Summertime aerial view of Mount Vernon and Ariel Foundation Park, featuring turquoise pond water in the distance.

10 Coolest Towns in Ohio for a Summer Vacation in 2024

Ohio is a charming Midwest state that boasts some of the coolest towns in the US, where summer vacations are always epic. First off, most of these towns lie along the shores of Lake Erie, radiating exotic natural beauty. In addition to that, rivers, waterfalls, lush forests, mountains, and other unsullied natural sights surround these towns, effectively making them playgrounds for adventures. From Yellow Springs and its gorgeous waterfalls to Geneva and its exotic beaches, here are the 10 Coolest Towns in Ohio for an extraordinary summer retreat.


Buildings on the western side of Lancaster Street (State Route 204) in downtown Millersport, Ohio, USA.

Lancaster Street in downtown Millersport, Ohio, USA.

Millersport is a scenic town that invites tourists to a summer of endless outdoor fun. Here, visitors will be met with the 3,349-acre Buckeye Lake State Park, offering excellent opportunities for kayaking, boating, swimming, canoeing, fishing, picnicking, and wildlife watching. The town also hosts the 2.5-acre Brooks Park, featuring a wetland, wildlife, and a lakeside playground. For hikers and bikers, hit the four-mile Buckeye Lake-Dam Walking and Biking Trail for gorgeous water scenery. For some history of the lake area, head to the nearby Buckeye Lake Historical Society Museum and browse through its massive collection of memorabilia. Before leaving, stop by the Dockside Donuts for some delicious donuts and then proceed to the Millersport Community Theatre to get entertained.


Castle in Loveland, Ohio, during winter.

Castle in Loveland, Ohio, during winter.

Loveland is a lovely town and a major stop along the Little Miami Scenic Trail, with the Little Miami River on both sides of its borders. In summer, the river becomes a hotspot for canoeing, kayaking, and boating adventures, while Loveland Bike Trail is always available for bikers seeking natural visual indulgences while on the saddle. Tourists can also immerse in some history at the medieval Loveland Castle on the banks of the Little Miami River and go on tours to explore its interiors and exterior gardens. Summer might also be a perfect time to catch exciting shows at the Loveland Stage Company or immerse in a captivating art scene at the Loveland Artist Studio on Main.

Mount Vernon

Drone view of Ariel Foundation Park trails with the distant city of Mount Vernon, Ohio, in the background.

Drone view of Ariel Foundation Park trails with Mount Vernon, Ohio.

Mount Vernon is a visually appealing town along the Kokosing River in Knox County. Here, tourists can begin an unforgettable summer vacation by rafting, fishing, kayaking, boating, or canoeing on the river. Next, take on the 14-mile Kokosing Gap Trail, which traverses the Kokosing River, forests, wetlands, and several charming settlements from Mount Vernon to Danville and back, with views of the river as a plus. For something unique, head to Ariel Foundation Glass Park, featuring a river of glass, Coxey building ruins, and the Rastin Observation Tower, offering gorgeous aerial views of the area.

Proceed to explore the downtown, roam around the Civil War Monument, grab a coffee and baked goods at Happy Bean, and enjoy lunch at North Main Cafe. While in the downtown area, check out the unique Dog Fountain where sculptures of various animals from dogs to cats can be seen spewing water from their mouths.


Historic Ashtabula Harbor on a sunny summer day.

Historic Ashtabula Harbor on a sunny summer day.

Ashtabula is a prominent and bigger town in Ohio at the mouth of the Ashtabula River on Lake Erie. As a result, the Ashtabula Harbor, where the river flows into the lake, is one of the town's highlight attractions. This harbor bustles with activities all summer as it features shops, restaurants, inns, museums, and an iconic lift bridge. Visitors can spend time sightseeing around the harbor while history buffs can immerse in the past at Museums such as - Hubbard House Underground Railroad Museum and Ashtabula Maritime and Surface Transportation Museum. For more adventures, tourists are welcome to Lake Shore Park, offering exciting activities from picnicking to fishing, hiking, and more.

Additionally, Ashtabula County is famous for being the covered bridge capital of Ohio, and a visit to Ashtabula (the county’s largest town) is an opportunity to see the region’s 19 covered bridges. Some famous bridges to see in town include - the Benetka Road Covered Bridge (renovated around 1985), the Olin Covered Bridge (built in 1873), and the Riverview Covered Bridge (completed in 2016). If covered bridges are not your thing, enjoy relaxation at Walnut Beach featuring nature trails and sports facilities.


The historic Armstrong Clio Covered Bridge, built in 1849, relocated to a city park in Cambridge, Ohio, since 1966.

The historic Armstrong Clio Covered Bridge was built in 1849.

Cambridge is a charming town in the Appalachian Mountains with so much to offer visitors. To begin with history, this town invites tourists to the National Museum of Cambridge Glass featuring over 10,000 pieces of beautiful Cambridge Glass, and offering tours about the company’s history. The John and Anne Glenn Museum is another historic draw in town, featuring reenactments of life during the Great Depression and WWII and John Glenn's role in America's space expedition. Derail from the path of history into the town's beautiful scenery at Cambridge City Park, featuring picnic shelters, a fountain, green spaces, a scenic covered bridge built in 1849, and a playground. Jackson Park is a great alternative, featuring a pond, two pavilions, a playground, and a walking trail. For more adventures, head to the beautiful Fletcher Park hosting picnic tables, a BBQ grill, and shaded areas for relaxation.


