An Ohio village puts the commune in community, with a year-round passion for peace on earth. Visit artsy-progressive Yellow Springs for a quiet exhale before the Christmas rush.
The Underdog Cafe in Yellow Springs, Ohio
The Underdog Cafe in Yellow Springs, Ohio

All four seasons coexist at Sunrise Cafe. Acrylic scenes of spring, summer, fall and winter cover the walls and ceiling. The kitchen churns out organic veggie patties and sage-spiced biscuits and gravy while a server, toting a baby, fills a mug. Nearly everything is prepared in-house, she says.

This scratch-made ethos spills from one independent coffee shop and bookstore to the next-yes, several of each-in this southwest Ohio village of 3,800 residents. Far from the snowbelt in the state's northeast corner, fall clings a bit longer in Yellow Springs. Quiet trails in John Bryan State Park and Clifton Gorge reach bluffs, trickling waterfalls and old hardwoods defining the Miami Valley. The village is a haven for academics, artists and rainbow flags-feeding off the progressive DNA of Antioch College. The liberal arts school, founded in 1850 by an abolitionist, touts Coretta Scott King among its alumni.

"It's a live-and-let-live sort of town," says Kurt Miyazaki. He shelved his Ph.D. in political science to run Emporium Wines and The Underdog Cafe, or "the village living room." Pop into the general-store-meets-coffee-shop and music venue to meet lively natives. And consider ditching an itinerary. The stillness here can go a long way before the frenzy of Christmas jingles and winter ice sets in.

The Underdog Cafe in Yellow Springs, Ohio
The Underdog Cafe in Yellow Springs, Ohio

A customer strums the community guitar in a booth at The Underdog Cafe.

Yellow Springs Pottery
Yellow Springs Pottery is a trove of gift-worthy ceramics.

Weekend Tips for Yellow Springs

Overnight in Jail B&Bs like the stylish Arthur Morgan House (below) tap into the authenticity of Yellow Springs. Mills Park Hotel offers privacy in conventional rooms. Then there's Jailhouse Suites: Sleep in an old jail, with a holistic vet clinic below.

Arthur Morgan House in Yellow Springs, Ohio

Go with the Winds No mass-market soda at Winds Cafe (below); instead, find seasonal dishes like Russian beets and seared duck breast in lavender honey. Stroll down the street for a beer and rotating art at Yellow Springs Brewery.

Winds Cafe in Yellow Springs, Ohio

Walk Kieth's Alley Duck behind the main-drag shops on Xenia Avenue for a hidden gallery of murals. Works change periodically without notice: When Prince died in 2016, a tribute went up. Two blocks away, Village Artisans sells smaller paintings by local artists.

Kieth's Alley in Yellow Springs, Ohio

Explore Glen Helen A 1,100-acre preserve urges you to slow down amid trails, cascades and a raptor center. The town namesake Yellow Spring pours from a rock, and remains of a dam mark a resort from nearly 100 years past. Inman Loop trail hits the key sites.

Glen Helen in Yellow Springs, Ohio

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