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Scenic route bet Columbus OH and Bloomington, IN?

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New York City, New...
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Scenic route bet Columbus OH and Bloomington, IN?

Eventually ending in small town near Witchita, Kansas. Would appreciate all suggestions. From NYC and haven't been to this part of the country before. Want to see samll town life. Cindy

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1. Re: Scenic route bet Columbus OH and Bloomington, IN?

Hi Cindy,

You may want to check out this route:


You don't say how long you have to make the trip (days), what time of year, your age, or your interests, so I'm just offering up things that I've seen and done in the area (used to live in Batesville, IN for 17 years).

Waynesville - Small town known for its antique shops and its sauerkraut festival.


Lebanon - Also a small town with plenty of antique shops and the Golden Lamb Inn/Restaurant.


Cincinnati has plenty to see and do, but seeing as you wanted the small town feel, I had your route just bypass it.

Metamora, IN - the drive from Cincinnati to Metamora on US 52 is quite scenic (forested hills). Metamora is on the Whitewater Canal and has a number of small shops selling mostly arts and crafts items.


Oldenburg, IN - Oldenburg is a small town of 600 or so people that's very proud of its German heritage. The third weekend in July, it hosts its annual "Freudenfest"--a mini-Oktoberfest kind of event. It has some good restaurants known for their fried chicken--Wagner's and the Brau Haus.

Greensburg, IN - Has a quaint town square and there's a tree growing in the roof of the county court house that's been there since the mid 1800's.


Out of Greenburg, take State Route 46 to Columbus (watch out for a speed trap near Hartsville!).

Columbus - Has quite a bit of unique architecture for a small city and a well-known ice cream parlor.


http://www.zaharakos.com/ (Website plays music when it launches, so if you're at work, turn your speakers down. :-) )

Nashville, IN - Known for being an artist colony with lots of little shops and restaurants. Can get quite busy on the weekends.


And Nashville is in Brown County which has a very nice state park and covered bridges.


Bloomington - Of course, has the beautiful Indiana University campus.

I hope that gives you some ideas on what to see and do along the way.


Bloomington, Indiana
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2. Re: Scenic route bet Columbus OH and Bloomington, IN?

As we used to have relatives in Columbus, we've made this drive many, many times.

The two main routes are either I-70 to Indy and then south on SR 37 to Bloomington or I-71 to Cincinnati (skirting it via I-275), I-74 to Greensburg, IN and then SR 46 (via Columbus & Nashville Indiana) to Bloomington. Time wise they're *very* similar maybe a 1/2 hour difference at most (I-70 being a little quicker). Overall the time is so close that any major traffic issues will make the difference (and you're more likely to run into these on I-70).

There is no doubt in my mind that the trip via Cincinnati is the more scenic of the two; particularly the section from Columbus to Bloomington (at least part of this is actually designated a scenic highway). In generally this route will take you through rolling hills, forests, etc where the I-70 route is really rather flat.

And, with the exception of possible traffic in Cincinnati, is generally more reliable in terms of time; these interstates don't have near the traffic that I-70 does.

We nearly always go via Cincinnati for these reasons (only take I-70 if we're really trying to make time or just as a change of pace).

A few things you might want to check out on this drive:

1. Jungle Jim's - this is a "destination" mega-grocery store located on the NW side of Cincinnati. It's pretty much got to be seen to be believed (www.junglejims.com/). The also recently opened another store (on the east side of Cincinnati?), but I've not been to it yet.

2. Columbus, Indiana - a *bunch* of building done by world-class architects in a small Indiana city. More about this in its TA forum and at www.columbus.in.us/.

3. Nashville, Indiana - small "artist colony" town with lots of galleries, arts & crafts, etc. Also has Brown County State Park nearby (known as "the little smokies").

Then of course there's all kinds of things in & around Bloomington.

Hope this helps,


Zed beat me to the "punch," but it does show that great minds think alike. ;-)

Edited: 19 December 2012, 18:35
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3. Re: Scenic route bet Columbus OH and Bloomington, IN?

So helpful. Of course you need more info. I have tunnel vision because I'm planning at the last minute.

We live in NYC and, over the holiday break, taking a week to get to a small town in Kansas near Witchita where we are picking up a puppy and then driving back to NYC. My son is seven years old and I would like to show him some of small town and/or rural America. So the trip there -- over a period of 4 days -- is to do just that. We'll drive home without sight-seeing to get the puppy settled.

First leg of the trip is from NYC to PA through Amish country. From Lancaster, PA we cross over to OH. Then spending one day driving from Columbus thru Bloomington and making our way toward St. Louis. So, we have a day to drive.

I'm looking not so much for activities as for nice roads and quaint/interesting towns to stop for a meal, to walk around, or possibly sight-see.

If you can offer any routes through such towns, I'd be very appreciative. -c

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4. Re: Scenic route bet Columbus OH and Bloomington, IN?

From Columbus O. to Indy, if you want a scenic drive, take US 40 that parallels I-70. US 40 is 2 lane in Ohio, but becomes 4 lane in Indiana and passes through many old and scenic towns. At I-465 go south and pick up IN 37 to Bloomington.

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5. Re: Scenic route bet Columbus OH and Bloomington, IN?

I like the US 40 suggestion. That's the old National Road, the first federal highway, so lots of history.

But I also like the idea of Metamora and taking SR 9 from Greensburg to SR 46. That's a really pretty drive. It's also the quickest way to reach Bloomington from I-74. Traffic on 37 can get pretty bad if you drive it at the wrong time. And 465 is certainly not flattering to Indianapolis, particularly its eastern portion.

We did this a few months ago, with virtually all day to kill, and I picked a route that took us through Yellow Springs (really nice town), through the middle of Dayton (not really necessary), through Oxford (great little college town) and onto the bigger roads in Brookville, IN. Couldn't tell you the route off the top of my head because there were a lot of turns and a lot of roads that probably don't have numbers. But half the fun is looking at the map and planning it yourself.

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6. Re: Scenic route bet Columbus OH and Bloomington, IN?

Just so you know, Metamora, and even places in Nashville, are hit and miss. I'm not sure when your trip is, just note that these are tourist towns, and if tourist season is slow, some of these places may have only weekend hours, if they are even open at all. I've been to both places where I thought many stores would be open, only to find that even some of the "bigger" and more popular stores were closed. Even went to Metamora's tree lighting ceremony this year, only to find a handful of the merchants were open. However, the following weekends are their Christmas Walk weekends, and in years past, the entire place was packed with many stores open.

Same can be said for the National Road. My dad and I drove this from just west of Richmond back home to Indy during the national road side sale day, which highlights the road. I was pretty shocked that some of the merchant stores in the smaller and mid-sized towns were closed when there were so many people out and about. The look of small town US is still there though, and you can get some great photos in such areas.

7. Re: Scenic route bet Columbus OH and Bloomington, IN?

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