Ohio

The Buckeye State


Ohio is in the Midwest region of the United States. Winters are cold and summers hot in the eastern highlands. Ohio is known for its colleges and universities, their championship athletic teams and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Its vacation destinations are numerous, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the West Side Market in Cleveland and the world-renowned Columbus Zoo. Columbus, the capital city, is home to Ohio State University, the Short North gallery district and the beautiful Park of Roses. With Lake Erie as the state's northern border, numerous lakeside destinations serve as popular vacation spots, including Put-in-Bay and Cedar Point. To travel around the state, you will need to rent a car or book a bus or train ticket. For more information visit: consumer.discoverohio.com.

Jump to: Historical Sites & Tourist Attractions | Arts & Culture | Sports & Recreation | Outdoor Activities | Food | Local Festivals | Housing Resources | Transportation | Health & Safety | Help Your Community

Historical Sites & Tourist Attractions

Ohio State Reformatory

Ohio State Reformatory. Photo via Pixabay.

Add some local history to your cultural exchange experience by visiting a nearby historical site or tourist attraction when living and working in the U.S.

The Cincinnati Museum Center has popular attractions for kids and adults, including the Cincinnati History Museum, the Museum of Natural History & Science, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, Union Terminal and an IMAX Theater.

The Garst Museum in Greenville is home to the Annie Oakley Center and other historical exhibits about pioneer life, Native Americans, local military history and other topics from local and national history.

Learn about Harriet Beecher Stowe, a famous African-American author who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and hear more about the abolitionist movement, women’s rights and other historical topics at the Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Cincinnati. Visitors can also learn more about the abolition of slavery and the Underground Railroad at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which is also located in Cincinnati.

The Ohio State Reformatory is a historical site in Mansfield, Ohio and the filming location for the movie The Shawshank Redemption. Guided tours, movie tours and ghost tours of the former prison are available at certain times of the year.

Visit a recreated 19th-century Ohio Village at the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus. The village gives visitors a glimpse into the 1800s in Ohio with tours, costumed guides, a game of 1860’s baseball, special events and other educational programs.

One of the top attractions in Ohio is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. Located in a building designed by I.M. Pei, the museum features exhibits with one-of-a-kind artifacts, films, video, interactive displays and music. Special events are also held on a regular basis, such as live concerts, lectures, films and panel discussions with famous musicians.

See a full-sized replica of the Santa Maria, one of the ships that carried Christopher Columbus to America in 1492. The boat, which is located in Battelle Riverfront Park, can be seen on a guided tour and visitors can also attend special events at the Santa Maria and in the surrounding park.

Sandusky & Lake Erie

Cedar Point is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ohio. The 364-acre amusement park is home to many roller coasters, rides and entertainment options and is the most visited seasonal amusement park in the United States. Visitors can also have fun at the nearby Kalahari Waterparks, which include indoor and outdoor parks, or the African Safari Wildlife Park in Port Clinton.

Learn about the maritime history of the Sandusky area and its role in the Underground Railroad at the Maritime Museum of Sandusky. Events, exhibits and activities for children and adult, and historical programs are available at the museum.

Tour Companies

Tourism Websites

Arts & Culture

The United States offers a wide variety of cultural learning opportunities through the arts. Dance, music, theater, opera, art museums and festivals are just some of the options available to international visitors who wish to experience the U.S. and its culture.

Art and Cultural Museums

Performing Arts

Sports & Recreation

Football stadium at the University of Akron

Football stadium at the University of Akron. Photo by JEN9841.

Many Americans are passionate about sports – and not just baseball and football! Get a glimpse into this part of American culture by watching or participating in a favorite U.S. sport or recreational activity in your local area.

