Think there’s nothing to do in Dayton?
This Dayton Bucket List is here to prove the naysayers wrong.
See the sights, hear the sounds, savor the tastes.
Eat somewhere new, many times.
Try something you’ve never tried before.
Go to a festival you’ve never experienced.
Visit a charming suburb for the first time to dine, sip and shop.
We guarantee everyone will discover something new to love about Dayton and surrounding communities.
Here are 100 ideas for things to enjoy in Dayton in 2020, in no particular order. You even have an extra day to make it happen -- Feb. 29 -- so make the most of this leap year!!
1. Train for a local race. Resolve to get in shape now for the Air Force Marathon, Turkey Trot and other big races in 2020. There are tons of area runners groups, like the Tuesday Night Turtles and WPAFB Running, that can help you train or find a buddy to do it with you.
2. Ride the FREE Flyer shuttle. Hop on The Flyer to make the trip from downtown Dayton to the University of Dayton and entertainment destinations in between a lot easier. There are 70 stops on the route.
3. Grab a coffee along the Wayne Avenue Coffee Trail. Destinations include Ghostlight Coffee, Press Coffee, Reza’s Roast, and Wholly Grounds, and more on the way! Just a short drive away are the Gem City Catfé and St. Anne the Tart, both on East Fifth Street.
4. Put together your own Miami Valley winery tour. Make a pact to visit all of the great wineries surrounding Dayton in Warren, Preble, Butler, Greene, Clark, Miami and Darke counties. The Winery at Versailles, Old Mason Winery, Caesar Creek Vineyards, Olde Schoolhouse, Hanover Winery, Brandeberry Winery and Valley Vineyards are a few must-visit stops.
5. Go to a Dayton-area comedy club every night for a side-splitting time. Wiley’s in the Oregon District and the Funny Bone in Beavercreek have shows every weekend and many weeknights. The Black Box Improv Theater has shows every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. You can even take a class.
6. Arrive at Warped Wing on Whiskey Rebellion Release Day early enough to actually buy the variants, rather than watching them sell out while standing in line.
7. Have a drink at Jay’s and admire the historic carved bar. It’s truly a sight to behold with a rich, storied history.
8. Hop on a scooter. Download the Spin app, find the closest e-scooter and zip around Dayton's streets for a fun time.
9. Visit the Piatt Castles in West Liberty. The Piatt Castles are two enchanting Logan County homes whose names, Mac-O-Chee and Mac-A-Cheek, come from the Shawnee who lived in a village called Mackachack. The Piatt Castles, two 19th century homes, are located in West Liberty in Logan County. Mac-A-Cheek castle will re-open for tours in the spring.
10. Eat your way through some of Ohio’s best buckeyes. There is now an official statewide Ohio Buckeye Candy Trail. The Ohio Buckeye Candy Trail is a 31-stop trail highlighting local, family-owned and nationally known chocolate artisans from across the state. The Dayton area is well-represented: Golden Turtle Chocolate Factory in Lebanon, Holly B’s Sweets in Waynesville, Friesinger’s Chocolates in Springboro, Esther Price in Dayton and Winan’s Chocolates + Coffees.
11. Stick a wad of gum on the “gum wall” at the Maid-Rite in Greenville. It may sound disgusting, but it’s a tradition. While you’re there, grab one of those famous little Maid-Rite loose meat sandwiches.
12. Book a room at a hotel in Dayton for a full weekend and pretend like you’re visiting from out of town and experiencing it for the first time.
13. Kick back with some Dayton-made beer. The easiest way to do this is with a walking brewery tour. Start at the Fifth Street Brewpub and walk down Fifth to the Oregon District, you can then hit Toxic Brew, Warped Wing, Dayton Beer Company and Lock 27. The best part of the tour is you can stumble to all five breweries in just under a mile. Feeling ambitious? Hit up Branch & Bone on Wayne, too.
14. Try the Medusa sandwich from The Chicken Spot. This sandwich has it all with a boneless chicken breast topped with macaroni and cheese, collard greens and pickled onions served on a buttered toasted bun.
15. Get out and paddle. The Miami Valley has plenty to offer when it comes to water attractions/recreation. In fact, this region is considered a destination for water sports. When sunny skies arrive, grab some friends and enjoy the thrill of canoeing, kayaking and rafting (and check out our guide to paddling for tips on where to go). Also, be sure to check out the RiverScape River Run.
16. Check out the Yellow Cab Tavern. The popular Yellow Cab Tavern in Dayton is home to a lot of great music events and festivals, food truck events, craft beer, night markets and more. The Yellow Cab is famous for off-the-beaten-path fun. Get the latest upcoming event info on their Facebook page.
