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Dayton Attractions

What to See and Do in Dayton, Ohio


Dayton, located half-way between Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, offers a wealth of interesting--and affordable--things to do and see. Called the "Birthplace of Aviation" because of its ties to the Wright Brothers, visitors to Dayton can experience an array of history in this mid-size city. Just a three-hour drive from Cleveland, Dayton makes a great weekend getaway.

Aviation Historic Park

(US Government Photo)
Dayton's Aviation Historic Park is a collection of sites administered by the National Park Service and dedicated to the accomplishments of three Dayton native sons: Orville and Wilbur Wright and Paul Laurence Dunbar. The Wright Brothers are best known for having invented the first power-driven aircraft. Dunbar was a prolific late 19th century/early 20th century author, poet, and playwright, whose works depict the African-American experience of the time.

The sites include the Wright Cycle Company complex, Huffman Prairie Flying Field (now part of Wright-Patterson AFB) where the first Wright Bros. plane was tested, and the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center. Admission is free.

Dayton Art Institute

Dayton Art Institute
(courtesy of the Dayton CVB)
The Dayton Art Institute sits atop a hill along the Great Miami River, overlooking downtown. The museum, founded in 1919, is housed in a Neo-classical Italianate building that listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum's collection includes more than 27,000 works of art, spanning 5000 years. Among these are important collections in Oceanic art, Asian art, and American fine and decorative art. The Dayton Art Institute is open Tuesday through Sunday.

National Museum of the United States Air Force

(courtesy of the Dayton CVB)
The National Museum of the United States Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson AFB, is one of the oldest and largest military museums in the world. The museum houses more than 400 aircraft and missles, including military planes, presidential aircraft, and early planes of the Wright Brothers and others. There is also an IMAX theater in the complex. The Museum is open 9am to 5pm, seven days a week and admission is free.

Oregon District

oregon district
(© Jon Keegan/cc license)
Dayton's Oregon District, located just outside of downtown, is the city's oldest neighborhood and its first to be designated as an historic district. A true example of urban revitalization, the Oregon District today is filled with charming, restored homes, art galleries, restaurants, and bed and breakfast inns.

2nd Street Market

(© djgreene/cc license)
This year-round market, located east of downtown, is open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Housed in the block-long, 1917 B&O Railroad Building, the market offers fresh produce, breads, flowers, crafts, and a host of other farm-fresh products.

Carillon Historical Park

(courtesy of the Dayton CVB)
This 65-acre living history museum is located just south of downtown along the Great Miami River. The park tells the history of technology and the city of Dayton from 1796 to the present. Among the many features are 25 historic buildings, an original Wright Brothers airplane, and one of the original locks on the Miami-Erie Canal. The park is open seven days a week.

Dunbar House

(courtesy of the Dayton CVB)
Paul Laurance Dunbar was the poet laureate of a whole generation of African-Americans and his work influenced the writers that would create the Harlem Renaissance movement. The last house where he lived in Dayton is a National Heritage Site and operates as a museum, containing many articles and papers belonging to Dunbar. He lived a short live, succumbing to tuberculosis at age 34 in 1906.

The Dunbar House, located on Summit Street, is open on Saturdays and Sundays. There is a modest admission charge.

Packard Museum

(courtesy of the Dayton CVB)
The Packard Museum, located southeast of downtown Dayton, is the only museum in the world dedicated to the Packard automobile. The museum is housed in a restored Packard dealership and features more than 50 classic automobiles, dating from 1900 to the 1940s, as well as parts, photos, and other memorabilia. The unique museum is open seven days, except major holidays. Discounts are offered to seniors and children under 12.

Woodland Cemetery

(© dcb1995/cc license)
Founded in 1841, Dayton's Woodland Cemetery is one of the largest garden cemeteries in the United States. Its 200 acres are dotted with elegant stone monuments and mausoleums, much like Cleveland's Lake View Cemetery. Among those buried at Woodland are Erma Bombeck, Ohio Governor James M. Cox, Paul Laurance Dunbar, and Orville and Wilbur Wright.

Dayton International Peace Museum

(© Greg Hume/WikiCommons)
Located in the historic Pollack House, a Victorian townhouse located in downtown Dayton, the Dayton International Peace Museum features an array of permanent, temporary and traveling exhibits highlighting the history of non-violent solutions. The museum, the second such museum to be opened in the United States (after Chicago's) also sponsors an activity center for those interested in living a non-violent life. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm and on Sunday from 1pm to 5pm. Admission is free.

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