Downtown Granville, Ohio. Editorial credit: Eric Glenn /

12 Most Scenic Small Towns in Ohio

Admitted to the Union on March 1, 1803, as the 17th state, Ohio is an incredibly beautiful state on the northeastern extremity of the American Midwest. Even though vacationers visiting the Buckeye State mostly tend to keep Columbus - the state capital and biggest city, in addition to other populous metropolises like Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Toledo at the top of their travel plans, Ohio boasts an array of innumerable scenic small towns that are worth checking out. With their spectacular surroundings, arresting Main Street, historic architecture, colorful celebrations, and quintessential Midwest allure, the Ohio towns are perfect for your day trips and long holidays with your loved ones.

Yellow Springs

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

Established by William Mills in 1825 and named after an adjacent natural spring whose waters have high iron levels, Yellow Springs is a teeny village in southwestern Ohio’s Greene County, roughly 25 miles east-northeast of Dayton. Aside from being home to the prestigious Antioch College, a private liberal arts institution founded by the Christian Connection, the community has a wealth of attractions that fascinate visitors of all ages. The Yellow Springs Historic District encompasses most of the town and comprises several landmark properties constructed in Greek Revival or Federal architectural styles. Furthermore, the town’s thriving downtown is packed with specialty stores, cafes, art galleries, Young’s Jersey Dairy - a family-operated dairy farm & restaurant, and the well-known Little Art Theatre. Several wilderness areas are close to the town, including the Little Miami Bike Trail, Glen Helen Nature Preserve, Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve, and John Bryan State Park.


Streetview of downtown Loveland, Ohio.
Streetview of downtown Loveland, Ohio.

Loveland christened in honor of James Loveland, spans across southwestern Ohio’s Clermont, Hamilton, and Warren counties, a short distance from exit 52 off Interstate 275 highway, about 15 miles northeast of Downtown Cincinnati. Initially a bustling railroad town, Loveland is at present a significant stop along the Little Miami Scenic Trail, captivating vacationers with its natural beauty and abundant outdoor recreations. The famed Loveland Bike Trail lures cyclists and hikers besides offering unparalleled views of the Little Miami River and abutting landscapes. The many parks and water towers proudly boast the town’s logo along with the nickname: “Sweetheart of Ohio.” Moreover, Loveland’s charming downtown provides plenty of shopping and dining spaces, aside from other sites of interest like the Shield’s Crossing (William Johnston House), Castle Skateland, etc. The nearby Loveland Castle or Chateau Laroche along the Little Miami River shores attracts thousands of heritage buffs.


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

A quaint Licking County hamlet in east-central Ohio, Granville is located in the Welsh Hills area roughly 35 miles east of Columbus and 7 miles west of Newark. Overlooking this serene community from atop a hill is the blissful 1,100-acre campus of Denison University comprising scores of Greek Revival historical structures. Granville’s prominent attractions include the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Avery-Hunter House & Robbins Hunter Museum, Bryn Du Mansion, Bancroft House, Buxton Inn, Alligator Effigy Mound, Granville Inn, and Newark Earthworks. Outdoor enthusiasts can unwind amidst the greens at the Dawes Arboretum, Sugarloaf Park, Opera House Park, and the Thomas Evans Trail & Bikeway.

Chagrin Falls

PNC Bank and People Dining on Main Street, Chagrin Falls.
PNC Bank and People Dining on Main Street, Chagrin Falls. Image credit Lynne Neuman via Shutterstock

Forming a portion of the Cleveland Metropolitan Area, Chagrin Falls, called after a series of cascading waterfalls along the Chagrin River, is a suburb of Cleveland in the eastern part of Cuyahoga County. Placed at the center of the town is its most noteworthy attraction: the Chagrin Falls waterfalls, where the Chagrin State Scenic River drops more than 20ft. This popular erstwhile mil town is also renowned for its thriving arts scene featuring scores of artsy attractions such as the GHill ART gallery, Chagrin Valley Little Theatre, Valley Art Center, and Glass Asylum. After a hectic day, taste some delectable Southern-influenced dishes at Bell & Flower Restaurant, and a range of burgers, specialty sandwiches, handcrafted beef, and cocktails at Flip Side Chagrin Falls.


Street view in Marietta, Ohio
Street view in Marietta, Ohio

Marietta, the seat of government of southeastern Ohio’s Washington County is situated at the meeting point of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers, approximately 11 miles northeast of the West Virginian city of Parkersburg. Established in 1788 and named in honor of the French Queen Marie Antoinette, the town is considered to be the foremost permanent US settlement in the former Northwest Territory. Travelers visiting Marietta can acquire knowledge about the town’s past at the Campus Martius Museum, The Castle, Mound Cemetery, Historic Harmar Village, Ohio River Museum, and Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption. Lining the downtown’s brick streets are some meticulously preserved Victorian buildings, specialty shops like the Antique Mall of Marietta, restaurants like the Buckley House Restaurant, and entertainment venues like the Peoples Bank Theatre which hosts live performances. Every year, Marietta hosts a variety of yearly events including the Marietta Civil War Reenactment, Ohio River Sternwheel Festival, and Marietta Invitational Regatta.


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

Occupying the southern banks of Lake Erie is Geneva-on-the-Lake, a little resort town in the northwestern part of Ashtabula County, around 46 miles northeast of Cleveland. A segment of the state Route 531 highway dubbed “The Strip,” is the town’s most renowned tourist attraction that is lined with parks, arcades, and restaurants like Eddie’s Grill, Capo’s Pizza, etc. Throughout the year, the Geneva State Park’s Lodge & Conference Center offers tourists a top-class place to reside, witness incredible views of Lake Erie, and sip tasty wines. Also, do play a round of golf at Allison’s Mini Golf, and check out the displayed antiques and collectibles at the Jennie Munger Gregory Memorial Museum. Annually, the “Thunder on The Strip” Biker Rally lures thousands of motorcyclists to this lakeside town on the weekend after Labor Day.


The downtown Swiss tourist village of Sugarcreek, Ohio
The downtown Swiss tourist village of Sugarcreek, Ohio. Image credit Dee Browning via Shutterstock.

Affectionately called, “The Little Switzerland of Ohio,” Sugarcreek is a small village located along the South Fork of Sugar Creek in northeastern Ohio’s Tuscarawas County. Being a part of the Ohio Amish Country, Sugarcreek perfectly blends Amish culture and Swiss heritage. Walk down the downtown and witness some impressive buildings constructed in Swiss architectural style and one of the biggest cuckoo clocks in the world standing at the heart of the town. Sugarcreek’s Alpine Hills Historical Museum and Erbs’s Coleman Lantern Museum are must-visits for history buffs. Round off your trip by savoring some Amish-inspired dishes in the family-friendly settings of the Dutch Valley Restaurant, and watching memorable Amish-themed performances at the Ohio Star Theater.


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

Waynesville labeled in reverence of Captain Anthony Wayne, is an attractive village situated at the junction of State Route 73 and U.S. Route 42 in the Wayne Township of southwestern Ohio’s Warren County. This “Antiques Capital of the Midwest,” is a favorite shopping destination where the town’s five-block Main Street is crammed with over 70 vintage shops, clothing boutiques, coffee houses, and independent restaurants. About 5 miles east, the Caesar Creek State Park offers adventurists more than 43 miles of hiking trails, and 31 miles of bridle trails, besides boating and swimming in the Caesar Creek Lake. In the second weekend of October, approx. 400,000 merrymakers and craft vendors flock to Waynesville to attend the annual Ohio Sauerkraut Festival.


