Happy New Year, Dayton!
What better resolution in 2019 than to truly experience your city?
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 2019, in no particular order. You’ve got 365 days to make it happen, so start now!!
1. Train for a local race. Resolve to get in shape now for the Air Force Marathon, Turkey Trot and other big races in 2019. There are tons of area runners groups 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. Eat a slice of deep-dish pizza from Giordano’s. This might be one of the most anticipated restaurant openings of 2019. Dayton will get its first Giordano’s (famous Chicago deep dish pizza restaurant). It will be located at the site of a former Logan’s Roadhouse restaurant near the Mall at Fairfield Commons and Wright State University, and is tentatively scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2019.
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, Olde Schoolhouse and Valley Vineyards are just a few must-visit stops.
5. Go to a Dayton-area comedy club every night for a week until you crack three ribs from laughter. Wiley’s in the Oregon District and the Funny Bone in Dayton 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 run out while I’m still 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. Attend a University of Dayton-Wright State University regular season “Gem City Jam” men’s basketball game.
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. The castles have been open as house museums for more than a century.
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 artisan 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, you can then hit Toxic, Warped Wing, Barrel House and the Dayton Beer Company. The best part of the tour is you can stumble to all five breweries in just under a mile.
14. Taste some new Dayton brew. Have you tried Dayton’s newest brewery, Branch & Bone? Try the purple drink (Pea Blossom sour).
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). Be sure to check out RiverScape River Run.
16. Check out the Yellow Cab. The popular Yellow Cab Tavern in Dayton is home to lots 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 Whitesnake, Chicago, Travis Tritt and The Charlie Daniels band, STYX, Air Supply, Weird Al Yankovic and more.
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 second 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 pretty darn amazing people watching and partying). This year’s lineup includes Kid Rock, Chris Stapleton, Thomas Rhett, Dustin Lynch 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 2018 festival will take place July 26-28, 2019so mark your calendars.
21. Spend a day at Carillon Historical Park. Ride the Dayton Carousel of Innovation, experience pioneer history, climb the new Brethren Tower, tour the Patterson Homestead, drink fresh-brewed craft beer and enjoy German-style hearty fare. You have to see 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, 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.
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, Trolley Stop and the Yellow Cab come together to present the Dayton Music Fest. The event is a celebration of live music in Dayton with an emphasis on the bands that have connections to our city.
24. 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 adventure (especially in the fall). It’s the perfect example of post-glacial canyon cutting and offers the most rad 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 the 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 Mikesells potato chips, Esther Price Chocolates and Marion’s famous square-cut pizza? Here’s a list of “Dayton classic” foods to make it easier for you!
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 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. If you've never seen the Opera, do it in 2019.
32. Check out some sweet 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 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 2019 show will take place June 22-23, 2019 and feature the famous U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
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 our very own Cinderella team that has beaten the odds time and time again. Plus, the arena was recently renovated and it’s pretty sweet!
35. Eat local. Dayton has some pretty darn delicious food destinations. Make a vow to try somewhere new or try something new off the menu at one of your go-to spots. If you aren't sure where to go, visit the Miami Valley Restaurant Association's website to learn more about our network of local dining. Still not sure? There is no better time to try someplace new than Restaurant Week (one in winter, one in the summer). You'll get great deals. If you can, try the sneak preview event before each and sample foods from a bunch of places in one stop. During the summer, food events like Taste of the Greene, Taste of All Things Oregon, Taste of Miami Valley and The Taste (Fraze Pavilion) won't disappoint.
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 Daytonian 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. Find more tasty frozen treats here.
38. Try the best pie in Ohio. Partial to Pie is brand new and already has 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. Visit Dayton’s funk museum. The funk music genre put Dayton on the map as the Land of the Funk in the 1970s and '80s, thanks to a stable of groups that included the Ohio Players, Steve Arrington’s Hall of Fame, Zapp, Faze-O, Heatwave, Sun, Slave and Lakeside. A museum honoring Dayton’s contributions to funk music years in the making opened in 2018. George Clinton stopped there on a recent visit!
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 still catch the food truck at some of the area’s biggest festivals. These hot dogs are legit. 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. Spend an afternoon at downtown Dayton’s new library. Sure you can grab your favorite book and curl up in a quiet corner. But this library offers so much more. Make a video in a green screen room, let the kids have fun in an interactive children’s area or check out the stunning sculpture by Terry Welker in the main atrium.
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. Check out animals up close, watch an array of laser shows, see yourself in a heat image camera and take part in presentations. Dinosaur Discovery is coming to the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, running from Jan. 26 through April 14. The newest running exhibition will showcase dinosaurs that roamed Earth during the Mesozoic era — the “Age of Reptiles” that ended 65 million years ago.
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. 5-6, 2019) and try something new for free at Eastwood Metropark. Need some inspiration? Here are more than 20 ways to experience all our MetroParks have to offer.
