No matter which travel direction you're considering – north, south, east, west and all that's in between – being able to work within a 500-mile distance allowance from Ohio's borders opens up a tempting travel-planning goody box for you. Choose from the best of American culture, entertainment and historic venues. The Midwest state’s proximity to the Windy City, famous water features, the Great Lakes and countless heritage destinations provides endless popular getaway options.
Unplug at a Great Lakes Isle
Escape to a Great Lakes island blushing with charm and history. Situated a little more than 300 miles north of Ohio, Mackinac Island lies in Lake Huron between Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Lower Peninsula. Cars are banned from the idyllic isle where horse-drawn buggies and bikes are the only transportation modes. Summer is prime time to catch one of the ferries from the mainland at Mackinaw City to the isle. Step off the ferry into a Victorian village where the hustle and bustle of modern life seems like a dream. Adopt the island's slow pace to explore Mackinac's historic village whose streets are lined with boutique shops, galleries, delis, restaurants and celebrated Mackinac Island fudge shops. More than 80 percent of the 2,200-acre island is a designated state park. It's loaded with possibilities for trail adventures and visiting points of interest like Fort Mackinac, a British-built 1780s fortress. Explore additional sights on a self-guided island tour via bicycle. Bike rentals are available from several island operators for getting to island destinations or touring the 8-mile path around the island that showcases the sparkling freshwater scenery. Day trips to the isle are popular, but overnighters find numerous hotels, inns and bed and breakfast accommodations matching personal preferences and budgets. Consider a stay at the Grand Hotel overlooking the Straits of Mackinac. The iconic, expansive beauty once served as the setting for Hollywood films, features the world’s longest porch and has welcomed island guests since 1887.
Plan an urban vacation packed with culture and entertainment. Chicago lies along Lake Michigan less than 200 miles from Ohio’s western border. Head to Navy Pier in downtown Chicago to experience a one-stop destination for fun, food, inspiration and entertainment. Navy Pier is home to the Windy City’s Centennial Wheel ride which provides a bird’s-eye view of the skyline and lake. The historic waterfront landmark also hosts the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the Chicago Children’s Museum. Enjoy live music at the Aon Grand Ballroom and Festival Hall. To explore the city's iconic sights with a knowledgeable insider, book one of the many town tours or water cruises departing from Navy Pier. Beyond the waterfront, find inspiration at world renowned Chicago museums including the Art Institute of Chicago and Field Museum of Natural History. Adding destination shopping to the vacation itinerary, Chicago's Miracle Mile offers 460 retail shops and nearly endless options for retail therapy. Round out the urban vacation at Chicago's top notch outdoor venues which includes Millennium Park in the heart of downtown, city beaches and the 18-mile non-motorized Lakefront Trail.
Discover Amish Country
Fields bloom with sunflowers, and the simple life creates a peaceful ambiance in northern Indiana’s Amish Country. Situated about 50 miles west of the Ohio border, Shipshewana, Indiana, provides a starting point for the seven-town Amish Heritage Trail, a highlight for any Amish country vacation. The driving route offers a glimpse into the traditional Amish lifestyle as it winds through countryside and communities. While sharing rural roads with horse and buggy rigs is inevitable, it’s part of the authentic Amish experience. Among the points of interest featured at trail communities are 21 giant murals and 18 supersized quilt gardens created from more than a million flowers. In Shipshewana, the Midwest’s largest flea market fills more than 100 acres with vendors offering handmade Amish crafts, treats and a cornucopia of local products. Be sure to arrive early in the day to get the best parking spot, and wear comfortable shoes for the shopping adventure. Throughout the Heritage route, independent restaurants offer a taste of Amish food served in the family-style tradition. Whether staying for a night or longer, Amish-themed country inns offer visitors yet another way to soak in Amish country tranquility.
Celebrate Romance at Niagara Falls
Plan a romantic vacation at one of the country’s most famous honeymoon spots. New York’s Niagara Falls State Park is the gateway to the majestic falls. The famous cascading waters located between New York State and Ontario, Canada, roar and rush at 140 miles northeast of the Ohio border. The American and Bridal Veil falls and Canadian Horseshoe Falls attract millions of visitors annually. Stretch the sightseeing budget by purchasing a Niagara Falls USA Discovery Pass at the visitor center or online. Passes offer discounts to Niagara’s major attractions, including Cave of the Winds, Maid of the Mist, Niagara Gorge Discovery Center and the Niagara Scenic Trolley tour. While the park offers a selection of eateries, Top of the Falls is the only restaurant overlooking the natural wonder for a truly romantic dining setting. The tourist-oriented Niagara area provides vacationers a full spectrum of hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts and campgrounds. To snag the sweetest lodging deals, check out lodging options located beyond the immediate falls area.