This state is known for many things: the birthplace of aviation, corn, rock, and roll, and, of course, the fantastic buckeye. No, not the football team, but the tree. Those aren't the only highlights Ohio has to offer, however. So take time to explore these 15 free activities.
“For the benefit of all people forever” was written into the benefactor’s deed, gifting land on which this museum is built. The museum has created an inclusive, cultural experience for all who visit, staying true to this statement. Exhibits include art from around the world in both permanent and featured collections—programs for children from Kindergarten to High School, as well as for life-long adult learners. Open daily, except Monday.
The focal point of this park is the Mound City Group, a prehistoric burial mound constructed by Native Americans now known as the Hopewell. These ceremonial places, built 2,000 years ago in the Ohio River Valley, were gathering spots for feasts, funerals, and rites of passage. Also, don’t miss the visitor center and its collection of native artifacts. The park is open daily from dawn to dusk; visitor center daily from 9 am to 4 pm.
Getting your hands dirty is well worth the effort at this five-acre geological park, one of only two of its kind in the world. Break open, just about, any rock in this rock quarry, and you’ll discover a fossil. You'll find tresures like early fish, corals, brachiopods, echinoderms, trilobites, and, well, who knows what other prehistoric life. Whatever you find, you get to keep it! Fossil digging quarry open mid-April to late October.
For enthusiastic bibliophiles, this house, home to one of America’s most admired humorists of the 20th century, is open for self-guided tours. Thurber lived here while a student at The Ohio State University, where he developed his quirky writing style. Filled with a collection of family artifacts, this refurbished house is now a living museum that captures a slice of this family’s life. It keeps your senses alert for a ghost sighting, too! Open Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, 1 to 4 pm.
Plan on spending some time here — there are 19 acres of indoor exhibit space that include more than 350 aerospace vehicles and missiles, as well as thousands of artifacts. From the earliest days of flight through World War II and into the space age, the multiple exhibits provide an in-depth look at the unfolding development of aircraft. In addition, there’s an outdoor airpark that brings you nose-to-nose with a variety of aircraft. Open daily, 9 am to 5 pm.
Ok, when will you ever get to stand beneath a 23-foot tall money tree? Only here at the Money Museum, located in the historic lobby of the bank. Educational activities include making currency, identifying counterfeit dollar bills, plus exhibits on cybersecurity, all about cash and the history of money. Open Monday through Thursday, 9:30 am to 2:30 pm.
This collection has more than 67,000 works spanning 6,000 years of art — something for everyone to enjoy! General admission is free and allows visitors to see permanent collections. Also, it grants access to the Mary R. Schiff Library, an array of educational activities, and Art Climb, art in the surrounding museum grounds. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 am to 5 pm.
On the shore of Lake Erie, this refuge is home to a diversity of waterfowl and other migratory birds' local wildlife. It covers about 6,500 acres of wetland, grassland, and wooded habitat. It is a place to walk, watch, and be wowed. At any given time, you might see a Bald Eagle, a migrating Dunlin, or something birders will appreciate a Yellow-rumped Warbler. It's a great place to wander, with about 10 miles of hiking trails. Open year-round.
Ben Hartman, the artist and craftsman behind this extraordinary work of art created what was for him a deeply personal place that captured his creative inspiration. He began, in the 1930s, with a simple fish pond in his backyard. Throughout the next 12 years, he added more than 50 structures using hundreds of thousands of stones, plus dozens of plants numerous handmade figurines. This masterwork is the legacy of just one man’s artistic ingenuity. Open daily, 8 am to 8 pm.
What do you do with a closed manufacturing plant sitting on about 250 acres? Repurpose it into a park. What was once the Pittsburgh Plate Glass plant is now a public green space where visitors can traipse through woods, along walking trails and bike paths, enjoy lakes, picnic on the green grass, and tour a restored railroad depot or historic architectural ruins. An observation tower provides a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area and a museum. Open April 1 through November 15, 7 am to 11 pm.
This clock, the world’s largest at 25 feet high, is located in a part of the state known as “The Little Switzerland of Ohio.” Initially built for a restaurant in a neighboring town in the 1970s, it was moved, restored, and is now a centerpiece. There is, of course, a cuckoo bird that pops out on the half-hour. An Oompah Band and a couple of dancing appear before disappearing into the clockworks. Stop by anytime and see this clock in action.
This public art project is a field of 109 human-sized ears of corn, celebrating the area's farming legacy. Each weighing 1,500 pounds. Dubbed “Cornhenge,’ the 13 rows of corn stand sentry over this former field. Text panels on-site detail is a short history of corn production in the area. Easy access, right off the highway.
This 35-ton enormous office stamp, inscribed with the word Free, at 49 feet long and 28 feet high, is far-and-away the largest of its kind in the world. A visit to Willard Park would not be complete without a selfie in front or under this colossal work of art.
While there’s no horsing around on the giant steed attached to this traditional Amish buggy, you can get close enough to experience its enormity. It was constructed with more than 2,300 board feet of lumber 30 pounds of screws and is 32 feet long and 14 feet high. The horse is about 30 hands high (almost 8 feet). One wheel on the buggy is 7 feet tall.
Native son, David Grohl, former drummer for the grunge band Nirvana and founder of the alternative rock band Foo Fighters, has an alley named for him. The focal point is a pair of giant drumsticks celebrating his music success. The sticks, carved poplar logs, are 23-feet long and weigh half a ton.