C’mon Downtown!

How and Where to Spend Your Urban Nights

By Maha Kashani

Would you believe me if I told you that Dayton is one of the trendiest, most cultured and affordable places to live? If your answer is no, then chances are you have yet to experience Urban Nights.

Most of us have heard the expression “there is nothing to do in Dayton.” It is very likely you also heard that someone from Forbes, who I presume never stepped foot inside the Miami Valley, decided to tell the world that our town was dying and everyone is miserable. If you agree with that expression or believe Forbes, then I invite you to come to downtown Dayton on Friday, May 11th for our city to prove you wrong.

What is Urban Nights? 

Simply put, a free family-friendly, citywide block party spanning all of downtown, the Oregon Arts District and Wright-Dunbar Village, showcasing our urban core as the premier place to live, work and play. Twice a year in the spring and fall, the Downtown Dayton Partnership plays host to more than 30,000 people who will take to the vibrant streets of Dayton in this highly anticipated celebration.

What is there to do?

That’s a loaded question! To give you a snapshot, you can:

Enjoy eclectic and local art by visiting one of the 16 galleries hosting an open house, such as the Color of Energy, K12 Gallery for Young People, the Dayton Visual Arts Center and Garden Station Art Park.

Explore creative spaces around the city such as the The Old Courthouse, Wright Brothers Bicycle Shop, Urban Krag Climbing Center or Drake’s Downtown Gym, an old-school boxing gym.

Experience live performances and special events at six different venues around the city such as the Main Stage at Courthouse Square, Live on Five in the Oregon District, Wright-Dunbar Entertainment in the Wright Dunbar Business Village and, of course, our extraordinary MetroParks Pavilion.

Interact by participating in different fun and collaborative activities such as the Green Street Project, which I will explain a little later, karaoke on the Community Stage at Second and Jefferson, or if you are brave enough you can Challenge a Chess Pro at the Dayton Chess Club.

Imagine yourself living a stylish urban lifestyle by touring some of downtown’s lofts and condos. I highly recommend checking out The Cannery Lofts, which will feature a two bedroom with exposed brick for visitors to catch a glimpse of downtown living at its finest.

Shop at one-of-a-kind locally owned retail stores and pick up some cool swag like authentic British tea and trinkets at Basically British, trendy custom designed shirts at Basho Apparel, environmentally friendly fair trade items at Peace on 5th and gift items all made in America at the new American π (Pi).

Hungry yet? 

Discover exceptional dining options that will excite your palate at one of more than twenty restaurants offering special discounts including $5 appetizers at Coco’s Bistro, half-price gourmet pizza at Oregon Express, twenty percent off food at Dublin Pub and happy hour pricing all night long at De’Lish. Or, enjoy a bird’s eye view of all the action while nibbling on free hor d’oeuvres (for bar guests) at the Crowne Plaza’s rooftop restaurant and lounge.

Ready for a beverage?

In addition to great dining specials, downtown’s coffee shops and watering holes are offering specials paired with unique experiences. Press, arguably the coolest coffee shop ever, will host a special brewing exhibition, Century Bar is featuring an exhibition of sculptures you can view while sipping on one of over 60 bourbon options and Deaf Monty’s Wine at Inn Port D’Vino is offering $2 wine tastings.

Not satisfied?

Also, if cycling your thing, then join hundreds of fellow enthusiasts for Urban Bikes @ Urban Nights, a tour around downtown allowing you the luxury to preview all of the festivities from the seat of your bike!

As if all of these options aren’t enough to keep you entertained, this spring’s Urban Nights will also feature the Green Street Project. Main Street will shut down between Second and Third Streets for a series of activities designed to celebrate all things “green” and promote creating a sustainable environment. The special Green Street Project will feature: educational booths and fun activities, such as trashcan basketball, to promote “going green” hosted by the Dayton Regional Green 3 Initiative (DRG3), a large community art mural-making project led by the Dayton Art Institute, using recyclable materials for attendees to make their mark, Segway rides courtesy of Dayton Segway Tours, Zoot Theatre Company demonstrations and an opportunity to create masks from recycled materials, photos in the open-air Liftoff Entertainment Photo Booth, eco-friendly vehicles on display, Broadway musical Wicked-inspired activities and much, much more.  The list could go on forever.

Yes, I was serious when I said this is only a snapshot. I haven’t even scratched the surface. But don’t worry, that’s why this is a bi-annual event!

So if you really think there is nothing to do in Dayton, then make sure you are downtown on Friday May 11th from 5p.m. – 10p.m. to experience firsthand all the exceptional things that make Dayton a remarkable community.

(With over 100 unique opportunities to enjoy, explore, experience, interact, imagine, shop and discover downtown Dayton, it is easy to get overwhelmed. I recommend visiting www.DowntownDayton.org and downloading the event and program map to plan out your fun-filled evening.)

Reach DCP freelance writer Maha Kashani at MissMaha@daytoncitypaper.com

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