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


ICYMI: 5 of the Best Things About Ohio!

 


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Kid-Friendly Put-in-Bay: 15 Things to Do with Your Kids

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Put-In-Bay is more than just a party island! There are plenty of things for families to do on the island making Put-In-Bay a great idea for a day trip or overnight trip with kids!

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

Kid-Friendly Put-in-Bay: 15 Things to Do with Your Kids:

Is Put-in-Bay Kid Friendly?

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!

We have been to Put-in-Bay at 4 times. Once without kids and three times with kids. By the second trip with kids, 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 up to that point!

We returned to PIB with our kids in 2019 and continued to find new things to love about the island as a family! I’ve continued to update this post as we have discovered and tried new things!

Getting To Put-in-Bay:

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.

Miller Boat Line Put in Bay

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 Put-in-Bay:

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. 

In 2019 we drove a golf cart from E’s Put-in-Bay Golf Carts around the island and that was a lot of fun for us and the kids! It offers a lot of freedom and flexibility! 

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 15 things to do (and eat) 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.

put in bay island train

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 a few of the things we have done there  . . .

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. Fort Amaze’n Giant Maze Challenge

Maze Passport at Fort Amaze'n

In this maze challenge you must find the letters M-A-Z-E on paper punches hanging around the maze. You also stamp your passport when you start and when you end. If you finish the maze in 5 minutes you win a special prize. (When we were there it was a free ice cream cone.) We didn’t come close to finding our way out in 5 minutes but the kids did get to pick a prize when exiting!

Fort Amaze'n at Perry's Cave Fun Center

7. Perry’s Cave

Perry’s Cave is an Ohio Natural Landmark and you can climb down 52 feet below the surface to tour it and see the underground lake! The temperature inside the cave is always round 50 degrees so you may need to bring a sweatshirt! Cave tours take place every 30 minutes on a first come, first served basis. Kids 5 and under are free! 

people going down the steps of Perry's Cave

Cave formations Inside Perry's Cave

*8. 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! 🙂

9. 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.

10. 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.

*11. 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.

12. PIB Candy Bar

The PIB Candy Bar is a fun stop for a sweet treat! You’ll find hand dipped ice cream and lots of candy! There are new and unique candy items as well as some nostalgic favorites from the past!

candy for sale in side The Put-in-Bay Candy Bar

13. Kimberly’s Carousel

Kimberly’s Carousel provides musical accompaniment to much of the downtown area and is lots of fun for kids and adults alike!

14. The Goat Soup and Whiskey

This is another great family-friendly restaurant option while visiting Put-in-Bay! We fell in love with the patio and grounds here. There is a great kids menu and the kids got popsicles with their meals which was definitely a hit! I could have sat out on that patio forever!

boy and father coloring on the kids menu at The Goat

Boy sitting at the table at The Goat

15. The Chocolate Cafe and Museum

The Chocolate Museum outdoor area

If you’re looking for another option for ice cream, coffee or a sweet treat, check out Chocolate Cafe! This shop is in the downstairs area of The Goat mentioned above. There is outdoor and indoor seating. The museum portion was not open when we visit so we’ll have to save that delicious experience for next time!

ice cream at Chocolate Cafe in Put in Bay

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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ICYMI: Over 100 Fun Things to do in Columbus, Ohio

Kid Friendly Put-in-Bay


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Exploring Ohio with Kids: Bellevue

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Bellevue, Ohio is a fun town to explore in the Lake Erie Region! With a great indoor play area, railroad museum and tasty barbecue there are a lot of fun things to do in Bellevue!

This post has kind of been a long time coming! We did this late last summer and it seemed too late to post it, so I’m sharing it with you now as an idea for a fun road trip this summer! Bellevue, Ohio is a small Lake Erie town about 2 hours from downtown Columbus.

We spent a week at Sandusky Bay and this is how we spent one of our days. It could be done in a one day road trip or you could spend the night somewhere near Sandusky and also visit the African Wildlife Safari Park!

Here are 3 fun things to do with kids in Bellevue, Ohio:

1. Jungle Junction

110 Cherry Blvd. Bellevue, OH 44811
Phone: 419-484-5532

Jungle Junction claims to be the largest indoor play structure in Ohio. I cannot verify this, but I will take their word for it! 🙂 This play area is designed for kids ages 12 and under and you must wear socks. I forgot socks and I was able to purchase a pair at the counter.

Jungle Junction play area in Bellevue, Ohio

Jungle Junction seating area

Around the periphery of the main play area is a toddler play area with animals to climb and slide on.

Jungle Junction toddler play area

Jungle Junction toddler play area

My kids had spent a lot of time in the toddler area until they gained the courage to enter the Tree Top Play area!

Jungle Junction Tree Top Play Area Bellevue, Ohio

Inside the Tree Top Play area there are lots of climbing structures, slides, tunnels, etc. There are also air cannons that shoot plastic balls all around the area. (If your kids are sensitive to this kind of thing, they do have a Sensory Day on the first and third Wednesday of each month from 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM where the air cannons cannot be used.) My oldest is sensitive to noise and it took him a while to get used to the noise and have the courage to go inside!

Jungle Junction Play area in Bellevue Ohio

ball launchers inside the play area in Jungle Junction

Admission is for the day, so you can come and go with a stamp on your hand. There is no charge for parents/caregivers and the price for children (as of May, 2017) is as follows:

  • Children 1 and under: $2
  • Ages 2-12: $6
  • Twilight Special – $4 (After 5:00 PM, Monday-Thursday)

2. Bone Boy’s BBQ – Bone Boy’s BBQ is now permanently closed. 

109 W. Main St., Bellevue, OH 44811
Phone: 419-483-7447

We’ve only eaten at one restaurant in Bellevue, but I can highly recommend this one if you like BBQ and it is kid friendly! I loved to see the meat being grilled right out back of the restaurant!

Bone Boys BBQ in Bellevue, Ohio

Inside Bone Boy's BBQ and Catering

A big bonus here is that kids under 5 eat free!

Kids Menu at Bone Boy's BBQ

Yum!

Plate of food at Bone Boy's Barbecue in Bellevue, Ohio

3. Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum

253 Southwest St., Bellevue, Ohio 44811
Phone: 419-483-2222

Wow. I took a lot of pictures here! There is SO MUCH to see! If you have kids that love trains, they will be in heaven at this museum! The museum is open every day from 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Memorial Day through Labor Day, and on weekends during May, September and October.

Outside of Mad River Railroad Museum in Bellevue Ohio

You buy your tickets in the gift shop – and then try to tear the kids away from the play area so you can see the actual museum! 😉

Boys playing with trains in the gift shop at Mad River and NPK Railroad Museum

Inside the Mad River and NKP Railroad Museum

This museum is very hands on! It has an indoor and an outdoor area. You can walk through train cars, climb into the cabs and see historical artifacts.

boys posing for a pictures in Engineer outfits at the Railroad Museum in Bellevue Ohio

old railroad equipment at the Mad River NKP Railroad Museum

things to do in Bellevue: See a train car at the railroad museum

inside a train car at the NKP Railroad Museum

The outdoor portion of the museum is across the street and there are many trains to climb into. Many of the trains have displays for viewing inside.

Trains in the yard at the railroad museum in Bellevue, Ohio

boy looking at a model train at the museum

boy pressing the button to make the train go at the NKP Railroad Museum

the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum outdoor area

boy walking through the outdoor portion of the train museum

boy looking out the door of the train car

Admission (as of May, 2017) is as follows:

  • $10.00 Adults
  • $9.00 Senior (60+)
  • $5.00 Children (5-12)
  • Under 5 FREE

We played at Jungle Junction in the morning, had lunch and then headed over to the Railroad Museum for the afternoon. With kids under 5 (at the time), we didn’t even have to spend that much money! It was a full day, and as you can imagine, the boys looked like this on the way back to where we were staying:

boys asleep in the car after a long day of fun in Bellevue, Ohio

We love to spend time around Lake Erie! Do you have a favorite place to visit there?

Here are some other fun things our family has done in the Lake Erie area:

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