11 Best Small Towns in Ohio With Quintessential Midwestern Charm

Find peace, culture, scenery, and even a national park in these charming Ohio small towns.

A national park. A Great Lake. World-class roller coasters. These are just a few of the exceptional sights and attractions that await in oft-overlooked Ohio. It's a state few think to visit — a fact I, an Ohioan, am all too aware of after a lifetime of correcting my coastal friends' misconceptions. (It's not all farmland!) But perhaps this long-held oversight is the state's allure.

Aerial view of Kelley's Island, Ohio
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You can experience everything from beaches and national park hiking trails to renowned breweries and restaurants, without battling coastal crowds. Experience the best of the Buckeye State with a visit to one (or all) of these charming small towns in Ohio.


Train station at Peninsula, Ohio
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Just 45 minutes south of Cleveland, Peninsula feels a world away — and there's a reason for that. Back in the late 1700s, much of northeast Ohio belonged to Connecticut under the Connecticut Western Reserve, and this New England influence remains visible today. The tiny village of 650 brims with colonial architecture, including that signature New England white steeple. It's also surrounded by one of Ohio's most scenic natural getaways: Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Bike paths, trailheads, and local shops and restaurants are among the many attractions in this quaint, forest-flanked town.

Yellow Springs

Bike riding under the Richard P. Eastman Covered Bridge, in Yellow Springs, Ohio
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Embrace Ohio's fun and funky side in Yellow Springs, a colorful town outside Dayton known for hippie vibes, hiking trails, and delicious local fare. Yellow Springs, population 3,600, sits along the nearly 80-mile Little Miami Scenic Trail. Travelers can bike right up to the door of Yellow Springs Brewery, or enjoy the village's 2,000 acres of woodlands at Glen Helen, John Bryan State Park, and Clifton Gorge. For real small-town Ohio flavor, head to nearby Young's Jersey Dairy, a working farm with corn mazes, goat feeding, and delicious farm-to-cone ice cream.


Barn in winter at Loveland, Ohio
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Loveland, a five-square-mile city outside Cincinnati, has all the makings of a picturesque small town: a bustling main square, historic architecture, farm-to-table restaurants, and a calendar packed with festivals. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the Loveland Bike Trail, a rails-to-trails project that links with the Little Miami Scenic Trail (the same trail that runs through Yellow Springs). Architecture buffs are astounded by the Loveland Castle, built by hand with stones from the Little Miami River. And come happy hour, it's hard to beat Narrow Path Brewing, with the charming Loveland Dairy Whip ice cream stand as a can't-beat cherry on top.


People kayaking at Geneva on the Lake in Ohio
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Geneva-on-the-Lake has been one of Ohio's greatest vacation getaways for decades, and it's easy to see why. The tiny waterfront town of roughly 1,500 is located in the heart of Ohio's wine country, with vineyard tours and tastings galore. For aquatic outings, Geneva-on-the-Lake also boasts prime Lake Erie access for paddling glassy waters or sunbathing along the sandy beaches. Accommodations like the Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake, located outside Geneva State Park, provide the perfect basecamp for freshwater adventures. The town is roughly one hour east of Cleveland.


Boats at pier in Conneaut, Ohio
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For another charming Ohio small town on Lake Erie, head to Conneaut, population roughly 12,000, located 70 miles east of Cleveland. The waterfront escape is the perfect stop for history buffs, with attractions like the Conneaut Railroad Museum and the North Coast D-Day WWII History Museum. But history's not all Conneaut has in store. Tour the Conneaut Wildlife Area, beachcomb along the lake-view Conneaut Township Park, or stop by one of several nearby wineries, such as Markko Vineyard or Buccia Vineyards Winery, which also has an onsite B&B.


Sugarcreek, Ohio Cuckoo Clock
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Small-town Sugarcreek is nicknamed Ohio's little Switzerland — and the town wears the label proudly. Swiss and Germans were among the first settlers to arrive here, as well as Amish families. You can embrace this heritage today via the town's numerous cheese factories, Alpine-aesthetic downtown, or its annual Ohio Swiss Festival, an event packed with cultural food, dance, and fun. For a small village of roughly 2,000, Sugarcreek has an impressive array of entertainment options. Visit the award-winning Broad Run Cheesehouse (which conveniently has a winery onsite), stop by the Alpine Hills Museum for a quick history lesson, or sample local blends at Breitenbach Wine Cellars — and don't miss the world's largest cuckoo clock on your way out.

Kelleys Island

Boats at Marina on Kelly's Island, Ohio
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Kelleys Island (population 300) is one of several islands in Ohio, and for fans of nature and small towns, it's arguably the most enticing. It's the second-largest Lake Erie island, with just about everything you could want in a freshwater island getaway: beaches, forests, historic homes, a winery and brewery, and bike and golf cart rentals to get around. The island's also just a stone's throw from America's roller-coaster capital, Cedar Point, roughly 80 miles west of Cleveland, and even within sight of the Canada border.


View of cave at Hocking Hills State Park, near Logan, Ohio
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Logan, a small town of roughly 7,000 some 50 minutes from Columbus, is the gateway to the area's best outdoor adventure gem: Hocking Hills State Park. This park, known for dramatic gorges, plunging waterfalls, and surreal glamping, is one of the top reasons travelers visit the town of Logan. Attractions in and around town include John Glenn Astronomy Park, a gorgeous stargazing destination; Hocking Hills Winery, known for its array of local blends; and a petting zoo at Fox's High Rock Farm, where adorable goats, lambs, and pigs await your ear scratches.

Chagrin Falls

Chagrin Falls cascading into Chagrin River on a clear day
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Another postcard-worthy small town in Ohio is Chagrin Falls (population roughly 4,000), located outside Cleveland. The village impresses with a robust art scene, whether you take a workshop or gallery tour at Valley Art Center or visit Glass Asylum, where you create your own glass-blown goods with the help of a local artist. Located along the Chagrin River, the town promises tranquil scenery, with a trail along Riverside Park and the iconic waterfall best visible from the Main Street Bridge. Downtown Chagrin Falls also offers numerous dining options; try a favorite like Flipside or the highly anticipated new haunt, The Reserve.


Main street in Granville, Ohio
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Peninsula isn't the only Ohio town packed with New England charm. Granville (population 5,600), located in east-central Ohio, impresses with its own colonial architecture, charming downtown, and towering steeples. It's located roughly 35 miles from Columbus, with a host of must-see attractions. Shop local businesses along the tree-lined main square; learn Indigenous local history at Alligator Mound, a 200-foot-long, five-foot-high effigy mound; or, get your heart pumping on the 14-mile TJ Evans Bike Trail. Local bites and brews run the gamut, from drinks at Three Tigers Brewing Company to wine at Three Oaks Vineyard.


Vibrant fall colors in Caesar Creek State Park, near Waynesville, Ohio
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Shoppers, listen up. Small-town Waynesville in southwestern Ohio is known as the "antique capital of the Midwest" — and it's easy to see why. Antiquing options run the gamut in this village of roughly 2,600, with antique shows and shops like Brass Lantern Antiques. Another top Waynesville draw? Access to the nearby King's Island Amusement Park, home to 100 rides, attractions, and shows, including the world's longest wooden roller coaster, The Beast. Caesar Creek State Park, with 43 miles of hiking trails, is another fan favorite, as is Waynesville's annual sauerkraut festival, a fall event with 400 craft exhibitors that attracts more than 450,000 visitors each year.

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