Exploring Ohio: 5 + Summertime Adventures


A recent post by a fellow CMB mama reminded me of my own carefree summers here in Ohio.  We have family all over the state, so when we weren’t vegged out on the sofa watching the Price is Right, or crafting away at summer camp, my family and I would take to the highways and hit every corner of Ohio.  Below are 5 of my favorite things to do in Ohio that will get you out of Columbus and into far reaching corners of our amazing state.

Exploring Ohio (2)


Cedar Point/Kings Island

This is my most obvious Ohio summertime activity, but I believe it bears repeating.  We Ohioans are lucky enough to have two of the best amusement parks in the whole country! (The whole world!?)  Less than 2.5 hours away, dubbed “The Roller Coaster Capital of the World,” Cedar Point offers daring roller coasters, a water park, and of course, kids’ rides.  With plenty of hotels, both on site and off, you can easily make a weekend out of it.  Kings Island, a childhood favorite of mine, is even closer at less than 1.5 hours away.  Dubbed “The Largest Amusement Park in the Midwest,” Kings Island will not disappoint the thrill seeker in your family.  For the little ones, there’s a great kids’ area, as well as a replica Eiffel tower the whole family can go up to catch a great view of the surrounding area.  Check out the links below for more info.  If you’ve never been, at lease one of these should be on your summertime bucket list!


Cedar Point

Kings Island

Lake Erie Beaches

Growing up my Grandma would take us to the beaches of Lake Erie near Toledo.  Later, as an adult, my now husband and I would spend a few hours each weekend relaxing on the beach at Mentor-on-the Lake outside of Cleveland.  Wherever you go, be assured that even this ocean loving gal enjoys the lake just as much as I do the Atlantic or the Gulf.  Give it a try.  You might be surprised at how much fun you can have on our beautiful Great Lake.  Make a weekend or a week out of it by combining your trip with a wineries tour, a trip to Cedar Point, or a visit to the world-renowned Toledo Museum of Art and/or Toledo Zoo (members of the Columbus Zoo enjoy admission reciprocity!).  Check out the links below for more info.


Lake Erie Beaches

Ohio Wineries

Toledo Museum of Art

Toledo Zoo

Lake Erie Islands

Along the same lines as the Lake Erie beaches, but definitely deserving of its own bullet point.  Put-in-Bay, as well as Kelly’s Island offer a great get-away for families, couples, or a group of friends.  The island has many B&Bs, hotels, and rentals to choose from, delicious restaurants, a beautiful carousel, a giant geode (you can actually go inside of it!), a cave you can tour, and let’s not forget the fun of riding around in a golf cart.  While there is plenty for the kids to do on PIB, choose your timing carefully as certain weekends (such as Christmas in July) tend to attract a partying crowd and the place turns into one big party town, definitely not suitably for kiddos.  Other times of year (especially early or late season) are sublime.  Not looking to spend the night on the island?  No problem, just catch the first ferry over and the last ferry back.  Day trip, weekend get-away, or week long vacation, you truly can’t go wrong on the Lake Erie Islands.  Check out the links below to plan your trip.


Lake Erie Islands


Kelley’s Island

Miller Ferry

Jet Express

Kelley’s Island Ferry

Serpent Mound

Right after we moved to Ohio, way back in 1992, one of the first trips we took as a family was to see Serpent Mound in southern Ohio.  I was only 7, but that visit has stuck with me all these years.  Serpent Mound is an effigy mound created by a native Ohio society over 2000 years ago.  Although burial mounds are located close by, the Serpent Mound is thought to have been used for ceremonial purposes.  At less than an hour from Chillicothe, Ohio’s first capital, Serpent Mound can easily be a fun part of an Ohio history trip.  Of course, Serpent Mound is only one of many, many historical sites around the state of Ohio.  For many more visit OhioHistory.org.  No matter where you are in the state, there is bound to be something historic nearby.


Serpent Mound


University Hopping

Okay, this idea is a little bit off-the-beaten-path, but hear me out.  Ohio is home to some of the most beautiful campuses in the country, not to mention, many, many universities.  AND they are literally ALL over the state.  From our very own Ohio State, to the idyllic campuses and small towns associated with Miami University (my alma mater!) and Ohio University, to the more urban setting of Case Western Reserve.  From the large schools like Bowling Green and University of Cincinnati, to the smaller liberal arts colleges such as Kenyan, Oberlin, and Denison.  Ohio is teeming with higher ed institutions that are definitely worth checking out.  And -BONUS- you can be sure to find some amazing subs, hamburgers, pizza, and fries in any college town you go to.  Not only does visiting college campuses expose your kids to the idea of college at a young age, but it can also introduce them to Ohio history and a new part of the state.  Although it may be a bit late in the season this year, most, if not all of Ohio’s universities offer summer programs/camps for kids, anything from sports, outdoor training and wilderness skills, to art, music, and summer scholar’s programs.  Go check out some campuses this summer and I guarantee your little one and especially your older kids will be eager to try a summer program next year, or at least get them thinking about summer experiences further along in their academic, sport, or art “career.”  Below are just a few links to some of the many Universities and summer programs offered around our state, it’s never too early to start planning!


Miami University Summer Scholars Program

Summer Music Programs at Oberlin

BGSU Summer Music Institute

The Young Writer’s Workshop at Kenyon

Akron Soccer Camps

Ohio University Sports Camps

I hope I’ve given you some good ideas of how to get out of Columbus and explore the great state of Ohio.  Please feel free to add your own ideas for Ohio summer hot spots in the comments section below.

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Elisabeth, a native of southwest Ohio, has recently moved back to her home state after 3.5 years in Dallas, TX, y’all. After having their son in early 2015, Elisabeth and her husband knew it was time to make the bittersweet decision to leave Dallas and head back home. Although neither Elisabeth nor her husband are originally from Columbus, it immediately felt comfortable and welcoming, home at last. Elisabeth is mama to a darling, wacky, and scrumptious one-year-old boy, Baby Bean, and married for over four years to the man who stole her heart with a smile junior year in college. Before embarking on her life-long dream of being a stay at home mom, Elisabeth attended law school in Cleveland and then promptly decided to become a real estate agent in Dallas. Elisabeth loves making lists of all kinds, squeezing into skinny jeans whenever possible, and truly believes nothing tastes better than that first cup of morning coffee (with lots of cream). Her favorite things include Cadbury Eggs, Christmas decorations, hotel room service, and watching Baby Bean grow and change each and every day, even if that means toddlerdom is upon her! Elisabeth is passionate about parenting, and loves to learn about the many different types of parents, child-rearing, and how individual families approach various, every day challenges. She hopes her stories can help others see a new perspective, understand that no matter what, they aren’t alone, bring forth a little bit of inspiration, and ultimately help other parents through this nutty job we’ve bestowed upon ourselves.


  1. You have some great places listed here. I would like to try Lake Erie Beaches. I don’t like sitting on the beach but I would walk every day. Thank you!

    • Hi Sherry! Thanks for the feedback! The Lake Erie beaches are a great place to walk, and you can typically see some interesting water birds.

    • I’m so glad you like the list! And I’m thrilled I could bring something new to your attention 🙂 From what I understand there are some more ancient Native American mounds just east of Columbus, near Newark. The Ohio History website is an absolutely amazing resource!

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