The Top 15 Reasons Ohio Has the Absolute Best Summers in the Country

Written by Samantha Stanich
Updated: July 20, 2023
Share on:

Advertisement


Cleveland, Ohio, USA downtown city skyline in the daytime.

With award-winning restaurants, rooftop bars, and museums, Northeast Ohio is a great place to visit.

©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

Do you have questions about the Buckeye State? Like, what’s round on both sides and high in the middle? O-HI-O! Or why should you visit Ohio in the summer? We have the answers!

The Buckeye State offers plenty to do for the whole family all season long. You can discover your heart of adventure in the Midwest state that is the heart of it all. Whether you like to hit the water with your kayak, indulge in over-the-top delicacies, or explore memorable museums, Ohio has will keep you entertained. Many consider the Midwest to have some of the best summers in the United States. So, check out our list of Ohio’s best summer qualities and why this state should be your summertime destination!

1. Lake Erie

The Marblehead Lighthouse on the edge of Lake Erie in Ohio, USA

The freshwater Great Lake is 25,667 square kilometers with an average depth of 210 feet.

©Sara Winter/Shutterstock.com

Though Ohio may not be by the sea, visitors don’t have to go far to enjoy a day at the beach! Lake Erie is a popular destination for summer vacations. Everyone from empty nesters to families to young couples seeking adventure can enjoy the shores and waters of the Great Lake. It is an affordable way to enjoy island life without traveling too far or even leaving the state!

There are multiple public beaches and access points to the lake. And if you don’t want to dive into the freshwater, you can always boat, camp, kayak, paddleboard, canoe, or even book a dinner cruise around the lake!

Lake Erie is a great day trip in the summer or an affordable weekend getaway. Plan your summer drive to the lake today!

2. Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island

Put-in-Bay, Commodore Perry Monument

These islands in Lake Erie offer island vibes during Midwest summers!

©Brendan Russell/Shutterstock.com

Ohio even has islands in its Great Lake. Two islands that are great summertime destinations are Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island.

Put-in-Bay offers activities for the entire family, and you get to tour the island by bike or golf cart! If you want to make it a romantic trip, the island lights up with exciting nightlife when the sun sets. There are dozens of restaurants and pubs to please every tastebud and accommodate every budget. The island has the quaintness of small-town life, with Victorian-era buildings, and resort community amenities.

Kelleys Island is home to Kelleys Island State Park which offers a 100-foot sandy beach to enjoy the serene Lake Erie. It is the largest of the lake’s islands and is dominated by natural areas making it the perfect place for nature lovers to hike, bike, beach, and take advantage of other outdoor activities. There are wineries and breweries on the island that visitors can bike to or visit on a golf cart. This piece of parades in Lake Erie transports visitors to the laid-back living of island life.

You can visit both islands on the Jet Express and the Miller Ferry. You can transport your vehicle to the island on the Miller Ferry, however, visitors are recommended to not bring their vehicles due to limited parking on the islands.

3. Geneva-On-The-Lake

Aerial View Of Lake Erie Costal Town, Geneva On The Lake Ohio.

Geneva-on-the-Lake is a cozy family getaway town on the shore of Lake Erie.

©IanSkylake17/Shutterstock.com

This small resort town in Northwestern Ohio sits in Ashtabula County just northeast of Cleveland. Geneva-on-the-Lake offers wineries, ziplining, beaches, hiking trails, and great family-friendly cuisine! You can stop by Eddie’s Grill, an open-air restaurant with a distinct 1950s vibe, complete with stools on the sidewalk. Chow down on a hamburger and a root beer float! Then there is the Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake, a welcoming spot with 109 rooms and suites and 25 lakeside cottages. The destination offers a pool, fitness center, and even an aerial adventure park with lakeside zip line tours and an adventure course for those seeking some thrills! The coastal town even has golf, putt-putt, and a nightlife for adults.

4. Cedar Point

Aerial panorama of the Cedar Point peninsula at dusk, in Sandusky, Ohio, on the Erie lake.

The area is called “the roller coast” or the “roller coaster capital of the world.”

©Mihai_Andritoiu/Shutterstock.com

Welcome to the Roller Coast! Cedar Point is home to 71 amazing rides in Sandusky. It sits on a Lake Erie peninsula, and at one point in time had the tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster, the Raptor, when it opened in 1994. This coaster is still operating in the park along with 15 others. It was also home to the Top Thrill Dragster which opened in 2003 as the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world, as well as the first strata coaster, which is any full-circuit roller coaster that exceeds 400 feet (120 m) in height. However, this coaster is now closed and under construction.

The park also has a waterpark right next door. The Cedar Point Shores Waterpark features 18 acres of water-splashing family fun! There is Lakeslide Landing, a young kids’ area with slides, geysers, and fountains to cool off in, and Lemmy’s Lagoon for waterplay. For thrill-seekers, there is a four-capsule drop slide as well.

