Things to Do in Dayton

Whether you’re inspecting a gallery of fine art or touring one of the world’s biggest collections of classic planes, whether you’re cheering at the ballpark or enjoying nature in a kayak, whether you’re screaming aboard a roller coaster or listening to an opera, Dayton offers a cornucopia of ways to play.

City of adventure

Your adventure can begin right downtown, where the new RiverScape River Run opens Dayton to a beautiful seven-mile kayak or canoe paddle from Eastwood MetroPark on the Mad River and on along the Great Miami River through the downtown to the Carillon Historical Park and University of Dayton area. Two structures that span the river have been built, each with two passageways: one smooth-water passageway for novice paddlers and one whitewater play feature for experienced paddlers who can turn cartwheels, flip and roll in the wave created by the river level’s drop. On shore, meanwhile, people can fish, sunbathe and watch the kayakers.

River Run is part of the Five Rivers MetroParks, which also offers opportunities to camp, hike, ice skate, ride a horse and more.

Looking for land-based thrills? Kings Island amusement park has 15 roller coasters, including the longest wooden coaster in the world (7,359 feet!), a coaster that Amusement Today named as the “Best New Ride” in the country in 2017, and several tamer ones aimed at the young rider. The park’s new Kings Mills Antique Autos ride is aimed at families. And the attached Soak City water park has 50 fun things to do while getting wet.

With more than 330 miles of paved trails, the Miami Valley Bike Trails are the largest paved trail network in America. The Great Miami River Watershed Trail spans nearly 300 miles of waterways ready for exploring in a kayak.

Birthplace of Aviation

Dayton was home to the brothers who invented the airplane, Orville and Wilbur Wright. So it makes sense that the Dayton area includes the largest and oldest museum of military aviation history in the world, the National Museum of the United States Air Force. It features space capsules and rockets, warbirds from World War I through the present day (including the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki), planes that carried the president and more.

Elsewhere, the National Aviation Hall of Fame showcases those who made flying what it is today. Famous enshrinees include Orville and Wilbur Wright, Alexander Graham Bell and Amelia Earhart.

The 1905 Wright Flyer III, a National Historic Landmark, can be found at the Carillon Historical Park, a 65-acre open-air history museum with hundreds of artifacts from Dayton’s rich history.

Arts and museums

Those looking for an entertaining evening need go no further than the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center. World-class artists perform in the Dayton Ballet, Dayton Opera, Dayton Philharmonic, Victoria Theatre, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, La Comedia Dinner Theatre and The Loft Theatre.

Founded nearly 100 years ago, the Dayton Art Institute continues to provide the region with experiences ranging from art collections to family and youth programs.

Contemporary Dayton has provided a space for the arts for both the community and artists since 1991. The center presents 12 exhibitions of local artists each year.

Learning becomes fun at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, whose exhibits include a discovery zoo, a tidal pool and a tree house.

Using the arts to enrich learning opportunities for students, Muse Machine is an educational organization that brings actors, dancers, musicians and other artists into the schools.


Hit the jackpot at Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway and Miami Valley Gaming. With live harness racing, penny slots and more, there are so many ways to play!


Those in and around Dayton have a lot of team spirit. For baseball fans, the Dayton Dragons, affiliated with Major League Baseball’s Cincinnati Reds, hold the record across professional sports for consecutive sellouts. Every game since the Dragons began in 2000 has been sold out!

The Dayton area hosts several events throughout the year for basketball fans, including the Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop High School Basketball Invitational and the NCAA First Four championship.

Golfers enjoy challenging rounds in beautiful settings at NCR Country Club, Country Club of the North, Dayton Country Club and Sycamore Creek Country Club.

Young athletes looking to improve their skills while learning leadership, responsibility and sportsmanship should look into the Warrior Soccer Club.