Paddling near the fountains at RiverScape Metropark. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Contributing Writer
Photo: Contributing Writer

How many items have you checked off your Dayton Summer Bucket List?

SUMMER, where have you gone??!!!

Whether you like hanging out at home, grabbing drinks with friends or exploring the Dayton area, we’ve got you covered. 

Here are 50 must-do summer adventures in and around the Gem City. 

1.) Take a walking brewery tour. Summer and beer go hand in hand. Start at the Fifth Street Brewpub and walk down Fifth Street to the Oregon. You can then hit Toxic, Warped Wing, Barrel House and Dayton Beer Company. The best part of the tour is you can stumble to all five breweries in just under a mile.

>> Dayton's craft beer walking trail growing

2.) Get out and paddle. The Miami Valley has plenty to offer when it comes to water festivities. 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, including the RiverScape River Run).

>> Why RiverScape River Run is a huge deal for Dayton

3.) Check out the Yellow Cab. The ever-so-popular Yellow Cab Tavern in Dayton is home to lots of great events, food trucks, live music, craft beer, night markets and more. Get the latest upcoming event info on their Facebook page.

>> Your guide to Yellow Cab food truck events 

4.) Visit Carillon Historical ParkRide the Dayton Carousel of Innovation, experience pioneer history, tour the Patterson Homestead, drink fresh-brewed craft beer and enjoy German-style hearty fare. The park is the perfect place for a day with the family or a night out with friends. (Bonus: it’s also a pretty picturesque place to say “I do.”)

5.) View Dayton from the Woodland CemeteryAside from visiting the famous Daytonians who are buried here, Woodland offers a view like no other. Lookout Columbarium stands at the highest point in the city and is the ultimate spot for sightseers, lovers and lunch breaks. Fun Fact: the queen of Dayton’s Red Light District is buried there. 

>> Famous graves at Woodland Cemetery

The highest point in Dayton is at Lookout Point in Woodland Cemetery.
Photo: Connie Post

6.) Cool off at the waterpark. Whether you're looking to soak up the sun or take advantage of one of the many deals the park is offering this summer, there are tons of great outdoor waterpark adventures a short drive from Dayton all summer long. Here are 7 waterpark adventures you should really think about!

>> What to see, do, experience at Indian Lake

7.) Hike the Gorge. The prettiest 2-mile stretch of the Little Miami State and National Scenic River, east of John Bryan State Park, is a must-do summer adventure. It’s the perfect example of post-glacial canyon cutting and offers the most rad views for hikers.

>> The flattest, greenest, prettiest stretch of bike trail

>> The best places to go hiking in the Miami Valley

8.) Hit the Great Miami River trailAre 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.  

>> The 5 best Miami Valley bike trails

9.) 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. Pro tip: Don’t miss the performance by headliners and area favorite Gaelic Storm!

>> 10 summer events, festivals we CANNOT wait for

10.) Yellow Springs Street FairA day full of hoopla and shenanigans filled with music, beer and street performers.

>> MORE: 5 things to do in Yellow Springs

If you're looking to get in touch with your more earthy side, there's no better place to go than Yellow Springs. Here's the can't miss spots for the first time visitor and the regular sightseers. (Video by Tabatha Wharton)

11.) Eat Dayton-famous food. Eat all Dayton made food for a day. Who doesn’t enjoy Mikesells potato chips, Esther Price Chocolates and Marions Piazza? Here’s a list of “Dayton classic” foods to make it easier for you! 

>> The 12 best restaurants in Dayton

12.) Get your climb on at Urban KragWhen 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. Bonus: it’s great even when the sunny weather fails.

13.) Shop Local. Spend one full day shopping only local. Yes, you heard that right. And yes, you can do it. Looking for food? There are plenty of farmers markets and food trucks in the area. There are also plenty of unique local shops offering one-of-a-kind finds. 

