Our Ohio Travel writer, Deb, randomly picks a new destination in Ohio to visit each month with her husband. Some of their trips are full weekend trips with overnight stays, while others are day trips. Their trips are always full of fun and unique stops that you’re going to want to check out.
Read below about the visit along the Ohio River Scenic Byway from New Richmond to Ripley.
Each month, my husband and I randomly pick a destination in Ohio to explore, adding points of interest along our route from Central Ohio. May’s destination was New Richmond, Ohio.
Although we have visited Cincinnati and Hamilton County on many occasions, this would be our first time driving Eastward through the rolling hills of the river valley through Clermont County.
Overnight in Eastgate
To maximize our day, we decided to begin our journey the night before. We headed to Montgomery to enjoy a fantastic dinner at the original Montgomery Inn.
It was a bit of a nostalgic stop for us, since back in the 90s we would often make the drive from Columbus to Montgomery (and back), just to get some of their world-famous ribs.
Afterwards, we headed to another favorite, Jungle Jim’s International Market in Eastgate.
Although we would suggest to anyone who has never visited Jungle Jim’s to make the original Fairfield location their destination (& plan to spend 4-5 hours!), the newer Eastgate store still offers plenty to see and the highly anticipated plethora of food choices.
After filling our cooler (yes, we planned ahead), we checked in to our lodging for the night at the Holiday Inn Eastgate.
Ohio River Scenic Byway to New Richmond
Our full day began by driving East along the Ohio River Scenic Byway on US-52 toward New Richmond, a lazy river town steeped in history.
Not only was it a center of commerce during the steamboat era but was also well-known for playing a critical role in the Underground Railroad. New Richmond serves as the first stop on the Clermont County Freedom Trail.
Cardboard Boat Museum
Arriving in New Richmond, our first stop was at the Cardboard Boat Museum.
The museum, which opened in 2007, is in an old gas station perched along the banks of the Ohio River. We enjoyed talking with the volunteers and listening to stories about several of the boats.
Over the years, we’ve built a cardboard boat or two as a family. But nothing close to matching what we would see here. Built with nothing more than cardboard, tape, and paint, the boats on display are creative, well-crafted works of art that can withstand many hours of racing on the water.
The museum is ADA accessible, and admission is free. We are looking forward to making a return visit on August 6th during the annual River Days Festival and the 26th Annual Cardboard Regatta, where 70+ boats will race on the river.
Downtown New Richmond
Continuing down Front Street, we quickly noticed the charm of downtown New Richmond, with colorful two-story brick buildings on the North side and the Ohio River on the South.
This is the kind of town where you park your car and stroll through the streets exploring local shops, reading historical markers, grabbing a bite to eat, and enjoying the view. We were fortunate to visit the day of a local arts festival which was being held at each of the two riverfront parks.
Before leaving, we stopped for lunch at the Front Street Café, a colorful and comfortable bistro located in the middle of Front Street offering both indoor and outdoor seating. Artwork painted by local artisans adorn the walls.
The lunch menu offers a selection of salads, sandwiches, salads, wraps and flatbreads. There is also a full bar available.
Ulysses S Grant Birthplace
Our next stop was the Ulysses S Grant Birthplace in Pt. Pleasant (5.1 miles). The son of a tanner, Hiram Ulysses Grant was born in 1822 in a small one room cottage. After 10 months, the family moved to nearby Georgetown.
In the years that followed, the cottage was moved for display in other cities, including Columbus (Goodale Park) from 1888 – 1937, before being returned to its original location. When visiting, be sure to ask about the full story.
Tours are available, along with a small display of memorabilia. The home is ADA accessible. Admission is $1.50 – $3 (free for OHS members – Ohio History Connection).
Just to the South of Grant’s birthplace, across US-52, is Grant Park. We made a quick stop here to read the historical marker for the Grant Memorial Bridge that crosses Big Indian Creek. This bridge was instrumental in paving the way for the cottage to be returned to Point Pleasant.
Chilo Lock #34 Park and Visitor Center
As we continued East (11 miles), we found ourselves at the Chilo Lock #34 Park and Visitor Center. In the 1920s, Chilo was one of 55 wicket style dams along the Ohio River. 200 wooden wickets, each 12 feet in length, were required to span the river.
Today there is a park with 2 reservable yurts for overnight stays, a playground, and 3-story museum. We had the museum to ourselves as we learned about the history of lock and dam at Chilo and life along the river.
The museum is family friendly, with many hands-on displays. It is ADA accessible, and admission is free.
