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Three One-Tank Trips

These vacation spots are just a short drive away from Dayton, Ohio.

By Alyssa Reck

While fall can be associated with warm days, cool nights, s’mores, campfires and football, it’s also the perfect time to get in one or more trips to your favorite destinations in the region.

Most Daytonians know that the Gem City is a midpoint for major interstates, US routes and state routes, and these roads lead to many ideal vacation spots.

Yellow Springs
Taking Interstate 675 north out of Dayton, drivers leave the cityscape behind and are surrounded by agricultural land and trees, before heading into Yellow Springs about 25 minutes later. There are plenty of parking spots to choose from that are close to the shops, restaurants and galleries of Yellow Springs.

Two of the main roads, Dayton Street and Xenia Avenue, intersect on the east side of the town to form a “V” shape and are populated with an assortment of places to stop, including the Dirty Fabulous Boutique.

The boutique, which opened in May, began with store owner, who prefers to be identified as just “Kennedy,” and her love for vintage. She collected items as she found them before “diving in” and opening her own shop.

“Yellow Springs is an eclectic mix of locals, visitors from Fairborn, Piqua, all across Ohio, and the country,” says Kennedy. “We have a lot to offer.”

The boutique sells vintage clothing, accessories and home items that could be the perfect gift to a family member or friend.

Kennedy says that some of the appeal of Yellow Springs is its friendliness, recreational and nature opportunities, and its uniqueness.

“It just makes you happy to walk around in Yellow Springs,” says Kennedy.

One of those walkable places is the Glen Helen Nature Preserve less than a mile from the heart of Yellow Springs. Established by alumnus Hugh Taylor Birch in memory of his daughter, Helen, and later donated to Antioch College, the preserve has become a popular destination not only for students but for visitors, too.

The Glen is known for its 25 miles of hiking trails, the beauty of its wildflowers, 400-year-old trees, waterfalls and the yellow spring that the town is named after.

Other stops within walking distance are Dark Star Books, The Winds (featured in our dining profile), Emporium Wines and the Underdog Café, and many more.

Just a six-minute drive east of Yellow Springs is Clifton Mill, which is not only home to one of the largest and last working water powered gristmills, but also to a wooden covered bridge and 1940s Gas Station Museum. Expect to see nickel candy bars, signs from the era and soda pops, as well as other products from the time period.

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Richmond, Indiana
To get to Richmond, Ind., most drivers take Interstate 75 north, before crossing over onto Interstate 70 west towards Indianapolis. This 50-minute G8_trip2drive is mostly highway, but that makes it a fast drive.

According to Richmond’s city website, the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, lived in Richmond when they were just kids. This, however, isn’t the only slice of history in Richmond.

Many cities and towns have historical districts that are now populated by franchise stores or chain restaurants. Much like the Oregon District in Dayton, the Historic Depot District in Richmond has many galleries, eateries and shops that can only be found in the area. The Historic Depot District, established in 1902, comprises four blocks and just so happens to be home to the Model T Ford Museum, which features Model T memorabilia and a collection of vehicles. Car enthusiasts can see a 1909 Model T, a 1923 English-built town car, a 1927 coupe and more.

While fast food may be convenient on the road, just a few blocks over from the Model T Ford Museum is a dining experience that begins in a restored firehouse built circa 1860.

Firehouse BBQ + Blues was opened January 2012 by two active firemen and has become a place to bring family and friends.

Owner Rick Bolen had a vision that turned into “a great night out.”

“The area used to be buzzing in the late 1800s, but then it went into decay,” says Suzanne Belbin, kitchen manager at Firehouse BBQ + Blues. “Twenty years ago, I wouldn’t have have come here, but now it has more legitimacy and is actually being built up.”

The restaurant uses the “low and slow” method to cook all its meat on site. And they don’t take any shortcuts, according to Belbin.

Featuring live blues music on the weekends and wall murals like the “Horse” and “Bix Beiderbecke and the Rhythm Jugglers,” the Firehouse BBQ + Blues also has an outside patio.

“People like that we are not a chain, because when you travel you want to see and try something different,” says Belbin. “People love it here.”

Visitors also can look through the many antique shops in the district to find something for themselves, or stop in at Paint the Towne to make a one-of-a-kind souvenir. Using a creative touch, pick out a bisque piece from Paint the Towne’s changing inventory and paint it however you would like. Some of the bisque pieces are plates, mugs, bowls, ornaments, light socket covers and picture frames. It’s up to the painter to be the artist and create a masterpiece!

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G8_trip3Red River Gorge
For those who aren’t quite ready to give up on outdoor activities, Red River Gorge in eastern Kentucky is the place to go for a last camping trip as well as climbing and hiking. The longest drive of our one-tank trips lasts nearly three hours, but is mostly on Interstate 75 south. Leaving behind Dayton and Cincinnati, this drive takes you into part of the Daniel Boone National Forest, which features an estimated 150 natural arches.

Natural Bridge State Park has places for individuals and families to camp that are near hiking trails ranging from less than a mile to 7.5 miles, the Mill Creek Lake and other outdoor activities like canoeing and kayaking.

If you don’t want to cook while you are in the area, there is always pizza.

Many outdoorsmen don’t think of pizza as a camping food, but Miguel’s Pizza is a popular pizza and climb shop among local climbers, hikers and visitors. With over 45 different toppings, homemade crust, outdoors gear and some small campsites, Miguel’s Pizza is less than half a mile from Natural Bridge State Park.

“It’s known by campers and climbers from around the world,” says Nicole Meyer, Torrent Falls Climbing Adventure manager. “It’s really good and is on our website on the ‘Plan Your Trip’ tab.”

Torrent Falls Climbing Adventure features the first via ferrata course in the United States. Via Ferrata is a climbing system that aids climbers by cables, as well as hand and foot rungs, strategically placed along a rock face or cliff area. Meyer says that there are instructors nearby during the course, but that it is not guided. She says that it is for those who are 10 years old and older and is great for beginners, those afraid of heights and groups.

“The further you go, the harder it gets,” says Meyer.

Torrent Falls’ via ferrata consists of six courses with four skill levels to choose from, meaning there is a course for every skill level. Depending on the course of choice, visitors can see a 130-foot waterfall, two suspension bridges, a 40-foot-long tightrope, heights up to 120 feet, and the Black Diamond Course, which is Torrent Falls’ most difficult course.

Torrent Falls also has guided climbing and rappelling, which is a perfect start for first timers.

“We build relationships with our clients, lots of repeat business,” says Meyer. “One of the oldest climbers on our course is 86 years old.”

Meyers says that the Red River Gorge area has lots of activities, camping and cabin options to offer visitors.

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