Looking for a tasty, sugary adventure just outside Cincinnati? Butler County’s Donut Trail is the perfect road trip for you…
These days there are a lot of “trails” out there for road tripping tourists… From bourbon to beer to the blues, trails are easy ways to see the country. There’s no trail in America, however, as sweet and tasty as the Butler County “Donut Trail.”
Just north of Cincinnati, Butler County is a mix of city suburbs, small towns, and reemerging post-industrial cities, and they all have one delicious thing in common: locally owned neighborhood donut shops.
As donuts have gone from early morning treats to gourmet breakfast experiences, local donut shops have never been more popular, and Butler County was kind enough to organize their 12 finest into the first “Donut Trail” in the nation.
Like most “trails,” you can start anywhere on the list by grabbing a donut and picking up your “Donut Trail Passport,” which gets stamped at each shop you visit. Complete the trail and you’ll not only gain the satisfaction of a job well done but also a snazzy t-shirt.
Each and every donut shop we visited was staffed by friendly folks and served exceptional donuts, but here are just a few of our highlights from completing the “Donut Trail”:
Central Pastry Shop (Middletown, OH)
Pride in craftsmanship. That sums up Central Pastry Shop. From their superb cakes to their fresh donuts, everything is done from scratch and with care. Folks at Central Pastry Shop even took the time to explain the tremendous effort that goes into just their fillings alone. Our favorite here has to be the “Ugly,” a traditional donut that might be the best we’ve ever tried.
Kelly’s Bakery (Hamilton, OH)
Charming decor and friendly staff just compliment the excellent donuts at Kelly’s Bakery in Hamilton. They have the perfect donut for each and every holiday from Christmas to Mardi Gras. (Can you say King Mini Donuts? Yes, please.)
Jupiter Coffee and Donuts (Fairfield, OH)
Of all the donut shops on the trail, Jupiter Coffee and Donuts is the only one you’d likely spend a lazy Saturday morning relaxing. Their vibe is a little more “coffeeshop” than anywhere else on the trail, and if you’re not doing the entire trail in one day, this is a good spot to relax for a little while. Of course, their donuts are delicious too.
Stan the Donut Man (West Chester, OH)
A West Chester staple, Stan the Donut Man consistently gets recognition from Cincinnati news outlets, and for good reason. It’s a friendly, no-frills kind of place you build into your weekend routine.
Holtman’s Donuts (West Chester Location)
Before their expansion to Over the Rhine, Williamsburg, and West Chester, Holtman’s was one of Loveland’s best kept secrets. Now, the secret is out and Holtman’s has been featured in everything from magazines to cooking competitions. If you’re looking for a wild, creative donut, their West Chester location on the Donut Trail is the place to find it.
Of course, the 7 other shops on the list aren’t slouches. Each and every shop had a donut (or 3) that blew us away as well as personal charm. Milton’s in Middletown even featured fresh baked bread while places like Mimi’s Donuts & Bakery, Ross Bakery, Martin’s Donuts, the Donut Spot, and the Donut House all had lines of regulars streaming out the door, each ready to tell us what we should be ordering.
In fact, aside from the donuts, our favorite part of the experience was walking into each shop and noticing the “regulars,” who stop by every day or every week. More often than not, the shop already had their sweet treats bagged and ready to go at the mere sight of their face. This kind of personal connection is why we love locally owned places.
If you want to see the very best of American small business ownership and local patronage, just take a trip down the Donut Trail.
A few more tips on completing the “Donut Trail”
Give yourself time– The trail can be completed in one day as we did, but you’d be selling yourself a little short. There’s no time limit, so we suggest spreading it out over a weekend or, if you live in the tri-state, just pop up to a shop or two when you’re in each of the areas.
Start early– These places are popular. Like really popular. If you plan on rolling in a few minutes before closing time, you may miss out on some doughy goodness.
Make it part of a weekend getaway– From breweries like Municipal Brew Works to local shops like Sara’s House to mouth-watering restaurants like Gracie’s, Hight St. Cafe, and Combs BBQ, Butler County easily has enough to fill an entire weekend. Living in nearby Cincinnati, we had no idea this much fun was just up the road. Only a short drive from Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Dayton, and Columbus, it’s a good destination just outside your back door.
For more info on the Donut Trail and visiting Butler County, head over to their official site.
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