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Weekend Getaway: Take a trip to the birthplace of bourbon

Colleen Quinn

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Itchin’ to get away for the weekend and try something a little different? You are in luck! The birthplace to the warm, fuzzy burn of a perfectly aged bourbon is a mere 3 hours south of us here in Columbus, Ohio!

As America’s ONLY native spirit, bourbon comes out of Kentucky, crafting 95% of the world’s supply! Awaken those taste buds with a trout down the Kentucky Bourbon Trail!

Giving bourbon lovers an up-close look into how bourbon is distilled and the history behind generations of bourbon tradition, The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is a collection of bourbon whiskey distilleries located throughout Kentucky.

You could spend over a week exploring all of the world famous distilleries throughout Kentucky… but a weekend is plenty of time to sip and soak it in!

Where to start? Begin at the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center located on the first floor of the Frazier Kentucky History Museum in downtown Louisville. Here, you can gather all the information you need to plot out your perfect bourbon tasting bucket list.

Next up…Whiskey Row awaits! Strap on your comfy shoes and hang a left out of the Frazier. Within a one mile stretch you will hit Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery, Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Old Forester Distilling Co., and Angel’s Envy Distillery. Make sure to pick up your Kentucky Bourbon Trail Passport at your first distillery to collect stamps at each distillery you visit!

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

Tours and Tastings
There are a total of 18 distilleries on the KBT, grouped into roughly 4 different locations: Louisville, Lexington, Bardstown, and Owensboro.

Each distillery offers a tour lasting approximately one hour, ending with a tasting. Learn the history of each distillery, how to properly taste bourbon, what distinguishes bourbon from whiskey, and the role bourbon has played in our countries history. Each distillery has quirks that make them uniquely their own, however the tours can get some what repetitive as bourbon is made of a specific process.

Pro tip: Skip the tour and head straight to the tasting if you are short on time or find the tours have gotten repetitive. Where to next?

BARDSTOWN
For a newer, more modern bourbon experience check out Bardstown Bourbon Company—the first KBT destination to combine distilling and culinary arts! Grab lunch at the distilleries Bottle & Bond Kitchen and Bar with an awesome view of the distillery through the floor to ceiling glass wall.

Heaven Hill Distillery is another must. This distillery has been family owned and operated since they were founded in 1935. Officially opening their doors at their new location, Lux Row Distillers has 4 brands under one roof! A bit further south you will hit Makers Mark, where you can hand dip your own bottle into the red wax!

LEXINGTON
Spend a day visiting these distilleries near Lexington: Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, and Wild Turkey, which is home to the world’s longest tenured active master distiller, Jimmy Russell!

Buffalo Trace—while technically not on the KBT, this distillery is one of the most famous of them all. As the oldest continuously operating distillery in America, Buffalo Trace was one of only three bourbon distilleries allowed to operate during Prohibition to distill ‘medicinal’ bourbon. Here, if you are lucky you may get the famous Freddie as you tour guide! He has been leading tours for nearly 20 years, was featured on the Hulu bourbon documentary named ‘neat’ and recently induced in to the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.

Extra tidbits

While in Louisville make sure to stop at Feast BBQ for out of this world BBQ and their deliciously intoxicating bourbon slushies (yum).

For the history buffs, take a trip to the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln in Hodgenville, KY!

There are 18 distilleries that make up the official KBT, yet there are SO many more excellent distilleries located in the state of Kentucky. If you do not want to make your way all the way down to Louisville, check out Boone County Distilling Co, a boutique distillery, or New Riff Distilling (named best new bourbon of 2019) both of which are located near Cincinnati.

Official KBT Distilleries
 Angel’s Envy Distillery
 Bardstown Bourbon Company
 Bulleit Distilling Co. 
 Evan Williams Bourbon Experience 
 Four Roses Distillery 
 Heaven Hill 
 Jim Beam American Stillhouse  (2 locations)
 Lux Row Distillers
 Maker’s Mark Distillery 
 Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery
 Old Forester Distilling Co. 
 O.Z. Tyler Distillery
 Rabbit Hole Distillery
 Stitzel Weller Distillery
 Town Branch Distillery 
 Wilderness Trail
 Wild Turkey Distillery 
 Woodford Reserve Distillery 

Happy Bourbon tasting, and enjoy your time on the trail!

