Where do I even begin to try to define the small town of Bellville? Is it defined by its proximity to Mohican or Malabar Farm State Parks? Or maybe its great location set along the Clear Fork River? All of these are amazing assets for this small town. But Bellville’s true number one asset, as in many small towns, are its residents. In Bellville, you truly are taken back to the “Mayberry of old”, as it was described to me by many locals. Over the next several days, as I visited locations and listened to stories; I can wholeheartedly tell you this is true.
Bellville is a village of less than 2,000 residents. Located in Richland County OH, in the North Central part of the state. It’s near I-71 and many outdoor attractions, making Bellville positioned for additional traffic to bring newcomers to their charming town.
Given the nature of Bellville’s visitor friendly location, they stand out as one of the friendliest towns My Town has ever visited. The hospitality, true “can do” attitudes, and taking care of one another is what truly shined through in Bellville.
A Village of Neighbors
At each location visited, I heard yet another story of how a business worked with another to collaborate or help in some way. In a world where many times we are all out for ourselves, it was uplifting to hear how much the residents of Bellville care for their community.
This was emphasized by Mayor Teri L. Brenkus of Bellville: “I just love it when our small town gets discovered for the gem that it is. Not everyone appreciates small towns, but our residents certainly do. The Village of Bellville is a wonderful place to live, work, and have quality family time. We are dedicated to making the village as walkable as possible. It’s connected to the B & O Bike Trail which is 21 miles. We have 1,918 residents that bleed green and black as they show their support for our Clear Fork COLTS! As we say, there is COLT PRIDE valley wide here”.
Small Town Pride
Mayor Brenkus went on to show My Town where you can hear all the “goings on” of Bellville. Such as: Whitey’s Barber Shop, and their beloved Hardware (Smith True Value) and Drug Store (Hursh Drug) that are all owned by long time residents. We continued on our exploration and discussed My Town’s interest in promoting the preservation of small villages and towns. For many, it’s a lifestyle that’s completely taken for granted, so sharing a village like Bellville with readers, is a great way to highlight the truly wonderful aspects of small town culture and values. And as stated before, their location lends to incredible experiences both in activities, dining, and so much more.
Inns and Institutions
It seems like every small town has unique old buildings that capture your attention and your imagination. It is wonderful when you’re able to visit a town that has invested resources in these institutions and brings them back to life. In addition, another great part of visiting a small town is finding a great local business that has been around so long, it has become part of the fabric of the town. In Bellville you will find these investments at the V & M Restaurant, Wishmaker House Bed and Breakfast, and Comfort Inn Splash Harbor.
V & M Family Restaurant
It’s definitely a good morning at the V&M Family Restaurant in Small Town Bellville! This is the kind of place My Town dreams about. V & M is a local staple for over 60 years, locally owned, and locally frequented. The food here was great, especially “The Leftovers”. The My Town family was so happy to have eaten here our last morning in Bellville. We felt very welcomed and part of the Bellville local scene, as we experienced this timeless diner.
Wishmaker House Bed and Breakfast, Winery, and Restaurant
Welcome to the gorgeous Wishmaker House Bed and Breakfast, Winery, and Restaurant! This beautiful historic home has been completely renovated by a Bellville local, who just could not let this beautiful building be torn down or fall into ruin. Now, the current owners, who are still great friends and business colleagues with the original owners who renovated, are taking Wishmaker House to new heights, with their award winning wines and delicious restaurant.
My Town had the opportunity to explore here, meet their amazing staff, and have a wonderful meal (can you say top notch crab cakes in a small town!). Then we finished off with their legendary cheesecake! Afterwards we were able to tour downstairs to see the makings of Strawberry Wine. The Wishmaker House is an experience all by itself. You can have a lovely evening out, or make it a weekend in one of their beautifully renovated rooms. Definitely a must when visiting Bellville.
So do you think you can take your kids to an indoor waterpark, and still have a cozy, intimate experience? You can at the Comfort Inn Splash Harbor! This place has everything young families are looking for. They offer great recreation, breakfast, game room, cozy bedrooms, and of course a great price.
Comfort Inn Splash Harbor is only a few minutes from downtown Bellville and the Clear Fork River, where food, shopping, and outdoor recreation awaits. Plus it’s minutes away from Snow Trails (skiing and more), is next to a championship golf course, and great restaurants within walking distance (like Buckeye Express Diner). You can’t go wrong if you bring your family to Bellville, and stay at Comfort Inn Splash Harbor.
The Delicious and Delectable of Bellville
There are wonderful choices in Bellville when it comes to great food. From eating in authentic train cars, to famous diners and pizzerias. Here a few My Town Picks:
We began our journey of Small Town Bellville at the awesome Buckeye Express Diner. Here you can get the crazy huge Locomotive Buckeye Pounder inside an authentic train car! This burger was so good, our entire family wanted a bite.
The best part of this unique experience, in addition to the ambiance and food, was the owner Tony. Tony is another great reason to come to the Buckeye Express Diner. He’s completely old school in offering the small town hospitality you look for in small towns- making this stop a My Town Must.
