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Your 2018 Dayton Bucket List: 50 ideas for fun

Published: Thursday, December 31, 2016 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Monday, January 01, 2018 @ 6:00 AM
By: Dayton.com staff

We have a New Year's resolution for you.

In 2018, get to know Dayton a little better. See the sights, hear the sounds, savor the tastes.

We guarantee everyone will discover something new to love about this town.

Here are 50 ideas for things to experience this year, in no particular order: 

1) Discover 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, Barrell 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.

>> How to walk Dayton’s craft brewery trail

>> 12 must-try signature Dayton beers

2) 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. While it opened last May, river conditions weren’t quite ideal to make the most of it. But we have a feeling 2018 will be the year to paddle in Dayton!

>> Why RiverScape River Run is a huge deal

3) 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. While the Yellow Cab got its start as a venue for special events only, it now has regularly weekly hours and events Thursdays through Sundays. So there’s even more to love!

>> Popular Dayton venue expanding its schedule

4) Enjoy 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. Coming in summer 2018 is a brand new outdoor venue in Dayton — The Levitt Pavilion — sure to add to your FREE summer fun. That’s right, free! 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).

>> Who’s coming to Country Concert ‘18?

5)  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 27-29, so mark your calendars.

>> Reasons to go to the Dayton Celtic Festival

6) Carillon Historical ParkRide the Dayton Carousel of Innovation, experience pioneer history, 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.

7) View Dayton from the Woodland CemeteryAside 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. 

>> 17 things to see at Woodland Cemetery

8) Experience the local music scene. We have tons of talented local bands playing local music venues routinely. Not sure where to go? 

>> Best places to see live music in Dayton

9) 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. 

>> Why this is the best trail to hike

>> 12 amazing hiking trails in Dayton

10) Hit the Great Miami River trailAre 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. 

>> The 5 best Miami Valley bike trails and how to make the most of them

>> The best place for an indoor biking adventure

11) 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 WaynesvilleTipp CityYellow Springs and Lebanon. Great shopping, great eats!

12) Eat Dayton-made food. Eat all Dayton made food for a day. Who doesn’t enjoy Mikesells potato chips, Esther Price Chocolates and Marions Piazza? Here’s a list of “Dayton classic” foods to make it easier for you! 

13) Get your climb on at Urban KragWhen 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. 

14) 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.

15) Experience the 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 or a big-ticket show at the Schuster Center or Victoria Theatre. 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 2018. Prefer the visual arts? Familiarize yourself with DVAC.

16)  3rd on Third. Check out some of the area’s hottest vendors at this outdoor market that runs from April through October.

17) 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. Grab the family for an all-day airplane extravaganza. And don't miss the annual Dayton Vectren Air Show in June with high-flying entertainment.

18) 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. And just wait until the renovations to UD Arena are complete!!

>> Flyer Faithful traditions run deep

 

19) 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 web site 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.

20) 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. 

21) 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

22) 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.

23) Shop at 2nd Street Market. Visit your local growers, bakers, artisans and culinary specialists at the one and only 2nd Street Market. If you’re lucky, you may even hear live music. The market will add Sunday hours starting in the summer of 2018.

24) Visit Dayton’s new 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 is now open.

>> 8 Dayton bands you should give a funk about

25) 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. 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).

>> Why the food at Zombie Dogz is making people lose their brains

26) 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.

27) 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. 

28) 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, an interactive children’s area or check out the stunning sculpture in the main atrium. 

>> 10 things you’ll love about the new downtown Dayton library

29) 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.

30) Be a kid again at the BoonshoftNo 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. 

31) Hit up all 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. Need some inspiration? Here are more than 20 ways to experience all our MetroParks have to offer.

32) Get your noms at local food trucks. Ever wonder if you could eat food only from food trucks for an entire day? It’s cool, we made it easy for you. Check out our food truck guide to find your favorite, make a new discovery or to find out where they’ll be. 

 

33) Travel back in time at Sunwatch Indian VillageStep 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.

34) Drink margaritas! Grab your friends and refresh your thirst with Bad Juan Margaritas from Elsa’s. Or check out a new spot. Find some of our favorites here: 5 best places to find margaritas

35) Go see a breathtaking waterfallBeautiful. Peaceful. Serene. Visit waterfalls at Clifton Gorge, Charleston Falls, Ludlow Falls  and West Milton. 

36) Don’t miss the county fairs and festivals. Summer and fall will offer plenty of opportunities for festival fun. Support your local county fair and immerse yourself in funnel cakes, livestock shows and the heat of the summer. Some of the biggest draws include the Ohio Sauerkraut Festival, the Dayton Greek Festival, the Troy Strawberry Festival, but there are so many more. You can find tons of festival fun every weekend, summer and fall. Try a “sundae” at the Sauerkraut Fest, a famous strawberry donut at Troy’s fest and baklava at the Greek Fest.

37) Spend some time in a local art galleryDayton’s art scene is vibrant and constantly moving. Take some time to see an exhibit at the Dayton Art Institute, Dayton Visual Arts Center or any other galleries in the area. If you are willing to splurge, go to DVAC's art auction and support a local artist and start or grow your personal art collection.

38) Drink up on 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 is its signature fund-raiser and a must do. Springboro’s Oktoberfest 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 complete with beer tray relays and more.

39) 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!

40) Hit the Aviation TrailWhether 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!

41) 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. A must-read: 10 of the best brunch spots in Dayton

42) 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.

43) Go old-time at the drive-in. Take the family to see a double feature at one of the area’s retro drive-in movie theatres in Fairborn or Brookville.

>> Luxury movie theaters in Dayton

44) Take a bike tour of Dayton. Rent a bike from Link Dayton and tour the downtown Dayton area.

45) 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.

46) Take a mini road tripThe 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.

>> Zipline adventures across Ohio

47) Visit the Neon movies, Plaza Theatre or the Little Art Theatre. Moviegoers of all ages will find much to love about these local independently-owned and run theaters.

48) 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. Seriously, the list goes on.

49) Check out one of Dayton’s new 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 or Cardboard Crowns.

50) Check out one of Dayton’s brand new bars or restaurants. One of Louisville’s most famous bars is opening a location in Dayton in 2018. We can’t wait to try Troll Pub at the Wheelhouse! We also are excited to learn more about The Famous coming to Centerville. It promises something “Famously” different!

>> Restaurants we can’t wait to try in 2018