5. Hocking Hills

Bridge and Upper Falls at Hocking Hills, OH

This state park offers over 25 miles of hiking trails, rock formations, waterfalls, and recess caves.

©Tom Robertson/Shutterstock.com

You can’t think of summer in Ohio without including the Hocking Hills. The state park offers around 200 campsites, as well as multiple privately owned lodges and hotels complete with pools and hot tubs. For the naturalists, there are “hike-in” tent-only campsites as well. The area has a ton of activities including putt-putt, horseback riding, ziplining, hiking, laser tag, a petting zoo, an 18-hole golf club, and even guided hikes with edible forest and wildlife photography treks. There are also rock climbing, canoe and kayak trips as well as some whitewater rafting.

The seven separate hiking areas include:

  • Ash Cave
  • Cantwell Cliffs
  • Cedar Falls
  • Conkle’s Hollow (nature preserve)
  • Old Man’s Cave
  • Rock House
  • Hemlock Bridge Trail to Whispering Cave

You can also pop over to Ohio University during your trip and explore the campus while it isn’t overrun with students!

6. Ohio State Fair

Ferris wheel detail at the Ohio State Fair

The state fair is one of the largest state fairs in the United States

©aceshot1/Shutterstock.com

You and your family can make memories to last a lifetime at the annual Ohio State Fair. When you visit Ohio in the summer, head to the capital, Columbus, and visit one of the largest state fairs in the country. The fair occurs from late July through early August. Your family can partake in fair traditions like visiting the famed butter cow and calf, listening to the renderings of the All-Ohio State Fair Band & Youth Choir, and even seeing baby animals being brought into the world!

The fair offers everything like local Ohio food, live music, family-friendly shows, animal and craft exhibits, art galleries, petting zoos, and more! There is even an eight-acre natural resources park with free youth fishing and kayaking!

7. Pleasant Weather

Ohio is known for its unpredictable weather. The age-old saying about Midwest weather, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes,” describes the Buckeye State’s weather patterns to a tee. And though most associated the state with cold and rain, Ohio’s summers have pretty wonderful temperatures. If you want to visit Ohio in the summer, the best month is July! The average temperature stays around 80 degrees Fahrenheit from June through August. Early summer can see thunderstorms, and there is humidity and the occasional tornado. however, it is no different than other Midwest states, and for the most part, Ohio summers are blue and sunny skies.

Looking south at the city of Columbus Ohio skyline at sunset.

Ohioans look forward to summer days filled with sunshine, warm temperatures, and relaxing on the patio.

©aceshot1/Shutterstock.com

8. Ohio Brew Week Festival

Ohio University from above during spring.

Athens, Ohio, is

the home of Ohio University

. Oh U, Oh Yeah!

©Braden Moon/Shutterstock.com

Southern Ohio springs into action in the summertime. If you visit Ohio in the summer, you need to head down south and see what the Buckeye State has to offer! The college town of Athens is home to Brew Week, which takes place each year in early June. It is a week-long event that celebrates the craft beer of Ohio. There are tastings, tours, and events at local breweries. It is said to be a celebration of “craft beer and Ohio pride.” Around 30 breweries located in the state showcase their hops at the restaurants, bars, and breweries in Athens. Some of the breweries include:

  • Great Lakes Brewing Co. (Cleveland)
  • Rhinegeist Brewing Co. (Cincinnati)
  • Jackie O’s Brewery (Athens)

The celebration also offers barbecues, happy hours, “meet the brewer,” pool tournaments, golf outings, scavenger hunts, karaoke, corn hole tournaments, trivia, a haunted tour, and other fun activities!

9. Visit the Zoo

A closeup shot of a hippo under the water at the Cincinnati zoo

Fiona the hippo is famous for surviving! She was born six weeks before she was due.

©Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock.com

A mother great activity when taking a visit to Ohio in the summer is spending the day at one of the state’s many zoos. You can spend the day at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and visit the iconic Fiona the hippo and her baby brother Fritz. In 1987, this zoo became a designated National Historic Landmark due to its significant architecture featured in the Elephant House, the Reptile House, and the Passenger Pigeon Memorial. The zoo’s Reptile House is the oldest existing zoo building in the country, dating back to 1875.

There is also the Akron Zoo, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and the Toledo Zoo & Aquarium. The Cleveland Zoo is a 183-acre facility located in the heart of the city. And the Toledo Zoo houses 720 species of animals and was recognized as one of the most well-rounded zoos in the world. The Akron Zoo is also home the Lehner Family Zoo Gardens. The gardens shelter over 7,000 native plants as well as an owl habitat and an outdoor amphitheater. 

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is the state’s largest zoo with a total land area of 582 acres. It is home to more than 10,000 animals from over 575 species.

10. Visit a Museum or Science Center

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland is known as the

birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll

.

