When most people think of Ohio, they imagine places like Cleveland and Columbus, but Ohio boasts an array of small towns bursting with unique hidden gems of nature and history. From the rich military heritage of Granville to the natural wonders of Yellow Springs to the "Riverboat Town" of Marietta, many of the best attractions are nestled in charming towns. Whether you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban metropolises or you want a quiet place to retreat after sightseeing, Ohio has plenty of small towns the whole family can enjoy. Here are the best small towns in Ohio to visit.

    1

    Geneva-on-the-Lake

    Immerse yourself in a 1950s-era atmosphere

    The appropriately named Geneva-on-the-Lake is a charming small town located on Lake Erie that features a distinct 1950s-era holiday atmosphere. You'll find a sandy beach on the water perfect for relaxing, swimming, and fishing, but that's just the beginning. By the beach, you'll find donut shops and ice cream stands to satisfy your sweet tooth. Additionally, there are several arcades and a Ferris wheel to offer endless fun for the whole family. The town's original arcade is still up and running today, so you can find fun that generations have already enjoyed.

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    photo by Michael A. Orlando (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    2

    Marietta

    Explore an old riverboat town

    The old riverboat town of Marietta is packed full of historical value and adventure, complete with fascinating museums like the Ohio River Museum and Campus Martius Museum. Marietta was the first European settlement in the Northwest Territory, and you can learn all about it in the local history museums. If you want to look back even further, be sure to check out Quadranou Mount, an example of impressive ancient earthworks. Additionally, The Castle is renowned for its Gothic Revival architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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    3

    Granville

    Find a uniquely New England type of experience in Ohio

    When you visit Granville with its historic buildings and tree-lined streets, you'll really feel like you're in New England. In town, you'll find the prestigious Denison University, as well as fun shops and restaurants in the city centre area. The landscaping in the region is particularly impressive in the summer, as walks through town will be met with vibrant colours from blooming flowers and plants. Of course, you can always embark on the T.J. Evans Trail if you want a more active experience.

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    photo by Wdzinc (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    4

    Millersburg

    Explore Ohio's Amish country

    You'll find Millersburg deep within Ohio's Amish country. This peaceful community is the place to be if you're looking to relax. Even the roads around it tend to take it easy, thanks to the prominence of Amish buggies on them. When you're in town, it's best to explore the numerous local vendors around offering freshly grown produce and handcrafted items, including baskets and quilts. The local Amish are expert farmers and crafters, so you can always expect a degree of quality you simply can't find when a machine does the job instead.

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    photo by Mike Sharp (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    5

    Yellow Springs

    Step back in time and visit numerous 1960s-era buildings

    Yellow Springs is unique in that it makes you feel as if you've entered a different era, as many of the local buildings project a 1960s feel, and the town sports an undeniably laid-back atmosphere. The casual expectations here make exploring the town easy, so you can check out the numerous shops and art galleries that line the streets. The eateries are classic American and feature burger joints, cafés, and more. If you're a fan of outdoor adventure, you won't have to look far, as John Bryan State Park is right on the outskirts of town.

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    photo by Niagara66 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    6

    Put-in-Bay

    Take the ferry to this well-preserved town

    Put-in-Bay is a small but popular Ohio destination that's located on South Bass Island within Lake Erie, and it can only be reached by ferry. Once you arrive, however, you can visit all sorts of attractions, such as Crystal Cave, the Butterfly House, and South Bass Island State Park. You’ll also find exciting landmarks, such as South Bass Island Lighthouse, and endless stretches of pristine beaches. Golf is also popular, so don't hesitate to spend some time at the greens while the gentle waves roll onto the nearby shore.

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    7

    German Village

    Immerse yourself in German culture

    German Village is a small community near Columbus. As the name suggests, this community sports a German theme since it was originally founded by German settlers all those years ago. The landscaping and architecture are particularly impressive, so this is a town best explored on foot. In town, you'll also find numerous cafés, as well as dessert restaurants offering treats like cream puffs. Additionally, Schiller Park is a perfect place for a picnic or to see an outdoor play in the summer.

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    8

    Waynesville

    Visit the Antiques Capital of the Midwest

    Look no further than Waynesville if you're looking to go antiquing. This town is known as the "Antiques Capital of the Midwest," and that's no accident. You'll find dozens of antique stores throughout the town, and they're all within walking distance of each other, so it's easier than ever to find interesting items you can't get anywhere else. Seasonal offerings here are impressive as well, with stunning winter decorations and the famous annual Ohio Sauerkraut Festival that started in 1970.

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    photo by Ed! (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    9

    Cambridge

    Find food, glass, and outdoor fun in this small town

    Cambridge is a lovely small town with a variety of things for the whole family to enjoy. When you travel through the city centre area, you'll notice a string of bakeries and antique shops to explore. Additionally, you may want to stop by the Mosser Glass Company and the National Museum of Cambridge Glass to learn more about the fascinating production and artistic potential of glass. You might also enjoy a visit to the Deerassic Park Education Centre, where you can see and learn about white-tailed deer.

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    photo by Willjay (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    10

    Loveland

    Explore an actual American castle

    Loveland is an interesting town in Ohio with an array of unique and diverse attractions like the Christian Waldschmidt Homestead Museum and Johnson Nature Preserve. Not only will you find 19th-century charm throughout this community, but there's something that evokes images of an era even further back in history. Loveland is home to Loveland Castle, a medieval-style castle with towers and ramparts. If you're more interested in the local nature, you can enjoy the Little Miami State and National Scenic River along with the numerous local hiking trails and kayaking opportunities.

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    photo by Antony-22 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

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