I wouldn't have thought to use Ohio and hipster in the same sentence, but it turns out, several cities in this small state are indeed quite hip. I kept seeing articles about Ohio's up and coming creativity in the major cities as well as a plethora of water parks, all of which piqued my interest. In my ongoing quest to seek out new and existing hipster cities and having never been to the Midwest, this presented a perfect road trip opportunity. I wouldn't necessarily put Ohio on my top 10, but it did not disappoint, and I had a great time. What's also nice is the cities are pretty close in proximity, so the driving is quite easy. There is healthy eating, art, museums, and nature interspersed throughout the state.

My Favorites

1. Cleveland

Cleveland Script Sign

Highlights: Museums, markets, parks, restaurants
Suggest Staying: 3 days
Stay Around: Tremont
Internet: Strong
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My favorite of the Ohio cities. Artsy and hip with a cool, relaxed vibe. A major city without all the hustle and bustle. Neat neighborhoods spread throughout the city and variety of things to do, including a national park just outside the city and two hall of fame museums. Not sure if the city is still up and coming or if it’s already arrived, but definitely a fun city to visit if coming to the Midwest or this part of the country.

See & Do

  • Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Awesome museum with inductees into the museum, exhibits on various bands/musicians organized by time period, and interactive floor where you can play guitar, bass, or drums. There’s also an exhibit of The Wall from Pink Floyd. Plan 2-3 hours. Food available. Recommend purchasing tickets in advance, since there is at present timed entry. Cost: $30.
  • West Side Market. Awesome, large market with all kinds of vendors and food stalls. One half is meat and baked goods, other is fruit and vegetables. One of my favorite markets ever. Reminiscent of the old days when these types of markets were a thing.
  • Cleveland Arcade. America’s indoor inaugural shopping center established in the 1880s now preserved as a hotel with some restaurants and shops.
  • Euclid Ave & 5th St Ave Arcades. Next to the Cleveland Arcade.
  • Tremont. Hipster neighborhood with bars, restaurants, and shops. Good area for nightlife.
  • The Flats. Area on the water with a bunch of restaurants and places to drink.
  • Ohio City. Cool little neighborhood.
  • Little Italy. Neighborhood with Italian restaurants.
  • Edgwater Park. Beach along the Lake Erie.
  • A Christmas Story House. For you lovers of this classic Christmas movie.

Food & Drink

  • Ginkgo. Amazing sushi, with imports from Japan. Located underground. Very cool, make a reservation as it’s small and fills up.
  • Cleveland Tea Revival. Nice little takeout tea spot. If you like green tea, try the Cloud and Mist.
  • The Tea Lab. Two locations with loose leaf teas for sale.
  • Algebra Tea House. Middle Eastern food and nice variety of loose leaf and herbal teas. Very cool, hip, artsy place located in Little Italy.


  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Light walking trails and scenic railroad that takes you through the park. Underwhelming compared to other national parks, but nice if you’re looking for some light activity or a chill day outside. Cost: Free.
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame. Located nearby in Canton. I’m not much of a football fan these days, but members of my family who are found this museum to be crowded and underwhelming. I’ll caveat with the fact we went during induction week and they were doing construction so it was a whole thing just to get to/from the parking lot. In my opinion it’s overpriced for what it is, but do your own research. Plan around 3 hours, the place is huge. Rarely sells out, so if you’re on the fence, you’ll be fine without advanced tickets. Cost: $33.


  • Cleveland Script Sign. There are several signs in script spelling out Cleveland that can be found around the city and offer stunning views in the background. Just search for this phrase in Google Maps to find them.

2. Columbus


Highlights: Markets, neighborhoods, artsy
Suggest Staying: 2-3 days
Stay Around: Short North Arts District
Internet: Strong
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Nice clean city with some older historical neighborhoods. Home to the massive Ohio State University. I visited just before the semester started, but it seemed like the college didn’t completely take over the city. It’s presence certainly adds to the charm, artsy, and hip feeling of the city. Some really interesting off-the-beaten path activities can be found.

