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A Winter Road Trip Through Southern Ohio & to 68 Antique Shops

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After a fresh snow (and of course after the roads have been cleared and salted), a drive through rural Ohio, and the many towns and attractions that can be found along the way, is a great way to beat the wintertime blues. Throw in some winter hikes, hot meals, maybe a cabin in the snowy woods and lots of antique shopping, and a relaxed getaway in southern Ohio might be just the thing you need this winter.

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Frozen Niagara or the Niagara Frozen?

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   Niagara Falls is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, except in the winter when visitors can often have the entire city and falls to themselves, including during the nightly light show. 
   At Mammoth Cave National Park, one of the biggest attractions is a cave formation known as the Frozen Niagara. Visit one or both for some winter fun.
   

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Exploring Ohio's Serpent Mound Impact Crater & Other Fun Mysteries

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  About 300 million years ago, Ohio was hit by an asteroid or comet that punched a hole in the ground 5-to-9 miles wide and that is still visible today. Fast-forward many millions of years, and a group of Native Americans we call the Moundbuiders built one of their most important earthworks—Serpent Mound—directly on top of a portion of the crater, giving the impact crater its name. Did they know what they were doing? Maybe more than we ever realized!

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15 Local Places to Visit When It Snows Or Gets Really Cold!

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After a good snow, or when water freezes into ice, here are 15 local places to visit (and photograph) in the winter. The list includes Charleston Falls in Tipp City (pictured at left), Greenville Falls and its unique icicle formations, Eldean and Ross covered bridges in Miami and Shelby counties and many other treasured places.   

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Ohio's Presidents and Their Memorials, Monuments and Museums 

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   Ohio is known as “the Mother of U.S. Presidents,” having been the birthplace of seven of the 45 men who have held the office. Only Virginia, with eight U.S. presidents born in the state, outnumbers Ohio. 

   This article looks at the lives and legacies of each Ohio president and provides a guide to visiting some of the great tourist attractions associated with them.

4 Seasons, 4 Reasons - Hocking Hills State Park

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Each Fall, people from all 50 states and many foreign countries visit Hocking Hills State Park to see its world-renowned foliage.

During the peak of this season, campgrounds, cabins and the state park lodge fill to capacity and there's heavier-than-usual traffic on area roads. 

While Fall certainly is a great time to visit Hocking Hills, it should not be the end-all for travelers, especially for those of us living less than two hours away!

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It's Groundhog Day!
Visiting Punxsutawney, PA on Feb. 2

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   The excitement at Gobbler's Knob is intense. It's not even five o'clock in the morning, below zero and my children and I are in a clearing in the middle of a pine forest surrounded by thousands of warmly dressed, cheering people. We've all come to Punxsutawney, Pa. to experience the annual Groundhog Day Celebration on Feb. 2 and Gobbler's Knob is center stage.
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The Civil War in Ohio: A Road Trip Through History

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   This article and travel guide visits 20 places in Ohio that are related to the Civil War. This includes an old prison grounds on Lake Erie, an extensive American Civil War Museum in Tiffin, following the path of the only skirmishes to take place in Ohio during the Civil War and more. It also shows how important Ohio (and its people) were to the war cause.

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Go Wander!

Exploring Southern Indiana & Illinois

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The following road trip starts in Miami County and stair-steps down toward the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in Illinois and then walks back up the Ohio River toward Cincinnati. It then veers north through the Whitewater canal region of Indiana and returns home. The entire trip is about 1,000 miles and lined with one fascinating destination after another.

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A Slice of Ohio - Route 39 

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   Traveling the entire length of Ohio Route 39 is one of the best ways to see just how diverse Ohio is, both culturally and geographically. It’s also a way to have a lot of fun for a day or two, or longer. There’s just so much to see and do. 

   Starting just east of New Washington in the flat till plains of western Ohio, Route 39 travels 155 miles east through seven counties, including the heart of Ohio’s Amish country, before reaching East Liverpool and the Ohio River.

