West Milton - Big Small Town Charm
Story & Photos by Matt Bayman
CLICK TO BEGIN SLIDESHOW
Exploring West Milton is a lesson in surprise. This is because they're around every corner.
West Milton is a place where hidden waterfalls cascade into the Stillwater River Valley – four of them to be exact -and where canoeing, hiking, entertainment and peaceful reflection are always close by. It’s a town where shopkeepers greet you with a smile and showcase some of the most interesting merchandise, and where restaurants serve home-cooked meals and desserts, and a winery offers locally made (and grown) vino. It’s also a place where historical landmarks date back to the founding of the United States, and where some of the most honored traditions in Miami County continue to this day, from a famous sledding hill at West Milton Municipal Park, to the annual Fourth of July Festival, parade and fireworks display.
Many afternoons can be spent exploring West Milton, and during many different seasons. Some of the interesting things you can see and do during a visit include:
Shop at 16 one-of-a-kind storefronts in a charming historic district, and be amazed at the selection. (See the next slideshow below to view what's inside some of the stores)
Visit peaceful waterfalls, including one where you can sip Speakeasy cocktails on a patio next to it
Take a two-hour canoe trip with Barefoot Canoe down the beautiful Stillwater River - designated a State Scenic River for good reason. A 4-hour trip is also available
Enjoy locally made wine - and weekend entertainment - at Old Mason Winery
Explore the peaceful gardens, ponds and hiking trails at Transfiguration Center for Spiritual Renewal, or rent the Elijah House and recharge with an overnight stay
Visit the historic 1804 Quaker Meeting House, and see gravestones from veterans of the Revolutionary War and Civil War, which is rare in these parts
Visit a store - Wertz Variety - that has been in business for 90 years, and that really does carry almost everything you could imagine, including hard-to-find children's toys, florals, fabrics and more
Take your sweetheart(s) to Black Light Bowling at Miami Lanes on Friday and Saturday nights starting at 8 p.m.
In the winter, and after a good snow, sled on a hill that has brought joy to generations of local residents
Visit Miami County's longest-running and longest (in duration) Fourth of July Festival (June 29-July 4), complete with carnival rides, games and the Lion's Club's popular BBQ chicken dinners and West Milton Fire Department fried waffles
Speaking of those firemen's waffles. Look for them being sold in front of the Municipal Building on Friday evenings during the summer and fall. Watch the Village's Facebook page for details.
Play the county's only 5-hole golf course at Stillwater Ridge Golf Course, which is perfect for beginners, or those looking for a less-serious game. Or play the actual 9-hole course, which is great, too!
Have a piece of legendary pie at Pearson House, or get a whole one to go
Visit the former home of - and historical marker for - West Milton resident Charles Furnas, who was the first-ever airplane passenger and a mechanic for the Wright Brothers
Stop by ReVive It starting at 10 a.m. on Saturdays for fresh Jim's Donuts, and homemade breads and muffins
Drive along State Route 48 to view the village's Veterans Banners. They're on both sides of the road.
Take a short, wooded hike to a waterfall, then see a rare birdseye view of the Stillwater River at Brukner Nature Center's River's Edge park on Calumet Road
Head to the upcoming fabric-themed Hop and a Skip event on June 28-29, featuring fabric specials at Wertz Variety, as well as 20% off entire fabric purchases at nearby Fabric Crafts in Ludlow Falls. While in Ludlow Falls, stop to see the Ludlow Falls waterfall, located underneath the bridge on St. Rt. 48
Mark your calendar for an annual spring, fall and holiday merchant open houses in downtown West Milton
Visit West Milton Municipal Park. It sits in the Stillwater River Valley and has much to see and do
Come cheer on athletes at the annual West Milton Triathlon on June 16 (they start and finish at the park)
Stop by the weekly West Milton Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays starting June 9
And, last but not least, enjoy the food, including great pizza and subs at the new Clark's Pizzeria, home-cooked meals at the Bulldog Diner and Pearson House, and popular appetizers at Skipper's Tavern, among others.
The following information will help you explore the many things to see and do in West Milton. Five different categories follow: Recreation, Shopping, Dining, Historical Sightseeing, and Special Events & Fun. Enjoy!
For a small town, West Milton has a lot of recreational opportunities. As mentioned above, they include canoeing, scenic waterfall viewing, hiking, golfing, bowling and fishing, not to mention seasonal sledding at at West Milton Municipal Park. The following are some recreational opportunities you can enjoy during a visit to West Milton:
Canoe trip on the Stillwater River with Barefoot Canoe
Barefoot Canoe is located in West Milton Municipal Park and is open without reservations on Saturdays and Sundays and by reservation during the week by calling (937) 698-4351. The cost for a standard 4-5 mile trip (about two hours) is $29 for two people in a canoe or $20 for an individual in a kayak. The price includes vessel, life preservers and transportation back to your vehicle. A 9-mile trip from West Milton to Englewood Dam is $40 for two people and $30 for a kayak. This trip is about 4 hours. (All trips are weather- and river-level-dependent). For more information, visit www.barefootcanoe.com.
