Paying income tax always hurts, but you can forget about the gaping hole that April 15 puts in your bank account by having some fun at Ohio’s free attractions. From indoor art galleries to the great outdoors, Ohio boasts a wide variety of wallet-friendly destinations! Here are a few for you to enjoy this season!
Cleveland Museum of Art
Although it’s been a landmark in Cleveland’s University Circle cultural center for more than a century, the Art Museum recently underwent a major expansion featuring a massive, glass-enclosed Atrium that channels both the sleek modern architecture of its new wings and the classic Greek Revival styling of its original 1916 building. Arguably the sunniest gathering spot in Cleveland, the Atrium is like a grand living room with the double in-house bonus of creative shopping at the Museum Store and locavore eating at the Provenance restaurant or more casual Provenance Café.
In the heart of Columbus, nature imitates art at Topiary Park, where living sculptures made of yews re-create Georges Seurat’s famous painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte. It’s the only known topiary garden that interprets a work of art, and the unique park – complete with a pond representing the Seine River – not only is free, but open to the public year-round.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Just south of Cleveland, popular Cuyahoga Valley National Park flanks the meandering course of the Cuyahoga River and is a major component of the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area. The 100-mile long Canalway follows corridor of the old Ohio & Erie Canal, and hiking or biking along its Towpath Trail is a no-cost way to experience beautiful natural spaces, encounter wildlife and enjoy the step-back-in-time ambiance of quaint canal towns.
There’s no better place to take your mind off a taxing situation than Magee Marsh, where “free as a bird” takes on a whole new meaning. Sitting along Lake Erie beside the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Magee Marsh is famous for the hundreds of species of migrating waterfowl and songbirds that stop there to rest and refuel, and from April through early May, birdwatchers flock there to view everything from tundra swans and bald eagles to dozens of different warblers.
Hocking Hills State Park
Since Ohio is one of only a handful of states where both admission and parking at its state parks are free, that makes a springtime visit to Hocking Hills State Park all the sweeter. Tucked away in Ohio’s southeast corner, the Hocking Hills possess an incredible landscape whose lovely waterfalls, lush hemlock groves and fanciful rock formations almost seem surreal, and with miles of trails leading to legendary places like Ash Cave (where Native Americans once built fires) and Old Man’s Cave, this state park is among Ohio’s best.
Although it’s man-made, you’ll find another stunning – and admission free – landscape near Chillicothe at the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, where Native Americans known as the Hopewell people built ceremonial earthworks some 2000 years ago. Today the Park contains several clusters of embankments and mounds, comprising the world’s largest concentration of ancient geometric earthworks.
National Museum of the United States Air Force
Dayton was the Wright Brothers’ hometown, and thus nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is a fitting location for the National Museum of the United States Air Force. It’s the world’s largest military aviation museum, and all the exhibits – which include the Wright 1908 Military Flyer as well as the “Air Force One” used by eight Presidents – not only are free but truly ground-breaking.