17. Splurge on tickets for an outdoor summer concert. Dayton is beyond lucky to have some incredible outdoor music venues to fill your summer nights with great music and great fun. The Rose Music Center in Huber Heights and Fraze Pavilion in Kettering both bring in a variety of national acts, from nostalgia tours, to up-and-comers. Acts coming to town so far include STYX, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, and the double bill of Jeffrey Osborne and Peabo Bryson.
18. See a FREE summer concert at Levitt Pavilion. In 2018, the Levitt Pavilion made its debut, offering TONS of free concerts on weeknights and weekends and bringing more people downtown. We can’t wait for the third season!
19. If you’re really up for a memorable time, head up north to Fort Loramie for Country Concert, a multiple day country music campout in July featuring some of the biggest artists in country music all on one stage (and some prime opportunities to people-watch). This year’s lineup includes Alan Jackson, Luke Combs, Jason Aldean, Old Dominion and more.
20. Experience The Celtic Festival. This is the festival of festivals and it should be on everyone's list of events to attend. Experience the luck of the Irish and immerse your senses in the rich Celtic heritage. The festival will take place July 24-26 at RiverScape MetroPark, so mark your calendars.
21. Spend a day at Carillon Historical Park. Ride the Dayton Carousel of Innovation, enjoy brunch in the new Culp’s Cafe, experience pioneer history, climb the Brethren Tower, tour the Patterson Homestead, drink fresh-brewed craft beer and enjoy German-style hearty fare. You also have to catch a glimpse of Carillon during the holiday season. The Tree of Light is a sight to behold.
22. View Dayton from the Woodland Cemetery. Aside from visiting the famous Daytonians who are buried here (including Paul Laurence Dunbar and the Wright brothers), Woodland offers a view like no other. Lookout Tower and Columbarium stands at the highest point in the city and is the ultimate spot for sightseers and lunch breaks.
23. Experience the local music scene. We have tons of talented local bands playing local music venues routinely. Not sure where to go? Every September, music venues including Blind Bob’s, The Brightside and the Yellow Cab come together to present the Dayton Music Festival. The event is a celebration of live music in Dayton with an emphasis on the bands that have connections to our city. Or try Dayton Porchfest, a neighborhood music festival held in the St. Anne’s Hill Neighborhood in late summer.
24. Hike the Gorge. The prettiest 2-mile stretch of the Little Miami State and National Scenic River, east of John Bryan State Park, Clifton Gorge is a must-do adventure (especially in the fall). It’s the perfect example of post-glacial canyon cutting and offers the most scenic views for hikers.
25. Hit the Great Miami River trail. Are you ready for an adventure? With 75 miles of trails, it’s the ultimate spot for runners, skaters or cyclists. The trail winds through downtown Dayton, RiverScape, museums and several monuments.
26. Discover some of Dayton's finest communities. Spend some time in a community you may not know too well. Some of the area's most charming communities worth the drive include Waynesville, Tipp City, Yellow Springs and Lebanon. Great shopping, great eats!
27. Eat Dayton-made food. Eat all Dayton-made food for a day. Who doesn’t enjoy Mikesell’s potato chips, Esther Price Chocolates and Marion’s or Cassano’s famous square-cut pizza?
28. Get your climb on at Urban Krag. When that adventurous spirit strikes, you know where to head. The indoor rock climbing wall is designed to test your strength, provide a safe atmosphere and brings families together with a fun activity.
29. Get lost in a corn maze. One of the perks of living in the Midwest is fun on the farm. Farm owners across the region have gotten creative by creating corn mazes and fall family activities, like Tom’s Maze and Pumpkin Farm and Katie’s Pumpkin Barn, to offer weekends of fun throughout the fall.
30. Support Dayton performing arts. It's no secret that Dayton has one of the best arts/cultural scenes for a town of its size. Experience it for yourself. If you like theater, check out a Human Race or Playground Theatre production. If you like dance, check out the Dayton Ballet or DCDC. Music? The Dayton Philharmonic has shows for just about every musical preference.
31. 3rd on Third. Check out some of the area’s hottest vendors at this outdoor market that runs from April through October, on the third Sunday of the month.
32. Check out some sweet planes. The National Museum of the United States Air Force has a vast collection of planes that you’ll want to see with your own eyes, including the Memphis Belle. Grab the family for an all-day airplane extravaganza. Admission is free.
33. Don't miss the annual Dayton Vectren Air Show in June with high-flying entertainment. The 2020 show will take place June 27-28, 2020 and feature the famous U.S. Navy Blue Angels.
