Whether you are looking for a day trip, a weekend, or a full-blown vacation, our state has the best of what other places have to offer.
Sure, it would be nice to pack up and head to Africa for an authentic safari experience this summer, but The Wilds in east-central Ohio may be the next-best thing.
Looking to dig your toes into the warm, soft sand of the beach? No need for South Carolina; we have it here at Headlands Beach on Lake Erie.
And believe it or not, if you want to go to a dude ranch, you don’t have to head for Texas or Wyoming. The cowboy life is right here in Ohio.
Ohio has a wealth of interesting, educational, entertaining and just-plain-fun places to go.
Check out this list and get moving. Summer will be over before you know it.
HEADLANDS BEACH STATE PARK
9601 Headlands Rd. Mentor, OH 44060
Headlands Beach State Park is a mile-long natural sand beach on Lake Erie, making it a popular destination for swimmers and sunbathers who enjoy an ocean feel. The park features a picnic area with tables and grills, changing booths, concession areas and restrooms. Hiking trails are available in the adjacent state nature preserve.A federal breakwall at the east end of the park offers fishing opportunities. Also nearby is the Headland Dunes State Nature Preserve, the Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve and Punderson State Park for camping.
NELSON-KENNEDY LEDGES STATE PARK
State Route 282 Nelson Township, OH
For information, call Punderson State Park at (440) 564-2279
Nelson-Kennedy Ledges features spectacular rock formations with three miles of hiking trails wandering throughout its 167 acres. The formations are among the few outcrops in northern Ohio still exposed. Nature lovers will see an uncommon array of plant life and wildflowers that have adapted to growing on the rock formations and in the cooler climate.
Nearby Nelson Ledges Quarry Park offers scenic camping, swimming, scuba diving, hiking, biking, fishing and more. Campers and outdoorsmen will find Punderson State Park, Tinker’s Creek State Nature Preserve and West Branch State Park a short drive away. Check out www.dnr.state.oh.us/parks/nelsonk for more information.
WATER WORKS FAMILY AQUATIC CENTER
2025 Monroe Falls Ave. Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44221
Info line: (330) 971-8299
Water Works Family Aquatic Center is an outdoor water park in its 12th year of operation. It features a lazy river, lap pool, a 158-foot enclosed tube slide and a 151-foot open body slide. Waterfalls, geysers, and a tot slide are available for toddlers. Sand volleyball and play areas are available as well. A valid photo ID for anyone 16 or older is required and strictly enforced.
Admission for non-Cuyahoga Falls residents remains the same as last summer: Adults, $12. Children ages 3 to 12 and seniors 60 and older, $8. Free for children 2 and younger.
MOHICAN STATE PARK
Mohican State Forest
3116 state Route 3 Loudonville, OH 44842
Mohican State Park and the adjacent Mohican State Forest are located in the heart of “Mohican Country.” The park is composed of 1,110 acres with 5 miles of the Clear Fork Branch of the Mohican River running through it. Available activities include fishing, hiking, picnicking and camping. The Mohican Memorial State Forest surrounds the park with 4,795 acres. Hunting, hiking and bridle trails are available to the forest visitor.
Nearby are several canoe liveries, horseback riding, and shopping in Amish Country. Catch the Great Mohican Indian Pow-Wow on July 10 to July 12 and Sept. 18 to Sept. 20, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Mohican Reservation Camp & Festival Grounds at 23270 Wally Rd. in Loudonville. It features American Indian culture and lifestyle, fellowship, competition, American Indian foods, music, storytelling, demonstrations and more. Visit www.mohicanpowwow.com for information.
14000 International Rd. Cumberland, OH 43732
From May through October, The Wilds offers guided tours through more than 9,000 acres where endangered wildlife roam in natural habitats. At one of the largest wildlife conservation centers in the world, guests can see Hartmann’s mountain zebras, scimitarhorned oryx, Przewalski’s horses, cheetas and African wild dogs among its protected species. As part of its mission, the facility offers educational programs, camps for all ages, biking, fishing, birding and special yearly events. This year, it has added more Sunset Safaris to the schedule.
Typically sold out, the Friday and Saturday evening tours include dinner at the Overlook Cafe. Opening in July is the Nomad Ridge on the Wilds, a luxury tented overnight camp experience with sweeping views of the area, luxury amenities and a tour.
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE
1100 Spaatz St. Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force houses the history of military aviation, including more than 400 aerospace vehicles and thousands of exhibits ranging from the days of the Wright brothers to the era of modern technology. A new feature this year, the aircraft restoration process can be seen firsthand in the Behind the Scenes tours.
Registration is required in June through August: Call (937) 656-9436 or submit an online form.
The free tours take place every Friday from 12:15 to 3 p.m. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with free admission and parking.
SMOKE RISE RANCH
6751 Hunterdon Rd. Glouster, OH 45732
Smoke Rise Ranch is a working cattle and guest ranch for those who want to see what it’s really like to be a cowboy … or girl. Activities include cattle drives, team penning, cow cutting and guided trail rides. Smoke Rise provides cabins, camping, horseback riding, a heated pool and clubhouse.
New this season is a variety of youth programs for Scouts and 4-H’ers, as well as an adventure camp July 14-16 for kids ages 9 to 16. The ranch also has karaoke and live entertainment. Family vacation packages and weekend packages are available. Nearby is a private hunting preserve that is available for archery deer season, muzzle loader and turkey season.
ATHENS SKATE PARK
701 E. State St. Athens, OH 45701
Impress the serious skater in your life with a trip to the home of Ohio University, where an 18,000-square-foot concrete skate park is one of the most innovative and challenging in the eastern United States. The park was designed and constructed by award-winning Grindline Skateparks, of Seattle. It’s free and open to the public, and no pads or helmets are required (though they’re highly recommended). Bikes are not permitted.
Park features include:
• 16-foot-diameter full pipe with capsule
• 11-foot-deep vertical bowl
• 9 1⁄2 -foot-deep pocket with pool coping
• 3⁄4 bowl pocket with pool coping
• 8-foot vertical bowl
• 7-foot hallway
• 5-foot tight-radius pool-style pocket with death box
• Opposing pyramids
• 6-foot half pipe leading into street area
• Ledges, banks, boxes and a flat bar
• Euro step
Hours: Dawn to dusk every day. Admission is free.