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The 2023 nomination period has ended. 

Great Places Are All Over Ohio


Modeled after APA's Great Places in America program, the Great Places in Ohio awards program is a biannual selection of places that represent the gold standard in Ohio's neighborhoods, public spaces and commercial districts.

Nomination Information & Criteria



2023 Great Places in Ohio Awards Announced

Press Release



Uptown Westerville City Hall

Uptown Westerville, Westerville OH

Uptown Westerville is one of the most well-preserved town centers in Ohio. It is home to public anchors including Westerville City Hall, the Public Library, and Otterbein University. Residents, students, and visitors alike are drawn to Uptown because of its inviting scale, colorful history, and the many shops, restaurants, galleries, and other businesses that bring the area to life. In 2019, it earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.


Downtown Willoughby, Willoughby OH

Historic Downtown Willoughby is a beautiful, quaint and charming neighborhood and even goes by the nickname of the “Courtesy City” was listed as a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995 for its commerce and architectural significance from the 1850s to the 1940s. Downtown Willoughby now is a bustling, eclectic community with something to offer everyone who lives, works and plays in the area. 


Downtown Delaware, Delaware OH

The city of Delaware is a growing community of 40,000 people 25 miles north of Columbus. It celebrates the historical context of the community by integrating its past into current and future success. This 210-year-old dynamic downtown has leveraged private investments to benefit the public realm since 1856. The vibrancy of this commercial district is a result of planning efforts to update historic façades, implement streetscape improvements, install wayfinding signage and preserve the century-old Strand Theater.

bridge street

Bridge Street, Ashtabula OH

The Port of Ashtabula has played a vital role in the northeast Ohio shipping industry for centuries. Shifting world economies and introduction of technology that allowed faster and cheaper loading and unloading of cargo kept the port a critical link in the north coast shipping industry. Decline in the economy after the recession spurred the community into action, especially when ODOT closed the lift bridge for repairs lasting nearly a year. By embracing its history and invigorating local involvement through festivals and community pride, this near victim of the rust belt economy is now thriving.

Gpo 2020 Cuyahoga Falls

Downtown Cuyahoga Falls, Cuyahoga Falls OH

Settled along the adjacent Cuyahoga River in 1812, Downtown Cuyahoga Falls grew into a successful business district that supported a growing community. However, with suburbanization and the change of its main street into a pedestrian mall in the 1970s, the importance of Downtown Cuyahoga Falls was inadvertently tarnished. In 2018 the City reestablished the Downtown’s importance and sense of place by reopening Front Street to vehicular traffic and embracing historic preservation. The Downtown is attracting new culinary, microbrewery, and retail businesses, complimenting it’s thriving public event spaces.




Lakewood Park, Lakewood OH

The crown jewel of Lakewood, Lakewood Park is a 31-acre lakefront park located on a bluff overlooking Lake Erie. Lakewood Park is a community park in the true sense of the word. It has become a regional destination for visitors with its expansive trail network, greenspace, recreational courts and fields, lakefront promenade, and the most prominent feature of the park: the Solstice Steps.

Famous Sunset Views Of Sandusky Bay Draw People To Jackson Street Pier In The Evenings1

Jackson Street Pier, Sandusky OH

In operation since 1900 as a parking lot and waiting area for oncoming ferries, the Jackson Street Pier was transformed in 2019 into the City of Sandusky’s premier open space. This four-acre destination waterfront amenity invites tens of thousands of residents and visitors to enjoy year-round family-friendly entertainment, scenic views of Sandusky Bay, daily recreational opportunities, dynamic festivals, events of all scales, and remains in operation as a local and international port. Jackson Street Pier’s unique characteristics include its status as Ohio’s only non-airport border crossing.

Mentor Marsh Boardwalk1 Orig

Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve, Mentor OH

The Mentor Marsh is a lively and buzzing place to be! It is maintained, protected and restored by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the City of Mentor and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Natural Areas and Preserves. Throughout the years, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History has acquired over 690 acres of wetland area and manages the majority of the marsh. The marsh is home to many different local plant and animal species. Animals include leopard frogs, northern pike, yellow perch, bald eagles, owls, marsh wren, bitterns, sparrow, river otters, beavers, monarchs, turtles, and so much more. Because of the rate of development in Ohio, over 90 percent of wetlands in the state have been drained. In the 1960s, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History obtained the marsh in order to save it from becoming a marina. Today, Mentor Marsh is one of the largest natural marshes that still remains along the shores of Lake Erie. The wetland is situated between Mentor Lagoons and Headlands Beach State Park. This makes the area a great place for different animal and plant species to thrive.

wade oval

Wade Oval, University Circle, Cleveland OH

Wade Oval is a seven-acre park that dates back to 1874, when pioneer Newell Cozad spent $60,000 of his own money to lay the groundwork for a park. Cozad’s concept was advanced when philanthropist Jeptha Wade, co-founder of the Western-Union telegraph company, donated the land to the City of Cleveland in 1882. Over the next 80 years, the parkland became the front lawn to Cleveland’s Museum of Art, History Center, Museum of Natural History and Botanical Garden. Now, Wade Oval is a gathering place for music, play and picnicking for thousands in the midst of the cultural temples of Cleveland.


