Milford is a river town in its own right—no riding on Cincinnati’s coattails here. Which means myriad ways to access the outdoors: It sits at the juncture of seven major long-distance trails—eight if you count a kayak-and-canoe friendly river route. Head into the wild at the Milford Trailhead, where the Little Miami Scenic Trail (which can be walked or biked) comes straight through—its namesake river right beside it.
But first, gear up at Roads Rivers and Trails, where the window displays alone are worth the trip and all of your Patagonia dreams are about to come true. Find a wall of kayaks; abundant resource books, maps, and atlases for destinations near and far; every camping/cooking gadget you could ever need; portable Eno hammocks; plus active- and lifestyle-wear from brands like Prana. Be ready for the whole “lust” part of wanderlust to get cranked up a serious notch. Luckily, they host classes and events to help you get out there.
You will not want for sustenance, starting with the essentials: coffee and ice cream. Old Milford Parlor, a creamy whip with a full espresso menu (using locally roasted Lookout Joe beans) opened two years ago in what was originally a barber shop. It’s vintage-eclectic done right—sip your espresso while studying the framed photo of the shop from the 1940s hanging right above a vintage barber chair. Ambience isn’t the only reason to go: They make an A+ latte and swirl 11 flavors of soft serve.
Down the street at May Café, the sandwich reigns supreme. Classic Italian deli–style is their jam (think Caprese, roasted eggplant, or prosciutto on focaccia), with excellent vegetarian options—and gelato. Enjoy it all on their shaded patio. Double up on Italian with outdoor seating at Padrino. Their pizzas are irresistibly named (drunken goat! Hawaii 5-oh!) and the hoagies and pasta dishes aren’t bad either. Settle in for some more upscale dining at 20 Brix, where the watchwords are seasonal, local, American fare—like steak frites, Indiana rainbow trout with stewed lentils and gherkin tartare, or wild Gulf shrimp and grits—with a retail wine shop to boot. After all that, it’s an easy walk to Auel’s Fine Chocolates, which makes almost everything in-house.
Storefronts plying vintage treasures (or at least some strange old stuff) are a small-town essential, and Milford’s got ’em in spades. Gayle Wilson has run her eponymous shop, Gayle’s Vintage Clothing, for 11 years.
Paw through the rack of vintage coats (we found a fur with a Shillito’s tag for $100 and a full-length cashmere for $80), the piles of costume jewelry, the decades of wedding dresses, and the $5 vintage gloves and you’ll understand why. You don’t want to be “that girl” or “that guy,” but you probably want to stop into That Shop in Milford. They stock two floors with kitchenware, decor, retro kitsch, old brewery paraphernalia (Vintage Hudepohl bottle opener? OK!), old Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, and a few large pieces—primarily curios. Visit the two Mercantile Mall storefronts for individual vendor booths that run the gamut of eras and items; Primitives & More for ladders and benches made from old barnwood and infinite candles (your aunt loves this place); and Made New, which opened in June, for refurbished goods from area craftspeople.