Maybe some people think roadside attractions (a/k/a TOURIST TRAPS) are super tacky, but I just think that road trips would be remiss without stopping to see at least one giant rubberband ball. Henry is one of those people who finds limited, if any, joy in anything off the beaten path, so our travel days are usually full of lots of yelling, pouting, tires squealing, and hands punching the steering wheel.
I almost always get my way, though! And Henry will usually admit later that it “wasn’t bad.” Except for the cuckoo clock cluster. He was 100% not a fan of that side trip.
Loveland Castle has been on my radar for some time now and our travel day on Saturday was actually planned around a stop at its hallowed grounds. This joint is nearly in the middle of nowhere, right outside of Cincinnati, down a concerning road that seems like it’s going to drop you straight into a river, until it suddenly turns and THERE IS THE CASTLE.
It’s much smaller than I anticipated, though I’m not sure what I was actually expecting — Neuschwanstein Castle? I mean, it’s just Ohio, after all. It was at least bigger than White Castle, so there’s that.
[Though, speaking of Germany — I kept seeing this shit called goetta on menus while we were in the area and it turns out it’s some kind of gross German breakfast meat product that’s a Cincinnati staple and I’m like, how did I have a best friend from that area for like 6 years and she never mentioned goetta (not that I’d be interested in it because meat, but still) or took me to Loveland Castle?! Probably because she was too busy keeping me hidden in her bedroom like a DEAD BUTTERFLY NAILED TO A BOARD. You know what I mean. If not, just skip ahead.]
My initial thought was: this place is a clusterfuck. There was no order whatsoever! You walk in to some glorified gift shop and bump into people and then when the young guy at the counter fails to acknowledge you, you stand there with money in your hand until he finally asks, “How many adults and kids?” No ticket was administered, no hands were stamped — we could have probably just walked in and not even paid.
He didn’t even tell us where to start!! People were literally stumbling about like drunk lemmings.
The tour is self-guided. I hate self-guided tours. I need someone beating information into me. I can’t be trusted to stop and read plaques on walls, although at one point, we were passing back through the gift shop when some man in Loveland t-shirt stood up and gave those of us in the room a brief, yet wildly entertaining, history of the Castle. His name was Sir Dave and he had a great local flavor about him, if you know what I mean (do you know what I mean) and I wished so badly that he would just escort us through the whole damn Castle – it wasn’t that big!
He even managed to charm Henry, but I might just be mixing it up with the fact that he mentioned the SERVICE, at which point Henry adopted an “I’m listening” visage.
Sir Dave told us about the Castle’s builder, Sir Harry Delos Andrews, and how he became enamored with architecture when he was in Europe DURING THE WAR (he was a MEDIC). And so in the 1950-something, he started to build his own damn castle on the banks of the Little Miami River, using milk cartons filled with clay or something that I can’t be expected to remember, to make bricks. There are like over a million of them that make up the Castle. I think that’s what I heard somewhere.
Sir Harry was like a Boy Scout leader too or something and they helped him build the Castle. He called them the Knights of the Golden Trail.
I literally can’t imagine Chooch being a Boy Scout.
I almost fell down a stone staircase at one point and Chooch thought this was the funniest thing ever and then wanted me to reenact it later and I was like, “Who taught you to be such an assho—-oh. Never mind.”
YOU SHOULD KNOW WHAT KOGT STANDS FOR SINCE I WRITE SUCH INFORMATIVE TRAVEL GUIDES.
A bedroom cell.
There is something on this wall that I HATE. Bonus points if you can find it.
You can’t expect me to read all of these artifacts. I paid $5 and I wanted someone to tell me The Facts!
Chooch’s review: I thought Loveland Castle was cool and scary (not really) but it was scary that 2 drunk men came in and attacked Sir Harry and stole some weapons. Also I saw a white box with a Bee’s Nest inside so, YAY!!!
I want that lantern.
Sir Harry had an IQ of 189!
Here’s a picture of Henry learning how to build me a castle.
Sir Dave gave us a riddle, something about Sir Harry being pronounced dead in 1918 (I think?) and then died in 1981, and said we would have to watch the short documentary playing upstairs in one of the towers. So we watched it and it wasn’t really a riddle, but like….something that seriously happened? They thought he had died of spinal meningitis when he was IN THE SERVICE and declared him dead but then realized three days later that he wasn’t dead and had to give a shot of adrenaline to the heart, at which point he awoke and it turned out he had some kind of rare antibody in him or something, I quit paying attention once we got the answer.
These two assholes I travel with always act like every roadside attraction we stop at is the worst thing since I introduced Jonny Craig into their lives, but they later admitted that Loveland Castle was “pretty cool.”
Patriotic party hat!
Overall, I was glad that we made the detour. It only took about an hour to see it all (and that’s because we looped around it twice and then watched that 20 minute documentary too) and the history was juicy enough to make it worthwhile. Anyway, if you’re into Boy Scouts; medieval things; and the possibility of tumbling down narrow, uneven, spiral stone staircases, then you should visit Loveland Castle.
(If you collect magnets like I do, prepare to be disappointed though. Their souvenir selection is sparse.)
(I think Henry secretly joined the KOGT when I wasn’t looking.)
(Also, I think I have a crush on Sir Dave?!)
Afterward, we ate lunch at Sugar & Spice, another place my ex-BFF never took me!
“Maybe it wasn’t around when you were friends,” Henry said, ALWAYS DEFENDING HER.
“It was established in 1942!” I cried, jabbing my finger at my Sugar & Spice coffee cup that said “EST. 1942.”