Exploring the state of Ohio gives you a well-rounded look at what the Midwest has to offer. And, when it comes to places in Ohio that have super fun things to offer families, Butler County, Ohio has made my short list. From driving around outdoor sculptures in a golf cart to go carts and dining, here are 10 of the best things to do in Butler County, Ohio – including the Butler County Donut Trail!
I know I’ve written it before, but having the pleasure of exploring my own backyard (AKA The Midwest) is always fun. If you live in or around the Buckeye State, you know there’s everything from beaches to big city entertainment. And, Ohio is particularly special in that it has plenty to offer both its residents and visitors.
So, when you’re on the west side of the state, where do you go and what should you see? Just north of Cincinnati sits Butler County, Ohio – and it’s filled with family fun – and donuts!
1. Butler County Donut Trail
When it comes to sweet spots, the county has definitely put its mark on the map with its Butler County Donut Trail. The trail, just like baker’s dozen, has 13 locations that folks are flocking to, and you can start the trail anywhere you like. Not only are there fun shops and delicious donuts to try, there’s a Donut Trail Geotour, too. Grab all of the caches and code words and you’ll get a Donut Trail trackable Geocoin.
Here’s the scoop: Grab an official Donut Trail Passport. Once you complete the Trail and have a completed passport, you’ll get a fun Donut Trail t-shirt. Each shop has its own particular hours of operation, so please check out the official Butler County Donut Trail website for all of the locations. We were able to hit three in one morning (pace yourself, people) to get a taste of the Trail:
Three locations that we really enjoyed:
Stan the Donut Man – Located in West Chester, this Butler County Donut Trail stop is part coffee shop, part donut shop. Since it was our first time visiting, we asked to try its top sellers including Sour Cream and Glazed. The prices are affordable and the donuts are very fresh.
Holtman’s Donuts – This stop on the donut trail features classic donuts with a hip spin. Here you’ll find fun flavors like Maple Bacon, Peanut Butter, and limited donuts – we loved the Blue Raspberry Shark!
Jupiter Coffee & Donuts – We loved this mom and pop shop! Located in Fairfield, it has donuts for $1. I really appreciate the fact that its maple donuts are made with maple syrup straight from their family’s farm. But, if you’re looking for something really unique, this Donut Trail stop features a Waffle Donut – a glazed donut that’s heated in a waffle maker. Once nice and toasty, you and the kiddos can decorate it with toppings.
2. Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum
Golf carts and 60 monumental sculptures in a 300+ acre park? If you find it hard to believe – I know I did when I heard about it- you’re not alone. But, it truly does exist at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum.
The park is open year-round, but if you visit during warmer weather, you can rent a golf cart to whisk your way around the beautiful property. What’s even more fun is that you’re allowed to take your cart off the paved path and close to the sculptures.
My daughter and I visited a couple of months ago and it was a hoot! We always actively hunt out art museums when we travel, but this one is especially fun in that it’s unique.
3. Jungle Jim’s International Market
What started out as a roadside produce stand in the 70’s has grown into a grocery store on steroids. Fast forward to today where its two locations offer more than 500,000 square feet of shopping.
Honestly, I had never been to anything like Jungle Jim’s International Market. It’s kind of like Walt Disney World and Walmart had a baby. We found everything from a giant international foods area to animated characters and larger than life product displays. If it’s your first visit, plan on spending at least two hours moseying around the property.
When we walked through the doors, we were asked if we needed a map – it’s that large. And here’s the thing: kids will love shopping there because of its whimsical ambiance. Honestly, if I lived closer, Jungle Jim’s would probably be the only place I’d grocery shop.
4. Holiday Auto Theater
I love showing my daughter what life was like when I was a kid. Honestly, I love to see her eyes light up or eye roll. So, a visit to Holiday Auto Theater was a must. A classic drive-in theater, it plays family-friendly movies during warmer weather. During our visit to Butler County, the live action film “The Lion King” was shown – so cute!
Spend more time in Ohio. Here are the top10 things to do in Ohio with kids.
5. EnterTRAINment Junction
If you’re in West Chester and have kids that love trains, you’ll definitely want to stop at EnterTRAINment Junction. Its stats are staggering (it’s the largest train display in the world with over 25,000 square feet!) and the attention to detail impressive. What we loved most is the feeling that we were taking a journey through a train timeline. Each room has a theme and there is a second floor viewing area which allows you to see the space from above.
EnterTRAINment Junction also has a really cute fun house. It has several themed areas, but the must-see is the Crazy Caper section where you can take photos that seem to defy the laws of gravity. There are also a couple of fun, kid-sized train rides, too.
6. Inside Out Studio
There’s so many positive things to say about Inside Out Studio that I’m not sure where to begin, so let’s start with a small backstory. The studio provides a positive, safe environment for Butler County artists with developmental disabilities. Once a project is completed, it may be purchased at the retail storefront.
But it’s so much more than that. When we visited, I had a hard time tearing my daughter away from the creative folks. They showed her how they painted, drew, and even sculpted (many local businesses ask them to create signature pieces to auction or sell) and there was no way we were getting out of there without buying a handmade Mickey Mouse pillow.
7. Petals & Wicks
We watch a ton of YouTube tutorials on how to make homemade candles and lotions, so a stop at Petals & Wicks in Hamilton was a no-brainer. But what sets Petals & Wicks apart from any candle making class I’ve ever been to is the fact that you can make a custom scent by choosing up to three scents and combining them.
When we visited, we chose to make goat’s milk body lotion so we could take it with us immediately. If you do choose to pour a candle, you’ll need to return a few hours later to pick it up.
8. Karma in the Kitchen
Two words: artisan chocolate. If you weren’t specifically looking for it you might miss it (it’s behind another building), so be sure to hunt Karma in the Kitchen out.
The store itself is cute, but it’s the chocolate and fudge that are standouts. Add in the fact that the owners are super personable and passionate, and it’s the perfect melding for a take-home a sweet Butler County treat.
9. The WEB Extreme Entertainment
Take a Dave & Buster’s and Chuck E. Cheese, combine it together, and you’ve got Butler County’s The WEB Extreme Entertainment. It’s a giant, indoor space that has everything from go-carts to laser tag. There’s also mini golf, mini bowling, arcade games, and, what we loved most, an Escape Room. Suited for older children, it’s a must-try if you love puzzle rooms.
There are also single and double go-carts (kids 10 and over and 56″ or taller may drive alone), so if you have younger children, they can ride with you in their zero emission vehicles.
10. Butler County Dining
Now that you know how fun Butler County, Ohio, is to visit, let’s talk about where to eat. Sure, the Butler County Donut Trail is worth the visit alone, but there plenty of really good dining options in the county as well.
If the kiddos love Disney, they’ll definitely want to try the Mickey pancakes at High St. Cafe in Hamilton. Love barbecue? Then you’ll have to head to Combs BBQ in Middletown. Yes, it’s a little out of the way, but the sauces and cool restaurant interior make it worth the drive.
Namaste Curry House (right down the street from Jungle Jim’s) has amazing curry and an affordable lunch buffet. And if you love Mexican food, I highly recommend Taqueria Guanajuato. I hadn’t had a chimichanga in years and it was delicious.
Lastly, if you want a hip coffee house/pastry shop to try, check out CAVU. Named after an aviation meteorology term, its pastries and coffee drinks are amazing.
Disclosure: A special thank you to Butler County Visitors Bureau for hosting the author. All opinions are her own.