Off the Beaten Path Series

Off the Beaten Path in Ohio. The Top Hidden Gems in Ohio.

As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. We’re on our 4th year traveling around the country and seeking out the unique and different things to see and do! This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the “Off the Beaten Path” of every state. We love the big popular stuff like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different, and taking those roads less traveled. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to include your favorites below too. Each blog post will include a link to our amazing boondocking locations, plus any paid or membership locations we stayed while in Ohio.

Fun Fact: Did you know Ohio is home to the largest rubber stamp? Or maybe you like pencil sharpeners! If so, make your way over to the pencil sharpener museum. Who knew?

Hocking Hills State Park – Logan


Before visiting Hocking Hills State Park, I had never heard of it. As we’ve said in so many of our blogs, State Parks are just so overlooked for their bigger, more popular National Parks. Hocking Hills State Park was by far on our very topmost liked list so far. Of course, we’ve only traveled for just over three years now, so there is a lot to see. Hocking Hills State Park is home to more waterfalls in a small area than I had ever seen. As we walked through the state park, the movie The Hobbit came to mind. It’s very magical and mystical looking. People don’t believe the pictures are from an Ohio park, but many who know of this incredible landscape consider it the most beautiful land in the Midwest. Striking rock formations speckle the park, which is filled with gorges and caves waiting to be explored. Please check out our video below for a little more information.

Piatt Castles

Since you’re visiting Hocking Hills, make sure you visit Piatt Castles in Logan County. We just truly enjoy the different and unique, and the history behind them. The land was owned by Benjamin and Elizabeth Piatt who moved there with their children from Cincinnati. They had great respect for nature and the valley in which Piatt Castles is located, much as the original Ohio inhabitants had, and made the relocation permanent. The two Piatt homes were modeled after castles and lived in by two of their children who stayed on at the family estate, and are now open to the public as a museum.

Crystal Cave

Have an extra 15 minutes, and want to do something epic? Check out Crystal Cave in Put-In-Bay, Ohio.

This is the world’s largest geode. This “cave” can be viewed in less than 15 minutes, and yes, it’s that small. But for what you’re seeing, it’s huge! The geode was discovered in 1887, by workers digging a well for a winery. Things like this make me wonder what other untouched gems are still to be discovered — or not!

Moonville Tunnel – McArthur 

Deep within the woods near Lake Hope State Park, the Moonville Tunnel is one of the few reminders of the small mining town of Moonville which has otherwise disappeared from the map. Justin and I love the history of the old mining towns, though most of the stories didn’t end well. It’s still a neat (and sad) part of our history. Directions: GPS: 39.31006, -82.32434 – Stop before the metal bridge on the roadway and park in the gravel pull off. This is Ohio Division of Forestry property and there are unmarked trails at the pull off. Follow the trail by the boulder along the edge of Raccoon Creek. It will wind around through the old town of Moonville (nothing left but a few stones and a couple of wells) until you climb a small hill to the railroad and tunnel. If you go past the bridge, you can see the tunnel but there is no bridge to cross the creek this way.

Frozen Cleveland Lighthouse

Ok, so Cleveland isn’t exactly a hidden gem, but I had never heard of this frozen lighthouse until I was doing some research.

This amazing lighthouse in Cleveland that is placed so close to Lake Erie that a bizarre weather phenomenon takes place. Also, Curiously, over the 105 years, the lighthouse has developed a slight tilt to the right, and the tilt is visible from the shore if you look carefully.

Kelley’s Island Glacial Grooves – Kelleys Island

The glacial grooves on the north side of Kelleys Island are the largest and most easily accessible glacial grooves in the world. They were scoured into solid limestone bedrock about 18,000 years ago by the great ice sheet that covered part of North America. Directions: It is on the north side of the island. However, the Island is only accessible by ferry (which is part of the fun). 

Kelley’s Island Winery Ruins

If you go to Kelley’s Island, there are a few things to see here. Don’t miss the two ruined wineries, which are still standing today. You can get to Kelleys Island from Marblehead most of the year. The ferry ride takes about 30 minutes. The best time to visit is mid-May to October. Golf carts are available for rent at the ferry station.

Mushroom House

MushroomHouse SF

There are some really … Ummm … let’s call them “UNIQUE” houses in Ohio. We really like houses that were constructed by someone with a kind of odd or different vision. They make us think and wonder about the thought process involved. Seriously, who wakes up one morning and says “my dream is to build a house that looks like a mushroom”? Well, architecture professor Terry Brown did. Between 1992 and 2006, the late Brown used warped shingles and oddly wrapping staircases to give his one-bedroom home on the corner of Erie and Tarpis Ave. a look like no other. Unfortunately Brown passed away in 2008, but the Mushroom House remains a beloved landmark in the neighborhood and doesn’t look to be wilting any time soon. Address: 3518 Tarpis Ave, Cincinnati, OH – I know I don’t have to tell any of my readers, but please be respectful. This is a privately owned home. 

Check out the Franklin Castle too! It’s more popular, but a really cool place to visit too!

Hillandale Bridge – Euclid

Hillandale Bridge 2 SF
Hillandale Bridge 1 SF

This abandoned bridge to nowhere stands secluded in the woods of a Cleveland suburb. Perched atop a hill on an old brick road in Euclid, Ohio, near a city park of the same name, lies a 1920s bridge that has stood the test of time, but exists as a bridge to nowhere. Most people don’t know the story behind Cleveland’s abandoned bridge to nowhere. The bridge is starting to show its age, so watch out for several holes that have crumbled out of the pavement and for cement railing sections that have fallen down into the creek below. Along the bridge and the old brick road leading to it are old fixtures and remnants of streetlights as well. To get to the bridge, park within the Hillandale Park parking lot and walk up on the brick road. The bridge is a small distance up the path – just be certain not to walk up the driveway of the one private residence that exists up the hill.

Garden of Constants

Ok, this is fun!! If you’re visiting Columbus, you gotta take a half hour and just visit this unique place!

Located on the beautiful campus of Ohio State University, these massive, colorful numbers bring a whimsical air to the lawn outside the engineering building. They’ve stood there since 1994. If you’re a student, or maybe a parent of a student, this might not be something unique, but we found it super cool. Still … I have to say “Go WVU Mountaineers”.

Porter Creek Bridge Ruins – Bay Village

porter creek bridge SF

The scenic remains of an old rail bridge. In the age before automobiles or air travel, the people of northern Ohio traveled on a network of interurban trolley lines known as the Lake Shore Electric Railroad. The rail system connected Cleveland to Toledo, and towns such as Fremont and Sandusky in between. This is just something to see if you’re passing through this area. I love old ruins like this. Can you imagine living back in these days? Really thought-provoking.  Directions: Getting to the bridge piers and remnants is extremely easy. Park at the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center located on Porter Creek Road in Bay Village. Follow the bicycle path north along the road until the path dips down below the bridge piers. To cross the creek to the other side, continue north on the bicycle path, cross the bridge over the creek, and cross to the west side of the road. Paths lead back along the creek towards the bridge piers deeper into the woods.

Have you seen some special, hidden gems you’d love to share with us? We’d love to hear from you!

Have you seen some of our other blog posts?

Looking for the best places to camp in your RV in Ohio? We’ll share our amazing boondocking, paid camping areas and membership suggestions and reviews. Click the link below for our RV Camping in Ohio blog.

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