“Going for a drive” nearly became a retro relic, an activity from the days when most houses didn’t have air conditioning and the only fix for a hot day was an open passenger window and a high-speed breeze. But now that we’re all stuck together indoors, the idea of a drive for its own sake—in the comfort and relative safety of the family car—sounds pretty good.
So pack up the kids (give ’em headphones and an audio book if necessary), cue up a playlist, and head out to one of these destinations. Each of these destinations clocks in at under an hour’s drive one-way, but most establishments aren’t open for bathroom breaks, so plan accordingly. Then turn around and head home. Happy trails!
Big Bone Lick State Historic Site, Union, Kentucky
So named because its salt and sulphur springs drew herds of Ice Age mammoths, Big Bone Lick State Park is worth the drive alone for the bison viewing. Yep, there’s a herd of real-live bison, the last of which were seen in the Kentucky wild around 1800 (before they were hunted to near-extinction). According to Kentucky State Parks, bison are prehistoric superstars, being “the largest land mammal in North America and our only living mammalian link to the Ice Age.” Now they roam en masse around the park’s shady woods.
The museums and historic sites are closed to the public until further notice, but open areas and trails are up for grabs. Visit the park’s COVID-19 site for updates on closures and operating hours.
Miami University and Oxford, Ohio
Once you exit the highway for US Route 27 (which, by the way, you could take all the way down to Miami, Florida, some day), you’ll find yourself traveling along miles of cute Ohio farm country. Cruise onto Miami University‘s campus, which is known for its idyllic red brick buildings and bell towers, and then park along the quaint High Street business district in Oxford’s “Uptown.”
The campus and town are compact and walkable, with plenty of shade trees and iconic views. And carryout Bagel & Deli is always a good idea. Paralyzed by all the cheeky choices? Get the Miami Bagel, a sweet li’l snack of cream cheese and cinnamon on a blueberry bagel.
New Richmond, Ohio
This teeny historic river town was an important stop along the Underground Railroad, and is peppered with relevant sites (look for the historic markers outside each building), along with a tidy paved river walk and handy gazebo for socially-distanced lounging. Continue just five more minutes down the Ohio Scenic River Byway to see the Ulysses S. Grant Birthplace in Point Pleasant.
Tour the Town
Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky have dozens of different neighborhoods worth seeing, from Mariemont over to Westwood, Covington up to Indian Hill. Pick a destination—ideally one you’ve never really visited—and make your way there for a driving tour or quick walkabout. You may just find a new favorite neck of the woods.