Fall break is nearly upon us. Just because the kids are getting a break from the classroom doesn’t mean they need to take a break from learning. Our corner of the Midwest is steeped in history and this is the perfect time of year to get out and explore our heritage.
Let’s Go Explore History! Here are just a few suggestions for quick getaways packed with history:
Big Bone Lick State Park
Walk through history at this 813-acre state park just minutes south of downtown in Union, KY. Start at the Visitor’s Center. There you will also find a newly refurbished museum, complete with exciting new displays on paleontology, Ordovician geology, ice age mammals, Native American history, the chronology of science at Big Bone and ongoing research currently underway at the park. Fall is a beautiful time to hit the trails at this park. Be sure to keep a lookout for the resident herd of bison — the only living mammal that links us to the Ice Age. Learn more at parks.ky.gov/parks/historicsites/big-bone-lick.
Located in Oregonia, OH, this National Historic Landmark boasts the largest and best-preserved manmade earthworks in the country. The area features 100 acres of beautiful mounds that were built more than 2,000 years ago by the Hopewell people. The site also offers more than 2.5 miles of lush forest hiking trails perfect for leaf peeping this time of year, two scenic overlooks, a seasonal outdoor garden and picnic area, and a museum that includes a section devoted just to kids. For more information, including seasonal hours and special events, visit fortancient.org.
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
If your kids are fascinated with airplanes, make the quick trek to the birthplace of aviation: Dayton, OH. There you can retrace the footsteps and flight paths of the Wright brothers at Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. Visit Huffman Prairie Flying Field where the innovative duo turned the dream of flight into a practical invention in 1904 and 1905. The nearby Huffman Prairie Flying Field Visitor Center discusses the Wrights’ accomplishments at the flying field and the history of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Other highlights include the Wright Company Building, the only remaining building that pays homage to the brothers’ bicycle business; Hoover Block, home to the Wright Brothers’ printing company; and Hawthorn Hill, Orville Wright’s home until his death in 1948. This National Park also honors the life of American Poet, Paul Dunbar. The state of Ohio acquired Dunbar’s family home after his death in 1936 and opened it to the public as the Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic site — the first house museum commemorating an African American. Learn more about this national park and all it has to offer at nps.gov/daav/index.htm.
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial is located in southwestern Indiana close to the Ohio River, but it is well worth the drive. This National Memorial site preserves the period of time from 1816 to 1830 when Abraham Lincoln called Indiana home. Learn about Lincoln’s family, his boyhood and frontier life in the Midwest at the Memorial Visitor Center. You can also explore a working pioneer homestead complete with log cabin, outbuildings, split rail fences, livestock, gardens and field crops. Please note that while the grounds of the Living Historical Farm are open year-round, the buildings are closed beginning in September. However, historic pathways like The Allee, a landscaped, tree-lined walkway that leads to the cemetery where Abraham Lincoln’s mother is buried, are particularly picturesque this time of year and put you directly in the footsteps of our 16th President during his formative years.
If you are traveling on a weekend in October, delight your kids by tacking on a trip to nearby Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari for their Happy Halloween Weekends. Or gear up for the holiday season by visiting sites at nearby Santa Claus, IN, including Santa’s Candy Castle and Santa Claus Museum and Village.
If you are looking for a new adventure this fall, consider one of these destinations for an eye-opening look into the Midwest’s historic roots.