15 Best Small Towns in Ohio: A Guide to Charming Destinations
Thinking of taking a trip around some of the most famous small towns in the state of Ohio? Take a look at our favorites before you start planning your next adventure!
Last updated: February 15, 2024
12 min read
Ohio, known as the Buckeye State, offers numerous small towns that are perfect for those seeking a charming retreat. These picturesque towns boast unique attractions and activities, allowing visitors to enjoy a piece of Americana up close. From serene parks to quirky shops, there’s something for everyone in these fascinating small towns.
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite standout small towns in the state of Ohio, providing you with an overview of the activities and attractions that make each destination special. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, a cultural experience, or something in between, these charming spots will undeniably captivate your heart.
- Granville: Visit the historic Robbins Hunter Museum and stroll through Bryn Du Mansion.
- Yellow Springs: Explore Glen Helen Nature Preserve and browse the unique shops downtown.
- Chagrin Falls: Enjoy the view of the waterfall and visit the Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop.
- Oberlin: Arts lovers can visit the Allen Memorial Art Museum.
- Marietta: Walk along the picturesque Ohio River, and explore historic riverboats at the Ohio River Museum.
- Tipp City: Marvel at historic architecture and enjoy the local shops and eateries.
- Peninsula: Visit the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and take a ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
- Lebanon: Tour the Golden Lamb Inn and Glendower Historic Mansion.
- Wooster: Check out the Wayne County Historical Society and Secrest Arboretum.
- New Philadelphia: Delve into the past at the Schoenbrunn Village and J.E. Reeves Victorian Home.
- Wapakoneta: Explore the Armstrong Air & Space Museum to learn about space exploration.
- Millersburg: Relax amidst the beauty of the Amish countryside and shop for local crafts.
- Canal Winchester: Wander through the charming downtown area and visit the National Barber Museum.
- Gallipolis: Take in the French influences in this town and visit the Our House Museum.
- Delaware: Discover the historic downtown area and the Delaware County Historical Society.
Ready to learn a bit more about each of these wonderful small Ohio towns? Let’s take a deeper look at what makes these places so wonderful!
Explore the Denison University, Downtown Granville, Bryn Du Mansion and Fieldhouse
Granville, a charming town in Licking County, is known for its New England-style architecture and historic charm. Established in 1805 by settlers from Granville, Massachusetts, this picturesque destination has maintained its quaint atmosphere and elegant tree-lined streets.
Home to Denison University, a top liberal arts college, Granville boasts a vibrant academic community with museums, art galleries, and concerts. Visitors can enjoy the charming downtown commercial district, which features boutiques, coffee shops, and local eateries that provide a taste of the local culture.
Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the abundance of parks and recreational activities available, including the Granville Rail-Trail and Raccoon Valley Park. The nearby Dawes Arboretum showcases over 15,000 plants across 1,800 acres, making it an ideal spot for nature lovers.
Notable annual events in Granville include the Granville Art Affair & Wine Festival, the Granville Candlelight Walking Tour, and the Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes. These events provide a glimpse into the town’s rich history and allow visitors to immerse themselves in the local traditions.
Glen Helen Nature Preserve, Downtown Yellow Springs, Yellow Springs Brewery
Yellow Springs is a vibrant small town in southwestern Ohio, known for its unique shops, galleries, and cafes. This artsy community is home to Antioch College and a hub for creative minds and nature enthusiasts.
The town offers numerous outdoor activities, such as hiking and biking trails in Glen Helen Nature Preserve and John Bryan State Park. For a more leisurely experience, visit Young’s Jersey Dairy. This is a family-owned farm with delicious homemade ice cream, a petting zoo, and mini-golf.
While exploring Yellow Springs, make sure to stop by the following attractions:
- Clifton Mill: A historic grist mill and picturesque waterfall perfect for photography enthusiasts.
- Little Art Theatre: An independent movie theater showcasing art-house and foreign films.
- Yellow Springs Brewery: A craft brewery offering a selection of local craft beers.
Yellow Springs is a destination that offers visitors a mix of culture, nature, and warm small-town hospitality, making it one of Ohio’s best small towns.
Visit Chagrin Falls Waterfall, Downtown, Chagrin Valley Little Theatre, Blossom Time Festival
Nestled in the heart of Ohio, Chagrin Falls offers visitors a charming and picture perfect escape. With its lush, tree-lined streets and iconic waterfall, this small town combines natural beauty with a vibrant, thriving community.
One of the most notable attractions is the picturesque namesake waterfall Chagrin Falls. They are situated in the center of the village. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the riverbanks or take in the view from the observation deck.
