Along the Riverway
Stick to the river and you’ll never be far from access to the Great Miami River bike trail and its connection with 330 miles of paved trails. In downtown Franklin, you’ll find easy access at 2nd Street and at 5th Street, right by the Old Log Post Office. Whether you cycle, paddle or drive, you’ll land in the middle of Middletown about seven miles downstream, an ideal spot to gather, refuel and plan next steps.
Meet in Middletown
With the opening of a brand-new bike trail section, you can now cycle on paved trails from Franklin all the way to Middletown, a city with hidden treasures. To explore the city while enjoying public art, cue up the Adventures through Art Walking Mural Tour on your phone. This one-mile, self-guided tour leads visitors to 16 murals, including some by Eric Henn. Or find treasures and leave your mark by embarking on the New Discoveries GeoTour – uncover 25 caches hidden around town.
Get a sense of the Great Miami River’s history with a visit to the Canal Museum, a realistic replica of a lock tender's house on the former Miami-Erie canal.
Adrenaline junkies keen on jumping out of a perfectly good airplane should reserve a spot at Start Skydiving, where they’ll experience a 45-second freefall (safely affixed to a skydiving instructor) followed by a five-minute glide back to earth.
If you’ve worked up an appetite adventuring, don’t worry, Middletown’s food scene has you covered. Treat yourself to a Pimiento Smash Burger or Fried Shrimp Basket at Gracie’s or opt for lighter snacks and fresh produce at the next-door Vitori’s Market. Order a flight at N.E.W Ales Brewing to sample their IPAs, porters, pale ales and more. Or visit Ohio’s only dedicated gluten-free brewery, Rolling Mill Brewery.
Don’t forget to save room for dessert! Central Pastry Shop has been serving delicious donuts, cakes and pastries galore for nearly 70 years. Fulfill your sugar dreams at the candy buffet and 225 flavors of glass-bottle sodas at Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop.
Along the Riverway
For many, there is no better way to experience the Great Miami Riverway than on the water or on two wheels – and Middletown has multiple spots to help. At Spoken Bicycles you can rent a bike, refill your tires and even indulge in a refreshing Ohio craft beer or seasonal cocktail. After you get off the trail, take your pint outdoors to sip as you explore Middletown’s Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area.
Rent a kayak or bike from BAABs and then enjoy their bar and bistro when you’ve completed your trek. Their wing flights allow you to pick more than one sauce to satisfy the entire table and their signature pizzas are sure to hit the spot.
Easy access to both the river and the paved trail can be found at River Center MetroPark. Travel south for just over 13 miles and you’ll find your way to Hamilton.
Reach the Homestretch in Hamilton
Like cities all along the Great Miami River, Hamilton expanded quickly in the mid-1800s and boasts the grand architecture to prove it. Take a walk on High Street and you’ll pass the magnificent Butler County Courthouse, constructed in 1885. You’ll also notice the numerous sculptures and vibrant murals that decorate the town – and make for fun photo ops. Cross the river and you’ll find restaurants, brewpubs, local art galleries and shops featuring home décor, fashion, comic books, vinyl, candy, presents for your pets and more.
At mealtime, Hamilton comes alive thanks to a wealth of food and drink options scattered throughout downtown. From authentic Mexican at El Mariachi to ribs at Neal’s Famous BBQ to creative sushi at Basil 1791 to Tano Bistro, a chef-driven American bistro, all bases are tastefully covered. You can even pair a pint with a round of pinball at the Pinball Garage. This full bar boasts 24 beers on tap and over 30 pinball machines that’ll immerse you in the cosmic glamour of the 1970s.
On warm evenings it seems as though every person in town is enjoying a cold one on the vast patio at Municipal Brew Works, which is housed in a repurposed building from the 1930s. If a picnic lunch or dinner sounds nice, take your provisions down to Marcum Park. The park boasts views of the river, an in-ground water fountain (perfect for cooling off with a splash) and plenty of space to relax.