Thanks to the Butler County Visitor’s Bureau for sponsoring this post and giving this old married couple an excuse to have a child free weekend getaway right here in Ohio!
Earlier this summer, the Mr. and I were granted a weekend of free childcare. Those of you with children likely understand what a gift this is! We wanted to take full advantage of our time together, while still getting out of the city to enjoy something new. Not wanting to waste too much time driving, we decided to make the short 1.5 hour trek from Columbus to Butler County for a food and adventure filled Ohio weekend getaway.
You may recall we visited Butler County last year with our son. That trip was all about family fun. We had a blast exploring Entertrainment Station, playing arcade games, and riding golf carts over hills filled with art sculptures, but for this trip we were looking for something a little more adult focused.
The Butler County Visitor’s Bureau gave us some suggestions and set us up at the lovely Courtyard Hamilton in Downtown Hamilton. The town has a lovely riverfront area that hosts outdoor concerts and other events, but we just enjoyed strolling along the riverfront path and enjoying the view.
We started our trip off at a local institution–Jolly’s Drive In. This place is an old school drive in that’s been around for over 80 years. They’re known best for their footlong chili dogs and root beer floats. We parked our car, rolled down the window, and ordered an absurd amount of food, all for under $25. I mean, seriously, ABSURD. We tried their loaded chili dogs, onion rings, chili cheeseburger sliders (my personal favorite), and two orders of their apple fritters, which consisted of cinnamony apple chunks deep fried in a golden crunchy batter. Oh, and of course, we each got a glass of their homemade root beer, served in a frosty mug. It was a pregnant lady’s dream meal.
The following morning we slept in a bit (GLORY BE) before venturing out to the farmer’s market, which was within walking distance of the hotel. We sampled a few specialty teas and scones, and I certainly would’ve walked away with some plants if we hadn’t had to figure out how to keep them alive until we traveled home the next day.
From there, we visited Hyde’s Restaurant, another Hamilton original. They serve up classic diner style breakfasts, and the Mr. and I feasted on omelets, bacon, and pancakes. They’re also know for their pies, and we certainly weren’t going to let the fact that it was 10 AM deter us from getting a big ol’ slice of their Banana Cream Pie, piled high with a pillowy merengue. I think the locals call that the Breakfast of Champions.
We combatted the ensuing carb coma with a kayaking trip with Jimco’s Kayaks down the Great Miami river. It was a HOT day, and since I’m currently carrying my own personal in-womb furnace, we decided on the shortest trip. It was such a peaceful morning excursion, meandering down the mostly calm river, taking our time admiring the trees, the blue skies, and the local wildlife. We also got to watch several rounds of skydivers jump from their planes, and see their colorful parachutes billow up before they floated gently down to the field beside us.
I wouldn’t say the Mr. and I are big adventurers, but every time we kayak or go on some other nature-based excursion I’m reminded how much we love to adventure outdoors. The Mr. really wants to check out the skydiving next time, but I’m content keeping my feet on the ground (or in the water!)
Shockingly enough, we found we’d actually worked up an appetite after kayaking, so we headed to Combs BBQ in Middletown for lunch. The bright yellow converted home was full of charm, including walls lined with guitars that were making the Mr. drool.
But the appeal of this place certainly goes far beyond the decor. We ordered the sampler platter, which included wings, brisket, roast beef, ribs, and pulled pork. The Mr. and I have eaten our fair share of BBQ in cities across the U.S., including Austin, TX and Charleston, NC. I can tell you with confidence this place competes with the best BBQ around. The Mr. loved the roast beef with horseradish, but I think both of our favorite was their chicken wings with spicy sauce. Their sides were also on point, with a delicious creamy mac and cheese, cornbread, and oddly addicting green beans. We brought an absurd amount of leftovers back to the hotel and ate them cold from the fridge later that night. No shame.
After some mid-afternoon naps (HEAVEN, I tell you), we met some friends for dinner at Rivertown Brewery and Barrelhouse . I wasn’t able to partake in any of their alcoholic beverages, but my hubby got a flight and really enjoyed one of their sour ales. I got a massive salad, and now I’m convinced all salads should have French fries on them. We finished the night with a slice of chocolate cake layered with caramel and ganache. I’m not usually a big fan of ultra rich chocolate desserts, but this baby apparently is because this cake hit the spot!
We fell into bed Saturday night, tired but happy from a day of good eats, sunshine, and activity.
Sunday morning, we checked out a couple of new spots on the Butler County Donut Trail, and I have to say, these may have been my favorite of all the ones we tried, including the seven or so we experienced last time.
The Donut House is the first donut shop I’ve ever been to which actually lets you pick your filling and fills your donuts on the spot. They have a variety of frosted and glazed donuts which you can fill with their selection of different custards, creams, and fruit jellies. We got one raspberry filled and one Bavarian cream. Both were wonderful, but my favorite was the apple fritter! It’s definitely in the top three apple fritters I’ve ever had.
We also tried Holtman’s Donuts, which has an absolutely huge selection of donuts in a super cute atmosphere. There were plenty of tables and chairs here, which makes it a great place to stop and relax if you’re on the trail. There were so many novelty and classic flavors to choose from, but my favorite was a twisted and glazed pastry donut (pictured below on the bottom left) that reminded me of a doughssant, but with even more crispy flaky texture.
The Mr. and I grabbed a coffee to go at CAVU coffee before heading to our last stop. I have really been enjoying lavendar coffees lately (weird, but so good), and their lavender honey latte was no exception!
Before heading home we took a little country drive to visit the Barn n Bunk Farmer’s Market. The market has a few different buildings, some with locally made home goods, others with fresh from the farm produce, and others with ice cream, sandwiches, and local jams, jellies, and baked goods. We had such a fun time exploring the aisles and came home with the cutest hand made wooden forklift for our little guy.
After a lovely weekend away, we headed for home with full hearts and full bellies, refreshed and ready to be reunited with sweet P. If you’re looking for a foodie vacation or couple’s getaway close to Columbus, Indianapolis, or Louisville, give Butler County, OH a try! There is so much to see, explore, and eat in this little Ohio gem.
And if you can’t get enough sweet donut-y goodness, then check out my recipe for Asian Buffet Style Chinese Donuts!