Iâ€™m not normally a person who would suggest setting an alarm on vacation. After all, isnâ€™t the whole point of having down time to relax? So why would anyone in their right mind get up early?
One word:Â Donuts.
As soon as I said it, you could smell them, couldnâ€™t you? Right out of the fryerâ€”sugary, creamy, heavenly scented, icing-decorated orbs of awesomeness that are packaged by the dozen because no one should have just one.
But you know whatâ€™s better than starting your day with a donut? Following a WHOLE TRAIL dedicated to this breakfast delight. In fact, in Butler County, OH, you can even earn a t-shirt for filling out a donut passport that features 11 savory donut stops throughout southwestern Ohio.
The Early Bird Gets the…Donuts
I started out at 8 a.m., having been warned by those in the know that you have to get your donuts early because once theyâ€™re gone, theyâ€™re gone. And it would have been a horrible shame to miss the delicacies that I got at Kellyâ€™s Bakery, The Donut Spot, and Jupiter Coffee & Donuts, as well as to forego the morning conversation with others on this jelly-filled journey.
People come from all over to enjoy strawberry yeast sprinkles, buckeyes, old-fashioneds, fried croissants, and the stunning Red Storm Rollâ€”a masterpiece of cream cheese and raspberry fillingâ€”and they bring their friends with them. One couple I spoke to were with a motorcycle group who decided to turn the trail into a poker-run type event, hitting every spot on the same day. An older man probably summed it up best when I asked him if he thought the Donut Trail was a good idea.
â€œHow could it not be?â€ he answered, looking at me as if Iâ€™d gone mental.
The stops are marked with fun signs telling you that youâ€™re on the trail and the addresses are on your passport, so places are easy to find even in a sugar coma. And while you can do it in a day, you arenâ€™t required to do so, which is good if youâ€™re planning to fit in the same pair of pants while driving between stops.
Yes, I’m Fit. Fittin’ this Whole Donut in My Mouth
Speaking of, if you feel the need to walk around town to work off some of these hard-earned calories, the county seat of Hamilton, OH, is a fine place to do it. The city is filled with murals and street sculpturesâ€”earning it the title The City of Sculptureâ€”not to mention tributes to namesake Alexander Hamilton (the man, not the musical). The Street Spark program, founded through a partnership between the city and the Fitton Center for Creative Arts, has so far funded the creation of eight large murals, including my favorite, Taking Flight, a design symbolizing a city reaching new heights.
Located on 300 acres, Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park, just a short drive from downtown, features a stunning array of work surrounded by natureâ€™s beauty. And while you can wander along its well-kept trails, if youâ€™re simply too stuffed you can rent a golf cartâ€”cleverly known as Art Cartsâ€”and tool around while listening to an app that tells you all about the artists and their work. Make sure to stop in at the 10,000 sq. ft. Ancient Sculpture Museum in the park as well; located in a model of an ancient Roman home, the collection, with sculptures dating to 1550 B.C., is absolutely fascinating.
A Bagel for the Road?
Before you leave the area, Iâ€™d suggest hitting up Bagel & Deli in Oxford, OH, which is also home to the University of MiamiÂ (named by Forbes as one of the Top College Towns) for a little food for the road. Itâ€™s one of the cityâ€™s favorite attractions, with more than 90 different cleverly named delicacies on the menu that covers every inch of the walls within the funky space. Itâ€™s hard to choose between the All-American, Earth Day, MILF, Big Gay Bagel and even a sandwich named for Burt Reynolds, and some people donâ€™t. A photo wall immortalizes those who have eaten all of the bagels on the menu, earning them the coveted I Ate Them All t-shirt.
For those of you looking for a different type of food trail, Butler County, OH does not disappoint. For a brief, shining moment of sugar-laden bliss, I actually considered becoming a morning person.
But then I met their breweries.
If You Go:
There is a lot to do (and eat!) in Butler County, so the best place to help you make your plans is the Butler County Visitors Bureau. www.GetToTheBc.com.
If youâ€™re in the mood for a nosh:
Bagel & Deli: 119 E. High Street, Oxford, OH 45056, www.bagelanddeli.com
Kellyâ€™s Bakery:Â 1335 Main St., Hamilton, OH 45013
The Donut Spot:Â 5148 Pleasant Ave., Fairfield, OH 45014
Jupiter Coffee & Donuts, 5353 Dixie Hwy., Fairfield, OH 45014
The Fitton Center for Creative Arts:Â 101 S. Monument Ave., Hamilton, OH 45011, www.fittoncenter.org
Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum: 1763 Hamilton Cleves Rd., Hamilton, OH 45013, www.pyramidhill.org