Yours Truly Restaurant Outdoor Cafe on Main Street in the Upscale Historic Village of Chagrin Falls, Ohio,

10 Cutest Small Towns In Ohio To Visit In 2024

When you think of Ohio, you might think of its major cities, like Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Toledo. Those places certainly have plenty to see and do while you are there.

But Ohio, known as the Buckeye State after its state tree that is so often found growing near fresh water, is so much more than just its cities.

This state is packed with small, friendly, and charming towns just waiting for adventurous travelers to stop in and check them out. From towns right in the heart of state forests to little villages out on the islands of Lake Erie, each town is one of a kind and full of amazing things to see and do.

Maybe you are visiting Ohio for the first time, or maybe you are a veteran Buckeye vacationer. Either way, there is always something new and exciting in even the tiniest of small towns.


The charming town of Peninsula, Ohio.
The charming town of Peninsula, Ohio. Image credit: Jon Dawson via

Small and quaint, the village of Peninsula stands right in the middle of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, an idyllic setting for anyone planning a vacation heavy on adventures in the great outdoors. Visitors can expect to find miles of hiking trails; some laid back for more casual hikers and others perfect for more experienced hikers who want to challenge themselves.

Prefer winter getaways? There are not just one but two local ski resorts for all skiing and snowboarding lovers.

If you want a more relaxed way to explore the area, grab a ticket and hop on board the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. The vintage rail cars are charming and fun, and there are a number of themed excursions like Canvas & Wine and Murder Mystery.

The village itself is small and cozy, but though there are less than 1,000 year-round residents you don’t have to look far for things to do in Peninsula. The historic G.A.R. Hall, a music hall built nearly 175 years ago, is still putting on amazing shows and performances all year long.

The Peninsula Art Academy is another large non-profit supporter of local artists and artisans, with classes available for locals and visitors alike. River Light Gallery is a gallery and co-op staffed exclusively by its artists.

If all of this exploring and shopping gives you a bit of an appetite, then you are in luck. Winking Lizard Tavern and Fisher’s Cafe & Pub has delicious food and drinks, and The Wine Mill is the perfect place for a tasting of local wines.


Aerial view of the port at Conneaut
Aerial view of the port at Conneaut

Conneaut attracts tons of visitors and vacationers every year, and for a number of reasons. To start with, it is just miles away from Lake Erie, with all of the fishing, boating, kayaking, and canoeing you could ever hope for. Fishing in Lake Erie is an enormously popular pastime, with people coming from near and far to drop a line in its beautiful waters.

Many people also come to Conneaut to tour its many wineries. Snuggled right into Ohio’s famous wine country,Conneaut alone has more than a dozen wineries, including Buccia Vineyards Winery and B&B, where you can book a stay to get your fill of its rolling fields and delicious wines.

Yet another reason to visit the area in and around Conneaut is its many covered bridges. It is part of Ashtabula County, which is famous for the amount of covered bridges it contains. Conneaut boasts the Smolen-Gulf Bridge, a newer construction, that is the longest covered bridge in the entire country.

As if that wasn’t enough to get you to put Conneaut on your next must-see travel list, Raceway7 is a nearby classic small dirt race track with Friday night races all summer long. D-Day Conneaut, now in its 25th year, is an annual event commemorating D-Day with reenactments and displays of World War II-era equipment, weaponry, and machinery. And you can book your stay at any number of charming, one of a kind local cottages, lodges, or bed and breakfasts.


Austrian Beer Garden on South Bass Island in Put-In-Bay, Ohio.
Austrian Beer Garden on South Bass Island in Put-In-Bay, Ohio. Image credit LukeandKarla.Travel via Shutterstock

Put-In-Bay is a charming small town, located on an actual island. South Bass Island is a little less than four miles long, but it is an incredibly popular vacation destination. You can get there by ferry, which runs from late spring through the end of the year.

The fishing and water recreation activities here are top-notch. Lake Erie is especially known for being a great spot to catch walleye, so much so that it’s often called “The Walleye Capital of the World.” If you’d rather spend your day in the water instead of dropping a line, Put-In-Bay Watercraft Rentals has plenty of jet skis, paddle boards, and kayaks to rent for a perfect afternoon of sun, sea, and fun.

There are also plenty of annual events to plan your vacation around. Ohio’s Island Wine Festival, a yearly gathering of Ohio vineyards, is an all day festival that includes wine tastings, vendors, and sweet treats. Pyrate Fest is a weekend-long party with something for the whole family, including a Pyrate Marketplace, treasure hunts, actual canon demonstrations, and much more. And the annual Put-In-Bay Jeep Invasion is another weekend event, with a Jeep show, parade, and prizes.

For a small village, Put-In-Bay is all but bursting at the seams with fun, unique ways to enjoy your stay.


Street view in Logan, Ohio
Street view in Logan, Ohio, via Wendy van Overstreet /

Along the Hocking River, about an hour away from Columbus, is the cute and quirky town of Logan. It has all the usual highlights that draw in visitors and vacationers, including unique independent businesses, cool cafes, and great places to eat. But it also has quite a few attractions that are hard to find anywhere else.

To start with, there is the annual Washboard Music Festival. This festival puts special focus on the washboard as a musical instrument, rather than just an old fashioned tool for washing clothes. Once a year the downtown area fills not only with enthusiastic washboard players, but also vendors, artists, and plenty of fun activities for both kids and adults.

The Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center is a great resource for anyone visiting Logan and its surrounding areas. But it is also home to the Pencil Sharpener Museum, a massive collection of pencil sharpeners of all shapes and sizes.

If you feel like spreading out a blanket on a clear night and laying back to wonder at the universe above you, then stargazing at John Glenn Astronomy Park may be the perfect place for you to visit while you are in Logan. There is always a calendar full of astronomy-related events going on at the park as well.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of fun, interesting, and one-of-a-kind things to do in and around Logan. A vacation there will not leave you disappointed.

Yellow Springs

The Little Art Theater in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
The Little Art Theater in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Editorial credit: Madison Muskopf /

Fun and funky, with a distinct vibe all its own, Yellow Springs has a long history of being a haven for the artistic and diverse.

For the outdoor adventurer there are amazing hiking trails and camping opportunities in places like nearby John Bryan State Park and Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve. You can also find plenty of chances to canoe or kayak, or drop your fishing line in the water and while away a peaceful and quiet afternoon.

If a downtown stroll is more your speed, you will find more than enough to fill several afternoons of wandering and exploring. Yellow Springs has dozens of unique shops and restaurants for all your shopping and dining pleasures.

Start your day with a breakfast burrito at Emporium Wines & Underdog Cafe, where you can pass the time chatting to locals or reading a book from the many shelves that line the walls, and then finish your day there with a glass of wine and some live music. In between, you can shop at Urban Handmades, where well over 70 local artists and artisans sell their one-of-a-kind art, jewelry, clothing, and more.

Stroll through the many galleries and boutiques, or check out any of the hundreds of local events held every year. No matter when you stop by Yellow Springs, there is going to be something cool going on.


Shore line of Marblehead, Ohio
Shore line of Marblehead, Ohio

Not to be confused with Lakeside Marblehead, a short five-minute drive away, Marblehead is an ideal place to visit for any outdoor and wildlife lover.

Dempsey Wildlife Area features a semi-protected boat bay and plenty of spaces to put in and launch your boat, kayak, or canoe. Great Egret Marsh Preserve is an incredible bird-watching area, as well as hiking and boating.

For more water-focused adventures, book a seat on the Kelleys Island Ferry, which runs daily out to historic Kelleys Island and also gives you a great tour of the area. From it, you can spot the Marblehead Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in the entire Great Lakes area, which is still in operation.

If you would rather keep your feet on the ground, and see some truly one of a kind flowers, check out Lakeside Daisy State Nature Preserve. Once a limestone quarry, it is now a preserve dedicated to protecting the Lakeside Daisy, an endangered species of plant that only grows naturally in a few places. Many people come in late spring to hike through the preserve while these bold, bright yellow flowers are in bloom.

When you come to Marblehead, don’t forget your binoculars and a good pair of hiking boots.


Lighthouse on Lake Erie in Huron, Ohio.
Lighthouse on Lake Erie in Huron, Ohio.

The charming town of Huron sits at the mouth of the Huron River, where it flows into Lake Erie. It is a hotspot for fishing, with plenty of piers, marinas, and chartering services tailor made for getting fishing fans out onto the water.

You can also get out into nature at places like Old Woman Creek State Nature Preserve, where large birds like osprey and bald eagles are often spotted, and Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve, where hundreds of species of birds and wildflowers can be found roaming and growing wild.

Another must-see for any nature enthusiast is the James H. McBride Arboretum. This is a botanical garden-style park with a strong focus on trees. It is in fact home to hundreds of native species of both trees and other plant life. There are areas of restored native prairieland, easy to appreciate on both hiking and walking trails.

With so much to see and do, the town of Huron is sure to keep you coming back and back for more.

Chagrin Falls

North Main Street in Chagrin Falls
North Main Street in Chagrin Falls. Image credit Kenneth Sponsler via Shutterstock.

You cannot mention Chagrin Falls without also mentioning its waterfalls. This little village literally grew up around Chagrin Falls, which still flows straight through the heart of the town. The natural beauty and unusual architectural arrangement draws in hundreds if not thousands of visitors every year.

The community in this lovely small town prides itself on creating shared green spaces for everyone to enjoy, as well as creating an atmosphere of welcome and fellowship. One of the main tenets of the community is supporting a walkable and bike-able town, making Chagrin Falls a lovely place to spend a day, a weekend, or more.

Any stroll through town is chock full of fun and unique things to do. Art galleries and studio spaces like Studio2 and the Glass Asylum, boutiques such as The Artful Yarn and A Bit of Skirt, give you something new to see and do everywhere you look.


Main Street near the Miami Street intersection in Waynesville, Ohio
Main Street near the Miami Street intersection in Waynesville, Ohio. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Historic Waynesville holds the unique privilege of actually being older than the state of Ohio. This long, rich history is still present in downtown Waynesville, with more than 200 historic buildings still standing.

Sometimes called the “Antiques Capital of the Midwest,” this delightful small town carries a love of history close to its heart, carrying it with them into the modern age with boutiques that blend the past and the present.

Art Expressions Infinite Tea sells the work of local artists and artisans as well as vintage delights. It is also a loose leaf tea shop with an almost endless variety of teas and blends. Buckeye Charm, in what used to be a Catholic church, sells one of a kind goods in a bright and funky atmosphere. 922 Mercantile sells clothing, furniture, and a cool mix of both vintage and modern goods.

There’s no shortage of good old-fashioned fun throughout Waynesville. Events include Street Faire Saturdays all summer long, and the annual Car Show is a street fair with really awesome cars as the centerpiece. Fall visitors enjoy the Annual Sauerkraut Festival, a weekend-long event that also raises money to support local organizations.


Downtown Geneva, Ohio
Downtown Geneva, Ohio, By Andre Carrotflower - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

From wine tastings and tours to fishing to hot live music and cold brews, Geneva-On-The-Lake is a well-known and popular vacation destination for visitors of all ages.

Fans of nostalgic throwbacks enjoy the multiple mini golf courses and arcades, as well as Whips Magic Emporium, owned by Perfect Occasion Costumes and Magic. You can even throw axes or try your airsoft shooting skills at Uncle Joe’s Good Time - Lock N Load.

Get out onto the lake for a day of sun and fun, and maybe even hook the big one by booking a fishing charter. DB Sportfishing Charters and Anger Management Fishing Charter will both get you into a boat and out on the waves.

There are plenty of cafes, restaurants, wineries, and nightclubs to rest, relax, and recharge in. Goblin Wine and Ale House, HighTide Tavern, and Swiss Chalet & Beer Garden are all unique and popular places to bend an elbow, eat your fill, or dance the night away.

Whether you come for a night or a week, by yourself or with the whole family, Geneva-On-The-Lake is a vibrant small town with a welcoming and energetic vibe that invites you to leave your cares behind and just have a good time.

The many small towns of Ohio are full of fun, personality, and an almost endless array of ways to enjoy your visit.

Incredible natural landscapes in both local and state parks, natural preserves, and the grandeur of Lake Erie all invite visitors to slow down, unwind, and enjoy the beauty around them. Fishing, hiking, camping, and more await the outdoor enthusiast.

Charming downtowns bustle with the vitality of one-of-a-kind shops, galleries, cafes, alehouses, and more. From antiques to fine art and beyond, a day spent shopping is a day full of unique and unexpected treasures.

The Buckeye State may be well known for its larger urban and metropolitan areas, like Cleveland and Toledo, but its small towns aren’t something to overlook. The next time you are planning a vacation anywhere in Ohio, be sure to check out some of the many cute, quirky, fun, and special small towns that are just waiting for you to stop by.

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