34. Go see a University of Dayton Flyers basketball game! Dayton is home to one of the top-ranked college basketball programs in attendance, and there are a few reasons why. UD Arena is conveniently located, the atmosphere is fun (thanks to the Red Scare), there isn’t a bad view in the building and it’s always fun to cheer for Obi, Ibi and the rest of the top-20-ranked Flyers.
35. Look out for an alcohol-free alternative to an enjoyable night out on the town with the Gem City SoberBar’s and Tonic Dayton’s pop-up events.
36. Take a walk and learn about Dayton history. There are a couple easy ways to do this. At RiverScape Inventor’s Walk, you can admire Daytonians’ inventions by strolling down the green-and-white towers at Patterson Boulevard Canal Parkway. If you want to learn about some of the people who have shaped Dayton’s past, present and future, take a stroll down the Dayton Region’s Walk of Fame at the corner of West Third and South Williams streets.
37. Enjoy a delicious treat from Young's Jersey Dairy. Enjoy some of the most delicious homemade ice cream treats while hanging out with farm animals, playing mini golf and more.
38. Try the best pie in Ohio. Though Partial to Pie is relatively new to the Dayton community, it has already been named the Best Pie Shop in Ohio in a USA Today poll. The retail bakery, founded by Marie Clark and her father Mike Clark of Kettering, provides dine-in and carry-out services, specializing in pies, quiche and sweet treats. The bakery is located at the corner of Shroyer Road and Wilmington Pike.
39. Get to know downtown. Downtown Dayton is a great place to live, work or play. Downtown is home to the city's top arts/cultural destinations. You'll find more than 50 restaurants, more than 30 bars/clubs, a ballpark known for routinely selling out home games, plus tons of museums and galleries. The best way to experience downtown is at the monthly showcase event, First Fridays, held the first Friday of the month. During the summer, Summer in the City will return with a series of themed special events.
40. Shop and dine at 2nd Street Market. Visit your local growers, bakers, artisans and culinary specialists at the one and only 2nd Street Market.
41. Catch a concert or a game at the Nutter Center. Cheer on the Raiders during a Wright State basketball game, or catch a show. On the don't-miss-party list: KISS will rock and roll all nite at the Nutter on Sept. 14, as part of the band's End of the Road Tour. David Lee Roth will be there, too.
42. Try a Zombie Dogz gourmet hot dog. This famous Dayton food institution started out as a food truck then turned into a brick-and-mortar store near the University of Dayton campus. You can’t go wrong with the Calling in Dead (housemade white truffle mac’n’cheese topped with Parmesan garlic cracker crumbs).
43. Visit one of Dayton’s specialty museums. Check out the Packard Museum dedicated to extravagant, gleaming masterpieces of transportation. At the Dayton International Peace Museum, kids will fall in love with the Children’s Room that’s decked out with games and instruments. Not a kid? No worries. Stop by and tour the exhibits, recline on cozy couches and curl up with a good book.
44. See the Wright Brothers’ Bicycle Shop. Whether you’re visiting Dayton or a local Daytonian, you have to add the Wright Cycle Company Complex as a point of interest.
45. Dance to the beat of your own drum at one of Therapy Cafe’s famous Silent Discos.
46. Go see the Nutcracker. It's a Dayton holiday tradition. If you missed it this year, don't repeat that mistake. The Dayton Ballet, with support from the Dayton Philharmonic, puts a Dayton spin on a classic. While you're there, browse the historic old Rike's Department Store windows that are housed in the Schuster Center lobby during the holiday season.
47. Be a kid again at the Boonshoft. No matter your age, the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is going to steal your heart. Befriend the animals, watch an array of laser shows, see yourself in a heat image camera and take part in presentations.
48. Hit up all of the MetroParks. With 19 MetroParks in the Dayton area, this could keep you pretty busy all year. Pack a picnic and take a hike. Be sure to check out the living tree tunnel at Sugarcreek Metropark and the free fall festival OutdoorX (Oct. 3-4) where you can try something new at Eastwood Metropark.
49. Get your noms at local food trucks. Dayton has some tasty food trucks. We challenge you to eat your way through each and every one of them. Yellow Cab holds food truck rallies regularly. There are Friday night rallies, weeknight themed food truck battles and brunch rallies. Miami County, Darke County, West Chester and Springfield all hold HUGE food truck events in the spring/summer where you can catch many of them in one spot.
