An Ode to Ohio Summers
Unique and classically Ohio things that make our summers special
Written by Celeste Zirm
Ah, Ohio summers. The days are longer, the sun actually comes out multiple days in a row and the warmer weather makes it bearable to be outside again. This sweet relief from the endless gray skies and relentless winds of winter makes it seem like living here is a good idea. During this time, we’re even inclined to love Lake Erie and appreciate being located on its shores, despite it dumping lake effect snow on us all winter. Ohio summers are beautiful, with so many different things to see and do. This list is a brief description of some of the classic Ohio things that make summers here oh-so-sweet.
Roller-coaster enthusiasts know that a visit to “America’s Roller Coast,” is sure to induce thrills. Located in Sandusky, Ohio, the park includes 18 world-class coasters, themed areas, high quality stage shows, rides and attractions for kids. This haven of fun is only open for a few months of the year, but is a staple of summer memories for people from all over.
Hocking Hills State Park
Located in Logan, Ohio, Hocking Hills includes over 25 miles of hiking trails, recess caves, waterfalls and rock formations. There are several parks all within a few miles of each other, including Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, Cedar Falls and Rock House. With recreational options including canoeing, ziplining and camping, this is a great place to get out and spend time in nature.
Baseball is America’s favorite pastime, and for many Clevelanders, the ping of a baseball bat is the soundtrack to our summers. Something about having a dollar dog in hand and watching Shane Bieber pitch while waiting for post-game fireworks screams "summer." The Guardians are supposed to be good this year, so you’ll definitely want to take advantage of this local entertainment.
Did you know that Ohio has islands? Hop aboard the Miller Ferry or the Jet Express to visit this island town on Lake Erie. During the day, Put-in-Bay offers a family-friendly environment with beaches, butterfly houses, restaurants and public parks. History lovers will enjoy exploring Perry’s Monument and taking in breathtaking views of Lake Erie. Put-in-Bay is also known for its exciting night-life, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy here.
This other notable Lake Erie island has a much more relaxed vibe. Here, riding around the island in a golf cart, hiking on trails, enjoying quiet beaches, and dining on fresh-caught Lake Erie Perch is a day well spent. Naturalists will enjoy the Glacial Grooves Geological Preserve which is limestone bedrock with fossils and indentations from glacial movement around 18,000 years ago.
Local Ice Cream
Ice cream and summer go hand-in-hand, and most of the major cities in Ohio have a well-known local ice cream chain. In fact, ohio.org actually has an “Ice Cream Trail” featuring locations like Mitchell’s in Cleveland, Toft's in Sandusky, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus, Graeter’s in Cincinnati, Mason’s Creamery in Cleveland, Dietsch Brothers in Findlay, Milk and Honey in Canton, and Sweet Moses Soda Fountain and Treat Shop in Cleveland.
Ohio actually has a crazy amount of zoos, including the Toledo Zoo, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Akron Zoo, and Columbus Zoo & Aquarium. Most people have memories of being a kid and going to a zoo during the summer, but the fun doesn’t have to stop when you’re a kid. Pick your favorite zoo and go spend the day admiring the wonders of animals.
A visit to this small lakeside town will have you celebrating summer in no time. From visiting the oldest operating lighthouse on the American side of the Great Lakes at Marblehead Lighthouse State Park, to dining at Cleats bar and grill, to grabbing a root beer float at Netty’s, days here host quintessential summer fun. This little town offers plenty of opportunities to take advantage of the recreation on Lake Erie and appreciate being a Great Lake state.
Ohio may not be famous for its beaches, but the coast of Lake Erie is lined with public beaches for sweet, sandy escapes. East Harbor State Park, Edgewater Park, Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park, Headlands Beach State Park, Maumee Bay State Park and Nickel Plate Beach are just a few notable ones. Ohio’s beaches are a great way to spend a day trip, pretending you’re in a tropical location without having to go very far.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
National Parks are “America’s best idea” and so is taking time this summer to visit Ohio’s only National Park. A trip to Brandywine Falls will fill you with a sense of wonder that only spending time in nature can provide. With over 125 miles of scenic hiking trails, biking paths, paddling, fishing, birding and horseback riding, there are plenty of outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy.
Blossom Music Center
Located just 29 miles outside of Cleveland, Blossom Music Center— often referred to as just Blossom — hosts a lineup of headlining performers each year at its outdoor amphitheater. Located in Cuyahoga Falls, this concert venue uniquely lets you rock out to your favorite artists while being surrounded by forests. It’s definitely a one-of-a-kind Ohio stop.