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DESTINATION: Cuyahoga Valley National Park / DISTANCE FROM CINCY: 3.5 hrs // PICTURED: Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad / IMAGE courtesy of Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s FB page
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Top 10 Road Trips For Summer (2016)

When ya want the real scoop, ya talk to the experts. Right?
So when it came time to unleash our summertime wanderlust and compile a list of chart-topping road trips in & around the Greater Cincy area...

You guessed it! We turned to the good (/ brilliant) folks of RoadTrippers.com.

Take it away, gang.

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THE TOP 10 ROAD TRIPS OF 2016

1) COLUMBUS, INDIANA
Distance from Cincy: 1.5 hours

What you need to know:
Architecture fans will likely have heard of this strange little town, which has been listed by the Smithsonian, USA Today, and more as one of the most important towns for modern architecture (most notably that of Eliel and Eero Saarinen). There are at least seven places that are on the National Register of Historic Places. And that's not counting the countless public art displays and other architecturally significant works.

You can get a good overview of the most important buildings -- like the Miller House and the First Christian Church -- on one of the many tours offered from their visitor center (which, by the way, features a massive Dale Chihuly glass sculpture). Afterwards, sit down and enjoy a "Green River" at Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor and Museum. Then set off to find your own treasure at the Exit 65 Antique Mall.

2) CUYAHOGA VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Distance from Cincy: 3.5 hours

What you need to know:
Not only is there a really rad National Park right here in Ohio, but it also used to be a toxic dump. (Don't worry, it was cleaned up years ago and is being covered in native plants.) It's mostly comprised of land that was occupied by small farms and quaint little towns. The park's most popular trail is actually an old canal towpath: the Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail.

There's also a historic train, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, that offers scenic rides through the park. The train also happens to be bike-friendly and offers both wine- and beer-tasting excursions. (Sweet!) Cap it all off with a stay at the Stanford House, a B&B that's located in an 1843 farmhouse. Or try the ritzy Inn at Brandywine Falls, which overlooks one of the park's most scenic waterfalls.

3) WHITE ROCK PARK, INDIANA
Distance from Cincy: 1 hour

What you need to know:
If you're in search of a local swimming hole, then White Rock Park is your place. An old quarry that's been filled with water, this hidden gem has high-diving platforms, swimming, fishing, zip lines, rope swings, tube floating, sunning on the floating docks, and even scuba diving. Camp out and make a weekend of it, or just get there early and bring a cooler of beer (or your drink of choice -- as long as it isn't hard liquor and it isn't in a glass bottle) to enjoy while you soak it all in.

4) FRANKLIN, TENNESSEE
Distance from Cincy: 4.5 hours

What you need to know:
Just outside Nashville, you'll find the tiny town of Franklin. Known for its picture-perfect Main Street, lined with local shops and restaurants; Meridee's Breadbasket and Puckett's Grocery are perfect examples of the small-town Americana vibe that Franklin gives off.

It's also surrounded by historic-house museums to tour (take the Carter House and the Lot House, for example), antique shops, boutiques, the stately Carnton Plantation, and more. & Since you're so close to Nashville... Catch some live music at The Franklin Theater or Music City Roots. To wrap your stay up in true Southern style, stay the night at a lovely B&B like the Magnolia House or Butterfly Meadows Inn and Farm.

5) CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA
Distance from Cincy: 3.5 hours

What you need to know:
The capital of West Virginia is packed with Appalachian charm and a surprisingly artsy atmosphere. Check out the Clay Center for Arts and Sciences, where you can find art galleries, science exhibits, shows, performances, and tons more. Tour the gold-domed state capitol building, feast on pickle-brined fried chicken at the amazingly tasty Bluegrass Kitchen, and spend a night in the charmingly over-the-top-vintage Brass Pineapple Inn.

Plus, there's nothing like that fresh mountain air. Enjoy.

6) MAMMOTH CAVE NATIONAL PARK, KENTUCKY
Distance from Cincy: 3 hours

What you need to know:
The world's largest cave system (featuring 400 miles of passageways ...that they know of so far) is only a few hours' drive from Cincinnati. And that's pretty dang awesome.

Park rangers offer different tours of the caves throughout the day. The Historic Tour, the Frozen Niagara Tour, and the Domes & Dripstones Tour are solid options for your first visit. But there's also a more adventurous "Introduction to Caving" tour that will have you getting down and dirty in some less-developed parts of the caves.

The coolest tour, though, might be "The Violet City Lantern Tour." It's a little longer, and you do the whole thing by lantern light, which adds an air of mystery and excitement. Above ground, you'll find 70 miles of hiking trails; the retro-tastic Wigwam Village No. 2 Motel; cute B&Bs (like Bear Wallow Belles); other show caves; and, of course, Big Mike's Rock Shop ('cause everybody needs a geode souvenir).

7) ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN
Distance from Cincy: 4 hours

What you need to know:
Apologies to any and all Ohio State fans... Columbus is an incredibly fun place to visit, but Ann Arbor (home of the University of Michigan) is pretty rad, too.

Explore Nichols Arboretum or the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History. Go back to the 19th century at the Cobblestone Farm and Museum. Order (and split) a massive sandwich from Zingerman's Deli. Grab a beer at Grizzly Peak Brewing. And, ultimately, get a good sense of why those Pure Michigan commercials are so darn mesmerizing.

8) SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS
Distance from Cincy: 4.75 hours

What you need to know:
This town is where Abraham Lincoln started to make his mark on history. There's the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, and Lincoln's tomb. You can also find the Dana-Thomas House (a Frank Lloyd Wright gem), as well as several museums and historic homes.

Covered bridges and lovely parks add to the rich history and charm of this little town. If you need a place to stay, the Pasfield House Inn is perfect: the owner is super friendly and is more than willing to take guests through his room of Lincoln memorabilia. And if you're not so much into good ol' Honest Abe, Springfield is also home to the Cozy Dog Drive-In, a.k.a. the place that invented the corn dog on a stick!

9) YELLOW SPRINGS, OHIO
Distance from Cincy: 1 hour

What you need to know:
As Ohio's most beloved hippie enclave, Yellow Springs makes for a really offbeat day trip. For starters, Glen Helen Nature Preserve, John Bryan State Park, and Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve have some really nice hiking that even the less outdoorsy among us can enjoy. Yellow Springs also has tons of small, quirky shops (like Super Fly Comics and Dark Star Books) and restaurants. Yellow Springs Brewery is a great place to grab a drink. Got the kids with you? They'll love the Cow Patty Ice Cream (and feeding the animals) at Young's Jersey Dairy.

10) KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE
Distance from Cincy: 3.5 hours

What you need to know:
From top-notch antiquing at Nostalgia Market and the McClung Museum of Natural History's massive display of buttons, to mouth-watering BBQ at Chandler's Deli and the view from the city's iconic Sunsphere, a trip to Knoxville offers all the beautiful Tennessee views that you'll find in Gatlinburg, but with a less touristy vibe. Stay the night at the Hotel St. Oliver and make it into a trip worth the whole weekend.

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Happy adventuring!

One more shout-out/ high-five to the always-awesome folks at RoadTrippers.com. Props;)

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