Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, where I was compensated by the Butler County Visitor’s Bureau to write about my experience. All opinions are my own and do not reflect the sponsor's point of view.
Recently, I took a trip down to Butler County for a weekend long girls trip to eat, explore, and unwind from the world. Conveniently located between Cincinnati and Dayton, Butler County provides one-of-a-kind experiences for all ages. From skydiving 18,000 feet in the air to shopping local farmer’s markets on a Saturday morning, I truly believe this small town is a place for everyone to enjoy.
With only a two-hour drive from Columbus, we hopped in the car and made our way down I-71 south to one of the most charming, historical getaways in Ohio. You don’t always have to “get away” to “getaway” – because sometimes the adventure is right in your backyard. I love Columbus, but exploring Butler County felt all too familiar – because even though we were visitors for the weekend this place instantly felt like home.
From the small business owners who felt like neighbors to the residents who welcomed you like friends, I would highly recommend adding this gem to your Ohio travels bucket list. You can be an adrenaline junkie or a craft beer connoisseur, whatever it is you're looking for you'll find it here. Personally, I enjoyed the proximity of how close everything was to our hotel. You could easily go from riding a bike along the Miami River to grabbing an IPA with a friend within seconds.
We arrived at the Courtyard Hamilton (1 Riverfront Plaza, Hamilton, OH 45011) late Friday night and were eager to start our weekend. Every first Friday of the month, the city of Hamilton hosts a concert music series at the RiversEdge. While we were there, Back to Black (an AC/DC tribute band) was performing which attracted hundreds (but felt like thousands) of concertgoers and visitors from around the area. It was a lot of fun to see a city we were just starting to get to know come so alive on a Friday night.
To say the least, our weekend started immediately and was jam-packed with fine dining, beautiful sights, and good company. We enjoyed IPAs at Municipal Brew Works (right across the street from our hotel), brunched at the Mockingbirds Cafe, kayaked with JIMCO down the Miami River in Middletown, ate burrito-sized sushi rolls at Roll On In, dined in and watched a movie at CinéBistro at Liberty Center, ate our way through an Instagram-worthy, nationally famous 80-mile donut trail, and then pressed the pedal to the metal when exploring beautiful, larger than life art displays at the Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum. The entire trip exceeded our expectations and it was such a beautiful weekend to be outdoors.
On Saturday morning, we woke up and walked around downtown Hamilton, checked out the local farmer's market, and grabbed a quick coffee before we made our way to brunch at Mockingbirds Cafe. As soon as we arrived, we instantly noticed the warm yellow tables, the colorful umbrellas hanging from the ceiling, and the small town feel of locals stopping by asking for their regular orders. For me, I ordered the fried chicken and waffles, while my best friend, Sophia, ordered the impossible burger. This is a great option for those who love the taste of meat, but want to try a vegetarian dish. It is completely plant-based and high in protein. Overall, the customer service at Mockingbirds Cafe was great, the prices were affordable, and I would highly recommend to families and small groups looking for a quick bite to eat.
After brunch, we were excited to go kayaking with JIMCO, who currently promotes his services through Spoken Bicycles, a very modern, eclectic bicycle shop that offers full service bike maintenance along with house-made artisan cocktails and locally sourced beer.
JIMCO Kayaking, which is short for "Jim's Company," offered us a mini tour of downtown Middletown right before he dropped us off. He was such a great tour guide and showed us the historical beauty of the homes and landscape surrounding the city. You could instantly feel the energy and pride he had for his hometown, which made the trip that much more meaningful. When we arrived at the Miami River, Jim helped us get into our kayaks and provided us guidance on how to navigate the stronger currents in the river.
Thankfully, neither one of us tipped over our kayaks and we were able to paddle as slow or as fast as we wanted too. Breathing in the natural air felt so damn relaxing and I enjoyed every minute of it. As you paddle down the Miami River, you'll either be entertained by the skydivers jumping out of planes right above you, the bikers riding along the trails next to you, or will be in sheer awe of all the natural lush greenery that surrounds you.
