For some of us, three day weekends in grad school are a little hard to come by, so they are welcomed whenever they arrive. I used to love having no class on Friday in undergrad, so I had many an opportunity to do things I wanted to do over the weekend. In grad school, I work now, so I do have Fridays off, but that is “catch-up day” where I have to do all the things I didn’t get done over the week. However, this weekend has brought a glorious 4 day weekend. Now, we do have class on President’s Day, but I do not have to go to work (yay for state employment!). It’s no secret that I like to take mini-vacations as much as possible when it seems like there is too much stress in the air. Now, with spring coming up, I thought now would be an excellent time to tell everyone about a few day trips and “mini-vacations” that are simple, don’t require too much planning ahead of time, and they are day trips or one-night stays at the most:
1. Kentucky Bourbon Trails
Location: All over northern Kentucky
Prime Season: Fall/Spring/Summer
Time from Columbus: about 3-3 1/2 hours
The way it works: There are 6 trails/distilleries total that are part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. You can tour all of them at once which will take a full 2 days or you can tour them one at a time. If it’s your first one, you can get a little passport (which is stamped at every distillery you tour). Once your passport is complete, you get a t-shirt and other little goodies. Admission is free to 5/6 of the distilleries with samples at the end. Even if you don’t drink, it is fun to see how bourbon has been made in Kentucky throughout history.
2. King’s Island/Cedar Point
Location: Cincinnati (Mason)/ Cleveland (Sandusky), respectively
Prime Season: Late Spring/Summer
Time from Columbus: King’s Island – 1 1/2 hours, Cedar Point – about 4 hours
Let’s face it, amusement parks are usually pretty great no matter how old you are. Being from Cincinnati, I must admit I think Cedar Point is probably more fun, purely because of the location and maybe the rides. Although, King’s Island was purchased by Cedar Point a few years ago. The advantage of King’s Island is that it is much closer to Columbus and the crowds are usually not as hefty. Cedar Point is good for a three day weekend, if you go up on a Friday and actually go to Cedar Point on Saturday, then come back on a Sunday.
3. Kentucky Horsepark
Location: Lexington, Kentucky
Prime Season: Spring/Summer/Fall
Time from Columbus: About 3 1/2 – 4 hours
Now, this one may be a little biased because I grew up watching the Kentucky Derby and I used to go here with my family as a kid, but it is fun. This one is even international student approved! We’ve taken students from Germany and France to this park and it’s great. They usually have horses from the Kentucky Derby here, along with history of the derby and horse racing Kentucky. It’s an excellent day trip for sure!
4. Lake Erie Islands
Location: Northern Ohio, Lake Erie
Prime Season: Spring/Summer/Fall
Time from Columbus: 4 -5 hours (including the ferry ride to the islands).
This is another one that really does require three days. Any of the islands are great. I like Put-In-Bay for more fun, younger atmosphere and Kelley’s Island for a more relaxing day in the spring/summer. On Kelley’s Island, my boyfriend has relatives who own a winery, Kelley’s Island Wine Co., and they have picnic tables, wine tastings, outdoor games, and a great food menu too. Of course, I am a little biased here, but I love giving patronage to small, family-owned businesses.
**Added bonus of Put-In-Bay and Kelley’s Island, you get to drive golf carts around the island, if you don’t want to bring your car on the ferry!!!***