Looking for fun cheap things to do in Ohio is easy and affordable! After all, the state offers a plethora of affordable destinations guaranteed to bring you some vacation delight all year! The Buckeye State has lovely state parks, outdoor trails, unique museums and cool attractions for budget-conscious travelers and tourists.
So, get your bucket list ready for these 10 fun Ohio destinations and attractions that won’t break the bank!
Need some quick budget-travel advice through Ohio? Check out the slides below:
- 1 1. Carillon Historical Park: 65-Acre Museum
- 2 2. Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens: 70 Acres of Gardens, Landscapes, & Manor buildings
- 3 3. Lucky Cat Museum: Asian Culture, Cats, & Unique artifacts
- 4 4. Serpent Mound Historical Site: Quirky Ohio Destinations
- 5 5. Longaberger Basket Building: 7-Storey Quirky Building
- 6 6. Mohican State Park: Natural Getaways
- 7 7. Toledo Museum of Art: Six Buildings – 30 Acres of Land
- 8 8. Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
- 9 9. Squire’s Castle: A Rustic 1890s Gatekeeper House
- 10 10. Columbus Park of Roses: A Romantic Destination
- 11 Booking a Vacation Home Near Fun Cheap Things to Do in Ohio
1. Carillon Historical Park: 65-Acre Museum
Let’s start our fun cheap things to do in Ohio list with a visit to the Carillon Historical Park in Dayton. This is a 65-acre museum and park that showcases the rich history of early American life. It also features Dayton’s transportation achievements, industrial innovations, and contributions to American society.
Some of the interesting spots to visit inside the park include:
- Wright Brothers National Museum
- The Great 1913 Flood Exhibit
- Heritage Center of Dayton Manufacturing & Entrepreneurship
- The James F. Dicke Family Transportation Center
- Early Settlement Area
- History on the Hill & Moraine Trails
- The Print Shop
Explore 19th-century buildings, antique trains and even a real Wright Brother’s plane inside the park! Should you go hungry after all the sightseeing, head over to the exotic dining spots like Carillon Brewing Co. and Culp’s Café. Stop by the Museum Store before you leave for a keepsake to remember Carillion Historical Park by!
Carillon Historical Park is open from Monday to Saturday from 9:30 am to 5 pm. Sunday operating hours are from 12 pm to 5 pm. Admission rates for adults are $12 (18-59 years) and $10 for seniors. Children 3-17 years are charged $8. Admission is free for kids under 3 years old.
2. Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens: 70 Acres of Gardens, Landscapes, & Manor buildings
Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens is a lovely destination with historical and significant background. The estate was built in the late 1900s by F. A. Seiberling for his family. Seiberling was the founder of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.
Today, Seiberling’s beautiful estate is open to the public for tours, sightseeing and even special events. Stan Hywet Hall is also a popular place for weddings in Ohio.
Head over to the estate and visit approximately 70 acres of formal gardens, landscaped grounds, and beautifully built manor buildings. Once there, you can see the following:
- Tudor Revival Manor House
- Gate Lodge
- Corbin Conservatory
Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens offer several tour options for visitors. Different admission rates may apply depending on the tour package you want. The most popular options include the following:
- Self-Guided Manor House Tour
- Guided Garden Tour
- Gardens & Gate Lodge
- Gate Lodge Self-Guided Tour
The most affordable tour available now is the Self-Guided Manor House Tour. Tickets start at $15 for adults and $6 for youth of 6-17 years old. Visit their site to learn more about the particular rates for similar tour packages. Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.
3. Lucky Cat Museum: Asian Culture, Cats, & Unique artifacts
Visit the Lucky Cat Museum – certainly among the fun cheap things to do in Ohio! This small museum is a must-see if you’re into Asian culture, cats, or unique museums.
Maneki-Neko (Lucky Cat) is the iconic feline symbol of luck and monetary gains in Japan and other Asian countries. These cats are typically depicted in a sitting position with one of their paws lifted and made to wave back and forth offering a mesmerizing view. The waving gesture is believed to help beckon people; hence, these cats are often seen on storefronts and restaurant counters to help attract more customers.
Now, you’ll find more than 2,000 different cute lucky cats displayed at the Lucky Cat Museum’s small space. Marvel at the huge collection of kitties in various mediums such as plastics, plushies, porcelain, hand-cut postcards, clay, art cards, wall hangings, magnets, miniatures and many more!
