WORTH THE DRIVE: 5 road trips to take this summer

Credit: Kentucky Kingdom

Credit: Kentucky Kingdom

Summer’s just begun and vacation season is in full swing. Getting away for a long stay can be challenging and expensive, but Dayton is situated not far from several day trip attractions to satisfy the summer travel bug.

Check out these five spots around Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky that are worth the drive.

🌳Cincinnati Nature Center

Looking to step away from the busy world and get in touch with nature? Look no further than the serene Cincinnati Nature Center, just an hour drive south of Dayton.

The Cincinnati Nature Center spans 1,800 acres of land in southwestern Ohio. The nonprofit is home to prairies, streams, forests, ponds and wetlands with two locations — Rowe Woods and Long Branch Farm and Trails — in Clermont County.

The Nature Center has several hiking trails that make for a well-spent day trip. Rowe Woods has over 14 miles of trails, including paths that go through old forest growth.

Mark your calendars for a stop at the Cincinnati Nature Center for its annual Hoots and Hops events July 14 and Aug. 11. Guests 21 and older can join in on a nighttime trail exploration and sample beers from local craft breweries. Cincinnati-area restaurants will provide bites, and guest can learn more about the area’s wildlife, including the owl population. The event serves as a fundraiser for the Nature Center.

The Rowe Woods location is at 4949 Tealtown Road in Milford and the Long Branch Farm and Trails location is at 6926 Gaynor Road in Goshen.

⛵Buckeye Lake

Credit: Kevin Oakley

Credit: Kevin Oakley

If you like to spend your summer evenings lakeside, Buckeye Lake in the heart of Ohio is worth the drive.

The 3,100-acre lake just under two hours east of Dayton champions a destination for “lake, land and leisure.” Out on the lake, visitors can fish the waters, kayak, swim or rent a boat to take out for a ride, but Buckeye Lake offers even more summer fun around the water, too.

Buckeye Lake leans into being a lakeside destination with its nautical and coastal-themed restaurants and shops. Float-up dining, historical ice cream shops and more await visitors at the lake.

Coming up is the annual boat parade on July 4 for an Independence Day celebration, showing off the patriotically decorated boats throughout Buckeye Lake.

🚲Bicycle Museum of America in New Bremen

Ohio just so happens to have the Bicycle Museum of America in New Bremen, which is only an hour north of Dayton. With over 200 bicycles on display, combined with other cycling artifacts, this New Bremen attraction is worth the drive — or should we say, worth the ride.

The museum is home to one of the largest private collections of bicycles on the planet. The total collection of 800 bicycles doesn’t all fit in the three-story museum at once, so the offering rotates periodically to show off about a fourth of the collection each cycle. The museum, which is an estimated one to one-and-a-half-hour tour, also touts a collection of over 1,000 bicycle-related artifacts, including bicycle blueprints, catalogues and advertisements.

Summer hours for the museum are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. The Bicycle Museum of America is located at 7 W. Monroe St., New Bremen.

🛶White River

Credit: Facility

Credit: Facility

The Great Miami waterway offers several routes for kayakers, but if you want to explore beyond the rivers of Dayton, Indianapolis hosts a water adventure that’s worth the drive.

At the Riverside Regional Park, a new hub for kayak, canoe and stand-up paddle board rentals, has opened between White River and White River Greenway. Frank’s Paddlesports Livery offers visitors the opportunity to book a 7-mile trip, a 4-mile trip or rent by the hour. Guests taking to White River for the day will be transported to takeoff points at the Indianapolis Arts Center and Rocky Ripple to start their journey.

The White River State Park in the state’s capital runs alongside the river and provides even more water activities for the family to cool off during a daytrip to the city. On the Central Canal, pedal boats are available to rent. Visitors can even choose pedal boats that look like swans and seat up to five people. The swan boats are incorporated into Wheel Fun Rentals’ Sunset Rides along the lit canal through the summer season.

🌊Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay

Credit: Kentucky Kingdom

Credit: Kentucky Kingdom

Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay in Louisville offers a day trip to beat the heat that’s worth the two-and-a-half-hour drive.

The amusement park has five rollercoasters, including a steel coaster with a 100-foot drop, and dozens of thrill rides and family rides. The adjoining waterpark at Hurricane Bay features two lazy rivers, a wave lagoon, a water playground and several waterslides, including a body slide with a 12-story drop.

For the first time ever, Kentucky Kingdom will offer a fireworks show every Friday and Saturday night beginning July 7 and ending July 29.

Kentucky Kingdom is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Hurricane Bay is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Special events and holidays may change the operation hours and the available attractions.

The amusement and waterpark is located at 937 Phillips Lane in Louisville.

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