Ohio! Because it's in the way!
March 3, 2008 5:25 PM   Subscribe

I'll be in Dayton (actually Kettering) OH for one day at the beginning of April.

I could drive up to the Cleveland area to visit my son, but I'll be doing that anyway 2 weeks later. What should I do? Don't mind driving up to an hour or so, as previous threads on the topic seem to indicate that the best thing to do in the Dayton area is to drive through it on your way somewhere else. I like museums, local color, historic sites, nature.
posted by nax to Travel & Transportation around Kettering, OH (13 answers total)
Feel like driving to Columbus? It's a little more than an hour, but you could hit every item on your list pretty easily.
posted by box at 5:37 PM on March 3, 2008

Actually, right out by Dayton is the Wright-Patterson AFB, and there's a really cool museum out there... I think they had an SR-71 and an F-117 among other things.
posted by olinerd at 6:03 PM on March 3, 2008

How about the US Airforce Museum? It has a history of flight and the US Airforce. It's housed in some GIANT hangers on the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. You can see everything from the first airplanes to a stealth bomber or a SR-71 Blackbird, and admission is free. When I went there were special exhibits on wartime photography, the holocaust, and the berlin airlift. It was quite an interesting way to spend an afternoon when I went, and what I would do if I wanted to see the one thing that makes Dayton unique.
posted by true at 6:04 PM on March 3, 2008

The Airforce museum is the only really unique thing I can think of (and I've lived in the area most of my life). If you absolutely must see one of the original Wright Brothers airplanes, it's in Carillon Park, along with all of the other sorts of historical stuff you might find anywhere.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 6:18 PM on March 3, 2008

The Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal hits three of your four stated preferences. Cincinnati is a great city to explore -- much more so than Columbus, which you'll probably be passing through to get to Cleveland anyway. Both are approximately equidistant from Dayton. I wouldn't visit Southwest Ohio without stopping for a delicious meal at Skyline Chili.

There's also the National Museum of the USAF at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, which is just outside of Dayton. (On preview: Yeah, that.)
posted by Balonious Assault at 6:22 PM on March 3, 2008

Best answer: If you like nature, a ways east of Dayton in Yellow Springs is John Bryan state park and Glen Helen (a private nature preserve). And if you like local color, Yellow Springs has plenty of it.

I would say that the Museum Center in Cincinnati is the best museum in the general area. Skyline Chili is such a normal sight around here that I forget that "Cincinnati style chili" is a bit of local cuisine that most people wouldn't think about. And the best ice cream in the area is to be had at Graeter's.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 6:28 PM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Every year on my way to Hamvention, I see the sign advertising Airstream factory tours and think that might be neat to check out. But I'm always short on time and never passing though on the right day.

The factory is in Jackson Center, about an hour north of Dayton.

If you're the type to enjoy picking through odd electronic surplus, Mendelsons Liquidation Outlet is in Dayton itself. (And they always have a giant tent at Hamvention, which is how I know them.)
posted by Myself at 6:35 PM on March 3, 2008

Maverick suggestion here. Stop in and see this lady and see if she tells you some great stories that you'll never get from a museum or other "tourist" spot (if there could be such a thing in Dayton).

And that's from somebody who used to work at Union Terminal. If you do decide to darken the doorway of the craptastic town it is in, make sure you admire the murals on the walls of the main atrium. They were done by Winold Reiss. Smell the place. You might not get a chance to examine the nooks and crannies, but to me Union Terminal isn't a place to wander through continuously. It's a place to, as q-tip might say, breathe and stop. For real.

But I'd save that as a last resort. If you do something touristy in Dayton, you'll have a story. If you find Rhine, you'll have a memory.
posted by cashman at 6:35 PM on March 3, 2008

Best answer: If you want local color, they don't come much more colorful than Yellow Springs. It's a great little hippy town that's got a bit of everything. You've got your local pottery shop, your Birkenstock shop, your environmentalist shop, your llama shop...

And if you want some nature, Glen Helen's good for a trek through the Ohio woodlands. (As somebody already mentioned, on preview)
posted by gueneverey at 6:41 PM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

There are some huge antique malls about 30 miles east of Dayton on I-70. If you dig that sort of thing, it would be a great way to waste the day. Wright Patterson AFB/Museum is the best bet though, I've been there about 5 times. You can buy space ice cream!
posted by sciurus at 7:19 PM on March 3, 2008

My dad liked the Air Force museum in Dayton. Be forewarned: it is ginormous. And free, IIRC.

I miss Skyline Chili a lot. If you like a laid-back bar, I recommend Arnold's in downtown Cincinnati. It's been in continuous operation since 1861. Their claim to fame is the bathtub upstairs where they supposedly made gin during the Prohibition. You can go see the tub if the upstairs dining room isn't occupied.

Also in the Cincinnati area is the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. A lot of people fleeing slavery came across the Ohio River from Kentucky as part of the Railroad. The area has some powerful history.
posted by Tehanu at 9:36 PM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

As someone who just moved from the Dayton area six months ago, I can offer some suggestions....

DO go to the Wright-Patt Air Force Museum, even if military/aviation history aren't your thing, its a fantastic museum. When the USAF decommissions airplanes, this museum gets first crack after the Smithsonian to add to its collections. There's also an IMAX there, if that's of interest.

For lunch (or just a fun browse), go munch your way through Dorothy Lane Market, an upscale grocery store that has just fantastic home-made goodies. There's seating available in all the stores, and at lunch time you can get great soups, sandwiches, baked goods, or they'll grill up any cut of meat for you (including great burgers) back at the meat counter. This is probably the place I miss the most in dayton ;-)

The Graeter's ice cream is worth a try, too... and you don't have to leave Dayton, there's a few locations there. Try any of the "chip" flavors, and you'll see why people rave over the "french pot method" they use.

If you want to drive just about an hour south on I-75, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens are great as well. Its the second-oldest zoo in the nation, and they have some very prestigious conservation and breeding programs.
posted by dicaxpuella at 7:11 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: All Air Force Museum responses, considered yourselves "best answered" also. There were too many to choose just one.
posted by nax at 12:27 PM on March 4, 2008

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