Top Free Things To Do In Ohio | Midwest Living

Top Free Things To Do In Ohio

Art museums, state parks and the state capitol are just a few free things to do in Ohio.
  • Toledo Museum
    Courtesy of Toledo Museum of Art

    Free art in Ohio

    Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo (pictured) With more than 30,000 significant works, including Picasso, Matisse and Monet, the museum can fill a day. Short on time? Grab one of the “My Guide” brochures to take one of six themed tours.

    Cincinnati Art Museum This encyclopedic art museum holds more than  65,000 objects spanning 6,000 years. An exhibit on the role of cats in Egyptian mythology, Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt, opens June 18.

    Cleveland Museum of Art After examining masters like Renoir, Monet, Dalí and Picasso, create your own virtual painting on touchscreens at the Gallery One learning center.

    Kennedy Museum of Art, Athens The Ohio University museum displays Southwestern Native American textiles and jewelry, art that reflects African traditions, and 19th- and 20th-century photographs.

  • The Topiary Park


    The Topiary Park (pictured) Sculpted evergreens re-create the scene from George Seurat’s painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte. Standing by the bronze easel gives viewers the same perspective as in the painting.

    Ohio State Capitol At the center of this 1861 Greek Revival-style building is a skylight painted with the Ohio seal paid for by schoolchildren.

    Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum The impressive collection of Ohio State-owned materials includes rare and historical comic strips, graphic novels and editorial cartoons.


  • Ash Cave

    Free state parks

    Ohio’s 74 parks are as diverse as the state’s landscape; they’re also all free!

    One of the best is Hocking Hills State Park, with fascinating sandstone caves and hollows. The park, about 55 miles southeast of Columbus, has hiking, fishing and nature programs as well as a visitors’ center. Highlights include 100-foot-high Ash Cave (pictured), Old Man's Cave, Rock House and Cantwell Cliffs.

    Also nearby: Conkle's Hollow State Nature Preserve, a spectacular sandstone gorge with cascading waterfalls and 200-foot-high sheer cliffs.

  • Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area

    Free in the Lake Erie Shore area

    Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area This bird-watching enclave 30 miles east of Toledo has a boardwalk trail (pictured) and migratory bird center. These wetlands were part of a swamp that blocked regional settlement until it was mostly drained in the early 1900s.

    Marblehead Lighthouse State Park The oldest active Great Lakes light and keeper's house stands on the tip of the Marblehead Peninsula. You can visit the grounds for free as well as a museum in the keeper's house; a small fee is charged for lighthouse tours.

    Maumee Bay State Park Just east of Toledo, this lakeside preserve has a 2-mile boardwalk trail, nature center with interactive displays, two sand beaches, butterfly gazebo and other activities. Maumee Bay Resort is located in the park.

    Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Explore 10 miles of walking trails and migratory bird habitats through wetlands, forest and upland habitats.

  • Museum of the U.S. Air Force
    Courtesy of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

    Aviation in Dayton

    National Museum of the U.S. Air Force (pictured) Hundreds of planes and thousands of pieces of Air Force memorabilia cover 17 acres of airplane hangars, making this a must for aviation buffs. Call ahead if you want a spot in one of the Behind the Scenes tours on Fridays.

    Wright Cycle Company Complex Rangers and displays answer questions about Dayton’s aviation history. Find an overview of the Wright brothers’ lives and the quirky Parachute Museum on the second floor.

  • Couyahoga Valley National Park

    Cuyahoga Valley National Park

    Thirty minutes from downtown Cleveland, escape to green oases filled with waterfalls, bike trails, a scenic railroad and the Cleveland Orchestra’s summer home.

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