What if you could spend a day eating donuts and in the process obtain a prize for the “effort”? Spoiler: you can.
In 2016, Butler County Visitors Bureau launched the Butler County Donut Trail, which includes stops at a dozen locally-owned bakeries and donut shops located near Cincinnati.
Butler County has one donut shop per 17,000 residents – that’s a lot of donuts. The trail – the first of its kind in the U.S. – spans 80 miles and takes approximately 4.5 hours to complete. To acquire the prize, a T-shirt, you must get a donut passport stamped at 11 locations, in no particular order. (BCVB has already given you a stamp for Oxford Doughnut Shoppe, but you should still visit.)
You don’t need to purchase anything at the shops to get a stamp, but c’mon, donuts! Download the passport from BCVB’s website, or pick up one from any of the shops on the trail. Most shops don’t have set menus – seasonal and holiday-themed donuts are popular – and donuts will sell out early in the day, so it’s best to show up in the morning.
Some shops open as early as 3 a.m. and close by noon, whereas others will stay open until the evening. And most stores on the trail offer something besides donuts, like other pastries and coffee.
Here are 10 delicious stops on the trail.
Central Pastry Shop | Middletown
The Ugly, a fried glazed donut — Photo courtesy of Butler County Visitors Bureau
Located in Middletown, Central Pastry is the farthest southeast location. But it’s 2.5 miles from fellow trail member Milton’s Donuts. A Hansel and Gretel-esque magical donut mural greets visitors who are here to try The Ugly, a not-so-ugly crispy glazed donut.
The 70-year-old business makes 90 percent of their products from scratch. They also offer jelly- and custard-filled donuts, donut holes, tiger tails (long yeast donuts twisted with chocolate), wedding cakes, breads and cookies.
Holtman’s Donuts | West Chester
Holtman’s specializes in cereal donuts — Photo courtesy of Jason Bohrer
In 1960, Holtman’s began as a mom-and-pop donut shop in Newton, Ohio, but it’s since grown to four locations, with number five on the way in fall 2019. The West Chester shop (opened in 2017) is Toni Holtman-Plazarin and family’s third location (the trendy Over-the-Rhine location opened in 2013 and still has lines out the door) andis the only shop included on the trail.
Their donuts might be priced higher than some other shops ($12 for a mixed dozen and $2 specialty), but that’s because they tend to make too-pretty-to-eat donuts, such as Fruity Pebbles confections, Game of Thrones-themed ones, a margarita-glazed one, chocolate cream cheese iced donuts and their famous maple bacon donut.
For those who are late risers, you’re in luck – unless they sell out, Holtman’s stays open until 8 p.m.
Jupiter Coffee and Donuts | Fairfield
Try Jupiter’s donuts and pastries, but also a cup of their roasted-on-the-premises coffee — Photo courtesy of Garin Pirnia
One of two Fairfield donut shops, Jupiter bakes enough varieties so they don’t always run out. Specialty donuts include the Miami maple merger (a long donut topped with candied pecans and maple fluff icing; the maple syrup is sourced from the owner’s family farm), a zebra (vanilla icing and chocolate drizzle), Red Storm Roll (raspberry-filled with cream cheese frosting) and a cake donut of the month.
Besides the specialties, they also offer turnovers, danishes, several kinds of filled donuts (try peanut butter), and they roast their own coffee on-premises. Consequently, they have a full coffee menu – everything from drip to French press – and they add coffee into their frappes.
After picking up some donuts, head across the street to Jungle Jim’s, a 210,000-square-foot international grocery store. Then get a round of beers at Swine City Brewing, less than two miles away.
Kelly’s Bakery | Hamilton
In 2015, Diana Ramsey and her daughter, Kelly, opened their eponymous bakery in an Ohio town named after Alexander Hamilton. They make seasonal donuts, long johns, bowties (shaped like a bowtie or a figure 8), s’mores donuts and yeast donuts with icings like strawberry and peanut butter.
She also bakes Kelly’s bread, a pull-apart monkey bread, as well as brownies, cinnamon rolls and cupcakes.
Mimi’s Donuts and Bakery | Hamilton
While you’re in Hamilton, be sure to drive a few miles southwest to Mimi’s Donuts and Bakery, which is also on the trail. After 30 years in law enforcement, owner of Mimi’s, Sherry Richardson, opened her shop in 2015. Their adorable logo is of a police dog and their phone number happens to end in “911.”
The shop’s known for Reese’s cup donuts – peanut butter filling, chocolate icing and bits of Reeses’s cups crushed on top.
Stan the Donut Man | West Chester
One of the Donut Man’s most popular donuts is the pineapple fritter — Photo courtesy of Butler County Visitors Bureau
Despite its name, the shop isn’t named after someone with the first name Stan. It’s named after owner Martin Stanley Crowe. This old-fashioned shop makes Davy Crocketts, also known as cinnamon twist donuts. Crowe and his team are also known for pineapple fritters, M&M cake donuts, seasonal donuts, yeast rounds, filled donuts and bowtie donuts.
Ross Bakery | Hamilton
A dirt cake – Oreo crumbs and a gummy worm atop a yeast donut — Photo courtesy of Butler County Visitors Bureau
With Ross Bakery’s 4 a.m. opening time, employees awake early to make those donuts. The third of Hamilton’s donut shops (Hamilton has the most on the trail), they operate two locations. Both are included on the trail and are located 10 miles from one another.
They serve filled donuts (custard, white sweet cream and red raspberry jelly), cream horns, huge pretzel-shaped glazed donuts and danishes. Their specialties are a crispy cake donut called a Klunker and a dirt cake donut, which is rolled in Oreo crumbs and topped with a gummy worm.
Martin’s Donuts | Trenton
Milton’s features donuts like cronuts and cream horns — Photo courtesy of Jason Bohrer
It’s hard to miss Martin’s – owned by Tim Mason, not someone named Martin – because the exterior’s painted a hot pink shade. They’re situated between Middletown and Hamilton in Trenton.
Since opening in 2003, glazed twists have been the best-selling donut. They also sell an Oreo cookies and cream donut and sometimes hip cronuts.
Although their focus is on donuts, they also make buckeyes candy (a peanut butter and chocolate fudge bite-sized dessert in the shape of a buckeye; it’s not a donut but can be turned into one), brownies, cakes and cupcakes. They open at 4 a.m., a good time to grab those cronuts.
Donut Spot | Fairfield
Donut Spot opens super early at 3 a.m. — Photo courtesy of Butler County Visitors Bureau
At 3 a.m., this Fairfield shop opens earlier than the others on the trail. It’s worth getting up while it’s still dark out to sample their raspberry-filled cheesecake donut with a cream cheese icing.
Donut Spot also generates seasonal and holiday-themed donuts, cake donuts, yeast donuts, fried croissants, long johns, muffins and donut holes. Fairfield’s other trail shop, Jupiter Donuts and Coffee, doesn’t open until 5 a.m., which gives trail-goers more time to enjoy the donuts at this spot.
Milton’s Donuts | Middletown
Milton’s sells everything from donuts to cookies — Photo courtesy of Jason Bohrer
In 1960, Dan Milton and his wife, Beverly, opened the Middletown shop. But in 2014, they retired and sold the business to Jay and Amy Byrne. Milton’s has around 100 baked good items including donuts: Oreo-filled (an Oreo is stuffed inside), glazed, cherry iced (a cake donut with cherry-flavored icing) and red velvet.
If you want more than donuts, try a smiley face cookie, danishes, turnovers and cinnamon rolls. The store opens at 5 a.m. but stays open nice and late until 6 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday. They have a second location in Carlisle, but it’s not included on the trail.