>> One of Ohio’s oldest farmers markets is open for the season 

14.) Splash around at a spray park. With more than 14 spray parks lining the Dayton area, there’s always a place to take the kiddos on a hot summer day. C’mon, who doesn’t love to splash in puddles? 

>> The BEST pools in Dayton

15.) Shop at 3rd on Third. Check out some of the area’s hottest vendors at this outdoor market that runs from April through October.

The 3rd on Third market returned to Dayton on Sunday, April 19, featuring live music, food trucks, baked goods and a variety of vendors carrying everything from locally made goods to antiques and collectibles. The rain-or-shine market is held on the third Sunday of each month from April through October at 1121 E. Third Street.

16.) Check out some badass planes. The National Museum of the United States Air Force has some pretty badass planes that you’ll want to see with your own eyes, including the brand new addition: the famous Memphis Belle. Grab the family for an all-day airplane extravaganza.

17.) Climb burial mounds. One of the largest conical Native American burial mounds is located right here in Dayton. The Miamisburg Mound State Memorial is an exciting way to learn about the great Adena culture. 

18.) Thrill-seeking festivals. The Ohio Challenge presents the Hot Air Balloon and Skydiving Festival in Middletown. This is one event a short drive away you won’t want to miss!

 >> Here are a few places worth driving to just beyond Dayton

19.) RiverScape Inventor’s Walk. Admire Daytonian inventions by strolling down the green-and-white towers at Patterson Boulevard Canal Parkway. 

>>  How to enjoy Dayton’s Fountain of Lights

20.) Enjoy a Buckeye milkshake from Young's Jersey Dairy. Enjoy the most delicious milkshake in the history of milkshakes while hanging out with farm animals. 

>> Find more tasty frozen treats here

This favorite family festival was held at Young's Jersey Dairy on Oct. 1-2, 2016 in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
Photo: Tom Gilliam Photography for

21.) Try your hand (er, foot) at footgolfSo WTH is footgolf, exactly? The ultimate summer sport that combines soccer and golf. Test your skills and grab some friends for the 18-hole challenge. Check it out at Rollandia Golf Center or Kittyhawk Golf Center, to name a few.

>> Try disc golf in Dayton

22.) Shop at 2nd Street Market. Visit your local growers, bakers, artisans and culinary specialists at the one and only 2nd Street Market. If you’re lucky, you may even hear live music.  

23.) Enjoy all things strawberry at the Troy Strawberry Festival. While the strawberry donuts might be the main attraction, don't miss out on all the fun activities, including a softball tournament, 10K race, live music, food vendors and more!

>> Food your face NEEDS at the Strawberry Festival

24.) Try one of the area’s hidden playgrounds. Step out of your comfort zone and explore these parks and play structures. From the heart of the Oregon to the outer ‘burbs, you’re sure to find a new favorite place to hang with your littles. 

One of the best playgrounds in the area is hidden up in the hillside of Carillon Historical Park. Watch our Tabatha Wharton and her kids take the crazy set of slides head on. (Video by Tabatha Wharton)

25.) Visit the Dayton International Peace MuseumKids 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.

26.) 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. 

>> 15 things you didn’t know about the Wright Brothers

27.) Check out the Packard MuseumDedicated to extravagant, gleaming masterpieces of transportation. 

>> Five things you didn’t know about Dayton’s secret museum

28.) Get on your bike and ride. Dayton has an abundance of bike trails for all ages and experience levels.

29.) Be a kid again at the BoonshoftNo matter your age, the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is going to steal your heart. Check out animals up close, watch an array of laser shows, see yourself in a heat image camera and take part in presentations. 

>> PHOTOS: Meet some of the Boonshoft Museum’s cutest critters

30.) Hit up all the MetroParks. With 19 MetroParks in the Dayton area, this could keep you pretty busy all summer. Pack a picnic and take a hike. Need some inspiration? Here are more than 20 ways to experience all our MetroParks have to offer.

>> MORE: Discover Dayton’s hidden metropark

See Island MetroPark in its natural beauty from the air.