Wildwood Metropark, Toledo OH

Surrounded by suburban development, Wildwood is an oasis balancing rich natural areas with historical, cultural and recreational opportunities. The 493-acre park exists because of a grass roots effort to preserve the estate of Champion Sparkplug magnate Robert Stranahan. Once private bridle trails are now public hiking trails, attracting over a million visitors every year to explore the surrounding prairie lands. The property also boasts a formal garden designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman, hailed as the "dean of American women landscape architects." The garden at Wildwood is one of only four of her 600+ gardens that retain their original integrity.  

Gpo 2020 Toledo

Promenade Park, Toledo OH

Located on the Maumee River, Promenade Park has been considered the heart of Downtown Toledo since it was established through the vision of a local activist – Betty Mauk – in 1972. Ms. Mauk’s vision grew from a small parcel to an expansive riverfront promenade. Unfortunately, like many cities, disinvestment in the surrounding Downtown also effected the park. But spurred by ProMedica deciding to relocate their headquarters and over 1,000 employees to the adjacent riverfront, significant effort went into planning a modern district while maintaining the early vision of Promenade Park. The park continues to host the city’s largest events, including the ProMedica Summer Concert Series that draws 10,000 people Downtown. While an event lawn and LED screen are the setting for family movie nights, local sports viewing, and community events like yoga.

Gpo 2020 Oyler

Oyler Community Learning Center, Cincinnati OH

Built as a school in the 1930s, by the early 2000s the Oyler School was failing, with 85% of its students never making it to 10th grade. After extensive community engagement and lobbying to Cincinnati Public Schools and beyond, in 2012 the Oyler Community Learning Center was formed through funding by the Facilities Master Plan a tax levy and philanthropic resources. Not only did this expand the school to a high school, but a hub for the whole community. The Oyler Community Learning Center model provides a myriad of services to students and community members alike, such as early childhood education; mental health, primary, vision, and dental services; case management services to help parents navigate resources such as housing, employment and food security; as well as mentorships and tutoring - while becoming a catalyst for the holistic revitalization of the community. Since its transformation, the Lower Price Neighborhood has graduated more students in the last 7 years than in its entire 90-year recorded history, with an estimated 97% graduation rate in 2019-2020.




Guilford Road In Snow

Upper Arlington Historic District, Upper Arlington OH

The Upper Arlington Historic District is a premier historic neighborhood that has remained a unique and special place since its inception over 100 years ago. Upper Arlington was originally planned and developed by two brothers, King and Ben Thompson, who purchased 840 acres of land 1913, designing a community complemented by parks, schools, civic and shopping facilities anchored within a residential area. Century homes of varying styles, tree-lined streets, and the Mallway commercial district anchored by businesses and civic uses have been carefully preserved throughout the central historic district, and serve as a backdrop for festivals and city-wide events. 

Gpo 2020 Springfield

South Fountain, Springfield OH

The residents of Springfield’s historic South Fountain Neighborhood, situated immediately south of downtown, have worked hard for over 20 years to rehabilitate the Victorian homes at the core of the neighborhood. But they realized the health of the historic district was inextricably linked to that of the surrounding communities that were still struggling.While residents knew the issues facing their historic neighborhood, they realized the city needed a strong vision for the larger, surrounding community. With the help of the City’s head planner, residents were able to convince public and private city leaders that despite challenging economic hardships facing the local government, community engagement that builds a sense of trust and planning is, in fact, a basic city service. Working together, South Fountain’s Engaged Neighborhood Plan was developed, and includes 40 initiatives across 5 topics areas (physical improvements – government policy changes – private financing – marketing and branding – and civic infrastructure and implementation) and has become a model already being deployed in the adjacent community.




Some Ohio great places have already been recognized at the national level by APA as part of the Great Places in America program. They are automatically added to our collection.

The APA Great Places in America program ran from 2007-2019.

Findlay Market (2016)
Hyde Park (2010)
Over-the-Rhine (2017)
Public Square (2018)
West Side Market (2008)
Cleveland/Shaker Heights/Beachwood
Shaker Boulevard (2012)
German Village (2011)
Short North Arts District (2019)
Fifth Street (2015)
Historic Downtown Delaware (2019)


RiversEdge at Marcum Park (2018)
Village of Mariemont (2008)



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