50. Travel back in time at Sunwatch Indian Village. Step back in time to about 800 years ago and see how the Fort Ancient Native Americans lived. You’ll get to see reconstructed structures and villages, artifacts and more. A great way to experience Sunwatch is through the annual Keeping the Tradition Pow Wow in the summer.
51. Wine and dine at the new Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant at Cornerstone in Centerville.
52. Go see a breathtaking waterfall. Beautiful. Peaceful. Serene. Visit waterfalls at Clifton Gorge, Charleston Falls, Ludlow Falls and West Milton.
53. Eat a famous Troy Strawberry Festival donut. These delicious donuts are addictive, attract a long line at times and support Troy music programs. It’s a donut for a cause and it’s well worth it. While you’re there, indulge in more strawberry treats than you can possibly imagine. This year’s festival will take place June 6-7.
54. Nose through someone else’s beautiful living space. Dayton’s historic neighborhoods host some of the most amazing holiday home tours (that frequently sell out fast). The Downtown Dayton Partnership also hosts a housing tour every summer.
55. Visit one of the many interesting exhibits on display at the Dayton Art Institute. Just recently, DAI announced the impending arrival of several new exhibits, set to debut in 2020. These exhibits include “Samurai, Ghosts and Lovers: Yoshitoshi’s Complete 100 Aspects of the Moon,” a rare Japanese woodblock printmaking show, which goes on view Feb. 22 through May 3, and “New Beginnings: An American Story of Romantics and Modernists in the West,” opening May 30 and on view until Sept. 12.
56. Drink up and celebrate Oktoberfest. When it comes to fall fun, it’s hard to top an Oktoberfest celebration. The Dayton region is home to some pretty incredible Oktoberfest celebrations, all offering a little something different. The Dayton Art Institute’s Oktoberfest (Sept. 24-27) is its signature fundraiser and a must-do. Springboro’s Oktoberfest is the newest festival on the block that is getting a lot of attention (and for good reason). And if you’re up for a drive, you have to check out Minster Oktoberfest, complete with beer tray relays and more.
57. Catch a Dayton Dragons game. America would not be America (and summer would not be summer) without its favorite pastime. Whether you’re a sports nut or not, there’s plenty for everyone to enjoy at a Dragons game. Don’t forget to have your picture taken with Heater and Gem! The 2020 home opener takes place April 9.
58. Hit the Aviation Trail. Whether you’re a Wright brothers fanatic or a full-on aviation enthusiast, this is something you’ll want to check out. Make sure you also check out the Parachute Museum!
59. Have a classy night at the new Club Oceano restaurant at The Greene. Or enjoy some crazy-good fish and chips for lunch (or dinner).
60. Give axe throwing a try at Wild Axe Throwing in Beavercreek.
61. Go old-time at the drive-in. Take the family to see a double feature at one of the area’s retro drive-in movie theaters in Dayton or Brookville.
62. Take a bike tour of Dayton. Rent a bike from Link Dayton and tour the downtown Dayton area.
63. Stick to your New Year’s resolutions and sip on some green juice from Santa Clara, Power Plant or Glo.
64. Take a mini road trip. The possibilities are endless. Head underground to the Ohio Caverns, zipline at Camp Kern, see the Devil’s Bathtub at Hocking Hills, or go glow tubing in Mansfield.
66. Spend a day in the Oregon District. Whether you’re looking for a place to eat, shop or hang out with friends, the Oregon District is the place to go. Grab a cocktail from a locally owned restaurant or enjoy a local craft beer at Toxic or Lucky’s. Look for vintage goods at Clash Consignment or adorable home goods at Luna Gifts & Botanicals, check out records at Omega Music or find a new hat at BRIM. Buy a slightly inappropriate T-shirt or mug from Heart Mercantile (seriously, they have the BEST gifts).
67. Play vintage games at the new Challenger Arcade at Mike’s Bike Park. Enjoy some family-friendly fun at this arcade, decked out in a plethora of vintage arcade games.
68. Make your own Dayton donut trail. While there may not be an official donut trail, you can make your own. Bill’s. Jim’s. Ashley’s. Evan’s. Stan the Donut Man. Duck Donuts. Donut Palace.
69. Sip coffee and socialize with furry felines at the Gem City Catfe on East Fifth Street. And if the time is right to adopt, you can take one home.
70. Try Esther’s Lil Secret. This is one of the best Dayton collaborations, and it’s only available for a limited time each year. Warped Wing Brewing Company and Esther Price Candies team up for a special holiday brew that pairs two Dayton brands. The flavor changes each year.
71. Volunteer to carve a pumpkin for the beloved annual Stoddard Pumpkin Glow and then see the gorgeous hill illuminated with creative jack-o-lanterns for Halloween. It’s one of our favorite Halloween traditions.