Professional Sports

Ohio has many major league professional sports teams in its most populated cities, like Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus:

For tickets to professional sports games in Ohio check the team websites above. Tickets may also be available on the following websites:

Minor League Sports

College Sports

College football is a popular sport in Ohio, but colleges and universities in Ohio have many other sports teams in their athletic programs, such as basketball, soccer and baseball:

Outdoor Activities

The United States is home to a variety of landscapes and climates to suit all types of outdoor activities. The courageous traveler can find extreme sports and outdoor adventure tours, while others may want to keep both feet on the ground in a national park or forest. Whatever your interests, take advantage of the many outdoor activities available during your time in the United States.

The Buckeye Trail is a 1,444-mile trail for hiking and backpacking that travels through the state of Ohio, including many scenic areas and historical sites. Short hikes and recommendations on hiking the trail can be found on the Buckeye Trail Association’s website.

Outdoor activities at Cuyahoga Valley National Park include hiking, biking, camping, fishing, horseback riding, kayaking, canoeing, golfing and winter sports like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and ice fishing. The park also has a Scenic Railroad that takes passengers on a train ride through the park.

Eden Park in Cincinnati is home to the Cincinnati Art Museum and many outdoor areas like the Hinkle Magnolia Garden, Mirror Lake, Twin Lakes, Krohn Conservatory and the Bettman Fountain. Walking paths, sightseeing, picnic areas and a playground are available at the park.

The Hopewell Culture National Historical Park near Chillicothe contains earthen mounds and other historical sites that were built almost 2,000 years ago by Native American groups between 200 B.C. and A.D. 500. Visitors can explore an interpretive trail and other nature trails during their visit, and special events are held at the park throughout the year. Serpent Mound State Memorial in Peebles is a similar historical and cultural site that features earth mounds in the shape of a serpent built approximately 900 years ago.

There are several skiing and snowboarding areas in Ohio, including Alpine Valley, Big Creek Ski Area, BostonMills/Brandywine, Mad River Mountain and Snow Trails. Equipment rentals and skiing and snowboarding lessons are often available at ski resorts, and many also have other outdoor activities like snow tubing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Sandusky Area

Enjoy Lake Erie and many outdoor activities in the Sandusky area, including fishing, boating, watersports, biking, parks, beaches and more. Read more about Sandusky Outdoor Recreation, parks and more from the City of Sandusky website.

Look for more outdoor recreation activities on the Lake Erie Shores & Islands tourism website.

Food

Taste of Cincinnati festival.

Taste of Cincinnati festival. Photo by Wholtone.

One of the best ways to experience cultural exchange is through food and cooking. Visitors will enjoy exploring the regional specialties and local cuisine during their time in the United States.

Ohio is home to many specialty food items that you won’t find everywhere in the United States, like fold-over pizza, sauerkraut balls, Cincinnati-style chili, packzi, and a chocolate treat called a Buckeye. Many of these foods reflect the cultural heritage of Ohio, which includes German, Irish, Swiss, Polish, African-American and Italian cultural groups.

Farmers’ Markets

Shop for fresh fruit and vegetables and browse handmade products from local artists at an Ohio farmer’s market.

Food Festivals

Local Festivals

For a unique and local perspective on American cultural, be sure to check out festivals and events near your cultural exchange program location. These events are a fun and interesting way to interact with locals and to learn more about American culture by experiencing it firsthand.

Nelsonville Music Festival in May/June is a four-day popular music festival featuring international, regional and local musicians on multiple stages. The festival also includes arts and crafts from local artisans, food, camping and children’s activities.

The Cincinnati Juneteenth Festival celebrates the end of slavery in the United States on June 19th, 1865. The event is often held on a weekend near that date and includes exhibitions, vendors, live music, arts and crafts, food and activities that celebrate African-American history and other multicultural communities in Cincinnati.

The Columbus Arts Festival features hundreds of artists from around the United States each June in downtown Columbus. Artwork is displayed along the Riverfront and live music, dancing, poetry, food, art activities and children’s events are also included in the festival.

The Northwest Ohio Independent Film Festival shows independent films from national and local filmmakers, including feature films, short films, documentaries and student films. Special events, like workshops and panel discussions, are also held during the July event. Other film festivals held in Ohio include the Columbus Jewish Film Festival and Ohio Independent Film Festival.