Chagrin Falls also boasts a lively Main Street. It features an array of boutique shops, galleries, and eateries, providing visitors with plenty of shopping and dining opportunities. The Chagrin Valley Little Theater hosts performances and events through the year, and is a popular tourist spot.
Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the town’s parks and green spaces, including Riverside Park and Frohring Meadows, perfect for picnicking, hiking, or simply enjoying the serene landscape.
Visitors to Chagrin Falls will be pleased to find a selection of quaint bed and breakfasts, inns, and hotels to accommodate their stay. The town’s welcoming atmosphere and scenic surroundings make it a perfect destination for travelers seeking a small-town Ohio experience.
Explore Oberlin College and Conservatory, Downtown, FAVA Gallery
Oberlin, located in Lorain County, is a charming small town that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Home to the prestigious Oberlin College, this town of approximately 8,300 residents is known for its small-town values, thriving arts scene, and community-centered living.
The heart of Oberlin is Tappan Square. This is a picturesque park surrounded by historic buildings, including the Allen Memorial Art Museum. The museum houses an impressive collection of more than 14,000 works of art. Nature enthusiasts can enjoy the Oberlin Arboretum, a 70-acre natural reserve with walking trails.
Oberlin’s downtown area features a mix of locally-owned shops, restaurants, and galleries, offering plenty of opportunities for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Some of the must-visit spots include:
- Ben Franklin & MindFair Books: A beloved local store for books, gifts, and art supplies.
- Ginko Gallery & Studio: Showcasing regional and national artists with rotating exhibits and art classes.
- The Local Coffee & Tea: A cozy spot for locally roasted coffee and a variety of teas.
- Slow Train Café: A popular community gathering space offering food, drink, and live music.
In addition to its cultural offerings, Oberlin is also dedicated to sustainable living and environmental preservation. The town has been recognized for its innovative energy-saving initiatives. Two of which are the solar-powered George Jones Memorial Farm and the Green Arts District, a neighborhood committed to eco-friendly development.
Historic Harmar Village, Ohio River Museum, Marietta College Campus, Mound Cemetery
Marietta, established in 1788, sits along the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers, making it a historically significant location. Modern-day visitors can still explore this past in the well-preserved downtown area, which boasts Victorian-style houses and charming brick streets.
Popular attractions include the Campus Martius Museum, The Castle, and the Ohio River Museum. Those interested in outdoor activities can take advantage of the nearby scenic hiking trails, such as the Wayne National Forest and the Valley Gem Sternwheeler paddleboat tours on the river.
Food lovers will also find a satisfying array of dining options, from casual bakeries to upscale restaurants. Some of the popular choices are:
- Boat House BBQ
- Marietta Brewing Company
- Austyn’s Restaurant
With a vibrant arts scene, visitors can explore galleries and studios, such as Riverside Artist Gallery, and attend events like the monthly First Fridays, which showcase local artists and businesses.
Explore the Tipp City Historic District, Canal Lock Park, Tipp City Roller Mill, and More
Located in Miami County, Tipp City is a charming small town that offers both natural beauty and historic architecture. With a population of around 10,000, Tipp City is the perfect place for those who love the charm of a small town without sacrificing modern amenities.
One of the main attractions in Tipp City is the Canal Lock Park. This park features a restored section of the Miami and Erie Canal, complete with a functioning lock system. Visitors can take guided tours of the park and learn about the historical significance of the canal in Tipp City’s development.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Tipp City has plenty of parks and recreational areas. Two of which are the Great Miami Riverway and Kyle Park. With walking and biking paths, fishing spots, and even a disc golf course, there’s something for everyone in these scenic spaces.
In addition to its natural beauty, Tipp City is also known for its historic downtown area. The streets are lined with well-preserved 19th-century buildings that house a variety of shops, restaurants, and galleries. Many events and festivals are held in this charming setting throughout the year. This makes it an ideal destination for both tourists and residents alike.
Visit Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, Brandywine Falls, Peninsula Art Academy
Located in the heart of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Peninsula is a charming small town with a population of just over 600 residents. This town was established in 1824, which lends itself well to the town’s rich history.
The most popular outdoor activity is visiting the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Here you can hike, bike, or watch your favorite birds. You can also see most of the sights by taking the scenic railroad train ride. The train ride is one of the more well known activities for visitors to the area.
Peninsula has a vibrant art scene, with several art galleries and studios in town. The Peninsula Art Academy hosts workshops and classes for those interested in improving their artistic skills. Additionally, you can visit G.A.R. Hall, is a historic building from the 1850s, which now serves as a venue for live music and entertainment events.
For dining options, the town has a variety of charming restaurants and cafes that showcase local and regional flavors. Some notable spots include:
- Fisher’s Café & Pub – a cozy, family-owned spot serving American cuisine.