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The Land of Cross-Tipped Churches

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The Land of Cross-Tipped Churches is made up of 60 buildings that represent 19th and 20th century German Catholic settlements in Auglaize, Darke, Mercer and Shelby counties. Each is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and 34 of them are highlighted in a tour of the region that can be enjoyed during a very memorable day trip from Miami County.

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Get Your Kicks on Ohio Route 66

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Starting in Piqua and traveling the entire 118-mile distance of Ohio Route 66 to the north is a very colorful experience that can fill an entire day, if not several. There are more than a dozen historical towns to explore along the route, as well as four state parks, a portion of the Land of Cross-Tipped Churches, numerous historical sites and museums, and plenty of one-of-a-kind restaurants, shops and roadside attractions to enjoy.

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U.S. 36: The Heart of Ohio Road Trip

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Starting in Piqua, this trip follows U.S. Route 36 east for 175 miles, ending at the eastern terminus of the road in Uhrichsville, Ohio. Along the way, travelers can discover covered bridges hidden in the quiet countryside, historic villages and canals, peaceful hiking trails, off-the-beaten path waterfalls, lakes and rivers, unusual and spectacular memorials and monuments, diverse architecture, and, of course, plenty of antique shops, variety stores and one-of-a-kind ma and pa restaurants.

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15 Trails, 350+ Miles, 1 Great Adventure - Cycling the Miami Valley Trails Trail System

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During the past several years, my son and I have cycled each mile of the Miami Valley Bikeways system, which is “The Nation’s Largest Paved Trail Network.” It consists of 15 different interconnected trails in the Miami Valley and covers roughly 350 miles. More is being added all the time and soon, Cincinnati and Cleveland, by way of Columbus and the Miami Valley, will be connected by one massive paved trail network.

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The Bridges of Preble County

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   The highest concentration of covered bridges in western Ohio is in nearby Preble County, where eight historic bridges stand to this day, including the oldest one in the state and one of the newest. Visiting each of these bridges is a fun experience. But what can make it even better is stopping by the towns, antique shops, restaurants and parks located in between.  The following driving tour uses country roads to connect the eight bridges in Preble County, plus two more in nearby Germantown, with several colorful towns and points of interest along the way.

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Covered Bridges in the Woods - Route 26 + Ohio's "Little Boot" 

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   Ohio Route 26 is known as the National Forest Covered Bridge Scenic Byway. Until recently, it passed five covered bridges on a rural 67-mile route that meanders through Wayne National Forest between Woodsfield and Marietta in southeast Ohio. It’s one of the most secluded parts of the state and a beautiful drive any time of year.

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Kayaking the Not-So-Stillwater River

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People living in western Ohio are fortunate to be close to dozens of water trails that can provide a connection—or reconnection—to nature. This includes the Stillwater River, which is a designated State Scenic River that starts in Darke County and then passes through Miami County before joining the Great Miami River in Dayton. A section around Covington is filled with rapids, adventure and beauty.

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Mountain Biking the North Bend Rail Trail in West Virginia

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   The North Bend Rail Trail stretches 72 miles across north-central and western West Virginia. It largely follows U.S. Route 50, but often deviates far into the woods and countryside. The wilderness path, which was once a very important railroad line in the state, takes travelers across 36 bridges and through 10 tunnels. It is part of the 5,500-mile American Discovery Trail, which spans the length of the United States.

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Ohio Route 41: A Crescent Path to Murals, Mounds, Museums, Meteors & More

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Ohio Route 41 starts in Covington and follows a crescent path to the Ohio River, where it ends in the small town of Aberdeen. It’s a distance of about 160 miles and, without stops, takes about four hours to drive. However, as you’re about to see in this article, several days can be spent exploring this route, and several nights can be spent at some of the amazing campgrounds, bed and breakfasts and cabins found along the way. From Amish Country and rare prairies to history and food, Route 41 has it all.

