Rediscover Dayton with our comprehensive list of summertime activities
By Emma Jarman
It’s said that the only time you can be truly creative is when you’re bored. At least, that’s what my mother used to tell me as I was shoved out the front door every year during the first week of June and not allowed back in until the last week of August. But if you’ve spent three frigid seasons being cooped up in an office or living room being nothing but creative (it ain’t easy choosing things other than macaroni and cheese for dinner every single night), here is a list of 25 things that should get you safely through the summer without having to do too much brain-busting work finding them.
1 Fraze Concerts
The sun is soft, the music’s loud, the grass is green and they sell beer! Summer concerts at the Fraze Pavilion are a fantastic opportunity to air out your dancing shoes. Some of their best shows this summer include the Beach Boys, the Go-Go’s, Parrots of the Caribbean and Trace Adkins among many, many more. Go to www.fraze.com for more information and ticket prices.
During the dog days of summer, when water watches criminalize garden hoses and box fans behind buckets of ice can’t break the sweltering heat, waterparks are a fantastic solution. The region offers multiple venues to splash or be splashed including the Troy Aquatic Park, Splashzone in Springfield, and the Beach Waterpark in Mason, Ohio. They’re all relatively inexpensive (think $10 to $30) and while family friendly, can be great for grownups looking to let loose for a day.
3 Bike Path
The Little Miami Scenic Trail that runs through five counties in Ohio is the longest paved trail in the U.S. (78 miles) and is perfect for two-wheeled traffic. There are a number of bike hubs running the path that offer bike racks, lockers and showers for the weary traveler to take a breather. Bike rides are great for families to spend time and get a little exercise together, or for unwavering athletes who want an outdoors venue to keep in serious shape. Visit www.miamivalleytrails.org.
There’s not much better than sitting in a boat, feet kicked up, can of favorite ice-cold beverage in-hand, watching the trees go by as your significant other paddles fruitlessly to avoid the whirlpools and mosquito clouds by the banks of the Little Miami River. River’s Edge Outfitters offers just that. Spend a cloudless summer day drifting down their 45 acres of riverfront property for just the price of a canoe rental ($40 to $50 per four-person boat) and filling a cooler. Go to www.riversedgeoutfitters.com for locations nearest you.
For some reason, festival weather always seems to be five degrees hotter and 20 percent more humid than the surrounding forecasts. But for some reason (perhaps the same one), a cone of shaved ice doused in fruit-flavored sugar syrup has never tasted better. This summer, Dayton has an abundance of opportunities to get your elephant ear on and do the funnel cake. The Citifolk Festival (July 1 to 3), the Celtic Festival (July 29 to 31), the African American Cultural Festival (Aug. 27) and the West Carrollton SummerFest (June 25) are all free and bursting at the seams with delightful delectables and outdoor edibles that can only be enjoyed where it’s five degrees hotter and 20 percent more humid.
Ever thought about how much you can hide in a kayak? It’s a lot. Think: legs that have gone eight months without sun, an extra paddle for when yours gets tangled in violent seaweed, river vines or another, smaller kayak — the possibilities are endless. Which is why you should get out to the new ECO Sports Corridor in Springfield or the Eastwood MetroPark in Dayton to rent a couple and see for yourself what fits. Trust me, it’s more than you think. Visit www.ecosportscorridor.com or www.metroparks.org for more information.
7 Disc Golf
Now that “gentleman’s” golf is synonymous with Easter-colored endorsement outfits and slimy sex scandals, disc golf is a much better sport to get involved in. Englewood MetroPark offers a complete disc golf course and invites players, ages novice to advance (one to 100), to come out and give the Frisbee flinging a try. It’s relaxing fun — you’re allowed to clap and cheer as loud as you want and your dog is your only handicap. Visit www.metroparks.org for more information.
8 Dog Parks
Sick of Scruffy shedding all over your sofa? Get thee to a dog park! There are numerous locations in Dayton and its surrounding areas where you can take your pooch and let it loose on yards upon fenced-in yards of green space. Bark Park in Dayton, for instance, even has some agility equipment, shade structures and benches for panting owners to pop a squat while their dogs follow suit behind a tree. Go to www.doggoes.com to search for dog parks in your area.
