Just about 45 minutes west of Columbus, Yellow Springs is the perfect location for a day trip, though you could likely fill more than a day with all the activities available in the area. Known for its laid-back vibe and community atmosphere, Yellow Springs is so much more than just a “hippie enclave.”
We’ve broken down the guide to this lovely small town into different sections. Whether you’re searching for something yummy to eat, some beautiful nature to enjoy, or a perfect place to spend the day with the kiddos, Yellow Springs has you covered.
Now let’s start exploring!
The Best Places To Eat
Offering a cozy cafe vibe during the day and fine dining at night, Ellie’s is a fantastic place to grab a bite to eat when visiting Yellow Springs. The menus at Ellie’s have a southern, home-cooked influence, also known as the perfect comfort food after a long day of exploring the natural beauty of the area.
Situated on the main drag in downtown YS, Dino’s has many different coffee variations as well as their legendary frozen hot chocolate. Great for adults and kids, they offer pastries in addition to drinks. The atmosphere here is indicative of the town as a whole, casual and welcoming. The patrons are a good mix of locals and out-of-towners, and most days, live music is being played in the shop. Do yourself a favor and order the “Milky Way” coffee, you wont regret it!
There are lots of reasons to visit the Historic Clifton Mill while you’re in the area. But one of the best reasons has to be the restaurant inside the mill. You can enjoy a truly home-cooked meal, with fresh whole grain bread, pies, and cookies baked daily. The food is delicious at the restaurant, but you also get to enjoy it while relaxing to the gentle sounds of the old mill wheel and the sounds of the waterfall outside.
Bentino’s was founded back in 2006, and they’ve been serving up delicious pizza pies ever since. It’s the perfect place to stop in for a bite or to grab food to take back to a campsite or Airbnb. Bentino’s offers pizzas, salads, pasta, wings, hoagies, and gyros, plus they’re open for carryout, dine-in, and delivery seven days a week.
When you think about eating delicious Mojo Pork or Jerk Chicken, you may not think visiting Yellow Springs is the answer, but you’d be wrong. Calypso Grill has a comprehnsive, Caribbean-inspired menu and they’ve got a fantastic cocktail menu to go along with it. Treat yourself to something unique and delicious.
Can’t Miss Shops
Stop in at both Dark Star Books and Epic Book Shop for an afternoon of literary finds. Epic offers both new and used options and Dark Star has over 40,000 used books to choose from! Don’t forget to give Spooky the book store cat a little pat when you visit Dark Star.
There are a lot of great ways to spend money in Yellow Springs, especially in some of their charming boutiques. From gifts and handmade items to clothes and accessories, you’ll find everything you need for a day of shopping til you drop. We personally recommend stopping into charming shop Rose and Sal for vintage finds, Urban Handmade for epic t-shirts, or Wildflower for women’s fashion and accessories.
The Best Places To Enjoy Nature
Glen Helen is a sprawling 1,000-acre preserve, with over 20 miles of footpaths. It’s beautiful and serene, with areas like the grotto (pictured above) scattered throughout. The map at the trailhead is crude, and none of the paths are well-marked, so do bring your cell phone along with you. You’ll probably get lost, but honestly, that’s the part we enjoy the most when hiking the area. You won’t actually be lost, you just might not end up exactly where you’d planned. Make sure to also visit the Raptor Center on the property, it’s seriously impressive and the permanent home to 30 different birds of prey.
Yes, another hike. I know, you just hiked Glen Helen this morning. But, if you don’t enjoy hiking, you probably aren’t visiting Yellow Springs anyway, right? Clifton Gorge is also quite different from Glen Helen, in that the trails are well-marked, and it’s more of a leisurely experience than an actual strenuous excursion. Your stroll will take you along the Little Miami River, and the views are beautiful. With all the water nearby, you’ll definitely want to be armed with bug spray, but the insect population isn’t overwhelming to detract from the experience. There are overlooks scattered along the trail, and markers highlighting some of the history of the area.
Immerse yourself in a field of beauty at Village Flower Farm. You can head out into the property to cut your own flowers. The variety of the blooms varies depending on what time of year you’re visiting, but in the summer, they’re open Thursday mornings from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Friday afternoons from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Where To Grab A Drink
Yellow Springs brewery started in 2013 with husband and wife duo and the demand was almost instantaneous. The taproom is super cool and a revolving collection of art from local makers lines the walls (and most is available for purchase). They have a huge shelf of board games available to play, and there’s typically a food truck on-site if you’re hankering for a snack. The patio is awesome and sits adjacent to the bike trail, which seems to be a popular mode of transportation to the brewery. The renowned Captain Stardust is my favorite and is crisp and refreshing.
If you’re more of a wine person than a beer person, don’t fret. There are a couple of fantastic spots for my fellow wine lovers in Yellow Springs. Emporium Wines is so much more than a wine shop. It’s a great place to sit down and relax or enjoy a bite to eat and you can bring some of their amazing wine selection home with you. If you’re looking for the perfect treat on a hot summer day, you’ve got to swing into Brandeberry Winery for a wine slushie. They’re perfection.
If craft beers are calling, then a stop at Trail Town Brewing needs to make it onto your Yellow Springs bucket list. The taproom is delightful, the handcrafted beers are delicious, and overall, it’s just a great way to spend an hour or two while you’re in town.
Things to Do in Yellow Springs with Kids
You didn’t think you’d make it thru this post without Young’s Dairy, did you? On your way out of town, you should definitely stop by for a quick cone. It’s not off the beaten path, it’s not a hidden gem, it’s just delicious ice cream, made on-site. You can even visit the cows who provided the milk. Park by the scoop shop and avoid the crowds at their amusement section, Udders & Putters. They’ve got a rotating selection of seasonal flavors, and lots of familiar standbys. Plus, there’s an onsite CHEESE SHOP (!!!) which you gouda check out.
So, I’m not a big comic person (although I bet I could be convinced), but this store still holds a lot of appeal for me. And it is definitely a must-visit for those of you who
all about comics. They have special edition board games, limited release comics, and all kinds of fun superhero-themed merch. The staff here though is the true standout. Every employee we’ve interacted with is super knowledgeable about both the things they carry in store, and items that exist but they don’t currently have in stock. It’s also just a super fun atmosphere.
Sure, a visit to the Little Fairy Garden isn’t just for the kiddos, but I know for a fact that they will love it. At this charming little shop, you’ll find everything you need to create a magical fairy garden in your own yard. They frequently host Fairy Garden Parties where participants (both kids and adults) are supplied with everything needed to make a take-home fairy garden container.
For more information on things to see and do, check out the official Yellow Springs Visitor’s site here.