Say cheese! Dayton’s best locations for special occasion and family portraits

A secluded oasis is tucked away on the campus of the Dayton VA Medical Center. The Grotto Gardens, built by Civil War veterans as a sanctuary after the war, is a wonderful place to wander among historic structures and beautiful landscaping. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Dayton is ready for its closeup.

If you’re looking for a spot to take senior, prom, engagement, wedding or family photos, the area has countless locations to create the perfect picture.

Here are some suggestions for gorgeous backgrounds to help make your photos uniquely Dayton.

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PRO TIP: If you are hiring a professional photographer, contact the venues ahead of time to inquire about their policies regarding professional photos.

COX ARBORETUM METROPARK

The scenic "Monet Bridge at Cox Arboretum MetroPark. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

Cox Arboretum’s foot bridge and gardens are great places for photographs. Depending on the season, your backdrop can feature bright and beautiful tulips, daffodils, hyacinths or fall foliage.

The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. 6733 Springboro Pike, Dayton.

RIVERSCAPE METROPARK

A cyclist rides along a backdrop of a noon-hour display of the spraying fountains at the Deeds Point area of Riverscape in downtown Dayton. JIM WITMER / STAFF

Credit: JIM WITMER

Credit: JIM WITMER

Deeds Point offers a great view of the fountains and downtown Dayton for photographs. The swings and garden areas at Riverscape MetroPark are also fun spots.

The park is located at 237 E. Monument Ave.

FRAZE PAVILION

The Fraze Pavillion in Kettering.

Credit: Staff Photos by Alicia Fidler

Credit: Staff Photos by Alicia Fidler

The reflecting pools surrounding Fraze Pavilion are a great spot for photographs, as are the lush trees and flowers growing on the site.

The park is located at 695 Lincoln Park Blvd., Kettering.

WEGERZYN GARDENS METROPARK

The  Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark in Dayton.

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

The formal garden at Wegerzyn Garden's MetroPark is a pretty place for photographs. There are potted flowers among the sculpted hedges and benches. The park grounds are open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

The park is located at 1301 E. Siebenthaler Ave., Dayton.

LEO STATUE OUTSIDE THE DAYTON ART INSTITUTE

The Dayton Art Institute. LYNN HULSEY/STAFF

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

Here’s a backdrop with a unique Dayton story. Leo the Lion was the mascot for Steele High School, which was torn down in 1955. An artist named Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington was commissioned to create the lion, and in 1907, students at the school raised $300 in nickels to pay for the bronze casting. The lion was made in 1908, but The Great Flood of 1913 knocked the lion off its base. After the high school was torn down, the sculpture was relocated to the Dayton Art Institute.

The museum is located at 456 Belmonte Park North, Dayton.

DEEDS CARILLON

The Deeds Carillon is a 151-foot-tall tower, made of Indiana limestone, and originally designed with 32 bells. STAFF FILE PHOTO

The tallest carillon in all of Ohio, Deeds Carillon at Carillon Historical Park is one of Dayton’s most beloved landmarks. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The park is located at 1000 Carillon Blvd. in Dayton.

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GROTTO GARDENS AT THE VA MEDICAL CENTER

The Grotto Gardens.  LISA POWELL / STAFF

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

Created by Civil War veterans, the Grotto Gardens were once a very popular tourist destination. By 1910, more than 660,000 annual visitors were traveling to Dayton just to behold the gardens and pay tribute to Civil War veterans. After World War II, however, upkeep of the gardens was scaled back. A few years ago, volunteer gardeners helped restore the gardens by removing poison ivy and overgrown honeysuckle, redesigning the gardens and creating micro-climates in each. The campus includes gardens, walking paths and lakes, and is open to the public during daylight hours each day.

The Grotto Gardens is located at 4100 W. Third St., Dayton.

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