Airplanes, Outdoors and the Arts

Dayton packs a lot into a small city—a rich aviation history, plentiful parks and a strong arts community. When you need a break from classes, you can stretch your legs and broaden your mind with some of these popular local activities.

An airplane being examined indoors

The Birthplace of Aviation

Dayton is a dream for aviation enthusiasts. The Wright Brothers got their start here, and the United States Air Force now headquarters its logistics system and research laboratories just outside the city.

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

Devoted to the history of airplanes and early flight, this historical park includes the building where the Wright Brothers got their start; Huffman Prairie Flying Field, where they tested their early planes; and the 1905 Wright Flyer III, the world’s first practical airplane.

National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

This is the world’s largest and oldest military aviation museum. Exhibits here are arranged chronologically over 17 acres of indoor display space and include a NASA shuttle crew compartment trainer and a B-2 Stealth bomber. The museum is free to the public.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

As big as a city, this massive U.S. Air Force base includes the Air Force Institute of Technology and the Air Force Research Laboratory—and employs more than 27,500 people. It is the largest single-site employer in the state of Ohio.

The Vectren Dayton Air Show

An annual event, this air show is one of the largest in the U.S. and is held at the Dayton International Airport.


Dayton is a “trail town,” which means it is hiker-friendly, with quality trails, maps, and resources. It’s also bike-friendly, and most residents in Dayton live less than 10 minutes from a bike path.


Dayton has a robust arts culture and has been ranked #2 among mid-sized cities as an arts destination. (American Style magazine)

A woman looking at an artwork on the wall

Dayton Art Institute

The Dayton Art Institute is known for its 18th- and 19th-century American pieces, as well as curated Asian and contemporary art collections.

2nd Street Public Market

If artisan food is more your passion, pay a visit to this yearlong, indoor market with more than 40 vendors selling produce, meats, breads, pastries, flowers, farm-to-table meals, and crafts.

Oregon Historic District

If you prefer your art on the go—people-watching, gallery browsing, and window shopping—the Oregon Historic district is the place to be. You can sip a latte, dance to a live band, browse a gallery, and catch a comedy night.

Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center

This is the home venue of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, the Dayton Opera, and the Dayton Ballet—one of the oldest professional ballet companies in the country.

Dayton Contemporary Dance Company

Internationally recognized, this dance company hosts the largest repertory of African-American-based contemporary dance in the world.


Dayton is easily accessible. The city has a convenient public bus system, and the Dayton International Airport and Greyhound bus terminal link you to adventures across the U.S.


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