Crooked Run Nature Preserve
Adjacent to Lock #34 park is Crooked Run Nature Preserve. Our schedule didn’t permit us time to enjoy the trails during this trip, but the staff at the museum told us that it is known to be home to more than 200 species of birds. We’ll catch it the next time we find ourselves in the area.
John Rankin House
Our last stop along the Ohio River Scenic Byway was in Ripley (17.3 miles) at the John Rankin House.
Rev. John Rankin was one of the first to speak out against slavery and was instrumental in helping over 2000 slaves escape to freedom from neighboring Kentucky. His home was the initial station along the Underground Railroad in this part of Ohio.
It is situated high above the town of Ripley with spectacular views of the Ohio River. An oil lamp in the window provided a “beacon of light” to those crossing the river. They only had to find the house on the hill with the light in the window to begin their freedom journey.
These courageous and harrowing stories would become the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. Although we did not include Cincinnati as part of our day, a nice add on to this trip would be a visit to the Harriet Beacher Stowe House located at 2950 Gilbert Ave in Cincinnati.
At the John Rankin House, there is a visitor center offering the history of the Rankin family, John Parker (a freed slave), and others who played critical roles. The visitor center and 1st floor of the home are ADA accessible. Admission is $3 – $6 (free for OHC members).
Guided tours of the home, lasting 35-40 min, occur “on the hour”. This is important to note since the last tour of the day occurs 1 hour prior to close. We weren’t aware and felt very fortunate to arrive just in time!
The tour requires a short walk to the house and begins outside where the views of the river, town of Ripley, and story of freedom come to life right away. We also were able to tour inside the home and grounds. This was one of our most impactful stops of the day.
We had one final stop on our historical tour and had to hurry there before it closed for the day, so did not have time to explore the town of Ripley. We would have loved to stop at the John Parker House and will certainly return to do so in the future.
Ulysses S Grant Boyhood Home
Leaving the river and heading NW (11.3 miles), we stopped in Georgetown at Ulysses S Grant Boyhood Home.
Just before turning 1 year old, Grant’s father moved the family from Pt. Pleasant to Georgetown where he opened a tannery. Ulysses had no interest in the tannery business but was a hard worker and had a knack for solving difficult problems with creative solutions.
He spent his childhood here until leaving for West Point at 17. When visiting, be sure to ask about the story of how he gained acceptance to the academy.
Guided tours of the Grant home are available and last about 30min. We arrived just 15 minutes prior to closing, but the guide was incredibly accommodating and offered us the entire tour.
Entrance to the home is via a short staircase. Call ahead to confirm ADA accessibility. Admission is $3 – $5 (free for OHC members).
Returning to Columbus
On our return trip towards Columbus, we made a couple of fun and unique stops.
Terry’s Grocery & Pizza
It had been a while since our lunch in New Richmond, so we headed to a local favorite, Terry’s Grocery & Pizza in Lynchburg (26.9 miles) for pizza and ice cream. Terry’s is a gas station, convenient store, pizza shop & ice cream parlor all in one. And it’s BUSY!
We ordered pizza at the register and sat down at 1 of 3 indoor picnic tables located in the back of the store. It was really good pizza and quite a bargain too! Where else can you get a 16” specialty pizza for less than $15?
However, the real prize was the ice cream parlor, which has both an indoor & outdoor counter with additional seating outside. They offer 12-15 versions of crazy shakes, plus traditional fair.
We ordered the Candy Bar shake to share. It didn’t look as “crazy” as some of the other options, but it was crazy good.
World’s Largest Horseshoe Crab
What is a day trip without a quirky roadside attraction? That’s exactly what we found in Hillsboro (12.4 miles), the World’s Largest Horseshoe Crab. I mean, how could we not?
“Crabbie” is 67.5’ (L) x 28’ (W) and can fit up to 60 people under its shell. Originally built in 1995 in Maryland, it has had a unique history and called several states home, prior to being purchased by the current owner.
Upon arrival, the crab is easily viewed on the right side of the road, although the driveway is not. Just before the sign, a gravel drive leads to a small parking area near the crab. We walked around & under the crab for a few minutes, snapped a few photos, and moved on.
We had been dodging rain storms all day, but they finally caught up to us at this point. We had planned to walk off the crazy shake calories at Fallsville Fall in New Vienna (7.5 miles), a 15-foot waterfall with easy access via a 0.7 mile out and back trail. Unfortunately, bad weather would prevail, thus ending what had been an educational and enjoyable day along the Ohio River.
All photos are owned by, and published with permission from guest writer, Deb, on Columbus on the Cheap.
Stayed tuned for more Ohio exploration! Whether you are saving money by staying closer to home, or want to explore more of Ohio, we hope you’ll find lots of fun trip ideas.