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Top 12 Affordable Things to Do in Dayton, Ohio

Dayton, Ohio is known as the birthplace of aviation innovation and has famous aviation sites and museums to visit. But if you are planning a trip to Dayton, you should know that there are other fun things to do here as well, from outdoor recreation to art, sports, and local craft beer. This is also an affordable place to visit for accommodations and a family-friendly one where you can keep everyone in your group entertained.

Here are some of the top things to do in Dayton, Ohio to help you plan your trip to one of Ohio’s best places to visit.

Get Outside at a Local Outdoor Park Five Rivers Metropark in Downtown Dayton
Credit: Five Rivers Metropark in Downtown Dayton by © Patricia Elaine Thomas | Dreamstime.com

Get Outside at a Local Outdoor Park

What Is It? Dayton has several beautiful parks that showcase the natural beauty of the area. One example is RiverScape MetroPark in the downtown area.

Why Do It? RiverScape MetroPark has fountains, paths, bike rentals, and performances to check out.

Good to Know: Another top park to visit is Englewood MetroPark, a big local park with disc golf, birdwatching, fishing, and waterfalls.

Browse 2nd Street Market Magic and fun await you inside
Credit: Magic and fun await you inside by 2nd Street Market

Browse 2nd Street Market

What Is It? To shop like the locals do, stop by the public market in Dayton that is called the 2nd Street Market. You’ll find baked goods, produce, coffee, cheese, and more here.

Why Do It? This market is similar to a traditional European market and has jewelry and flowers for sale. You’ll sometimes find live performances at the market, especially during the holiday season.

Good to Know: The market is open year-round – on Fridays from 11 am to 3 pm, Saturdays from 9 am to 3 pm, and Sundays from 11 am to 3 pm. Free parking is available; however, pets are not allowed.

Visit the Dayton Art Institute Visit the Dayton Art Institute
Credit: Visit the Dayton Art Institute by The Dayton Art Institute

Visit the Dayton Art Institute

What Is It? This art museum is in an Italian Renaissance building and covers art dating back thousands of years. There are tens of thousands of pieces in this art collection, including paintings, sculptures, photos, and exhibits.

Why Do It? This museum offers opportunities to learn about the 17th Century, 18th Century, 19th Century, and more modern works of art from all around the world, and it’s a reason many make the day trip to Dayton if they live within driving distance.

Good to Know: The Dayton Art Institute is open from Wednesdays to Saturdays from 11 am to 5 pm, Sundays from noon to 5 pm, and open late until 8 pm on Thursdays. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, $5 for youth and college students, and free for children aged six and younger.

Learn at the Aullwood Audubon Center Outdoor areas to explore and learn about
Credit: Outdoor areas to explore and learn about by Aullwood Audubon

Learn at the Aullwood Audubon Center

What Is It? This 200-acre education center teaches people about protecting the environment. It’s a fun and educational destination geared for all ages, with a working farm, prairies, ponds, woods, and streams.

Why Do It? You can bring the whole family here to learn about sustainability and get outside to explore nature. There are events held at the center throughout the year too.

Good to Know: The nature center is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9 am to 5 pm and Sundays from 1 pm to 5 pm. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8 for children ages four to 12, and free for children aged three and younger.

Learn and Admire at Carillon Historical Park The Carillon Bell Tower illuminated during the holiday season
Credit: The Carillon Bell Tower illuminated during the holiday season by © Lawcain | Dreamstime.com

Learn and Admire at Carillon Historical Park

What Is It? This park is about 65 acres and is a relaxing green space with structures and exhibits. The park has a historic stone cottage, heritage schoolhouse, and iconic tower, which is typically lit up for the holiday season.

Why Do It? This park helps visitors learn about the history of Dayton and how technology has influenced its development. It’s an open-air museum and a top local attraction.

Good to Know: Carillon Historical Park is open Mondays through Saturdays from 9:30 am to 5 pm and Sundays from noon to 5 pm. Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, $10 for children, and free for children aged two and under.

Sip Beer at a Local Brewery Sip beer at a local brewery, like Dayton Beer Company
Credit: Sip beer at a local brewery, like Dayton Beer Company by The Dayton Beer Company

Sip Beer at a Local Brewery

What Is It? There are many local breweries to check out in Dayton, including the popular Dayton Beer Company, which has a European-style beer hall. Other top breweries in town are Warped Wing Brewing Company and the Carillon Brewing Company.