72. Try the sauerkraut sundae at the Ohio Sauerkraut Festival in Waynesville. It has nothing to do with ice cream. The festival will take place Oct. 10-11.
73. Take a Dayton selfie. Some of our favorite spots are the Dayton Inspires mural in the Oregon District, in front of Fifth Third Field, in front of the Deeds Carillon, or with the Wright brothers statue at Deeds Point.
74. Take a ride in a WACO. See Troy from a new view by taking a ride in a biplane. While you’re there, check out the museum with tons of treasures for all ages to enjoy.
75. Find a new signature cocktail. Whether that’s at Belle of Dayton, The Century Bar (be sure to check out its new location!) or the Van Buren room, taste away. In moderation, of course.
76. Visit the Hartman Rock Garden in Springfield. See some unique rock artwork, including meticulously crafted replicas of the White House, Independence Hall and other well-known national landmarks that were crafted out of small stones by H.G. “Ben” Hartman during the Great Depression (admission is free).
77. Try the purple condiment (on a charcuterie board) from Crafted & Cured on Wayne Avenue.
78. Shake up your workout routine by taking a class at Space Three, Rinse Cycle, Spenga or Orangetheory.
79. Enjoy a glass of wine with a view of the Great Miami River at Bar Granada.
80. Visit Kings Island’s WinterFest. Ice skating, rides, holiday shows, La Rosa’s pizza, gourmet hot cocoa and a gorgeous illuminated Eiffel Tower.
81. Get your game on at the new Round1 Entertainment at the Mall at Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek.
82. Try all of the new taco places in Dayton, including Local Cantina, Condado (opening date still undetermined) and La Costenita.
83. Drink a green beer or two, and soak it up with ooey-gooey Pub Fries or a traditional Irish breakfast at the Dublin Pub's famous St. Patrick's Day celebration.
84. Show off your Dayton Strong spirit with tees from local shops like Heart Mercantile, Clash, The Olde Farmstead in Beavercreek, and others.
85. Eat a lot of baklava at the Dayton Greek Festival.
86. Make stops at Dayton's trifecta of steakhouses: Pine Club, Oakwood Club and Paragon Supper club.
87. Get scared silly at the Lewisburg Cave. The cave was the No. 1 haunted attraction in a USA Today readers’ poll back in 2018. What’s eerier than a real cave with fluttering bats overhead?
88. Visit all of the new breweries expected to open in 2020, including (but perhaps not limited to) Loose Ends Brewing in Centerville, Sojourners Brewstillery in Washington Twp., Southern Ohio Brewing in Beavercreek and Nowhere In Particular Cabinet of Curiosities in Kettering.
89. Get your goth on (and take a photo or two) at Castle Morningstar. This event venue and rental studio space in Dayton is unique for its Gothic charm.
90. Spice things up at one of the new Thai restaurants. Singha Thai Homestyle Thai Food, Thai Street Noodles and Massaman Curry (expected to open in 2020).
91. Try some Cajun-style seafood at Blue Juicy Crab or Hook & Reel (coming soon!).
92. Support local artists and musicians at the Market at the Park. It’s a newer space to spotlight artisans and to support budding entrepreneurs.
93. Pull an all-nighter and enjoy late-night eats from 416 Diner. The Oregon District diner has officially extended its hours (now open until 4:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays) to accommodate late-night crowds in the area.
94. Raise your glass to the Ohio Renaissance Festival. Make sure you plan to visit sometime during the fall festival season. The festival runs weekends Labor Day through the end of October.
95. Visit the Wright Brothers NATIONAL Museum. That’s right. Two years ago, the museum housed at Carillon Park earned a national designation. The museum has more Wright artifacts on display than any other place in the world, including the 1905 Wright Flyer III: the only airplane designated a National Historic Landmark, the first practical flying machine.
96. Start your local art collection and support The Contemporary Dayton (formerly the Dayton Visual Arts Center) and local artists during its annual art auction on April 24. More than 100 works of arts will be available for bid at affordable prices.
97. Play a game of bocce, devour homemade Italian food, and sip a special Warped Wing lemon brew at the Italian Fall Festa.
98. Build your own terrarium at Now & Zen in downtown Dayton.
99. Search for bald eagles at Carillon Historical Park or at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark.
100. Head to the indoor playground opening in Springboro. The 14,000 square-foot building at 865 W. Central Ave. in Springboro will include four party rooms, a 2,000 square-foot, multi-level indoor playground and space for large inflatables. It is set to open at the end of January.