National Donut Day is celebrated on the first Friday of June. But why commemorate something so delicious only one day a year? If you’re ready to road trip again, you only have to travel a short distance to sample as many sugar-laden, jelly-filled, icing-covered delights as you desire—on the Butler County Donut Trail in Butler County, OH.
Launched in January 2016, the trail meanders through 80 miles of southwestern Ohio and takes about 4-1/2 hours to complete if you’re planning on a marathon run. Or you can spend a weekend in this inviting area located about five hours west of Pittsburgh, and just hit a few of the locally owned, mom-and-pop donut shops that line the trail.
Butler County takes its donuts so seriously –they have one of the highest numbers of donut shops per capita in the Midwest, with one donut shop for every 17,000 residents—that their visitors’ bureau even employs a “donut concierge” to help visitors plan their Donut Trail trip.
Never one to shy from a tough assignment, I traveled the Donut Trail a couple of years ago, visiting Kelly’s Bakery, The Donut Spot and Jupiter Coffee & Donuts—three of the baker’s dozen donut shops that make up the trail. The most important advice I can give you is to get up early! While all of these stops are stocked full with donuts, the trail is extremely popular for tourists and locals alike, and once the donuts are gone, all you’ll be left with is an empty box of crumb-filled sorrow.
The most fun part of the Donut Trail is getting to hang out with a carb-craving crowd that has found a way to appreciate early mornings. On my jaunt, I met families that start every weekend this way; couples who stop in to get that one favorite flavor, and locals who bring their out-of-town friends to enjoy this innovative coffee klatch. Even the signage is fun—each stop has a cute message letting you know you’re in the right place.
Bagels Need Love, too
While the Donut Trail is a huge area attraction, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Bagel & Deli in Oxford, OH, which is worth its own stop. Not only is every inch of the walls covered in handwritten signs featuring the more than 90 different delicacies on their menu, but the narrow shop is also filled with divine smells and the sizzling sounds of a Burt Reynolds or Banana Surprise bagel being fresh-made. Oxford is also home to the University of Miami, and a short walk down the street will put you on campus, where you can explore the home of William Holmes McGuffey, the university professor who wrote the first elementary school-level textbook, called the McGuffey Reader, which went on to sell more than 122 million copies.
Get a Move On
If you’re going to eat like this, you’re going to need to work off some calories, and that’s easy to do in Hamilton, OH, which has an easily walkable downtown area featuring a wide range of outdoor art. From bright, building-wide murals, to a life-sized Alexander Hamilton statue standing amid two lanes of traffic, to more abstract, modern sculptures, it’s no wonder Hamilton was named the City of Sculpture. The Fitton Center for Creative Arts is also located in town, where you can see (and buy) handmade art, take an art class or see a live show. While you’re there, make sure to check out the bathrooms, which showcase even more stunning art!
Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum, located a short drive from downtown, is the perfect place to continue your art jaunt—300 acres of well-kept trails wind among immense outdoor sculptures of all kinds, and the Ancient Sculpture Museum, located in a model of an ancient Roman home, features a collection dating back to 1550 B.C. And don’t worry if you can’t do that much walking—one of the great things about Pyramid Hill is that you can rent an Art Cart and drive right up to the sculptures, which makes them accessible to everyone.
Kiss Your No-carb Life Goodbye
Even if you manage to skip the donuts and bagels (but why?), Butler County also offers a wealth of breweries and wineries to make all that walking worth the effort. Municipal Brew Works in downtown Hamilton, for example, not only serves great craft beer but is located in a cool Art Deco facility that once housed a fire station, police gun range and detective headquarters. The original jail cells are still intact on the fourth floor, which might make you think twice before overindulging!
Grainworks Brewing Company in West Chester Township was started by two guys who loved beer—so much so, that they visited more than 350 breweries to find beer that they liked—and then decided, with the help of a third partner and no commercial brewing experience, to open one of their own. Their gamble paid off—customers love the fact that they are constantly experimenting and have diverse offerings for every taste.
Whether you’re looking for decadent cream cheese and raspberry-filled donuts, incredible outdoor art or a New England-style hazy IPA, Butler County, OH has it all. Learn more at www.GetToTheBC.com.