Known as the jewel of the Midwest, Ohio’s got a little something for everybody!
Cleveland is the place to be to see some of the country’s best sports teams and soak in the State’s heady mixture of culture, nature, and all-round good times, but the many charming small towns in Ohio offer a true glimpse into what make Ohioans tick.
Whether you’re looking for some of the country’s best wilderness, sites of rich history, or just some peace and quiet to get away from it all for a while.
Here, we’ll run through some of the best!
Before we dive in, check out these other related posts about Ohio!
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To start things off, we’re heading back to the early days of the state.
Of all the best little towns in Ohio, Marietta is the oldest.
Its position at the meeting point of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers made it a vital early settling spot, and you can see this long history everywhere around the town, whether in the historic buildings or the numerous museums.
The twin waterways of the area have made the surrounding landscape lovely as well.
Take some time to follow the Muskingum River Trail as it winds along the riverside, or head out for some great boating and fishing on the Ohio River.
Nestled on the bank of Huron lies the charming little town of Huron.
It’s made immediately distinctive by the lighthouse that towers white and stark against the sky by the lakeside.
Built in the 1800s, it’s a beautiful vantage point to look out to the rippling water.
The lake itself provides all the water activities you could hope for, whether you’re looking to fish, head out on a boat tour, or just to kick back and relax on the long, sandy beaches.
And in the town itself, you’re spoilt for choice between some great independent restaurants and some of the best spots for live music in the area.
Year-round, Canfield offers visitors a charming downtown and leafy, green surroundings, the perfect spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a while.
But it’s Labor Day weekend that the place really comes alive.
Every year, the Victorian Canfield Fair fills the town.
It’s the oldest Labor Day fair in the state and over 350,000 people flock here over the weekend, celebrating in the Canfield Fairgrounds.
It’s a great mix of large-scale fun and that small-town ambiance.
The area around Granville is all undulating hills, coated in the rich woodland that spreads along the side of the Appalachian plateau.
The environment helps insulate the feeling of old-world charm that is everywhere in the town.
It’s known for its historic landmarks, like the Bryn Du mansion and the Greek Revival-style Episcopal Church.
This historic feel is kept alive throughout the charming downtown area by the quirky stores and regular cultural events that happen all throughout the year at spots like the Midland Theater.
It’s a window into the state’s past and its thriving, arty present.
5. Chagrin Falls: Ohio small towns
No prizes for guessing the main attraction here.
Chagrin Falls has grown around the gushing waterfall at the center of the town.
It’s a picturesque spot, where historic buildings and green parkland flank the water as it tumbles down the rock, foaming to white in the sunlight.
Head over to the Chagrin Village Historical Society for a deep dive into the area’s long past.
Or simply grab a table at 17 River Grille and eat some of the best food in town, right by the waterfall.
6. Yellow Springs
Yellow Springs is a unique little place that combines serene nature with a real commitment to helping everybody live a rich, full life.
There are numerous art galleries and performance spaces dotted about that offer entertainment throughout the year, but it’s when the Yellow Springs Street fair comes around that it comes to life!
With live music, local producers, and people performing in the streets throughout this charming town.
It’s known as a bit of a hippie town, as a result of this thriving arts scene, the beautiful landscape, and the town’s express commitment to cultural understanding.
It’s a welcoming, beautiful place, and always worth a trip.
Millersburg is a town that’s a little bit different, and is the best place in state if you’re looking to learn more about the unique Amish culture of the area, or explore the traditional goods and locally grown produce in the area.
Whether it’s handmade quilts or unique furniture or something you never quite knew you wanted, Millersburg’s Amish heritage means it’s a special place to come shopping.
If you want to learn more about how the area developed, head over to the Holmes County Historical Society and Museum, and never leave town without trying some delicious traditional Amish dishes, available at the independently owned restaurants you’ll find around town.
8. Mount Gilead: small towns or cities in Ohio
Another town with a rich historical heritage (as the Biblical name suggests), Mount Gilead is the place to be to try out a quieter pace of life.
The area around the town is known for its beautiful landscapes, laced through with fine fishing and numerous hiking trails, but it’s the small-town living that truly makes it a great place to spend some time.
There’s a real sense of community here, a neighborly atmosphere that percolates around the well-preserved historic buildings and mom-and-pop stores that make up the charming downtown area.
9. New Concord
The historic New Concord is a place of old, charming buildings and wide green space, the kind of small town that feels like it has so much space in it, so much time to relax and soak in the place.
It’s a close-knit, welcoming place, built around locally owned stores and restaurants and community events that pop up around the year.
It’s especially worth checking out the games, music, and parade of the Annual Fall Festival.
Located up in the northwest of Ohio, Galion is a place with a long history, charming downtown, and great connections to the larger cities in the area.
You can easily get to Cleveland, Columbus, and Toledo if you’re ever in need of that city living, but it still retains its small-town charm, with Victorian-era buildings and several large open parks.
All of this comes together to make it one of the best small towns in Ohio to live in, with good schools, great food, and a mix of connectivity and natural space that you don’t often find.
