How to spend a day in Yellow Springs, Ohio

Best ideas for how to spend a day in Yellow Springs, Ohio

How to spend a day in Yellow Springs, Ohio
Yellow Springs, Ohio, is a quirky, fun place to spend a day or weekend.

Scenic parks, quaint shops, quirky vibe: Here’s how to spend a day in Yellow Springs

Yellow Springs, Ohio, welcome sign
Artsy Yellow Springs welcomes visitors with this beautiful mosaic sign.

A community that celebrates independent businesses

In a world of mass-produced goods and cookie-cutter facades, Yellow Springs, Ohio, is a community that celebrates one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants. It’s also nestled among Ohio’s most beautiful parks. I’ve been to Yellow Springs dozens of times , and I always discover something new. Here are my suggestions for how to spend a day in Yellow Springs.

Dark Star Books & Comics is one of the best used book stores in Ohio.

How to spend a day in Yellow Springs: Where to shop

If you’re looking for ideas on how to spend a day in Yellow Springs, I strongly suggest shopping! There are no big-box chain stores here; it’s all local.

  • Dark Star Books & Comics: One of the best used bookstores in Ohio, Dark Store has more than 40,000 used, rare and collectible books. It’s known for hard-to-find science fiction and “geek culture” collectibles.
  • Kismet: Kismet offers women’s clothing, jewelry, gifts and zodiac-themed items.
  • Ohio Silver: This 52-year-old shop has the best selection of handmade silver jewelry in the area. Beautifully displayed, you’ll find handmade and fair-trade sterling silver pieces from around the world. 
  • Rose & Sal: Calling itself “the coolest vintage shop in the world,” Rose & Sal sells vintage furniture, décor and clothing. It’s also known for its clever shop displays.
  • Urban Handmade: For handmade items with an attitude, stop by Urban Handmade. More than 70 makers create jewelry, art, clothing, paper goods and bath and body items.
  • Yellow Springs Hardware: In Yellow Springs, even the hardware store is locally owned. This nearly 100-year-old institution features hardware, garden and pet supplies, as well as sharpening services. It even holds periodic concerts called the Hardware Store Sessions.
  • Yellow Springs Pottery: Every piece of pottery sold here is handmade by one of eight local artists who jointly own and operate the cooperative. Although works of art, most items are made for everyday use.
  • Yellow Springs Toy Company: Step into this longtime Yellow Springs store and you’ll feel like a kid again. Toys that spark creativity and imagination line every shelf.
If you’re in Yellow Springs, you have to grab a meal at Sunrise Cafe, where everything is made from scratch.

How to spend a day in Yellow Springs: Where to eat

Yellow Springs has an abundance of quaint restaurants, bars and coffee houses, almost all with vegetarian and vegan offerings. Here are my favorite restaurants. How to spend a day in Yellow Springs? Eating!

  • Sunrise Café: Open seven days a week, 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunrise Café makes nearly everything from scratch, including breads, soups, sauces and pickles. Most food is sourced from local farms.
  • Winds Café: This lovely restaurant started in 1977 as a collectively owned and operated café. The menu has evolved over the past four decades and today is “European-inspired with an American twist.” Known also for its wide selection of wines, the Winds changes its menu monthly to reflect the seasons.
  • Ye Olde Trail Tavern: The oldest tavern in Ohio, Ye Olde Trail incorporates the original hand-hewn log cabin that housed the tavern when it started in 1827.
  • Current Cuisine: A gourmet deli with made-to-order sandwiches and soups, homemade pastries and grocery items.
  • Emporium Wines and Underdog Café: Divine breakfast burritos and a large selection of wine, including natural wine.
  • HaHa Pizza: A Yellow Springs institution, HaHa’s makes its pizza dough from scratch daily. It offers classic pizzas as well as offbeat creations.
  • Peach’s Grill: A longtime Yellow Springs restaurant and bar, Peach’s offers live music, comedy, karaoke, trivia and the occasional drag show.
Mills Park Hotel in Yellow Springs Ohio
Mills Park Hotel in Yellow Springs is a charming inn if you’re planning to spend the night.

How to spend a day in Yellow Springs, Ohio: Where to stay

The Mills Park Hotel is a 28-room boutique hotel that’s both luxurious and laid-back. Locally owned and built in 2015, it’s modeled after the 1842 home of William Mills, one of Yellow Springs’ original settlers.

A chess board outside Yellow Springs Hardware awaits players, and a sign on the window encourages loitering.

How to spend a day in Yellow Springs: Things to do

  • Glen Helen Nature Preserve: A hike through this lush preserve reveals 400-year-old trees, waterfalls, limestone cliffs and the yellow spring (yellow because of iron ore) that gave the village its name. It covers more than 1,100 acres and includes 15 miles of footpaths. Housed within the preserve is the Raptor Center, where injured birds are rehabilitated.
  • John Bryan State Park: The highlight of this beautiful park is a limestone gorge, cut by the Little Miami River 15,000 years ago. It’s a National Natural Landmark and offers 10 hiking trails, mountain bike trails, a public rock climbing and rappelling area, access to the Little Miami and a campground.
  • Gaunt Park: Gaunt Park is named for Wheeling Gaunt, an enslaved man who bought his own and his wife’s freedom before moving to Yellow Springs around 1864. He was a farmer and strategic land investor who left much of his wealth and property to Yellow Springs when he died.
  • Little Art Theater: Founded in 1929, the Little Art Theater is one of Yellow Springs’ gems. In addition to mainstream movies, it shows independent, foreign, classic and documentary films.
Social justice mural in Yellow Springs Ohio
Yellow Springs is a community dedicated to social justice, and murals throughout the town attest to that value.

NOTE: I wrote a version of this story for the Dayton Daily News as part of a series of Girlfriend Getaways. Another Southwest Ohio city in the series is Miamisburg, a lovely old river town along the Great Miami River.

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