Riverscape Metropark offers affordable fun
By Valerie Beerbower
School’s out — are your natives getting restless? If your family is looking for summer fun and you’re looking for entertainment that won’t empty your wallet, make RiverScape MetroPark your go-to location for affordable, engaging activities. Located in downtown Dayton, this facility of Five Rivers MetroParks offers something for everyone with multiple events taking place throughout summer.
Five Rivers MetroParks partners with community organizations to present RiverScape MetroParks’ signature festivals each year. Cityfolk Festival takes place July 1-3; United Irish of Dayton’s Celtic Festival is set for July 29-31; August 27 is the Dayton African American Cultural Festival; September 10 is the Hispanic Heritage Festival; Taste of Miami Valley takes place September 16-17. Visit metroparks.org/riverscape and click on the “events” tab to learn more about these events. Admission is free for all these events, but donations — whether monetary or in the form of volunteering—are appreciated to help support these annual attractions. Go to each festival’s website for a full description and to learn more.
In addition to festivals you can also take in several music opportunities, such as the Free Summer Concert Series or Big Band Nights. The Free Summer Concert Series features a variety of musical genres from the Dayton area and the region. There are three left in this series — July 9 featuring The Fries Band (oldies), July 16 with Son del Caribe (salsa/Latin) and The Ark Band (reggae) on July 23. Concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. If you really want to get into the “swing” of things, the Big Band Nights concerts will start Thursday nights in July, kicking off with Pam Noah and Her Big Band (July 7), followed by the Eddie Brookshire Orchestra (July 14), the Tom Daugherty Orchestra (July 21), the Dayton Jazz Orchestra (July 28), Swing Era Big Band (August 4), the Hal Harris Orchestra (August 11), the Bob Gray Orchestra (August 18) and the Kim Kelly Orchestra (August 25). These concerts also begin at 7:30 p.m. under the pavilion. You can find links to these programs on the left-hand side of the page at metroparks.org/riverscape.
New to the lineup this year are three summer concerts taking place in conjunction with the Downtown Dayton Partnership’s First Friday activities. First Fridays at 5 concerts are a great way to kick off a night of gallery hops, artistic displays and other First Friday fun. Blind Karma will take to the stage from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on August 5, and Human Cannonball will be on September 2. (There won’t be a First Friday at 5 concert on the Fourth of July weekend, as the Cityfolk Festival will already be under way.)
New Concession Offerings
Selections at the two RiverScape MetroPark concession locations have expanded. The new Café Vélo at the bike hub has an assortment of salads and wraps perfect for a quick bite or paired with apple slices, carrot sticks or another side for a satisfying lunch. Treats such as hot pretzels, hot dogs and ice cream also can be found at Café Vélo or the Fountain Snack Bar located at the other end of RiverScape MetroPark closer to the intersection of Monument Avenue and St. Clair Street. For the full menu and hours of operation, visit metroparks.org/riverscape and click on the “Food Concession” tab.
Keep the kids engaged and learning all year long. Discover Dayton’s innovative past by taking a self-guided tour along the Dayton Inventors River Walk. Check out the invention stations and the medallions along the park borders that describe some of Dayton’s best inventions, such as the self-starter engine or everyday conveniences like ice cube trays and pop-tops for cans. Log onto metroparks.org/riverscape and click on the “Amenities” tab to learn more about these educational features that are free to use any time. Younger children also will get a kick out of the Tuesday Tales series. These free cultural and educational entertainment programs are designed for preschoolers. Sessions take place twice per month in July and August. All programs take place at 10 a.m. under the pavilion. Upcoming dates include ABC Animals of American Sign Language (July 5), Tales of Flight with the Brothers Wright (July 19), Animals Alive! August 2 and the Goods on the Woods on August 16.
Burn off excess energy on the bike trails. Not sure where to go? Grab a Hub Trex card; these cycling day trips have a map of the suggested route and activities to enjoy at each destination. There are two short, two medium and two long trips, so you can customize your experience to suit your level of activity. The bike hub at RiverScape MetroPark connects several paved trails that stretch across the region, and its access to public rentable storage lockers, restrooms, on-street parking and available food concessions make the hub the perfect starting point for any active family looking for an afternoon adventure.
Don’t have your own bikes? Lack the rack to transport them downtown? Not a problem — stop by the Ride the River Rentals office at the hub and rent a bicycle, tandem, kiddie trailer or child seat and explore the bikeways together without hauling your own equipment downtown. Roller blades are also available. Rent these items Saturdays and Sundays Memorial Day through Labor Day. New to the rentals lineup this summer are kayak rentals from Whitewater Warehouse. Personnel will be on-site to give basic instruction and safety gear along with your rental. Get a taste of what active living will be like in the future at RiverScape MetroPark! Kayak rentals are available Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through July 30. Find prices, hours and more information on metroparks.org/riverscape and click on the “Amenities” tab. Click the link for Ride the River Rentals, or call the rental office at (937) 278-2607 for more information.
Reach freelance writer Valerie Beerbower at ValerieBeerbower@DaytonCityPaper.com