Fun for the Whole Family at EnterTRAINment Junction

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EnterTRAINment Junction in West Chester, Ohio makes an awesome day trip or weekend get away for Columbus families!

This post is written in partnership with Visit Butler County!

If anyone in your family loves trains, EnterTRAINment Junction should be on your list of road trips this summer! What a fun place to explore!

EnterTRAINment Junction

model train

First of all, the model railroad display is amazing – in fact it is the world’s largest train display! The trains run on 2 miles of track and takes a journey through the history of railroads. Beginning in the 1860’s, the display takes viewers through the Civil War, into the Middle Period in the 1940’s and 50’s and into the Modern Period including subways!

kids looking at a model train

model train at EnterTRAINment Junction

model train at EnterTRAINment Junction

The display is so lifelike, it’s almost like you could step right into the city and walk the streets and wait for the subway.

Model Train

Model Train

kids watching a model train

This isn’t just for little kids. My kids loved this display, of course, but my husband loved it too! It’s a display that I believe has something for all ages!

model train display at EnterTRAINment Junction

model train at EnterTRAINment Junction

Upstairs, there is a separate model depicting Cincinnati’s Coney Island Amusement Park in it’s glory days (1965)! This is a 1000 foot, handmade replica that includes a roller coaster, ferris wheel, haunted house, arcade games and more! There are also interactive portions of the exhibits! You can press buttons on the exhibit that make the rides move, buildings light up and more!

Coney Island display at EnterTRAINment Junction

Coney Island display at EnterTRAINment Junction

You can’t miss Imagination Junction, a play area for kids! There is a large climbing structure, small model train displays, a train to ride on and an area for toddlers to play, too! Socks are required to play here and are available for purchase if you forget!

Indoor play area at EnterTRAINment Junction

Indoor play area at EnterTRAINment Junction

Indoor play area at EnterTRAINment Junction

Toddler play area at EnterTRAINment Junction.

Indoor play area at EnterTRAINment Junction

There are also two outdoor rides that are available Memorial Day through Labor Day. We didn’t get to experience these but friends have told me this was the best part!

Also inside EnterTRAINment Junction is the A-Maze-N Funhouse which resembles a circus midway. (Admission to this exhibit is separate.) There are various exhibits to enter and experience! Some of the exhibits were a little too stimulating for my kids, but they liked running through the mirror maze!

hall of mirrors at EnterTRAINment Junction

A-Maze-N Fun House at EnterTRAINment Junction

Last, but not least (certainly for my kids), were the amazing toy and gift shops! Honestly, I had to drag my kids out of the toy store to go see the exhibits! haha! There is a huge LEGO section, so I don’t think I need to explain myself! 😉

toy store at EnterTRAINment Junction

Toy store at EnterTRAINment Junction

We try to pick out a new Christmas ornament every year when we go on vacation. Our 2018 ornament will be from EnterTRAINment Junction! 🙂 Get your souvenirs in the gift shop and almost any toy you can imagine in the toy store!

There is also a cafe on site and the space is available for birthday parties!

lobby at EnterTRAINment Junction  Cafe at EnterTRAINment Junction

This attraction is well worth the drive! We’ve had this one on our list for a long time and I’m so glad we finally did it! We spent about 2 hours here and the kids probably could have played longer in the play area if I had let them! But either way, that means you still have time for the Butler County Donut Trail!

If you’re looking for somewhere to eat before or after visiting EnterTRAINment Junction, check out Bagger Dave’s, which is close by! They have lots of Kids Meals to choose from and the restaurant is very family-friendly!

hamburger at Bagger Dave's

 

Know Before You Go:

7379 Squire Ct, West Chester, OH 45069
513-898-8000
Monday – Saturday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM

  • EnterTRAINment Junction is running a special April 2nd through May 25th, 2018 where if you buy one Do-It-All ticket you will get a return visit for free! Get it All tickets are currently $14.95
  • In addition to your admission ticket ($13.95 for adults, $9.95 for kids 3-12), the outdoor rides are $3 and the Funhouse is $9.95. Check the website for group rates, senior pricing and other upgrades! Kids 2 and under are free.

EnterTRAINment Junction

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Everything You Need to Know About the Butler County Donut Trail

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Visit 12 locally-owned donut shops to complete the Butler County Donut Trail!

This post was written in partnership with Butler County Visitors Bureau.

Butler County, Ohio, just 20 minutes North of Cincinnati and 90 minutes south of Columbus boasts the largest number of donut shops per capita in the Midwest – maybe even in the country! My family and I spent Spring Break exploring Butler County and one of the first things we did was hit the Donut Trail!

donuts

The Butler County Donut Trail consists of 12 stops. At any stop you can pick up a Passport to keep track of your progress! At each stop, get the passport stamped with the official Donut Trail stamp and when you’re finished, you can turn in or mail in your passport to the Butler county Visitor’s Bureau to receive an official t-shirt!