9 Horseback riding at the Metroparks
Channel your inner Paul Revere and feel the summer breeze in your hair, riding horseback through the FiveRivers MetroParks. Weekends at Carriage Hill MetroPark offer pony rides for the inexperienced equestrian, while weekdays are reserved for the more practiced posters. For $20, you get a guide, a trail ride and one hour of oneness with nature, Monday through Friday. Go to www.metroparks.org/GetOutside/HorsebackRiding for times, age requirements and complete information.
10 Yellow Springs Flings
Each third weekend of every month, Yellow Springs pulls out all the stops, letting the shopping opportunities, dining experiences and special events flow freely. You can eat, drink, dance and be merry to your hearts content, exploring every aspect of Yellow Springs culture during the 3rd Weekend Flings. Visit www.yellowspringsohio.org/weekend_fling for lists of events and other information.
11 The Springfield Antique Show
Become a “picker” at the Springfield Antique Show and Flea Market. It is a wonderful source for collectors and antique lovers, and has been for over 25 years. Whether you’re looking for fine period furniture or funky 1950s rattan, bakelite jewelry or diamonds, fine art or folk art, expect to find it at the Springfield Antique Show. Summer dates are July 8 to 10, August 20 to 21 and the Extravaganza (with over 2,000 vendors) is September 16 to 18 at the Clark County Fairgrounds. For more information, visit www.springfieldantiqueshow.com or www.visitspringfieldohio.com.
12 Farmers Markets
We live in Ohio. We have farmers markets. Here are a few: Wegerzyn Courthouse Square Market in downtown Dayton; Aullwood Farm Market in Dayton; Fulton Farms Produce Market in Troy; Greene County Farmers Market, which travels around the county depending on the day; Breezy Acres in Xenia; Yellow Springs Market in Yellow Springs; Frank’s Fruit Farm in Beavercreek; Hidden Valley Fruit Farm in Lebanon. Many locations also offer pick-your-own fruit opportunities. Visit www.pickyourown.org for lists of farms by county.
13 Dayton’s Garden Station
Have a green thumb but nowhere to use it? Visit Dayton’s Garden Station, a community garden at the corner of Fourth Street and Wayne Avenue. What used to be a vacant lot filled with trash and waste is now a thriving hub of community interest thanks to countless volunteers and gardening lovers. The Garden Station also serves as a location where artists, sculptors, performers and other creatives can create artwork and express their own creativity. Visit their website at www.daytongardenstation.org or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
14 Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum
It’s the most beautiful location in Dayton, it has the highest point in the city (Lookout Point) and some of the most influential, talented and famous people from the City of Dayton are buried here. Visitors are always welcome during open hours to explore the statuesque gravestones and mausoleums including that of writer Erma Bombeck, the Wright Brothers, inventor Charles F. Ketttering and the first renowned black poet in the U.S., Paul Lawrence Dunbar. Hike the paths on your own or take guided tours that include a trip past sports icons or a historical tour via segway. First, visit www.woodlandcemetery.org for more information.
15 Skydive Greene County
With the recent surviving of the human race through the apocalypse, and the end of the Mayan calendar (read: the world) rapidly approaching, this summer is the perfect time to challenge fate and jump out of an airplane from 12,500 feet above ground level. Jump onto www.skydiveohio.com for more information and pricing.
16 Fishing at FiveRivers Metroparks
Paying for a legitimate fishing license can be a hassle unless you’re a serious fisherman. But if you just want to fish with friends or take the kids out and catch a couple every once in a while, forget about the license and bob over to Carriage Hill, Sunfish Pond in Germantown, ponds and Argonne Lake at Possum Creek, catch and release programs at Dogwood Pond and Lake George at Twin Creek to drop your hooks; free, no license required. Go to www.metroparks.org/GetOutside/fishing for more information.
17 Huffman Prairie Flying Field
Spattered with historical U.S. Air Force buildings and edged by a paved, handicap accessible trail for walking, the Huffman Prairie Flying Field is the perfect place to come search for the ghosts of the Wright Brothers as they toil to perfect their flying machine. Come see it today to collect inspiration for your own addition to the Innovation Capital of the World — Dayton, Ohio. Visit www.aviationheritagearea.org for more info.