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Hiking the Logan Backpacking Trail - A Great Place to Begin

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   This more than 20-mile hiking trail near Chillicothe in Tar Hollow State Forest, and partially in Tar Hollow State Park, is a great place to try out backcountry camping and long-distance, rugged hiking. Known as "Luxury" Backcountry Camping, the trail is made up of two loops that meet in the middle at a campground and parking lot.

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Kayaking an Ancient Path with Caves - Sidney to Piqua on the Great Miami River

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   One of the best sections of the Great Miami River to kayak is between Sidney and Piqua. In the middle of the journey is a set of rare caves that are among the oldest in Ohio. But that's just some of the history associated with this section of the river.  

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Road Trip Without A Cause: Visiting the Birthplace and Hometown of James Dean

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The James Dean Gallery is a great place to start when visiting Fairmount, Indiana. Located less than two hours from Miami County, Fairmount is the hometown and resting place of actor James Dean. Visitors can stop by his graveside to pay their respects; stand next to Carter's Motorcycle Shop where he hung out; and even pull into the driveway of his childhood home and farm, where his cousin lives to this day.

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Waterfalls, Wildflowers, Wine + Whiskey: A (Designated) Driving & Hiking Tour

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This tour visits 4 wineries, 3 distilleries, at least 6 waterfalls, 15 wildflower displays, 16 parks and preserves with miles of hiking trails, 4 amazing small towns (including Piqua), fun roadside attractions, and some of the best restaurants and pubs in western Ohio, all without leaving the comforts of your own “backyard” and during one of the most beautiful times of year. It can also be enjoyed during other wildflower seasons in the summer and fall.

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Farms, Barns & River Town Charm 
Traveling from Ironton to Gallipolis on Ohio Rt. 141

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   At just over 49 miles, Ohio Route 141 isn’t a very long road. But what it lacks in length, it makes up for in beauty and tranquility. Add to this the colorful cities that the road connects—Gallipolis and Ironton—and it’s a route worth taking. This article explores the things you can see in the two towns, and in between.

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Following the Great Miami River From Start to Finish

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If you take a drive north of Indian Lake State Park and locate Township Road 85 in Hardin County, you can pull your vehicle to the side of the road, look across a field to a wooded area on a small hill in the distance and watch as the North Fork of the Great Miami River trickles down the hill on its way to the Ohio River. This article is a pictorial journey from the river's source to its end.

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A Quiet Drive to Fort Hill & Many Other Unique Stops in Southern Ohio

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This trip uses mostly country roads to connect a series of rural attractions, starting with the World’s Largest Horseshoe Crab in Hillsboro and the amazing Fort Hill Earthwork & Nature Preserve nearby, followed by an Amish community, six covered bridges, several state parks and lakes and a number of small towns with interesting features such as wall murals, historic courthouses, and picturesque main streets lined with Victorian-era homes. 

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Finding the Alps in Appalachia - A Visit to Helen, Georgia

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   Located east of Atlanta in the Appalachian Mountains and on the Chattahoochee River is the Village of Helen. Although it looks like Germany or Switzerland, there is no relation between Helen, Georgia and Bavaria, Germany, but that didn't stop this town from turning into a Bavarian vacation destination in the United States.

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In Search of the Mothman

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If there were ever a chance to be part of a real-life "Twilight Zone" episode it would have to be in Point Pleasant, West Virginia - home to the legendary and elusive Mothman. Although the legend of the Mothman dates back to the late 1960s, the spirit of this fabled creature is alive and well in Point Pleasant -

located about 2 hours from Miami County.

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The 3 Rivers Fall Driving Tour

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   While much of the Northern Miami Valley is dedicated to farmland, the river corridors in the region are surrounded by trees, woods and parks.

   In the fall, these areas have the best foliage, displaying an array of orange, yellow, red and lime green treetops. This driving tour, which uses country roads in Miami, Darke, Auglaize and Shelby counties, passes through three such corridors—the Stillwater River, Loramie Creek and the Great Miami River.    