Butler County Donut Trail t-shirt and passport

donut trail sign

What you need to know:

  • The donut shops open early – some as early as 5:00 AM – and they may sell out. When the donut shops sell out, they close up, so you want to set your alarm early and get a head start!

donuts in Butler County

  • Make sure to study the map before you head out. The donut shops are in 6 different cities and can be anywhere from 5-30 minutes from each other, so you may want to spend a few different mornings hitting the different corners of the county.
  • It goes without saying (I think!) that eating 12 donuts in one morning is not for the faint of heart. If you’re coming from Columbus and you want to hit all 12 in one day, I definitely recommend sharing. My boys dove in at the first stop, of course, but were definitely slowing down by our 4th stop (and we just did 4!). Pace yourself, people! 😉

Boy eating donut in Butler County, Ohio

  • Search for and share your posts on social media using #donuttrail Scope out your plan of attack ahead of time by following the Butler County Donut Trail on Facebook or Instagram!

One of the best part about visiting the donut shops was seeing how different they all were. Each of the four we visited had their own vibe – they were all very different! These are the four donut shops my family visited on our trip:

1. Holtman’s Donuts

  • 9558 Civic Centre Blvd., West Chester, OH 45069

Hultman's Donut Shop, Butler County, Ohio

Hultman’s Donuts is a modern donut shop with fancy and zany donut options! My kids go for those “lots of toppings” donuts like the Lucky Charms donut (which was actually really good!)! Also at Holtman’s Donuts are two large viewing windows were you can watch the donuts being made.

boys at Holtman's Donuts

blue donut at Holtman's Donuts

boy eating donut in Butler County

Gotta get your donut priorities straight! #icingfirst

Holtman's Donuts

donut crumbs

Donut aftermath.

2. Stan the Donut Man

  • 7967 Cincinnati Dayton Rd., West Chester, OH 45069

donuts at Stan the Donut Man

Stan the Donut Man is a no frills donut shop just like I remember from my childhood. It was obviously popular because they were pretty wiped out by the time we got there at 10:00 AM!

Donut at Stan the Donut Man

donut at stan the donut man

boy eating donut at Stan the Donut Man

3. The Donut House

  • 8268 Princeton Glendale Rd., West Chester, OH 45069

The Donut House in Butler County

The Donut House has a fun vibe! I really liked the pull apart cinnamon donut and my husband got maple bacon! Don’t miss the opportunities to take your pictures by the trail sign at each location!

donut at The Donut House

donut at The Donut House

donut at The Donut House

4. Jupiter Coffee & Donuts

  • 5353 Dixie Hwy., Fairfield, OH 45014

Juniper Coffee and Donuts in Butler County Ohio

Of the donut shops we visited, Jupiter Coffee and Donuts had the most coffee options. I got a latte here and it was really good! It has more of a coffee shop feel and the kids played checkers instead of eating donuts!

donuts at Jupiter Coffee and Donuts

boys at Jupiter Coffee and Donuts

donut at Jupiter Coffee and Donuts

coffee cup at Jupiter Coffee and Donuts

boys playing checkers at Jupiter Coffee and Donuts

Now we just have to figure out when we’re going to go back and do the other 8 stops! 🙂 Have you done the donut trail or have a favorite Butler County donut?

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sprinkled donut on the Butler County Donut Trail


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Kid-Friendly Put-in-Bay: 11 Things to Do with Your Kids

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Disclaimer: This post was written in partnership with Lake Erie Shores and Islands.

I’ve received a few raised eyebrows when I say we took our kids to Put-in-Bay while on our vacation to Lake Erie in July. A lot of people think that Put-in-Bay is just a party island, but I’ll have you know that there is plenty of family-friendly fun to be had!

My husband and I have been to Put-in-Bay 3 times since we were married. Once just the two of us and twice with the kids. By trip three, experience (and some great input from Lake Erie Shores and Islands) had taught us a few things and trip three was probably the smoothest and most fun!

Getting There:

To get to Put-in-Bay, you must take a ferry from either Port Clinton or Catawba and there are two options, Miller Ferry and Jet Express.

We’re kind of partial to Miller Ferry – I don’t know, it must be the name! 😉 We’ve always taken Miller Ferry to the island probably because, besides the name, it’s also, by far, the cheapest.

Taking the ferry is part of the experience, for the kids! Mine loved the boat ride and looked forward to it as part of our day! Miller Ferries run generally every half hour during the summer season. You can see the schedule here.

Getting Around:

When you get to the island you’ll probably want to take some form of transportation (besides walking) to get to downtown Put-in-Bay. Options include a taxi, golf cart, bikes or the Lime Kiln bus, which is what I would recommend if you don’t plan on driving a golf cart around all day! The bus is $2.50/person and children under 6 are free. This was also part of the fun for my kids since they don’t get to ride a school bus! You can board the bus at the top of the hill after exiting Miller Ferry. Cash only!