Lucky Cat Museum is free to visit and explore for all visitors! They also graciously accept donations from visitors. The museum also has a gift shop with enamel pins, stickers, tees, and purses – all under $20 each offering budget-friendly experience.
4. Serpent Mound Historical Site: Quirky Ohio Destinations
Here’s an interesting natural wonder in Ohio – the Serpent Mound Historical Site. The park is home to The Great Serpent Mound, the largest surviving prehistoric effigy mound in the world. This ancient earthwork depicts a large serpent with an oval at the top and a perfectly curled tail.
The Great Serpent Mound is an earthen monument that stretches 1,348 feet over the ground. It’s believed to be the work of ancient American Indians, but the exact cultural identity of the creators is unknown. Even the exact ceremonial purpose of creating this structure remains shrouded in mystery.
Apart from the awe-inspiring serpent effigy, Serpent Mound Historical Site offers lots of refreshing greenery. Enjoy a peaceful walk on the paved pathways as you take in the breathtaking greens and the beautiful curves of the serpent mound. There’s also a picnic shelter for public use.
Admission to the Serpent Mound Historical Site costs $8 per vehicle or $4 per motorcycle. The park is open daily all year from 10 am to 4 pm.
5. Longaberger Basket Building: 7-Storey Quirky Building
Another option on our list of fun cheap things to do in Ohio – a visit to the quirky Longaberger Basket Building! It’s a seven-story building that was once the headquarter of a company that makes market baskets – Longaberger company.
The building has a seemingly woven body, two gold-leafed tags and two large handles on top. It looks like a giant picnic basket set in a lushly landscaped surrounding which instantly steals your attention! The quirky building lights up at night, beautifully emphasizing the woven basket look and the handles.
Longaberger’s move to another facility and its subsequent bankruptcy left the Basket Building abandoned. It was sold in 2018 and is now slated to become a luxury hotel. The building became a hotel in 2020 and the developers said that the building will indeed remain a basket forever, hence, maintaining the perfect view.
The Longaberger Basket Building is currently not open to the public. However, it remains a free roadside attraction in Newark, Ohio. It’s on the south side of Highway 16, east of town. You may exit either at E. Main Street if you’re from the east or at Dayton Road if you’re coming from the west. Proceed along East Main St. until you reach the basket building (1500 East Main St).
6. Mohican State Park: Natural Getaways
Location: Loudonville, Ashland County
An exciting yet low-cost nature trip awaits you at Mohican State Park! This is a 1,110-acre park located in the scenic Ashland County. The unique beauty of the Mohican State Memorial Forest and its surroundings beckon you to explore the park in a myriad of ways.
Enjoy the following free or low-cost activities inside Mohican State Park:
- Camping or picnicking on three separate camping areas in the park
- Hiking with 13 miles of trails to explore (Lyons Falls Trail, Pleasant Hill Trail, Hemlock Trail)
- Fishing and boating at Pleasant Hill Lake
- Canoe and kayak paddling on the Clear Fork and Mohican Rivers
- Mountain biking through an 8.5-mile bike trail with a varied terrain
Park entrance is free for all, so it is one of the best cheap things to do in Ohio! However, there may be varying fees for camping and rental equipment. Mohican State Park is open all year round. Treehouses in the park are one of the top Ohio road trip destinations for couples looking for some privacy.
7. Toledo Museum of Art: Six Buildings – 30 Acres of Land
Next on our fun cheap things to do in Ohio is a visit to the Toledo Museum of Art. This beautiful museum holds an impressive collection of more than 30,000 art pieces. The entire museum is comprised of six buildings sprawled on 30 acres of land.
Visit the Glass Pavilion, an incredible structure with its interiors and exteriors both made from curved glass panels. The glass panels allow a glimpse of the fantastic outdoor sculpture gardens, historic Victorian homes, and lovely, lush-green spaces.
Toledo Museum of Art is known for its large collection of decorative arts, glass pieces and Old Master paintings. However, the museum also has a growing collection of wonderful contemporary art, antiques and Asian as well as African art. Explore the museum’s exhibits and collections through a self-guided tour or group tours.
The museum also hosts demonstrations, special exhibits, and hands-on kids’ art activities. Attend the free daily glass blowing demonstrations, one-hour Art Classes and art activities for kids at the museum’s Family Center on selected days.
Toledo Museum of Art is open Tuesday to Sunday at varying hours. Parking costs $8 but admission to the museum and outdoor grounds are free! Visit their website to reserve your free tickets and view their calendar of special exhibits, events, and activities.
8. Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Looking for some tranquility in your Ohio trip? Then, stop by Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens! This lovely 88-acre park features lots of natural attractions that are sure to amaze and calm you simultaneously.
Franklin Park Conservatory offers a plethora of flower displays and rare plant collections set on different artistic gardens. Some of the notable places to visit inside the park include:
- Botanical Gardens
- Community Garden Campus
- The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden
- John F. Wolfe Palm House
- Light Raiment II
- Conservatory and its glass greenhouses
- Chihuly Glass Collection of vibrant glass artworks
Head over to the Food Truck or the Garden Café to grab a bite after your lovely stroll. You can also pick up some souvenirs from the Botanica Gift Shop (open daily) and the Chihuly Gift Store (only open during Chihuly Nights).
Franklin Park Conservatory is open daily all year from 10 am to 5 pm. General admission for adults is priced at $19 while the cost for kids 3-12 years is $12. Seniors admission rate is $16. Kids under 2 may enter free of charge!
9. Squire’s Castle: A Rustic 1890s Gatekeeper House
Location: Willoughby Hills
Squire’s Castle is the shell of what was once a rustic 1890s gatekeeper house. Today, the structure stands as a reminder of the beautiful weekend home in the middle of the woods. The property was originally owned by Feargus B. Squire, a former mayor of Wickliffe, Ohio.
The “castle” was only a gatehouse to a mansion that was never built. Squire lost interest in building his mansion in Chagrin Valley, where his gatekeeper house was already erected. He built his mansion in Wickliffe instead, where he eventually became mayor. The gatehouse in Chagrin Valley was abandoned in 1922 and was taken over by Cleveland Metroparks. The restoration didn’t happen due to massive vandalism on the property, prompting Cleveland Metroparks to remove all the building’s interior instead.
Urban legends about the castle also abound. It was said that ghosts of Squire’s wife roamed around the structure and a red lantern light shines inside and around the property at night.
Today, Squire’s Castle is free for all to enter and explore. It has become a part of Cleveland Metroparks’ North Chagrin Reservation. You can go hiking, walking, and picnicking while enjoying a picturesque castle view. There’s also a small pond and 8 miles of gravel roads to explore.
Squire’s Castle is open year-round. Free parking is available close to the castle, but you’d have to walk a few yards on a paved hill to get to the castle’s actual location.
10. Columbus Park of Roses: A Romantic Destination
Last but definitely not the least on our fun cheap things to do in Ohio list is a visit to the lovely Columbus Park of Roses! The public park consists of 13 acres of landscaped areas filled with roses, herbs, and perennial plants. It’s the perfect budget destination for rose lovers, a romantic vacation or even if you simply want some breathtaking glimpses of nature!
Columbus Park of Roses is among the largest public rose gardens in the United States. You’ll find over 12,000 rose specimens inside the garden! It also has more than a mile of paved walkways with benches provided so that you can sit, rest, contemplate and appreciate as well as capture the garden’s beauty.
There are five horticultural garden themes inside the park:
- Formal Rose Garden
- Heritage Rose Garden
- Herb Garden
- Perennial Garden
- Backyard Garden
Trees, shrubs, bulbs, herbs and rose flowers dominate the entire garden. Admire the different plant and flower collections and be amazed by the sheer number of species growing in these gardens!
Columbus Park of Roses is open daily from 7 am until dusk. There’s no admission or parking fee!
Booking a Vacation Home Near Fun Cheap Things to Do in Ohio
A budget vacation isn’t complete without a comfortable vacation home near your Ohio destinations! Rental properties are generally more cost-effective than hotel rooms, so it’s a good choice for travelers on a budget. Rental homes also offer more privacy and intimacy than hotel rooms.
Find and book your vacation home online through platforms like Rental Trader. It’s a rental property listing service where you can find affordable vacation homes. Simply input the area in which you are planning to visit (Ohio, for instance), then browse through the available rental home options. Connect with the owners and reserve your rental home for your upcoming trip in just a few clicks through a user-friendly interface.
Go and explore the Buckeye State on a budget with our recommended destinations today! Choose your next adventure from our list of fun cheap things to do in Ohio and make that dream getaway a reality today!