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40 Trips to Tipp City 
& Hundreds of Things to See and Do There 

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   From famous chicken wings, festivals and antique shopping to beautiful hiking and cycling trails, restaurants and an awesome Trick or Treat, this article explores the hundreds of reasons to visit Tipp City.

   The community is filled with historic buildings, numerous specialty shops, boutiques and eateries and hosts dozens of special events each year, including the Mum Festival and Canal Music Fest.

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Annie Oakley Pilgrimage & Wild West Adventure

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   Annie Oakley is one of the most admirable characters in American history, a five-foot-tall, larger-than-life woman from Darke County, Ohio who was self-reliant and never stood down from a challenge or fight.  

   She has been called the first American woman to become a Super Star, achieving international fame as a sharpshooter and performer in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It is said that she never missed a shot. 

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The Shawshank Trail

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The Shawshank Redemption is one of the most popular movies of all time, so it’s no surprise that its filming locations in and around Mansfield, Ohio (about two hours from Miami County) have become tourist destinations for fans. The tour covers scenes from the movie, including visiting and touring "Shawshank Prison."

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Adventures in Astronomy

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There are no fire rings at the campsites at Calhoun County Park in West Virginia. Several buildings on the property, although equipped with exterior lights, remain dark every night. The visitors who come to the park wouldn’t have it any other way. They come from hundreds of miles in all directions to take advantage of the park’s very dark skies.

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The Three Tippecanoes

In Search of a Name and the Fun Things to See & Do Along the Way

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   There have been three towns named Tippecanoe, one in northern Indiana and two in Ohio. This includes the town where I grew up, Tipp City, Ohio. In grade school, we learned that Tipp City was first named Tippecanoe and then Tippecanoe City. The latter name can still be seen on several buildings in the community, including an old school. The changes occurred because the U.S. Postal Service wanted to avoid confusing the two towns and their post offices.

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Visiting the Meadowcroft Rockshelter

The Oldest Inhabited Place in North America?

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At 19,000 years, and possibly 22,000, the Meadowcroft Rockshelter in western Pennsylvania is the oldest inhabited place thus far discovered in North America. Findings at this archeological site and tourist attraction located less than 4 hours from Miami County are changing history with every new find.

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Visiting 9/11 Memorials & Monuments in Ohio and Just Beyond

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   There are more than 700 official 9/11 memorials and monuments in the United States, including more than 20 in Ohio. They can be found in major cities and suburbs, as well as small towns and villages. They’re often located in beautiful parks and natural settings, or next to fire stations. 

   Just by chance, some of the most striking memorials are located nearby to the Miami Valley and can be visited year-round, free of charge.

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A Scenic Road Trip to Ohio's National Park

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This road trip follows the back roads of West and Central Ohio from Miami County to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, near Cleveland. On the way, travelers will pass several other great outdoor adventures, including Mohican Statate Park and Zane Shawnee Caverns, as well as many wonderful small towns, roadside attractions, historical landmarks and much more.

River Road to The Spot

Troy to Sidney for Food, History & Mystery

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If you’re not familiar with River Road in Shelby County, it is arguably one of the most interesting roads in the region. It follows the Great Miami River through the rural countryside, has a concrete tunnel to pass through, visits the magnificent and mysterious Big Four Bridge, and leads straight into historic downtown Sidney, where you’ll find the equally historic The Spot restaurant and many other unique treasures. This 18-mile drive is a straight shot north from Troy and passes many other unique sights along the way.

Connect the Parks Fall Driving Tour

The Miami County Park District Celebrates 50 Years

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This Fall Driving Tour pays homage to the Miami County Park District, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Along with visiting 10 parks and more than 20 miles of hiking trails, the tour also explores 70 miles of Miami County's most colorful back roads, with many unique stops along the way.  The largest town on the tour is Pleasant Hill and the roads between each park are filled with local color.

