, so I’d recommend wearing hiking boots.
People also like to picnic, camp, and kayak in the area. For active travelers, Mohican Adventures has a 7- or 15-mile canoeing route and an aerial adventure park.
Want to extend your trip? Consider staying at this cabin nestled in the heart of the park.
6. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Distance: 1-2 hours
Best for: easy hikes, biking, farmer’s markets
Ohio’s only national park isn’t all that far from Columbus, depending on which part of the park you want to visit.
A popular trail is Ledges Trail, an easy two-mile hike with 200 feet of elevation gain. You’ll walk through impressive layered rock structures and finish at a scenic overlook, where many people watch the sunset.
There are also several waterfalls of all sizes, including larger Brandywine Falls and small (but lovely) Blue Hen Falls.
If hiking isn’t for you, you can bike along the Erie Canal Towpath, ride the scenic railway, or stop at the Szalay’s Farm & Market.
See my post on Cuyahoga Valley National Park for more details!
Want to extend your trip? Consider staying at Country Inn and Suites, a 10-15 minute drive from the most popular parts of the park.
7. Amish Country
Distance: 2 hours
Best for: rural landscapes, antiques, local food
Berlin Village Antique Mall
Amish Country is home to the Amish community, a religious group best known for rejecting modern technology. You can learn about Amish history and their lifestyle at The Apline Hills Museum or The Amish Farm and House.
Popular stops include Sugarcreek, which is known as the “Little Switzerland” of Ohio. The small town has some classic Swiss architecture and the world’s largest cuckoo clock (it sounds more impressive than it is haha, but it’s still very cute). For all your fairy garden needs, visit the Secret Garden shop. It feels like a different world inside the store with the floral decorations, tiny figurines, and indoor fountains.
For a huge antique mall and craft mall, check out the Berlin Village Antique Mall. I would avoid the Walnut Creek Flea Market since it’s mostly mass-produced goods and isn’t really a flea market at all. There are some lovely local sellers, but it’s mainly a tourist trap.
As a plant-based traveler, I noticed that the area doesn’t have a lot of vegan-friendly options, but Park St. Pizza had delicious vegan pizza and a build your own option.
I also want to note that the area is very visibly pro-Trump and pro-gun (like most of rural Ohio), so certain people may not feel comfortable or safe there. The Amish generally don’t participate in politics, but the other residents of the area will have political signs in their yards and sell merch in local shops (it’s very prevalent at the Walnut Creek Flea Market).
Want to extend your trip? Consider staying at this cozy cottage.
8. Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park
Distance: 30 minutes
Best for: walking, nature center, bison
A herd of bison roams across two large prairies in Battle Darby Creek Metro Park. Come to see the bison, walk the trails, or visit the nature center. There are trails from .2 to 12.5 miles of all hiking levels across the park’s 7,000 acres of land. The nature center is small, but has a sunny observation deck overlooking the prairies and has plenty of educational resources on the bison and surrounding wildlife.
Distance: 2 hours
Best for: food, rock n’ roll, art
Cleveland Museum of Art
Commonly mistaken as the capital of Ohio, Cleveland has plenty to do for families, friend groups, and solo travelers.
The Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame is probably the most iconic attraction, featuring interactive exhibits and items used by rock and roll legends.
Foodies will appreciate the West Side Market, which has 100 vendors offering produce, desserts, and ready-to-eat meals. Columbus residents may see it as the Cleveland equivalent of our North Market.
One of the most photo-worthy spots is the Cleveland Arcade, which was the very first indoor shopping center in America. The exposed beams and Victorian architecture are really stunning. Nowadays, the shopping isn’t that interesting, and individual stores have limited hours, but it’s worth stopping by just to admire the building.
The Cleveland Museum of Art has a wide collection of art from around the world. Admission is free, though some special exhibitions and events may have an extra charge.
Want to extend your trip? Consider staying at this downtown condo.
Distance: 2 hours
Best for: city views, museums, sports
Another major city in Ohio, Cincinnati is right along the Ohio River at the southern border of the state. Take a walk along the riverfront and laze around on the swinging benches overlooking the water. You can even stroll across the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge and end up in Kentucky!
The city is also home to the American Sign Museum, which is is dedicated to literal signs from 1870-1970. You can your fix of neon sign pics for your Instagram haha.
Want to extend your trip? Consider staying in this modern apartment with a lovely view of the city.
Map of Day Trips from Columbus
Use this Google Map to see the relative locations of these places and plan your trip!
Happy travels! Let us know if you have other favorite spots we should check out.
That’s so interesting they wanted to start a socialist society. It seems the area has a lot of alternative lifestyle models in terms of people who want to live apart from the rest of society. Super interesting. The Amish have always kind of fascinated me because they speak a very outdated version of German, but I had no idea they were pro-Trump (or is that mainly the rest of the population in the area?).
It is such an interesting area! I adore Yellow Springs because it’s a super progressive bubble in the middle of rural Ohio haha. I believe the Amish don’t really participate in politics; it’s mainly the other residents of the area that have their Trump signs and merch in local shops.
Why did you say if they feel safe because it’s a pro Trump area. Are you insane? It’s not the East side of Columbus Ohio where gangs are at for God’s sake. So sad you felt the need to “go there” with that awful comment. You’re no longer welcome to our town with that horribly troubled attitude of hatred.😢
You’ve literally just proved my point by being hateful yourself and saying I’m not welcome in your area, after I merely pointed out that some people may not feel comfortable in an area where people visibly support a person who is hateful towards minorities. I myself had a very uncomfortable experience there that had racist undertones. Hope you find peace in your life.
Good list! I’m surprised Athens wasn’t mentioned, though.
I actually haven’t been yet! Adding it to my list since my parents went to grad school there actually 🙂