This map is part of an ongoing series: Maps by Locals
The Gem City may play sixth fiddle in Ohio (behind the three C’s, Toledo, and Akron), but it’s got a rugged soul that all Americans can appreciate. My friend Chris Turley said it best when describing his affinity for both Dayton and Detroit.
“They both hit really hard times, and a lot of people left. But the people that stayed, stayed because they really loved their city. And they made it great.”
Many of Dayton’s best spots are modern representations of, or historic odes to, the city’s founding spirit of innovation.
Here are my official recommendations in Dayton, compiled with the help of some of my favorite fellow Flyers.
Best Restaurant: Mud Lick Tap House
In the heart of downtown, Mud Lick is a quiet, tasty stop for lunch, dinner, or drinks.
Best Bar: Century Bar
The front door of Century Bar transports you from a nondescript city street back in time to a rust belt speakeasy, equipped with a hefty bourbon menu and equestrian decor.
Best Venue: Fifth Third Field or The Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center
Depending on your type of show, watch America’s most popular minor league baseball team, The Dayton Dragons, at Fifth Third Field, or immerse yourself in a Dayton Philharmonic concert down the street at the glistening Schuster Center.
But if you’re visiting in the winter months, it doesn’t get much better than catching a Flyer basketball game at UD Arena.
Best Park: Hills and Dales MetroPark (or any of the Dayton MetroParks)
A quaint park nestled in an Oakwood neighborhood, just south of the city, is a picturesque spot for a shaded walk, jog, picnic, or round of golf.
A little farther outside the city, Germantown MetroPark is a wonderful wilderness ripe for exploration.
Best Ice Cream: Graeter’s
This southwest Ohio staple always hits the spot with its slow-churned ice cream and mammoth chocolate chips.
Best Bakery: Bill’s Donuts
Open 24/7, Bill’s is as much a bucket list item as it is a bakery. If you ask my friends, the later you go, the better it gets. My esteemed roommate Michael Keller swears by the pretzel twist donuts. He also once, blindfolded, identified a Bill’s donut out of a five-donut by taste alone.
Best Sunset: Stonemill Rd.
The above right picture is one of many I have from my former residence on Stonemill Road at the University of Dayton. Really, anywhere on UD’s campus, or in Oakwood, with an unobstructed view down a westward slope could produce a serious sunset spectacle.