On a Quest for Carbs: The Butler County Donut Trail Delivers


I’m not normally a person who would suggest setting an alarm on vacation. After all, isn’t the whole point of having down time to relax? So why would anyone in their right mind get up early?

One word:  Donuts.

A variety of pastries are displayed in trays.
You’re salivating right now, aren’t you?

As soon as I said it, you could smell them, couldn’t you? Right out of the fryer—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 what’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.

A coffee shop with many different types of coffee.
At Jupiter Coffee & Donuts, you can get both–as well as fun conversation.

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 they’re gone, they’re gone. And it would have been a horrible shame to miss the delicacies that I got at Kelly’s Bakery, The Donut Spot, and Jupiter Coffee & Donuts, as well as to forego the morning conversation with others on this jelly-filled journey.

A close up of several different types of donuts
There weren’t a dozen in this box when I started. But there were none when I was done.

People come from all over to enjoy strawberry yeast sprinkles, buckeyes, old-fashioneds, fried croissants, and the stunning Red Storm Roll—a masterpiece of cream cheese and raspberry filling—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.

“How could it not be?†he answered, looking at me as if I’d gone mental.

A green sign with two people walking on it.
There’s a reason you might need to go hiking after a morning on the trail…

The stops are marked with fun signs telling you that you’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 aren’t required to do so, which is good if you’re planning to fit in the same pair of pants while driving between stops.

A statue of an elephant in front of a building.
Alexander Hamilton stopping traffic. And he wasn’t even singing.

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 sculptures—earning it the title The City of Sculpture—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.

A mural of an eagle flying in the sky.
Taking Flight. Mural designer Taylor Welch. Lead artist Nicole Trimble. Second and High St. at Rotary Park

Located on 300 acres, Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park, just a short drive from downtown, features a stunning array of work surrounded by nature’s beauty. And while you can wander along its well-kept trails, if you’re simply too stuffed you can rent a golf cart—cleverly known as Art Carts—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 sculpture of a dragon with trees in the background.
There are so many impressive sculptures to see at Pyramid Park that you may need a golf cart just to get back to your car.

A Bagel for the Road?

Before you leave the area, I’d suggest hitting up Bagel & Deli in Oxford, OH, which is also home to the University of Miami (named by Forbes as one of the Top College Towns) for a little food for the road. It’s one of the city’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. It’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 don’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.

A wall of posters with different types of words.
Donuts or bagels? The choice is yours. I chose both.

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.

Two glasses of beer sitting on a table.
Did I mention that they’ve got really good beer in Butler County? But that’s a whole other story…

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 you’re in the mood for a nosh:

Bagel & Deli: 119 E. High Street, Oxford, OH 45056, www.bagelanddeli.com

Kelly’s Bakery:  1335 Main St., Hamilton, OH 45013

The Donut Spot:  5148 Pleasant Ave., Fairfield, OH 45014

Jupiter Coffee & Donuts, 5353 Dixie Hwy., Fairfield, OH 45014

Feeling Artsy?

The Fitton Center for Creative Arts:  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