CINCINNATI -- OK, that's it -- Memorial Day is over. You've gone to the lake and bathed your kids in suntan oil to make sure they don't burn. You lounged and read a good book and barbecued and celebrated all that is Americana. But is that it? Is that all there is in terms of family fun in the summer?
Nope. Absolutely not. As a married father of two, I'm always searching for fun stuff to do in this area that isn't too far away. We're lucky that we live in a place that is close to so much. Even so, sometimes we get sick of the same old trips.
We want to go somewhere. We want to see something different. Luckily, there are a lot of cool family things to see and do -- and all of them are fairly close by. Whether you're into exploring caves, hunting monsters or riding rides, there's something for everyone.
We here at WCPO present nine things (in no particular order) to fill up your summer weekends:
1. Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, Louisville, Kentucky
Low-hanging fruit here, right? Still, visiting the museum where the majority of the MLB's bats are made is super fun -- and you can even get a free mini-bat to take with you. For a bonus, hop over to the stadium and watch the Reds' Triple-A team, the Louisville Bats, as they take on future Major League stars on the minor league level.
2. The Children's Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana
Definitely not just fun for the kids. With an impressive collection of dinosaur fossils, as well as several timely rotating exhibits (when we went, we got to see the science behind the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), activities always encourage participation.
3. The National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio
For history buffs, there is no better place to explore the tradition of great men and women who shaped our country from the skies. Special events include a new exhibit celebrating 100 years since World War I and the display of the legendary Memphis Belle.
4. Mammoth Cave National Park, Mammoth Cave, Kentucky
Come on down the steps into the largest known cave system in the world, where you can learn the difference between stalagmites and stalactites and listen to the complete silence when you're exploring the depths.
5. Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, Columbus, Ohio
This one-of-a-kind cartoon museum is celebrating its 40-year anniversary, where you can find cartoons dating back 250 years. Closed on Mondays, and open from 1-5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
6. Renfro Valley Entertainment Center, Renfro Valley, Kentucky
Known as "Kentucky's Country Music Capital," the 55-acre destination complex offers concerts, shopping villages and an RV Park for travelers and country music lovers. Love arts and crafts? Love down-home cooking? You'll love the Valley.
7. The Mothman Festival, Point Pleasant, West Virginia
In 1966, a slew of people saw something very strange in the backwoods of West Virginia. The sightings led up to a frightening real-life event in 1967: the collapse of the Silver Bridge, which killed 46 people. What did everyone see? Was it really a strange, 7-foot-tall winged creature? The mystery is still debated during the festival in September or any other time.
8. Ozone Zipline Adventures, Lebanon, Ohio
Launched in July 2009, Ozone Zipline Adventures is part of YMCA's Camp Kern, and proceeds from sales go to support local outdoor education programs. Fly over 500-million-year-old fossils and earthworks or even try a night zip!
9. Holiday World, Santa Claus, Indiana: Complete with theme park roller coasters and a water park, Holiday World provides shows and fun for all ages. Especially suited for children, families can get excited about free parking, soft drinks and sunscreen online deals.
We'll add one more -- though it may be a little farther away.
BONUS: Superman Celebration, Metropolis, Illinois
Held from June 8-11, this Illinois town has celebrated Superman for 45 years with celebrities, vendors, music and a costume contest. Look for acclaimed artists and animators to attend, too.