There are a ton of awesome museums in Ohio to check out on your next trip through this Midwest state.
Ohio museums have something for everyone, no matter your interests. Art and history museums are a given, but there are also a bunch of unique and quirky museums you can only find in Ohio.
Plan a trip to some of these amazing places to visit in Ohio to find your new favorite painting, visit a movie set, step back in time, or learn something new. No matter which ones you visit, you will have a great time.
Now, let’s check out these cool museums in Ohio!
20 Interesting Museums in Ohio for Your Bucket List
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
Located in Dayton at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is the largest and oldest military aviation museum in the world.
There are over 360 aircraft and missiles housed here. One infamous plane in the collection is the bomber that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, during WWII. There are also many presidential planes in the collection.
As you explore the three hangars that make up this fascinating museum in Ohio you will be impressed by how aviation technology has developed through the years. Kids and adults alike will be amazed.
This museum is free of charge and is open all year except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
Visiting this museum is one of the coolest things to do in Dayton!
Cleveland Museum of Art Is One Of The Best Museums In Ohio
The Cleveland Museum of Art is one of the best museums in Ohio for anyone looking for a little more culture in their life and one of the best things to do in Cleveland.
The Beaux-Arts style, white marble building stands among beautiful landscaping and statues. Inside, the architecture is just as amazing.
There are over 40,000 pieces in the permanent collection that span time periods, styles, and countries. The Asian and Egyptian collections are especially popular.
This is also another of the free museums in Ohio perfect for anyone on a budget. Special exhibits do have a fee.
Christmas Story House and Museum
The Christmas Story House and Museum is an attraction you can only find in Ohio. This house in Cleveland was used for exterior shots of Ralphie’s home in the 1983 classic A Christmas Story.
It has now been restored on the inside to resemble the house from the movie. You will feel as if you have stepped into a pop culture icon as you take a tour.
If you are a really big fan of the movie, you can even stay a night here. Don’t forget to check out the gift shop too and maybe pick up your own leg lamp.
The Christmas Story Museum is right across the street and holds a ton of movie props, costumes, and behind-the-scenes photos.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is another of the epic museums in Cleveland.
The building easily stands out because of its glass pyramid shape. Interestingly, it was designed by architect I.M. Pei, who also designed the Louvre pyramids in Paris, France.
Found on the shores of Lake Erie, this museum holds some of the best music memorabilia and exhibits in the Midwest. You’ll learn all about the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, and more!
The museum also hosts live music and events throughout the year so check their calendar before planning your visit.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Now let’s look at one of the best history museums in Ohio: the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
This is one of the best places to visit in Cincinnati dedicated to slavery, freedom, civil rights inequality, and the way these topics affected the development of the U.S.
While they are heavy subjects, it is important to know about them in order to learn from the past and create a better future.
The museum sits on the Ohio River, which many enslaved people crossed on their journey to freedom.
Inside, you will find a wealth of knowledge in the form of artifacts, personal stories, multimedia exhibits, and more.
One of the most interesting exhibits is the restored slave pen dating back to the 1800s.
American Sign Museum Is One Of The Coolest Museums In Ohio
If you are looking for a kitschy museum and hidden gem in Ohio, that the whole family will love, you need to stop by the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati.
This fun museum in Ohio is all about the history of commercial signage in America. This is the largest museum of its kind. With signs dating back over a hundred years, you will be impressed by the collection.
There are a variety of cool and unique signs in all shapes and sizes. You’ll see hand-painted signs from the 1800s, bright neon signs, and of course the welcome sign held by a giant man.
You will also be able to learn about how signs are made. This is a great history and art museum in Cincinnati.
National Museum of the Great Lakes
One of the best museums in Toledo is the National Museum of the Great Lakes. Nautical history and its impact on economics and politics are covered in depth here.
With hundreds of artifacts, photographs, and interactive exhibits, you will have a good time exploring everything this museum has to offer.
Centuries of work on the lakes are highlighted from the 1600s through to today.
You can also explore the Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship. This 617-foot iron ore freighter was built in 1911 and offers a chance to step back in time.
Visiting the Ohio museum is one of the fun things to do in Toledo, OH!
Toledo Museum of Art
The Toledo Museum of Art opened in 1901 and is free to the public. This museum is home to a great collection of paintings, glasswork, sculptures, and more.
