In this edition of Road Trippin’, we’re getting our groove on!
Butler County, Ohio always makes for an unforgettable road trip experience. Whether you're coming to adventure for a day trip, weekend getaway, or staying a week, there's a lot to do while you're here... and this edition is for all of those music fanatics out there! With great vinyl selections, musician history, musical sculptures and murals...anybody can rock out here in the BC and learn a little along the way. While planning your road trip, here are 7 stops to make sure you have on your route.
1. Johnny Black Historical Marker & Guitar Sculpture
Marcum Park | 106 N. 2nd Street | Hamilton, OH 45011
The Johnny Black Historical Marker & Guitar Sculpture is located in Marcum Park. The marker is dedicated to John Stewart Black, a singer and musician who was best known for the 1915 song Paper Doll, which became one the biggest records from the World War II era. Over the years, Paper Doll was re-recorded by multiple popular artists such as Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. The song eventually got inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. Black was born in St. Louis but moved to Hamilton, Ohio with his parents when he was six years old. The historical marker can give you more history on Johnny Black, and the sculpture is a great spot for a cool photo to document your travels.
Road Trip Tip: Before visiting the sculpture, check out one of the local restaurants to grab a DORA drink. You can walk around Marcum Park with your beverage!
2. Main St. Vinyl
222 Main Street | Hamilton, OH 45013
Right in the heart of Hamilton, Main Street Vinyl is full with all of your favorite albums and records, both new and used. Discover their selection of vinyl, LPs, CDs, 45s, cassette tapes, audio equipment, speakers, and more! There's something here for any kind of music lover. The shop is owned and operated by Veteran Bill Herren, who is an avid music-fanatic and collector himself. With a house full of nearly 14,000 45 tracks and 8,000 long playing records, the Herrens felt it was due time that Bill share his immense collection with the world, and alas, Main Street Vinyl was born.
Road Trip Tip: Directly next door to Main St. Vinyl is Chubby Bunny Bakery and Chickpea Chicks— don't miss out on grabbing a delicious treat on your way out! Vegan, gluten-free and delectable... you have to try one of the Chubby Bunny brownies, or the Chickpea Chicks dessert hummus.
3. Sorg Opera House
63 S. Main Street | Middletown, OH 45044
Firstly debuting “The Little Tycoon” in 1891, the Sorg Opera House was the place for entertainment and shows for years. Throughout the years the Opera House went through being a movie theater, back to a live performance venue, and then was closed in 2010. Recently, SORG (Sorg Opera Revitalization Group) has been worked to restore and revive the opera house. The venue now welcomes a large variety of bands, live performances, cultural events and more. Check out their website to see a list of their upcoming shows.
Road Trip Tip: The theatre is within walking distance of different entertainment in Downtown Middletown. Spend the rest of your day discovering all that Middletown has to offer.
4. Governor's Square Park
Central Ave and S Broad Street | Middletown, OH 45042
At 2,400 square feet, this huge musical mural showcases bright musical instruments and vibrant notes. It plays as the backdrop for a lot of concerts that are held on Governor's Square. Local artist, Sam Ashworth, designed and created this beautiful mural to embody the liveliness of Middletown. It's truly something you have to see for yourself.
Road Trip Tip: Downtown Middletown now has a Walking Art Tour— a self-guided tour that helps you discover fourteen different murals throughout the city, including the musical mural. It's about a one mile journey, and is a great activity for families, groups, or solo.
5. Willis Music Store
7850 Cox Road | West Chester Township, OH 45069
Beginning back in 1899, Willis Music has always focused on music education. Their store has an instrument for all musicians— From guitars, pianos, percussion, brass, and woodwinds, you can upgrade your current instrument or pick up a brand new hobby. Owner Charles H. Willis began his business selling sheet music and catering to music teachers and later decided to enter the publishing business. Today Willis Music continues its focus on music education through its retail stores and publishing. Willis operates 5 retail stores with everything from print to pianos and everything in between. With its continued focus on education Willis provides music lessons in all locations for all instruments. Additionally, Willis provides venues for performers throughout the year and provides space for hundreds of recitals for students of all ages.
Road Trip Tip: Willis Music is less than a five minute drive to the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting. It's a fun and educational place to stop in to learn about the history of radio technology in the building that was once home to the Voice of America Bethany Station that once housed advanced radio communication technology known to the world, allowing for the broadcast news and entertainment to countries around the world.
6. West Chester Antique Center
4924 Union Centre Pavilion Dr | West Chester, OH 45069
Check out the West Chester Antique Center for a large collection of vinyls and records... you never know what you could find! This Antique Center is one of the largest multi-dealer antique, vintage and collectible shopping destinations with over 70,000 square feet of antiques. There is always vintage records, vinyls, CDs and posters to be discovered.
7. Fairfield Arts Center
411 Wessel Drive | Fairfield, OH 45014
Created in 2017, this bronze jazz sculpture makes a great addition to the community arts center. Adjacent to beautiful Village Green Park, in the heart of Fairfield, the Fairfield Community Arts Center (FCAC) offers a variety of cultural events, performances, classes and concerts. Sculptor Gary Alsum designed this piece, Jazz, depicting three musicians – one playing trumpet, another saxophone and the third, drums. It is one of only seven designs of its kind, and the only of its kind in Ohio.
Road Trip Tip: Be sure to stop by Village Green Park while you're in Fairfield! There are a ton of other bronze sculptures to check out, as well as beautiful fountains and an amphitheater where the community holds their popular Summer concert series Groovin' on the Green.
Ready to road trip?