Sometimes you need to get away from the big city and immerse yourself in nature and history. Nestled in Ohio’s southwestern corner, the area surrounding Cincinnati offers plenty of great weekend getaway spots. Whether you want to shop, experience the great outdoors, or just spend time with your family, the cities and towns around Cincinnati have it all. Book a stay at a Cincinnati vacation rental as a home base, and venture out to these fantastic destinations.

1. Bardstown, Kentucky

If you don’t mind crossing state lines, head just over two hours south of Cincinnati to Bardstown, Kentucky. First, go on a mini Kentucky Bourbon Trail with three local distilleries, the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History, and a trolley tour. If the family’s with you, head to My Old Kentucky Home State Park. This park includes a historic Colonial mansion, tour guides in full Colonial regalia, and the J. Dan Talbott Amphitheater, hosting many plays and live performances. Get the rest of your history fix at the Old Bardstown Village Civil War Museum, a big part of Bardstown’s past.

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2. Hocking Hills State Park, Logan, Ohio

Hocking Hills State Park, a little more than two hours to the east of Cincinnati, is one of the most beautiful nature areas in the state and worth an entire weekend getaway. Get a vacation rental here to enjoy the solitude of nature. The park has six different hiking regions, fishing, swimming, archery, and hunting. Some of the best hiking areas (with picnic areas fairly close by) are Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, Ash Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Rock House, and Hemlock Bridge Trail. Take Buckeye Trail to the Rose Lake Overlook, and enjoy the views or go splashing through the water.

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3. Perrysburg, Ohio

Three hours north of Cincinnati, Perrysburg lies outside of Toledo and has the distinction of being one of the safest areas in the state and only within 30 minutes of Lake Erie. Begin at Hood Park, located along Maumee River where you can boat over to the Audubon Islands State Nature Preserve, boasting a number of native birds. While you’re down by the river, check out Fort Meigs, which is the largest wooden fortification in the country. If you want to take a kayaking trip down the river, get all the gear you need at one of the local outdoor stores, such as Bass Pro Shops.

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4. Oberlin, Ohio

Oberlin is located near Lake Erie, 3.5 hours to the northeast from Cincinnati. This small college town is within driving distance of the lake. Tour the Weltzheimer/Johnson House Frank Lloyd Wright Building, Oberlin Heritage Center, Little Red Schoolhouse, and the historic Oberlin College, the first to admit African American and female students. After exploring local history, walk the gardens of the Oberlin Arboretum with a few ponds and the Plum Creek running through them. Finish off your weekend ziplining through the trees at Common Ground Canopy Tours.

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5. Loveland, Ohio

Loveland lies just 30 minutes northeast of Cincinnati, the perfect place to visit for a weekend while still remaining close to home. This little town has plenty of green space to explore, from Symmes Township Park, which boasts 60 acres of walking and biking trails, to the East Loveland Nature Preserve with miles of trees and the O’Bannon Creek running through it. Loveland also has a castle, not typical of the state, built in the early 1900s. Visitors can go on a guided tour, view the swords and weapons displays, and enjoy stories about the resident ghosts.

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6. Coshocton, Ohio

Coshocton is located three hours to the northeast of Cincinnati and offers history, shopping, and outdoor activities. Start off with a visit to Roscoe Village, a living history canal town dating back to the early 1800s. Explore local history through the museums and exhibits. Even take a horse-drawn canal boat tour, and stroll through the gardens. There are several family-friendly activities here, such as a historic scavenger hunt, festivals, and regular educational events. Spend some time at Woodbury Wildlife Area, where there’s fishing via the Ohio Belly Boat Fishing service, kayaking down the Muskingum River Water Trail, and swimming at Forest Hill Lake.

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7. Clifton, Ohio

Clifton, northeast of Cincinnati, is an oasis of natural beauty and (very) small-town charm just 80 minutes from the big city. Visit some of the historical sites, such as Clifton Mill, which includes a 19th-century mill sitting scenically on the Little Miami River, a covered bridge, and an old-fashioned gas station. Tour the beautiful grounds, eat in the on-site restaurant, and grab a few souvenirs from the country store. Clifton Mill sits in the middle of the Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve. The 268-acre area is just small enough to explore thoroughly over the course of a weekend. Hike along the Little Miami River and through the woods, or take the mountain biking trails. Finish your visit to the country with some food at the local Jerry’s Country Corner.

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