Two girls on the carousel at Memphis Kiddie Park in Cleveland (photo courtesy of Memphis Kiddie Park)

How to Spend the 102 Days & Nights of Summer

Make the most of the long days and warm nights with our guide to summer fun in Ohio, featuring family-friendly festivals, on-the-water activities, interesting parks and cool concerts.


May 25–29:
Ohioans who live along the Lake Erie shore know a good fish when they see one. The 42nd annual Main Street Port Clinton Walleye Festival splashes into Memorial Day weekend with a kids fishing derby, a parade, live concerts, educational programs and activities, carnival rides and local eats at Waterworks Park.

Start Pedaling! Hit the pavement on two wheels this summer. An extension of the Little Miami Scenic Trail, the 32-mile Simon Kenton Bike Trail connects riders from downtown Springfield to Bellefontaine, passing through towns such as Urbana and West Liberty. Highlights along the trail include the circa-1916 Buck Creek Bridge and Cedar Bog Nature Preserve, home to many rare plants and animals.

May 27 & 28: Kick off summer on a sweet note! Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams teams up with Land-Grant Brewing Co. for Jeni’s Strawberry Jam. The two-day celebration of the Ohio strawberry season returns to the Columbus brewery’s taproom and beer garden with strawberry buttermilk ice cream, new beer collaborations, family-friendly activities, food and live music.

Aerial view of the National Veterans Memorial and Museum in Columbus (photo by Infinite Impact)
May 29: Visit the National Veterans Memorial and Museum to discover stories of those who served our nation, from the Revolutionary War through today. The Memorial Day Remembrance Ceremony takes place on May 29, but the thought-provoking museum in Columbus is open year-round, offering interactive exhibits that highlight poignant glimpses of the strength and sacrifices of those in uniform.

Reach New Heights: Get a bird’s-eye view of the Toledo Zoo’s African savanna at the Expedition Africa Aerial Adventure Course. The variety of thrilling experiences includes two high ropes challenge towers, three 250-foot sky bridges, a 30-foot quick flight with controlled descent and a 760-foot zip line that sails above the zoo’s grassy expanse, which is home to giraffes, zebras, Watusi cattle, camels and more.

Close up of pink peony (photo by iStock)

June 2–4: In the early 1900s, Van Wert was known as the peony capital of the world for its large fields of the pretty blooms. This small northwest Ohio town celebrates that heritage each year during the Van Wert Peony Festival, where you can enjoy live entertainment, watch the Grand Parade, take part in a children’s fishing derby, stroll through the car show and stop to smell the aromatic flowers.

June 8–10: They’re up, up and away! Float on over to the Coshocton Hot Air Balloon Festival to fill up your weekend with live music at the grandstand, kiddie carnival rides and, of course, the beautiful sight of brightly patterned hot air balloons. Stick around at the Coshocton County Fairgrounds after the sun sets to catch the night glow and fireworks.

June 9–11: Don’t be chicken! Step right up and feast on this village’s famous barbecue dinner during Versailles Poultry Days. The annual southwest Ohio gathering returns with a whole henhouse of activities ranging from pageants and chicken-eating contests to an antique car show and parades.

Mural in Columbus’ Franklinton neighborhood (photo courtesy of Columbus Greater Arts Council)
Walk of Art: Connect with the wide range of public art found throughout our capital city using the Cbus ArtWalks app. Read more about the Cbus ArtWalks app

June 16–18: Drop your anchors, the 57th annual Festival of the Fish is getting groovy! Head to the Lake Erie shore town of Vermilion for “Fishstock ... 3 days of Peace, Music & Perch,” complete with midway fare, beach yoga, a sandcastle contest, rides aboard the small sternwheeler cruise boat The Mystic Belle and the Lighted Boat Parade.

Roar into Summer: More than 500 rare and endangered animals — from cheetahs to the southern white rhino — call The Wilds home. For a few nights, you can, too! After a full day exploring the nearly 10,000-acre conservation center in Cumberland on an Open-Air Safari, zip lining over animal pastures and taking a trot on horseback, soak up the views with an overnight stay in the lodge, cabins or yurts.

James Taylor playing guitar on stage (photo by Elliot Deseure)
June 21: Make “Your Smiling Face” another one in the crowd when James Taylor takes the stage at Cincinnati’s Riverbend Music Center. Enjoy the waterfront breeze and views of the Ohio River as you listen to the six-time Grammy Award winner and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer’s classic tunes like “Sweet Baby James’’ and “Fire and Rain.”

