What could possibly get me, a well-established night owl, to wake up at 5:30 AM on a Saturday and drive 2 hours? That’s right, a free t-shirt…and donuts. The folks in Butler County know how to reach a guy. Several local bakeries have joined together to make up this Donut Trail. You don’t have to buy anything along the way, but I don’t see how it’s possible to not buy at least one donut at each place. On this trip, I met up with my friend Justin,who was the person that inspired me to start this blog in the first place. He also lives in Middletown, which helped in navigating the trail quite a bit.
Before You Leave!!
It is important to know that you should have a few basic supplies with you before you head out on the trail.
- The Donut Trail Passport – Available at The Butler County Visitor’s Bureau Website . Each store has a stamp that they will place into your book. You will need to have this completed in order to get your shirt at the end.
- A map – While the addresses are listed on the passport. I fount that creating a Google Map beforehand really aided in finding the best routes between stores.
- Storage – We both underestimated how much we were going to buy. You are not required to buy anything along the way, but when you are only talking $1-2 a stop…you are going to buy a bunch, and you won’t eat them all right then. It’s important to have enough space to keep leftovers for the next couple day.
Now, I’m fully going to admit a couple things. I ultimately did a poor job documenting this trip. Justin and I were on a mission. Plus we were spending a lot of time looking for Robert Redford, who was in town filming a movie in the area the day we were driving around. So I don’t have a ton of glorious pictures of racks of donuts straight out of the fryer. Maybe next time, and there will be a next time (I’ll explain more about that later).
Without further ado, I present (in the order we visited locations): The 2016 Butler County Donut Trail!
Central Pastry Shop – 1518 Central Ave. Middletown
This location was literally added to the trail the Monday before we made our trek. They seem to much more about cakes, but had a good selection of donuts.
Milton’s Donuts – 3533 Roosevelt Blvd. Middletown
“You might as well stop, we have the best donuts you’re going to find on the trail all day!” We met a ton of incredible people that truly love what they do. I got a pretty insane chocolate mousse filled donut here. It would have made a great dessert after a big meal. I was on a sugar high already.
Martin’s Donuts – 4 W. State St. Trenton
Here, we hit a roadblock. Sadly, the day we showed up. Martin’s was closed because their fryer broke. I have to go back and try out their stuff sometime soon. You can’t miss this place, with its bright pink exterior.
With no stamp, would our attempt at the trail be stopped? We will find out later.
Ross Bakery – 1051 Eaton Ave. Hamilton
Here we got a little bit lucky. We got to this location by roughly 8:40 am, and they were down to just a couple dozen donuts. This is another potential stumbling block to finishing the trail in one day. If a place runs out, they close. A few of these places are open as early as 1am, so sleep in at your own risk. There are actually two Ross Bakeries on the trail, however, you only need to go to one of them. This one was just more centrally located (and directly across the street from one of the bonus sites I talk about later)!
Kelly’s Bakery – 1335 Main St. Hamilton
This location was one of the smaller ones, but also the first we visited that had a table and chairs inside. If I recall correctly (again, bad notes, sorry) I got a stellar Blueberry donut with lemon icing here. Their stock was also pretty low just before 9am.
Mimi’s Donuts and Bakery – 2267 Millville Ave. Hamilton
Colorful chairs outside! Here we actually met a couple of fellow trail travelers. This store was a little harder to find because it was on the side of a shopping center, but not too bad.
The road to the next spot was a little tricky. Because of the Redford filming, a lot of roads in downtown Hamilton were closed. Since I didn’t know my way around too well, we got lost for about 15 minutes…but we finally got back on our route.
The Donut Spot – 5148 Pleasant Ave. Fairfield
I couldn’t help but note at this point that we had now seen a couple bakeries directly next door to gyms / health food stores. I think they are trying to say something. I got another amazing blueberry donut here.
Jupiter Coffee and Donuts – 5353 Dixie Hwy. Fairfield
This is probably the most “trendy” donut shop we found all day. Lots of unique flavors and styles here though. Pretty sure I had something with Nutella and Pecans here. This store is also directly across the street from the legendary Jungle Jim’s Grocery Store.
Stan the Donut Man 7967 Cincinnati Dayton Rd. West Chester
We caught a bit of a break here, because their fryer had also broken earlier in the day. Luckily they had it fixed, but were just about out of donuts for the day anyway.
So, we had visited all of the main locations on the map, except for Martin’s. There are two “alternate” locations on the trail: a second Ross Bakery, and Oxford Donuts in… Oxford. Oxford is about 15 miles out of the way, so while it is still in Butler County, it’s actually a gimme stamp on the passport. The other Ross Bakery was also fairly out of the way. I suppose if the first one were out of product, we would have had to have gone there. Perhaps the next time, we will visit both of them as well.
Once you finish the trail, you can send away for your free t-shirt. It will take 4-6 weeks to receive… OR you can go directly to the Butler County Visitor’s Bureau (roughly 2 miles from Stan the Donut Man) just down the road from IKEA.
After explaining the issue with Martin’s Donuts (and showing them the picture of the sign on the door…we turned in our passports, and received our prize!
The gentleman working there told us that they do a new t-shirt every year (hello new tradition!), but also that there actually is a second trail! If you are interested in Geocaching, there is a special 13 stop donut trail just for you. You can find more info at the Donut Trail GeoTour website. I have never done Geocaching before, but I think I just might try it for this.
Overall, the trail took us just over two hours, and that’s with one 15 minute sidetrack. This is a truly fun and fairly inexpensive way to spend a morning, plus you’ll have breakfast for a couple days. Although you won’t want to see a donut again for a while.
Once you are done with this, there are so many other things to do in the area: from IKEA to Jungle Jim’s to the Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park…or you’re only 20-30 minutes from either Cincinnati or Dayton!
And if you wondered what my favorite donut was…it was the very first one I bought. The Ugly from Central Pastry Shop! It’s a fairly standard yellow cake donut, with a great outer crust that has just a bit of crunch to it. It’s called The Ugly because, well… something happens to it during cooking.
But wow, is it tasty. You can’t go wrong at any of these places though. Everything I tried was good, and the people we met along the way were all extremely friendly. I can’t recommend the Butler County Donut Trail enough!
Along the way, there were two other roadside attractions that I just had to go see. The first one was at Hamilton High School. In 2002, then President George W. Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act at Hamilton High School. A couple years later, some folks donated money to have a series of statues built outside the front door of the school commemorating the event.
As with many sculptures of actual people. It’s a pretty creepy thing. Especially the overly fawning look of the woman standing next to Bush. And yes, I was there on a school day, and definitely noticed people staring at me from inside the building.
BONUS SITE 2!!
Since most of this post has been about food with holes in it, let’s take a look at a monument to a guy that believed the Earth was a giant donut.
John Symmes was a war hero during the War of 1812. In 1818, he put forth a theory that there were large holes at each pole, and that the inner surfaces of the Earth were habitable as well. While Symmes had a few followers, generally his ideas were met with ridicule. Symmes spent the rest of his life trying to get people to listen to him. Few did.
Summes died in 1829 in Hamilton, OH. Originally, the Symmes family owned a plot of land just south of downtown, and the entire family was buried there. In 1848, Greenwood Cemetery was created and the Symmes land was converted into a city park. All of the Symmes’ family were moved to Greenwood Cemetery…except John. He was left in the park, and John’s son had a statue commemorating the Hollow Earth Theory built at his grave site.
So there, right in the middle of a park, among the basketball courts, playground equipment, and open green areas is the grave of one man that had a crazy idea. Even though the statue is surrounded by a gate, it is in bad shape. There is a good bit of graffiti, and it’s easy to tell where they have patched up places, but it looks like it could use another refurbishment. It hasn’t had one since 1991.