One of the items on my list was to visit Clifton Mill, located near Springfield and Dayton, Ohio. I'd always seen photographs of Clifton Mill as it is very picturesque and used in a lot of photographs and calendars. I never knew where it was, but I happened to see it in a post about good Christmas lights to visit in various locations in Ohio. I convinced my parents and the bloke to have a day road trip with me in order to visit the mill for a meal and then to see the Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill.
Clifton Mill was purchased by its current owners in 1988, and they put Christmas lights on the mill in 1989. Each year, the Christmas lights expanded to what it is today. It starts out at 6:00pm each night; the lights are turned on, and a light show begins the display with the covered bridge next to the mill becoming illuminated while being set to music. The rest of the grounds and the mill itself is illuminated with twinkling lights, some of them appearing to be moving water, and they light up the rocks along the creek below and the mill wheel. The photographs really do not do any justice as to how awesome and beautiful it looked.
However, it's not all about the Christmas lights. We arrived at Clifton Mill near mid-day after a two-hour car journey. In the winter, the Clifton Mill restaurant is not open for dinner unless it is a Friday or Saturday night. Instead, we stopped in to have lunch. Their breakfast menu is available all day, and my mother and I opted for breakfast while the bloke and my father had the hamburger. My mother had French toast (which was tempting and delicious), but I had the buttermilk pancakes with blueberries. Both were served with Maple Syrup. The portion size of the pancakes was huge. Apparently, those who can finish the two massive and thick pancakes get a third for free. I could not even finish one of the pancakes; they were the largest pancakes I have ever seen! The pancakes are the signature dish and are delicious; they sell them in three flavours (buttermilk, buckwheat and cornflower), and the mixes are sold at their gift shop. The pancakes and French toast could be served with pecan-syrup bacon. This tasted so good that I ordered another two rashers.
Also located next to the mill is an old gas station with a working pump, and this doubles as a museum. I believe that gas-related items can be seen at other times of the year, but in the winter, part of it is a toy museum. The other part of it is a Santa's room, but we did not visit that area. Santa climbs the chimney once every twenty minutes when the light show is on, and he waves to the crowd before descending back into his room. The building was only open during the light show.
The covered bridge was also closed and only open during the light show, so we could not enter it. We could see the replica model village, though, but a few buildings and items were covered and not running; they only came to life during the light show hours. Model diners, a drive-in theatre showing movie clips, a train, and other replica buildings were on display.
After we ate our meals, we headed out to check out the village of Yellow Springs, which had the air of a university village. We went into a couple of shops before driving to Jersey Dairy, which is another attraction up the road from Clifton Mill. They have a nice gift shop, restaurant, and crazy golf course here. The main attraction is the ice cream. For the "flavour of the week", two scoops of ice cream are given for the price of one. The flavour was "Peppermint Stick", so I had this, and the ice cream was amongst the best that I've ever had. It tasted so good, and it was so creamy and smooth (with bits of peppermint here and there).
Peppermint stick ice cream from Young's Jersey Dairy
After this, we drove back to the Interstate to have a wander for a couple of hours at the Central Ohio Antiques Centre. There are a few different antique malls here, and the one we visited was so huge that we did not even come close to seeing everything before we had to leave to go to Clifton Mill to see the Legendary Lights.
We arrived at Clifton Mill when the doors opened at 5:00pm for the Legendary Lights. The first light show takes place at 6:00pm, which we did not realise at the time. Refreshments were being sold with pulled pork, hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn, sugar cookies, hot chocolate, coffee, and mulled cider on offer. I ordered a hot chocolate, mulled cider, cookie and popcorn to share while we sat by the window in the mill and waited before grabbing some good spots for the light show. The temperatures were freezing again, so we watched the light show and did not hang around too long. I wish that the snow had still been on the ground in order to justify the freezing temperatures, at least.
I found the light show to be beautiful and recommend it. Do note that it is popular, and we visited on a Monday and it was still very busy. To see the lights, it costs $10.00 per person to enter the grounds. We found this a little steep when considering that the refreshments were also costly; it was $3.00 for one of those small styrafoam cups filled with hot chocolate or mulled wine. However, I do think that the maintenance and cost of installing the lights is very expensive. Also, make sure to get there early and grab a good spot to see the light show projected onto the covered bridge as there is not a lot of room. Unfortunately, they have boarded up the windows on the covered bridge and on the opposite side of the bridge so that you are unable to take any photographs in the prime locations and have to settle with an angle of the mill. I wish that we could have taken photographs from better angles, and this is my main criticism.