After a year of being cooped up travel is back and it's not all planes and trains - it's mostly by automobiles. According to AAA, 95% of holiday travel in Ohio will be done by car.
Northwest Ohio has many things to offer including its proximity to various destinations. Whether you are looking for a destination that's a shorter trip of about one to three hours or a weekend-long trip that's a four to five hour's drive away, here are some great places to consider for your next road trip.
One Hour Away from Toledo: Ann Arbor, the Motor City and more
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Whether you are a University of Michigan fan or just enjoy a vibrant restaurant scene, Ann Arbor is the place to visit on a day off. In addition to the variety of shops and restaurants in the downtown area, make a visit to the Hands-On Museum and the Gerald R Ford Presidential Library and Museum. For content creators, graffiti alley on E. Liberty St. is a must-do.
Defiance has more than meets the eye. The city has a downtown with multiple locations for shopping and dining. The best time to visit is during one of their many festivals and events including Chocolate Walk (Thursdays in April), Lilac Fest (second weekend of May), River Fest (third weekend of July) and Rib Fest (last weekend of September). Their downtown area also participates in DORA (Defiance Outdoor Refreshment Area).
Looking for big-city vibes? Just an hour away Detroit is packed with nightlife, urban ambiance and energy that only music can describe. Detroit has many gems within the city including Belle Isle Island, the National Museum of African-American History and Culture and the Henry Ford Museum.
Flag City offers great experiences for a day trip. Findlay is home to great locations for nature, shopping and day drinking. Some experiences to check out are the Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation and the McKinnis House at Litzenberg Memorial Woods. For those interested in a relaxed place to kick back and sip on wine, don't miss Gillig Winery.
A charming lakeside vacation village allows visitors to come for the day. A quaint downtown and panoramic views of Lake Erie also make for a memorable day trip. Waterfront Rental Center offers paddleboards, sailboats and kayaks to enjoy out in Lake Erie. Grab a to-go lunch from Ooh-La-La’s and after play a game of miniature golf. Lakeside is a dry (no alcohol) community.
History buffs will want to check out Milan. The home at 9 N. Edison Dr. is the birthplace of the famous inventor Thomas Edison. Tour the home and learn more about Edison's historical accomplishments. After spending a day learning more about the contraptions and inventions of Mr. Edison, head over to Milan Wine Post for some light eats and spirits.
Although Port Clinton is called the “Walleye Capital of the World” and is one of two northwest Ohio cities from which you can hop on a ferry to visit Put-In-Bay and Kelleys Island, there is also a lot to do right in town. For some great photos head to Waterworks Park to visit the Port Clinton Light House. Aviation fanatics won't want to miss the Liberty Aviation Museum. Finally, drive on down to Catawba Island to visit Twin Oast Brewery and Gideon Owens Winery.
Most famous for Cedar Point and as the other one of two cities from which to grab a ferry to go to Put-In-Bay and Kelleys Island, Sandusky's historic waterfront downtown has more to experience than most know about. If history and theme parks are of interest then a trip to the Merry-Go-Round Museum is a must. Combine water recreation, rock climbing and an outdoor patio overlooking Lake Erie and you get the hotspot known as Paddle and Climb. For food, axe throwing and duckpin bowling, Marketplace at the Cooke should be on the itinerary.
With two colleges on either side of the town, it’s no wonder why Tiffin has a well-rounded entertainment scene. Step back to the time of bootleggers and flappers at The Renaissance of Tiffin. For glass art visit Tiffin Glass Museum and Shoppe. And, get around to see more of Tiffin using an e-scooter.
Sitting along the Lake Erie shoreline is Vermilion. From beaches and sailing to shopping and history, this town comes with sunsets and charm. Visit the Vermilion History Museum to learn more about the printing press in the early 20th century. Relax at one of the several beaches and parks within the town. For wine lovers, check out Paper Moon Vineyards.
Two Hours Away from Toledo: Cleveland rocks (and so do other cities)
The city where the term “Rock 'n’ Roll” was birthed, Cleveland has an array of nightlife, family entertainment and scenic views. It’s obvious to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but have you tried seeing ALL the oversized guitar statues? There are over 60 custom-designed structures throughout the city. For movie fans, the A Christmas Story House and Museum is a must-do. The West Side Market is a great addition to your itinerary when looking for unique food options.
Home to the Wright Brothers, Dayton is an aviation fanatic’s dream. Journey along the Aviation Trail for great stops including the National Museum of the United States Air Force, The Wright Cycle Co., Carillon Historical Park and more. Craft beer connoisseurs can travel through the Dayton Ale Trail for a delicious itinerary.
From the riverfront to Promenade Park, Fort Wayne, Indiana, has a variety of things to enjoy. Learn about firefighters at the Fort Wayne Firefighters Museum. For those who love antique and vintage cars, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum is a must-do. Check out Jefferson Pointe for a unique shopping and entertainment experience.
This Bavarian town will have you feeling like you are a whole country away but the trip costs less than a tank of gas. Frankenmuth hosts several festivals throughout the year and while it’s a popular destination during the winter holidays there is plenty to do year-round. Forge your own creation through the Bavarian Black Smith Experience. Take your visit to new heights at the Frankenmuth Aerial Park. And taste your way through locally distilled spirits at The Grand Traverse Distillery.