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 Indians lived. You’ll get to see reconstructed structures and villages, found artifacts and more. A great way to experience Sunwatch is through the annual Keeping the Tradition Pow Wow in the summer.
51. Drink margaritas! Grab your friends and refresh your thirst with Bad Juan Margaritas from Elsa’s. Try one at Elsa’s Corner Cantina, the newest location with a killer new patio. Or check out a new spot. Find some of our favorites here: 5 best places to find margaritas.
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 1-2, 2019.
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.Celebrate a milestone with the Dayton Art Institute. The museum is turning 100 this year, and there will be tons of special events coming up to celebrate. But for now, consider a membership or at least spend the day there browsing some of the treasures in the permanent collection.
56. Drink up at 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. 27-29) is its signature fund-raiser and a must do. Springboro’s Oktoberfest (Sept. 7-8) is the newest fest on the block that is getting a lot of attention for good reason. And if you’re up for a drive, you have to check out Minster Oktoberfest (Oct. 4-6) 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. Here’s a guide to making the most of it. Don’t forget to have your picture taken with Heater and Gem! The 2019 home opener takes place April 4.
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 check out the Parachute Museum!
59. 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. One of the newest brunches on the block is at Wheat Penny, just launched in 2018. A must-read: 10 of the best brunch spots in Dayton.
60. Make something at this maker’s space. Proto BuildBar in Dayton is a 3-D printing shop. And a bar. And a coffee shop. It’s all three all at the same time so you can eat, drink, socialize and make stuff.
62. Take a bike tour of Dayton. Rent a bike from Link Dayton and tour the downtown Dayton area.
63. Challenge your friends. Head to Scene75 and challenge your friends in video-game contest, laser tag, mini-golf, go-karts, bumper cars, and mini-bowling.
64. Take a mini road trip. The 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.
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 Feathers, 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. Check out one of Dayton’s bar arcades. Nothing pairs better with a game of Donkey Kong or Pac Man than a nice cold brew. A similar idea, turn gaming night into a night out with games and brews at D20: A Bar with Characters.
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. Eat at Jason’s Deli. This is another highly anticipated restaurant opening in 2019. Jason's Deli, which operates a restaurant in Cincinnati and three in Columbus, is gearing up to open its first Dayton-area restaurant in Beavercreek with another to follow near Austin Landing. The menu includes specialty sandwiches, salads, wraps, paninis, muffalettas, pasta and potato dishes and 12 original-recipe soups.
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. The 2018 special brew was a Chocolate Cherry Cordial Stout.
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. 12-13, 2019.
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 or the new Van Buren room, taste away.
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.
78. Get in the ring at Drake’s Downtown Gym.
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. Foster and bottle feed an orphan kitten for the Humane Society.
82. Drink a wine slushie with your croquettes at Hunger Paynes Beer & Wine Garden inside the Dayton Mall.
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. See Broadway classic in Dayton. A new production of the celebrated musical “Les Misérables” featuing new staging and scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo will be at the Schuster Center. The show will run April 2-7, 2019.
85. Eat lots of baklava at the Dayton Greek Festival. Last year’s festival was dampened by a rainy, dreary weekend. Let’s hope for sunny skies in 2019.
86. Take a ride on the classic antique cars at Kings Island, returning for the 2019 season.
87. Get scared silly at the Lewisburg Cave. The cave was the No. 1 haunted attraction in a USA Today’s readers poll in 2018. What’s eerier than a real cave with fluttering bats overhead?
88. See a music show at the brand new Brightside Music and Event Venue.
89. Watch fireworks over the river at Riverscape MetroPark in Dayton to celebrate Independence Day.
90. Enjoy chips and salsa and a cold margarita from the brand new patio, tequila from the new tequila bar and eat with plenty of room to spare at the new and improved La Pinata restaurant coming soon to Centerville.
91. Enjoy a beer with your favorite dog pal from the Barrel House patio. It’s the latest bar to open its patio space to furry friends. But certain people are prohibited.
92. Support local artists and musicians at the Market at the Park. It’s a new space for artisans and to support budding entrepreneurs.
93. Take a class or see a show at new PNC Arts Annex. This is Dayton’s newest performing arts space with a little something for everyone.
94. Raise your glass to the Ohio Renaissance Festival, celebrating 30 years in 2019. 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. In 2018, 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 26, 2019. 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. 2019 surely will promise sunny, clear skies!
99. Be among the first to visit Flyby BBQ’s new brick-and-mortar location at the Mall at Fairfield Commons. The popular food truck is the latest to open a restaurant, coming soon.
100. Become a member of the new Gem City Market co-op, coming soon.
And here’s a bonus one, just for fun!
101. Be the first person ever to skip the line, pay by credit card and be served dessert at the Pine Club — all on the same night. Wink, wink!
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