- Yours Truly Restaurant – a casual dining option offering comfort food and an inviting atmosphere.
- Trail Mix Peninsula – a convenient spot for snacks, beverages, and sandwiches while exploring the Towpath Trail.
With its quaint atmosphere, natural beauty, and creative culture, Peninsula is a delightful destination for those seeking a serene getaway in Ohio.
Golden Lamb Inn & Restaurant, Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad
Located in southwest Ohio, Lebanon is a charming small town known for its historic downtown and picturesque scenery. With a population of just over 20,000, this quaint community offers residents an exceptional quality of life with a rich heritage.
One of Lebanon’s most popular attractions is the Golden Lamb Inn, the oldest continuously operating inn in Ohio, where you’ll find a restaurant, a tavern, and a museum within its walls. Visitors can also take a stroll through the Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad that offers scenic train rides, perfect for experiencing the beauty of the area.
In addition to its historic charm, Lebanon boasts outdoor recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike:
- Countryside YMCA – One of the largest YMCA facilities in the United States, offering a wide array of sports and fitness programs.
- Armco Park – A 311-acre park featuring a golf course, playgrounds, fishing lake, and picnic shelters.
- Lebanon Bike Park – An 18-mile trail system for cycling enthusiasts, offering both novice and expert levels.
With a variety of community events held throughout the year, such as the annual Horse-Drawn Carriage Parade and the Country Applefest, there’s always something to do in Lebanon. This small Ohio town offers a perfect blend of historic charm, outdoor activities, and a welcoming atmosphere for families and visitors.
Explore Ohio Light Opera, Secrest Arboretum, The College of Wooster Art Museum
Wooster, located in Wayne County, is an inviting small town with a rich history and a vibrant arts scene. The town is home to approximately 26,000 residents and offers an ideal mix of both rural charm and modern amenities.
The College of Wooster, a well-regarded liberal arts college, contributes to the town’s intellectual atmosphere and hosts various cultural events. The lively downtown district features an array of boutique shops, restaurants, and galleries, making it a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.
Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate Wooster’s picturesque parks and recreational offerings, including the Wooster Memorial Park, which encompasses over 300 acres of woodland trails ideal for hiking and nature walks. In addition, the town hosts the annual Wayne County Fair, a beloved tradition showcasing agriculture, entertainment, and homemade crafts.
Notable attractions in Wooster include:
- Secrest Arboretum
- Ohio Light Opera
- Quailcrest Farm
- Wayne County Historical Society & Museum
Visit J. E. Reeves Victorian Home, Tuscora Park, Dennison Railroad Depot Museum
New Philadelphia, located in Tuscarawas County, offers the charm and appeal of a small town while still providing modern amenities and conveniences. As a historical town, there are several sites to explore, such as the Schoenbrunn Village, which is a recreated 18th-century settlement.
For outdoor enthusiasts, adventurous activities are available at the nearby Tuscarawas River, including fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. The town also boasts several parks and recreational areas, like Tuscora Park, where families can enjoy outdoor activities and events throughout the year.
Downtown New Philadelphia features quaint shops, restaurants, and galleries, creating a vibrant atmosphere that caters to both locals and tourists. Below are a few highlights of this charming small town:
- Schoenbrunn Village: Take a step back in time and learn about Ohio’s early history.
- Tuscora Park: Enjoy the park’s amenities, including a vintage carousel, miniature golf, and swimming pool.
- Performing Arts Center at Kent State University Tuscarawas: Attend a variety of shows and performances throughout the year.
- Trumpet in the Land: Experience Ohio’s premier outdoor drama, which tells the story of Moravian mission founder David Zeisberger’s work with Native Americans.
New Philadelphia embodies the essence of a small, friendly community while providing ample opportunities for exploration and entertainment. A visit to this delightful town is sure to leave an impression on anyone who appreciates history, outdoor activities, and a welcoming atmosphere.
Space Museum, Wapakoneta Downtown Walking Tour, Auglaize County Historical Society
Wapakoneta is a small town in Ohio located in Auglaize County, and serves as the county seat. With a population of around 9,700, it offers a sense of community and charm that appeals to visitors and residents alike.
The town is best known as the birthplace of Astronaut Neil Armstrong. You may also know him as the first person to set foot on the moon. Wapakoneta honors his legacy with the Armstrong Air and Space Museum. The museum showcases spacecraft, artifacts, and interactive exhibits, providing an exciting and educational experience for all ages.
Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the recreational opportunities available in the area, such as the 20-acre Heritage Park which includes walking trails, picnic areas, and playgrounds. The Wapakoneta River Walk is another popular attraction, providing a scenic pathway alongside the Auglaize River.
For those looking to explore local history, the Auglaize County Historical Society hosts several events and exhibits throughout the year, focusing on the region’s vibrant past.
Additionally, Wapakoneta’s downtown district offers various shopping and dining options to cater to a variety of tastes. Local restaurants, antique stores, and boutiques make for a pleasant day trip experience.
Amish Country Tours, Millersburg Glass Museum, Holmes County Trail
Millersburg, located in Holmes County, Ohio, is a charming small town with a rich history and a thriving Amish community. With its picturesque surroundings, the town offers a peaceful escape from city life.
Notable attractions in Millersburg include the Victorian House Museum, an elegant 28-room Queen Anne-style mansion showcasing the town’s history and Victorian era. Set amidst beautiful gardens, this historical landmark is a must-visit for architecture enthusiasts.
Another popular spot in Millersburg is the Holmes County Trail, a scenic 15-mile trail. The trail provides an opportunity for walking, biking, or horseback riding. With its well-maintained path and stunning views, it’s an ideal place to enjoy the outdoors and explore the natural beauty of the region.
In addition to its attractions, Millersburg hosts several annual events like the Amish Country Theater and the Ohio Swiss Festival, which celebrates Switzerland’s heritage and culture. These events offer visitors a glimpse into the local culture and traditions of the area.
For those interested in shopping, the town features a variety of unique boutiques, antique stores, and Amish-made goods, showcasing the craftsmanship and artistry of the local community. Be sure to visit the many local eateries for a taste of authentic Amish cuisine.
Visit Slate Run Living Historical Farm, Canal Winchester Historic District
Canal Winchester, located just southeast of Columbus, offers a charming small-town atmosphere with a rich history and plenty of attractions for visitors. The historic downtown area is filled with local shops, restaurants, and beautifully preserved buildings.
Some notable features of Canal Winchester include:
- Winchester Trail: A lovely walking and biking trail that connects various parks and recreation areas.
- National Barber Museum: This unique museum pays tribute to the history of barbers and barbering tools, providing a fascinating look into the evolution of the profession.
- Slate Run Metro Park: A beautiful park featuring wetlands, woods, and a working historical farm that offers educational programs and events throughout the year.
In addition to these attractions, Canal Winchester hosts several annual events, such as the Labor Day Festival, Christmas in the Village, and the Canal Winchester Blues & Ribfest – showcasing local talent, delicious food, and a welcoming community spirit.
Explore Gallipolis City Park, Gallia County Historical Museum, Silver Bridge Memorial
Located along the Ohio River, Gallipolis is a charming small town known for its rich history and stunning landscape. Founded in 1790 by a group of French settlers, the town features unique architecture and cultural influences.
Visitors can explore the historic downtown area, which is home to several local businesses, art galleries, and restaurants. The French Art Colony is a cultural center dedicated to preserving the town’s French heritage. This is a must-see destination for anyone interested in history and the arts.
Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the picturesque Gallipolis City Park, which boasts beautiful riverfront views and hosts numerous events throughout the year. Nearby, the Raccoon Creek County Park offers opportunities for kayaking, fishing, and camping.
For those seeking more adventure, the Wayne National Forest is a short drive away, providing a vast expanse of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and nature photography:
- Scenic Byway: An 88-mile route through the forest, perfect for leisurely drives and sightseeing.
- Wildcat Hollow Trail: A popular 15-mile trail for hiking and backpacking, offering exceptional views of the Ohio countryside.
While visiting Gallipolis, be sure to check the events calendar. The town hosts numerous annual festivals and celebrations like the Gallipolis River Recreational Festival and the French 500 Flea Market.
Visit Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware County Historical Society, Alum Creek State Park
Located just north of Columbus, Delaware, Ohio is a charming and historic small town. With a population of around 40,000, it manages to retain a welcoming small-town atmosphere while providing a variety of attractions, dining options, and events.
One noteworthy point of interest in Delaware is the Olentangy Indian Caverns, an underground network of ancient caves that once served as a shelter for Native Americans. For history buffs, the Delaware County Historical Society offers a glimpse into the past, featuring several museums and preserved buildings.
Delaware is also home to Ohio Wesleyan University, which not only adds to the town’s lively atmosphere but also boasts a beautiful campus and cultural events.
Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the numerous parks and natural areas in and around Delaware, such as:
- Mingo Park – a recreational area with trails, picnic areas, and a disc golf course
- Alum Creek State Park – a local favorite for boating, fishing, and camping
- Delaware State Park – known for its beautiful beaches and wildlife sightings
With its vibrant downtown, rich history, and a wide variety of activities and attractions, Delaware makes an appealing destination for visitors seeking to experience the best of small-town Ohio.