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Road trip from Frederick, Maryland to Chicago.

Northern Ireland
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Road trip from Frederick, Maryland to Chicago.

As two Northern Irish ladies (mid-thirties), we are planning our first trip to the US in the last two weeks of October. We're staying with a relative in Frederick, then planning to take 3 or 4 days to travel by car to another relative in Chicago. Any suggestions for our best way through Ohio, possibly a scenic route, and/or a stop-over? We enjoy the outdoors, sports, good food and some sociable drinks. We'll probably be ready some rest and relaxation between seeing Washington and Chicago!

Should we head north to the Lakes, or head Columbus direction?

Any ideas, greatly appreciated!

Ohio
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1. Re: Road trip from Frederick, Maryland to Chicago.

at that time of year, the fall color will be really good in central Ohio. Personally, if I wanted to "rest up" for a couple of days, I'd head to Hocking Hills (about 30 miles southeast of Columbus) and rent a cabin. It's a goregous area in the fall. Try this link and see what you think:

http://www.hockinghills.com/

There is a link to check for lodging available for your dates. It's a popular area in the fall, but if you will be in the area mid week, you'll have plenty of options. There are a ton of state parks in the area with hiking, hills and rock formations.

Cleveland
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2. Re: Road trip from Frederick, Maryland to Chicago.

Do you like roller coasters? Do they celebrate Halloween in Northern Ireland? Are you interested in the Amish? Are you interested in history?

If you like sports, good food, and sociable drinks, I'm not certain you'll find Hocking Hills your cup of tea. It's certainly a beautiful part of Ohio, but not necessarily spectacularly beautiful compared with other parts of the U.S.

You also could get your fill of leaf turn by driving through either Pennsylvania or West Virginia on your way to Ohio. The last two weeks of October is getting late in Ohio Leaf Turn season, and I'm not certain how spectacular the Hocking Hills would be by the time you get there. The timing of peak Leaf Turn varies year by year. Here's a place to follow it in Ohio.

www.dnr.state.oh.us/tabid/9590/default.aspx

It's not difficult to figure out routes in the U.S. I would suggest that you somehow get hold of AAA maps and travel guides covering your destinations. Either join directly or perhaps check your ability to obtain a reciprocal membership through the Northern Ireland automobile association.

A AAA card entitles you to many discounts to both hotels and attractions, although you might have to buy tickets ahead of time at a AAA location.

Having dealt with preludes, here are some thoughts that cross my mind.

Check out the Dayton forum. IMO, it offers some of the most spectacular attractions in Ohio, especially if you like aviation or history. This is where the Wright brothers invented and flew the first airplane, which is housed in the very good Carillon Historical Park. You can walk Huffman Prairie Flying Field where the first plane was both perfected and flown. And Dayton is the home of the U.S. Air Force National Museum, with excellent exhibits such as a collection of historical presidential airplanes through which visitors can walk. It's gigantic (the largest and oldest military air museum in the world), the exhibits are excellent and admission is free.

If you like sports, you should try to catch an American football game. Perhaps one of the greatest rituals in the U.S. is game day for the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus. E.g., it's much more spectacular than the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Many of the events are free and take place outside the 105,000-seat Ohio Stadium, but much is lost by missing the game. All games are sold out, but tickets can be purchased at a premium through such sites as stubhub.com. Free events include the Skull Session pep rally at St. John's arena across from the stadium. It begins two hours before game time, but get there much earlier.

A worthy plan would be to arrive in Dayton on a Thursday, tour on Friday, and arrive in Columbus early on Saturday for a Buckeye game, if they are at home when you'll be in the vicinity. Columbus hotel rooms on a football weekend both are expensive and scarce.

On Friday night, or Saturday afternoon or evenings, you can catch university or high school football games throughout Ohio. If you're interested, once you know where you'll be, there will be no shortage of recommendations. One cheap game possibility might be Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, a Pro Football Hall of Game site, but largely a high school and university stadium, or Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in nearby Massillon. Both are very near Ohio Amish country in northeast Ohio.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fawcett_Stadium

Both Cleveland and Chicago have pro football teams.

Consider visiting Ohio Amish country for a day or two if you want to experience a unique American culture.

http://www.experience-ohio-amish-country.com/

Malabar Farm State Park just northeast of Columbus also is unique, and on the way to Ohio Amish country.

http://www.bookthink.com/0078/78brom1.htm

There will be a barn dance at Malabar Farm on 9/25:

http://www.malabarfarm.org/

Not far from Malabar Farm, you could experience a hardwood zip line:

…wordpress.com/2010/…

Cleveland is one of the nation's cultural centers. The Cleveland Museum of Art is one of the nation's best, with free admission to its general exhibits. The Cleveland Orchestra is one of the world's very best, tickets are generally available, and it performs in the acclaimed Severance Hall, one of the best concert halls in the world. Cleveland's Playhouse Square theater complex is the second largest in the U.S. after Lincoln Center in New York City. Consider attending a performance at the Hanna Theatre, one of the best performance venues in the world, according to benefactor Tom Hanks.