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Escape Columbus winter with 5 flights under $200 RT

Colleen Quinn

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If you're like us, February has you day dreaming of warmer weather and elaborate escape plans. Well, folks, it is time for a break that won’t break the bank, and we have you covered.

Below are five winter escapes from Columbus for less than $200 round trip and direct (heck yeah). Now let’s turn those day dreams into sunny realities!

PRO TIP: Flight fares fluctuate often based on many different factors. Use Skyscanner or Hopper to search flights and set alerts for inexpensive flights!

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA

Throw your winter blues out the window with a trip to southern Florida’s East Coast. Fort Lauderdale has all that good stuff you are looking for from a sunny holiday: beautiful beaches, crystal blue water, incredible food, tasty cocktails, and fantastic hotels. Plus, ever wanted to zip around on one of those airboats?! Take a trip to the nearby Everglades for a chance to spot a Florida gator!

Airline: Allegiant Air
Route: LCK (Rickenbacker Intl Columbus) > FLL (Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Intl Airport)
Roundtrip Price: $126 ($70 with no baggage)

FORT MYERS, FLORIDA

Florida’s West Coast makes the list, too, with a visit to the sunny Gulf Coast. Bar hop along Fort Myer’s Beach, shop the trendy downtown streets, or get a history fix in at the Thomas Edison & Henry Ford winter estate.

A must-do here is visiting the neighboring islands of Sanibel and Captiva to rent bikes for the day. Explore the beautiful nature reserves, mangroves, beaches and do some bird watching!

Airline: Spirit Airlines
Route: CMH (John Glenn Columbus Intl Airport) > RSW (Southwest Florida Intl Airport)
Roundtrip Price: $187 ($85 with no baggage)

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA

Savannah is seeping with southern charm and elegance. You cannot help but become enchanted by the cobblestone streets, large live oaks, and Spanish moss that line the streets of Savannah.

Bring your walking shoes as that is the only method of transportation you will need to get around. Walk the historic district, city parks, and markets to take in all the southern architecture and flare.

Eat your way around with all the southern style dishes you could dream of, and catch live tunes at the lively music bars. Savannah is a destination you will not be disappointed you took the time to visit!

Airline: Allegiant Air
Route: LCK > SAV (Savannah/Hilton Head Intl Airport)
Roundtrip Price: $198 ($100 with no baggage)

CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA

Sticking with the southern charm, hop on a flight to check out what Charleston has in store. Friendly people, amazing food, trendy coffee shops, endless rooftop bars and bourbon tasting are just a few of the reasons this city attracts so many visitors each year.

You will feel like you are in a post card as you walk the cobblestones streets lined with candy colored pastel houses, and we are here for it!

Airline: Allegiant Air
Route: LCK > CHS (Charleston Intl Airport)
Roundtrip Price: $163 ($98 with no baggage)

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

Via Las Vegas! Does this place really even need an introduction? If you have never been to Vegas, you have to go at least once, so why not this winter? Glitz, glam, gambling, elaborate shows, restaurants, clubs, hotels, shopping, and adventure await you on the Vegas strip.

If Vegas is not your cup of tea… book the flight, rent a car and make the 2.5 hour drive to Zion National Park in Utah for a STUNNING representation of America’s southwestern territory with massive canyons, cliffs, lakes, waterfalls, and hanging gardens.

Airline: Spirit Airlines
Route: CMH > LAS (McCarran Intl Airport)
Roundtrip Price: $189 ($113 with no baggage)

Winter drags, but it doesn’t have to if you give yourself something to look forward to… Get packing!

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Getaways

Weekend Getaway: 8 things to do in Yellow Springs this winter

Colleen Quinn

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A quick 45 minutes west of Columbus you will find the quaint hippie-esque town of Yellow Springs, Ohio. The streets are filled with independent coffee shops, book stores, locally-sourced eateries, and picturesque nature walks. It does not take long to feel welcomed by the locals in this laid back town—there is always a friendly face up for a chat, making you feel part of the magic of this 3,800 person community. What to do on a winter weekend getaway to Yellow Springs, Ohio…

The Winter Farmer’s Market

Bring a bit of the Yellow Springs charm home with you from the Winter Farmer’s Market! Open every Saturday morning December through March in the great room at the Yellow Springs Senior Center, this event offers local honey, coffee, maple syrup, salts, marinades, spices, artesian soaps, centerpieces, and more.

