Riders enjoy views of the Little Miami River on zip lines at Ozone Zipline Adventures at YMCA Camp Kern in Oregonia. Greg Lynch/ Staff
Photo: Greg Lynch
Photo: Greg Lynch

7 must-see sights in driving distance of Dayton

Looking for a mini escape this Labor Day Weekend?

There’s so much to do and see within just a couple hours of Dayton, so pack a bag and make a day (or weekend) of it.

>> The best things to do in Dayton over Labor Day weekend

The Yellow Spring

The Yellow Spring at Glen Helen (image source: Glen Helen Facebook)

Find out how Yellow Springs got its name by visiting the Yellow Spring along trails at Glen Helen, a 1,000-acre nature preserve with 25 miles of trails, about 30 minutes from Dayton. The famous spring carries 60 gallons of iron-rich water to the surface every minute, according to Glen Helen.

>> Five more reasons to visit Yellow Springs 

Ohio Caverns

Crystal stalactite at Ohio Caverns.
Photo: submitted

At just under an hour’s drive, the caverns in West Liberty stay at a steady 54 degrees all year and feature some of the most unique formations in America. Guests from around the world come to experience the 35-acre park complete with guided tours and mining for gemstones and fossils.

>> The best hiking trails in Dayton, right here

SunWatch Indian Village

Bill Kennedy, an archaeologist and the curator of Anthropology for Dayton Society of National History, re-frames the Big House at SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological Park. CONNIE POST / STAFF
Photo: Connie Post

Right here in Dayton did you know there’s an Indian village and archaeological park? SunWatch Indian Village, at 2301 W. River Road, features reconstructed structures of how the Fort Ancient Indians lived 800 years ago. There’s also an indoor theatre, artifacts and an Interpretive Center for even more exploration.

>> Ten things to know about SunWatch

Camp Kern

Riders enjoy views of the Little Miami River on zip lines at Ozone Zipline Adventures at YMCA Camp Kern in Oregonia. Greg Lynch/ Staff
Photo: Greg Lynch

In just three quarters of an hour, you could be taking in nature from 200 feet above ground at Ozone Zipline Adventures at YMCA Camp Kern in Oregonia. The camp includes 12 zip lines — from 250 feet to 1,300 feet in length — as well as tour guides to share the area’s natural history, including fossils as old as 500 million years and Native American earthworks dated 2,000 years ago.

>> Here’s your guide to camping in our MetroParks (for serious!)

Serpent Mound

Spanning 1,348 feet long from head to tail, Serpent Mound near Hillsboro in Adams County is an archaeological marvel. Connie Post/ Staff

Serpent Mound is the largest effigy mound in North America — and one of only two effigy mounds in Ohio. It’s worth the 90-minute drive to see this preserved ancient earthwork that stretches 1,330 feet and depicts the form of an undulating serpent with an oval shape at the head. Serpent Mound was first mapped by modern culture as early as 1815. The Ohio Historical Society opened a museum near the mound in 1967 and constructed a walkway around the mound.

>> What to do and see in Ohio’s only national park

Hocking Hills

Upper Falls at Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills. Hannah Poturalski/ Staff
Photo: Hannah Poturalski/ STAFF

There are 26 state parks within about 100 miles of Dayton. Hocking Hills State Park is definitely deserving of a long weekend in order to take in all the natural sights it has to offer. You can find everything from caves, waterfalls and cliffs within six main parks. The names themselves are intriguing enough — Devil’s Bathtub, Rockbridge, Rock House, Old Man’s Cave.

>>MORE: Ohio climbers rejoice -- you’ve got a new place to conquer

Mad River Gorge

Mad River Gorge & Nature Preserve will be Ohio’s largest natural rock climbing area. CONTRIBUTED

Ohio’s largest natural rock-climbing park, Mad River Gorge and Nature Preserve, will impress local climbers with the the variety of climbing challenges for beginners on up to veteran climbers. The cliffs – about 45-50 feet at their highest point – have been on private land for decades, but the park district was recently able to purchase the land with the help of a Clean Ohio Conservation Grant. The attraction will be available to climbers at no cost.