From the Renaissance to Japanese art, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Work by famous artists such as Rembrandt, Ruben, Monet, Van Gogh, and Picasso line the walls.
There are also art activities and classes available for all ages. Don’t forget to check out the shop and the Museum Café.
Cleveland Children’s Museum
The Cleveland Children’s Museum is one of the best museums in Ohio for kids. Located in the old Stager-Beckwith mansion, this is a great place to make family memories.
The young and young at heart will have a blast exploring everything this museum has to offer and there is a lot to offer! There are a ton of interactive exhibits that will let kids learn hands-on.
The Wonder Lab is all about the science of water, so be prepared to get wet at the different stations.
Adventure City is a giant treehouse filled with different areas to play including a market, a medical office, and a reading nook.
There is also an art room, theater, and more. Babies can have fun in the Meadow.
Cleveland Museum of Natural History
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History will introduce you to many topics of science and nature through interactive programs and fascinating exhibits.
There are over five million artifacts here that will teach you about the world you live in. Subjects explored include paleontology, zoology, botany, astronomy, and archaeology.
The Perkins Wildlife Center gives you the chance to walk through nature and learn about wildlife. The Shafran Planetarium and Mueller Observatory will help you experience the Final Frontier in a fun way.
Overall, this is a great Ohio history museum that people of all ages will love.
Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums
If you love American history, head to Fremont and the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums.
Spiegel Grove is the name of Hayes’ grand estate, which includes a 31-room mansion and a 25-acre park. You will also be able to see the President’s tomb on the grounds.
Much of the house has been restored to what it looked like when the president lived there.
The museum is housed in a separate building on the property. There are many exhibits and artifacts, including some of Hayes’ letters and diaries.
The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library was the first of its kind and has over 90,000 books, many of which were part of Hayes’ original collection. Many of the books are available for browsing.
Center of Science and Industry Is An Interesting Museum In Ohio
The Center of Science and Industry in Columbus is another of the awesome museums in Ohio that both kids and adults will enjoy.
COSI has a bunch of interactive exhibits that cover all sorts of topics. Everyone will be engaged as they learn about dinosaurs, space, the ocean, and so much more.
Ride the High Wire Unicycle two stories above the ground or use the electrostatic generator to make your hair stand on end. Kids will love learning without knowing they are learning.
They also have a planetarium, live shows, and a hands-on science lab. You can also grab lunch at the Atomic Café which has some fun meals.
this is one of the fun things to do in Columbus, Ohio so don’t miss it!
National Veterans Memorial and Museum
Another museum in Columbus is the National Veterans Memorial and Museum which offers a unique experience while honoring veterans.
This is the only museum in the U.S. that covers veterans from all branches of the military throughout the nation’s history.
This is not just a memorial or military-focused museum, but a place to learn about the individuals who served their country and their experiences.
There are exhibits with multimedia displays, letters, and photos. This is a great way to see through the eyes of those who have served.
After visiting this Columbus museum, take a walk through Memorial Grove or visit the unique rooftop sanctuary.
If you are hungry or looking for refreshments check out some of the restaurants in Columbus.
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Sports fans will want to check out the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
In the Hall of Fame Gallery, you will see over 350 bronze busts of the Hall of Famers. You will be able to learn about each player through photos and their stories.
The Lamar Hunt Super Bowl Gallery gives you the chance to see the Lombardi Trophy and Super Bowl Championship Rings. You will learn all about the history of the Super Bowl with cool displays.
There are plenty of other galleries and exhibits to view as well. Superfans can book a VIP tour.
Edison Birthplace Museum
Thomas Edison was born in Milan, Ohio, in 1847. As one of the most influential American inventors, visiting Edison’s birthplace is like visiting a slice of American history.
This pretty, brick house was built in 1941 by Edison’s father and the family lived there until 1854 when they moved to Michigan. In the sitting room, you will see the bed where Edison was born.
As you wander his old home, you will also see many artifacts, documents, and examples of his inventions. Don’t forget to grab a selfie with the Edison statue outside.
This is certainly one of the coolest museums in Ohio!
James A. Garfield National Historic Site
The James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor is one of the coolest national parks in Ohio. This one is dedicated to the 20th U.S. president.
