If you’re traveling south on I-71/75 from Cincinnati, there’s a good chance you’re either looking for the Florence Mall or just driving home. But if you haven’t meandered through Boone County’s salt and pepper seasoning of fast-food chains and gas stations, you might have overlooked the extra spices—the fun spots your summer itinerary has been missing.
The Wildwood Inn isn’t overtly hidden, but its fake palm trees and shuttered windows give it an undercover look. Inside, the four-person, family-sized rooms are cut from a different cloth, featuring themed imitations ranging from stylish New York City suites to the inside of a Kentucky Cave. With a hot tub. Whether you’re looking for a hotel your kids might actually get excited for—replete with a jungle-themed pool and an arcade room—or you’re willing to take a trek on the quirky side, the Wildwood Inn is definitely a conversation starter.
Just 10 minutes from the Inn, discover the Tousey House Tavern through the miracle of its specialty: the Hot Brown. Break into a baked cheese crust topped with two strips of pecan-wood smoked bacon as you enjoy this medley of turkey, ham, and toasted bread soaking in a Mornay sauce. If your head ever stops spinning, ground your senses with the 12-year-old Van Winkle bourbon’s belly-warming caramel notes. It’s a lovely accompaniment to the tavern’s triple chocolate cheesecake in a dark raspberry sauce. Reserve your table at dusk, and experience this Federal-style home by your table’s candlelight—an experience with more charm than many city restaurants.
Then catch an evening baseball game almost every other week at UC Health Stadium. The Florence Freedom compete through early September in the independent Frontier League. Not bad, y’all.
Wildwood Inn, $80–$230/night, wildwoodinnky.com
Tousey House Tavern, entrées $15.50–$35.50, touseyhouse.com
Florence Freedom, tickets $10–$15, florencefreedom.com