Outdoor Adventures and Urban Delights

By Jill Ross

Kayaking is accessible with the adaptive boat launch at Lake Loramie. All photos by Kevin Kopanski unless otherwise noted.

Nestled in the heart of Ohio — just 36 miles north of Dayton — lies the charming city of Sidney and surrounding Shelby County. From picture-perfect parks to meandering waterways, it’s an ideal destination for nature-loving travelers seeking a mix of outdoor adventure and urban delights. Discover your perfect weekend getaway exploring acres of parkland, kayaking on the Great Miami River and shopping and dining in this “spirited” slice of small-town Americana.

Outdoor Oasis

Popular with the locals is Tawawa Civic Park, boasting a whopping 220 acres of outdoor adventure. The park’s unique moniker comes from the Tawawa Creek, which in turn is derived from the Native American name for “Mosquito Creek.” Take a leisurely walk along the scenic hiking trails, cast a fishing line into one of the many bodies of water, set the kids loose at the inclusive children’s playground area or pack a picnic and spend a lazy afternoon in the park’s many green spaces. With ample settings for activities like Frisbee, bike riding and birding, Tawawa Civic Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Nature and history buffs alike will want to hike to the “Big Rock,” a giant 12-foot glacial boulder left over from the Ice Age. The park also features numerous paved pathways for its visitors on wheels as well as accessible picnic tables and restrooms.

Another must-visit attraction in Shelby County is Lake Loramie State Park. Its centerpiece 1,600-acre lake and 30 miles of shoreline are perfect for fishing, boating, hiking or simply relaxing on the sandy beach by the water. Visitors can take advantage of two accessible fishing piers or launch their own motorized or non-motor watercraft. Don’t own a canoe or kayak? No problem! Lake Loramie offers both for rent at a nominal fee. There’s even an adaptive boat launch for those needing a little help getting into the water. Book an overnight stay at one of the park’s three Cedar Cabins or stay lakeside at the modern campground that can accommodate RVs, campers and tent camping. All three Cedar Cabins are fully ADA compliant, as well as four of the campsites. And the fun doesn’t stop when the temperature drops — in the winter, the park offers ice fishing, sledding and snowmobiling.

Trail Ways

For those seeking a low-key afternoon activity, check out Sidney’s Canal Feeder Bike-Hike Trail — part of the Great Miami Riverway, which runs from Sidney to Cincinnati. The 3.4-mile paved trail follows the former Sidney Feeder Canal and later runs parallel to the Great Miami River, offering a peaceful and scenic route with views of the Great Miami River Valley to those on foot and on wheels. The trail is also accessible, with a smooth surface suitable for wheelchairs and mobility aids. The nearby Veterans Memorial Walkway multiuse ADA-accessible path provides another 2-plus miles of paved trails for walking and cycling. Memorial trees line the walkway commemorating organizations, friends and family.

Get a tour of the Airstream Factory

Airstream Dreaming

If you're a fan of all things vintage and quirky, a visit to the Airstream Experience in Jackson Center is a must. At both the Travel Trailer Plant and the Touring Coach Plant, visitors can get a close-up look at the iconic “silver bullets” and how these legendary travel trailers are made during two different factory tours. The onsite Airstream Heritage Center features vintage Airstream trailers, interactive displays, Airstream collectibles of every variety imaginable and a delightful gift shop. Both the Heritage Center and the factory tours are wheelchair accessible.

Out on the Town

To round out your day, head to downtown Sidney and take a stroll along the town square’s picturesque sidewalks. In the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA), visitors can sample local brews and spirits from the city’s inviting bars and restaurants while staying on the move or take a seat and relax on one of the many outdoor dining patios. Those with a sweet tooth will certainly want to save room for a slice of homemade pie or a frosty malted milkshake from the world-famous Spot Restaurant, a local dining favorite since 1907. Dine in or take your treats across the street to enjoy under the century-old oak trees on the lawn of the historic Shelby County Courthouse in the center of the town square.

Whether you’re looking for one-of-a-kind treasures, locally made souvenirs, trendy accessories or just a fun way to spend an afternoon, downtown Sidney’s shopping scene is not to be missed. Specialty boutiques, charming gift shops and an incredible new wine store are just waiting to be discovered. On Saturday mornings, the Great Sidney Farmers’ Market is the place to be throughout the spring, summer and early fall. Crafters offer a variety of unique handmade items and local farmers truck in their freshest produce. Bakers offer fresh-made pastries, cookies, jellies and candy. Fresh flowers are abundantly available, as are locally grown herbs and spices. On select weekends, live music and other attractions add to the festive atmosphere on the historic Shelby County Court Square.

Shop for fresh foods at the Sidney Farmers Market