Road Trip Route: Philly to Little Rock (Part 1)
In March of 2018, we set out on what would be our longest road trip yet, almost 3,000 miles to Little Rock, Arkansas and back. Thinking of heading out that way? Just want to know how we didn't go insane? None of the above? Regardless, read on for all the details!
Philadelphia to Tridelphia, WV
Depending on the route that your road trip is taking, there may be a few hours of monotonous driving before you get to anything you want to see. We have this problem whenever we head West. For us, in this case, it is about five hours or so. If you are starting to plan and see a similarly fear-inducing number on Google Maps, don’t panic. Instead of stressing, use that to your advantage and leave after work. I know, you’re probably thinking something about how you don’t want to work a full day and then drive five hours, but hear me out. Getting those necessary, but pesky driving hours out of the way may be a little painful at the time, but they will leave your next day open and ready for adventure. When we utilize this trick, it is usually a Friday night, so once rush hour is over, the traffic is fairly light and the combination of snacks plus excitement is usually enough to sustain us. Take turns driving and thank us when you have your entire Saturday to start your trip off properly.
Tridelphia, WV to Cincinnati, OH
When we planned this trip, the goal was solely to get to the Clinton Library in Little Rock, AR – more on that in a later. Stopping and experiencing Kentucky was a bonus, since neither of us had ever been, but it was not the focal point of the trip. If I’d known how head over heels we were going to fall for The Bluegrass State, we probably never would have made it to AR. Now we are constantly trying to figure out when we can fit in another trip back to KY. However, before we could make it to the unexpected promised land in Kentucky, Cincinnati was a natural place to stop after three and a half hours of driving, grab lunch, and take in a museum.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
If you find yourself in Cincinnati and only have time to do one thing, at least consider the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Telling the stories of brave freedom-seekers from the Underground Railroad to present day, this gorgeous museum is a detailed look at a lesser known time in American history. While many people know what the Railroad generally was, the exhibits offer a much needed and far more in-depth view than you got in your middle school social studies class. Also, don’t miss the Open Your Mind learning lab on the first floor by the entrance that works to help visitors challenge their implicit biases. (Read more about our time here in my Stories from the Road post.)
(If you recreate this trip and need a quick lunch spot near the museum, Pies and Pints has a location down the block and street parking puts both in walking distance.)
Cincinnati, OH to Frankfort, KY
Maybe it’s just me, but I did not know that Kentucky was just a bridge over from Cincinnati. It’s only an hour and half from one city to the next, so after your morning of almost four hours of driving, this will feel like nothing more than a quick jaunt.
Glenn’s Creek Distillery
Being in Kentucky, the most stressful question was not whether or not we were going to try bourbon, but where. There are enough distilleries to plan an entire trip, but we wanted to choose one or two that would give us the best experience. Based on the reviews we read online, we left Cincinnati specifically with enough time to make it to Glenn’s Creek before it closed. A little difficult to find, due to its location in an old industrial warehouse, it was worth the work to get there on time and find the correct building. As we were the only people there, David gave us a private tour/tasting and, even though I don’t really drink, it was awesome. A bonus of Glenn’s Creek is helping to pour the whiskey and sign the barrel!
Buffalo Trace Distillery
Whenever any of the locals heard we had tickets for the Buffalo Trace Ghost Tour and tasting, they inevitably rolled their eyes. Yes, Buffalo Trace is about as different from Glenn’s Creek as you can imagine. Some locals didn’t even know about Glenn’s Creek (thanks Tripadvisor!), but they all inevitably knew about the large-scale tourist trap that is Buffalo Trace. What we couldn’t get people to understand was that we chose this dichotomy on purpose. There seemed to be no better way to experience the bourbon culture of Kentucky than from both a local operation and a conglomerate. Buffalo Trace is a beautiful old complex, and, while you can scoff at their gift shop and branded van, that same success allows them to offer free tours and tastings. We had a great time wandering around the eerie buildings with our stoic tour guides as they told supposed stories of accidents and spirits. These tickets are apparently very popular, so if you want to get spooked, book early!
Bourbon on Main
It may not look like much on the outside (construction was happening at the time, so it could look different now), whenever we asked people where we should have dinner, they all mentioned Bourbon on Main. Located on Main Street, as the name suggests, this place is a strange cross between a rustic pub and a sports bar. You want the Big Ass Fries with Dips. Just trust me. We also ordered a sandwich to split, but you probably don’t need it. When they say ‘big ass’, they mean it.
The Meeting House
The Meeting House is run by the kindest people who make a killer southern breakfast in the morning that involves biscuits, eggs, and sausage plus some sort of breakfast dish that is really dessert. Don’t miss out on this wonderful B&B. We unknowingly booked the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day, so Rose had celebratory homemade candy in our room when we checked in.
Keep an eye out for Part 2 - coming soon!