The Lime Kiln Bus will drop you off at The Depot in Downtown Put-in-Bay, and from there, most people travel around by foot or golf cart. Cars are allowed on the island, but golf carts, bicycles and feet are the most common methods of transportation. Downtown Put-in-Bay is full of restaurants, bars, shops and a few attractions, and, on our first two trips, this is the majority of what we saw.

Jill at Lake Erie Shores and Islands offered us passes for the Put-in-Bay Tour Train for this trip and this tour train is what made our third trip to the island the best! I cannot recommend it enough! A lot of the activities I’m going to list here are stops on the Put-in-Bay Tour Train and I will note those with an asterisk (*) next to the number.

Here are 11 things to do with the kids when you get to Put-in-Bay:

1. Put-in-Bay Tour Train

The best thing about the tour train is, maybe obviously, the transportation. You’re simply not going to be able to walk all of these places with kids, and with the tour train, you get an education along with your transportation!

We learned so much history about the island as well as what island life is like in the present day. We saw the school, the only 2 churches on the island and got a snippet into daily life as a Put-in-Bay resident. I compare this with our first two visits where we didn’t see much of the island and had no idea what other things there were to do there, and the difference is night and day.

When you take the tour train, you pay for one loop. You can get off and back on at each of the 6 stops, but you can only go around once. So look at the map and make sure you don’t miss a stop because you will not be allowed to circle back around to it again. The trains run every 30 minutes so keep an eye on your watch while you’re enjoying your stop.

The Tour Train makes 6 stops including: Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center, Heinemann Winery & Crystal Cave, Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial & Visitor Center, The Doller House & Museum of Island Life, Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center and the Aquatic Vistors Center.

You can buy an Island Fun Pack which includes ferry tickets, the Tour Train, plus discounted admission to several island attractions! See all the details here.

2. DeRivera Park

DeRivera park is named for the founder of Put-in-Bay, Jose DeRivera. It’s a beautiful, shady area with lots of picnic tables and a large fountain.

Within the park is Will’s Playground which has two play structures, one for older and one for younger kids. This park is a great place to come back to throughout your day to rest and regroup. There are also public rooms and showers here.

*3. Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center

Perry’s Cave and Family Fun Center is all about family fun. Options for activities here include Perry’s Cave, Gemstone Mining, The Butterfly House at Put-in-Bay, War of 1812 Holes Miniature Golf, Gotcha Laser Tag, Fort aMAZE’n, Rock Climbing Wall, Antique Car Museum, gift shops and DanDee’s Snack Shack.

The Tour Train offers one general stop at Perry’s Cave and all of the activities are within a short walk of the drop off. I’m going to tell you about the two things we chose to do when we were here below . . .

4. Antique Car Museum

Housed in a large barn at Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center, the Antique Car Museum is free! There are rare Ford Model T’s and A’s, a popcorn truck, and other auto-related memorabilia!

5. Butterfly House

We chose to do the The Butterfly House at Put-in-Bay as our main activity at Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center. We all enjoyed the Butterfly House which was FULL of butterflies! The brochure says “hundreds of butterflies” and I believe them! Though no touching is allowed, it was not uncommon for butterflies to land on us and we were able to see them up close. In addition to walking among the butterflies, there is a large gift shop with educational gifts and lots of butterfly souvenirs.

*6. Aquatic Vistors Center

The AVC is operated by The Ohio State University in partnership with Ohio Department of Natural Resources. It was a fish hatchery that closed in 1988 and became an educational facility which includes the OSU Stone Laboratory, OSU’s island campus on Lake Erie!

If you take a walk through the center, you can learn about Ohio fishing, research projects and view the live fish in open tanks. There are some kids activities, a wall puzzle and coloring sheets. In the summer, the center hosts kids programs on Saturdays.

Kids under age 16 can go out onto the dock to fish for free! Though they didn’t catch anything and my husband nearly dropped his phone off the side, this was a highlight! 🙂

7. Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center

The Nature and Wildlife Center houses what was once a private collection of mounted wild animals, many from Alaska. In the back of the property, there is a frog pond and a nature trail that will take you in a complete circle.

8. Frosty Pizza

Frosty Pizza is an easy, family friendly stop for lunch or dinner. We got the Family Deal which included a large pizza, salad, breadsticks and 4 drinks for $30.

*9. Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial

You can’t miss Perry’s Memorial from most of the island! The grounds and Visitor’s Center is open to the public but the observation deck is closed for repair in 2017.

10. PIB Candy Bar

The PIB Candy Bar is a fun stop for tons of candy options and ice cream!

11. Kimberly’s Carousel

Kimberly’s Carousel provides musical accompaniment to much of the downtown area and costs $1.50 to ride!

Are you surprised there are so many family-friendly things to see and do at Put-in-Bay? 🙂 All of these activities give you plenty of options to enjoy the island with your kids!

If you’re planning a trip to Lake Erie Shores and Islands, make sure to check out my post Exploring Ohio With Kids: Bellevue for another fun day trip in the area!

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