Cleveland also is a foodie center with some of the best restaurants in the Midwest. Downtown dining/entertainment districts include East 4th St. and the Warehouse District. You probably also would enjoy the West Side Market, the nearby Great Lakes Brewery and the Tremont district. Check the Cleveland forum.

And you will be in Ohio during Halloween season. One of the best places to experience Halloween is at Cedar Point, the roller coaster capital of the world and one hour west of downtown Cleveland.

http://www.halloweekends.com/

Another Halloween spectacular on your way to Chicago would be at Greenfield Village, part of The Henry Ford.

www.hfmgv.org/events/halloweenevent.aspx

Have a great trip!

Cleveland
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3. Re: Road trip from Frederick, Maryland to Chicago.

Sorry about the 9/25 barn dance link at Malabar Farm. TA wouldn't let me delete it after I hit submit.

Ohio
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4. Re: Road trip from Frederick, Maryland to Chicago.

The following posters have given some great information. Another item that I would possibly consider, if you are thinking about Malabar Farms, is a visit to the Ohio State Reformatory. This is the old prison and many films including Shawshank Redemption and Airforce One were filmed here. They have different tours that they offer on Sundays. During October, they do haunted reformatory tours on some evenings.

http://www.mrps.org/

Back to your original question as to the roads to take, I used to drive regularly from Columbus to DC as well as Columbus to Chicago. Here is the best way:

70 N out of Frederick, MD towards Hagerstown, PA. Then pick up 68 W at Hancock PA. take 68 through West Virginia towards Morgantown, WV. In Morgantown, take 79 North to Washington, PA. Here you will pick up 70 W again and this will take you right to Columbus, Ohio.

Leaving Columbus to Chicago, the best way is to take 70 West out of Columbus to Indianapolis, IN. In Indianapolis, take 65 N towards Gary Indiana. I would have your friend in Chicago give you directions from Gary, IN. Depending on where in Chicago you are going, you can take 80/90 or 94 into Chicago.

Hope this helps. Please feel free to post again if you are interested in any of the other places and I can give you directions from / to there. You will enjoy your drive. Frederick, MD to Columbus, depending on traffic can take about 6 hours. I think it is about the same from Columbus to Chicago, depending on how fast you drive.

Northern Ireland
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5. Re: Road trip from Frederick, Maryland to Chicago.

Thanks for the useful comments. Nothing decided yet, but you have been great help.

Thanks!

Cleveland
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6. Re: Road trip from Frederick, Maryland to Chicago.

BTW, if you're interested in Cedar Point, check the Sandusky Ohio forum.

If you like glass, the Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, just west of Cedar Point, has perhaps the best collection of glass artifacts in the world. Its renown Glass Pavilion is considered a sterling example of modern architecture. Admission is free. Driving to Toledo on your way to Chicago may not be too far out of your way.

Good luck!

Cleveland
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7. Re: Road trip from Frederick, Maryland to Chicago.

If you're passing through Ohio during Leaf Turn, certainly consider experiencing it from the tree tops on a zip line.

www.times-gazette.com/news/article/4869761

…usatoday.com/canopy-tours-ohio-4991.html

If you take a zip line tour, please post a review!

Cleveland
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8. Re: Road trip from Frederick, Maryland to Chicago.

This recent Washington Post article describes one of Cleveland's four downtown or near downtown entertainment/dining districts:

washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20…

Note that the West Side Market is NOT open every day.

The other three are Tremont, the Warehouse District and East 4th St. The latter two are downtown. Little Italy is 15-20 minutes from downtown.

Cleveland would be an easy day's drive from Washington, D.C.

Here's another article that may interest you:

saveur.com/article/Travels/Jane-and-Michael-…

Edited: 29 September 2010, 23:39
San Francisco...
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9. Re: Road trip from Frederick, Maryland to Chicago.

Hocking Hills i gourgous this time of year with the leaves changing... That is a scenic route for sure... If you wanted to head north in ohio. You can always stop through in Canton Ohio. We do have the Football Hall of Fame, Great Shopping, Hary London Chocolate Factory, Muesums to top that. Also i can suggest a great hotel. I'm the General Manager of the Comfort Inn Canton Ohio. www.comfortinncanton.com.

10. Re: Road trip from Frederick, Maryland to Chicago.

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