Cincinnati to Detroit: Things to do and see on the trip to watch Bengals battle the Lions

CINCINNATI - If you’re traveling from Cincinnati to Detroit to watch the Bengals take on the Lions on Sunday, you’re likely focused on getting to Ford Field as quickly as possible. But the 309-mile trek features a bevy of things to do, see and taste along the way.

While the approximately 6-hour-and-8-minute trip might seem daunting to some, you'll be hard-pressed to find a prettier time of year to journey through western Ohio to the Great Lakes region. Plus, the $53 ($106 for round-trip) you'll spend on gas is a lot cheaper than than $ 559  it would cost to purchase a round-trip Delta ticket to fly out of Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport on Saturday and return on Monday.

With the help of the people from the website Road Trippers , 9 On Your Side put together a list of a handful of unique, nontraditional photo-ops and dining establishments that will make your trip to the Motor City .

No. 1 National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

With A.J. Green and Calvin Johnson playing on Sunday, football fans are likely to see the pigskin flying through the air quite a bit on Sunday. But those traveling along Interstate 275 to get to Detroit have a chance to check out some of most spectacular vehicles to ever take flight at one of the most visited tourist attractions in Ohio.

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is the world's largest and oldest military aviation museum. Located near Dayton, Ohio, roughly 48 miles from downtown Cincinnati, the NMUSAF has more than 360 aircraft and missiles displayed in indoor and outdoor viewing areas.

In addition to featuring historical artifacts, the museum has high-tech offerings as well. The museum lobby houses a digital theater, featuring an 80-foot-wide screen -- the largest in southwest Ohio -- that can display 2D or 3D images.

Wannabe pilots of all ages can also take a simulated trip can climb in the Morphis MovieRide, a computer controlled simulator for the entire family. Those looking to channel their inner Red Baron can man one of nine different aircraft in the museum's 360-degree Interactive Simulator. You can choose to pilot the craft, work as the gunner or fly a solo mission in an air-to-air combat simulation.

Another major draw to the museum, which averages more than 1.3 million visitors per year, is general admission is free. When you couple that with amazing hours (open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), it pretty much becomes a must-see destination.

As any tried and true road-tripper knows, finding something cool to do that don't cost a lot of money and has flexible hours is a major find. 

No. 2 The Spot to Eat!

Next on the list is The Spot to Eat! The aptly named seven-day-a-week restaurant in Sidney, Ohio has been open for 106 years and has tried its hardest to stay true to its rustic origins.

Located at 201 South Ohio Avenue, about 42 miles from Dayton, this charming eatery serves up homestyle offerings that range from grilled cheese sandwiches to chicken salad to a variety of burgers, including the "Big Buy," which is a tartar sauce covered homage to the famous Big Boy sandwich featured at Frisch's across the Tri-State.

We suggest ordering the Combo No. 2 - the BIG BUY and fries with a medium soft drink for $5.39. You can substitute onion rings for 50 cents. Then, if you really want that "Happy Days" feel, we suggest washing it down with a frosted malt (large for $2.45).

In addition to its unintimidating, inviting menu, the restaurant has a comforting, no-frills interior that makes you want to sit down and relax for a bit. The current facility is a fine example of the streamlined Art Moderne architectural style with its smooth, unornamented wall surface faced with gleaming white porcelain tile. A mid-century modern neon sign still hanging over the front door is still the Spot trademark. The inside of the restaurant has been remodeled approximately 25 times since the current building was constructed in 1934.

The last major renovation occurred in 1976 giving the restaurant it’s current layout.

From the pies to the history, you'll fall in love with this charming place.

No. 3 Michigan Sports Hall of Fame

I know, I know, the idea of celebrating some of the famed names of Michigan sports lore must seem borderline blasphemous to someone from the Buckeye State. But the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in Farmington, Michigan is an exceptional venue that tells that tale of someone of the Midwest's most legendary athletes.

The hall of fame allows sports fans close access to the most important people and places in Michigan athletics history through displays and interactive activities. In addition to the noteworthy professional athIetes, the museum tells the story of Michigan's Olympians, the state's stadiums and arenas, and its teams - high school, college and professional.

Those enshrined are selected by a statewide, blue-ribbon group of veteran sports journalists, selected college and professional sports administrators, MSHOF members,

the MSHOF Board of Directors and also public online vote, which was first utilized in the the most recent induction class.

The most recent class, the 57th in the hall of fame's history, included:

  • Lomas Brown – Detroit Lions
  • Mateen Cleaves– MSU basketball/Flint Northern H.S.
  • Tony Dungy – NFL football/Jackson Mich. Parkside H.S.
  • Mark Howe – NHL hockey/Detroit Red Wings/U.S. Olympian
  • Dick Kimball – UM Diving /U.S. Olympian
  • Pam McGee – Flint Northern H.S./U.S. Olympian
  • Steve Smith – MSU Basketball/Pershing H.S./U.S. Olympian
  • Tyrone Wheatley – UM football/ track & field/Dearborn Heights Robichaud H.S. 

