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Considered a gateway between the East Coast and the Midwest, Ohio is just a one-day drive away for nearly 50 percent of the U.S. population. Flanked by two powerful bodies of water—the Ohio River to the south and Lake Erie to the north—the landscape consists of farmland, glaciated plains, rugged hills and forest. Buckeye trees once covered the terrain, inspiring Ohio’s nickname: the Buckeye State.

Nestled on the shoreline of Lake Erie, Cleveland brims with charming neighborhoods, boutique shops, galleries and cafés. The world-renowned Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Orchestra establish the cultural scene. Located at the water’s edge is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, a pyramid-shaped building filled with music paraphernalia, including Johnny Cash’s tour bus and Jimi Hendrix’s scribbled lyrics to “Purple Haze.” History buffs visit Lake View Cemetery, the burial place of President James Garfield—one of eight U.S. presidents from Ohio.

The Scioto River flows through the capital of Columbus, the geographic center point of the state, which blends a revitalized downtown and historic architecture. On the northern end of the city lies Ohio State University, one of the largest public universities in the U.S. Downtown, visitors peruse the open-air North Market for seasonal produce or tour the Ohio Statehouse, an emblem of Greek Revival 19th-century architecture. East of the Brewery District, in the German Village Society, redbrick cottages mingle with sausage houses and Bavarian bakeries.

Tucked amid the hills and farmland of Holmes County, in Central Eastern Ohio, is the largest Amish community in the U.S. Local guides offer buggy-ride tours of working Amish farms, where guests can get in-home dinners, homemade jams and quilts.

Cincinnati perches on the bank of the Ohio River, just across the water from the antebellum mansions of Covington, Kentucky. Rolling hills and historic neighborhoods surround downtown, in a city once known as the “Paris of America.” Travelers can stroll through the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens or the Cincinnati Art Museum. Outdoor enthusiasts can kayak and raft down the Ohio River and its tributary, the Little Miami River.