7 beautiful sights built along the scenic Great Miami River

The Great Miami River has drawn attention because of flooding in recent days, but when the water subsides, it’s a great source for scenery and recreational activities.

Here are five great spots along the Great Miami River in southwest Ohio.

1. Great Miami River Trail

The Great Miami River Trail is the backbone of one of the nation’s largest paved trail networks, spanning 340 miles throughout Ohio’s Miami Valley. The route, an asphalt surface totaling 86 miles, connects beautiful natural areas, small towns and large cities across Butler, Miami, Montgomery and Warren counties, making it one of the most diverse trails in the state.

The endpoints area at Roadside Park in Piqua and Water Works Park in Fairfield, and most of the trail keeps you close to the river for prime opportunity to observe wildlife along the way.

2. Smith’s Boathouse Restaurant, 439 N. Elm Street, Troy

Located within Treasure Island Park, Smith’s Boathouse is nestled amongst beautiful elm trees with an elevated patio providing a great dining option along the river. A menu featuring seafood and steaks, as well as other seasonally prepared items, is served in a cozy, family-friendly atmosphere.

3. Carillon Park, 1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton

Stop at this 65-acre park and museum just across from the river near the University of Dayton and learn about Dayton’s history as a hub for innovation and invention. Highlights include the Wright Brother’s Wright Flyer III and the timely exhibit dedicated to the Great Flood of 1913 and you can even grab a bite or pint at its ‘50s style diner or brewery.

4. Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park N., Dayton

The Dayton Art Institute sits atop a hill on the edge of the Great Miami River overlooking downtown Dayton. The museum’s landmark building, designed by prominent museum architect Edward B. Green of Buffalo and completed in 1930, was modeled after the Villa d’Este near Rome and the Villa Farnese at Caprarola in Italy, both examples of sixteenth century Italian Renaissance architecture. The museum’s collection spans 5,000 years of art history, including important Oceanic art, Asian art, European art and American fine and decorative art collections. It’s also one of the top 10 best art museums in the U.S. for kids.

5. Rentschler Forest MetroPark, 5701 Reigart Road, Fairfield

This 400-acre park includes large areas of woodland, about a half-mile frontage along the Great Miami River, remnants of the old Miami-Erie Canal, a prehistoric Indian earthwork, a reconstructed wetland, trails, waterfalls and ample opportunities for a wide variety of outdoor recreation activities. Unique to Rentschler is the opportunity for geocaching, which is a family-friendly treasure hunting game for all ages using GPS technology to search for and find a geocache. Geocaches can be containers of various sizes hidden outdoors, ready and waiting to be found and it typically has a log for finders to record their name and date.

6. Island MetroPark, Dayton

Just a few miles north of also popular RiverScape is a great place for views and play. Take a walk over the Gayle B. Price Jr. Bridge, an iconic red cable-stayed bikeway bridge spanning the Great Miami that connects Island MetroPark with Triangle Park to link the paved Great Miami River Trail with the Stillwater River Trail. In the summer, bring the kids for some water play – there is a great splash pad.

7. Shawnee Lookout, 2008 Lawrenceburg Road, North Bend 

This park’s nature trails offer spectacular views of both the Great Miami River and Ohio River valleys, but Shawnee Lookout also is well known for its historical Springhouse School and Log Cabin, as well as Native American archaeological earthworks. There are nice picnic areas, a playground and boat access to the Great Miami River, and the adjacent Ulmansiek Wildlife Sanctuary provides valuable habitat for a variety of wildlife.

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