Whether you are new to the Miami Valley or thinking of visiting the area, you’ll find plenty of places for you and the whole family to be entertained. The Dayton area has something for everyone, including festivals, dining and nightlife, and the entertainment offerings have never been more varied and vibrant.
– Corinne Minard
There’s nothing Daytonians love more than a good festival. There seems to be a festival every weekend during the summer, celebrating everything from food and culture to history and types of transportation.
The summer festival season kicks off each June with the Troy Strawberry Festival. The massive festival features more than 100 arts and crafts vendors, 60-plus food vendors, rides, games and live music. More than 200,000 people attend the festival each year. Considered Dayton’s largest downtown festival, the Dayton Celtic Festival offers continuous live music and entertainment across four stages as well food, games, cultural activities and a Celtic breakfast. The Dayton Air Show brings together aviation enthusiasts from across the region for spectacular performances from groups like the Navy’s Blue Angels and the Army’s Golden Knights. Another unique festival is The Ohio Challenge in Middletown. The two-day festival is packed with events like the annual car show and fireworks, but the highlight is the hot air balloons.
The region is home to a variety of museums that both families and individuals can enjoy. The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is a science and natural history museum that brings learning to life with interactive exhibits like its Discovery Zoo, Hall of the Universe and treehouse. Carillon Historical Park celebrates the history and innovation of the Dayton region. The 65-acre park is home to multiple museum buildings, period demonstrations and even a period-accurate restaurant and brewery. The Dayton Art Institute is a fine art museum that features the works of world-renowned artists like Claude Monet and Andy Warhol as well as outdoor sculptures. And the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is the largest and oldest military aviation museum in the world. There, you can see planes like the Air Force One used by JFK and other presidents as well as the Memphis Belle from World War II.
The Miami Valley prides itself on its outdoor recreation opportunities and in fact is home to the nation’s largest paved trail system, the Miami Valley Trails system. In addition, Montgomery County’s Five Rivers MetroParks encompasses 18 parks, multiple conservation areas and the 2nd Street Market. Up north, one can explore the Miami County Park District and its 16 parks and preserves. Aullwood Audobon has woods, streams and ponds to explore as well as a Nature Center and Farm Discovery Center for those who want to learn more about nature or farming. The Miami Valley is also home to a state park and state nature preserve—John Bryan State Park and Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve.
The region is also ideal for paddlers of all types of skills levels. The Great Miami River cuts a path through the region and is beloved by kayakers, canoers and fishermen.
Dayton may not have any MLB, NFL or NBA teams, but the city is still a great place for sports fans. The University of Dayton basketball team continues to play some of the most exciting basketball around and its UD Arena is the home of the NCAA Division 1 tournament’s First Four each year. The Dayton Dragons, the city’s minor league baseball team, has the record for most sellout games in a row in all of professional sports—1,385 at the end of the 2019 season, before COVID-19.
Theater lovers will find that Dayton is home to a vibrant and exciting arts community that offers affordable and delightful theater for all. Dayton Live is the region’s largest arts organization and it manages the Victoria Theatre, the Schuster Center, the PNC Arts Annex and The Loft Theatre. It hosts a variety of shows, from touring Broadway musicals and national touring acts to smaller local productions like those done by the Human Race Theatre Company. These venues also feature performances by the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance, which includes the Dayton Ballet, Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and Dayton Opera.