Austrian Beer Garden on South Bass Island in Put-In-Bay, Ohio
Austrian Beer Garden on South Bass Island in Put-In-Bay, Ohio

Dubbed the “Key West of the North,” Put-In-Bay is a small resort village on South Bass Island in the Put-in-Bay Township of Ottawa County, about 85 miles west of Cleveland and 35 miles east of Toledo. Between April and October, a significant number of holidayers travel here via ferries, propeller-driven aircraft, and private boats. An assortment of retail stores, casual to upscale dining options, pubs, and entertainment venues fill Put-in-Bay’s downtown. Some of the town’s unmissable attractions include the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society Museum, Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial - honoring the naval victory in the War of 1812, South Bass Island Lighthouse, Stonehenge Estate, Heineman’s Winery & Crystal Cave, and Perry’s Cave.

Tipp City

Old Tippecanoe Main Street Historic District, Tipp City, Ohio
Old Tippecanoe Main Street Historic District, Tipp City, Ohio, By Niagara66 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, File:Old Tippecanoe Main Street Historic District 05.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Originally referred to as ‘Tippecanoe’ and then ‘Tippecanoe City,’ this Miami County town sits along Interstate 75 highway close to the Interstate 70 crossing in west-central Ohio’s Miami Valley, around 10 miles north of Dayton. Founded by John Clark in 1840 along the developing Miami & Erie Canal, Tipp City is ideally a commuter town and features many locally-owned businesses and eateries catering to residents as well as travelers. Architecture enthusiasts are especially attracted by the National Register-listed landmark structures in the Old Tippecanoe Main Street Historic District and a large variety of artifacts exhibited at the Tippecanoe Historical Museum. Outdoor lovers can participate in diverse activities at nature centers and neighborhood parks like Charleston Falls Preserve, Kyle Park, Miami County Bike Trail, and City Park. Throughout the year, Tipp City hosts several community events like the Independence Day fireworks, Tippecanoe High School “Red Devil” football games, Canal Days, and Mum Festival.

Kelleys Island

Kelleys Island State Park Entrance
Kelleys Island State Park Entrance. By Mbrickn - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Mainly a family-friendly vacation destination, Kelleys Island is an enchanting village and a namesake Lake Erie Island in the state’s Erie County. Best known for its craggy shorelines, sandy public beaches, campgrounds, parks, restored landmark properties, noted wineries, and above all friendly hospitality, the community draws thousands of holidayers during the warm season. Travelers can unwind at the 675-acre Kelleys Island State Park which provides exceptional views of Lake Erie, outstanding fishing, hiking, camping, power boating, kayaking, and wildlife-watching opportunities, and pleasant overnight accommodations. Besides getting a glimpse of Ohio’s glacial past at the Glacial Grooves State Memorial, tourists should also stop by the Inscription Rock, Erie County 4H Camp, Camp Patmos, Kelley’s Island Wine, Kelleys Island Historical Association Museum, and the multiple coffee shops, miniature golf courses, gift shops, first-class eateries, pubs, and general stores in the Downtown.


The Holmes County Courthouse in Millersburg, Ohio.
The Holmes County Courthouse in Millersburg, Ohio.

Holmes County’s administrative center, this 3,151-inhabitant town occupies the core of Ohio Amish Country, approx. 66 miles south of Cleveland. Millersburg superbly holds on to its early 19th-century beginnings and is most distinguished for its historic downtown which is packed with eccentric shopping, dining, and lodging options. When visiting Millersburg, do not forget to tour the local cheese factory, pick apples at any one of the nearby orchards, enjoy a scoop of ice cream at Miller’s Creamery, and peruse notable points of interest such as the Holmes County Courthouse, Yoder’s Amish Home, Holmes County Trail, Black Diamond Golf Course, Hershberger’s Farm & Bakery, Victorian House Museum, and Millersburg Glass Museum.

From Sugarcreek - “The Little Switzerland of Ohio,” to Waynesville - “The Antiques Capital of the Midwest,” the gorgeous small towns that dot the 34th largest and 7th most populous US state are some of the most sought-after holiday destinations in the country. Whether you wish to have an adventurous fun-filled vacation or relax peacefully away from the noisy metropolises, come, and explore these picture-perfect towns in “The Heart of It All.”

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