The Ghosts of Tadmor

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At one time, the Village of Tadmor (near Ross Road in Tipp City) was expected to become one of the greatest cities in the region. It contained each of the major transportation methods of the 19th century, which made it ripe for development. In its heyday, Tadmor had a covered bridge that spanned the Great Miami River, a train depot, a post office and a small village of people who lived and worked there. Today, all that remains of Tadmor are some stone structures that once supported the bridge, a few other scattered pieces from the past, and...some say, ghosts.

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A Spring Road Trip Along Route 55

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   Ohio Route 55 spans 38 miles and connects Laura in Miami County with Urbana in Champaign County. In another way, the road also connects two of Ohio’s greatest natural treasures—Brukner Nature Center and Cedar Bog Nature Preserve. These two parks have much in common. They both have boardwalk trails and interpretive centers. They have large displays of some of the first flowering plants of the year. In the spring, there are few places in the region where you’ll find as many wildflowers. 

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Take a Walk on the Wild Side 
A Summer Wildflower Tour

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While spring is certainly one of the best times of the year to view wildflowers in western Ohio, summer and early fall shouldn’t be overlooked, especially at our local prairies and parks.    

While forest floors and grassy areas are the first places to see wildflowers in the spring, it is not until later in the season and into summer that local prairies begin to bloom. When they do, the displays are often large and vibrant, and shouldn’t be missed.    

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Riding the Mirror - Kayaking Piqua's Hydraulic Canal

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   On a calm, clear day, there’s nothing quite like kayaking the Hydraulic Canal in Piqua. The water that fills the shallow canal can become so still that the trees, clouds, sun, bridges and even people who surround and cross over it reflect perfectly in the water. From the kayak, it looks as if you’re gliding across a mirror. The canal connects two lakes and one pond in Piqua while also passing through a beautiful cemetery, a long wooded corridor populated by birds, turtles and other wildlife, and Piqua’s largest park, Fountain Park. 

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A Superior & Nearly Free Adventure in Michigan's U.P.

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For the most part, all of the fun things to do in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are free. It’s free to cliff dive from the Black Rocks at Presque Isle Park near Marquette. It’s free to watch the sunsets and sunrises from the cobble-filled beaches that surround Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes. Sometimes the sunsets last beyond 11 o’clock at night and the orange, red and yellow glow of the sky seems to stretch endlessly on the horizon. 

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Cycling 100 Miles on the Great Miami Recreational Trail

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Starting in Tipp City, this 100-mile round-trip bicycle journey uses the Great Miami Recreational Trail to travel to its current furthest point south in Middletown. This is a two-day adventure that passes through cityscapes, parks, small towns, historical areas and natural landscapes, along with many other great stops along the way.    

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10 Places in Ohio to See Ancient Earthworks & Artifacts

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Within a short drive of Miami County are 10 interesting places that contain earthworks and Native American artifacts that date back thousands of years. This includes the mysterious Fort Hill in Hillsboro, which was not a fort at all, but some kind of astronomical clock, Adena Mound, said to have some kind of stone room in its middle, and Serpent Mound, which was built on the site of an ancient impact crater. In this article, discover 10 places to visit that will bring a little mystery and adventure to your life! 

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Day Trip on the Great Miami Recreational Trail

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When cycling the Great Miami Recreational Trail from Tipp City to Piqua, a distance of about 23 miles when starting at Ross Road and ending at Swift Run Lake, there appears to be five distinct sections to the trail, not to mention dozens of things to see and do along the way.

This article explores each of the five zones and shows what can be seen and done in each while cycling the trail.

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Locating the Beginning of the Stillwater River

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The Stillwater River – a Designated State Scenic River that creates so much beauty in western Ohio – starts as a small trickle coming from a pipe beneath an old bridge in rural Darke County. Before last fall, I didn’t know this, but as a way to teach my son about local geology, we decided to look for the "beginning" of the river. This is what we discovered, and how you can discover it, too!

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Swimming Holes & Seclusion at Pike Lake State Park

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   There are really no bad campsites at Pike Lake State Park in southern Ohio. However, if you can reserve campsite #31, or at least those around it, there’s a hidden surprise located nearby.

