Concert at Levitt Pavilion in Dayton (photo by Jeremy Tkach)
Travel | Cities

Visit Dayton for History, Music and Outdoor Fun

Learn about our state’s rich aviation heritage, enjoy live bands and great brews, and explore the nation’s largest paved network of multi-use trails. 

Music, Beer & Outdoor Fun

Levitt Pavilion Dayton
 brings a summer full of free concerts to the heart of the city. Since 2018, the downtown venue has hosted a concert series where all are welcome to bring a picnic blanket or lawn chair, choose a spot on the grass and relax to a variety of live acts scheduled throughout the summer. Food and drinks are welcome in the park, but there are concessions and food trucks available on-site as well. The concert lineup can be found at the Levitt Pavilion website. 

Fraze Pavilion in nearby Kettering has outdoor concerts and community festivals scheduled throughout the summer. Touring acts from all genres make stops at this 4,300-capacity outdoor amphitheater. In addition, Fraze Pavilion also hosts the annual Bacon Fest, Kickin’ Chicken Wing Fest and Kettering Block Party, which are all free to the public. Fraze Pavilion has both reserved seating and a lawn area for concertgoers. (Lawn seating allows blankets and seat backs can be rented on-site.) A concession stand serves ice cream, soft drinks, beer, wine and more, and offers patio seating.

For those who want to get a flavor for the city’s beer scene, a trip along the Dayton Ale Trail is in order. In 2018, Hairless Hare Brewery head brewer Michael Muncy and Crooked Handle Brewing Co. owner Jason Moore collaborated to create the Dayton Ale Trail. Today, there are 28 breweries on the passport that offer a sampling of what’s brewing in the region.

“We were trying to figure out something new and fun for the breweries,” says Muncy. “Before COVID, we were getting less than 1,000 participants. It’s grown every year since then with 2,500 or more participants expected this year.”

For those who want to burn off some carbs, the regional Miami Valley Trails network offers over 350 miles of paved, multi-use recreational trails — the largest paved network in the United States — to explore on foot or by bicycle. 

Exterior of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park's Aviation Trail Visitor Center (photo courtesy of Dayton Aviation Trail)
Aviation Excellence

Dayton’s Aviation Trail was founded in 1981 to help promote the city and region’s aviation heritage. Each of the 40 sites on the trail illuminate why Ohio played such a pivotal role in flight. First-time visitors should begin their journey at the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center/Aviation Trail Visitor Center to learn about each stop and pick up an Aviation Trail passport. Those who get the passport stamped at eight of 17 listed locations can redeem it for an adorable Wilbear Wright aviator teddy bear.

While at the visitor center, be sure to check out the on-site Aviation Trail Parachute Museum. It offers insight into Dayton’s role in what has become a vital piece of gear for those heading into the skies. James Floyd Smith developed the first free-fall parachute with a ripcord, which was a precursor to today’s modern parachute, while working at Dayton’s McCook Field during World War I.   

“Here, you can see a multitude of hands-on items and exhibits that are related to the use of parachutes … and the history of the first emergency free-fall parachute events,” says Randy Zuercher, curator of the Aviation Trail Parachute Museum.

Other sites along the trail include the WACO Air Museum in the nearby city of Troy, which was the nation’s largest producer of civil aircraft during the late 1920s and early ’30s. Visitors can view vintage aircraft and artifacts, take part in 100th anniversary celebration events and even book a flight in a WACO plane.

Another special stop on the Aviation Trail is the National Museum of the United States Air Force, which is also celebrating its 100th anniversary. The museum opened in 1923, making it the oldest military aviation museum in the world. It’s also the largest on the planet, with over 350 aerospace vehicles and missiles as well as a vast collection of artifacts. Notable aircraft include the Boeing B-17F “Memphis Belle,” a legendary World War II bomber.

“[It] was the first heavy bomber to complete 25 missions over Europe and return back to the United States. That was a rare feat in World War II,” says Rob Bardua, public affairs manager for the National Museum of the United States Air Force. “Visitors can also walk through presidential aircraft and see how presidential travel has changed over the years.”

The four presidential planes that visitors can walk through include smaller ones used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower, as well as the SAM 26000 jet that was used by eight presidents beginning with John F. Kennedy. 

Interior of the AC Dayton Hotel in the Water Street District (photo by Robert Benson)
Dayton’s Newest Hotels

Book a stay at one of the city’s newest hotels to serve as a home base while you’re in town. AC Hotel Dayton, which opened in early 2023 in the Water Street District, has 134 rooms that feature a contemporary look and design.

The Foundry, the AC Hotel Dayton’s stunning rooftop bar, offers great views of Day Air Ballpark, home of the Dayton Dragons, a High-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Enjoy cocktails, beers and a variety of wood-fire fare in either the indoor or outdoor seating area. There is also the option to chill out in the AC Lounge, which offers a Spanish-inspired tapas menu, cocktails and an upscale bar ambiance.

Those seeking a comfortable stay conveniently located just off Interstate 75 can book a room at WoodSpring Suites Dayton North. The hotel has 99 rooms and amenities like free parking, on-site laundry, Wi-Fi and a kitchen area in each room. 

Hotel Ardent Dayton is expected to host its grand opening later this year. Located in the heart of downtown, this boutique hotel is housed in the Barclay Building, which was built in the 1920s. Beautiful architecture and unique designs make this 10-story, 118-room hotel a chic destination for travelers. Enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi, valet parking, access to the hotel patio, a fitness center and more. Dine on-site at Bistecca, an Italian style steakhouse with a menu that ranges from handmade pastas to wood-fire grill selections.  

When You Go 
For information about other Dayton destinations, visit

AC Hotel Dayton
124 Madison St., Dayton 45402

Aviation Trail

Dayton Ale Trail

Fraze Pavilion

Hotel Ardent Dayton
137 N. Main St., Dayton 45402

National Museum of the United States Air Force
1100 Spaatz St., Wright-Patterson Air Force Base 45433 

Levitt Pavilion Dayton

Miami Valley Trails

WoodSpring Suites Dayton North
7373 Miller Ln., Dayton 45414