See & Do

  • North Market. Oldest public market, definitely check it out.
  • Short North Arts District. Best strip in the city with shops and restaurants.
  • German Village. High and Front Streets.
  • The Book Loft. Multi room independent bookstore with tons of books located in German Village.
  • Italian Village. Neighborhood, Italian restaurants.
  • Otherworld. Immersive art installation. Very cool, similar to Meow Wolf. Located outside downtown in a strip mall. Cost: $25.
  • Topiary Park. Garden park.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger Statue. Strike your pose.

Food & Drink

  • Schmidt’s German Sausage Haus. Authentic German food and beer.
  • North Market. In addition to vendors, there are also made to order food stalls.
  • South Village Grill. American.
  • Zen Cha Tea Salon. Nice little tea place with a full food menu. Their Cardamom Mint tea was out of this world.


  • Shawshank Redemption. Self guided driving tour of the movie locations from the classic film The Shawshank Redemption located in Mansfield, about halfway between Columbus and Cleveland. Includes the prison (Ohio State Reformatory), field with the oak tree (tree is no longer there), and the cabin where the murder occurs (you can actually rent it). Underwhelming, but fun for film buffs. There is a map that can be found online with the sites and directions. Start downtown. Not everything is close together. We did the downtown sites and those near Malabar which took about an hour, including a picnic.
  • Landoll’s Mohican Castle. Unique hotel in the forest. Near Mansfield, could be fun to stay overnight or just for a quick photo. Nothing to tour or look at otherwise. Just kind of a random fun attraction in the middle of Ohio.
  • Yellow Springs. Chill little hippie town that’s a nice stop for lunch. Dave Chappelle’s hometown. Nice little hike to the springs.

3. Cincinnati


Highlights: Zoo, museums, parks
Suggest Staying: 2 days
Stay Around: Near or In Downtown
Internet: Strong
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Of the three cities on this list, I was least excited for Cincinnati, but it turned out to be quite nice. And the zoo, wow! There is definitely more to see that we didn’t get to. There’s surely enough to keep you busy for a couple days depending on what you’re into.

See & Do

  • Cincinnati Zoo. Incredible, must see! It’s quite big, you’ll spend at least a couple hours, and this place has some really rare and unique animals not to mention a focus on conservation. I was really excited to see bonobos (the closest primates to humans) and puffins, but there is so much more. You can purchase tickets online through the website which I would recommend to skip the line, especially over summer when it gets quite busy. I would opt for food outside the zoo, but there are plenty of food options inside if you get hungry. Cost: $22 + $10 parking.
  • Findlay Market. Old market with fresh fruit, vegetables, and vendors.
  • Over-the-Rhine. Old German neighborhood.
  • Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum. Yep, a combined cemetery arboretum. It’s quite nice actually.
  • Bellevue Hill Park. Nice views of the city.
  • Mt. Airy Forest. Nice park and walking trails with a treehouse.
  • American Sign Museum. Old vintage neon signs from past decades. Not sure it’s worth the money, but it’s fun. Expect to spend 30-60 minutes. Cost: $15.

Food & Drink

  • Maplewood Kitchen and Bar. Nice cafe for breakfast, similar to First Watch.
  • Ruth’s Parkside Cafe. Lovely little spot with outdoor seating.
  • Churchill’s Fine Teas. Really nice tea shop with great tasting, high quality loose leaf teas. Single serve, no tea tasting, teas for purchase.

4. Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Hills State Park

Located not far from Columbus, this is probably the best park in Ohio. This place is gorgeous. I thought it resembled Watkins Glen. Lovely little forest canyon hikes with some small waterfalls, depending on the time of year. Very green and the hikes are relatively short. Rock House and Cedar Falls were awesome and there are some waterfalls and such nearby the visitors center. It’s quite damp making the rocks slick, and they are also sandy in spots, so wear good shoes and pay attention while walking. Relatively flat, easy hikes, though there is some elevation for some of the more canyonous hikes. The website has more information on difficulty and what to expect. If you’re heading to Cleveland, this is only slightly out of the way and can be done in a morning or afternoon on the way.

Internet: Weak

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