Spring is coming, and that means finally getting out of the house and into the fresh air. To help with that, we’ve found a handful of hidden gems within a few hours’ drive for a quick spring getaway.
As always, check the locations’ policies and hours before you travel—but most of all, get out and enjoy leaving winter in the rear view mirror!
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After April 1, at Akron’s Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, tour the 65-room Tudor Revival Manor House and the historic Gate Lodge, and wander through spring’s botanical beauty. Then, visit the Bath Road Heronry outside of town to see hundreds of nesting herons. The next day, take in living history at Hale Farm & Village, with mid-1800s-era farm animals, homes, crafts, and historic interpreters.
Take a Hike
Love hiking or mountain biking? Oak Openings Preserve Metropark, near Toledo, has more than 50 miles of hiking trail through dunes, wetlands, and savannahs, plus singletrack bike trails and a skills course. Stay at a campground, lodge, or cabin, or sleep in the largest public overnight treehouse site in the country!
Nashville, Indiana, has a surplus of delightful lodging and historic character. Take the kids (or yourself) to Pioneer Village, hike in the state park, visit the wildlife sanctuary, and gorge at the candy and ice cream shops. Or make the half-hour drive to Columbus, Indiana, and see works by a wealth of modernist architects.
Amish Country Chill Out
Leave the kids at home and relax for the weekend at the adults-only White Oak Inn properties, in Danville. Venture out to spend the day at Ohio wineries, many within an hour’s drive, or embark on one of many other curated, self-guided adventures: Local food, pottery and crafts, antiques, or peaceful, scenic country roads.
Black History Matters
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, in Cincinnati, is a fun day trip. But make it a weekend and further that learning at sites like the National Afro American Museum & Cultural Center, the Paul Laurence Dunbar House, and the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument outside of Dayton.
The Long and Wine-ding Road
Love wine? Northern Kentucky’s limestone-rich water is ideal for growing grapes, and there are many wineries in this region. Try the Back Woods Wine Trail for scenic drives to six of them, and spend the night in charming Maysville, home of the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center and National Underground Railroad Museum. Or stay in the Cincinnati area and make up your own tour.
The Wilds is pretty well known to central Ohioans, but as far as a hidden gem, we think it still counts. In March or April, book a cabin at Straker Lake, grill out, and add on a Winter Tour to learn about the animals’ housing and care. Or visit in May, for the park’s full lineup of lodging (including yurts), safaris, tours, and ziplining.
So maybe spring flowers aren’t your thing. How about paranormal activity, then? West Virginia is full of haunted sites, from the paranormal hotbed of Lewisburg, to abandoned Lake Shawnee Amusement Park, to North Bend Rail Trail No. 19’s long, pitch-black tunnel. And of course, you’ll want to stay at the Blennerhasset Hotel to catch a ghostly glimpse of the original owner.
The Sap is Flowing
The last weekend in April, check out the Geauga County Maple Festival in Chardon. With rides, concessions, competitions, one- and five-mile runs, and other activities, it’s sure to be packed with fun. Not up for two days of it? Burn off those funnel cake calories at one of the Geauga Park District’s many nature preserves and parks, or unwind at one of its fishing holes.
No Time for a Getaway?
Your kids are restless, and you can’t get away for spring break. How about some close-to-home treasure hunting? Try the Delaware County Scavenger Hunt—you won’t win a prize, but everyone can exercise their thinking skills (and their bodies) while learning about all 18 of the county’s townships. In between, visit Sunrise Sanctuary in Marysville, home to many types of rescued farm and companion animals.