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EXPERIENCE

EAT (out)/ EXPERIENCE

Summer at Fountain Square!

There are events happening almost every single day and night at Fountain Square and almost all events are FREE!  Last year, while walking around downtown after dinner, we heard some pretty sweet Reggae tunes and decided to follow the beat.  Turns out, there was a free Reggae concert going on and the crowd was jammin’!  My husband got us a couple drinks and we stayed until the concert ended.  It was such a great time.  Then last week, my friend invited us to Salsa on the Square.  Again, free.  Let’s just say that it was HOTTTTT out there in more ways than one.  The temp was soaring, the hips were rotating, and the music was dancing (yes, the music itself seemed to dance).  Luckily a group of professional dancers took the stage twice to offer up salsa lessons so novices like me could at least get the basic steps. When we got home that night, I decided to look up the schedule for Fountain Square; I was blown away by all the activities offered during the summer.  In addition to grooving to Reggae and shaking to Salsa, I’ve also played Trivia and Fountain Feud.  Now . . . I won’t say how well I played, but I had a great time nonetheless.

I’ve included a list of events below with some details:

Monday TRIVIA: 7-9pm 

  • Smaller crowd; people of all ages
  • Food truck and drinks available or bring your own food
  • Bring friends to form a team
  • Gift cards up for grabs for winners

Tuesday FOUNTAIN FEUD: 7-9pm

  • Fountain Square version of the TV game show
  • Don’t have to know the “right answers”, just the popular answers
  • Teams compete for prizes
  • Relaxing and pretty funny (some of the top surveyed answers are crazy town)

Wednesday REGGAE: 7-10pm

  • The combination of rhythm, calypso, and blues bring an energy that is palpable
  • Found this by dining downtown and heard the music from blocks away
  • Bringing the islands to Cincinnati
  • Live bands (see schedule)

Thursday SALSA: 7-10pm 

  • Such a fun, diverse crowd
  • It’s alive- truly
  • Mini lessons included (anyone can do this)
  • Live music– incredible lineup of performers

Friday and Saturday FIFTH AND VINE LIVE: 7-11pm

  • Free outdoor concerts
  • Eclectic lineup of acts- some national and some local
  • Big crowd

I haven’t explored all the lunch events yet, but the weekday is strong.  These all run from 11am- 2pm.  Check it out:

  • TUES- Strauss Troy Market: Heavy on ready-to-eat foods, some produce, jewelry, etc.
  • WED-  World Fair: New event, ready-to-eat foods from different countries; world cuisine
  • THURS- FSQ Eats: All food trucks, checkout the facebook page for the lineup
  • SUN- Rotating events: This Sunday is a brunch and a Bloody Mary bar!

Most events run Memorial Day to Labor Day! Check out their website, myfountainsquare.com, for further info.  Remember, at Fountain Square you can get delicious food, live music, and games.  There is really something for everyone.  I suggest arriving a little early and parking in the garage underneath the square.  At each event, concessions are open with drinks, food is close by for purchase, and events themselves are free! And, you never know who you will see or meet.  At Trivia night, I got beat by a group of former students (insert face of shame) and on Fountain Feud night we met a new friend who ended up joining our team (hey, Guarav)! Plus, there is SO much to do around the square if you want to explore before the events begin.

GO THERE (Fountain Square)!  TRY THAT (Trivia night, Salsa, Reggae)!  

EAT (out)/ EXPERIENCE

Route 33 Brew Trail (A day trip or weekend getaway)

I am no stranger to a road trip!  I love day trips and weekend getaways.  Sometimes I like to super plan with an itinerary and lots of research (mainly about food and coffee) and other times I like to hop in the car, drive, and go with the flow.  I just find getting out of my own habitat once in awhile to be both restful and invigorating.  As I always say, experiences matter much more to me than things.  I was recently invited to explore Fairfield County, Ohio and I jumped at the chance to see part of the state I hadn’t seen before.  My husband, a craft beer aficionado, got to taste flights from local breweries and I got to explore the countryside, quaint towns, and scenic vistas.

The Route 33 Brew Trail in Fairfield County, Ohio highlights six local breweries: Combustion Brewery & Taproom (Pickerington), Loose Rail Brewing (Canal Winchester), BrewDog Dog Tap (Canal Winchester), Rockmill Brewery (Lancaster), Double Edge Brewery (Lancaster), and Brewery 33 Hocking Hills (Logan).