June 23–25: The Maria Stein Country Fest brings the fun to farm life. Pull on your boots and head to this rural community in Mercer County for live music, a petting zoo, carnival rides and games, antique and stock tractor pulls, a cruise-in car show, tournaments and a performance by the impressive square-dancing tractors.

June 23–July 2: Explore the roots of this lakeshore city during Cleveland History Days. More than 40 events over 10 days highlight Cleveland’s legacy, including Take a Hike architectural walking tours; rare access to cool spots around town; lectures with notable civic leaders, artists and architects; a bike tour of the Cuyahoga River valley and more ways to hit the pavement.

Planes in hangar gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force (photo courtesy of United States Air Force)
Plane Amazing: As the National Museum of the United States Air Force celebrates its 100th anniversary, explore the destination’s fascinating exhibits, artifacts and stories. Read more about the National Museum of the United States Air Force’s 100th Anniversary

Zip Around: At Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum in Hamilton, another large-scale piece of art awaits you around every bend in the road — more than 80 in all. Explore the sculptures installed across more than 300 acres on foot, or opt to get behind the wheel of an “Art Cart” to cover more ground. (You’ll thank us later!)

June 28: After being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2020, The Doobie Brothers return to northeast Ohio to make a stop at The Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre as part of their 50th Anniversary Tour. Hear hits from throughout the rock band’s career, including favorites such as “China Grove,” “Black Water” and “Takin’ It to the Streets.”

Columbus Symphony Orchestra on stage (photo by Randall L. Schieber)

July 1: Celebrate the red, white and blue with “Patriotic Pops and Soul.” The Columbus Symphony takes up its summer post at the Columbus Bicentennial Pavilion, where the 2023 lineup for the six-week Picnic with the Pops series ranges from “Super Diamond — The Music of Neil Diamond” to “The Music of Whitney Houston: A Celebration.”

Ride the Wave: Get sporty at Wake Nation in Fairfield, where cable wakeboarding reigns supreme. The park features a boat-free, overhead pulley system, smooth water and two dozen obstacles so you can get your shred on. Instructors help you confidently make waves and learn regardless of skill level, and the Butler County destination also offers thrills by way of the floating Aqua Park and superslide.

July 4: The stars and stripes get a dose of silliness during the annual Doo Dah Parade. Bringing a mix of liberty and lunacy to Columbus’ Short North Arts District since 1984, this satire-filled event welcomes you to watch on the sides or join the parade — but everyone can meet at Goodale Park afterward for live music.

Large crowd at the Blossom Music Festival in Cuyahoga Falls (photo by Roger Mastroianni)
July 7–9: Whether you sprawl on the lawn or sit in the pavilion, there’s no bad seat to enjoy the Blossom Music Festival. The Cleveland Orchestra returns to its summer residence at Blossom Music Center with programs ranging from classical favorites to thrilling music from movies, like “Jurassic Park.” In honor of the blockbuster’s 30th anniversary, the orchestra performs John Williams’ iconic score as the film plays on screen.

Take it Slow: Enjoy the simple life in Ohio’s Amish Country. The Holmes County Rails-to-Trails Coalition offers 22.5 noncontinuous miles of scenic paved trail that once followed a railroad route, so you can explore the countryside by foot, bike or horseback. While you’re in the region, fill up on treats, shop for quilts and even plan an overnight stay at one of the area’s charming lodging options.

July 7–15: Ohio Brew Week: See what’s on tap at Ohio Brew Week! The annual event hits the streets of Athens with nine days of hoppy educational fun. Sample from a range of hundreds of craft beers and over 300 ciders and meads, and enjoy unique collaborations, speakers, entertainment, local food and the Last Call block party on Court Street.

Boys playing outdoor xylophone at Dayton‘s Children‘s Discovery Garden (photo by Jan Underwood)
Growing Time: These children’s gardens across Ohio spark imagination and provide places to play in beautiful settings. Read more about children’s gardens across Ohio

July 11: Few pop stars continue to shine for four decades, but Belinda Carlisle remains a music icon. From her roots as the lead vocalist of the groundbreaking new wave rock band The Go-Go’s to her solo career churning out hits such as “Heaven Is A Place On Earth,” the legendary artist is bringing a slice of her repertoire to Rose Music Center in Huber Heights.

Take the Plunge: 
With 36 waterslides, two wave pools, rushing rivers and relaxing lagoons, Soak City Water Park at Kings Island promises to be a great way to beat the heat. Open May 27 through Sept. 4, the over 30-acre destination features multiple food hubs and more than 50 water activities, including play areas designed with your little ones in

Girls on scrambler ride at Picktown Palooza in Pickerington and Violet Township (courtesy of Picktown Palooza)
July 13–15: Summer fun is in high gear at the Picktown Palooza. Bring the whole family to enjoy the charm of Pickerington and Violet Township for three days filled with carnival rides, live music, food vendors, activities in the Kids’ Corner, the Freedom 5K and a car, truck and bike show.