You can visit the museum Monday through Sunday. It's open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

No. 4 Forans  Grand Trunk Pub

If you're looking to throw back a pint in a beautiful early 20th-century railway station, I've got the place for you.

Grand Trunk Pub is one of southeast Michigan’s finest and most historic drinking establishments. Located in the heart of downtown Detroit, one block from Campus Martius and Hart Plaza, this public house invites guest to have a pint in what was once the Grand Trunk Railway Station.

The venue dates back to 1879 and was originally the Traub Bros. & Co. jewelry store. The Grand Trunk Railway began using the building as a ticket office in 1910. As legend goes, Harry Houdini had a magic shop in the lower level of the building.

The Metropole Hotel turned it into a bar in 1935 and it has remained a pub ever since. The current bar still features the original early 1900s architecture, beautiful 25-foot vaulted ceilings, brass chandeliers, exposed brick walls and hard wood floors.

While the bar is visually stunning, the gourmet food menu and 170 types of crafted bottled beer it serves throughout the year is what draws in the local food and beer snobs. In an effort to honor its rich Michigan tradition, the bar tries to serve as many Michigan products as it can.

For those of you who make the trip up north somewhat regularly, you might consider joining the bar's Passport Club, which awards patrons for sampling local brews. Members are rewarded for every 25 Michigan beers they drink up to the 100th. After the 100th beer, Passport Club members earn membership to the Grand Trunk mug club and earn special offers.

No. 5 Cliff Bell’s Jazz Club

While Detroit is known for Motown ("Motor + Town"), true music insiders know the city has a rich jazz history. While the city features the largest free jazz festival in North America (the Montreaux Detroit Jazz Festival) and a handful of jazz clubs, "There is only one Cliff Bell's," according to the New York Times.

Cliff Bell’s is a truly unique dining and entertainment experience that offers guests not just a fantastic time but an opportunity to step back in history.

As soon as you step through our doors, you'll be transported back to the 1930s. The New York Times write-up said stepping inside the venue was like "walking onto the set of a Fred Astaire film" due to the space's lavish, art-deco interior and throwback sensibility.

Guests can enjoy food offerings, craft brew and signature cocktails as they listen to hearty jazz tunes from bands such as the The Diego Rivera Sextet  and The Emanuele Cisi Trio , which will perform Saturday night.

While it offers a classic charm, it still feels "cool" -- but not in a bad way. It still manages to feel relaxed and welcoming, and can either set the mood for a great night or serve as a mellow close to a night on the town. It also offers Sunday brunch, lunch and happy hours during the week.

Also, this might be the one place where it's acceptable to wear a fedora, so if own one, bring it.

No. 6 Comerica Park

Yes, this is a football trip but it's also October and the Tigers are fighting to reach the World Series.

Detroit's boy of summer have made their way into late fall once again this year and baseball fans should be excited with a potential elimination game on Saturday against the Red Sox. There are at least 15 restaurants in the general vicinity of the stadium and several casinos and theaters are nearby for your post-baseball entertainment.

In addition to the entertainment venues around the stadium, Comerica also features a ton of baseball-related photo-ops. You can contact the team at (313) 962-4000 for information about photo opportunities and tours.


No. 7 Elwood Bar and Grill  

One of Detroit's art deco Treasures, The Elwood Bar & Grill was built in 1936 at the corner of Elizabeth and Woodward streets. It was moved in 1998 to the corner of Adams and Brush streets to make way for Comerica Park. It's sits right behind left field.

After the move, the bar underwent a renovation that included remodeling the art deco interior and renovating the diner’s unique steel façade. What didn't change was the atmosphere. It’s comfortable, serves good drinks, tasty but inexpensive food (we suggest the Ty Cobb Salad) and caters to a broad cross section of people.

The eatery's proximity to both Comerica

Park and Ford Field make it a great place to hang out before, during and after games. On game days - this is the place to be in Detroit.

As a point of reference, if you like heading down to the Holy Grail before Reds games, this might be the place for you.

Ford Field

While some of the teams that have called it home have been suspect, Ford Field itself is an elite facility that features unmatched character and unparalleled amenities.

Located in the heart of Detroit's burgeoning sports and entertainment district, the 65,000-seat stadium has boasted a tremendous roster of events, ranging from Detroit Lions football to full stadium concerts, college basketball, motorsports events, Super Bowl XL in 2006, WrestleMania in 2007, and the 2009 NCAA Men's Final Four.

Ford Field, which opened in 2002, is across the street from Comerica Park, the home field of the Detroit Tigers. While the Tigers are out of town on Saturday, they trail the Red Sox 3-2 in the AL championship series and are attempting to stave off elimination from the MLB playoffs so the area is going to be jam-packed with sports energy this weekend.

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You can find the directions to these locations at the following link: roadtrippers.com/trips/520d75624203c3bcd70006b6/

Know an exciting place to visit along the way that didn't make the list? Post it in our comment section below.

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