©Erik Drost / CC BY 2.0 – License

You can beat the hot weather when you visit Ohio in the summer and take a trip inside one of the state’s many educational museums. It is fun for the whole family! There are science centers, children’s museums, art museums, and even multiple halls of fame to visit and learn more subjects that interest you! In fact, USAToday just named COSI in Columbus as the “Best Science Museum in the U.S.” for the fourth year in a row. And the Institute of Museum and Library Services also COSI the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Ohio has plenty of museums to choose from and below is just a quick peek at some of the centers you can visit!

Children’s museums include: 

  • Children’s Museum of Findlay
  • Akron Children’s Museum,
  • Buckeye Imagination Museum (Mansfield)
  • Mighty Children’s Museum (Chillicothe)

Ohio Hall of Fames are:

  • Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (Cleveland)
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame (Canton)
  • National Aviation Hall of Fame (Dayton)

Science centers are: 

  • Imagination Station (Toledo)
  • Boonshoft Museum of Discovery (Dayton)
  • Akron Fossils & Science Center
  • Great Lakes Science Center (Cleveland)

Art museums are:

  • Cincinnati Art Museum
  • Toledo Museum of Art
  • Cleveland Museum of Art

Other museums include:

  • The Christmas Story House (Cleveland)
  • National Museum of the U.S. Air Force (Dayton)
  • Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Cincinnati)

11. See a Baseball Game

Cincinnati Ohio After Sunset, Reds vs Cubs

Major League Baseball came to Ohio in 1866 with the founding of the Cincinnati Red Stockings.

©Doug Lemke/Shutterstock.com

Summer is baseball season in Ohio! So, take your family to the ballgame and cheer on home teams like the Cincinnati Reds at the Great American Ballpark and the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field. Or root, root, root for minor league teams like the Akron RubberDucks and the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. 

Baseball is its own season in the Buckeye State, with thousands of people just waiting for opening day! And thankfully, baseball in Ohio is incredibly easy to come by, whether it’s major league or minor league.

Other teams to catch on the diamond include:

  • Lake Erie Crushers
  • Toledo Mud Hens
  • Lake County Captains
  • Dayton Dragons
  • Columbus Clippers

12. Visit The Flats in Cleveland

Aerial closeup view of part of the Flats district in Cleveland, Ohio

This redeveloped area on the banks of the Cuyahoga River comes alive in the summertime.

©Kenneth Sponsler/Shutterstock.com

The Cuyahoga River is reclaiming its beauty! USAToday recently named the river the “Best Urban Kayaking Spot.” So, if you want to explore the outdoors but stay within the city, you can paddle out of the Flats in downtown Cleveland. After you enjoy the waters, you can grab food and a drink at its many restaurants and enjoy the sunshine on the many patios. The Flats are a perfect reason to visit Ohio, specifically Cleveland, in the summer!

The Flats is a waterfront neighborhood full of restaurants, bars, shops, and even a boardwalk with relaxing green space. There are famous water taxis to take you from one side of the Flats to the other to make sure you get the chance to discover everything it has to offer. You may even get to see the huge freighters navigate the Cuyahoga River’s sharp oxbow turn!

13. Visit the Midwest Wine Country

Ohio winery grape field

The state’s long tradition of grape growing and producing quality wines began in the early 1800s.

©Eric B Wolman/Shutterstock.com

You don’t have to fly to Italy or California for wine country. In fact, it is right in your backyard in Ohio! You can spend all summer long visiting vineyards across the state. June is Ohio Wine Month where you can learn about the state’s 320 wineries, and why it is ranked seventh in the country for wine economic output!

Ohio is prime for grape growing thanks to the rich soil left behind by the glaciers that carved out the Great Lakes. The Ashtabula and Lake County regions of the state produce the majority of Ohio wine grapes.

14. Ohio In the Summer Means Ice Cream

On a colorful background, a hand with ice cream in the form of the flag of State of Ohio

It seems like every city and town in Ohio has its own “famous” ice cream shop!

©Millenius/Shutterstock.com

You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream in Ohio! With July being National Ice Cream Month, Ohio is the perfect place to enjoy the summertime treat. It is home to over 1,400 dairy farms which means there is a mom-and-pop ice cream store with flavors galore in every town in every county! Places like Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl in Zanesville or Handels Homemade Ice Cream in Youngstown will definitely have the flavor you taste in your dreams! You can beat the heat on the Ohio Ice Cream Trail!

15. Find a Bicycle Made for Two This Midwest Summer

Woman Bikes Through Tunnel on Towpath in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

The iconic 101-mile Towpath Trail runs through the heart of the Ohio and Erie Canalway.

©Kelly vanDellen/Shutterstock.com

You can enjoy Ohio’s beautiful summer scenery on comfortable bike trails throughout the state. Ohio has the most U.S. Bicycle Route miles in America at 1,523 miles of trails.

In southern Ohio, Athens hosts the Brewed on the Bikeway Trail where you can pedal your way from brewery to brewery. You can also have a “wheelie” great time on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail through Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Northeast Ohio.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Agnieszka Gaul/Shutterstock.com


Share on:

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.