With the temperatures promising to ease up and leaves starting to change, fall is the perfect time for a long weekend or a short break. Within a two-hour drive from Cincinnati, these locations are perfect for a weekend trip, whether it's straight into the hearts of cities like Indianapolis or Columbus, or out in nature in Athens or Kentucky Bourbon Country.

Athens "” A Hidden Treasure

Home to Ohio University and Hocking College, Athens County is nestled in the Appalachian foothills of southeast Ohio.

Known for its parks and national forests, it naturally has an abundance of outdoor activities including hunting, kayaking, cycling and mountain biking.

Athens also is home to many historic sites, a rich arts scene and eclectic shopping and dining. In 2006, Mother Earth News dubbed it one of the "Top 12 Great Places You've Never Heard Of."

"Whether you're interested in hiking, hunting, fishing, kayaking, rock climbing or just relaxing, there's a park for every mood and every outdoor enthusiast in Athens County," says Jenna Dill, marketing and sales manager at Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"All of our parks have free entry and plenty of parking."

Don't miss:

Hocking Valley Scenic Railway

The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway transports passengers back to a simpler time when the locomotive was the best way to get from here to there. Historic passenger cars travel the same tracks used in the late 1800s and early 1900s to transport coal to central Ohio and up to Lake Erie. Rain or shine, trains depart from Nelsonville's Station (U.S. Route 33 at Hocking Parkway) every weekend from the first Saturday after April 15 through the first weekend in November. 33 Canal St., Nelsonville, OH. (800) 967-7834 or www.hvsry.org.

Burr Oak State Park

If you are a backpacker, hiker or nature-enthusiast, the Burr Oak State Park is for you. It has more than 25 miles of scenic hiking trails, picnic tables, grills, and 500 feet of sandy beach on the lake. It is a great place to hunt, fish, hike, horseback ride or swim. Try the Buckeye Trail, a 22-mile loop around Burr Oak Lake or visit the lodge for lunch in the full-service dining room. The main campground offers campsites and cabins.

"The 664-acre lake is well known for its catch of large-mouth bass, crappie, bluegills and catfish. You can fish from the lakeshore or rent a pontoon boat from the seasonal marina," says Dill. "Burr Oak is a great destination for any traveler." 10220 Burr Oak Lodge Road, Glouster, OH. (740) 767-3570 or www.burroakstatepark.org.
Historical Marker Tour

Athens County is known for its rich history "” including coal mining and pioneering education "” much of which has been recorded on historical markers throughout the area. It's a perfect driving tour. Information: www.remarkableohio.org.

The Bunkhouse

When the day is done, head to The Bunkhouse Bed & Breakfast, a clean, spacious, unique property that features four bedrooms, two full baths, a laundry center, full kitchen and large family room. Only 10 minutes from uptown Athens, this barn-style bed and breakfast is in a perfect country setting, but close enough to dining, shopping and restaurants in town. Guests can enjoy a cookout on the grill and outdoor fireplace under the covered porch. 15648 Dutch Creek Road, Athens, OH. (740) 448-1070 or http://www.lancerentals.com/bunkhouseweekendrental.htm.

Kentucky Bourbon Country

There's only one Bourbon Country, and it's less than two hours from Cincinnati. From its beloved staple spirit bourbon to some of the most legendary horse racing cathedrals, Bourbon Country has a rich history.

Kentucky Horse Park

As Kentucky's largest state-owned tourist attraction, the Kentucky Horse Park features dozens of different breeds of horses at work and play. There's so much to choose from "” daily equine presentations, carriage rides, horseback riding and pony rides, and live daily shows. Visitors can enjoy the world's largest horse museum. Trail rides through the park are available. 4089 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, Ky. (800) 678-8813 or www.kyhorsepark.com.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Rich history, bluegrass culture, beautiful country scenery and lots of flavorful, oaken alcohol.

Named one of the "10 Classic American Experiences" by CNN International, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is rich in history and culture.

Travel to each of the six participating distilleries and learn how, known for its oaken undertones, bourbon whiskey became "America's Official Native Spirit."

It's just one more thing Kentucky has bragging rights to: creating its own form of alcohol and making it famous.

You can visit one or all six of the trail's distilleries. There are other unofficial stops along the way including two other bourbon distilleries, Ridgemont Reserve and Buffalo Trace.

Maple Hill Manor

Traveling the Kentucky Bourbon Trail with your significant other and need a romantic, quiet place to stay?

The Maple Hill Manor Bed and Breakfast is located in Springfield, in the very center of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Maple Hill Manor offers a tranquil, country setting, away from the sameness of chain hotels. Each of the seven spacious rooms has a private bath, Turkish towels and large, plush beds.

Two-person Jacuzzis in two of the rooms, gas fireplaces in most rooms and a daily "gourmet" breakfast complete the package. Mason Hill Manor, 2941 Perryville Rd., Springfield. (859)336-3075 or http://maplehillmanor.com.

