Soccer practice. Board meetings. Music lessons. Science fair. Cub Scouts. Between work, school, and extracurriculars, it can be hard to find time to hang out as a family. So why not treat your clan to a little togetherness with an RV getaway geared for everyone? With its agriculture meets urban culture character, southwest Ohio makes an excellent spot to hit the road with the relatives. Here, the calendar is packed with family events, fairs, and festivals throughout the summer and fall, celebrating everything from banana splits and corn to bluegrass music and lavender. Just program your GPS to Clinton County, situated between Cincinnati and Columbus, and let the good times roll.
Wilmington, which anchors the county, should be your first stop. For a bit of onboard entertainment during your excursion, swing by the Clinton County Visitors Bureau on the ironically named N. South Street and grab the Barn Quilt Trail brochure. The pamphlet details 54 area barns that have been prettied up by quilt-square murals celebrating the region’s farming history. The self-guided tour makes for a unique twist on the classic “I Spy” game and is sure to keep young ones interested along the way.
In downtown Wilmington, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, park and soak in the historic Italianate architecture; specialty shops filled with books, gifts, antiques, and art; and a handful of restaurants (favorites include Jen’s Uptown Deli, Mediterranean Italian Restaurant and Café, and Peppermint Patty’s ice cream shop just up the road). You might even add the 1,600-square-foot Main Street Market Mural depicting a hot air balloon launch to your “I Spy” competition. The district also boasts the restored Murphy Theatre, a grand 1918 theater that hosts community productions, vaudeville shows, and popular musicians. Look for the glow of the old-fashioned marquee in the center of town.
From Wilmington, you can steer your crew in two directions. Head southwest towards Cowan Lake State Park for 7,000 acres of outdoor play space. You’ll discover miles of hiking and biking trails; sailing, fishing, swimming, and canoeing along stretches of beach; and plenty of campsites suitable for tents, trailers or RVs within the beech-maple forest. Along the way, check out the first-class equine facility Roberts Arena, which presents horse and dog shows throughout the year and is open to weekend spectators.
If you opt to go northwest towards Caesar Creek State Park, make a stop at Grandpa’s Pottery on Route 73. The workshop offers free demonstrations and beautiful hand-thrown creations that make ideal souvenirs. Caesar Creek State Park also provides woodland camping and hiking, as well as swimming, fishing, waterskiing, and boating in its clear lake waters.
In addition to the state parks, Clinton County travelers will find a smattering of local parks, playgrounds, and preserves nestled into lush countryside. A definite perk, because as most parents know, getting the kids in the fresh air often keeps them from getting too “fresh.” With this area’s strong agricultural heritage, it’s no surprise that there are lots of opportunities to get down and dirty on area farms. In nearby Clarksville, two in particular offer truly unique encounters. At Bonnybrook Farms (just over the line in Warren County), you’ll find hands-on fun with a corn maze, hayrides, “Chuck Wagon Dinner Rides,” a petting zoo, and pony rides in a bright setting. And at Horsefeathers Farm, family groups can schedule private tours of this Cincinnati Zoo-sponsored breeding facility for the endangered Parma wallaby. Visitors also get the chance to view other Australian animals, like the island bearded dragon and the emu, as well as take a mule wagon ride and head out on a paddleboat. (Schedule your visit well in advance.)
There are several spots that offer u-pick strawberries during the summer (Bergefurd’s Farm Market and Greenhouses, Branstrator Farm, and Stokes Farm, which grows raspberries, as well). You can also pick up good-for-you greens at Brausch Asparagus Farm and holistic herbs at Peaceful Acres Lavender Farm. (While at the lavender farm, you may want to venture the short distance to the Martinsville Road Covered Bridge, just make sure your camper will clear 11’6″.)
Not into DIY produce picking? Head over to the weekend Caesar Creek Markets or one of Clinton County Farmers Market’s two locations, where you can purchase fruits, veggies, flowers, baked and canned goods, and more. (Be sure to seek out the popular Pickard Farms for their homemade cookies and breads.)
And for one last hit on your “I Spy” checklist, head out of town by way of Blanchester, home to the world’s largest horseshoe crab. Built by Academy Award-winning designers for the Baltimore Maritime Museum, this crustacean community center made its rounds across the United States before landing in a Biblical scripture garden at the entrance to this rural town.
About the Author
Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals. Be sure to check out their new Professional Football (NFL) Tailgating and RV Tailgating to College Football Games pages in preparation for the upcoming seasons.