The German-American Festival is a large cultural festival in the Toledo area of Ohio and a celebration of German-American and Swiss-American culture in Ohio. Traditional German food, music, dancing, games and live entertainment is featured over three days in August at this popular event that attracts around 35,000 attendees.

Other cultural festivals in Ohio include the Ohio Scottish Games in Wellington, the African American Heritage Festival at The Ohio State University, the Birmingham Ethnic Festival, the Lagrange Street Polish Festival in Toledo and the Greek-American Festival in Toledo.

Sandusky Area

Lake Erie Fearfest is a fun Halloween event at Ghostly Manor, a tourist attraction and haunted house in Sandusky, OH. Scary attractions, haunted rides and other fun Halloween activities are available at Fearfest, which runs from late September through Halloween.

The Erie Summer Festival of the Arts is a weekend event featuring activities, lectures, musicians and artists, and a children's area with activities and crafts.

Celebrate German heritage at Oktoberfest in Put-in-Bay, near Sandusky, with live music, food, drinks and more!

Housing Resources

Employers may be able to assist with housing during your time in the United States, but this is not always possible for all participants. When looking for housing during your cultural exchange program, consider the cost of the accommodation, the distance to your work place and the amount of time you will be in the United States.

It's also important to avoid fraudulent housing. It is highly recommended that you secure short-term housing upon arrival (e.g. in a hostel) and conduct your housing search once you are in the U.S. Never give your financial information to a stranger over the Internet. Browse the Housing Information guides for InterExchange participants below for more tips and advice.

General Housing Information

Ohio Housing Resources

Some examples of housing and accommodation resources for Ohio participants include:

Transportation

Public transportation options can be hit or miss, depending on your location in the United States. Buses are a common transportation option for short and long-term travel in the U.S., while some areas will also have trains, subways and other options.

Public Transit Systems

Public transportation systems in Ohio’s major cities and regions include:

Visit the American Public Transportation Association website for a complete list of public transportation options in Ohio communities.

Bus

For local and national bus services in Ohio, try Greyhound or Megabus. Greyhound connects to a larger network of bus routes that travel throughout the United States, and Megabus operates to several locations in Ohio, including Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and others.

Train

Three Amtrak train routes travel through Ohio: the Cardinal, Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited. Amtrak stations are available in Bryan, Toledo, Sandusky, Elyria, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Alliance.

Health & Safety

Participants in Ohio can use the following resources in case of an emergency or extreme weather event in their area:

Emergency Management Agencies

FEMA

Weather Information

Help Your Community

Interact with others and expand your skill set by volunteering in your local community. Volunteer organizations are often looking for short-term volunteers or for individuals to help with a single event, making it a great option for InterExchange participants who wish to add to their cultural exchange experience during their time in the United States.

Volunteermatch.org, Idealist.org and Serve.gov are three general volunteer websites that match local organizations with volunteers in their communities.

Habitat for Humanity builds affordable housing for families and individuals through affiliate organizations throughout the United States and the world. Habitat has many affiliates in Ohio and both individual and group volunteers can help support the organization by building homes, working in an office or working in a ReStore shop. Visit the list of Ohio affiliates to learn more.

The HandsOn Network is a large group of volunteer centers that help to connect organizations with volunteers. Some of the centers in Ohio include HandsOn Central Ohio, Northeast Ohio and West Central Ohio. Visit a website and browse local volunteer opportunities based on location, time availability and interest.

The Ohio Association of Food Banks is a group of food banks that collect food donations and distribute items to families and individuals in need. Volunteers can help sort donations, prepare meals, work in an office and help with many other tasks. Browse a food bank’s website or contact the food bank for further information.

Contact the Volunteer Center of Erie County for opportunities to volunteer, including special events and volunteer days, in the Sandusky, Ohio area.

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
Exclusive partner of the Erasmus Student Network for J-1 Visa sponsorship of internships in the U.S.
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Generation Study Abroad
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation