Springfield, Ohio has many a claim to fame, the most notable of course, being the home of America’s first black mayor (Robert Henry in 1966).
It’s also experiencing somewhat of a renaissance; the downtown is bustling, the weekly Farmer’s Market rivals any larger city, including Columbus, and there’s a bunch of cool outdoor and indoor activities to fill your time in the Champion City and nearby Urbana and West Liberty.
Truthfully, you could spend more than just a long weekend exploring, there were a few extra stops on my bucket list I would have liked to see, but reality called and we had to head home. I think it would be perfect to spend a few extra days, and add in some time in nearby Yellow Springs.
1399 Moorefield Rd, Springfield
Scout’s location can be a little deceiving. It’s not in the heart of downtown but I promise it’s worth a stop. Inside, the decor is modern and welcoming, with coloring books for kids and some locally crafted jewelry on display available for purchase. Of course, we stopped in for the caffeine and were not disappointed. It’s easy to customize your drink here and the two baristas working were friendly and accommodating. I had a Frozen Latte, while my husband had an Iced Mocha, both were delicious and I’d for sure order again. Scout’s sells local pastries from Le Torte Dolci and roasts Stauf’s Coffee, which are both added reasons to hit up this joint.
126 E Main St, Springfield
It can be intimidating (at least for me) to visit new yoga studios. I like knowing what I’m getting into and where in the room I want to set up my mat. But Into the Blue had a welcoming atmosphere, serene environment, and friendly yogis. You can pre-register for classes on the MindBody app ahead of time, or drop-ins are welcome as space is available. I’d really like to come back and check out the meditation class next time. Oh, and another plus? It’s right across the street from your next destination. Namaste!
137 E Main St, Springfield
While we really did do many activities that were great, for my clothing loving soul, this was one of my favorite stops on our tour de Springfield. The store is run by the Greater Springfield CVB and serves as a visitor’s center as well as a retail establishment. In addition to selling vintage-inspired tees and barware, there’s a whole section devoted to condiments. Yep, Springfield’s own Woeber’s Mustard Company. I hadn’t heard of them before, now I have a shelf devoted to nearly all the varieties in my kitchen. The building itself used to be an auto shop, and they’ve kept some of the original fixtures while adding modern lighting and iron finishes. Truly this shop would rival any in the Short North, and I’ll be back to replenish my relish supply before you can say Woeber’s.
28 S Limestone St, Springfield
Think farm to table, organic, and lots of vegetarian options. My kind of restaurant! But carnivores take note, rumor has it the Bison burger is the way to go. I’d recommend the beet burger. It is easily on par with NorthStar’s version, but, wait for it, comes on a brioche bun. A kids menu is available as well, just ask. I found the vibe to be super chill and the location can’t be beat. If you visit over the weekend, be sure to check out the Farmer’s Market just around the corner.
1905 Russell Ave, Springfield
I know we’ve mentioned it before, but Hartman Rock Garden is worth the stop, and it’s super convenient because you don’t need an appointment, it’s free, and open to the public every day from dawn to dusk. It took our family less than an hour to walk through, but really it is what you make of it. There are endless amounts of quirky details throughout, so each time you walk through, you’ll likely see something new.
85 S Greemount Ave, Springfield
Believe it or not, this was my 9 year old’s favorite stop during our trip. I was pretty surprised because although I found this to be super interesting, I wasn’t so sure about the kids. But, let me be clear. It is not geared toward children, though they are welcome on the tour. Our visit started with a short video with some background on Frank Lloyd Wright and then we were ushered into the house and provided with background on both the Westcott family who lived there, as well as Wright and his unconventional, yet famed, design style. The coolest fact I learned (spoiler alert!) was that the gentleman of the house had a third faucet handle in his master bathroom, which released collected rainwater. Pretty eco-conscious for the early 1900’s!
102 W Columbia St, Springfield
We are #blessed to have so many great breweries in Columbus, but this place really blew me away. It’s in a nondescript area, a ways back from the street, and the parking lot sits in front of the building so you don’t really see it until you’re already there. Outside, they have a rotating schedule of food trucks, and they post the schedule on their facebook page. Inside, there are plenty of tables with seating, a long bar that spans almost the entire length of the building, and the actual brewery itself tucked away in the back corner.