Most famous for the "Shawshank Redemption" filming location of The Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield has something that appeals to every travel style. Visit the farm of Louis Bromfield at Malabar Farm State Park. Take a ride on an old-fashioned carousel at Richland Carousel Park. And of course for Shawshank Redemption movie fans, don't miss the journey along the Shawshank Trail.
Three Hours Away from Toledo: Columbus, Fort Wayne and Michigan
The center of the Buckeye State, Columbus is packed with dining, shopping and entertainment. The city's art and eclectic energy resides in the Short North district. For outdoor enthusiasts and rock climbers, check out the 35-foot rock climbing wall at Scioto Auburn Park. Digital creators and immersive art fans will love all the exhibits at Other World.
View Lake Erie from a different angle at Erie, Pennsylvania. Presque Isle State Park is surrounded by Lake Erie and offers swimming, surfing, fishing and hiking. If you have never seen car and auto parts turned into art then a visit to Schaefers Auto Art is a must. Experience the lake on a three-level paddle riverboat with the Victorian Princess.
Located in Columbus, the German Village immerses you into an environment that feels miles away. Charming 19th-century brick homes line the brick roads throughout the community. Try not to get lost in one of the nation's largest independent book stores the Book Loft. A must-do dining experience is at Schmidt’s for authentic German fare. Stroll along the scenic trails of Schiller Park. On the second week of September celebrate Columbus Oktoberfest in the German Village.
If New England charm is what you crave, then Granville is a great visit. Originally settled by Massachusetts settlers, this town is full of architecture and nods to the town founder's home. Walking downtown there are plenty of stops for shopping. For history buffs, check out the Robbins Hunter Museum. If the potential to see ghosts doesn't bother you or you would like to see a building from the Underground Railroad visit The Buxton Inn.
Looking for an outdoor adventure unlike any other? Midland, Michigan, is home to the nation’s longest canopy walk spanning 1,400 feet long and 40 feet above the ground. The canopy is located in the Dow Gardens, which also has scenic trails, bridges, orchards and more. Sip on some wine at Grape Beginnings Vineyard. There is even a dog park to let your pup burn off some energy.
Edged with natural beauty combined with urban vibes, Saginaw, Michigan, has some interesting attractions you won’t find anywhere else. Revered as one of the most authentic Japanese Gardens in all of North America, the Japanese Cultural Center and Tea House is the only authentic tea house in the Midwest. Journey through history in a castle at the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History. Explore the art exhibits at the Saginaw Art Museum.
Think small-town charm with big-city amenities. Westerville, Ohio, is minutes away from Polaris Fashion Place. Although it is dubbed the “Dry Capital of the World” it does have an active nightlife with locally brewed craft beer and artisan wines. Take a look into the other side of prohibition history at the Anti-Saloon League Museum. Walkthrough scenic landscaping at the Inniswood Metro Gardens. Check out local art at the David Meyers Art Studio and Gallery.
Weekend Getaways 4-5 Hours Away from Toledo:
Cincinnati, Ohio, is a mix of city and hillside views; a great place to combine nature and city amenities. Check out the signs of the past at the American Sign Museum. Showcasing more than 3,500 plant species, the Krohn Conservatory is a unique experience. Dig deeper into the history of the Underground Railroad at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
Best known for its annual event Tulip Time, Holland, Michigan is full of picturesque landscaping, unique experiences and Dutch heritage. To see and tour the only operating and authentic 251-year-old windmill from the Netherlands, De Zwaan, visit Windmill Island Gardens. To try on wooden shoes and taste goat cheese visit Nelis’ Dutch Village. Don’t forget to grab a photo with the “Big Red Lighthouse” at Holland State Park.
Big city vibes, nightlife and art, Indianapolis, Indiana, is a great place to take the family. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis features five floors of interactive learning. Enjoy a walk or have a picnic at the White River State Park. Thrill-seekers will “go ape” for the Go Ape Treetop Adventure.
The horse capital of the world stays true to who they are and it shows throughout the city. Lexington, Kentucky, offers many nightlife and cultural experiences. Learn more about horses and get a chance to saddle up at the Kentucky Horse Park. Established in 1780 the James E. Pepper Distilling Co. is a must-do for bourbon connoisseurs. Take a tour of the magnificent mansion on the Henry Clay Estate.
Ohio Amish Country
Made up of several smaller towns, experience a different way of life at Ohio Amish Country. Take a tour of the inventor and carver Ernest Warner at the Warther Museum and Gardens in Dover. Sample a variety of cheeses at Heini’s Cheese Chalet in Millersburg. See the world’s largest cuckoo clock in Sugarcreek.
With business and arts only a bridge away from each other, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has an array of experiences for a weekend getaway. Kayak through downtown Pittsburg on the Allegheny River. Explore the wonders of natural history at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Take a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater 20th century architecture.
Traverse City, Michigan
Sitting on the shores of the crystal blue Lake Michigan waters, Traverse City, Michigan is a fun waterfront town. Being just 40 minutes away from the Caribbean-looking beach front Torch Lake, there will be plenty to adventure on your trip. Spend a day at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Shop, dine and explore the Grand Traverse Commons. Explore through Traverse City with the pedal and paddle pub crawl experience Kayak, Bike and Brew.