There are four significant waterfalls in and around West Milton. The most famous, West Milton Cascades (pictured below-right) is located on the northwest corner of the intersection of St. Rt. 48 and St. Rt. 571. It is open to the public and parking is located on-site. American Legion Falls is located at the new LH Speakeasy, at 2334 S Miami St., where you can enjoy drinks next to the falls. Calumet Waterfall is located at River's Edge Nature Preserve on Calumet Road. A fourth waterfall is located along St. Rt. 48 next to the Olde Red Barn. It is blocked off from the public and best-seen in the winter, when the surrounding foliage is absent.
Bowling at Miami Lanes
Miami Lanes is a hometown, family friendly bowling alley located at 1159 S. Miami St. They are open 3-9 p.m. Thursdays; 3 p.m. to midnight Friday; 1 p.m. to midnight Saturday; and 1-8 p.m. Sundays. They offer very affordable prices, as well as fun specials and events happening all the time, including Black Light Bowling on Friday and Saturday nights starting at 8 p.m.. Follow them and learn more HERE. For more information, call (937) 698-5706.
9 Holes or 5 Holes of Golf at Stillwater Ridge Golf Course
Stillwater Ridge Golf Course has two options for golfers, including the only place in the area where you can play a five-hole course. The nine-hole course has a great, peaceful layout and is considered a family friendly course. Located at 6165 W. State Route 571. For more information, call (937) 698-5806.
The Sledding Hill
West Milton sits directly above the Stillwater River Valley. Because of this, the longest, fastest sledding hill in Miami County (pictured above-right) is located here - at West Milton Municipal Park.
Fishing at West Milton Municipal Park Pond & Stillwater River
This stocked pond with benches and shade is a popular place to fish in West Milton, as is the nearby Stillwater River, which can be enjoyed via canoe or kayak while fishing through Barefoot Canoe.
Hiking at River’s Edge Nature Preserve
A loop hiking trail at this hidden gem on Calumet Road passes a waterfall (flowing only after a good rain), and access to the shores of the Stillwater River. Because of the last glacial period, there is a spot along the trail where it is possible to look down upon the river from a tall hill above. In this flat part of the state, this seems out of place. The best view of the river below is in the winter.
Hiking at the Transfiguration Center for Spiritual Renewal
Located at 3505 Calumet Road, Transfiguration Center for Spiritual Renewal is open to the public and features beautiful ponds (one pictured at right), gardens and miles of hiking trails that lead right up to the Stillwater River. There's also a playground, and the Elijah House is available to rent by the night for... spiritual renewal.
If you haven’t been shopping in West Milton in some time, or ever, there are many reasons to visit - both old and new. There are several new businesses in town, including ReVive It Home Décor & Restoration and Marmee Pantry. In the realm of entertainment and dining, there's also the new LH Speakeasy and Clark’s Pizzeria.
ReVive It specializes in revived and custom-built furniture, as well as home décor. The showroom is stunning, and the prices are right. As an added bonus, the shop offers homemade breads, muffins and coffee, and on Saturdays starting at 10 a.m., (while supplies last) fresh Jim’s Donuts!
Just down the road from ReVive It - on historical Miami Street - is the new Marmee Pantry. This shop specializes in bulk foods and home remedies, with a focus on organic, gluten-free, and natural products. This includes more than 170 culinary and medicinal herbs and spices, essential oils, plant- and mineral-based makeup, local goat’s milk soaps and honey, ear candles, bottled herbs and more. They also host monthly workshops.
The new LH Speakeasy features a prohibition-inspired drink menu and has its own waterfall, scenic outdoor patio, fire pit and a gazebo. This summer, the patio will have live music, games and other activities. The LH Speakeasy opened in February and is located at 2334 S. Miami St. inside of Fayevores Banquet Center. The pub is open 3 p.m. to midnight daily. They are currently working to add food to the menu.
Clark’s Pizzeria, also located on Miami Street, is West Milton’s newest restaurant. Along with ingredient-rich pizzas, the restaurant offers specialty subs and hoagies, appetizers (including some great fried pickles), wings, salads and sweets. Guests can dine-in our carryout, and beer and pop are available. They are open at 3 p.m. every day.
Beyond these new businesses, what has always made West Milton special is its long-standing merchants, from Wertz Variety and Wertz Hardware Store (which celebrated 90 years in the community last year!) to The Hen’s Nest, which just celebrated its 30th anniversary in May and Miami Lanes Bowling Alley, which was brought back to life by a former employee, and long-time West Milton resident, Justin Fallen. Add to this list Angel Heaven, Olde Red Barn, Raggedy Sisters and Patterson Flowers, or even nearby Fabric Craft in Ludlow Falls, among others, and you’ll be amazed at just how diverse the shopping is in West Milton. Below is a list of 16 shops to visit.
