Columbus, OH

Have you explored this Hidden Gem on I-70?

Rooted in Ohio

An hour-long drive from Columbus takes you to a place called Springfield. It’s close to Yellow Springs and makes a good home base for a fun, quirky Ohio weekend. With options for interesting dining, antique shopping, and outdoor exploration, you can get yourself a full Midwestern travel experience.

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

Springfield makes a good base camp for exploring Yellow Springs as well as the surrounding areas. We’ve made day trips to Yellow Springs many times but never realized how much there was to do in Springfield.

If you’re heading to that area, make sure to check out both Springfield and Yellow Springs. I’ll be sharing what we did in Springfield.

photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

Sightseeing

Murals

The architecture in Springfield is worth exploring. The buildings are HUGE and it was fun to grab a coffee and walk around. We had a great morning just walking around.

photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

There are two murals that are right in the middle of town that are worth a view: Greetings from Springfield Mural and Rose City Mural. Both are within walking distance of each other in the heart of the downtown.

Hartman Rock Garden

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

This quirky site is listed on Atlas Obscura (among other places). It’s basically a rock garden in the back of someone’s home. It’s free, but there is a box for donations. From Atlas Obscura:

Unemployed during the Great Depression Hartman used his time to build a sprawling rock wonderland in his yard. In Springfield Ohio, his creations still stand, staggeringly out of place in the quiet suburban landscape. The picket fence surrounding the Rock Garden seems like a last effort to blend the Garden with its surroundings.. until you realize that the fence itself is built of concrete.

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

It sounds strange (and it is) but it is definitely something off-the-beaten path and worth a stop. There is an informational guide available to visitors (actually a really nice guide, we were surprised!)

Mad River Adventures

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

We took a Kayak trip with Mad River Adventures mid-morning on Saturday. I’ve been kayaking in Ohio before, so I just assumed it would be very calm. It was actually quite the mad river. I got spun around a few times and had to figure out how to get myself out. I got my arm workout for the day. It was a lot more exciting than I thought it would be, so I highly recommend it!

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

The 3-mile trip (which is what we did) costs around $25 a person. You park at the main area, they drive you with the kayak and paddle to a drop off area. They put the kayak in the water, you get in and you’re on your way. You get off at the place you parked. There is little instruction given, so hopefully you know what you’re doing!

photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

Snyder Park

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

After we had lunch, we wanted to walk around outside and we saw a cute little bridge and decided to stop. Turns out, there’s a ton of wildlife at this park, and we enjoyed our iced tea on the bridge. It was sort of like a step back in time, being on an old stone bridge.

photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

Heart of Ohio Antique Center

I’m an old soul and absolutely love old stuff. (Check out my Instagram Thrifting with Nina to see my thrifting addiction). I have driven by this place for years and never stopped. They had so much stuff!

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

I could have spent days in here, but alas, I have a job and responsibilities, and blah blah.

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

But, I did manage to find a smokin’ deal on this camera and I ordered film on the way home.

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

Did you know that old Polaroid cameras don’t have power? All the power comes from the film pack. Which means, you can basically get any old Polaroid and it will work once you put film in it. Learned something new that day!

Eating

Winans Chocolates + Coffees

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

We went here probably three times because #espresso. Winans has very friendly staff and delicious espresso beverages. We also tried some of their treats. Apparently we came in on cookie day, and they hadn’t had cookie day since before the shutdowns, so it was an exciting time to be at Winans.

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

Their space is also very pretty and we enjoyed sitting there sipping our drinks.

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

Stella Bleu Bistro

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Stella Bleu Bistro has one of the coolest outdoor patios in Ohio. The patio was sandwiched between two huge (and I mean HUGE) brick buildings. You feel like you’re eating in some giant city on the roof. I loved it.

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

The food was also great. We tried some of their signature cocktails. I tried the Summer Old Fashioned, and he had the Pomegranate Gimlet. Both were excellent.

For an appetizer, we shared the Stella Frites, which were delicious. For dinner, I had the Empress Chicken and a delicious salad. Everything was great. Service was wonderful and their attention to detail was of note.

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

Le Torte Dolci

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My oh my. I want to just post the photographs of the pastries we ate and that should be enough to convince you to go. We got a box of pastries of Le Torte Dolci and walked to a small courtyard to enjoy them.

photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

The cream square was so good! It’s filled with blueberries and cream and my mouth is watering looking at this.

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

There were some savory options, so we tried a vegetable croissant.

Springfield Farmer’s Market

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

The market was small, but everyone was so friendly. We spoke to a few of the “farmers” and learned some things we didn’t know before.

Did you know light syrup is much harder to make? It means the sap has to be just right, and it takes a lot more processing to get it to that color. So that means there are less impurities in the light syrup than dark syrup.

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

Like many of you, we got into The Great British Bake Off over the winter and noticed they were always making desserts with cardamom. I still had no idea what it was, so we learned that it is a spice (much like all spice) and you only need a little bit of it to give it that distinct taste. So we got some peach jam with it!

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

Mike and Rosy’s

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

This is a classic deli sandwich shop with delicious hot sandwiches, soups, chips, drinks, cookies, and more. And can I just say that this cream of mushroom soup was the best mushroom soup we’ve ever had? We probably should have gotten two of them as we were fighting over the spoon.

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

I got a turkey sandwich and it was just perfect.

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

Mother Stewart’s Brewing

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

In Springfield, they have a DORA (Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area). This means you can grab a beer from here and walk around with it outside the building perimeters. We thought that was pretty cool. Also, their Mother Stewart has some delicious beers on tap and a really cool outdoor seating area.

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

Mundy’s Diner

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

We are always on the lookout for a good, classic diner. Mundy’s was it. We love breakfast so much we call it break-feast and we order way too much. This hit the spot. It’s got a fifties flare, and everything was delicious.

Sleeping

Courtyard by Marriott

This hotel was right in the center of the main area. We loved the view of the buildings below. It was a very room, comfortable room. Their pool and breakfast was unavailable due to Covid, but we were more interested in those Le Torte cream squares anyways!

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photo courtesy of Nina Thomas

And that’s what we did in Springfield. As I said, it makes a great Ohio weekend away for dining and exploring. I hope you enjoy unwinding in Springfield.

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