As a result of the coronavirus, many of us have been staying home for the last 3 or 4 months; and, with the lovely weather of summer, many of us are very anxious to get out of the house for a change of scenery. As a first outing, perhaps you want to visit someplace you can safely visit by car – heading out in the morning and returning back home in the evening, especially with the long sunlit days of summer & fall. So get up and hit the road early in the morning and see the nearby USA!
Living here in the tri-state area there are so many choices for you to explore without having to pack luggage or stay overnight on the road. Below are just a few recommendations:
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE U.S. AIR FORCE – Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, 1100 Spaatz St., Dayton, Ohio, 45431. The museum is the oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world, with more than 360 aircraft & missiles on display. Drawing about a million visitors each year, it is one of the most frequently visited tourist attractions in Ohio. The museum contains many rare aircraft of historical or technological importance, and various memorabilia and artifacts including the Apollo 15 Command Module Endeavor, B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki during World War II, presidential aircrafts, uniforms and so much more. Plan on spending an entire day here. Entrance is free and you can do a self-guided tour. Café for dining is on site.
FORT ANCIENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK – 6123 State Route 350, Oregonia, Ohio 45054 (located in Warren County about 7 miles from Lebanon). Fort Ancient is a Native American earthworks complex along the eastern shore of the Little Miami River. The site is the largest prehistoric hilltop enclosure in the United States with three and one-half miles of walls in a 100-acre complex built by the Hopewell culture who lived in the area from the 200 BC to 400 AD. It is the namesake of a culture known as Ft. Ancient who lived near the complex long after it was constructed. In 1891 this became Ohio’s first state park. The 764-acre park includes a museum, archaeological research, The Museum Store, and two miles of winding trails. Varied entrance fee (Complimentary for Ohio History Connection members).
CENTER of SCIENCE & INDUSTRY – 333 W. Broad St., Columbus, Ohio, 43215. Known as COSI, the nationally esteemed science center is a 320,000 square foot science museum and research center, designed by Japanese architect Arata Suzuki. COSI features more than 300 interactive exhibits throughout themed exhibition areas. There are nine galleries and a variety of exhibits including Ocean, Energy, Explorers, Space, Progress, Gadgets, Life and Dinosaur Gallery, as well as a planetarium and giant screen theater. Hallways between each learning world are filled with hands-on exhibits and displays. In 2008, COSI was the named #1 science center in the U.S. for families by Parent Magazine and in 2020 was named the # 1 Science Museum in the U.S. by USA Today. There is an entrance fee.
AMISH COUNTRY, HOCKING HILLS STATE PARK, OHIO CAVERNS, YELLOW SPRINGS/YOUNG’S JERSEY DAIRY, and the COLUMBUS ZOO are among other places of interest.
KENTUCKY HORSE PARK – 4089 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY, 40511. This complex is a working horse farm, international equestrian competition venue, and an educational theme park which opened in 1978. The equestrian facility is a 1,244-acre park dedicated to “man’s relationship with the horse.” Twice a day they present a “Horses of the World” show, showcasing both common and rare horses from around the globe. In addition, the park contains the International Museum of the Horse, a Smithsonian Affiliate, which has a permanent collection of horse history and memorabilia. Many outstanding thoroughbred horses have made the park their home after their racing days were through. A number of horse sculptures stand in the park, including a Man of War statue on a pedestal over the horse’s grave; and a life-size statue of the 1973 U.S. Triple Crown winner Secretariat with jockey Ron Turcotte aboard being led by groom Eddie Sweat. There is an entrance fee to the park.
MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME STATE PARK – 501 E. Stephen Foster Ave., Bardstown, KY, 40004. Located in historic Bardstown, Kentucky, the park’s centerpiece is Federal Hill, a farm owned by U.S. Senator John Rowan in 1795. His mansion became a meeting place for local politicians and hosted many visiting dignitaries. Among them was the cousin of the Rowan family, Stephen Foster an American composer who wrote the anti-slavery ballad “My Old Kentucky Home,” which was inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Foster’s song was made the state song of Kentucky in 1928. The park features an amphitheater and is home each summer to the long-running outdoor musical, The Stephen Foster Story where many of his songs are performed. While visiting Bardstown, “the bourbon capital of the world,” make a stop at one of the multiple distilleries along the Bourbon Trail, as well as the home of the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History. In addition, there are many antique shops and restaurants located in the area.
LOUISVILLE SLUGGER MUSEUM & FACTORY – 800 W. Main St., Louisville, KY, 40202. This unique museum showcases the story of Louisville Slugger baseball bats in baseball and American history. The museum creates temporary exhibits of a pop culture focus including collaborations with the Norman Rockwell Museum, Coca-Cola, Topps Trading Cards, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not, to name a few. This facility is the fourth location where their bats were made. It was a legend that J.A. Hillerich made a bat for Louisville Eclipse star Pete Browning after he broke his bat during a game which Hillerich attended in July 1884. The next day Browning got three hits with the new bat and the rest is history. There are many interactive and permanent displays including bats used by Hall of Fame players like Babe Ruth and others. A tour of the factory affords an opportunity to see the process of making bats for today’s players and a chance to get one with your name on the barrel head. There is an entrance fee.
Additional day-trips to Kentucky include CHURCHILL DOWNS and the KENTUCKY DERBY MUSEUM; LOUISVILLE MEGA CAVERN; or a visit to MAYSVILLE/AUGUSTA or SHELBYVILLE, Kentucky.
INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY MUSEUM – 4750 W. 16th St., Indianapolis, IN., 46222. This is an automotive museum on the grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and houses the Speedway Hall of Fame. It is dramatically linked to the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400, but it also includes exhibits reflecting other forms of motorsports, passenger cars and general automotive history. The museum foundation possesses several former Indianapolis 500-winning cars, which are regularly rotated onto the display floor exhibits. Trophies and special exhibits are also on display. This is an exciting opportunity for racing enthusiasts. There is an admission fee.
THE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF INDIANAPOLIS – 3000 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN, 46208. This is the world’s largest children’s museum boasting 472,900 square feet with five floors of exhibit halls. They receive more than one million visitors a year to their collection of over 120,000 artifacts and exhibit items which are divided into three domains: the American Collection, the Cultural World Collection and the Natural World Collection. Among the collections are the Dinosphere dinosaur habitat, a carousel, chocolate slide, steam locomotive, a model train gallery and the glass sculpture “Fireworks of Glass,” featuring 3,200 stunning pieces of blown glass. The museum also features the Sports Legends Experience with 12 outdoor and 3 indoor exhibits encompassing physical fitness and sports history. The focus is on family learning and most exhibits are designed to be interactive, allowing children and families to participate actively. There is an entrance fee.
MARENGO CAVE; HANOVER COLLEGE and MADISON, INDIANA; METAMORA; BROWN COUNTY STATE PARK; and, BATESVILLE are other nearby places of interest.
When planning your road trip, please take in consideration the coronavirus restrictions of each state as locations may have limited hours/closures due to re-opening restrictions. In addition, wear a face mask, keep social distancing, wash hands frequently and carry hand-sanitizer – especially useful when stopping for gas, snacks or other items. If making rest stops, be aware of hygiene needs. Food service and vending machines may not be available, so pack drinks, sandwiches, paper towels, plastic bags, disinfecting wet wipes and other essentials for your trip. Plan your route before leaving home so you can make the most of the day.
And, as the song puts it, we are “On the Road Again.”
If you have any travel questions for Herb Reisenfeld, The American Israelite’s travel columnist, please send them to email@example.com.