Jailer's Inn Bed & Breakfast

"Doing time" in jail might not be on the list for an exciting weekend getaway, but Jailer's Inn Bed and Breakfast offers a luxurious visit in the slammer.

Once the Old Nelson County Jail Property, this jail housed prisoners from 1797 to 1987 and was the oldest operating jail complex in the commonwealth. Today, each of the six beautifully decorated guest bedrooms is located in the renovated front jail, while the back jail built in 1874 is basically unchanged. The Jail Cell room or "fun room" is the only one that still resembles a jail cell. Jailer's Inn Bed and Breakfast, 111 West Stephen Foster Ave., Bardstown, Kentucky. (502) 348-5551 or www.jailersinn.com


Nicknamed the "Circle City," Indianapolis is a city of standout buildings and places.

Its two downtown landmarks, Monument Circle and Indiana War Memorial Plaza are among America's Great Urban Spaces.

The 24-acre plaza (think green space and monuments, like Washington D.C.'s National Mall) gives it an edge on other cities.

So where to start?

Canal and White River State Park Cultural District

Whether it's a relaxing stroll, vigorous bike ride, day at the ballpark, interacting with dolphins, or enjoying an outdoor concert, the Canal and White River State Park Cultural District has surprises for everyone, including gondola rides.

Yes, we said dolphins.

The Indianapolis Zoo is part of park district and offers, among a ton of other adventures, the chance to don a wetsuit and splash into a pool to meet dolphins face-to-face. This one is not just for kids.

After you've toweled off, walk along the limestone walkway at the 250-acre state park and you'll find museums, attractions or celebrations.

"You can pop into the Eiteljorg Museum, the NCAA's Hall of Champions, Indianapolis Zoo, our beautiful state museum and more," says Morgan Greenlee, senior communications manager at Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association.

"I also encourage visitors to go off the beaten path to enjoy some of our culture-packed neighborhoods like Mass Ave. or Fountain Square.

"Fountain Square is your funky, artsy neighborhood that offers incredible ethnic eateries, bocce ball courts across from a local brewery, a burlesque bar and a very unique duckpin bowling alley," says Greenlee.

Mass Ave is an arts and theater district with stunning historical architecture.

Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians & Western Art

One of the nation's top Western Art museums, the Eiteljorg Museum contains fabulous Native American and Western Art collections (according to True West magazine) and is one of only two such museums east of the Mississippi.

Enjoy traditional and contemporary pieces by artists including T.C. Cannon, N.C. Wyeth, Andy Warhol, and Georgia O'Keeffe before visiting the museum's Sky City Café for a dining experience al fresco, overlooking White River State Park's scenic Central Canal. 500 W. Washington St., Indianapolis. (317) 646-9378 or www.eiteljorg.org.

Indiana Repertory Theatre

Don't miss a show at Indiana's Repertory Theatre, one of the country's leading regional theaters. Its 40th season begins with "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde," and later features "The Night Watcher," "The Syringa Tree," "The House That Jack Built," and "A Christmas Carol." 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis. (317) 635-5252 or www.irtlive.com.

Columbia Club

As the night comes to a close, be sure to book a room in one of the 97 rooms at the private Columbia Club, a distinguished hotel facing Monument Circle in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building includes four restaurants and lounges.

Enjoy valet parking, complimentary wireless internet and a fitness center with a pool. 121 Monument Circle, Indianapolis. (317) 767-1361 or www.columbia-club.org.


Even with its small city charm, Columbus offers all of the big city attractions without the huge crowds of people. Whether it's performing arts, theater, museums, entertainment or sports that interests you, this city has it.

Short North Arts District

Short North Arts District, known as the "art and soul" of Columbus, is a historic, eclectic, diverse urban neighborhood.

Acclaimed for its public art, historic architecture and vibrant green spaces, Short North has an abundance of eclectic art galleries, boutiques, dining venues and exciting nightlife.

Take the art walking tour to experience extravagant murals, high street arches and beautiful parks to get the full effect of enchanting Short North.

Heralded as a prime arts destination by the New York Times, Short North is a must stop. Short North Arts District, (614) 299-8050 or www.shortnorth.org

German Village Guest House

Imagine a boutique hotel experience in an acclaimed historic neighborhood just one minute south of downtown Columbus.

That's what you'll get at the German Village Guest House, rated TripAdvisor's number one B&B in Columbus.

The rooms are large, spacious and modern.

Converted from a residence to a hotel in 2005, The Guest House features an outdoor deck, a hedge garden blossoming with a variety of roses and Japanese maples, an outdoor fireplace and a patio sitting area.

The Whittier Suite is a completely private 800-square-feet unit of luxury, featuring designer furniture, finishes and fixtures.

The suites are also dog friendly and just one block to Schiller Park and all of the popular German Village restaurants. 748 Jaeger St., Columbus. (614) 437-9712 or www.gvguesthouse.com.