It might not seem the most dramatic of places now, but Greenville played a vital role in making Ohio what it is today.
The Treaty of Greenville that was made and signed here was crucial in allowing settlers to buy land, make homes, and put down roots in the fertile landscape that became this great state.
Today, the best way to find out about this long history of the town and its flourishing present are the Garst Museum or the Treaty Line Walk.
Or, for something a little different, there’s always the rides and thrills of Darke County Fairgrounds and the pleasures of some classic, homemade food at Kathy’s Restaurant.
Ada is a calm, green place surrounded by scenic countryside.
It’s been recognized as a Tree City for its leafy, canopied streets and it gives a real feeling of tranquillity whenever you are meandering around town.
There’s a steady stream of events here throughout the year, such as the Pumpkin Festival and Christmas Walk, and the town hums along at its own steady pace, given some occasional glamour by its ONU Sports complex (the place to be if you’re looking to get involved or just watch from the sidelines).
13. Put-In-Bay: best small towns in Ohio to visit
Pointing out to the wide waters of Lake Erie is the charming little town of Put-In-Bay.
It’s an island town and of all the cute towns in Ohio it’s one of the best places to be if you’re looking to come on down to if you’re looking to get out onto the water.
It makes the perfect base to explore Lake Erie, whether you’re looking to boat, fish, or just take a dip in the crystal clear waters.
And when you head on back into town, this beautiful island has got everything you’re looking for, with charming accommodations, great restaurants, and some beautiful bars serving local wines, looking out over the water.
Known as ‘The Little Switzerland of Ohio’, this is a unique town, made so special because of its mix of Swiss, German, and Amish cultures.
It’s the place to be to buy locally made, small-scale Swiss-style cheeses, handmade Amish products, or just to drift around brightly colored Alpine-style wooden buildings.
There are a lot of charming quaint towns in Ohio, but none quite like Sugarcreek.
Cambridge is a truly one of the best small towns in Ohio; a steady mix of beautiful surroundings, a quirky past, and that warm, Midwest welcome.
It’s famous for its past of glass production, and if you head down to the Cambridge Glass Museum you can learn all about this vital part of the town’s history, seeing examples of the fine, tactile workmanship that put the town on the map.
Beyond the glass, the town makes a perfect base for exploring the wider area – it has all the restaurants and amenities a heart could hope for, and is close to some of the state’s best nature, whether you’re winding along the Great Guernsey Trail or heading over to the nearby Salt Fork State Park.
16. Waynesville: charming towns in Ohio
Waynesville is a quirky little place, which is why it made our list as one of our favorite small towns in Ohio!
It’s packed full of independent stores and unique shops, earning itself the title of ‘Antiques Capital of the Midwest’.
There’s all the usual charm of a small town, but here, in this village that is actually older than the state itself, there’s a slightly more individual edge to it all.
Case in point – you’re not going to want to miss out on the annual Sauerkraut Festival.
Another lakeside treat, Conneaut has everything you’re looking for if you want to mix the charms of a small town with the possibilities of Lake Erie.
From Conneaut Harbor you can take boat trips out over the water, touring the coastline and watching out, eagle-eyed for wildlife.
Or, just kick back on the long, winding shore, and take in the sights.
Once you’ve enjoyed the landscape, try drinking some of it at Conneaut cellars Winery which produces wines from local grapes, complete with tours and tasting sessions.
This beautiful lakefront town is made immediately distinctive by the historic bright white lighthouse that has watched over the town and waters since 1822.
You can take a tour all the way up to the top and enjoy views over the water spanning away to the horizon and, closer to home, the thriving little town of Marblehead itself, with its waterfront restaurants, charming accommodations, and feeling of life just cruising along here looking out to Lake Erie.
19. Geneva-On-The-Lake: quaint towns in Ohio
This is a trip to the lakeside and a trip back to the 50’s all in one.
Not a lot of changed here since this little lakeside stretch first rose to prominence as a resort, and that means it’s a nostalgic throwback complete with all the charms you’d expect.
Whether it’s mini golf, donuts, old-school arcades, or hot dog and ice cream stands, it’s a trip back to a different time.
Located in the Hocking Hills region down in the southeast of the state, Logan has undoubtedly some of the most impressive nature in Ohio.
There are hiking trails that span for miles around, but it’s the rocks that are the real draw.
Whether you’re looking o climb them yourself, or to explore the caves that burrow deep under the ground around here, the rugged, ancient rock formations of the surrounding hills make the town a dream for outdoor enthusiasts of all abilities and skill levels.
21. Peninsula: cute towns in Ohio
This is a beautiful place, nestled against the river that flows through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Only around 500 lucky people live here, enjoying the leaf-green tranquility of the town, with its historic sites like the Peninsula Depot and the array of unique independent stores and restaurants that are scattered around town, this truly is one of the cutest small towns in Ohio.
The National Park it is in is laced through with over 125 miles of hiking trails, guiding you through landscapes that range from wetland to waterfall, from lush woodland to rugged rocky outcrops.
To put it simply, it’s one of the best small towns in Ohio!
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