The Loneliest Road

From Cincinnati, US-50 follows surface streets through the warehouse and residential districts along the Ohio River before becoming a freeway for the quick drive east to Mariemont (pop. 3,403). Built in the mid-1920s as one of the nation’s first planned “Garden City” communities, Mariemont’s mock-Tudor downtown centers on the historic and comfortable Best Western Premier Mariemont Inn (6880 Wooster Pike, 513/271-2100, $174 and up), right on US-50. Across the street there’s a branch of the excellent local ice cream chain, Graeter’s. The sole surviving neighborhood of Mariemont’s original 1920s half-timbered arts-and-crafts homes is an easily walkable block to the southeast. On the east edge of Mariemont, the legacy of old US-50 is celebrated right along the old highway at the popular 50 West Brewing Company (7668 Wooster Pike, 513/834-8789), where good food and a range of local beers are served in a former roadside speakeasy. In summer, you can also rent kayaks or inner tubes for a leisurely float along the Little Miami River, on the south side of the highway, and the old railroad route is a rail trail running all the way from Cincinnati to Cleveland.

East of Mariemont, US-50 crosses the Little Miami River again at the scenic, 25-mph town of Milford before racing east across 40 miles of flat and sparsely settled farming country to Hillsboro. In Milford, there’s a Frisch’s Big Boy restaurant (840 Lila Ave., 513/831-0111), with a great old Big Boy sign, straight out of American Graffiti.