   It's this swimming hole pictured at left and it's just one of the great reasons to visit this nearby, yet often overlooked state park. Along with swimming, guests can paddle, fish, hike and beach-bathe, among other fun activities. 

Moonbows, A Bridge In The Sky, Frozen Niagara and Honest Abe: A Wild, Historic Road Trip Through Kentucky

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Using as many back roads as possible, this 720-mile loop road trip through Kentucky explores some of the most unique, beautiful, historic and interesting sites in the Bluegrass State, most of which are free to visit.

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Peace and Tranquility at The Quarry Farm in Putnam County

by Dana Hyland-Horner

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CONSERVATION: prevention of wasteful use of a resource

On a recent "Away" adventure, my husband, Mike, and I decided to visit a very well known nature preserve and conservation farm in Putnam County, Ohio. The Quarry Farm, which has spurred my interest for several years, is maintained by Steve and Anne Coburn-Griffis and family.

Tar Hollow State Park - Seclusion & Family Fun

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If you’re looking for a camping experience that offers both quiet seclusion and outdoor family fun, look no further than Tar Hollow State Park in Southern Ohio. Located within Tar Hollow State Forest between Chillicothe and Hocking Hills (about 2 hours from Miami County), Tar Hollow State Park has one of the best campgrounds in the state. Every campsite hugs the woods and the campground offers tons to do.

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Unraveling the Serpent

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Pictured at left is Stonehenge, one of the most famous megaliths in the world. The henge points to numerous celestial events, including the summer and winter solstices. Nearby to Miami County is Serpent Mound, an earthen structure that also aligns to the summer and winter solstices. 
This article tries to understand why ancient peoples put so much emphasis on marking celestial, solar and lunar events.

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Exploring the Earliest Forms of Life in Tipp City 

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Located near City Park in Tipp City, Fossil Beach is an unofficial landmark where adventure-seekers can find ancient fossils that date back 450 million years before life moved on to land. In this article, learn about the geological history of Ohio. This includes that fact that if all of the fossils in southwest Ohio were removed from the ground, Cincinnati would be located below sea level!

A Magical Place Close to Home - Cedar Bog Nature Preserve

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Cedar Bog Nature Preserve is a place where clear water can be seen bubbling up through the ground; where rare, endangered plants and animals live; and where every color of the rainbow can be seen during a one-mile hike on the park's boardwalk trail - which is wheelchair friendly. This magical place is a scenic 25-mile drive from Miami County.

Two "Other" State Parks and the Fall Festival of Leaves

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When it comes to fall foliage, Hocking Hills is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

The problem is, lots of people know this, and each fall, thousands come to see the area's brilliant colors, to camp, and to hike, drive and sight see in the state park. Needless to say, it can get quite crowded.

The good news is that there happens to be two other state parks in this region that are equally breathtaking in the fall, but that most people have never heard of- Tar Hollow State Park and Pike Lake State Park.

Rustic Road Trip

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Skip the highways and head into the back country of southern Ohio and West Virginia to experience a secluded, beautiful and sometimes mysterious part of the country.
This loop road trip is very much off the beaten path, making it a truly unique experience.

A Wild West Family Vacation Marathon

10 States in 9 Days

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This road trip covers 10 states in 9 days (with two kids in the backseat) and explores some of the most famous landmarks and destinations in the United States. 
The goal of the trip was to see as much as possible, in a restricted time, in the cheapest way possible. 

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The Lost Genius of the Hopewell

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Around 2,000 years ago, Ohio was the religious center of the eastern United States and the Hopewell Indians who lived here. Tens of thousands of Native Americans from throughout the United States traveled to Ohio, almost as if it were a Mecca of the New World. The Hopewell built huge earthworks that aligned with the moon, sun and stars and lived in peace for nearly 500 years. This article explores the Hopewell and their earthworks, many of which are set to become UNESCO World Heritage sites in the near future.