I recently guest posted over at Cincinnati Re-adventure, where I defended living in the suburbs. I got some interesting responses, including some that were puzzling. To rehash that whole conversation, head on over there!
Recently, Vanity Fair published a highly offensive article (link below) that concluded we're all nutso zealots. While many Cincinnati bloggers are rightfully taking a stand by pointing out the wonderful things Cincinnati has to offer (Brad King, Cincinnati Re-adventure, Kate the Great ) and tweeting about the controversy (@brad_king), I thought I'd take a unique approach and point out things that are, like the Creation Museum, within driving distance of Cincinnati. Unlike (in my humble opinion, of course) the Creation Museum, I believe these sites are important to our region and common history.
When I started writing my book (which now has a Spring 2011 publishing date), I was worried some people would perceive it as an effort to get people away from Cincinnati. In a way, I suppose it is--but there's a bigger picture.
My book, tentatively titled "Tiny Journeys: Day Trips from the Queen City" was written as a reaction to constant complaints I heard about being bored in Cincinnati. I do point out the wealth of museums, parks, historic sites and cultural events available--but the book is about day trips to locations within 1-4 hours of downtown.
My quest is not to drive people away, but rather to show them that there's plenty to do IN Cincinnati, and that it also makes a great home base for adventures to lesser-known places.
This all being said, and in light of the horrific Vanity Fair article that has us all in an uproar, here are some things worth seeing within a short driving distance of Cincinnati (which only add to the reasons to live in the area)! These are pretty well-known, but hey...I want to keep the weird and unusual to myself for now so you buy my book!
1. The Great Serpent Mound. Before I explain this site (which I hope many readers have, in fact, at least heard of), I would like to point out that during a 2003 visit to the British Museum, my now-husband spotted relics from Serpent Mound in a case. IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM. As in, one of the world's greatest collections. Something from humble ol' Adams County, just an hour's drive from the Queen City on display.
Excavated in the late 19th Century by a Harvard archaeologist, this Fort Ancient culture earthwork has been interpreted in a variety of ways. One of the most common is that it's a snake with either an open mouth or devouring an egg. Sites around the mound align with astronomical phenomena. Extra cool: the valley visible from Serpent Mound is peppered with evidence of meteor strikes.
For those who enjoy the supernatural, a mysterious black panther has been spotted by various residents and there have been reports of UFO sightings in the area.
2. Rankin House. Minister John Rankin and his wife Jean harbored over 2,000 slaves in their home, which served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. You can tour the home seasonally to get a sense of their lives and the bravery of those who crossed the Ohio seeking freedom. Open seasonally; check before you go!
3. Paint Creek State Park. I've been to many Ohio State Parks, but this ranks as one of my favorites for watersports, hiking, mountain biking and nature viewing. It also has one of the best campgrounds around. When we have cabin fever, this is one of our go-to spots for a little break.
4. Rabbit Hash. This small hamlet in Kentucky has a real-deal general store (complete with peanut shells on the floor and a gather-round stove), a dog for its mayor and an antique shop that runs on the honor system. What's not to love?
5. Big Bone Lick State Park. Go ahead, snicker at the name. But this is a very serious, important place--that happens to be a ton of fun. They have a great museum dedicated to the discovery of prehistoric animal remains in the area, great trails, a salt lick that once made the area a destination for those who believed in its healing powers and an American Buffalo Herd. Yep, you can get up close and personal with these creatures (within a safe distance and through a fence), which are located in a pasture off a short trail.And don't forget to visit the Salt Festival in the fall!
These are just a few of the places I've been to repeatedly and they're a good beginning for people who have lived in Greater Cincinnati their whole lives but want to expand their knowledge about the surrounding area. It's also a good list for Vanity Fair reporters who can only find the airport and the museum a lot of us like to pretend isn't there (as Kate pointed out).