For those of us living in Montgomery County or elsewhere in the northern Miami Valley, the historic city of Lebanon in Warren County isn’t always at the forefront of our radars when it comes to jaunts out of town.
But, as Butler County and Warren County residents and historic buffs already know, the small city has more than the title of county seat to draw visitors. From its famous visitors, to the excellent antique shopping, to its particularly jovial feeling during the holiday season, the downtown area gives you plenty of reasons to take a drive down 75 and enjoy an afternoon or weekend along its streets.
Feel the history in the air
Downtown Lebanon has not let go of its heritage. A natural halfway point on trade and travel routes between Cincinnati and Dayton, Lebanon was built up to host, feed, and restore travelers. Markers throughout downtown indicate historic buildings and landmarks since the first plats were laid in 1802, and those details help to keep the city’s past ever-present.
Take the time to walk up and down South Broadway and Main Streets, and read the Lebanon Rotary Club markers, or take a look at the old-school Shell gas station on South and Mechanic Streets. If you have more than a few hours in town, consider booking a night or two at the Golden Lamb, and stay in the same room as some very important, historic figures, including Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, John Quincy Adams, or Ronald Reagan. The historic hotel has been a fixture at 27 S. Broadway St. for more than 200 years.
Savor some delicious food
If you have a few hours to kill around lunch or dinnertime in Lebanon, it’s highly encouraged that you stop by the Golden Lamb for a hearty, healthy and a sometimes historic meal.
Only feeling a small snack? Grab a burger, some mozzarella sticks, or some beloved salted caramel chocolate dipped pretzel ice cream from the Village Ice Cream Parlor, 22 S. Broadway St. Grab a seat by the old-fashioned soda fountain where two films, Harper Valley PTA (1977) and Milk Money (1993) were filmed.
Snag a unique gift at a perfect price in one of several antique stores
Lebanon is well-known for its quality antique shopping: From Ambassador’s Antiques, 23 S. Broadway, to the Broadway Antique Mall, 15-17 S. Broadway St., you can spend hours winding through the rows of vintage dishware, blowing dust off of turntables and Victrola record players, leafing through the Bobbsey Twins books. Give yourself too much time and you may find yourself justifying the purchase of four brightly colored, castle-themed German beer Steins, that retail for $80 each but you found for $10. The Lebanon Antique Show, one of the oldest antiques shows in the Midwest, typically takes place in the beginning of the year at the Warren County Fairgrounds.
If you’re not one for antique shopping, shops like Green Country Market, 21 E. Main St., Rose and Remington, 15 E. Main St., and Kay’s Shoppe, 24 S. Broadway, are great spots to find novelty gifts, warm cozy sweaters, jams and jellies, and handmade jewelry.
For festival season, Lebanon is the place to be
In the summer time, stay close to home rather than trekking out to Country Concert: downtown Lebanon goes music-wild for the Lebanon Country Music Festival, featuring a beer garden, mechanical bull rides, a kids zone, vendors, and more. Not a country fan? Perhaps the Lebanon Blues Festival will suit your tastes more, with local and national blues bands sharing their tunes while you can check out over 150 classic cars as part of the Blues, BBQ and Bumpers Car Show.
Get in the holiday spirit
It doesn’t take more than walking along South Broadway’s sidewalks with snow lining the pavement, Christmas wreaths wrapping the light poles, and the scent of Douglas fir candles wafting through stores as you shop for gifts to put you in the mood. The annual Lebanon Horse Drawn Carriage and Parade Festival, this year on Dec. 1, always draws a cheerful crowd to shop, eat, and of course, watch the many decadent horse-drawn carriages parade downtown. You’ll feel like you just walked off of the set for Little Women.
Learn more about Historic Downtown Lebanon by visiting their website.