Photos by Sarah Parisi Dowlin
Walking along the streets of downtown Milford feels like stepping back in time, which is fitting considering Milford’s interesting history. Sitting along the banks of the Little Miami River, the name ‘Milford’ derives from the words ‘mill ford’ because of the water-powered mills that were erected along the Little Miami River in the early 19th century. A small gristmill, built in 1803, was the first in the community, and people had to wade across the shallow waters of the Little Miami to reach it. As the first safe ford across the Little Miami north of the Ohio River, Milford was the ideal location for a small town to take root.
The assortment of restaurants, antique shops, and local businesses of downtown Milford comprises this quaint but quirky town. Many outdoor enthusiasts from the adjacent Little Miami Scenic Trail, upon finishing up a hike or bike ride, flock to town to grab a glass of wine from the destination-worthy restaurant 20 Brix or an ice cream from the Old Milford Parlour, which was once a barber shop and still features many of the artifacts from its previous life.
Even if the outdoor attractions of the Little Miami don’t pique your interest, Milford can meet the desires of athlete, antiquer, artist, and wine enthusiast alike. For those searching for an innovative meal and a perfect glass to go with it, 20 Brix will not let you down. More than 140 wines, sorted by individual taste profile, are served in 2- or 5-ounce pours, so you can sample your way through the list. The menu’s mainstays include several bruschetta dishes based on 16 Bricks bread: one with goat cheese, prosciutto, and a balsamic reduction, and another with mushrooms, cheese, farm egg, and arugula. They’re great as a starter or a light meal.
Continue down Main Street to taste some hand-dipped chocolates at Tickled Sweet, featuring Auel’s fine chocolate or a fresh roast from Camargo Coffee, which has been roasting coffee in Milford for 10 years. Bambi Merz, Tickled Sweet’s owner, recently began working in Milford, and immediately felt part of the community. “The merchants are very close-knit,” she explains. “It’s a charming and outdoorsy town.”
Stop into one of the many antique shops to gawk over the wide collection of vintage kitchen items, or visit the oldest bicycle shop in Cincinnati, Bishop’s Bicycles, which was established in 1890. With many shady spots to sit and chat with the locals, Milford is the perfect place for a little rejuvenation before returning to the trails. If you’re looking for a quicker food option, May Café offers dine-in or picnic-able sandwiches during lunch hours.
During the holidays, it will really feel like you’ve gone back in time, as horse-drawn carriages roam the streets and businesses stay open late for holiday festivities. Or visit on any Second Saturday year round for special events.
— Maria Chal