Weekend U: Fall Getaway to Miami University
Long ago, the poet Robert Frost visited western Ohio and fell under the thrall of Miami University, deeming it "the most beautiful campus that ever there was." A half-century later, it's easy to see what captivated Frost: Paved paths wind past stately redbrick Georgian buildings (some from the 19th century), under stone arches, over bridges crossing Four Mile Creek and across lawns dotted with stands of maple, oak, bald cypress and even the occasional persimmon tree (whose fruit should be coming into season right about … now).
Miami University is the figurative heart of Oxford, Ohio, 41 miles northwest of Cincinnati. (Geographically, it occupies the eastern half of the town of 8,000.) Oxford provides a quiet place to grab a drink after a day of hiking and fossil hunting among the fall colors at nearby Hueston Woods State Park, connected in spirit to the wooded town. Once classes start, the population swells to some 22,000 residents, and visitors arrive to savor autumn afternoons and campus staples-football games at 24,000-seat Yager Stadium, historical architecture, a tight-knit community-with a side of wilderness.
Miami has earned a reputation as "the cradle of coaches" for cultivating legends like Paul Brown and Woody Hayes, who advanced from the Miami sideline to the coaching pantheon. Beyond the stadium, a great spot for game watching is in Oxford's Uptown neighborhood at Mac and Joe's, filled with big-screen TVs and fans drinking craft beers. But even as cheers rise from the stadium, the splendor Frost found along Four Mile Creek remains, quiet but for the applause of falling leaves.
The small-town campus
Play Fill a day at Hueston Woods State Park, 5 miles north of Oxford. Ten miles of hiking trails wind through the hilly region known for its towering beech and maple trees. Other modes of exploration include bike or horseback (through the on-site stables).
Dine At authentically German Steinkeller Bier Hall and Restaurant, try The Mad King Ludwig: a bratwurst patty, Wiener schnitzel, crispy bacon strips and sauerkraut sandwiched between two potato pancakes and smothered in beer-cheese sauce. For lighter fare, hit Kona Bistro for smashed salmon salad: a bed of spinach with layers of tomatoes, carrots, mashed potatoes, grilled salmon and mango chutney.
Stay Chain hotels scatter through Oxford.
For more information: Oxford Visitors Bureau (513) 523-8687; enjoyoxford.org