Shop Xenia Ave

This main drag through town is littered with local shops, book stores, independent coffee houses, and galleries. Grab the popular frozen hot chocolate at Dino’s Coffee, and shop your way through locally made-hand goods, home décor, jewelry, clothing, and trinkets.

Walk Keith’s Alley

A Yellow Springs hidden gem, Keith’s Alley lays behind the main shopping drag of Xenia Ave. A perfect addition to this artsy progressive town, this beautiful alley way is filled with unique murals that are often changing!

Yellow Springs Brewery

Time for a brew? Make a pit stop at the Yellow Springs Brewery for some craft beer, board games, food trucks, and super cool décor at this funky taproom.

Eat local at two of the best restaurants in town: Sunrise Café and Winds Café

Sunrise Café – "Local. From scratch. With love," is the motto at Sunrise Café. This café sources it’s ingredients locally from over 20 Ohio farms and almost everything is prepared fresh from scratch in house. This is a dining experience your taste buds do not want to miss.

Winds Café – With an ever-changing bimonthly seasonal food menu, you will be sure to taste the freshest of locally sourced ingredients at Winds Café. If wine is calling your name, this is your spot! Check out one of their wine dinners and tastings while you are in town.

Take in the scenery

Explore any of the trails and footpaths surrounding Yellow Springs. It may be a little chilly, but grab some gloves and take a wintery stroll through the Glen Helen preserve, or along the river at Clifton Gorge.

Glen Helen

Catch an independent film at the Little Art Theater

Founded in 1929, the Little Theater is a small piece of Yellow Springs history. You can catch independent, foreign, classic, documentary, and mainstream movies in this little (now renovated) theater.

Stay in an old Jailhouse

If you are already sold on a visit to Yellow Springs then you must be wondering where you should stay. While ‘"jail" may not be your first option, think again! This 1878 jailhouse was used as the town jail until 1929 and has been converted into suites. Now you can become an ‘Inn-mate’ at the Jailhouse Suites!

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Worth the Drive: Charming Tuscan wine getaway just 2 hours from Columbus

Regina Fox

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What if I told you Tuscany was only two hours away? Okay, okay, so it's not actually Tuscany, but it certainly is a taste! I'm talking about Gervasi Vineyard near Canton, Ohio. This scenic wine resort will transport you out of the mundane scenes of Ohio into a 55-acre European destination with its delicious wine, delectable food, and delightful accommodations.

The Wine

Ohio will never be Italy or even Napa Valley, but Gervasi's operation could give them a run for their money. All wines are made from hand-selected from Gervasi's five-acre vineyard, and the three grape varieties allow more than 20 delicious wines to be made for your drinking pleasure.

The Food

Gervasi Vineyard has four—count 'em FOUR—dining options throughout its beautiful campus to suit every social need. The Bistro serves rustic, upscale Italian cuisine in a beautifully-restored, historic barn. The Crush House is a more laid-back, contemporary dining option with soups, salads, sandwiches, and, of course, lots of wine. If you visit Gervasi in the warmer months, you'll want to check out The Piazza—an outdoor dining area with views of Gervasi’s spring-fed lake, yard games, and live music. And finally, The Still House is an intimate, chapel-inspired attraction offering signature Gervasi Café coffee and pastries by day and distilled spirits by night.

The Stay

After a long day of sipping merlot, you ought not get behind the wheel. Instead, lay your little lush head down in any one of Gervasi's three overnight options: a boutique hotel, a rustic farmhouse, or, my personal favorite, The Villas.

Entering these Tuscan-inspired suites is like stepping foot onto Italian soil. Cozy fireplaces, heated travertine floors, and European décor provide an environment so rich and cultural you'll forget you're actually in northeast Ohio. And when you wake up in the morning, all snug in your big comfy bed, a complimentary breakfast will be waiting for you in the lobby.

Things To Do

In addition to the obvious—vineyard tours, distillery tours, eating, drinking, being merry—Gervasi has a robust events calendar during every season. For the warm months, you can twist alongside the grapevines with yoga classes, and dance around the fire pits to outdoor concerts. When the temperature dips down, Gervasi moves inside with holiday events, culinary classes, and live music.

Gervasi Vineyard is 1700 55th St. NE Canton, just about two hours from Columbus. To make reservations and learn more, visit gervasivineyard.com.

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