The Top Landmarks and Attractions in Dayton, Ohio

Dayton, Ohio is a city with a rich history and many unique attractions for visitors to explore.

From aviation museums that highlight Dayton’s role in flight innovation to performing arts centers and beautiful parks, there are plenty of landmarks that make Dayton a great place to visit. Here are some of the top landmarks and attractions to check out when visiting Dayton.

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is one of Dayton’s most popular attractions. As the oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world, it houses an impressive collection of aircraft and artifacts. Some highlights include:

Early Flight Gallery

This gallery features many of the pioneering aircraft that made the Wright brothers famous. See a Wright Flyer, Wright Glider, and even a Wright 1908 Military Flyer. There are also experimental aircraft from other early aviation pioneers.

World War II Gallery

Get up close to bombers, fighters, and transport aircraft from World War II. Highlights include the B-17F Memphis Belle, B-24D Swoose, and P-51D Mustang. Many of these planes saw action in major battles.

Presidential Gallery

Air Force One planes used by presidents from Roosevelt to Obama are on display here. Step on board these customized Boeing 707s and 747s.

Space Gallery

See spacecraft from America’s space program, including the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo capsules. Touch an actual moon rock and see tools used by astronauts on lunar missions.

With 19 acres of exhibitions, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force can easily take a full day to explore. Aviation enthusiasts will be in heaven!

Carillon Historical Park

Immerse yourself in Dayton’s history and heritage at Carillon Historical Park. This open-air museum contains a collection of historic buildings and structures that bring Dayton’s past to life. Some of the highlights include:

Wright Brothers Aviation Center

See where Orville and Wilbur Wright developed the first practical airplane in 1903. It contains an exact replica of their bicycle shop and living quarters. There are exhibits on the brothers’ experiments and accomplishments.

Dayton History Carillon

Ride to the top of this 57-bell carillon for panoramic views of the city. On weekends and holidays, live concerts featuring the bells take place.

Old Court House

Built in 1850, this Greek Revival-style courthouse is the oldest building in Dayton. Today, it houses historical exhibits about the region. Don’t miss the large circuit courtroom on the second floor.

Steam Engine

One of the first steam engines manufactured in Dayton is on display near the Wright Brothers Aviation Center. Railroad enthusiasts will appreciate its large size and intricate machinery.

With over a dozen historic structures, Carillon Historical Park is a must for history lovers visiting Dayton!

Dayton Art Institute

As one of the nation’s largest fine arts museums, the Dayton Art Institute has an impressive collection of American and European art spanning 5,000 years! Some of the highlights include:

Renaissance Gallery

See religious paintings and sculptures dating back to 1300-1600 AD. Works by famous Renaissance artists like Fra Angelico are on display.

Baroque Gallery

Baroque-era masterpieces from the 17th and 18th centuries are showcased here. Highlights include The Abduction of Europa by Guido Reni and other dramatic paintings.

American Gallery

American art from colonial times to today is exhibited here. It contains major works by Gilbert Stuart, Winslow Homer, Grant Wood, and Andy Warhol.

European Old Masters Gallery

Works by European old masters are displayed in the museum’s most dramatic space. See paintings by El Greco, Rembrandt, Renoir, Monet, and more.

With tens of thousands of objects in its permanent collection, you’ll want to spend ample time at the Dayton Art Institute. Don’t miss special temporary exhibitions too.

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

This historical park consists of several different sites related to the Wright brothers and Dayton’s aviation heritage. Some of the key sites include:

Huffman Prairie Flying Field

See where the Wright brothers tested and trained with their early aircrafts after their famous first flight. Walk on the same 80 acres Orville and Wilbur used when mastering controlled flight.

Wright Memorial & Wright Brothers Hill

A huge memorial tower marks the spot where the Wright brothers flew the world’s first airplane in 1903. Climb to the observation deck for views. Nearby is the actual hill the brothers used for their test flights.

Armstrong Air & Space Museum

View planes and spacecraft ranging from early aircraft to the Gemini space capsule at this museum. Kids will love the Astronaut Dress-up area.

Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial

The famous poet Paul Laurence Dunbar’s life and work are showcased at his Dayton home. A self-guided tour takes you through the house.

