With all of the outdoor things to do in Dayton Ohio, the city has become synonymous with outdoor recreation. However, recreational activities aren’t the only things to do. There are tons of historic sites, farms, and shopping opportunities.
Look at our list of two dozen Dayton Ohio outdoor things to do to start planning your day out or vacation.
Dayton Ohio Parks
John Bryan State Park
Attracting visitors all year, John Bryan State Park is known for the Little Miami River limestone gorge, which is a National Natural Landmark. With more than 10 trails, the park offers plenty of opportunities to go hiking, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing.
A launch area nearby provides access to the Little Miami River for paddleboating, and the river is a great place for fishing too. On top of that, you can go camping, rock climbing, disc golfing, picnicking, and more.
Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark
At the Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark, you’ll find traditional and native plant selections that are cultivated using environmentally friendly techniques. The Community Gardens feature 800-square-foot plots that are open to the public to grow produce for their families. In the Children’s Discovery Garden, kids have the chance to experience and interact with nature.
Also, you can explore the 1-mile Marie Aull Nature Trail, or cycle and walk the Stillwater River Trail to other parks in the area. The Swamp Forest at the park is a seasonal depressional wetland or vernal pool habitat, which is the only habitat where you can find fairy shrimp.
Deeds Point MetroPark
Although on the smaller side, Deeds Point MetroPark is a historic site from the War of 1812 and features a scenic view of the downtown Dayton Ohio skyline. The park has access to the Mad River Trail, Buckeye & North Country Trail, and Great Miami River Trail — the latter of which connects to more than 330 miles of trails, the largest paved trail network in the country.
Showcasing the city’s aviation history is Legacy Plaza, which has two life-size statues of the Wright brothers (Orville & Wilbur Wright). Deeds Point features a Peace Pole monument and a large green space as well.
Located next to downtown, the RiverScape MetroPark is one of the best outdoor things to do in Dayton Ohio. The Dayton Inventors River Walk here is an interpretive trail that highlights seven city inventions.
The park offers access to the Mad River and is about the midway point on the 7-mile River Run paddle trail between Eastwood MetroPark and Carillon Historical Park.
Additionally, RiverScape rests at the junction of the Great Miami River Trail and Mad River Trail, where RiverScape Rentals has bicycles. It has the 70-foot-by-150-foot MetroParks Ice Rink, interactive fountains, and Five Rivers Fountain of Lights. Furthermore, the park is home to festival grounds where large community events are held throughout the year.
Possum Creek MetroPark
On the southwest side of the city is Possum Creek MetroPark, where Possum Creek Farm promotes raising food on a small scale for the local community. The Education Center provides public programs all year, focusing mainly on the local environment and food.
The natural features of the park include Argonne Forest and Argonne Lake, which you can explore via Argonne Forest Trail. Also within the park is the Jean V. Woodhull Prairie, an important part of the native landscape.
Farms in Dayton Ohio
Young’s Jersey Dairy
Since 1869, Young’s Jersey Dairy has been part of the greater Dayton community. The family has been selling Jersey milk to the public since 1958.
Now, the farm welcomes visitors for all kinds of outdoor activities and events — Cowvin’s Corny Maze Playland, Bob Pool “Orphan” Car Show, and Labor Day Family Value Weekend.
You can even visit the animal petting area, or play on the mini-golf courses, batting cages, tee driving range, barrel ride, and Cowvin’s Fast Slide.
Learning Tree Farm
A traditional, 85-acre working farm, Learning Tree Farm offers hands-on activities and education in an engaging environment.
The staff encourages everyone to interact with the farm animals — donkeys, goats, ponies, and sheep — in the historic Tobacco Barn and Bank Barn (the original farmhouse was built in 1829).
The farm is home to short and long loop hiking trails that lead to an observation tower and tire swing. There’s a teaching garden and orchard too.
Tom’s Maze and Pumpkin Farm
One of the most popular fall outdoor things to do in Dayton Ohio is visiting Tom’s Maze and Pumpkin Farm. Rather than a cookie-cutter corn maze, Tom’s Maze is an 8-acre puzzle and escape maze with a new design and theme every year.
Besides the corn maze, the farm has many more family-friendly Ohio things to do in the fall:
- Pumpkin train ride
- Goat boardwalk
- Little red hen house
- Sunflower garden
- Punkin’ chunkin’ cannon
- Human foosball
Dayton Ohio Gardens & Wildlife Areas
Charleston Falls Preserve
Just north of Dayton, Charleston Falls Preserve has more than 216 acres of forest and prairie land. Its most unusual feature is the waterfall after which it’s named.
The falls originate from small underground springs located to the east and drop 37 feet into the Great Miami River, which you can view from the falls observation boardwalk. The preserve has more than 3.5 miles of hiking trails, a wildlife pond observation deck, a limestone cave, a tallgrass prairie and viewing platform, and picnic areas.
Aullwood Audubon Center
Part of the National Audubon Society, the Aullwood Audubon Center is one of the most protected Dayton Ohio outdoor things to do. Via miles of trails, you can discover educational animal exhibits, meadows, ponds, prairies, woods, a working sustainable farm, and more.
You’ll definitely want to capture the natural beauty of the land, so don’t forget your camera. Stop by the Nature Store and Gift Shop before you leave as well.
Smith Memorial Gardens
On less than 1 acre, Smith Memorial Gardens has one of the best tiny public gardens in the state, according to Ohio Magazine.
The gardens feature various flowers and plants that attract butterflies, birds, and other small creatures of all kinds. During summer, story hour and blanket concerts are held once a month.
SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological Park
Offering one of the most unique outdoor things to do in Dayton Ohio, SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological Park provides the ability to learn and explore inside too. Inside, you learn about the village’s history and inhabitants and view artifacts.
Outside, you visit reconstructed structures in their original locations, becoming immersed in an 800-year-old lifestyle. Three different tours are available, each lasting 1.5 to 2.5 hours. In addition, the property has a store and gift shop.
Historic Sites in Dayton Ohio
Dayton National Cemetery
Established as a permanent burial site for residents in 1867, Dayton National Cemetery is a federal cemetery affiliated with the National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. Chaplain William B. Earnshaw is accredited with its design, and the most visual construction is the Dayton Soldiers’ Monument in the center of concentric rows of graves.
The cemetery has two ornamental 19th-century cannons and seven tablets displaying the “Bivouac of the Dead” poem.
Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum
One of the country’s five oldest rural garden cemeteries, Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum is also one of the best outdoor things to do in Dayton Ohio. It was founded in 1841 and offers a unique botanical, cultural, and educational experience.
Aside from graves, it features 165 specimens of native woody plants and more than 3,000 trees. You can choose from several self-guided and guided tour options, such as:
- Mausoleum Tour
- History, Mystery, Mayhem, & Murder
- Woodland Historical Tour
- Woodland Bird Walk
Carillon Historical Park
Encompassing 65 acres, Carillon Historical Park is an open-air history museum. The dream of accomplished musician Edith Walton Deeds with support from Colonel Edward Andrew Deeds, the park opened its museum complex in 1950 with dozens of buildings and a priceless collection of artifacts.
It showcases the transportation achievements, industrial innovations, and other contributions that Dayton and the region have made to the world.
Carriage Hill Historical Farm
Among the many Dayton Ohio outdoor things to do, Carriage Hill Historical Farm celebrates the agricultural heritage of the Miami Valley. Generations of farmers have groomed and cared for the local landscape, and this farm immerses visitors in 19th-century farm life.
In the preserved house and farm buildings, interpreters demonstrate the crafts and skills — blacksmithing, canning, cooking, quilting, and woodworking — that the farmers used. Even the farm livestock and crops are heritage breeds and varieties.
Dayton Ohio Sports & Event Centers
Day Air Ballpark
Watching a baseball game at Day Air Ballpark is one of the classic outdoor things to do in Dayton Ohio. Eating stadium food and cheering for the home team is fun for the whole family.
The stadium has more than 6,800 seats, seven permanent concession stands, and 13 specialty concession carts. In front of the stadium is a 72,200-square-foot plaza, and the stadium has an indoor pitching and batting tunnel.
Levitt Pavilion Dayton
Bringing people of all ages together, Levitt Pavilion Dayton features high-caliber concerts throughout the year. Artists play all types of music genres here.
The best part is that this entertainment is completely free. You only need blankets and lawn chairs to get comfortable on the grass, as well as a picnic dinner or snacks.
Home to the University of Dayton’s Dayton Flyers, Welcome Stadium has been hosting NCAA Division I sports since 1974.
The stadium was named after longtime Dayton Public Schools Athletic Director Percival Welcome, and it also hosts some high school sports games. It has 11,000 seats and concessions under both grandstands.
City of Dayton Golf
The first municipal golf course in Dayton, City of Dayton Golf is a great community golf club for locals and visitors alike. It’s tucked among rolling hills and considered a gem of the public golf system. You can test your skills at the two distinct 18-hole courses.
The Hills Course is suitable for all players and has a lot of water features, while the Dales Course is more challenging. The club has a pro shop, full-service restaurant, and practice facilities.
Outdoor Tours, Shopping, & More
Dixie Twin Drive-In
Featuring two huge screens with state-of-the-art digital projectors, the Dixie Twin Drive-In is a blast from the past. It plays first-run movies from April until the end of October.
Each open night, you have the choice of two movies on each screen. With a full-service concession stand, the drive-in is an unmatched experience for outdoor things to do in Dayton Ohio.
Paris Flea Market
Located at the Dixie Twin Drive-In, the Paris Flea Market is the perfect place to buy and trade a range of new, used, and vintage items. Weather permitting, it opens every Sunday from April to October.
There’s plenty of locally grown produce as well, and you can eat breakfast while you shop.
2nd Street Market
An indoor-outdoor shopping venue for fresh food, 2nd Street Market is open on Saturdays and Sundays if the weather permits. It’s the largest and oldest public market in the city.
More than 40 vendors sell a variety of artisan breads, cheeses, eggs, meats, vegetables, and more. Entertainment events are held at the market throughout the year too.
You can shop at major retailers anywhere, but downtown Dayton has one-of-a-kind shops. From handmade jewelry and art to vintage clothes and music, the downtown area has something for everyone.
It’s even home to a range of services — such as hair salons and health clubs. Shopping here is the best way to support the local community.
Frequently Asked Questions About Outdoor Things to Do in Dayton Ohio
Are there things to do in Dayton Ohio for adults?
All of the activities and places to visit in our list above can be enjoyed by adults.
Are there group activities Dayton Ohio offers?
Many of the above activities in Dayton Ohio can be enjoyed by groups, especially the parks, farms, and events.
Are there things to do in Dayton Ohio with kids?
With perhaps the exception of shopping and golfing, kids will love the above list of Dayton Ohio outdoor things to do. In particular, we recommend the Children’s Discovery Garden at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark.