Classic Cars meet on the town square for cruisers night in Milan, Ohio. Image credit Keith J Finks via Shutterstock

10 of the Most Charming Small Towns to Visit in Ohio

Ohio is a laid-back state in America’s Midwestern region with so much to love. First off, this state is blessed with a host of natural gems from rivers, and lakes, to stunning rock formations, waterfalls, and dense forests hosting unique fauna and flora. In terms of history, the area now known as Ohio has been inhabited as early as 13,000 BCE. Around the 18th century CE, the area experienced an influx of Europeans and soon, several towns and cities were founded all over the territory. On March 1, 1803, Ohio officially became a state in the US and today, its small towns are among the most charming destinations in the country as they play host to priceless natural and historic gems.

From Circleville to Milan, learn more about the most charming towns in Ohio to visit.


A pink Ford on a summer cruise night in downtown Milan, Ohio.
A pink Ford on a summer cruise night in downtown Milan, Ohio. Image credit Keith J Finks via Shutterstock

Milan is a small town with a population of approximately 1,500 people as of 2020. Perhaps the most interesting fact about this town is that it was the birthplace and childhood home of the great inventor, Thomas Edison. While there is more to the town than its connection with the famous inventor, visitors here have to check out the Thomas Edison Birthplace Museum to see rare early inventions of the man who eventually invented the light bulb, phonograph, and the motion picture camera, among others.

Next, have fun at Edison Park, featuring picnic tables, shelters, grills, a playground, a sledding hill, and more. A stroll through town is also an exciting thing to do here as it rewards one with beautiful sights of buildings from the 19th century. While strolling, visitors can also check out the Milan Inn-Tiques Shop on the town square to shop for antiques and historic murals.


A castle in Loveland, Ohio.
Castle in Loveland, Ohio.

Loveland is a charming town in Southwestern Ohio with a rich history and gorgeous natural scenery. Start an unforgettable vacation here by visiting the Loveland Historical Society Museum to learn more about the town and then head to the Art House II to see more than 200 artworks. For outdoor adventures, rent a bike and hit the Loveland Bike Trail along the Little Miami River, with picnic tables restaurants, and ice cream shops along the way.

For more fun and scenery, visitors can kayak and canoe on the Little Miami River with the help of Loveland Paddle Sports. Before leaving, head to Loveland Castle, on the banks of the Little Miami River just outside the city for a little feel of life in the Medieval ages.

Yellow Springs

Little Art Theater in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
Little Art Theater in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Image credit Madison Muskopf via

Yellow Springs is a small charming town in the beautiful rolling hills of Southwest Ohio offering loads of exciting adventures. Here, visitors will enjoy exploring exciting attractions like Glen Helen Nature Preserve featuring caves, hot springs, hiking trails, and the beautiful Yellow Springs which gave rise to the town’s name. The town is also located just three miles from the Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve with nearly four miles of hiking and biking trails, beautiful trees, picnic tables, and incredible views of the Little Miami River flowing through a gorge. This park even leads to the John Bryan State Park where there are more hiking and biking trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, and rock climbing, fishing, and canoeing opportunities.

For those visiting in September, the Yellow Springs Sunflower Field is a must-visit as there will be sights of thousands of blooming sunflowers at the time. For more adventures, visitors can rent a bike and hit the 78-mile Little Miami Scenic Trail that connects to other towns in the region.


Shops, businesses, and dining establishments in Granville, Ohio.
Shops, businesses, and dining establishments in Granville, Ohio. Image credit Kenneth Sponsler via Shutterstock

Granville is a charming town in Ohio’s rolling hills with a quaint New England-style atmosphere, friendly locals, and so much nature around. Once here, explore the town’s top attractions starting from Sugarloaf Park, featuring marked nature trails and picnic areas. Next, enjoy more hiking at Dawes Arboretum and then visit the Granville Historical Society Museum to learn more about the town. Afterward, spend time strolling through the downtown, shopping, and exploring historical attractions like the Buxton Inn, which was founded in 1812 and is one of the oldest continuously operating inns in Ohio. Also, check out the town’s Greek-revival-style structures like, Avery Downer House (built in 1842) and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church (built in 1837).

Before leaving Granville, be sure to check out the town’s unique prehistoric Alligator Effigy Mound said to have been built by ancient Indigenous people between 800 and 1200 CE. For lovers of archaeology craving similar experiences, the Newark Earthworks is less than five miles from the Alligator Effigy Mound.


People at Marblehead, Ohio lighthouse.
People at Marblehead, Ohio lighthouse. Image credit gg5795 via Shutterstock

Marblehead is a picturesque town that’s part of the area in Ohio known as Vacationland. The town is located at the tip of the Marblehead Peninsula and is famous for its lakeside scenery and interesting attractions many of which revolve around the waters. Marblehead is home to the oldest operating lighthouse on the American part of the Great Lakes. The lighthouse is open for tours and is part of the Marblehead Lighthouse State Park which has picnic tables, a museum, and great views of Lake Erie. For more history, visitors can head to the Wolcott Keeper’s House, the oldest surviving home in Ottawa County that served as the residence of the first keepers of the Marblehead Lighthouse.

Marblehead is also famous for its ferry service to Lake Erie Islands many of which offer more fun and scenery. While here, visitors will also have easy access to East Harbor State Park which has opportunities for boating, swimming, fishing, camping, picnicking, and bird and wildlife watching.


Ferris Wheel Near Lake Erie In Geneva On The Lake Ohio
Ferris Wheel Near Lake Erie In Geneva On The Lake, Ohio.

Geneva-On-The-Lake is arguably the most charming town in Ohio. Located on the shores of Lake Erie, this resort town is especially notable for its outdoor adventures which expose one to the beauty of Lake Erie. Geneva State Park is the highlight attraction in this town and a visit is an opportunity to fish, boat, take in incredible views of Lake Erie, and swim or relax on a beach. This park also boasts up to six miles of trails, picnic areas, luxury lakeside lodging, and campgrounds with lots of amenities.

The Old Firehouse Winery is another attraction in town worth visiting as it has delicious food and wine, great views of Lake Erie, and nightly entertainment in summer. Don’t leave without taking a walk along the town’s mile-long strip, featuring restaurants, shops, and endless entertainment.


Historic Wolf Creek Grist Mill in Loudonville, Ohio.
Historic Wolf Creek Grist Mill in Loudonville, Ohio.

Loudonville is a beautiful town in Ashland and Holmes Counties famous for its nickname, the Canoe Capital of Ohio. Once here, visitors can start by visiting the Mohican State Park, with more than 13 miles of hiking and biking trails and campsites. A part of the Mohican River also flows through this park making it a great place for year-round boating and fishing. The surrounding Mohican-Memorial State Forest offers an additional 32 miles of trails for hiking and biking.

Next, go to Ugly Bunny Winery to taste delicious wine, and then visit the Copper Top Gallery to discover the history of the Mohican area. Before leaving, head to the Creative Outlet Indian Store to shop for souvenirs and gifts.

Mt. Vernon

Aerial view of Mount Vernon, Ohio.
Overlooking Mount Vernon, Ohio.

Mt. Vernon is a charming town in Knox County perfect for a weekend getaway, retirement, or residence. This town is located along the Kokosing River where visitors can go kayaking or water rafting. The 14-mile-long Kokosing Gap Trail is another interesting attraction in this town for hiking and biking to see the beautiful forests and wetlands around.

For more scenery, visitors can head to Ariel Foundation Park, featuring spectacular earthen terraces, ruins of a glass-making factory, and an event center. Enjoy entertainment at the 19th-century-built Woodward Opera House and then step into the Knox County Agricultural Museum to learn more about this area’s farming history.


Lake Erie Coastline, Ashtabula, Ohio.
Lake Erie Coastline, Ashtabula, Ohio.

This small town with a funny name is located at the mouth of the Ashtabula River on Lake Erie. The town is full of natural beauty and attractions that visitors will love like Walnut Beach which is a great place to swim, stroll on white sand, and catch views of Lake Erie. For more scenery, visitors are welcome to drive through the town to see its 19 beautiful covered bridges and the colorful trees around them. For water adventures, go to Harbor Yak to rent kayaks and explore the town’s beautiful rivers.

Ashtabula also has a rich history as it was once an important coal port as well as a crucial destination on the Underground Railroad which African American slaves used to escape to free states. To learn more about this history, be sure to visit the Ashtabula Maritime and Surface Transportation Museum.


The annual Pumpkin Festival yields thousands of visitors for all things Pumpkin, Circleville, Ohio.
The annual Pumpkin Festival, Circleville, Ohio. Image credit Eric Glenn via Shutterstock

Circleville is an incredible destination for lovers of archaeology. This town was originally built on a large circular earthwork created by the Hopewell culture however, the mounds were destroyed and the town was rebuilt with a more modern layout shortly after. Today, visitors here can check out its top attractions like Mount Oval Historic Farm, which was once home to some of the most popular farmers in the region. The Canal Park is another attraction worth visiting as it has picnic tables, walking trails, and scenic views of the Scioto River. The Calamus Swamp is also located just 1.5 miles from Circleville and it is a great place to enjoy nature as it features a lake, birds, and mammals like white-tailed deer and groundhogs.

Circleville is also famous for its annual Circleville Pumpkin Show, which is considered to be the biggest pumpkin festival in the US. This event is held in October and several pumpkin-related foods are offered while extremely large pumpkins are displayed.

The towns in Ohio are beautiful, relaxing, and full of things to see and do. While some are located by the shores of Lake Erie, others host massive forests crisscrossed by hiking and biking trails, that lead to scenic river views. These towns are exciting year-round with festivals that host people from all over the country. Their smaller populations are also bonuses that make their attractions more beautiful and less chaotic. Looking for a place to live, raise a family, or have fun on a weekend? Look no further than these charming towns in Ohio.

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