With numerous historically significant sites related to flight, the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park provides a complete picture of the city’s aviation innovations. Aviation buffs will have a field day!

Dayton Artifact Preservation Society

Located in an old elementary school, this unique museum contains an unbelievable collection of Dayton artifacts and historical items. Some of the interesting items on display include:

  • An 1804 letter signed by Thomas Jefferson
  • Memorabilia from the Wright brothers’ bicycle shop
  • Antique toys, clothes, tools, and musical instruments
  • Vintage advertising signs, packaging, and commercial artifacts
  • Early phonographs and radios
  • Letters, documents, and photos chronicling Dayton’s history

With tens of thousands of items on display covering a wide variety of topics, you never know what unique piece of Dayton history you might discover at this diverse museum! It’s a hidden gem for those looking to dive deep into the city’s past.

RiverScape MetroPark

This downtown riverfront park offers attractive walking paths, fountains, art displays, performance spaces, and seasonal activities. Some highlights include:

River Run

A paved multi-use trail runs along both sides of the Great Miami River. Walk, bike, or roll for over a mile each way while enjoying river views.

Five Rivers Fountain

One of the largest fountains in the nation shoots water as high as 200 feet in the air in a choreographed light and water show. Shows run daily spring through fall.

Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark

Beautiful formal gardens as part of RiverScape showcase colorful floral displays like Dayton’s largest rose garden. Ramble through perennial beds, Japanese gardens, vineyard, and more.

River’s Edge Amphitheater & Event Center

Catch a concert or performance at this outdoor amphitheater right along the river. The MetroParks also hosts festivals, yoga classes, and kids’ activities here.

RiverScape MetroPark is the perfect place in Dayton to enjoy nature, events, and the scenic Great Miami River.

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

As the birthplace of aviation, Dayton has numerous historical sites and attractions related to flight. The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park connects many of these landmarks together to showcase the region’s significance. Some key sites include:

Paul Laurence Dunbar House – Childhood home of famous African American poet

Between the multiple Wright Brothers sites, aviation museums, and more, this national park provides a complete historical experience around Dayton’s pioneering role in flight. Any aviation buff visiting the city should devote time to exploring this park.

Dayton Dragons Baseball

For baseball fans, catching a Dayton Dragons minor league baseball game at Day Air Ballpark is a must when visiting Dayton between April and September. The Dragons are a Class A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds and play in the Midwest League.

Fun Atmosphere

Fans of all ages will enjoy the lively atmosphere at Dragons games. The park features a kid-focused fan zone, on-field entertainment, fireworks on weekends, and various themed events.

Affordable

As a minor league team, Dragons tickets are very affordably priced compared to major league games. Tickets start around $10-15 for general admission. It’s a budget-friendly activity.

Committed Fanbase

The Dragons continually have one of the highest team attendances in minor league baseball, with over 500 consecutive sellouts since their first season. The Dayton community passionately supports the hometown team!

Catching the excitement of Dragons baseball with thousands of cheering fans is an absolute must for any sports lover visiting Dayton. It’s a total blast.

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Directions

  • Start out going east on E 3rd St toward S Patterson Blvd in downtown Dayton. Turn right to merge onto S Patterson Blvd. Take I-75 N ramp on the left to Cincinnati. Merge onto I-75 N and drive for about 5 miles. Take exit 50A for Siebenthaler Ave toward N Fairfield Rd. Turn left onto Siebenthaler Ave. The destination will be on the right.
  • Begin at Riverscape MetroPark in downtown Dayton and head north on S Patterson Blvd. Take the I-75 N ramp on the left toward Cincinnati. Merge onto I-75 N and drive approximately 5 miles. Use the right 2 lanes to take exit 50A for Siebenthaler Ave. Turn left onto Siebenthaler Ave. Continue on Siebenthaler Ave for half a mile and the destination will be on your right.
  • Start at the Dayton Art Institute in downtown Dayton. Head east on E Monument Ave toward S Patterson Blvd. Turn right onto S Patterson Blvd. Take the I-75 N ramp on the left to Cincinnati. Merge onto I-75 N and drive for 5 miles. Take exit 50A for Siebenthaler Ave toward N Fairfield Rd. Turn left onto Siebenthaler Ave. 117 E Siebenthaler Ave will be on the right just past Danner Ave.