If you just can’t grasp the concept of flinging a Frisbee at a basket and calling it “golf,” and hear the open space created by Tiger dropping from the top 10 in the world rankings calling your name, polish off that putter and head to any one of the area’s public golf courses. Cheap, yet challenging ones include Community, Kittyhawk and Madden Golf Courses, all in Dayton. Visit www.daytonrecreationandyou.com/GolfCourses for more information on all three.
19 Drive-in movie theaters
Typically, you pay less for a carload to watch two movies in a row than you would for a single ticket at a multiplex theater, and there’s space for those without an attention span to frolic in the front without pissing anyone off or getting pegged by popcorn. It’s practical, entertaining and economically responsible of you to head to a drive-in next time you’re strapped for weekend plans. Try the recently renovated Dixie Drive-In Theatre at 6201 N. Dixie Dr. in Dayton or Melody Cruise Drive In at 4025 E. National Rd. in Springfield.
20 The 7th Annual Freedom’s Call Military Tattoo
Don’t worry, you don’t have to get inked (unless you want to). This event, on June 24, is an annual celebration of the contributions of military veterans and their families, recognized by fly-overs, music, narration and fireworks. If the rocket’s red glare and emotional historical recollections aren’t enough to catch your eye, what about this: this year, musical guest Lonestar will be there! Visit www.wpafb.af.mil/tattoo for information.
21 Destination shopping
Not often are the words “destination” and “southwestern Ohio” found in the same sentence when it comes to shopping trips. But this summer, take a walk in any of Dayton’s amazing neighborhoods including South Park, the shops in Oakwood, the Oregon District or downtown Centerville, Waynesville, Tipp City or Troy for some one-of-a-kind shopping experiences. These locations boast many locally owned and operated boutiques without completely forgoing chains (you can usually find a Starbucks).
22 Riverscape MetroPark
The Miami River may be unswimmable, but there’s no reason to avoid its concrete shores. Riverscape Metropark in Dayton offers a full summer schedule of events and celebrations for the whole family to enjoy. From the every day offerings like bird watching and picnicking to the CityFolk and Celtic Festivals organized in July, Riverscape has the cure for your lazy, boredom-burdened, summertime blues. Visit www.metroparks.org/Parks/Riverscape to learn more about these events and also their kayak rentals, concessions and Invention Stations, among others.
23 Carillon Historical Park
Carillon Historical Park brings you Dayton’s rich heritage of creativity and invention. Enjoy their gorgeous campus of over 65 acres with 25 exhibits including the actual 1905 Wright Flyer III, a 1930s print shop and Dayton’s oldest building, Newcom’s Tavern, erected in 1796 complete with costumed interpreters. For more information, hours of operation and cost, visit www.daytonhistory.org.
24 Reds Game
“You’re crazy!” you say. “That’s all the way in Cincinnati!” “You’re crazy,” I say. “It’s just in Cincinnati.” Reds games are fun. And not just fun — a lot of fun. Cincinnati is a quick 50-minute shoot down I-75, the tickets are inexpensive ($30 for an average view) and the chance to watch a Reds team that could actually win, in living color, is priceless. Day games can get pretty hot, so either plan your seating according to shade and sun position, or skip the white shorts. But the hotdogs are good, the Skyline Chili is great and who knows, maybe Votto will slam one into Kentucky for you. It’s totally worth the trip. Visit www.cincinnati.reds.mlb.com for a full game schedule and tickets prices.
25 Sharkey’s Poolside Lounge & Nightclub
In an unassuming location, behind the Marriott Hotel in Dayton, sits the wood and wicker oasis that is Sharkey’s Poolside. If you had a cheeseburger there, it would be in paradise. Sharkey’s offers a unique, tiki bar atmosphere with a live band on stage every weekend night (they are open Wednesday evenings and Fridays and Saturdays from Memorial Day to Labor Day), cold drinks and a slew of out-of-towners looking to mingle with the locals willing to pay the $5 cover charge. Visit www.sharkeyssummerfun.com for a full band schedule.
Reach DCP editorial intern and freelance writer Emma Jarman at EmmaJarman@DaytonCityPaper.com.