For spectacular scenery, a multitude of historic sites and a good old-fashioned summer day trip, Cincinnati residents should take a ride along the Ohio River. Driving just a couple of hours in either direction along the banks of the Ohio provides all the flavor of an epic American road trip, but without the hassle of dozens of gas stations and rest areas. Explore the history and landscape along the Ohio with these notable destinations, and perhaps along the way you'll discover a few of your own.

The Rankin House (pictured on top of hill in photo)
6152 Rankin Road
Ripley, OH 45167
(937) 392-1627
Hours: May through October, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday
Admission: Adults $4; students $2; children under 5 free
Drive time: 1 hour

This 19th century home of the Rev. John Rankin and his family served as a major stop on the Underground Railroad. The fierce abolitionist harbored hundreds of slaves at his home overlooking the Ohio River. On a clear day, visitors experience spectacular views of the river. Don't miss touring the home, which contains several original Rankin family artifacts.

Clermont County Ohio Freedom Trail
Clermont County Ohio Convention and Visitors Bureau
410 E. Main St.
Batavia, OH 45103
(800) 796-4282 or (513) 732-3600

Hours: As this is a driving tour, the hours are at the discretion of the visitor. The visitor's bureau office is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Drive time:
40 minutes

The Clermont Freedom Trail consists of 33 sites crucial in the Underground Railroad's "Network to Freedom." Among the sites are homes and churches that sheltered runaway slaves, as well as the grave sites of several notable abolitionists. A complete driving tour will take visitors throughout Clermont County, and a brochure with directions and suggested itineraries can be obtained from the visitors bureau.

President Grant's Boyhood Home
219 E. Grant Ave.
Georgetown, OH 45121

(937) 378-3087
Hours: 12 to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday; closed Monday and Tuesday
Adults $3; children 6-12 $1; includes admission to both Grant Schoolhouse and the Grant Boyhood Home
Drive time:
1 hour

The restored and furnished home of the 18th U.S. president was declared a national historic landmark in 1982. Ulysses S. Grant lived in this home his parents built from 1823 at age 1 until he left for West Point in 1839. Tourists can also visit the nearby Grant Schoolhouse where the future president spent much of his time.

Shawnee State Park
4404 State Route 125
Portsmouth, OH 45663
(740) 858-6652
Drive time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

The nearby Ohio River valley accentuates the Appalachian foothills that make up Shawnee State Park. The park is home to both campgrounds and more amenity-rich lodges. Hikers will be rewarded with fantastic views of the river, while the park also offers fishing, hunting, bike trails and boating among a host of outdoor activities for all ages.

Kinkead Ridge Vineyard and Winery
904 Hamburg St.
Ripley, OH 45167
(937) 392-6077
Hours: Tours and tastings by appointment
Drive time:
1 hour, 15 minutes

This nearby winery boasts several award-winning wines and is part of the Southern Ohio Wine Trail, along with Harmony Hill Vineyards, Henke Winery, Burnet Ridge, Renascent Vineyards, Lakeside, La Vigna Estate Winery, Meranda-Nixon Winery, Woodstone Creek and Meiers. These tours make a perfect, scenic day trip to discover rural Southern Ohio. (For more on local wineries, see Cincy's Summer Fun Guide feature.)

Kentucky Gateway Museum
215 Sutton St.
Maysville, KY 41056
(606) 564-5865
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday
Adults $10; students $2
Drive time:
1 hour, 15 minutes

The museum features three main collections, which include the Genealogical and Historical Research Library, the Regional History Museum and the Kathleen Savage Browning Miniatures Collection. All three preserve the region's history and the stories of notable people who hailed from and influenced Kentucky.

Marengo Cave
400 E. State Road 64
Marengo, IN 47140

(888) 702-2837
Hours: Open daily at 9 a.m. Summer weekdays close at 6 p.m., weekends close at 6:30 p.m.; reservations should be made for cave exploration trips.
Admission: Walking tours start at $7 for children and $13.50 for adults; cave exploration trips start at $25.

Drive time:
2 hours, 20 minutes

As a National Natural Landmark since 1984, Marengo Cave, which began to form about one million years ago, is about 5 miles in length with 122 acres of forest in the park above. With both easy walking tours and more intense discovery excursions, Marengo attracts all adventure levels.

Greenbo Lake State Resort Park
965 Lodge Road
Greenup, KY 41144
(606) 473-7324
Drive time: 3 hours

Aside from the usual camping and outdoor activities typical of state parks, Greenbo Lake boasts an outdoor amphitheatre with a summer calendar full of entertainment events. The Jesse Stuart Lodge, named after the poet laureate native to the area, characterizes serenity with its balconies overlooking forest and lake scenery and a large reading room to catch up on your Stuart poetry.

Campus Martius Museum
601 Second St.
Marietta, OH 45750
(740) 373-3750
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, closed Sunday
Admission: Adults $7; students $4; children under 5 free
Drive time:
3 hours, 50 minutes

This museum, located in the oldest U.S. settlement north and west of the Ohio River, commemorates the history of what was once considered the American West. Campus Martius houses exhibits concerning Native American peoples, the early pioneers and later migration to the area. While in Marietta, visitors can stop by the Ohio River Museum or enjoy the town's one-of-a-kind antique and art shopping.