A Fairfield County Weekend

October 13, 2021

Disclaimer: this trip was hosted by Visit Fairfield County. Accommodations, admission, and meals were provided. Photos and opinions are our own.


At the end of August the folks from Visit Fairfield County kindly hosted us for a weekend of exploring the region. We’re of course familiar with the area, having spent plenty of time at Rockmill Brewery, Donut World, and other stops. But this was our first time really digging in, especially around Lancaster.

We arrived Friday evening and stayed through Sunday brunch. Our first stop on Friday was Combustion Brewery in Pickerington. It’s been on my list for a while, so I was excited to finally check them off.

The taproom and patios were humming with activity; it’s clear that Combustion is a community hub. The brewery is built out of the old Pickerington Creamery building, which proved perfect for the production facility. You can see original walls, flooring, even a display with old photos.

In addition to a solid lineup of beer, Combustion serves a creative cocktail list. They’re also the northernmost stop on the Route 33 BrewTrail, which follows the state highway down into the Hocking Hills.

Combustion plays host to food trucks; that night we snagged lobster tacos and rolls from Cousins Maine Lobster.

Owner Keith Jackson took Beth and I on a quick tour around the building, spying out their beautiful new upstairs event space, all covered in that classic turquoise and cream tile.

By the time we left the patios were full. We played around the train tracks, spotted the old Pickerington train station (I’m obsessed with these), then traveled on to…

Donut World in Lancaster! It had been far too long since we visited this institution, a small corner shack with a parking lot and a drive-through, where they crank out delicious donuts 24/7.

Step inside to the small lobby and just start ordering – you really can’t go wrong. You’ll probably spot them making donuts, too; while we visited we watched an employee chopping up apples into the fritter dough.

I know I’m not alone in this, but I’d put Donut World up there with Ohio’s top 10 donut shops.

For the weekend, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Lancaster. They offer a free breakfast, complete with a funny machine that makes pancakes to order.

We spent Saturday morning strolling around downtown Lancaster, taking in the Lancaster Farmers Market, spotting plenty of public art like sculptures and murals, snagging our first coffee of the day at L-City Coffee+.

Second stop was painting our own pottery + a second coffee at Art & Clay on Main, which is combined with Square 7 Coffee House.

We let the boys select a clay piece, which come in a variety of sizes and prices. You then choose your paints, decorate your piece, and return at a later date to pick it up after it’s been fired in the kiln.

Then it was off to one of our favorite adventures of the trip: the Historical Aircraft Squadron, a volunteer-run museum in a hangar of the county airport, where pilots and plane enthusiasts – many of them veterans – maintain a collection of historic aircraft.

The best thing about it all: it’s not just a museum! They roll the aircraft out onto the tarmac and fly them. We watched as a couple different pilots hopped in their planes and flew off.

The Historical Aircraft Squadron was created by Don Bell. Don is an Air Force veteran who served during the Korean War. He kindly showed us all around, including the display cases full of memorabilia from WWI, WWI, Korea, Vietnam, and beyond. He donated a lot of personal items like uniforms, photographs, and paperwork.

Best of all, they’re training the next generation to love and work on planes. We saw two young ladies who were tuning up an engine, then installing the wings on an aircraft.

The Squadron is open Wednesdays and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and is free to visit.

For lunch, we snuck back to Lancaster to Bob’s Backyard BBQ, a small storefront downtown that serves pulled pork, brisket sandwiches with mac and cheese, smoked chicken, cheesy potatoes, ribs, you name it.

We strolled around downtown Lancaster afterwards, taking in sights like Paperback Exchange, STUMP, Keller Market House, the Sherman House, Decorative Arts Center, True North Coffee & Cafe.

Then we took a tour of the Ohio Glass Museum! The museum documents and celebrates the history of glasswork and modern glass artists. When we arrived, we caught a live video stream of an artist working in their glass studio. Afterwards we strolled the exhibitions, collections, and gift shop.

The Glass Museum also hosts a project where you can come in and blow your own glass bulb, which gets added to a giant ball that’s dropped on New Year’s Eve!

We love getting a little park time everywhere we travel, and I had long been wanting to visit Rising Park.

Rising Park sits several blocks from downtown Lancaster, next to the county fairgrounds. It features a fishing pond, playgrounds, shelter house, hiking trails, but the real centerpiece is Mount Pleasant, a 250-foot sandstone bluff with incredible views.

It’s a short but strenuous hike up to the top, and is well worth the effort.

After our hike we relaxed at the hotel for a while before returning downtown to Double Edge Brewing Company. The taproom was busy that evening, but we found seats on a picnic table out front to enjoy a couple IPAs.

Portions of Downtown Lancaster are also a DORA (Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area), which means you can take your beverage from participating establishments and stroll the district.

Dinner that evening was the delightful Ale House 1890, an upscale pub in downtown Lancaster with a great cocktail and beer selection, and really memorable food, from the avocado dippers with an addictive cilantro ranch, to the buffalo chicken pizza, fish and chips, chicken parmesan, steak salad.

Highly recommended, but expect a bit of a wait, especially on weekends!

At the suggestion of a lot of friends on Instagram, we finished off the night with ice cream at Gypsy Joe’s. A little late for donuts, but the ice cream was terrific. Clearly a community hangout.

The next morning we returned downtown for a first breakfast at the beautiful Provisions Bakery & Deli, a wine bar, coffee shop, and deli with lovely pastries.

Our final stop on the trip was a warm and welcoming Sunday brunch at JB’s Downtown Grill. You can read all about our experiences in my blog post here: breakfastwithnick.com/2021/09/23/jbs-downtown-grill-lancaster-oh

And that wrapped up the weekend. Thanks to Visit Fairfield County for hosting us!


A quick look at our itinerary:

FOOD

BEER

COFFEE

SHOPPING

ACTIVITIES & PARKS

Disclaimer: this trip was hosted by Visit Fairfield County. Accommodations, admission, and meals were provided. Photos and opinions are our own.

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FOOD + TRAVEL WRITER

I go by Dr. Breakfast, but in addition to restaurants and recipes, I write about family travel, breweries and distilleries, the arts, outdoor fun, and so much more.

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