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Yellow Springs, OH


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If you are driving on I-70, between Columbus and Dayton (or between Indy and Wheeling...), consider a short detour south on highway 68 if you need food, exercise, entertainment, beer and/or a dose of hippie love. Yellow Springs, home of notoriously liberal and subversive Antioch University, is about 6 miles off of I-70. When you exit on 68S, the first thing you see is a massive auto salvage yard and you will suspect you should have stayed on the highway. Keep going.

Young's Jersey Dairy will appear on the left...a complex of barns, shops, restaurants, miniature golf, batting cages, pumpkin patch and corn maze. It's all very sweet and earnest. No flashing signs, neon lights or giant inflated characters. The ice cream is good, and you can walk around or take a few swings in the batting cages. Then, drive a bit farther south where there is a farm store down a winding driveway, complete with lots of dried gourds, pumpkins, bushels of apples, local honey and jams, local handicrafts. We buy our popcorn here and store it in airtight containers for the entire year.

In two more minutes you are in Yellow Springs. Hippies never left here, and old hippies return here. There is a world class restaurant, The Winds. I am not kidding. It is lovingly prepared, locally sourced food at very low prices. A new brewery, Yellow Springs Brewery, makes surprisingly good beer in a concrete block building overlooking the bike trail. Peaches is a biker hangout with a good beer selection and passable bar food. The Trail Tavern has been on the main drag as long as anyone can remember. You can stock up on incense, Indian print bed spreads, simple children's toys, hand-dyed silk scarves...

The town sits at the connection between two of the scenic stretches of the rails to trails conservancy paths, great for biking or walking. You can head toward Xenia (site of one of the most devastating tornadoes in Ohio history), past a horse farm and over streams, or toward Springfield, through fields and past farm houses. The paths are flat and shaded, with benches along the way for resting, and a clean public bathroom/info center in town where the two trails meet. Lots of free parking.

It is especially lovely here in spring and fall, but definitely worth a stop at any time. You might happen upon a craft fair, a biker meet-up, artists working outside, an impromptu celebration or protest...it's always festive and lively. so, if you find yourself heading east from Dayton, or west from Columbus, think about a stop, especially if you can get in at The Winds.

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