My daughter, Taylor, and I took a road trip to Dayton and found a few things we could not wait to share with you. From world-class museums to delightful dining options, here are four reasons to visit Dayton, Ohio.
Dayton, Ohio’s big claim to fame is its tie to aviation. In 2003, Congress officially declared Ohio as the “birthplace of aviation” over North Carolina because Dayton was the home of Flight Kings Wilbur and Orville Wright.
The Wright Brothers were credited for inventing and flying the first-ever aircraft after conducting their research, drawing up plans, and creating that aircraft in their bicycle shop in Dayton. But did you know that Dayton is much more than just where aviation was born?
1. Stellar Pizza Pies
When Taylor and I stopped at Wheat Penny Oven & Bar for lunch, I thought we were in for a typical meal. That was before I learned about Chef Liz and got a taste of what her “carefully sourced” restaurant was all about.
Liz is one of Dayton’s favorite local chefs. She is partners with Wiley, a passionate soul who loves food, cooking with flair, and feeding the restaurant’s guests. Wiley shared information with Taylor and me about the dishes prepared at Wheat Penny and both girls’ culinary histories.
Taylor and I began our meal with Eggplant Fries, a must-not-miss item at Wheat Penny. Dredged in rice coating and dipped in yogurt sauce, I’ve never had anything quite like it before. The taste was fantastic!
Our main courses followed; Green Lasagne (spinach pasta with homemade ricotta) and an Angry Sal pizza. The lasagne was so flavorful and had plenty of cheese without overkill. The pizza was yummy, with Italian sausage, basil, and mozzarella covering an olive oil base and spicy sauce.
2. An Impressive Living History Museum
Learn about Dayton’s significant contributions to business, life, science, and inventions at the Carillon Historical Park. Consisting of 30 buildings on a 65-acre campus, this is a fun museum to explore and learn more about history, Dayton, and miscellaneous trivia facts.
One of our favorite exhibits was the NCR cash registers, invented, of course, in Dayton.
In Deeds Barn, see where Charles Kettering invented the electric car ignition. The Great 1913 Flood exhibit building was hard to visit, but I was glad to learn about its significance.
Ohio’s worst natural disaster is explained and memorialized in this moving exhibit.
The highlight of our visit was seeing the original Wright Flyer III. It is the only airplane designated as a National Historic Landmark. The plane is housed in part of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, still accessible from Carillon Historical Park.
We also thoroughly enjoyed watching the film showcasing inventors and inventions made by the people of Dayton.
A unique offering at the living history museum was the carousel that donned inventions from Dayton to sit in instead of horses to ride. Seats included the cash register, airplane, pop-top can, and more.
3. The National Museum of the USAF
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force (USAF) is at the Wright-Patton Air Force Base. You will find a vast collection of airplanes, and simulators, a museum store, and the Valkyrie Cafe. It is the world’s largest and oldest military aviation museum.
This world-class museum is made up of three enormous buildings. The aircraft are separated into collections based on the time they were used (Korean War, WWII, Cold War, etc.) and what areas of the world they were used in. It could take days to see all the exhibits and memorabilia in the USAF Museum.
The William E. Boeing Presidential Gallery, housing the aircraft used by Bush, Reagan, Roosevelt, and Truman, was my favorite part of the museum. It also housed Air Force One; you can walk through many planes.
Stop by the Air Force Museum Theatre, where you can see movies on an eighty-foot widescreen in either 2-D or 3-D. The fourth Sunday of the month also offers a Hollywood film series at discounted rates for blockbuster favorites.
The National Aviation Hall of Fame is co-located there as well.
4. Oregon’s Cool Historic District
Explore independent restaurants, eclectic shops, and a vibrant nightlife, plus peruse a fantastic brick-lined street neighborhood in Dayton’s cool Oregon Historic District.
This 12-square-block area is one of the city’s earliest surviving combos of commercial and residential architecture. Architecture styles range from Queen Anne to Federal. The Oregon District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Come on the First Friday of the month to watch the town of Dayton come alive with arts and culture from 5 to 10 PM throughout the area.
Eat dinner at Lily’s Dayton for a sensational seasonal meal. I can personally vouch for the amazing trio of Deviled Eggs of the Day (what a clever idea!) and the Shrimp and Grits with creole sauce and green onions. Lily’s has really great food!
Later pop into the Toxic Brew Company for a house-brewed Bavarian or Belgian beer.
Need a Hotel Recommendation?
Need a place to stay while in Dayton? Try the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Dayton North.
These casual all-suite accommodations offer an indoor pool, gym, free Wi-Fi, and a breakfast buffet. I loved the layout of our spacious accommodations with a state-of-the-art desk amid the room and a stylish full-size living area on one side and a bed on the other
Dayton is Worth the Visit
If your travels take you to Ohio, don’t miss the chance to visit Dayton. I only had a day to explore the city and was still impressed. I can’t wait to return and do the things I missed on this trip.
Thanks to the Dayton CVB for hosting us on our road trip. As always, reviews and opinions were 100% mine and unbiased.
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