Click on the image below to go window shopping in downtown West Milton...
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"Window Shopping in West Milton" SLIDESHOW
11 N. Miami St.
Fabric Crafts by Rosalie
2810 St. Rt. 48, Ludlow Falls
31 N. Miami St.
The Hen’s Nest
50 N. Main St.
Jenny’s Country Creations
47 N. Miami St.
Facebook page HERE
24 N. Miami St.
Little Bird Boutique
648 S. Miami St.
25 S. Miami St.
Facebook page HERE
Old Mason Winery
4199 S. Iddings Road
Olde Red Barn
870 S. Miami St.
965 S. Miami St.
2 S. MIami St.
Facebook page HERE
47 N. Miami St.
Facebook page HERE
Wertz Hardware & Variety
10 N. Miami St.
30 Lowry St.
Everything cooked in front of you and featuring homemade breakfast, lunch and dinner items. Open 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. See their menu HERE.
1055 S. Miami St.
Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday-Monday (closed Tuesdays), China Moon is loved by locals and possibly a hidden treasure waiting to be found by out-of-towers. Find all of your favorite Chinese dishes prepared fresh.
420 S. Miami St.
Open 3-10 .m. Sunday-Thursday and 3-11 p.m. on Friday and Saturdays, Clark’s Pizzeria offers pizza, hoagies (pictured at top left), wings, appetizers, salads and desserts, plus bottled and canned beer. Available for sit-down service or carryout. Follow them on Facebook HERE for special offers.
Fox's Pizza Den
19 N. Miami St.
Popular pizzas and known for large sizes, including the Big Daddy, The Big One and The Sicilian. Open daily 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. See the full menu HERE.
Pearson House Restaurant
28 N. Miami St.
Homemade food including breakfast, sandwiches and soups, dinner specials and famous pies (pictured above left). Open Sunday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. See their full menu HERE.
101 N. Miami St.
Pizza, chicken wings, cold beer, daily specials, and more. Open 3 p.m. to midnight Monday-Thursday; 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; and 3-9 p.m. Sundays.
2334 S. Miami St.
Food menu coming soon! Outdoor patio next to waterfall, plus speakeasy style drinks (both pictured at left). See the drink menu HERE. Open daily at 3 p.m.
Rudy’s Dairy Bar
1125 S. Miami St.
Peanut butter shakes (and others), ice cream, cheeseburgers, grilled chicken, coney dogs, malts and more. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-9 p.m. on Sundays. See the full menu HERE.
690 S. Miami St.
Pizza and sandwich shop, with delivery service. Find them on Facebook HERE.
1804 Quaker Meetinghouse & West Branch Cemetery – located on Frederick Garland Road on the south side of town from St. Rt. 48, less than a half-mile on your left (pictured at right)
McKinley Commons Apartment/Old High School – listed on the National Register of Historic Places and located at 240 S. Miami Street/St. Rt. 48 (pictured below right)
The Underground Railroad historical marker
– located in front of the Masonic Lodge on St. Rt. 571, near St. Rt. 48 intersection
Charles Furnace Historical Marker and Presidential Campaign display – both located at/in Hale-Sarver Funeral Home, 284 N. Miami St.
Hoover Mill – on private property, but can be seen from St. Rt. 48 on the south end of town
Veterans Memorial – located inside of West Milton Municipal Park
Korean War Memorial – located at entrance to Riverside Cemetery next to gazeebo
Annual Events & Activities
West Milton Fourth of July Festival (June 29 - July 4, 2018)
West Milton Triathlon (June 16, 2018)
Spring, Fall and Holiday Open Houses in the downtown
Firemen's waffles (look for them on Fridays in the summer and fall)
West Milton Farmer's Market (Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. starting June 9)
Hometown Hero banners (hung periodically)
Community Easter Egg Hunt in April
For those wanting to host an event, Fayevores Banquet - pictured below - is now under new management and booking reservations
West Milton: Did You Know, et al?
West Milton is named after English poet John Milton, author of “Paradise Lost”
Hometown of Charles Furnas, the first airplane passenger and a mechanic for the Wright Brothers
There are around 4,600 people living in West Milton
More females live in West Milton than males (52% female)
Read about the first copper lightning rod, made in West Milton, HERE
Hometown of conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, Ted Studebaker – see a video about him HERE
Hometown of Bob Schull, the only American to win an Olympic Gold in the 5000 metre (Watch his final three laps at the Olympics HERE)
The Underground Railroad had an historical role in West Milton. Read about the sign located on the southeast corner of St. Rt. 571 and St. Rt. 48 HERE.
Take a drone flight over West Milton in this video HERE
Tour a 317-square-foot “tiny house” in West Milton HERE