When Thrillist named it the third-worst state in the U.S., it ranked Florida the worst, so the website might have confused the coolest states with the boring club. Both states offer plenty of outdoor activities and breathtaking vistas. Ohio happens to offer its visitors and residents four seasons though, so we’re not sure what Thrillist meant.
Famed English political leader Winston Churchill described Cincinnati as “the most beautiful of the inland cities of the union.” Ohio’s other cities, Cleveland, Youngstown, and Dayton, also offer exquisite skylines, historic districts, and waterways. The Buckeye state offers an outdoorsy set of 110 natural lakes, waterfalls, rivers, forests, and fall foliage so awing that airline pilots call attention to it as their flights pass over the state.
Speaking of light, the fathers of flight – Wilbur and Orville Wright hail from Dayton, Ohio. Their feats of air fierceness inspired others, and no less than 25 NASA astronauts came from Ohio. The first man to set foot on the moon, Neil Armstrong, numbers among those Ohioans. The upshot is, we’re not sure how the state earned a bum rap as boring, but perhaps it came from those who prefer indoor activities or the quirky, so here we provide a quick top 10 list of exciting things to do and see that proves Ohio belongs on the stimulating, fun list. Next time you visit, be sure to check it all out!
1. The Wood County Museum
Bowling Green, best known for its university and football program, offers a terrific place to retire. This picturesque area provides a range of adult assisted living centers, but the area’s most famous nursing home closed in 1971, only to re-open in 1975 as a museum. The Wood County Museum began as the county poorhouse, an institution that housed orphans, the destitute, and the mentally ill, in different wings, of course.
According to the Ohio Bicentennial Commission, in 1885, the Wood County Infirmary added The Lunatic House, a separate wing for the violently insane. Today, the museum pays homage to the county as a whole and the history of the buildings that comprise its educational displays include a hangman’s noose and a finger of a murdered woman in a jar, so it can’t qualify for the boring club.
2. The Loveland Frog
If that doesn’t offer enough X-Files-like interest for you, truck on down the road to Loveland, a sleepy town on the shores of the Little Miami River to explore the legend of the Loveland Frog, a cryptozoological creature that resembles a large, anthropomorphic frog. Although some sources incorrectly report the first sighting of the Loveland Frog as occurring in 1955, the creature stems from Native American lore. Some attribute the long delay between sightings to the increase in population and building starts that occurred during the 1950s and later, but either way, nothing about this frog belongs to the boring club.
Both the Shawnee and Twightwee tribes document the existence of the same creature, called Shawnahooc, which translates to River Demon. The centuries of sightings in Native American storytelling describe a large reptile that walks on its two hind legs and resides on the banks of the Little Miami River. It once threatened the indigenous people, but they sent their toughest warriors, who drove away the creature. When settlers from the Old World encroached on the Native American settlements, driving them away, the Loveland Frog returned to the area.
3. The Loveland Castle
Don’t leave Loveland yet because it boasts one of the greatest architectural marvels in the U.S. Between 1929 and 1955, Sir Harry Delos Andrews, a Mason, constructed a full-scale replica of the Normandy castle, Chacircteau Laroche. You’ll need a lot of pavers if you want to build a marvel like this castle, which features German, English, and French architecture. Explore its hidden tunnels, murder holes, dry-moat, and towers to escape the boring club.
Loveland Castle also offers a sword and weaponry display and allows visitors to picnic on its grounds. Beware though, because ghosts abound at the castle. Well, what medieval castle would be complete without a few ghosts? The genius who built the home boasted an I.Q. of 189, authored many books, and graduated from Colgate University. Some areas that he built may not yet be discovered, since the castle caretakers discovered a secret room in the gardens when the archway leading to it collapsed.
4. Kings Island
Perhaps you need something a little less spooky and more family-oriented that proves Ohio doesn’t belong to the boring club. Kids and adults adore Kings Island, a massive 364-acre amusement park and water park on Kings Island, Ohio. It opened in 1972, offering numerous roller coasters, and has since added the Soak City Water Park with 36 water slides, a rushing river, languid lagoons, and wave pools. Known for its safety, it keeps up its mechanical maintenance, such as the equipment’s hydraulic fittings, during its off-season.
5. Jerry Springer Was an Ohio Mayor
Visit the home of the late talk show host, Jerry Springer, who started out in law and politics in Ohio. After serving as a political advisor to the late Robert F. Kennedy, a New York Senator and former U.S. attorney general, he launched his own law and political career. Earning a bachelor’s in political science from Tulane University and a juris doctorate from Northwestern University, he practiced law as a criminal attorney beginning in 1968.
A call to active duty as an Army reservist interrupted his 1970 bid for Congress, but in 1971, he successfully won a seat on the Cincinnati city council. Things went well for him until 1974, when, at 30, he resigned from the Cincinnati City Council amid a sex scandal, firmly prohibiting him from membership in any boring club. On two occasions, he admitted to visiting a health club where he hired a prostitute, getting caught because he wrote a check to the sex worker instead of paying in cash. In 1977, city council members selected him to serve as the city’s mayor for one year.
6. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
It’s only rock’n’roll, but we like it so much that Ohio founded the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to honor the greatest performers of this American musical genre. The museum associated with the Hall of Fame offers educational displays on musical instruments, performers, and related areas to music, such as intellectual property law. The annual induction ceremony provides a star-studded affair, one-of-a-kind performances, and plenty of selfie opportunities.
This Cleveland landmark only gets better with age, so it can’t belong to the boring club either. Its administration announced an expansion of its already impressive grounds and building. The existing exhibits remain open, including homages to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Tina Turner.
7. The Gathering of the Juggalos
The Detroit band, Insane Clown Posse (ICP), hosts an annual music festival, The Gathering of the Juggalos (TGOJ). You might expect them to throw this event in their home state, but instead, they host it in Ohio. Each year, in Thornvillle, Ohio, the three-day July festival brings fans together with an amazing bill of musical talent. Begun in 2000, the decades-old festival has hosted ICP, Blaze Ya Dead Homie, Twiztid, Psychopathic Rydas, Project Born, and many others.
Attend the TGOJ with care though, because, since 2011, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has considered the Juggalos, the followers of ICP, a non-traditional gang. In its National Gang Threat Assessment of the same year, the FBI noted the band and its followers’ embracing of poverty and rejection of mainstream society, noting that many Juggalos exhibit violence. Law enforcement describes the fan group as “undereducated, poor, racist, crime-committing youth,” so prepare to need a cash bond if you attend TGOJ.
8. The Home of Bootsy Collins
Cincinnati native William Earl Collins, or Bootsy for short, established himself as a funk and R&B bassist while playing with James Brown in the 1970s. He then anchored himself as a funk star in Parliament Funkadelic. Crank up your car audio while checking out his latest release, “The Power of One,” released in 2020.
Like many performers in hip-hop, he enjoys collaborating with other artists. In Collins’ case, he chooses diversity in his work partners, ranging from the king of G-Funk rap Snoop Dogg to Christian rapper Toby Mac. For Ohio native Collins, it all comes down to making great music that evokes feeling and a mental picture. You can experience that in his lyrics, such as, “You don’t miss a kiss until the lips are gone.”
9. Hocking Hills
Hocking Hills State Park offers much more than hiking and picnic areas. Explore this vast natural wonder that includes Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, and Cedar Falls. Don’t worry if camping isn’t your thing, because Hocking Hills offers luxury cabins for rent – more than 900 options. Luxuriate in a cedar sauna after a tough day of canoeing or zip-lining.
This state park also offers day passes, so you don’t have to spend the night to enjoy all that Hocking Hills, Ohio offers. Consider a day trip for one of the many festivals the park holds each year, but remember your tweezers for tick removal. Choose from more than ten festivals, including the Starbrick Music Festival, Wild Turkey Festival, Lily Fest, The Parade of the Hills, and Earth Angel Super Cruise-In, a festival celebrating classic cars.
10. Cedar Point
Spending the summer on the shores of Lake Erie can mean way more than a little boating and swimming commemorated by a custom t shirt. Check out Cedar Point, the Erie coast’s massive thrill park that clearly escapes membership in the boring club. The park offers 18 roller coasters and, as of 2024, the world’s tallest and fastest triple-launch strata coaster. Cedar Point mounts family-friendly trips, too, such as its Snake River Expedition.
Keep everyone in the family happy by staying at one of the Cedar Point resorts, so the non-thrill seekers in the family can enjoy playing on the beach, taking a dip in the pool, or shopping. These resorts offer restaurants and live shows, too, so there’s truly something for everyone. The summer event center opens in early May of each year and typically closes for the season after Labor Day weekend, but the resort hotels operate year-round.
Vibrant, Exciting Ohio
By now, you understand our wonder at anyone referring to Ohio as a member of the boring club, when it teems with excitement and action. We haven’t even touched on its sports heritage. With major universities, including Ohio University, Ohio State University, Youngstown State University, and Bowling Green University, the state offers constant sports events. It’s probably best known for its college football teams.
Ohioans enjoy a plethora of pro teams to root for, including the sports of football, baseball, and basketball. Between the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, MLB’s Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians/Guardians, NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, MLS’s Columbus Crew, and Cleveland Cavaliers, you will surely find a sporting event that interests you. Pair any sporting event with dinner out in one of the state’s many major cities to create a complete experience of that metropolitan area.
Ohio offers so much to do and see, plus many of its events occur annually, yet change the lineup, so you might attend two years in a row of the Moonshine Festival without repeating any artists. Both of the state’s major amusement parks add rides regularly, making visits to them full of new adventures. Even if you camp on the shores of one of the state’s 110 lakes, the people you meet and the activities to do change from year to year.
We’re not sure how dear Ohio earned a bum rap as boring, but set the record straight for yourself by visiting this great state. Explore the many homes and vacation homes available while you visit, because Ohio also provides some of the best real estate deals in the nation. Many houses sell for less than $200,000 and bargains for less than $100,000 abound, too.