8 Quirky Small Towns in Ohio

Ohio stands out from other states in the US with funky attractions and family-friendly shows like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. However, unlike many states that pride their big cities as tourist attractions, Ohio stands out as one of the best places to experience America’s small-town feel, with each unique small town vying to set itself apart from neighboring communities. From “America’s Little Switzerland” to the birthplace of Thomas Edison, here’s the ultimate list of quaint small towns in Ohio.

Sugar Creek

Street view of downtown Sugarcreek, Ohio
Street view of downtown Sugarcreek, Ohio, via Dee Browning / Shutterstock.com

The city with a strong Swiss influence tops the list of attractive small towns for its mix of American and European cultures and its lively, passionate community. In addition to being a European gateway closer to America’s Alpine experience, Sugarcreek is also a gateway to an Amish community that produces endless local goods of homemade cheese, wine, and handcrafted dishes. Experience, simplicity, diversity and a small-town feel when you visit Sugarcreek and learn more about the mix of complementary atmospheres that balance it. Browse museums like the Alpine Hills Museum, Farm at Amish Country, dine at The Swiss Village Corridor, Dutch Valley Restaurant, and more delicious family-owned businesses to get a comprehensive experience of what Sugarcreek has to offer.


Street view in Oberlin, Ohio
Street view in Oberlin, Ohio, via Michael T. Hartman / Shutterstock.com

Oberlin is a small college town enhanced by local events, such as music festivals, its youth community, and aesthetically pleasing historic buildings. Home to Oberlin College, this small Ohio town is another community that played an important role in the railroad industry as a major stopping point. Enjoy performances at Oberlin’s historic Apollo Theater, and embrace the artistic endeavors at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and the Jenko Abstract Art Gallery and Studio featuring the work of over 250 different artists. Enjoy live music on Main Street that the city hosts during the summer and events like the Big Downtown Parade held annually, bringing the local community together in family-friendly clothing and endless fun.


A pink Ford on a summer cruise in downtown Milan, Ohio
A pink Ford on a summer cruise in downtown Milan, Ohio. Image credit: Keith J Finks via Shutterstock

Known for its well-preserved architecture and historic appeal, Milan is famous as the birthplace of Thomas Edison and one of Ohio’s historic farming communities due to the Milan Canal connecting to the Huron River. The city defines the ultimate American small town experience, with some major attractions like the Thomas Edison Birthplace Museum and the Milan Historical Museum, disguised as small wooden apartment buildings that enhance the history learning experience, bringing visitors closer to what bygone eras might have looked like. The city has a thriving antiques industry with local vendors such as Crosby Antiques and Milan N-Tikis, both located near Milan Square. Discover an array of European-inspired architecture when strolling the streets of Milan’s historic district, with its Greek, Second Empire and Italianate styles.

Bowling green

A view of downtown Bowling Green, Ohio.
View of downtown Bowling Green, Ohio, via Rosamar / Shutterstock.com

Bowling Green is another student-boosting community in Ohio and has been ranked as one of America’s Best College Towns in multiple Bowling Green State University reports. Designed with the demographic of young annual visitors in mind, Bowling Green is rich in attractions such as art galleries, gardens, trails, museums and more. Despite having one of the largest populations on our list of Ohio’s most unusual cities, Bowling Green balances big-city amenities with a sense of exclusivity portrayed by off-beat attractions like the Snook’s Dream Car Show, the historic Clazell Theater, And annual community events that can’t be found elsewhere like the National Tractor Pulling Championships and the Black Swamp Art Festival. You can stroll through the Bowling Green Historic District and its 19th-century buildings, and visit some of the city’s many parks during your stay in Bowling Green.


Central business district in Chillicothe, Ohio.
Central business district in Chillicothe, Ohio.

Escaping the traditional model, Chillicothe stands out from the majority of quaint small towns on this list by being a nature-centered city located 79 km from Columbus, the capital of Ohio. The lush Hopewell National Historical Park offers a glimpse into the city’s past, telling its tales of being Ohio’s first state capital from 1803 to 1810. Adena Mansion and Gardens Historic Site, Pump House Arts Center, General Seal State Park, and Adena Historic Park The First Capital District is a number A few of the many places to check out when visiting Chillicothe.


Picturesque downtown Mariemont as seen from the town square park
Picturesque downtown Mariemont as seen from Town Square Park, via Bentley Davis / Shutterstock.com

Mariemont is one of the first planned communities in the country and had architectural inspiration for the creation of the English garden city. More of a suburban village than a small city, Mariemont is located on Cincinnati’s east side and is a walkable community decorated with Tudor-era architecture that complements its nature. Dine at the locally famous Quarter Bistro or National Exemplar, visit Mariemont Gardens for a nature walk, and enjoy local historical entertainment at the Mariemont Theater, built in 1939 and located on Wooster Pike St. Similar to the townhomes in the master-planned community, it is located just a short walk from the locally famous Graeters Ice Cream Shop, one of the oldest ice cream shops in the community.


Street view of the Peninsula, Ohio, via Villageofpeninsula-oh.gov
Street view of the Peninsula, Ohio, via Villageofpeninsula-oh.gov

Topping the list of Ohio’s most unusual towns to the last is Peninsula, a small town located in the Cuyahoga Valley, one of the most picturesque regions in Ohio. The branches of the peninsula are another nature-rich destination to escape the bustle and embrace a slower pace of life. A community dating back to 1827, the city was built along the Cuyahoga River and is surrounded by the natural beauty of the Cuyahoga Valley. Enjoy some of the state’s finest nature on hikes like the 87-mile Towpath Trail, and visit Boston’s famous Town Hall.


Street view in Marietta, Ohio
Street view in Marietta, Ohio

Rounding out our list of Ohio’s top quaint cities is Ohio’s oldest city, Marietta. The first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory made nearly every list of Ohio’s best cities and was named one of the Best Adventure Towns by National Geographic. The Muskegmo River Water Trail, the nearby Wayne National Forest, and the ghost tours of Hidden Marietta are some of the best places to visit in the city. The Ohio River Museum, Campus Matwes Museum, and the William Root House and Garden, one of Marietta’s oldest permanent homes, offer a glimpse into the past of Ohio’s oldest city. Embrace the essence of the Buckeye State, learn about the history of American settlement, and discover new experiences like the popular Marietta Hidden Tour when you venture out to explore Ohio’s eight quaint towns.

Finally, Ohio boasts something for every interest. Whether you’re looking to escape sleepy small-town mores, learn about American tales from the settler era, or experience international culture without leaving the country, this is your sign to delve deeper into what makes Ohio a great travel destination and explore its attractions. , underrated destinations.

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