Nestled in the heart of Ohio, Dayton isn't just a city; it's a vibrant scene of history, innovation, and community spirit. From its rich aviation heritage to its thriving arts life, there's an undeniable charm at every corner of this gem of the Midwest. As the Dayton Convention & Visitors Bureau continues to celebrate its 30th anniversary, we've put together a list of 30 things that make Dayton unique- so grab a seat and get ready to feel the love for the Gem City! What do YOU love most about Dayton? Share it in the comments!

1. It's the Birthplace of Aviation

Dayton is proud to be home to the pioneering spirit of the Wright Brothers, as well as ongoing aerospace innovation at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and cutting-edge research conducted at the University of Dayton Research Institute. 

2. Location! Location! Location!

Dayton stands as the Crossroads of America, the intersection of Interstates 70 & 75, ensuring easy accessibility and convenient travel to various destinations. Over 60% of the U.S. population is within a one-day drive of Dayton!

3. Dayton International Airport

Easy to and through! Dayton International Airport is easily accessible and traveler friendly. It offers non-stop service to and from 13 destinations.

4. Quality of Life

Dayton boasts big city amenities combined with Midwestern charm and hospitality, offering excellent schools, less traffic than larger cities, and a low cost of living compared to the national average.

5. Locally Made Great Eats

Dayton is renowned for its culinary delights, including Esther Price CandiesMarion's Piazza, Bill's Donuts, Jim's Donuts, Smales Pretzels, and Boston Stoker coffee just to name a few!

6. Local Independent Restaurants

Dayton boasts a plethora of outstanding independent restaurants, such as El Meson, Manna, Wheat Penny, Meadowlark, The Pine Club, The Oakwood Club, Jay's Seafood, Roost, Salar, Dublin Pub, and Corner Kitchen, each offering unique flavors and culinary experiences that reflect the city's diverse palate. Check out our full restaurant listings to dive into everything Dayton dining offers!

7. Nation's Largest Network of Paved Trails

That's right, the nation's LARGEST - over 350 miles! From hiking to biking, Dayton is "The Outdoor Adventure Capital of the Midwest."

8. Great Miami River

The Great Miami River in Dayton offers an array of recreational opportunities, including fountains and manmade water features. It's perfect for surfing (yes, we said surfing!) and paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and floating, all set against the backdrop of stunning views.

Surf Dayton

9. Signature Annual Events & Festivals

Dayton boasts a vibrant calendar of signature festivals and events like the CenterPoint Energy Dayton Air Show, Dayton Art Institute's Oktoberfest, Celtic Festival, German Picnic, Hispanic American Festival, Black Cultural Festival, Kettering's Art in the Park, Five Rivers MetroParks' Wagner Subaru Outdoor Experience at Eastwood MetroPark, Germantown Pretzel Festival, Centerville Americana Festival, the downtown Dayton Children's Parade & Annual Tree Lighting, Carillon Christmas, and the USAF Marathon. All offer unforgettable experiences to visitors.

10. Dayton is Warm & Welcoming!

Dayton has long been a 'melting pot' of various cultures including Hispanic, Asian, and Turkish populations and offers a welcoming embrace to individuals displaced from around the globe. Furthermore, there are approximately 27,000 LGBTQ residents of all ages in Dayton and Montgomery County. The City of Dayton consistently receives perfect scores on the Municipal Equality Index. Dayton's perfect score reflects its anti-discrimination ordinance, inclusive employment policies, law enforcement practices, municipal services and equality leadership.

11. Expansive MetroParks System

Five Rivers MetroParks provide an abundance of outdoor experiences, whether you want to sit under a pavilion, mountain bike some of the region’s most challenging terrain, or just unwind in the outdoors. As we mentioned before, Dayton is proud to be known as "The Outdoor Adventure Capital of the Midwest."

12. Summer in the City Activities

Downtown Dayton's annual Summer in the City offers a wide range of events and activities for all ages, culminating in the "Art in the City" festival, which highlights Dayton's outstanding arts community.

13. Outdoor Concert Venues

Enjoy ample opportunities to hear music in the open air at the Levitt Pavilion and Riverscape MetroPark Pavilion (both of which are free), as well as the Rose Music Center and the Fraze Pavilion.

14. Multiple Meeting Venues

Top-flight meeting venues ranging from the Dayton Convention Center and Sinclair Conference Center to cultural gems like the Dayton Art Institute, the Masonic Center and the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force™, provide remarkable settings for events of all kinds!

15. Link Bikes & Spin Scooters

Getting around is a breeze with convenient transportation options that make exploring the city effortless and eco-friendly. 

16. Shopping

Indulge in retail therapy at diverse destinations such as Austin Landing, the Dayton Mall, 2nd Street Market, Front Street Galleries, and a variety of museum shops across the county.