Garfield bought the house, which became known as Lawnfield, in 1876 and called it home until his assassination in 1881. His wife, Lucretia, remained in the house until her death in 1918.
The house has been restored and is a beautiful museum to visit. The mansion’s architecture is a mix of Victorian Gothic, Queen Anne, and Federal Revival styles.
Loveland Castle & Museum
The Loveland Castle, also known as Chateau Laroche, is one of the best and most unique castles in Ohio for photographers or anyone looking for a little whimsy in their life.
This castle in Ohio is found on the Little Miami River near Loveland, Ohio. It was built by Harry D. Andrews, a Boy Scout troop leader and fan of the medieval age.
He began work in the 1920s and crafted it for over fifty years.
When you visit, you will have fun exploring the history-ridden inside as well as the beautiful gardens that surround it.
You can also get married here if you are looking for a cool wedding venue.
Butler Institute of American Art
In my hometown of Youngstown, the Butler Institute of American Art is home to a huge collection of American artwork dating back 300 years. These pieces act as a historical record and teach about the past.
The collection also preserves the culture of the country.
You will see many pieces by famous artists including Winslow Homer, Norman Rockwell, Georgia O’Keefe, Mary Cassett, Jackson Pollock, and so many more.
The Butler Institute is one of the best free museums in Ohio. With no general admission cost, the museum aims to make art available to everyone.
And it is one of the best things to do in Youngstown.
Ohio Glass Museum
The Ohio Glass Museum & Glass Blowing Studio is found in a small town in Ohio called Lancaster.
Is a really interesting museum to tour. It focuses on the glassmaking industry and its influence on Fairfield County.
Lancaster is the “Pressed Glass Capital of Ohio” and you will be able to see many historic and enchanting pieces in the collection.
One fun aspect of this museum in Ohio is the Glass Blowing Studio. Here you will be able to watch demonstrations of glass making and learn about the process.
Stop by the museum’s gift shop to pick up art, jewelry, home decor, and more.
Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse
The Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse is another pretty museum in Ohio and was the first of its kind in the state.
The light here shined for 100 years from 1825 to 1925 when it was decommissioned.
The lighthouse is now a museum with exhibits that cover the history of the lighthouse and the town of Fairport. You will see navigational instruments, marine charts, ship carpenter’s tools, a lighthouse lens, and more.
If you are into haunted places in Ohio, keep an eye out for the Ghost Cat that is said to prowl the lighthouse.
Packing List When Exploring Museums In Ohio
If you are searching, here are some tips on how to pack lightly when packing to visit the museums in Ohio.
A concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items you bring along when exploring Ohio museums. It is always important to protect your personal information. Identity thieves are everywhere.
This unisex RFID blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and comes in several colors. It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind. You can place it under your clothes next to your body to carry your ID safely.
If you have a pouch already that does not come with the RFID protection, as I do, these RFID sleeves are the perfect solution.
If you are planning on taking a lot of pictures with your phone you will definitely want to consider an external charging battery. This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I carry with me on all of my trips.
I like that it holds its charging capabilities for several uses so I do not have to worry about it while out and about, and if I forget to recharge it at night, it will still be good to go the next day.
My daughter gifted me with this FugeTek selfie stick and tripod setup for my birthday. I absolutely love it! It is made of lightweight aluminum and is so easy to use.
It has Bluetooth connectivity and is a breeze to use for taking Insta-worthy selfies while visiting interesting museums in Ohio.
I never much believed in using packing cubes when traveling. That is until I tried them. Now I am hooked. These are the exact cubes I use to stay organized when I pack for a trip!
You will want to bring your own refillable water bottle with you.
I never leave home on a trip without my Bobble filtration bottle. The 18.5-ounce size is perfect for your adventures and it fits nicely in the pocket of a backpack.
Perhaps you are traveling a long distance and packing space is a premium in your suitcase, or in your car. Then this set of collapsible silicone foldable water bottles would work well for you. Would not take up much space at all.
You will want a backpack or daypack with you to store snacks, your water bottle, phone, extra clothes, etc.. . No matter the time of day or evening.
This foldable water-resistant backpack would be great. And it comes in many different colors.
There are so many cool and unique museums in Ohio that will satisfy everyone’s interests. From art, science, and history to more one-of-a-kind Ohio museums, you will have fun exploring these Midwest museums.