Take the High Road! Not sure where to start your hike in the Hocking Hills? Hit the Conkles Hollow Rim Trail. With vistas looking out over the treetops, rocky cliffs and paths that cut through lush forest, it’s one of the region’s most scenic treks. The Conkles Hollow Gorge trail is 1 mile and wheelchair accessible, while the 2.5-mile Upper Trail is a more strenuous option. Bonus tip: Arrive early for breathtaking morning views.

July 18–23: Take one giant leap and land at the Summer Moon Festival, where the achievements of Wapakoneta’s favorite son, astronaut Neil Armstrong, are commemorated each year. Take part in planetary-themed events running concurrently at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum, and head downtown for the street festival with live music, a beer garden, family games and tasty treats.

Band on stage at Nelsonville Music Festival (photo by Joel Prince)
July 21–23: A southeast Ohio favorite, the Nelsonville Music Festival returns to its new home at Snow Fork Event Center. Surrounded by the picturesque hills of Wayne National Forest, the intimate festival delivers three days of national, regional and local acts, plus camping, craft beer, artisan vendors and family-friendly activities.

Meet Animal Friends:
Say hello to feathered friends at the duck pond, get up close to a variety of heritage breed chickens and test out your milking skills on a life-size dairy cow replica. A 200-acre nature preserve near Dayton, Aullwood Audubon Center allows kids of all ages to get a taste of country life and an appreciation for conservation, complete with learning areas such as the Farm Yard, Bank Barn, Sugar Bush woodland and Children’s Sustainable Garden.

Children on roller coaster at Brooklyn‘s Memphis Kiddie Park (photo courtesy of Memphis Kiddie Park)
Big Fun: Memphis Kiddie park near Cleveland has been delighting little ones and their parents with more than 70 years of kid-size thrills. Read more about Memphis Kiddie Park

July 21–23: Can you hear it? Summer is calling you with the sound of sultry jazz and the irresistible aroma of sizzling ribs. The scenic Scioto Mile along the downtown riverfront provides the perfect backdrop for the Columbus Jazz & Rib Festival, three days of continuous music and barbecue pros serving up mouthwatering grub.

Ride the Coasters: The exhilaration of the slow climb, a deep breath and a whooshing, stomach-flipping drop continues to excite us at Cedar Point. For more than 150 years, the amusement park has been home to some of the world’s most iconic and record-breaking rides, from the Blue Streak to Millennium Force.

Mom and daughters enjoying midway foods at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus (photo courtesy of Ohio State Fair)
July 26–Aug. 6: You had us at deep-fried Cajun Waffle Dogs! The Ohio State Fair delivers a classic lineup of amazing attractions from carnival rides to pig races to national entertainment, but it’s the over-the-top food creations like Nutter Butter Stuffed Funnel Cake that really catch our eye. (That, and the annual butter sculptures.)

Step Back in Time: Historic Roscoe Village reflects a bygone era of life along the Ohio & Erie Canal. The restored town in Coshocton offers living-history tours and features charming specialty shops such as the Roscoe General Store, River Ridge Leather and Knob Hill Design. On weekends from May 26 through Oct. 22, experience a slower pace via the Horse-Drawn Canal Boat Rides and hear old canal tales from the 1800s.

July 29 and 30: Get ready for a treasure hunt and explore one of Tuscarawas County’s most storied villages. The Historic Zoar Antiques Show and Artisans Tent features more than 60 dealers as well as high-quality artisans, folk artists and a variety of historic demonstrations.

Hippos Fiona and Fritz at the Cincinnati Zoo (photo by Lisa Hubbard)
July 30: Get a double dip of our favorite hippo siblings during Fritz & Fiona’s Sundae Fundae. The Cincinnati Zoo and Graeter’s ice cream are teaming up for a “cool” fundraiser, where you can sample ice cream from six different stations while meandering through the zoo to see animals after hours.

July 31–Aug. 8: Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheatre in Chillicothe is best known as the home of the outdoor drama “Tecumseh!” but for four days, it’s all about the Bard. This summer, experience the tragic “Henry V,” the playwright’s most famous war story.

Pack a Picnic: The Marblehead Lighthouse has kept watch over Lake Erie since 1822. Picnic in the park to the sound of lapping waves, then visit The Keeper’s House Museum to see historical photos and artifacts. Visitors can climb the 77 steps to the top of the iconic lighthouse, which is the oldest in continuous operation on the Great Lakes.

