Ready for a road trip? There are plenty of great places to visit just outside of Cincinnati for the day when you’re ready to hit the open road. Below are some ideas to get your wheels turning – literally and figuratively.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Augusta, KY
Down along Route 8 you'll find the quaint town of Augusta. You'll know you're there when you see a welcome sign that tells you you're in the hometown of former Miss America, Heather Renee French. Turn when you see the sign, park, and stroll down the streets lined with mom and pop restaurants, crafty stores, and antique shops. You can also walk along the Ohio River and check out the beautiful Victorian homes. Of course, Heather isn't the only famous folk from Augusta. The Clooney family calls this home, too. Check out the Baker Bird Winery while you're there. It's one of the oldest wineries in the country and is located amid beautiful rolling hills. Ask them to show you the wine cellar. Seriously. It's really cool.
2. Madison, IN
Madison is located about an hour from Cincinnati and makes for a sweet getaway if you're looking for a town steeped in Americana, but with an eclectic vibe. Madison is home to some great art galleries, coffee shops and cafes, as well as beautiful homes like the Lanier Mansion pictured here. It also has quite a few wineries, including the Lanthier winery that is all decked out with Christmas trees for the holidays.
3. Ripley, Ohio
As you walk along the Ohio River and stop to read the historic markers you'll get a real sense of how important Ripley was during the fight to end slavery. Ripley was a stop on the Underground Railroad, and an important crossing point for slaves who made their way across the Ohio River when the water conditions made it possible. No trip to Ripley is complete without a visit to the Rankin House, that stands high on a hill above the town. When the coast was clear, the Rankin family turned a porch light on that the slaves could see. Once they arrived at the house, the family helped them hide and escape to freedom. Amazing stuff.
4. Yellow Springs, Ohio
Yellow Springs has made a name for itself for being one of the most liberal, culturally open-minded towns in the country. But it's more than a quirky place that makes you think you've been transported back to Woodstock. It's a diverse, vibrant, and friendly town with great coffeehouses that feature fresh, homemade pastries, as well as restaurants like The Winds, that have captured national attention for their farm-to-table menu. Young's Jersey Dairy is a quick drive from the town, is very popular thanks to their amazing ice cream made on site. Yellow Springs also has great yoga studios, bookstores, and an excellent brewery, appropriately named Yellow Springs Brewery.
5. Glen Helen, Ohio
Next door to Yellow Springs is Glen Helen, a 1,000 mile nature preserve with more than 20 hiking trails. These are pretty easy hikes and take you through some beautiful areas with small waterfalls, foot bridges and views. You could easily make a day out of visiting Yellow Springs and Glen Helen.
6. Rabbit Hash, KY
Yes, the historic General Store burned down earlier this year - but it's such a cherished space that restoration on the store quickly began and when it soon opens it's going to be the same as it was before - down to the scuffs in the wood floor. But General Store aside, the tiny town of Rabbit Hash is just 40 minutes or so from Cincinnati and well worth the drive. Check out the occasional barn dance held on some weekends and be sure to keep a lookout for the mayor - a pit bull named Brynn.
7. Dayton's Oregon District
Dayton's Oregon District, just on the outskirts of the city's downtown area, is a collection of shops, bars, restaurants, and Victorian cottage-style homes. It's a little European, and a cool area to visit if you're going to a show at the Schuster Performing Arts Center. Before a show you can grab dinner at a place like Thai 9 and afterwards you enjoy a nightcap or dessert at Lilly's Bistro.
8. Bardstown, KY
Bardstown is about two hours from Cincinnati and a perfect way to spend your day if you're interested in surrounding yourself with all things Kentucky. You're not far from the Marker's Mark Distillery when you visit Bardstown, and it's really stunning during the holidays, so you may want to stop there, too. Bardstown speaking, give yourself a day to stroll the town and to visit the city's shops and restaurants. The Old Kentucky Dinner Train is an item to put on your bucket list.
There’s nothing like a great road trip. Load up on snacks and get the tunes ready. You’re going to love where you’re headed!