31.) Get your noms at local food trucks. Ever wonder if you could eat food only from food trucks for an entire day? It’s cool, we made it easy for you. Check out our food truck guide to find your favorite, make a new discovery or to find out where they’ll be. 

32.) Catch some national acts at our local music centers. Enjoy outdoor summer concerts at the Fraze Pavilion or the Rose Music Center or the brand new, coming soon Levitt Pavilion.

33.) Travel back in time at Sunwatch Indian VillageStep back in time to about 800 years ago and see how the Fort Ancient Indians lived. You’ll get to see reconstructed structures and villages, found artifacts and more.

>> Get some history at these five Underground Railroad stops around Dayton

34.) Drink margaritas! Grab your friends and refresh your thirst with Bad Juan Margaritas from Elsa’s. Or check out a new spot. Find some of our favorites here: 5 best places to find margaritas.

35.) Go camping. Spend a relaxing day getting back to basics with family and friends. Camp, fish and enjoy the great outdoors, even at one of our MetroParks. Don’t forget to make s’mores.

Five River MetroParks Outdoor Recreation Coordinator Angie Sheldon and Possum Creek MetroPark Manager Mike Osborne show off one of the newest campsites at Possum Creek. CONNIE POST/STAFF
Photo: Connie Post

36.) Don’t miss the county fairs. Support your local county fair and immerse yourself in funnel cakes, livestock shows and the heat of the summer.

37.) Spend some time in a local art galleryDayton’s art scene is vibrant and constantly moving. Take some time to see an exhibit at the Dayton Art Institute, Dayton Visual Arts Center or any other galleries in the area.  

38.) Butterfly house: The butterfly house at Cox Arboretum is one of our favorite places. After you visit it, you’ll see why. 

>> 5 things to know about Barbara Cox Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Cox Arboretum

>> Celebrate the summer solstice this year with these ideas

39.) 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 is  plenty for everyone to enjoy at a Dragons game. Here’s a guide to making the most of it. Don’t forget to have your picture taken with Heater and Gem!

Joey Votto on a rehab assignment with the Dayton Dragons on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. Contributed photo by Nick Falzerano
Photo: Staff Writer

40.) Hit the Aviation TrailWhether you’re a Wright Brothers fanatic or a full-on aviation enthusiast, this is something you’ll want to check out. Make sure you check out the Parachute Museum!

41.) Enjoy a pint of local craft beer. Beer lovers, rejoice! Check out this guide to the area's hottest breweries

42.) Go get brunch. Indulge on a weekend with a fantastic meal and some boozy drinks (Bloody Mary, anyone?) at one of our fantastic local restaurants. A must-read: 9 of the best brunch spots in Dayton

>> Here’s 9 MORE brunch spots you have to try

43.) Shop at local farmers markets. Support your local growers and get the freshest food and products from one of the area’s top farmer markets. It’s win-win, really.

44.) 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.

45.) Go kayaking. Rent a kayak at Riverscape and paddle out to the fountains, or check out other great places to paddle (and what to know before you go).

46.) Take a bike tour of Dayton. Rent a bike from Link Dayton and tour the downtown Dayton area.


47.) Plan a picnic. Planning the perfect out-of-doors fete is a piece of cake with our guides on where to go and what to bring with you to eatBon appetit!

48.) Take a mini road tripThe possibilities are endless. Check out THE famous Yellow Spring, or head underground to the Ohio Caverns. Zipline at Camp Kern or see the Devil’s Bathtub at Hocking Hills. Plan your trip with 7 must-see sights in driving distance of Dayton.

>> Could you master this Dayton hiking challenge?

49.) Visit the Little Art TheatreMoviegoers of all ages can find something to love about this tiny, independently-owned and run theatre. A staple of the Yellow Springs community, it has just about every genre you can imagine, as well as special events.

50.) 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 or Feathers, check out records at Omega Music or find a new hat at BRIM. Seriously, the list goes on.