Boy taking part in the cardboard boat regatta at New Richmond’s River Days (photo by Flicker / Scott Amus)

Aug 4–6: Who says cardboard can’t float? Crews of determined sailors prove otherwise during an annual cardboard boat race on the Ohio River. The regatta is part of RiverDays in the southwest Ohio town of New Richmond, which makes waves each August with rides, games, food, live theater, musical entertainment, fireworks and more.

Aug 10–13:
Marietta is a premier destination for outdoor recreation, with access to hiking, kayaking and biking on the Ohio and Muskingum rivers and 200 miles of trails. Combine that with a charming downtown and cold beer, and you’ll see why this southeast Ohio river town is the perfect spot for the Rivers, Trails and Ales Festival.

Wooden boardwalk at Cleveland Metroparks’ Euclid Creek Reservation (photo by Kyle Lanzer)
Green Initiative: Ohio’s parks and natural spaces offer a respite from daily life. Here are four with recent additions, so you can explore something new this summer. Read more about Ohio parks with new features

Smell the Roses:
Schedel Arboretum & Gardens is home to a range of beautiful, surprising and exotic species as well as a world-class bonsai collection, The Blair Museum of Lithophanes and more. The 17-acre botanical garden in Elmore is beloved for its variety of themed gardens — including the Japanese Garden adorned with unusual conifers, a 30-foot waterfall, bridges, pagodas and a torii gate.

Take a Walk in the Park: A neighborhood park has an artistic update this summer! The Perrysburg Sculpture Walk at Woodlands Park features 16 pieces by artists from across the country. On display through the end of August, the sculptures join the park’s other attractions, including an 18-hole disc golf course, crushed-stone pathways, a flower garden and a new all-inclusive playground set to open in June.

Men on horses next to train at the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway’s Ohio’s Friendliest Train Robbery (photo courtesy of Hocking Valley Scenic Railway)
Aug. 12: Draw those purse strings, folks, because a wild bunch of cowboy bandits are hopping aboard the train. The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway is staging Ohio’s Friendliest Train Robbery five times throughout the summer. You’ll be provided play money at the depot, and the Wild West adventure adds to the fun for all ages.

Cool it! Camping meets on-the-water fun at Atwood Lake Park in Tuscarawas and Carroll counties, where more than 500 camp lots welcome travelers to kick back and relax. Take a dip at the 360-foot swimming beach, or head to the two marinas offering boat rentals and docking for the chance to get out on the lake.

Aug. 13: From woodworking to jewelry to pottery, the 35th annual Art on the Commons Fine Arts and Crafts Festival brings an eclectic mix to Kettering’s scenic Lincoln Park Civic Commons. Located near Dayton, the festival features more than 100 artists, live music and interactive family activities.

Men biking at Troy’s Tour de Donut (photo courtesy of Tour de Donut)
Aug 26: Roll up to Troy hungry, because Ohio’s largest one-day cycling event is also its sweetest! During the Tour De Donut, your speed is only one part of the winning equation — because each doughnut consumed shaves digits off your final time. Eat up!

Make a Splash: We love our Great Lake, but Ohio is also home to spectacular inland lakes! Spend a day at Indian Lake State Park in Logan County, where two beaches are just the start to the fun in the sun. Recreational options on the 5,100-acre Indian Lake include swimming, kayaking, fishing, water-skiing and tubing. If unlimited-horsepower boating is more your speed, you’ll find a place for that, too.

Sept. 3: Music fills the air when Opera in the Italian Cultural Garden returns to this tranquil setting in Cleveland. Along with the One World Day festival (set this year for Aug. 27), this performance is an annual favorite at the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, the city’s park-like collection of more than 30 plots dedicated to different countries and cultural groups.

Waterfall and flowers at Greene County’s Indian Mound Reserve (photo courtesy of Greene County Parks & Trails)
Ancient Footsteps: Explore trails that provide beautiful scenery and learn about Ohio’s Native American heritage. Read more about Ohio parks tied to Native American heritage

Sept. 4: Wind your way through rows of tents filled with works created by about 120 local, regional and national artists during the Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival. Set near the picturesque Northam Park, this community gathering has been an end-of-summer tradition since 1966, featuring fine art, live music and hands-on activities.

Get Your Feet Wet: Pick up your paddles and cross another one of the Lake Erie Islands Water Trails off your list this summer. The Middle Bass Island Trail offers a scenic dose of nature and serenity, revealing sights such as the Kuehnle State Wildlife Area and Middle Bass Island East Point Preserve, a prime birding spot that’s only accessible by kayak.