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11 Serene Towns in Ohio for a Weekend Retreat

by Staff

Between busy work schedules and the rigors of fast-paced urban living, it is crucial to spare a few days for rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Escaping to the countryside, where the crowds are thinner and the air is fresher, sounds like an excellent way to recharge before embarking on your normal schedule. Fortunately, the Buckeye State harbors many destinations where travelers can enjoy a fun weekend that promises relaxation. From the scenic shores of Lake Erie and the Ohio River’s relaxed banks to the Appalachian Plateau’s picturesque foothills, these small Ohio towns offer unique charm with endless outdoor adventures. Each has a captivating cultural and historical heritage that can be explored by touring diverse landmarks, sampling local cuisine, and partaking in traditional festivals. If you only have a few days to escape the city, here are some of the best places in Ohio for a weekend getaway.

Geneva

Aerial View Of Lake Erie Coastal Town, Geneva On The Lake Ohio

If you fancy laidback waterfront retreats without the choking crowds of urban areas, consider spending the weekend in this delightful Lake Erie town. Geneva charms tourists with a relaxed atmosphere and stunning water views, abundantly available at Geneva State Park. This popular public recreation area spans almost 700 acres along the shores of Lake Erie, providing activities like boating, fishing, hiking, boating, swimming, and snowmobiling. The hospitable community welcomes visitors to experience its warmth and mingle with locals in a friendly atmosphere at Robinsons Apple Barn, a hub for farm-fresh produce and home-baked goods.

Geneva also boasts a respectable wine and dine scenery, hosting a handful of quaint wineries and restaurants across the town. Wine lovers can visit the Old Mill Winery to enjoy a refreshing glass of wine while soaking in unprecedented views of Lake Erie. For your stay, be sure to remain within the tranquil shorefront atmosphere by checking into the Lakehouse Inn.

Marietta

Aerial view of downtown Marietta, Ohio.
Aerial view of downtown Marietta, Ohio.

River towns have always been a hit with tourists seeking a short rural getaway, and this is no different for the charming village of Marietta. Situated where the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers meet, this small Washington County community promises an array of fun experiences for all preferences. Culture vultures and historians will find interest in the Campus Martius Museum, which offers a glimpse of the first organized settlement in the Northwest Territory, with unique exhibits dating back to the 18th century. The Castle Historic House Museum is another iconic landmark, featuring an 1855 Gothic Revival mansion serving as a museum.

If you are not bothered by large crowds, one of the best times to visit Marietta is during the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival. This cultural spectacle attracts almost 100,000 enthusiasts annually, celebrating the town’s river heritage with diverse, family-friendly activities. But before you go, remember to book a stay at the Hampton Inn well in advance.

Logan

Old photo of downtown Logan, Ohio
Old photo of downtown Logan, Ohio

Breathtaking natural beauty, serene atmosphere, and hospitable locals make this riverfront community a bucket-list weekend destination. Sitting on the banks of the Hocking River, tourists make the most of river adventures like kayaking, canoeing, and rafting, courtesy of local outfitters. However, Hickory Hills State Park is easily the town’s crowning jewel. A hub for endless recreational opportunities, the site hosts a mix of nature trails, waterfalls, cliffs, gorges, and forests, appealing to hikers, swimmers, campers, hunters, and anglers. Logan is also home to Lake Logan State Park, where enthusiasts can switch from river adventures to lakefront fun.

The center has a 300-acre lake with wooded surroundings that draw boaters, swimmers, and fishermen to immerse in the beautiful outdoors. After a long day full of wild adventures, you can unwind with a glass of wine at Hickory Hills Winery before enjoying a peaceful night’s sleep at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls.

Put-In-Bay

Aerial view of Put-in-Bay, Ohio marina.
Aerial view of Put-in-Bay, Ohio marina.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more fulfilling weekend getaway in Ohio than the resort city of Put-in-Bay. This lovely Lake Erie island destination promises an unforgettable experience, whether traveling alone, with a spouse, or with family. One of the first stops newcomers make is at the iconic Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial—the landmark soars above the town’s skyline as a tribute to the infamous Battle of Lake Erie. Visiting families can expect loads of fun at Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center, which presents kid-friendly activities like rock climbing, mini golfing, and cave exploration.

For fun on the water, a visit to South Bass Island State Park provides access to the beautiful Lake Erie, with fun amenities like a boat launch, fishing pier, stone beach, and children’s playground. Being a tourist hotspot, Put-in-Bay has multiple B&Bs, but you can find a comfortable place to lay your head at Put-in-Bay Resort Hotel.

Granville

Churches and businesses line a shady block of Broadway Avenue in Granville, Ohio.
Broadway Avenue in Granville, Ohio. Image credit Kenneth Sponsler via Shutterstock.

Sitting about 30 minutes from Columbus, Granville has a unique New England charm that will make you feel like you are in a small Massachusetts borough. Guests looking for some background to the beautiful town will find interesting archives and artifacts at the Granville Historical Society Museum with juicy details about its past. The great outdoors promises a more exciting experience in Granville, thanks to a long list of green areas and sprawling open spaces. Hikers can make the most of several miles of hiking trails as anglers find a quiet spot at the fishing pond inside the 43-acre Fanchion Lewis Park.

Meanwhile, Wildwood Park is better equipped for tourists with kids, offering fun facilities like a baseball field, a playground, a basketball court, picnic tables, and a soccer field. For the short weekend you stay in Granville, consider embracing a rustic accommodation experience at the 1924 Granville Inn.

Loudonville

Wolf Creek Grist Mill, Loudonville, Ohio.
Wolf Creek Grist Mill, Loudonville, Ohio.

