The summer months are finally upon us, bringing with them a break from school and the opportunity to bring the family together for a weekend under the stars — that’s right, it’s camping time. May through September are the best months for pitching a tent and enjoying the beautiful sunshine in Ohio, and with so little time and so many stunning places across the state, it can be tough to land on a location.
Whether you’re into a luxe cabin retreat, a simple tent excursion, a dog-friendly spot or an RV trip, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite camping spots in Ohio to get you started. Break out the marshmallows and the graham crackers, because these gorgeous campgrounds will leave you wanting s’more time off from work.
The Hocking Hills region, with its beautiful scenery and entertaining attractions, is a popular spot to visit year-round. But in the warmer months, the campgrounds are bustling with Ohio locals and travelers alike, anxious to soak in all that the area has to offer. Choose to stay in a traditional Sioux-style tipi (perfect for a romantic weekend) or settle down at a spot near the famed Old Man’s Cave and hike around the stunning waterfalls and sandstone formations by day.
Alum Creek State Park
Located just minutes from Ohio’s capital city, Alum Creek State Park offers endless opportunities for fun under the sun — be it horseback riding, hiking, bicycling, fishing, boating or water skiing. The recreational area spans more than 4,630 acres in addition to the large lake, and there are 286 campsites at the main campground, each with electricity, water, and even WiFi (but we doubt you’ll need that when you’re surrounded by such beautiful scenery). There are also eight cabins to rent within the park, and a number of primitive campgrounds for those who like to rough it.
Lake Loramie State Park
This 407-acre state park north of Dayton offers a quiet retreat in rural Ohio. Stay the night in a shady campsite by the lake, and enjoy swimming or boating in the lazy waters of Loramie Lake all weekend long. The park is dog-friendly, so bring man’s best friend along for the ride.
Wolf Creek Park is nestled along the scenic Sandusky River just south of Fremont, and provides a natural oasis for locals looking for a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of it all. The Buckeye Trail (a renowned statewide trail) runs straight through the park, but campers can also enjoy canoeing or fishing on the river, and cooking dinner on the community grills.
Tappan Lake Park
With beautiful scenery, live music on the weekends, basketball and volleyball courts, and endless activities on and off the water, it’s not tough to see why this park is so popular. The 200 camping sites go quickly during the summer, so make sure to reserve your spot in advance.
Kelleys Island is the most popular camping destination of the Erie Islands, known as the “Emerald Isle.” It’s a great retreat for nature enthusiasts, offering access to unique geological, ecological and archaeological features. Enjoy the stunning scenery and views of the great lake while engaging in activities such as swimming, hiking, boating and fishing. Plus, the ferry ride from Marblehead to get there is an adventure in itself!
Grassy, shaded campsites and picnic areas are the name of the game at this quiet, picturesque retreat on the Ohio River. Hike a short distance from the site on the Camping Bridge Scenic Byway, which will take you over four historic covered bridges and offer romantic views of the surrounding countryside. Don’t forget to make a wish as you cross each bridge — it’s tradition.
Hueston Woods State Park
This gigantic state park spans nearly 3,000 acres of land, and surrounds the picturesque Acton Lake. With campsites, cabins for rent, and even a luxurious resort lodge, the opportunities for enjoying this little slice of heaven are endless. Activities include horseback riding, swimming, picnicking in the shade, hiking, miniature golf and so much more.
Arguably the prettiest park in western Ohio, this 752-acre park attracts visitors from all across the state. Its claim to fame is the stunning limestone gorge cut by the Little Miami River, part of which is designated as a national landmark. Bring the whole family (even the dog) to take in the beauty and enjoy the countless activities the park has to offer.
Nestled in Shawnee State Forest and along the banks of the Ohio River is the picturesque Shawnee State Park Campground. This area was once the hunting grounds of the Shawnee Indians, but now offers a secluded retreat for campers. Enjoy boating, hiking, fishing (the works), or just sit back and admire the beautiful carved valleys and wooded hills that are famously known as “The Little Smokies.”
25 cabins and 118 campsites dot the rugged but beautiful landscape of Mohican State Park. Take your pick of lodging options (make sure to make a reservation) and get ready for a weekend of fun on the Mohican River, which is known as one of the finest kayaking locations in Ohio. If biking is more your thing, the Mohican mountain biking trail traverses 24.5 miles and has been named the #1 mountain bike trail in Ohio according to Mountain Bike Action Magazine.
This gem in southwestern Ohio offers a beachside camping experience. Enjoy eating s’mores with the family under the shade of the large trees, letting the kids play at one of the playgrounds, and renting paddle boats.
What better spot to enjoy nature than at your local MetroPark? These places feel like a different world, but are conveniently located just minutes from your door. There are four metroparks that welcome camping and are popular across the state, including Possum Creek, Twin Creek, Englewood and Germantown. Take your pick and pitch your tent for a weekend under the stars!
William H. Harsha Lake
Located on the East Fork of the Little Miami River and 22 miles from Cincinnati, William H. Harsha Lake is a fantastic location for all outdoor recreation activities. The park is protected by the Army Corps of Engineers, and is the site of two abandoned gold mines (although we don’t think you’ll find much of the rare metal lying around). Enjoy the 40 miles of shoreline, and settle down at one of the many surrounding campsites.
Don’t let the name scare you away — there are no more mosquitos at this lake than at any other campground in Ohio. Instead, you’ll find families, couples and solo adventurers alike enjoying the summertime activities lakeside. It’s not the best spot for swimming, but fishing and boating is rumored to be spectacular. Plus, your furry friend is invited to join in the festivities!
Regardless of where you choose to pitch your tent, make sure to be a happy camper!