Last Updated on August 23, 2021 by Jody Halsted
This month on the podcast we are exploring the tastes of the Midwest.
A terrific way to do that is by following a food trail.
Tracy Kocher is Vice President of the Butler County Visitors Bureau and is also one of the creators of Ohio's Butler County Donut Trail.
About the Butler County Donut Trail in Ohio
Butler County is located in southwest Ohio between Cincinnati and Dayton. “We often say we're the cream in the Oreo cookie between those two areas,” says Tracy.
Where did the idea of an Ohio donut trail come from?
The Butler County Visitors Bureau was looking for a way to showcase the small businesses in the area about six years ago. During a brainstorming session, Tracy says, the group realized they had an unusually high number of artisan donut shops. These are all small, family-owned businesses who get up in the night to make donuts. It's a tough job, which is why the high number is so unique.
From that brainstorming session, the Butler County Donut Trail was born.
The stops along the Butler County Donut Trail
Currently, there are 13 — a baker's dozen coincidentally — differen't shops on the donut trail. One shop has two locations, making 14 different locations total. “We started with nine,” says Tracy, “so we've definitely grown since starting the donut trail.”
None of the stops along the Butler County Donut Trail are chain retailers.
Why so many donut shops in a relatively small area? Tracy says she thinks it's just part of the food culture of the area. “Donuts just happen to be part of our culinary scene,” she says. “I wish I knew exactly why, but people love their donuts here, and we're happy to promote them to people who visit.”
The Donut Trail Passport
To make it easy to find all of the shops, the Butler County Visitors Bureau has created a Donut Trail Passport. Find it at bcdonuttrail.com or pick one up in any of the shops. The Passport contains the names and addresses of all of the donut shops along the trail.
Once you get to a shop, no purchase of a donut is required. “Although,” says Tracy, “it's pretty tough to resist.” Get your Passport stamped at the counter. When you have all of the stamps collected, a sentence is revealed on the Passport.
When you have filled your Passport, you'll receive a free T-shirt. There is a new T-shirt design each year.
The Butler County Donut Trail Geotour
One might not automatically put together donuts and geocaching, but the Butler County Donut Trail actually has a geocaching component to it.
“About 6 months after we started the Donut Trail, we started hearing from the geocaching community that this would make a perfect geotour,” says Tracy. “So that's what we created!”
There are 15 stops on the Donut Trail Geotour, including a donut-themed mural in Hamilton. Visit each of the caches and get a code word. Log in all of your code words at geocaching.com and you'll be rewarded with a trackable Donut Trail Geocoin.
Tips for visiting the Butler County Donut Trail
Tracy says the most important tip is to get an early start, especially if you want to hit all the shops in one day. She actually recommends planning two or three days to visit all of the shops, because when a shop sells out, it will close, regardless of posted hours. “They can't go to the back and make more donuts quickly because it takes on average about four hours to make a yeast donut. So when they sell out for the day, they close.”
Need help planning your trip? You can actually call a Donut Trail Concierge to help you. “We have donut experts who can help you coordinate your trail path or recommend other things to do while you're in the region,” says Tracy. “We have those people standing by ready to help you plan your journey.” Call (513) 860-0917 between 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Other things to do in Butler County, Ohio
While enjoying multiple donuts sounds like fun, you need to do something to burn off those calories. Here are some other activities visitors to Butler County should make time for:
- Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park — The over 300-acre park has trails as well as enormous art installations. Walk through the park, drive through it or rent an “art cart” to experience the art up close.
- Jungle Jim's International Market — This 6.5-acre indoor food wonderland started just as a fruit stand and keeps being added on to. They have a staff member called a “pepperologist” who can help you with the 2,500 different kinds of hot sauce. It also houses a small movie theater inside, animatronics and an outside monorail. “It's like nothing else you've ever experienced,” says Tracy.
- Visit travelbutlercounty.com to find more fun things to do and see, including kayaking, horseback riding and much more.
Where to stay in Butler County
With everything from a small college town in Oxford (Miami University) to suburban areas and more urban areas like Hamilton and Middleton, visitors can find a diverse selection of accommodations, as well. Choose from an urban hotel, a suburban motel and even Airbnbs or bed and breakfasts. “The majority of our accommodations are new or very recently renovated hotel facilities,” says Tracy.
Visit travelbutlercounty.com to find out more about accommodations. You can also download the Butler County Donut Trail Passport there.