After a long day spent out in the sun, it was time to freshen up and grab a bite to eat. Because we got in late the first night, we were excited to eat dinner twice. First, we stopped by Roll On In, which was a short walk over the bridge from our hotel and offered a fun casual sushi-to-go experience combining traditional Japanese, Mexican, and Greek flavors. The customer service was great and the food was reasonably priced. I'm a simple girl so of course I ordered a California sushi burrito with a side of spicy mayo. It was exactly what I needed after all the calories we had just burned.
From there, we made our way to CinéBistro at Liberty Center, located within an outdoor shopping mall, and all I can say is this was by far the BEST dine-in movie experiences I have ever had! I'm sorry, Columbus - but Butler County has us beat. The wait staff was exceptional, the food was fresh, the theaters were clean, and the overall experience felt extremely luxurious. Also, I loved the fact that the theater requires customers to place their food orders 30 minutes prior to when the movie starts which prevents accidental disruptions from the wait staff.
On our last day, we made our way to Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum, where we explored a 300+ acre outdoor park with 60+ monumental sculptures displayed in a landscape of rolling hills, meadows, lakes, and hiking trails. We rented an art cart (essentially a decorated golf cart) for 30 minutes where we took in all the beautiful sites. Because let's be honest, who doesn't love driving a golf cart without being required to play golf?
The park also features an Ancient Sculpture Museum that displays Greek, Roman, Etruscan, Syrian and Egyptian sculptures dating to 1550 B.C. The Museum Gallery hosts exhibitions by local, regional and national artists. The park is open 365 days a year (weather permitting) and is known for its popular Holiday Lights on the Hill annual drive-through light display.
Park admission is $8.00 for adults, $3.00 for children 6-12 years old, and FREE for children 5 and under. Art carts can be rented by non-members for $20/an hour. For more information about planning your visit check out their website.
Last but certainly not least, we hit the famous Butler County Donut Trail. To be honest, we were so tired from the previous day, we decided to sleep in on Sunday which caused us to miss the majority of the trail. Don't make our same mistake! We have a mission that went unfulfilled so we will definitely be back. Our first stop was Holtman's Donuts located near a Top Golf and a ton of really nice restaurants and a movie theater. The shop was beautifully decorated in my favorite color "Turqouise", and the smell of warm dough, maple bacon, and cinnamon will instantly hit you when you walk through the door. This place is definitely Instagram worthy and will take you back in time to your "Grease" watching days.
Next we we made our way to The Donut House, but it was closed so we called around and sadly figured out that these places are really popular and close early. So we called ahead to one last place and thankfully we had 15 minutes to get from where we were to Jupiter Coffee and Donuts, who gifted us with every donut and sweet treat known to man. We loaded up and had a mini photo shoot in their parking lot. A bloggers dream is plain white walls! Needless to say, the Donut Trail is a MUST while visiting Butler County.
In case you didn't know, Butler County boasts one of the highest numbers of donut shops per capita in the Midwest, with at least one donut shop for every 15,000 residents. Damn, that's a lot of donuts. Trail participants can experience the Donut Trail by collecting secret codes and filling in an official passport at each required location. Passports can be picked up in a donut shop or downloaded online. Once completed, each passport can be redeemed for a complimentary Donut Trail t-shirt. More details about this Donut Trail will be in my next blog post.
To say this trip was a pleasant surprise is an understatement. I had such a great time visiting Butler County and getting to know the people that work, play, and live here, and I can most definitely say I will be back. For more information about Butler County visit: www.gettothebc.com.
My name is Morgan Pelt, founder and lifestyle blogger behind Columbus Living – a blog dedicated to sharing stories about local businesses, events and entrepreneurs. I grew up in Columbus and as a creative outlet; I like to share my adventures and experiences through writing, photography and social media. It's time to discover new places, try new food, and meet new people. Let's go!