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Nature Calls, Sidney Awaits

Looking to escape to a slower pace? Take a break from the day-to-day and head to Sidney, just 36 miles north of Dayton. Here, in the seat of Shelby County, you’ll find over 400 acres of parkland to explore along with plenty of unique shopping and dining destinations that evoke all the charm of small-town Ohio.

By Jill Ross

Hike the Benjamin Trail in Tawawa Park. All photos by Matt Shiffler unless otherwise noted.

Outdoor Oasis

Outdoor enthusiasts, rejoice! There’s plenty to discover in the 220 acres of woodlands, waterways and lakes in Tawawa Civic Park. Making up more than half of the city’s parkland, this natural oasis offers something for adventurers of all ages. The wooded park is a popular outdoor location for family get-togethers, picnics and cookouts, offering more than 20 shelters and play areas throughout, along with plentiful opportunities for solo activities like fishing and hiking that encourage visitors to unplug and unwind.

Trekking along the park’s seven miles of trails, you’ll encounter Big Rock, a 12-foot-tall glacial boulder left from the Ice Age. It’s just a half-mile hike from the park’s entrance to Ward Trail, in Aschenbach Grove. The one-mile-long Benjamin Trail, follows a millrace the length of the park which used to supply water to Sidney’s first water and electric plant located nearby on Brooklyn Avenue. Next, seek out the 1971 Ross Covered Bridge located in the middle of the park for postcard-worthy photo opportunities. For those who like to venture off the beaten path, longer nature trails are located toward the back of the park.

The all inclusive play area in Tawawa Park is perfect for families, Sidney Visitors Bureau.

Hit the Links

In addition to its parks, Sidney is also home to a variety of golf clubs, perfect for an afternoon on the green or a weekend getaway. Shelby Oaks Golf Club provides a fun and challenging experience for golfers of all skill levels across its 27 holes. Rob Fridley, who has been the director of operations at Shelby Oaks Golf Club for forty years notes that the course is home to one of Dayton’s Top 50 Golf Holes, Number 9 South.

Situated on the grounds of the Sidney Moose Lodge, the Moose Golf Course is open to the public. Originally the Shelby County Country Club, this 9-hole, 35-par course features tight fairways and smaller greens much in the tradition of early golf course design.

Established in 1965, Arrowhead Golf Club is just 15 minutes from Sidney and offers an eighteen-hole course layout, practice facility, and full pro shop. In addition, Arrowhead boasts an on-site restaurant, The Bunker, a favorite with visitors and locals alike.

Get your foursome together for a round of golf at Shelby Oaks, Sidney Visitors Bureau.

Trail Ways

Hop over to Sidney’s Canal Feeder Bike-Hike Trail for even more outdoor fun. This 3.4-mile paved trail follows the former Sidney Feeder Canal and later runs parallel to the scenic Great Miami River, a popular spot for kayaking and canoeing. The river has been designated by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a National Water Trail — a distinction that has been given to only 32 other locations in the United States. As its name implies, the trail is used for walking, trail running and road biking year-round.

Whether you’re coasting on two wheels or strolling on two feet (or four paws for our furry friends), you’ll enjoy beautiful views of the Great Miami River Valley and its adjacent wooded landscapes, discovering ideal spots for fishing and birding along the way. An additional half-mile nature path near the 1.5-mile trail marker provides access to the Great Miami River. The Canal Feeder trail also provides two access points to the Great Miami River. Other river access points include Johnston Park, Berger Park and Roadside Park.

The Veteran’s Memorial Walkway is a multi-use ADA-accessible path that provides 4.5 miles of paved trails for walking and cycling. Memorial trees line the walkway commemorating organizations, friends and family.

The four fountains on Shelby County’s court square are popular gathering spots.

Shop Local

Once you’ve had your fill of nature, venture over to downtown Sidney for a true taste of small-town living. As you stroll the sidewalks, you’ll find several noteworthy shopping destinations bordering the traditional town square. The Ivy Garland is a gift shop specializing in gift and decorator items for all occasions. Stop by and check out their inventory of Sidney souvenirs, home decor, florals, gifts and women’s accessories. Next, head around the corner to Moonflower Effect featuring organic essential oils, custom blends, diffusers, ethically sourced clothing and more. While you’re there, why not also book an hour-long dry salt therapy session in their new salt room for ultimate relaxation?

For a tranquil break, be sure to stop by Greenhaus Coffee in downtown Sidney offering a unique Coffee Shop | Plant Shop concept that people love. The retail side offers indoor plants, home décor items, and locally crafted gifts. In addition, guests rave about their café where you’ll find a wonderful selection of Purebred Coffees, made to order seltzers, natural fruit sodas, teas, toasts, pastries, salads and more.

If you’re up for a detour, check out Gallery 2:TEN and Re:Vive Home Décor & More, just minutes from downtown, and discover works from more than 40 different artists and craftspeople. Shop original pottery, jewelry, metal sculptures and hot-blown glass creations along with a wide array of vintage, reclaimed and artfully repurposed furniture.

Enjoy a drink at Murphy’s Craftbar + Kitchen, Sidney Visitors Bureau.

Small-Town Bites

Feeling hungry? Downtown Sidney offers several appealing reasons to stick around for a bite to eat. Partake in a refreshing chilled beverage on one of many outdoor dining patios overlooking the idyllic town square with the majestic Shelby County Courthouse positioned at its center. During its construction in 1883, the limestone, sandstone and marble were brought in by canal boat. The courthouse’s looming 170-foot center tower features four clocks. The town square is the site of many special local events, such as cruise-ins and the farmers market held early June through early October.

The iconic diner The Spot was first established in 1907 as a lunch wagon operated by Spot Miller. Today, it’s an art deco-style diner loved by locals for its fresh-ground hamburgers, crispy onion rings, thick malts and homemade pies. It’s a great place to stop by for a dessert, meal or snack. Order carryout and picnic like a pro in the shade of the old-growth oak trees on the Shelby County Courthouse lawn, or dine in your car by ordering from the retro car-side speakers.

Family-owned Italian pizza parlor Amelio’s Pizzeria opened its doors to the public in June of 2021, serving up years of family heritage and Italian culture. Husband and wife Rob and Toni Thorne named the restaurant after Toni’s great-grandfather, Giuseppe Amelio Cecere, who came to America from Italy in 1920 and opened a pizza shop in his garage. Many of the dishes are named after family members, from the shop’s signature Margherita pizza, the Amelio, to Rosie’s Garlic Twists, named for Amelio’s wife. Committed to keeping the family legacy alive, Amelio’s Pizzeria welcomes you in for an authentic Italian experience.

For a more formal dinner, grab a patio table at The Bridge Restaurant, which serves upscale eats like steak and seafood prepared fresh in-house daily, or at Tavolo, which offers modern Italian fare. Before calling it a night, be sure to check out what’s on tap at Murphy’s Craftbar + Kitchen. This trendy bistro boasts 48 taps featuring a wide selection of Ohio brews and craft cocktails.

Tavolo Modern Italian makes every visit a special occasion, Sidney Visitors Bureau.