The 15 Most Charming Small Towns in Ohio

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Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus get most of the fanfare—and foot traffic when it comes to visitors—however, Ohio is way more than its major cities. There are tons of lesser-known locales to explore, including many wonderful small towns that really showcase Midwestern hospitality, history, modern attractions, culture, family fun and natural beauty (Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Hocking Hills State Park are without question two of the most beautiful places in the Midwest). It certainly doesn’t hurt that a fun-filled vacation to “The Heart of It All" (a tourism slogan that really rings true) won’t break the bank.

Whether you’re already in the process of planning a trip to the Buckeye State or just want to broaden your knowledge of domestic domestications for future Americana-filled road trips and adventures, scroll on to get acquainted with the most charming small towns across Ohio.


charming small towns in ohio geneva on the lake ohio
The Lakehouse Inn Resort

1. Geneva-on-the-lake, Ohio

Perched on the shores of Lake Erie, Geneva-on-the-Lake is idyllic for a summer vacation with the family. It has loads of wholesome activities and entertainment that make it feel like you just stepped into a town in a bygone era. Visitors have access to tons of water sports, mini-golf, a Ferris wheel and an original arcade. Few things rival the nostalgia of a scoop of homemade ice cream from a seaside stand.

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charming small towns in ohio yellow springs ohio
Mills Park Hotel

2. Yellow Springs, Ohio

Free spirits, artists and creative souls flock to Yellow Springs, a super cool little town with a bohemian vibe and tons of personality. Downtown is filled with colorful storefronts, Antioch College students sipping espresso at indie coffee shops and musicians rocking out on the street. You might even see knitted yarn graffiti on some of the trees, Yep, that’s a real thing.

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charming small towns in ohio put in bay ohio
Mike Kline (notkalvin)/Getty Images

3. Put-in-bay, Ohio

A tiny South Bass Island oasis three miles from the Ohio mainland, Put-in-Bay is a small community with an off-season population of just 150 swells in the summer. During the warmer months, tourists journey to Put-in-Bay to go fishing and boating, stroll around the scenic harbor and live it up at lively bars. Guess that’s how this Ohio hotspot came to be known as the “Key West of the North.”

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charming small towns in ohio marietta ohio
ChrisBoswell/Getty Images

4. Marietta, Ohio

Marietta sits on the banks of the Ohio River. It was originally established by the pioneers back in 1788 as the first permanent settlement of the Northwest Territory. While Marietta has grown into a popular and picturesque tourist destination over the years, it’s still very much a historic riverboat town. Activities like kayaking, Victorian houses and the annual Ohio River Sternwheel Festival are evidence of that.

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charming small towns in ohio marblehead ohio
Douglas Sacha/Getty Images

5. Marblehead, Ohio

With its historic 1821-built lighthouse, laid/back atmosphere, and beautiful setting on the tip of a peninsula, Marblehead almost has a sort of New England thing going on, but this Ohio village is still very Midwestern in its sensibility and sightlines. Whereas on the East Coast, you’d enjoy ocean vistas. Marblehead wows with views of Lake Erie and Sandusky Bay.

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charming small towns in ohio oberlin ohio
The Hotel at Oberlin

6. Oberlin, Ohio

Home to Oberlin College—a liberal arts institution with a well-documented history of forward-thinking—Oberlin is a happening college town with vibrant energy and a progressive mindset. Upwards of 3,000 students call it home during the school year. That translates to many slam poetry nights, art shows, plays and other lively cultural events as well as an eclectic array of indie boutiques, coffee shops and bars.

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charming small towns in ohio tipp city ohio
Eric Fredericks/Flickr

7. Tipp City, Ohio

Don’t let the name fool you, Tipp City is a true Midwestern small town. Located not far from Dayton, it’s a great spot to get away from the grind and just chill out for a few days. Spend a leisurely afternoon walking around the historical downtown and admiring some of the beautiful old buildings or uncovering treasures at the antique shops.

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charming small towns in ohio german village ohio

8. German Village, Ohio

Just outside of Columbus, German Village provides a relaxing respite and a chance for visitors to immerse themselves in the history and ambiance of a quaint community with European roots. Stroll along the cobblestone streets, admire the brick houses, grab a cup of coffee or a pastry, sample authentic German cuisine, walk around Schiller Park and scour the shelves at The Book Loft, one of the largest independent bookstores in the United States.

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charming small towns in ohio loveland ohio
Juan Ribot/Getty Images

9. Loveland, Ohio

There’s a lot to love about Loveland (pun intended, but that doesn’t make it any less true). Start with a tour of the historic, fairytale-looking Loveland Castle. Because Loveland is on the Little Miami River, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for canoeing and waterside walks, too. As a sort of cute and romantic gimmick, the post office hand-stamps thousands of greeting cards with sweet messages in advance of Valentine’s Day.

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charming small towns in ohio sugarcreek ohio
Visit Sugarcreek/Facebook

10. Sugarcreek, Ohio

Dubbed “The Little Switzerland of Ohio,” Sugarcreek has an enchanting mix of Swiss charm and Amish trademarks. The Alpine-style architecture defines this small town. Another famous feature is the World's Largest Cuckoo Clock, which was built in 1972 and looms large above the square. It’s also one of the best places in Ohio to purchase fresh-made local cheese. Definitely go for a buggy ride before leaving town.

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charming small towns in ohio milan ohio
VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm/Getty Images

11. Milan, Ohio

Only around 1,400 people live in this tight-knit community of Milan, a small village that straddles Erie and Huron counties. However, its most famous resident isn’t current. The great American inventor Thomas Edison was born and grew up in Milan. And you can actually visit his childhood home. If you’re into the past, we’d also recommend stopping by the Milan Historical Museum.

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charming small towns in ohio ashtabula ohio
Douglas Sacha/Getty Images

12. Ashtabula, Ohio

We’re sweet on this picturesque little town of Ashtabula, situated on the shores of Lake Erie, for many reasons. It’s the covered bridge capital of Ohio, which in and of itself carries an air of romance. The bustling harbor district features many hip restaurants inside converted port warehouses. In the fall, Ashtabula is a great getaway for peeping foliage and going apple picking.

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charming small towns in ohio cat
David Shvartsman/Getty Images

13. Twinsburg, Ohio

Located halfway between Akron and Cleveland, Twinsburg offers a quiet way of life and access to outdoor recreation. There are many hiking trails and even a cave in Liberty Park. Based on the name you shouldn't be surprised to learn that Twinsburg actually hosts the largest festival dedicated to twins in the world. It’s called Twin Days and takes place in August.

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charming small towns in ohio millersburg ohio
_esse_/Getty Images

14. Millersburg, Ohio

Millersburg is a pastoral paradise in Ohio’s Amish Country. This little gem of a village retains the charm of its early 19th century roots. While you’re in town, tour a local cheese factory, browse for antiques, stock up on Amish-made wares like quilts and go apple picking at one of the nearby orchards. Don’t leave without tasting some fresh-based pastries and getting a scoop of ice cream at Miller’s Creamery.

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charming small towns in ohiogranville ohio
Welsh Hills Inn

15. Granville, Ohio

One of the friendliest towns in Ohio, Granville is known for its welcoming locals, relaxed ambiance and New England-style architecture. It’s packed with history and character-rich buildings. Noteworthy attractions include the Bryn Du Mansion, Robbins Hunter Museum and Granville Historical Society. Wine lovers should plan a visit to Three Oaks Vineyard just a few miles outside of town.

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Freelance PureWow Editor

Lindsay Cohn is a travel writer and serial trip planner who has visited 46 countries across six continents (and counting). When not globetrotting, she’s most likely either doing...