Ready your jousts, and mount your bicycle...we're heading to Loveland, Ohio!
Growing up as a kid in the Cincinnati area, I have fond memories of visiting an enchanted castle tucked away amidst the woods. Now in my adult life, I thought it would be fun to revisit a place that so caught my fancy and to understand why this fortress was constructed in the first place!
Besides being the home to the castle, Loveland also boasts wonderful parks, a quaint downtown area and a popular bike trail. Packing a picnic lunch, my sister Jenny and I and our group ventured northeast along Interstate 275 to our destination.
Peacefully situated along the banks of the Little Miami River, Loveland Castle, also known as Chateau Laroche, has a noble history. Envisioned by Harry Andrews as a place for his young men's Sunday School class to enjoy recreational activities, construction began in 1929. Andrews continued building the structure mostly by hand, sometimes creating bricks out of empty milk cartons and glass mixed with mortar -- a true labor of love! Since Harry's death in 1981, the group he founded in 1927 called 'Knights of the Golden Trail' maintain the property through tours and donations.
Although the Castle is not quite as large as its European inspiration, you can tell Andrews was inspired by the valor and chivalry of knights long ago. Armor replicas and a jail-like dungeon will make any child excited and spooked all at the same time. Besides the interior of the structure, don't forget to explore the terraced gardens and lookouts manicured amidst the walls.
After exploring the three levels of the castle and surrounding grounds, we hopped back in our cars and headed over to the Loveland bike trail. Built along an old railway line, the trail extends for 70 flat miles along the Little Miami Scenic State Park. We found some convenient parking near the trail and gathered our picnic baskets for lunch at Nisbit Park and Amphitheater. Situated near a tributary to the Little Miami, we dined al fresco on sandwiches and pasta salad while watching the active visitors go zipping by on the trail.
You're more than welcome to bring your own bike to conquer the trails, or plenty of bike rental places are available to avoid lugging equipment in the car. Loveland Bike Rental is located just steps from the park with anything from simple cruisers and tandem bikes to road/performance bikes for the more advanced. There are even trailer attachments for children. For something different, the owners suggest testing out a low-riding trike called a Recumbent.
Try out Loveland and all it has to offer for family fun any time!
Loveland Castle Details:
Entry: $3.00 per person.
Summer Hours: April - September
Monday - Sunday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. everyday.
Winter Hours: November - March
Saturday 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.