Ohio is a state famous for its artsy cities, forest hiking trails and thrilling theme parks. It is a proud state; from farmers to football fanatics, Ohio waves its banners high.
However, there is a lot more to the Buckeye State than the roar of the stadium or the thrill of a roller coaster. When you really discover Ohio, you discover charming neighborhoods, vast caverns, historical memorials and ancient sites.
Here is a fun guide to getting off the beaten path in Ohio.
For our first destination, let's head into the dark depths of Ohio to experience the beautiful and mysterious underground world.
Throughout the state, from the southern tip to the northern islands, vast and stunning caves are waiting to be explored. A few types of the caves in Ohio cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Here are a few of the best.
Ash Cave/Old Mans Cave – Located in Hocking Hills State Park, the caves are certainly worth a visit, but so is the surrounding area. There are amazing hiking trails along well-used paths that even include stairways and tunnels from the 1800’s. Waterfalls are scattered throughout the parks as well as lakes, creeks, hills and valleys.
Ohio Caverns — The caves located in scenic West Liberty, Ohio have been called "The most colorful caverns in America." These beautiful caves are also home to the largest stalactites in the entire world, slowly formed over 200,000 years.
Not many people are aware, but Cincinnati once broke ground to build a massive subway loop around the city. After several miles of tunnels were constructed, the city canceled the subway due to constant problems and delays. Unfortunately, the job was never restarted.
Today most of the entrances are sealed off, but a few times throughout the year, the doors are opened for tours. Interesting and rather eerie, this underground adventure is completely off the beaten path.
The capital of Ohio is a Midwest hotspot filled with art, culture, history, and unique places to visit, including these top spots.
German Village — This unusual neighborhood was started by a large number of German immigrants in the mid-19th century. Located just south of downtown Columbus, German Village is much more than just a beautiful, historical neighborhood near a metropolis.
One of the best ways to explore the area is to just stroll down the charming tree lined sidewalks. Who knows where the cobblestone streets will lead you? The architecture of the Victorian brick homes with their secret gardens beckons one to stop and picture life in a slower time.
Wander into bakeries that have been family owned for over a hundred years or enjoy a delicious lunch in a classic deli. Sit and enjoy the cool of the day in the park and even catch a free play. Finish the evening dining on the patio of a fine-dining restaurant or on authentic German cuisine. There are so many choices that you will want to return time and time again.
Columbus Commons — The Columbus Commons is a huge park located in the heart of the city. It is a major gathering place for live music, festivals and daily activities. Fine restaurants, live theaters, and beautiful hotels surround this beautiful 9-acre park.
With so much happening in the downtown radius, this is the perfect spot to grab a room and explore it all. Take in a play, wander the markets, stroll through the parks, and be amazed at lively night life. It is easy to fill your itinerary for several days.
North Market — The North Market is a fantastic place to explore. Mouth-watering cuisines from all over the world are located under one roof and it is all delicious. This midsize market is near the center of the city and is always bustling with activity.
This large Indian burial mound in Ross County is one of a kind. This man-made hill slithers its way through the surrounding countryside. From the sky; the mounds resemble a serpent; hence the name, Serpent Mound. Scientists have studied the mound for centuries and have always known it was hundreds of years old. However, new evidence has come forth that could date the mound back to 321 B.C. This is the same period as ancient Greece. This impressive site is off the beaten path, but the new date has put it on the fast track to becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Let us head to Springfield, Ohio for our last destination off the beaten path. Over 20,000 stones make up Hartman's Garden. Here you will find replicas of Philadelphia Independence Hall, the White House, a medieval castle and even Noah's Ark. The Hartman's Stone Garden in Springfield is unique site hidden away in Ohio.
Ohio has many "Off the Beaten Path" experiences. From vast caverns to stone replicas of the White House, the state has a lot to offer travelers willing to venture off the well-marked trail and into the unknown.
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Stephen Schreck is a world traveler, nomad, and adventure backpacker. Knowing a life of aimlessly wandering the globe in search of adventures was the only life for him he set out to make his dream his reality. Currently he is trying to conquer his fears and tackle his bucket list. Follow Stephen's adventures at A Backpacker's Tale or on social media on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
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