A towboat on the Ohio River in Portsmouth, OH. Image credit: Hawkeye Dronography via Shutterstock

7 Most Charming River Towns In Ohio

The US State of Ohio is a diverse land of culture and natural beauty and is an undoubted treasure of the American Midwest. Many rivers can be found within its borders, including the Ohio River, the Scioto River, and the Cuyahoga River. Those who reside in the towns near these river banks enjoy charming and beautiful experiences. From fascinating local history, stunning riverside views, and quaint small-town hospitality, Ohio’s river towns are a delight to explore. This article looks at the seven most charming river towns in Ohio.

Grand Rapids

The Maumee River as seen from Grand Rapids, Ohio
The Maumee River as seen from Grand Rapids, Ohio. 

Situated along the shores of the Maumee River, Grand Rapids is a charming river town with a population of around 1,000 residents. Established in the 1830s, this restored 19th-century canal town is a great place to relax, take in some unique American history, and enjoy the comforts only a small town can provide.

Visitors can enjoy a plethora of quaint local restaurants, shops, and other boutique stores or simply stroll along the water’s edge. In the fall, you can participate in the Apple Butter Festival, where samplings of plentiful local harvests and treats will satisfy the whole family.


View of the lighthouse and Harbor Town Senior Residence in Perrysburg, Ohio
View of the lighthouse and Harbor Town Senior Residence in Perrysburg, Ohio. Editorial credit: Rosamar / Shutterstock.com

Perrysburg is also situated right on the banks of the Maumee River and is just a 30-minute drive from Grand Rapids. Founded in the late 18th century, the town is the site of the historic Fort Meigs, a wooden fortification constructed during the War of 1812. Now a historic park, it is officially listed as a US National Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.

Explore this fascinating site, complete with costumed tour guides, and get better acquainted with a crucial period of early American history. Meanwhile, visitors can also partake in kayaking, biking, and walking in a rustic, calming, and truly charming atmosphere. 


Miami County Courthouse in Troy, Ohio
Miami County Courthouse in Troy, Ohio. Editorial credit: LukeandKarla.Travel / Shutterstock.com

Situated just some 20 miles from the city of Dayton, nearby Ohioans know Troy because of its annual Strawberry Festival in June. Filled with endless opportunities to indulge in berries, the festival also features games and live music — real fun for the entire family. The Great Miami River passes through Troy, giving visitors near the banks fantastic valley views.

A stop at the Great Miami River Recreational Trail is a must for the real outdoor enthusiast. You can hike, bike, or take a casual walk in calming, riverside nature on this 30-mile trail. Meanwhile, back in town, many buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Miami County Courthouse (built in 1885).


View from a hilly road in Gallipolis up the Ohio River
View from a hilly road in Gallipolis looking up the Ohio River towards the Silver Memorial Bridge separating Ohio and West Virginia across the river. Image Credit: Kurttarvis via Wikimedia Commons

Founded by French colonists in 1790, Gallipolis is a small town on the Ohio River. With only under 4,000 inhabitants, hot summers, and cool winters, this historic town is great to visit year-round. Tourists can get views of the river while learning more about historic Colonial life.

Stop by the centrally located City Park to play golf while surrounded by beautiful water vistas. While at Mound Hill Park, families can enjoy picnics and a pleasant time outside. And, of course, a walk through Main Street is a great way to explore the town’s historical heritage and its numerous building facades.


A scenic byway feeds tourists into the downtown area in the settlement called Marietta, Ohio
A scenic byway feeds tourists into the downtown area in the settlement called Marietta, Ohio. 

The town of Marietta sits right at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers and is just 11 miles from the border with West Virginia. Settled in 1788 by French colonists, it was the first significant settlement in the then Northwest Territory and, in the 19th century, was even a stop on the famed Underground Railroad.

Today this town of 13,000 residents retains a uniquely European flavor, and visitors can find an assortment of architectural styles from the 18th to early 20th centuries. Take a stroll through some historic neighborhoods, complete with cobblestones and red brick facades, where snapping photos of some Victorian-style homes is a popular activity.

Meanwhile, at the river, take a ride on a historic riverboat, view Civil War re-enactments, or take in all the action of the Ohio River Sternwheeler Festival. Here, dozens partake in racing these iconic boats; meanwhile, entertainment, great local food, and a fireworks show round out the festivities.


The US Grant Bridge crossing the Ohio River from Portsmouth, Ohio to Greenup County, Kentucky
The US Grant Bridge crossing the Ohio River from Portsmouth, Ohio, to Greenup County, Kentucky. 

The town of Portsmouth is on the Ohio River's northern shores and adjacent to the mouth of the Scioto River. Founded in 1803, today, this town of 20,000 residents maintains a historic charm. Visitors can enjoy many 19th-century buildings and historical markers. Take a stroll through the Historic Boneyfiddle District or stop at any of Portsmouth's 14 town parks, where cycling, walking, and picnicking are popular activities.

For the art and history lover, visiting the Southern Ohio Museum is a great place to spend an afternoon. Explore over 60 comprehensive and interactive exhibits profiling American Midwestern artists, Native American artifacts, and more.


A castle built by boy scouts in Loveland, Ohio
A castle built by boy scouts in Loveland, Ohio. 

The town of Loveland is where love and charm are in the air. Founded in 1795, this town lies along the Little Miami River and was once a significant railroad community. Today visitors can explore the town through the Little Miami Scenic Trail and the Loveland Bike Trail, taking in beautiful sites of the river and its surrounding nature.

Back in town, an assortment of tasty local restaurants, unique boutique shops, and historic buildings dot Loveland’s landscape. Visitors should not miss the Loveland Castle, built in the 1920s in the Medieval style. This museum structure is a fascinating place to tour and enjoy its outdoor courtyard. Some even say it is haunted!

For those who enjoy the allure of river towns, the state of Ohio is among the best places to explore. With several rivers found within, including the Ohio River and the Scioto River, the towns near or on the banks of these waterways offer visitors a unique experience filled with nature and history. Take a drive through the Buckeye State and see why its river towns are some of the very best in the United States. 

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