Cleveland, Ohio, skyline on the river.

8 Most Charming Cities in Ohio

Situated on the eastern reaches of the Midwest, the state of Ohio remains one of the most well-known and important players in the region. Mostly known for its large industrial capacity and hard-nosed, blue-collar-like culture. It is safe to say that Ohio is a working person's state. Seldom are its cities appreciated for their beauty and charm, but that does not mean that Ohio is absent of beauty. There are some that would even go so far as to say that Ohio is home to some of the most charming and aesthetically pleasing places in the entire United States. With many larger metropolises throughout the state, these charming cities shine above the rest.


Columbus, Ohio, USA skyline on the river at dusk.
The Columbus skyline at dusk.

The largest city in Ohio in terms of population is none other than Columbus. Mostly known for being a college town, much of Columbus's identity stems from the nearby Ohio State University. Being so closely tied to the biggest school in the state has transformed certain areas in the city into a young person's dream night out. Much of the downtown area boasts outstanding bars and restaurants to visit with friends. 

If the party life is not to your taste, then you can take a visit to the Ohio state capitol building instead. Here you will find tons of stunning murals and jaw-dropping roman inspired architecture. The amount of detail and passion put into the building is something to marvel at. 


Sunset over Cleveland, Ohio United States
The downtown core of Cleveland at night.

Most people justifiably associate Cleveland with its many storied sports franchises. The Cleveland Browns, Cavaliers, and Guardians all play within the city. If you have the opportunity to catch a game of one of these teams, you should take it. Even if you are not a huge fan of sports in general, the diehard attitude and intensity of the fans are like no other.

Outside of sports, there is still a lot to do. Visiting the famed West Side Market is a great family activity. The West Side Market is the perfect place to go for those interested in browsing the various shops and stalls or trying out some delicious food prepared right in front of you. It is rare to see large indoor markets like this anymore, and it is obvious once you visit that the locals take deep pride in maintaining this pillar of their city. 


Cincinnati, Ohio, USA skyline at dusk.
An ariel view of the Cincinnati skyline.

Taking its name from famed Roman senator and general Cincinnatus, Cincinnati is well known for its rich history and culture of breweries and beer. There are more than a dozen outstanding local breweries that are more than happy to accommodate guests with a tour and tasting of their products. If you can imagine a type of beer, there is a good chance it exists in Cincinnati. 

If beer is not to your taste, then you can always swing by the Cincinnati Zoo. This zoo is, without a doubt, the largest and most impressive in the entirety of Ohio. There are an almost endless amount of exhibits to go and see. Lions, bears, tigers, and even gorillas. 


Downtown Toledo Ohio is filled with multi colored architecture that sits alongside the Maumee River.
Downtown Toledo in the summertime.

Nestled right along the border with Michigan is the port city of Toledo. Toledo faces the westernmost point of the mighty Lake Erie. Due to its close proximity to water, much of the identity of Toledo rests on seafaring activities like fishing, swimming, and sailing. 

Toledo is still one of the largest industrial powers in the state, with the headquarters of Jeep located in its downtown area. While other cities in the Midwest might have experienced massive change over the last few decades and seen their manufacturing jobs disappear, much of Toledo has managed to hang on to what made their city great, to begin with. 


The William McKinley National Memorial for the 25th President of the United States in Canton Ohio.
Front-facing view of the Mckinley Monument.

A short car ride south of Cleveland lies the city of Canton. Canton is best known for being the home of the Football Hall of Fame. This shrine to the NFL and American football has everything and more for football fans looking to seek out the Holy Grail of their favorite sport. The Hall of Fame is adorned with just about every trophy, medal, and piece of memorabilia you could possibly imagine. 

Aside from the NFL, Canton also hosts the picturesque and beautiful Mckinley Monument and Park. This well-kept park and memorial is a fantastic addition to the already charming natural beauty that is present in Canton. 


Lorain Ohio Lighthouse off the coast of downtown Lorain, taken from the right at 20 feet above Lake Erie
The Lorain Lighthouse. Image credit Lake Front Drones via Shutterstock

While technically a suburb of Cleveland, Lorain is much more small-scale and slow-paced when held in comparison. Lorain also sits adjacent to Lake Erie and has adopted all the characteristics that are common with coastal cities. 

Taking a trip out into Lake Erie for a look at the easily recognizable Lorain Lighthouse is a great way to get a feel for the city. You can travel there either by boat or by walking down the long jetty that attaches it to the land. If you visit in the winter, you can appreciate the stunning view of frozen Lake Erie, as a large portion of the lake freezes in the colder seasons. 


Butler County Soldiers Monument Civil War Statue fort Hamilton Ohio
Butler County Soldiers Monument, Hamilton, Ohio.

There are dozens of cities and towns named Hamilton across the world, but there is only one Hamilton, Ohio. Hamilton hugs the northern part of the Cincinnati city limits. The southside of Hamilton is mainly urban and developed, whereas the northern portion has a much more rural atmosphere and aesthetic. The city is sometimes referred to as the "City of Sculpture" in reference to the number of public art exhibits and other similar displays. Thanks to its somewhat rural connection, the parks in the city are top-notch. 

In nearby Sharonville, you can find the Heritage Village Museum. This is a place where visitors can find historical reenactors living their lives as though it were the middle of the 19th century. The park also features buildings that are accurate to the time period.


Youngstown, Ohio, USA downtown skyline at twilight.
The beautiful downtown of Youngstown.

Youngstown sits on the eastern edge of Ohio, and it could not be more of a quintessential "Ohio experience." The locals here are beyond friendly and will greet you with a level of respect and hospitality that is usually associated with small towns in remote parts of the nation. 

The standout attraction here is the Butler Institute of American Art and Mill Creek Park. The Institute of American Art holds some of the best pieces of artwork in the nation and could easily give any other museum a run for its money. The price of admission is also half that of what it would be in a place like New York or Paris. Mill Creek Park will bombard visitors with an endless amount of stunning views of the local landscape. You can feel the time and effort put into the park after coming across the rapids and other water displays.

No matter what other people might say, Ohio is a great place to visit and an even better place to live. The people in Ohio and incredibly welcoming and open to outsiders interested in their home. The unforgettable charm and charisma that Ohian cities have only makes the warm demeanor of its resident all that more impactful. If you are thinking about visiting Ohio anytime soon, any of these cities will not disappoint.

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