Aerial view of Marblehead Lighthouse in Marblehead, Ohio, showcasing the vintage white lighthouse from the 1800s.
Aerial view of Marblehead Lighthouse in Marblehead, Ohio.

Marblehead in Ottawa County is a ravishing small-town paradise on a peninsula that divides Sandusky Bay from Lake Erie. Once here on a summer retreat, visitors can head to the Marblehead Lighthouse State Park, home to the oldest working lighthouse on the American side of the Great Lakes. The park also features spectacular views of Lake Erie, its islands, and Sandusky Bay. Marblehead is also home to the 1,831-acre East Harbor State Park on the shores of Lake Erie and featuring a small beach, campgrounds, and marina.

For families, Marblehead is near the Cedar Point Amusement Park, one of the oldest in the country featuring 17 roller coasters, 3 water rides, a one-mile-long beach, two marinas, and a total of 74 attractions.


Commodore Perry Monument in Put-in-Bay.

Commodore Perry Monument in Put-in-Bay.

While the name might be funny or unusual, Put-in-Bay is just a scenic and cool Ohio charming small town waiting to offer visitors incredible experiences. This gorgeous town sits entirely on South Bass Island in Lake Erie and is accessed by ferries. As a summer resort town, there are many sights for tourists, and a perfect starting point is at the Perry's Cave or Crystal Cave. Both caves are stunning natural attractions that played critical roles in the lives of the early men who lived on the island, and the Crystal Cave is remarkable for its celestine crystals that rise up to 3 feet. Afterward, relish experiences on the charming Lake Erie that surrounds the town by kayaking, boating, canoeing, and fishing in the waters. Then, admire the South Bass Island Lighthouse while the kids have fun at Kimberley Carousel.


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

Besides its unique name, Geneva-on-the-lake is a paragon of natural beauty that promises a sensational lakeside summer experience. This scenic town sits on the shores of the magnificent Lake Erie, where summer visitors will always be presented with the lake's beauty. To better enjoy the lake, tourists are invited to Geneva Lake State Park, featuring a sandy beach for sunbathing, strolling, and picnicking. Visitors can also swim, kayak, boat, fish, and canoe on the lake or enjoy a Ferris wheel ride with family. Meanwhile, nature lovers can hike the park’s two-mile trail or delve into its forest for more sights and sounds of nature. The Geneva Township Park is also on the lake's shores for picnics, sightseeing, and relaxation, and the more adventurous visitor can head to the Lake Erie Canopy Tours to enjoy some aerial adventures.


Patrons shopping and eating in downtown Granville, Ohio.

Patrons shopping and eating in downtown Granville, Ohio. Editorial credit: Eric Glenn /

Granville is a scenic village emplaced on the rolling Welsh Hills in Lickings County, where it combines quaint beauty and historic allure to satisfy visitors. Tourists on a summer vacation here can start by exploring the TJ Evans Bike Trail which exposes the town's natural beauty as it courses through a canopy of trees, green pastures, and woodlands while featuring intermittent views of ponds and creeks. Next, check out the historic Alligator Mound, built in prehistoric times by native Ohio people. For nature lovers, explore the nearly 2,000-acre Dawes Arboretum, featuring over 3,000 species of trees and shrubs, a maple trail, a nature center, and a Japanese garden. For some history, visitors can head to the museum at Granville Historical Society, housing interesting artifacts reflecting the area’s history. And if wildlife sounds like fun, experience an African safari in the US at The Wilds featuring animals such as deer, cheetahs, and giraffes.

Yellow Springs

The Little Art Theater, a local landmark in Yellow Springs, Ohio, built in 1929, showcasing foreign films and indie movies.

The Little Art Theater is a 1929 local landmark in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Editorial credit: Madison Muskopf /

Yellow Springs is a scenic town on rolling hills that promises unforgettable summer vacations. This town is home to sights like the Glen Helen Nature Preserve, where the dazzling yellow springs drip from caves, and the scenic Miami River flows through its green forests. The John Bryan State Park is just three miles from this nature preserve and should be explored alongside. The 752-acre park is centered around Clifton Gorge and is lavish with hiking trails to explore the natural scenery. Additionally, this park is adjacent to the Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve, a scenic destination for hiking and fishing on the Little Miami River. Back in town, tourists will enjoy picking fresh produce at Peifer Orchards and watching movies at Little Art Theatre. For hikers and bikers, explore the part of the Little Miami Scenic Trail in town to spot covered bridges, among other enchanting visual indulgences on the well-paved trail.

Experience the Best of Ohio's Small Towns This Summer

The small towns of Ohio are perfect destinations to bask in the outdoors and experience a unique summer vacation. These towns are laid-back, scenic, lodged at the backdrop of natural views, and isolated from the big cities and their chaotic vibes. Thus, they offer visitors idyllic landscapes and diverse activities that make summer fun-filled, thrilling, and memorable. The best part is that each town flaunts a distinct charm and character, making every experience one of a kind. From the river and lake towns that are cool and picturesque to historic towns that induce a sense of nostalgia, Ohio is the best stop in summer.

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