17. Dayton Ale Trail

Our region can satisfy your thirst for locally brewed craft beer as you take a journey on the Dayton Ale Trail. Complete the trail by visiting each brewery on the list and collecting all the stamps to claim your prize.

2024 Dayton Ale Trail Backpack

18. Lively Arts

Montgomery County's selection of music, dance, theatre and visual arts truly make the birthplace of aviation soar to new heights. From awe-inspiring art exhibitions to world-class performances by the Dayton Ballet, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Dayton Opera, and Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, prepare to be captivated.

19. College Basketball (and More!) 

Founded in 1850, the University of Dayton offers over 80 undergraduate and 50 graduate programs on a 388-acre campus just two miles from downtown Dayton. Their athletics program competes in NCAA Division I and is known for its successful basketball and football teams. UD Arena is proud to host the NCAA® First Four® through 2026! In fact, UD Arena has hosted more NCAA® tournament games than any other facility in the nation!

20. Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

The Dayton Dragons, the Midwest League affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, play a 66-game home schedule at beautiful Day Air Ballpark in downtown Dayton's Water Street District. A Dayton favorite for 23 years, the Dragons have sold out a record 1,507 consecutive home games as of the end of the 2023 season!

21. Historic Carillon Park

Carillon Historical Park, Dayton History's main campus, spans 65 indoor/outdoor acres and tells the captivating story of Dayton's groundbreaking contributions to the world. From powered flight to the cash register, Dayton's history of innovation is on proud display. The park is also home to the Wright Brothers National Museum

22. The National Museum of the United States Air Force™

The FREE National Museum of the U.S. Air ForceTM in Dayton is the world's largest military aviation museum, drawing nearly 1 million visitors each year. Explore over 360 aerospace vehicles (many one-of-a-kind) across 19 acres of indoor exhibits and visit the co-located National Aviation Hall of Fame to honor aviation pioneers. If you're an aviation enthusiast, it's a must-see!

23. Aullwood Audubon's Resident Trolls

Meet Bo, Bodil, and Bibbi, the larger-than-life trolls and their massive bird nest, which call Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm home. Created by world-renowned artist Thomas Dambo, these captivating sculptures are a rare sight, with "The Troll That Hatched an Egg" being one of only a handful of Dambo installations in the United States and Puerto Rico.

24. Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

Discover the profound legacy of Dayton's pioneering figures, Wilbur and Orville Wright, and acclaimed poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, through a unique partnership between the National Park Service and esteemed local historic sites. Explore the humble bicycle shop where the Wright Brothers embarked on their journey to create the first airplane, and delve into the artifacts belonging to the groundbreaking African-American poet and author, Paul Laurence Dunbar.

25. Inventions Galore!

Dayton held more inventions per capita than any other U.S. city at the turn of the 20th century. Besides the airplane of course, some of those to mention would be Charles F. Kettering's invention of the automobile self starter, Ermal Fraze's invention of the pop top beverage can and John H. Balsey's invention of the stepladder. 

26. Naked Mole Rats (and Meerkats and Otters... Oh My!)

The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery offers interactive science experiences for all ages, enriching lives and fostering a deeper understanding of the world. Its dedicated staff preserves and enhances collections in anthropology, geology, paleontology, and biology for exhibition, education, and research. Don't miss out on seeing all of the animals in the museum's Discovery Zoo! 

Mole Rats at Boonshoft

27. Sports of all Sorts

To name just a few, Dayton's youth and amateur sports success ranges from the adidas® Warrior Soccer Tournament, to the WGI Sport of the Arts Color Guard and Winds & Percussion World Championships. Other highlights include national bowling and softball tournaments, AAU basketball events, SilverStick Hockey tournaments, and the prestigious NCAA® Division I Men’s Basketball First Four® Tournament, marking the start of March Madness®.

28. Show me the Monet!

Did you know a painting by the beloved artist Claude Monet has been part of the Dayton Art Institute's collection since 1953? You can see it and countless other world-famous artists in the museum's many galleries. 

29. Local Music! Music! Music!

From the funky sounds of the Ohio Players, Faze, Sun, Heat Wave and Slave to alternative-music legends Guided by Voices, Dayton can lay claim to a diverse and vibrant music scene that continues to flourish.

30. The Dayton Convention & Visitors Bureau

Okay, we had to cheat a little and toot our own horn! The Dayton Convention & Visitors Bureau has been proudly and successfully promoting destination Dayton to leisure visitors, tour groups and convention & event planners for 30 years! We're a "one stop shop" for everything you need to know about visiting Dayton.

Dayton offers something for everyone. As you embark on your journey through Dayton, may the memories you create and the experiences you cherish serve as a testament to the city's remarkable spirit and enduring legacy. Be sure to share your favorite things about Dayton in the comments!


2024 Destination Dayton Visitors Guide