The real draw for us though was the outdoor area. It’s huge and mostly fenced, and they have a “graffiti wall” for kids to draw on while the parents enjoy a Witbier or Porter. My husband and I split two flights, which allowed us to sample each of the eight beers they had on tap. And for less than $20. If you head in soon, try the Oktoberfest, it’s only available for a limited time, and they’ve got six packs for sale to take home.
330 W McCreight Ave, Springfield
This is not a place I would normally be drawn to, from the outside alone. It’s on a busy street, and sits close to the road, there’s not really any curb appeal. Luckily, we were feeling adventurous and stopped in for an easy and quick dinner. I had the veggie sub…with four different kinds of cheese. It was superb. All of the sandwiches are hot, so it feels a little bit more filling. I don’t know if that’s really a thing, but it works in my mind. It’s a locally owned business and as far as I can tell, is a bit of a local institution. So, don’t let the outside fool ya!
4690 Urbana Rd, Springfield
Having never stayed in a bed & breakfast or inn, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Would we have our own bathroom? Be forced to hang out in a weird communal lounge area? Is it haunted? Thankfully, none of those were the case, and everything about our stay here was above and beyond expectations. Especially the fact that they catered to our children, by bringing an extra bed into our (private, with bathroom) suite. We stayed in the namesake Simon Kenton Room, and it was thoughtfully restored without losing any charm. There’s a full-service bar and restaurant on the first floor that’s open to the public in addition to paying guests with local beer on tap. Our kids were thrilled to learn that there were several fairy gardens nestled among the grounds and we spent (way too much, ya feel me?) time seeking them out. Breakfast is included in your stay, and fruit and stuff available to grab whenever. Really I might never stay in a traditional hotel again. But, I will say, it’s not NOT haunted.
457 E Main St, Springfield
Okay guys, for real. Go here. Donuts, cookies, fudge, brownies, they’ve got it all. It has that typical old-school bakery feeling that you just know means their stuff is legit. This was actually an unplanned stop, but when we were driving by, it was like the donuts were calling to us. I could smell the powdered sugar. Prices are super reasonable, and the staff was friendly and patient while we waffled (ha!) between choices. But why limit yourself? Get one of everything.
2210 State Rt 245 E, West Liberty
These caverns are the largest in the state and have over 2 miles of paths below the ground. The depth can reach over 100 feet, so probably not the thing for you if you feel even a little claustrophobic. We took the “Natural Wonder” tour as opposed to the “Historic Tour” but I still feel like our guide provided us with a great background on the history, and discovery, of these caverns. And of course, the difference between a stalactite and a stalagmite. Feel free to check my spelling there, I had to google it. The tour took just about an hour but didn’t feel that long, and afterward, we spent some time in the gift shop and wandering the grounds. The drive from Springfield takes about 30 minutes, so plan accordingly, as tours fill up quickly.
7538 US HWY 68, West Liberty
Part farm market, part wine shop/restaurant/retail. I felt compelled to stop based on the wine selection alone and didn’t even realize there was a full-service restaurant tucked inside. It’s no frills, but who needs frills when the food speaks for itself? Get the grilled cheese, extra cheese. And pick up some craft beer to take home. And then, stop in the shop and check out all the country kitsch.
550 E T-30, West Liberty
We saved this for last, as kind of a bribe to the kids, hoping that even if they hated everything else, they’d have something to look forward to. And while they did end up enjoying most everything else, this was their favorite activity. Markin Farms is family owned (by the Markins, obvi) and they live on and farm the property as well. Terry Markin, the family patriarch, led us through the safety demo and helped get everyone suited up. The establishment is uber professional and especially friendly. We immediately felt like part of the family and appreciated the care all of the staff took when interacting with the kids. The course takes a little over two hours (and is for ages 7 and up), with a special zip at the end which takes you across a pond. There’s a junior course available for ages 2-6, with an adjacent playground, so really the whole family can participate. If you do go, ask for Mac as your guide, he’s like that fun uncle with the good jokes, who probably drives a really cool car.
I’ve been telling people about our trip since we came home. I had no idea there was so much to do in the Greater Springfield area, and also hadn’t really thought about how close it is to Columbus. If you do visit, please tag us on Instagram, #navigatecolumbus, or search the #findyourunwind tag for other places to check out, like Eco Sports Corridor Whitewater Park, and Buck Creek Nature Park.
*portions of this trip were sponsored by the Greater Springfield CVB, all opinions are my own.