Christened the “Canoe Capital of Ohio,” Loudonville enjoys a laidback setting along the banks of the Mohican River, surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes. Among its top attractions is the Mohican State Park, which spans over 1,100 acres. Home to a scenic gorge, dense forest, and 13 miles of multiple-use trails, the nature space is perfect for hiking, fishing, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Water-based fun enthusiasts can sign up for exciting tours with Mohican Adventures Canoe Livery and Fun Center, where they can go kayaking, canoeing, and rafting along the Mohican River.

After having enough of the outdoors, you can find an interesting indoor pursuit at the Cleo Redd Fisher Museum, which houses diverse exhibits, stories, and archives documenting local history. And when it’s time to call it a day, consider staying at the luxurious Landoll’s Mohican Castle.

Chagrin Falls

 North Main Streen in Chagrin Falls
North Main Street in Chagrin Falls. Image credit Kenneth Sponsler via Shutterstock.

The serene streets of downtown Chagrin Falls are a far cry from the chaos in neighboring Cleveland, compelling many tourists to seek solace in this small Cuyahoga County town. Chagrin Falls is made unique by the scenic cascade in the heart of its town center, a popular spot for visitors looking to take advantage of the photo opportunity. Downtown also houses a bustling restaurant scene, apparent from the several eateries dotting its streets. When peckish, be sure to pop into 17 River Griller for a taste of sumptuous flavors featuring seafood, steak, and salads.

After a wholesome meal, you can relax and unwind at the Chagrin Valley Little Theater by watching a live play, concert, or musical in a historic theater venue. Finally, spend the night in the cozy interiors of the Inn of Chagrin.

Vermilion

Sunrise illuminates the buildings along the Vermilion River in Vermilion Ohio
Sunrise illuminates the buildings along the Vermilion River in Vermilion, Ohio.

Vermilion is another Lake Erie town that lets you enjoy a relaxed retreat with awesome views of the water. Housing about 11,000 residents, it has enough room to guarantee the solitude one needs during a weekend of relaxation. Guests can find this at Main Street Beach, which has a sandy shoreline for lazy evening walks and a small swimming beach. If you don’t mind the crowds, you can join the local community at the Vermilion Farm Market, for a chance to partake in pleasant interactions and learn something about local culture.

Also, don’t forget to check out the impressive art scenery by touring Vermilion Arts Guild Gallery. Housed inside are diverse art exhibits, ranging from ceramics and photography to jewelry and woodworking. When you need to relax after a long day, you can find comfortable accommodation at the Old Vermilion Jailhouse Bed and Breakfast.

Yellow Springs

People shopping and browsing at a public street fair in Yellow Springs, Ohio
People shopping and browsing at a public street fair in Yellow Springs. Image credit Adam Lovelace via Shutterstock.

If you are planning a short getaway jam-packed with outdoor adventures, Yellow Springs is one of the best towns in Ohio to which you can escape. It is rife with amazing nature centers, highlighted by the Glen Helen Nature Preserve. Spanning almost 700 acres, adventurers come here to discover natural wonders along its 20 miles of beautiful trails, such as the iconic springs the town was named after. Yellow Springs is also home to the Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve, which stands out for its dramatic dolomite gorges and amazing natural scenery, which you can discover during a wild hiking excursion.

When exhausted from the endless outdoor activities the town offers, pass by Young’s Jersey Dairy to relax with a delicious ice cream cone or restock with a wholesome meal at the onsite restaurant. While there is no lack of accommodation venues in town, Mills Park Hotel makes for a great option.

Athens

Ohio University main campus in Athens, Ohio, USA, springtime view
Ohio University main campus in Athens, Ohio, USA, springtime view. Image credit Wendy van Overstreet via Shutterstock.

Home to Ohio University, Athens presents a small-town escape with an upbeat atmosphere. The university’s presence elevates the local arts scene with a string of art centers, none more prominent than the Ohio Museum Complex and Kennedy Museum of Art. Here, awesome art meets interesting history, allowing visitors to be intrigued by diverse artifacts. Athens’ bustling personality comes to the fore during the Athens Farmers Market, an excellent time to interact with the local community while shopping for the freshest of its farm produce.

For the outdoorsy traveler, Athens West State Park invites you to indulge in various fun activities, from hiking and biking to picnicking and playing sports. Finally, don’t forget to book a room at Hampton Inn Athens for a cozy night’s sleep.

Loveland

Street view of downtown Loveland, Ohio
Streetview of downtown Loveland, Ohio.

Treat your kids to an unforgettable weekend retreat in this delightful community in southwest Ohio. Loveland charms tourists with a chill atmosphere and a selection of family-friendly pursuits. Top among its attractions is the postcard-worthy Loveland Castle Museum. Besides its rustic grandeur, exploring its antique interior feels like being in a fairytale. Your kids will love the idea of stopping by Loveland Dairy Whip for a delicious, ice-cold treat. The lovely establishment specializes in soft-serve desserts featuring various flavors of ice cream.

Alternatively, you can take a trip to the beautiful Lake Isabella to enjoy an easygoing sail on the water or try fishing for feisty catfish. When it’s time to call it a day, you will find nice family accommodation at the Loveland Lofts.

Ohio’s backcountry is rife with cozy small towns where relaxation replaces routine. A visit to any of these destinations promises laidback living at its finest, from basking on sandy shores to walking along quiet downtown streets. Leave technology behind to fully experience nature’s restorative powers by hiking through forests or lounging by rivers. And don’t forget to immerse in local history and culture at your own pace. These lovely towns in Ohio offer the perfect oasis for weekends of rejuvenation through simplicity, scenic beauty, and small-town charm.

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