Why Do It? Though not officially the coolest breweries in the state, visiting Dayton’s local breweries will make you feel like a local and leave you with a real sense of the community.

Good to Know: If you really want to immerse yourself in the craft brewery scene, sign up for a local brew tour. Tours typically last three to four hours.

Admire the Fall Foliage Riverscape Park in Dayton, Ohio
Credit: Riverscape Park in Dayton, Ohio by © Mitgirl | Dreamstime.com

Admire the Fall Foliage

What Is It? The Dayton area becomes especially colorful during the fall as the leaves change color. There are opportunities in the local parks to take photos as you relax and enjoy the foliage.

Why Do It? For pretty scenery and pleasant weather, fall is a great time to visit this charming small town.

Good to Know: Top places to see fall foliage near Dayton are John Bryan State Park, Helen Glen, and the Charleston Falls Preserve. Various MetroParks in the city offer colorful views as well.

See the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Learn about aviation in Dayton
Credit: Learn about aviation in Dayton by National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

See the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

What Is It? This museum has an extensive collection of aircraft and missiles and is located right at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. It has hundreds of items on display and exhibits about past wars.

Why Do It? Some excellent history lessons are to be learned at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. It’s a huge museum, so spending a lot of time here is easy to do.

Good to Know: Admission to the museum is free, and it is open from 9 am to 5 pm every day. Parking and Wi-Fi are also free at the museum.

Go to the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park Monuments and exhibits on display at the park
Credit: Monuments and exhibits on display at the park by Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

Go to the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

What Is It? Another aviation history attraction in Dayton is the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, which is part of the National Park Service. It is a park dedicated to important people in aviation history and how they influenced technology and the world.

Why Do It? This park celebrates the legacy of the Wright brothers and has numerous areas to visit while you learn about the science and significance of flying.

Good to Know: Top sites to see here are the Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site, Huffman Prairie Interpretive Center, Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center, Huffman Prairie Flying Field, and the Wright Cycle Shop.

Catch a Dayton Dragons Baseball Game A favorite local spot for baseball fans
Credit: A favorite local spot for baseball fans by Dayton Dragons Professional Baseball Team

Catch a Dayton Dragons Baseball Game

What Is It? Dayton, Ohio has a minor league baseball team called the Dayton Dragons. Locals and visitors come here to watch baseball while enjoying concession snacks during the baseball season.

Why Do It? The team is popular in the region and fun to watch on the field. You don’t even need to be a big baseball fan to enjoy a day or night out at the game.

Good to Know: You can buy single-game tickets on the team’s website before your trip to Dayton. Games typically start in April and go through September each year. Check the current season schedule online to catch a home game.

Reflect at the Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum A resting place for soldiers of the Civil War, 1861-1865
Credit: A resting place for soldiers of the Civil War, 1861-1865 by © Lawcain | Dreamstime.com

Reflect at the Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum

What Is It? This is one of the oldest rural garden cemeteries in the U.S. and spans about 200 acres. Over 110,000 people are buried here, including the Wright brothers.

Why Do It? Not only is this a cemetery but also an arboretum with many native species of trees. There is also a chapel with a beautiful Tiffany window at the site.

Good to Know: The cemetery gates are open daily and throughout the year. The Woodland Avenue gates are open from 8 am to 7 pm (6 pm in winter). The Woodland Mausoleum is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily.

Watch a Show at the Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center Live performances to entertain and inspire you
Credit: Live performances to entertain and inspire you by Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center

Watch a Show at the Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center

What Is It? During your time in Dayton, catch a live performance at the Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center. Local theater companies take the stage and put on shows to entertain guests throughout the year.

Why Do It? This is a prime spot to check out local, national, and international entertainment. The center includes the Mead Theatre, the Mathile Theatre, and the Wintergarden.

Good to Know: View a list of upcoming shows on the Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center website as you are planning your trip. Another local venue to check out if you love theater is the Victoria Theatre in downtown Dayton. Hundreds of live performances occur here each year, including musicians, comedians, and productions. Other options are the Dayton Ballet and Dayton Opera.

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