7 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Dayton
Dayton's primary claim to fame is its long history and association with the aviation industry. In particular, the city was home to aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright. Many of Dayton's attractions pay tribute to these men. However, Dayton has many other interesting sites, some of which include the Dayton Art Institute and the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.
See also: Where to Stay in Dayton
1 Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park pays tribute to three of Ohio's most famous men, Wilbur Wright, Orville Wright, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. The Wright Brothers, known for their contributions to the history of aviation, owned the Wright Cycle Company. Paul Laurence Dunbar, a prominent African American writer, is known for his novels, plays, and poetry. On site are the Wright Cycle Company building, Hoover Block, Huffman Prairie Flying Field, the Hawthorn Hill mansion, the Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial, and the first airplane, the 1905 Wright Flyer III.
The Wright Cycle Company opened at this location in 1892 and operated both the Wright Cycle Company bicycle repair shop as well as a print shop in Dayton. The Huffman Prairie Flying Field is where the Wright Brothers perfected their first flying machine. They also ran a business at the Huffman Prairie Flying Field called the Wright Company School of Aviation.
Carillon Historical Park is a good place to learn about Dayton's pioneering days and early means of transportation. The park encompasses 65 acres and includes 25 historical buildings as well as an early aircraft, automobile, and steam locomotive. The 1905 Wright Flyer III, listed as a National Historic Landmark, is a must-see.
The Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial is housed in the restored Italianate turn-of-the-century residence that was the final home of the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. It contains many of his personal items and his family's furnishings.
2 National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
The National Museum of the US Air Force, located in Dayton, prides itself on being the "largest and oldest military museum in the world". The museum explores the history of aviation and displays hundreds of aerospace vehicles and missiles. The museum offers tours of the facility, some of which allow visitors to see restoration projects in the works.
Address: 1100 Spaatz Street, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH 45433, United States
3 Boonshoft Museum of Discovery
The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is more than just a children's museum. It is a place for learning that encompasses a science and technology center along with a zoo, planetarium, and observatory. Hands-on exhibits offer a chance for interaction. The museum features both permanent and temporary exhibits that cover a broad spectrum of topics.
Address: 2600 DeWeese Parkway, Dayton, OH 45414, United States
4 Dayton Art Institute
The institute maintains a comprehensive permanent collection and features a variety of temporary exhibitions. On the grounds are a number of unique outdoor sculptures. Originally called the Dayton Museum of Fine Arts, the museum changed its name to reflect its focus on education as well as collection. The institute is located in a beautiful 1930 Italian Renaissance style building listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Address: 456 Belmonte Park North, Dayton, OH 45405-4700, United States
5 Wright Brothers Memorial
This tribute to the Wright Brothers is located in a park on Wright Brothers Hill near the interpretive center. The monument is a testament to the achievements of these two pioneers of flight.
6 SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological Park
SunWatch Indian Village is a reconstruction of Fort Ancient which was occupied over 2000 years ago. Archeologists began working on the site in the 1970s and today visitors can see what life might have been liking during its prime. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, SunWatch Indian Village is located in a scenic area and well set up for tourists, with picnic tables and other amenities.
Address: 2301 West River Road, Dayton
7 America's Packard Museum
Housed in a former Packard Dealership building, this unique museum showcases the history of the Packard Motor Car Company. On display is information about the company and Packard products, including more than 50 vehicles. The restored 1917 Art Deco building which houses the collection is an attraction in its own right.
Address: 420 S Ludlow Street, Dayton
Where to Stay in Dayton for Sightseeing
We recommend these great hotels in Dayton a short drive from the city's most popular attractions:
- Marriott at the University of Dayton: mid-range pricing, friendly front desk staff, comfortable beds, inviting pool.
- Drury Inn & Suites Dayton North: 3-star hotel, modern decor, indoor/outdoor pool, free breakfast and evening reception.
- Hampton Inn Dayton/Dayton Mall: affordable rates, near shops and restaurants, indoor heated pool, fitness center.
- Comfort Inn & Suites Dayton: budget hotel, good-value rates, smiling staff, traditional decor.