Another great foodie find- the look of pure joy, brought to you by Fast Eddie’s! This small town staple has been around forever. It’s awesome when you ask the waitress how long she has been there, and she pauses and says “hmmm I’m not sure, maybe 15 years? I love it here, I don’t keep track”!
Fast Eddie’s pizza is truly some of the best My Town has eaten, and I grew up in a small town outside the Chicagoland area, so I know pizza! Quality ingredients were in everything ordered, and we received some surprise treats brought out by the staff that were delicious too, like their desserts. What’s in the dessert glass with the berries? Homemade cheesecake, made daily! This is a My Town Must when you visit Bellville.
Black Dog Tavern
A wonderful brunch at a wonderful location-Black Dog Tavern. My Town continued to be amazed at the variety, and quality of food and activities, Bellville has to offer in a town of less than 2,000 residents. The Black Dog Tavern is part of the top rated Deer Ridge Golf Course, and offers great variety from their chefs. Food ranging from bar fair to upscale entrees for events, and their Sunday Brunch in the beautiful Timber Clubhouse. All sauces and dressings are made in house, adding another bonus to visiting here, in addition to the atmosphere and views.
My Town had a lot of fun talking with the staff, and learning their stories from Bellville. Make sure to read the Black Dog Tavern Story on the menu when you visit. If you’re a dog lover, you will love this place. It’s also conveniently located just up the hill from Comfort Inn Splash Harbor and Quality Inn. My Town visited in winter, so we did not golf. But it’s incredible how easily you can get to Deer Ridge off I-71, and still feel completely secluded.
Unique, Interesting, Yours of Bellville
What is it about a town that makes it special? A local attraction, a family-owned business that has been there forever? A piece of history you can’t find anywhere else, or a bookstore with just the right vibe? Here are a few of the Unique, Interesting, Yours of Bellville.
Elzy Milling and Trade
Just Impressive-is what I thought leaving Elzy Milling and Trade. Elzy now occupies two blocks of Bellville. When walking or driving into town you can see its centerpiece- The Feed Mill, giving a unique backdrop to the town.
The Feed Mill predates the Civil War, and is still in operation! It’s thought to be one of the oldests mills still in use, and is so structurally sound, that Elzy still uses the wooden bins at the top of the mill to store over one million pounds of grain! Much of the mill’s business and growth since 2011 has been from feed, fertilizers, and related products. But Elzy also added an incredible 2,400 square foot retail space with tons of unique, special, and beautifully practical gifts. The reason Elzy is so special is not just because of its history. It’s because Elzy is truly a part of the everyday lives of the citizen’s of Bellville, and I have no doubt they will continue their tradition of serving the community they love for a very long time.
We couldn’t visit Bellville without stopping at its neighboring attraction, Snow Trails! My Town LOVED their ski school, and made amazing memories there. The instructors were outstanding, they were attentive, and put you right at ease. Something I definitely needed, being the least experienced in the family!
Snow Trails is family-owned and operated, which in my opinion, lends to the cozy at home feel in the lodge. And the overall focus here is definitely about family. They offer four terrain parks, lighted slopes, and wonderful beginner and learning areas, which our family really enjoyed. We had a great experience in the rental area. It was super easy to find what you needed, change, and put things away. In addition, there are two restaurants, two bars, and tubing park.
My kids are ten and thirteen, and the set up of the grounds was great for them to have freedom while testing their skills, but still be able to keep an eye on them. My Town had a blast hanging out in the lodge as well as on the slopes. We loved the live music and the food. I also really liked how the lodge area catered to families, even though the bar is a main focus. It just felt very relaxed, and really added a heightened happiness to our overall experience. The proximity to small town Bellville is literally minutes, making Snow Trails a My Town Must for small town experiences! See Video Here
Small Town Story Highlight
Loved hanging out with my new friends made at Brumby’s Coffeehouse House and Pizzeria. Thank you so much to Mayor Brenkus (pictured) for showing My Town all around the incredible Small Town of Bellville. While at Brumby’s I got to hear from the owner about his great Small Town Story. How he renovated the location, and exposed the brick and the original tin ceiling. Also, the Brumby’s location used to be the beloved San-Dar Smorgasbord, which was known for its seafood, and recognized in a national cookbook. This great location has also allowed the Brumby’s owners to raise their family in the beautiful apartment above the business. The love that’s made this coffeehouse is felt, and it’s a perfect first stop when visiting Bellville.
MTT Antique and Market Finds
Great Antique Shops and Farmers Markets are familiar sights in small towns. This includes Thrift Shops, Local Eats, and the like! Below are a list of My Town Musts from Bellville.
Great Health and Wellness can be found in Small Towns- Check out the Video Here.
My Town Today has started a referral section of each article. It’s based on visiting a town, and finding out what town the majority of its residents recommend My Town to visit next.
The referral for this entry is: Bellevue, OH. Stay tuned for My Town to pop up there soon.
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