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Discover The 10 Best Dayton Day Trips

by aptsjaime on 20/08/09 at 2:40 am

No matter if you’re looking for outdoor adventure, historical sites or just something out of the ordinary, you’re sure to find an exciting day trip from Dayton, Ohio, accessible in three hours or less from the city center.

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If you call Dayton home, you’re living in the Birthplace of Aviation. Dayton was once home to flight inventors Wilbur and Orville Wright, who developed the first airplane in their west cycle shop in 1903, operated an airplane factory and ran the world’s first flight school.

In essence, Dayton’s involvement with one of the fastest forms of transportation means that it was built on the notion of the quick getaway. And with cities such as Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Toledo and Cincinnati all within a 200-mile radius, there are plenty of opportunities for you to escape Dayton in the morning and be home at your apartment by nightfall.

No matter if you’re looking for outdoor adventure, historical sites or just something out of the ordinary, you’re sure to find an exciting day trip to meet your needs, accessible in three hours or less from the city center. Here’s a list of day trips from Dayton – and relax, no airline fees are required.

  1. Lighthouses on Lake Erie, various cities: Discover the Great Lakes’ maritime history through its lighthouses, the beautiful beacons that helped propel nautical transportation into the powerhouse that it is today. Not confined to one particular city, the southern and western coasts of Lake Erie are home to 20 lighthouses throughout along the Michigan and Ohio shores. To get from point to point, you can either drive through coastal lake cities such as Toledo and Cleveland on the 293-mile Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail, or you can take a ferryboat out to Lake Erie Island.
  2. Vent Haven Museum, Fort Mitchell, Ky.: The “vent” in this museum’s name is short for “ventriloquist,” as this Kentucky venue honors the history and art behind puppets who have a lot to say. Founded by William Shakespeare “W.S.” Berger, a lifelong ventriloquist figure collector, the Vent Haven Museum is the only museum of its kind in the world. This museum has more than 700 figures, thousands of photographs, playbills and books, some of which date back to the 1700s. It is also home to the annual international ConVENTion, which brings in more than 400 ventriloquists who yearn to sharpen their skills.
  3. Hocking Hills, various cities: With nine state parks reaching across multiple cities in Southeastern Ohio, Hocking Hills is an outdoor lover’s dream. Here, you can canoe, fish, ride horses, rock climb, fly down the zip line, hike, camp, hunt, picnic and even shop for antiques and art. Old Man’s Cave, the most popular of the parks, is a half-mile gorge encased in 150 feet of amazing Blackhand sandstone. See a breathtaking waterfall at Cedar Falls, or explore the sandstone corridor of the Rock House. If you want to turn your day trip into a weekend getaway, onsite lodging options are available, as are restaurants.
  4. African Safari Wildlife Park, Port Clinton, Ohio: Drive through 100 acres of rare and endangered animals from around the world at this park near Toledo, Ohio. Elk and bison will walk right up to your car, and giraffes peer from overhead into your sunroof. Feed the deer and other animals with the free bucket of food that’s provided, and see adorable newborn bison and elk calves nearby. Other animals from the 50 different species include camels, alpacas, zebras, warthogs and exotic birds, some of which can be seen during the educational animal shows.
  5. Mt. Washington, Pittsburgh, Pa.: More a hill than an actual mountain, Mount Washington borders the neighborhood of the same name in Pittsburgh.  Lookout points provide exceptional views of the Downtown Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle, especially at sunset, when the sun glows against the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers and 15 bridges below. The neighborhood is also home to multiple parks, green spaces, a business district and a row of upscale restaurants known as Restaurant Row. In 2003, “USA Weekend” named the nighttime view at Mt. Washington the second-most beautiful place in America.
  6. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis, Ind.: Even if you’re not a racing fan, it’s hard to not become excited by stepping into the largest and highest-capacity sporting facility in the world. The track is home to multiple races per year, such as the Indianapolis 500, NASCAR Brickyard 400, Red Bull Indianapolis GP, a mini-marathon and in the future, Super Bowl XLVI events. When it’s not hosting a sporting event, the speedway is still an interesting place to visit, with its Hall of Fame Museum that displays a portion of its more than 70 cars at any given time, in addition to models, photographs, paintings, toys, helmets, gloves and drivers suits.
  7. Louisville, Ky.: Home of the most exciting two minutes in sports, Louisville is the ultimate equestrian’s destination. Visit one of the many horse farms or the Kentucky Derby Museum or get your kicks at one of the area’s four bourbon distilleries. Explore the shops, galleries, restaurants and historic sites in nearby downtown Lexington, where the hat shops are sure to pique your interest. And because Lexington and Louisville brings in dozens of celebrities each year, you’re sure to find top-notch dining and hotels throughout the city in case you decide to stay a little longer.
  8. Edge of Appalachia Preserve, various cities: The Edge of Appalachia Preserve is a 14,000-acre natural area, with rugged woodland, prairies, waterfalls, giant rocks and clear streams. More than 100 rare plant and animal species call the area their home, such as the Indiana bat, green salamander and Allegheny woodrat. See forests in hues of red, green and yellow, flowering and medicinal plants and Appalachian herbs as you wander through the seven miles of trails in three different areas, with names such as Lynx Prairie, The Wilderness and Buzzardroost Rock.
  9. Put-in-Bay, Ohio: This city with an unusual name is located on South Bass Island, an island that’s only two-by-four miles, in Lake Erie. You can shop, boat, perch fish, walleye fish, dine, golf and experience a lively nightlife in this city nicknamed the Key West of the North. See beautiful butterflies at The Butterfly House, sample wines at Heineman’s Winery, or mine for gems at Perry’s Cave. Adding to Put-in-Bay’s uniqueness are the barbershop singers, bagpipe players and steel drummers that entertain as you stroll throughout the city. To get there, board a ferry from Sundusky, Ohio or Port Clinton, Ohio.  
  10. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio: One simply cannot live in Ohio without visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Nowhere else can you worship your rock ‘n roll, blues, gospel, rhythm and blues, country, folk and bluegrass idols by viewing genuine memorabilia such as Bruce Springsteen’s guitars, photographs from Madison Square Garden’s biggest shows, Johnny Cash’s tour bus and on-stage costumes worn by Michael Jackson. And if you plan your trip right, you just may run into a musical legend in the flesh, as they are often known to randomly check out their own exhibits in the museum.
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Apr 24th, 2010

Very nice list, except that Churchill Downs is in Louisville, not Lexington.


Jul 5th, 2011

The Kentucky Derby Museum is also in Louisville, not Kentucky. Louisville is home to the most exciting two minutes in sports, not Lexington.

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