Yes, I’m going to talk about beer (with lots of help from my husband), but I also want to point out other important factors in a brewery such as atmosphere, seating, food, mood, etc.  Overall, we were super impressed with each of these breweries! Here’s the highlight reel:

Combustion Brewery & Taproom:

  • Bright, big open space
  • Good for families and groups
  • Nice outdoor seating
  • Upstairs loft space for all kinds of social events
  • Has a What’s Next board to alert guests of upcoming events
  • Community oriented
  • Kitchen has a strong menu (plenty of people ordering sandwiches)
  • Fig jam with the soft pretzel (yes, fig jam!)
  • Plenty of non-alcoholic options (loved the locally made sarsparilla)

Standout Beer at Combustion:

  • Imperial Breakfast Stout (Stout)- Smooth, strong coffee taste without overpowering the other notes
  • Blueprint (Blueberry Blonde)- Totally unique, the blueberry adds body- perfect for people who don’t normally like flavored beer
  • Sundial (Pale Wheat Ale)- This is a delish sip-on-the-front-porch summer beer

Loose Rail Brewing:

  • Brick building with tons of character
  • Great outdoor seating with a fire pit
  • Located in the heart of town; close to a few great restaurants

Standout Beer at Loose Rail:

  • Ashcat (Amber)- Flagship beer, caramel malt, polished- could drink this one every night, polished
  • Crank Pin (Cream Ale)- Vanilla & bourbon in perfect balance
  • Blast Pipe (Blonde Ale)- Crisp and citrusy

BrewDog Dog Tap:

  • Originated in Scotland; Columbus is its first United States brewery
  • Huge! Tons of space inside and outside
  • Full kitchen menu and places to sit down and dine with friends and family
  • Hip music playing, giant Jenga, firepits, and corn hole
  • A sense of humor (lots of sea-inspired murals and bold colors)
  • Dog park on premises

Standout Beer at BrewDog Dog Tap:

  • Tokyo (Stout)- High APV (16.5), super unique taste- really malty with a taste of saltiness
  • Jet Black Heart (Stout)- Milky and sweet, the nitro removes any bite so it’s super smooth
  • Indy Pale Ale– refreshing, solid summer beer

Rockmill Brewery:

  • Location, location, location (scenic, scenic, scenic)
  • The grounds are stunning (lake, flowers, rolling hills, green grass, fire pit)
  • Pack a picnic, order beer, find a picnic table, and impress a date here
  • Barbecue food truck on premises
  • Romantic and relaxing

Standout Beer at Rockmill:

  • Dubbel– Dark with a nice touch of cherry, solid lager
  • Belgian Pilsner– Bright and clean with a slight wheat taste
  • Saison Noir– A solid and dependable dark stout

Double Edge Brewery:

  • Unassuming from the outside, but clean and sleek on the inside
  • Pretzels (on the house)
  • Hyperlocal and recently opened by homebrew hobbyists turned professional brewers
  • Strong customer service
  • Sells some kind of crazy good local popcorn
  • Lots of dark beer options and stouts
  • Each beer taste like the description says it should (and that’s a big deal)

Standout Beer at Double Edge:

  • Smoke Signals (Smoked Beer)- Plush amber ale, not too smokey, the cherrywood is evident
  • Macchiato (Stout)- Coffee infused milk stout, the dark roast coffee is strong in a good way, beer version of a coffee-chocolate-milk
  • Brite Side (pale wheat ale)- Can clearly taste the orange, light & slightly wheaty

Brewery 33 Hocking Hills:

  • House made root beer and it’s bold, delicious, and refreshing
  • Super close to sights at Hocking Hills
  • Next to a few good restaurants

Standout Beer at Brewery 33:

  • Snowbirds Pale Ale– Best IPA-ish beer on the trail, crisp and refreshing
  • Rockhouse Red– A really good red, not bitter, the sweetness of the maple is there but not too sweet
  • Kachelmacher Kellerbier (pale lager)- The combination of hops gives it a unique & complex taste

While the visits to the breweries along the Route 33 BrewTrail were a planned part of this trip (thanks to Fairfield County for sponsoring my visit), other parts were much more spontaneous.  The drive along the countryside is lovely; it’s a nice break from the city.  We took a leisurely stroll at Rock Mill Park to see the waterfall, covered bridge, and one of the oldest grist mills in Ohio.  Rock Mill is open for tours from May through October, Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Another park we loved, but not in a leisurely sense, was Rising Park in Lancaster.  The trail isn’t necessarily long, but the climb is steep (as in I took a few breaks along the way and my calves are still a bit sore); however, the view from the top of Rising Park’s Mount Pleasant is a-maz-ing and I would climb it again.  But, for the love of all that is good, where tennis shoes; then, take your time enjoying the view of Lancaster and the surrounding foothills. Next time, I’m going up to see the sunset!

Tip: Be sure to get your Route 33 Brew Trail passport stamped at each brewery (we did) and then return to the Fairfield County Visitor’s and Conventions Bureau for a free Anchor Hocking Route 33 Brew Trail pint glass.

Shoutout: We ate well on this trip!  I want to give a special shoutout to a few of our local faves: Das KaffeeHaus (Lithopolis) for a strong cup of joe, Harvest Moon Craft Kitchen (Canal West Chester) for incredible burgers and oatmeal pies, Cherry Street Pup (Lancaster) for a fun, eclectic dining environment, and Millstone BBQ (Logan) for one heck of a meat platter!

If you’ve been to Fairfield County, Ohio, I’d love to hear your favorite stops!  Have fun exploring!

GO THERE (Fairfield County, OH)!  TRY THAT (Route 33 Brew Trail, Rising Park)!