If there's one thing Dayton has a lot of, it's parks. Don't Believe Me? The Five Rivers Metroparks of Dayton, Ohio and the surrounding areas are incredible. If you're going to be living in Dayton you need to check these out. They're perfect for exploring and spending time in the outdoors. You can flit from one to the other depending on what you're looking for that day. There's a park for every mood. Make sure you check their schedules! They often have super awesome events you can attend and you don't want to miss out on them. (To see their schedules click on the links in their name and then click on the "Programs" tab.) Sadly I will be moving away from Dayton soon. :( Though I've lived here for 5 years, I haven't even yet explored all the parks! I'm hoping I can manage to hit all of them before I go. But I figured I'd write this up to help out people who are just moving into the area and looking for something cool to do.
1. Eastwood Park
Eastwood is lovely because of the sheer variety. I love going there any time of the year. The gorgeous stone bridges look wonderful under new foliage, autumn leaves, and summer snow. You can't go wrong. Eastwood lake is spectacular at sunset. My in-laws even said it was one of the most beautiful sunsets they'd ever seen. In the spring there's some pear and cherry trees that blossom by the lake and are lovely to see. There's a nice playground for the kids. A bike path runs right through so you can take it to other parts of Dayton or just enjoy the nice weather. We've loved getting to kayak down the river and there's boating allowed on the lake.
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Also on Eastwood: Stone Bridges
2. Cox Arboretum
My favorite time to visit Cox Arboretum is in the spring, by far! It is also one of the parks we visit most often in the spring. There's a lot of blossoming trees (though this year they tore down the Apple Allée, but they plan on replanting it with dogwood trees so there'll be a longer blooming time.) I adore the rivers of daffodils that you can fallow like a yellow brick road. In the summer there's sunflowers and of course the FREE butterfly house.Cox still looks pretty in the autumn and winter, but if you're looking for the best time to go I'd pick spring or summer. Note- dogs are not allowed.
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Also on Cox: Princess For A Day and Seamore The Seal At The Butterfly House
3. Carriage Hill Metropark
Carriage Hill Metropark is a ton of fun. Not only is it a free park to visit, it is an actual working farm. You can take walks around the pond, in the prairies, or in the woods. On top of that there's a whole bunch of animals to see! Sheep, goats, donkeys, mules, horses, cows, pigs, chickens, it's a lot of fun to explore. Plus they often have events where they show you various farm skills like sheep sheering, plowing, beer brewing, and more. It's a great way to get to learn more and it's so fun for the kids! Plus you can take a trail ride on the lovely grounds. I love Carriage Hill any time of the year- it's always fun and there's always animals.
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4. Wegerzyn Gardens
Wegerzyn Gardens is one of my favorites for the summer. The flowers are stunning. The flowers are also pretty in the spring, but there's not as many as in Cox. In the summer though, it explodes with blooms. The Children's Garden is so much fun and educational for kids! Run around learning about flowers, music, and animals. I would recommend not going too early in the morning though, it takes a little longer for the sun to hit the park since there's a big hill there.
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5. Riverscape Metropark
Riverscape Metropark is a fun way to beat the heat in downtown Dayton. I like going to Riverscape the most in the summer and the winter. The summer is a lot of fun because the fountain goes off. It's the largest river water fountain in the world, and believe me, it's impressive! At night you can see it lit up! You can run through some fountains or eat some ice cream to chill off. The summer is fun because that's when the outdoor ice skating rink is open. I love getting to ice skate with a lovely view of the river. And you can get hot chocolate to heat up! The first year we lived here you were also able to rent paddle boats (some in the shape of swans!) but I haven't seen them since. Hopefully they'll come back!
Ice Skating At Riverscape Metropark
More Pictures Of Riverscape/Deeds Point
6. Hills and Dales Metropark
Hills And Dales Metropark is aptly named- there's a lot of hills! This is my favorite park to see the autumn foliage. The colors are utterly amazing. You have to go in the fall. It's stunning. The spring is also nice, especially when the daffodils and dogwoods are blooming- especially around Dogwood Pond. The pond is lovely with the wooden swings and there's a cool tower you can see. Winter is fun because you can use those hills to go sledding down! What a rush! (Just be careful of the trees!) I like Hills and Dales a lot in the morning, but if you wait until the afternoon you can see the waterfall at Dogwood Pond better.
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Also on Hills and Dales: The Castle and Spring At Hills And Dales
7. Deeds Point
Honestly, I've always thought Deeds Point was the same as Riverscape. Like Riverscape, it's a great place to see the largest river water fountain in the world.
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Englewood is a lovely place to go hiking and explore. There's a bunch of paths to pick from. Trail rides are available there and I would recommend that- it's gorgeous. I like getting to see the pretty waterfalls off the paths.
9. Huffman Dam
Huffman Dam is a nice place to walk around a lake. It's very pretty in the fall. The road on the dam is a great place to have a pick-nick and watch the sunset!
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10. 2nd Street Market
2nd Street Market is a metropark that's actually a market for local vendors.It's a lovely place to get fruits, baked goods, veggies, flowers, jewelry, art, and so many other things. Plus it helps support locals.
11. Twin CreekTwin Creek is a fantastic place to spend the day hiking. We did it last summer and had a blast. I think it would also be incredible in the fall, but we didn't make it last fall. If you really enjoy spending time out in nature, this is a great place.
12. Possum CreekPossum Creek is fascinating. Walking through the woods and seeing the various historical sites is a lot of fun! I absolutely loved it! I haven't gotten to the farm yet, and I'm really hoping to before I move because it looks like a lot of fun, but we'll see! The only problem I had with the park was that a whole lot of things got on poor Mopsy. She had burs everywhere! And really nasty ones. And then she got thorns on her too! And a piece of fishing line tangled in the pads of her paw. It was probably just bad luck, but I haven't been eager on bringing her back. They are really nice trails.
13. TaylorsvilleTaylorsville is another nice place to just spend some time walking and enjoying nature. There's a lot of nice hiking paths and some lovely bike paths too.
14. The Island
Make sure you double-check the times for The Island before going- it opens later and closes earlier than many of the other parks and I've accidentally gone before it was open before. :S I'm not going to lie, this isn't my favorite park. It feels too cityish to me. I do like all the willows though, they are lovely. And there's a playground for the kids.
15. Delco Park
Delco Park is a lot of fun in the summer. There's a pond, volleyball courts, soccer field, and my favorite, a BMX course. It's fun being able to say you've taken your bike on a BMX course. :) Plus you can see people compete on it! It made for a fun Sunday lunch!
16. Germantown Metropark
Germantown Metropark is another wonderful place to hike. I love how lush and fresh it is in the spring. It's also gorgeous in the fall with all the beautiful leaves!
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17. Carillon ParkCarillon Park is really cool. (Sadly I don't have any pictures because I took a bunch at Hills and Dales and my battery died.) There's a huge bell tower that's impossible to miss. The river runs right by and there's plenty of grass to sit in and enjoy the sun. It's really cool because a lot of the oldest buildings in Dayton have all been moved to one place! You can see people dressed up in period clothes and learn a lot about early Dayton! You can even enjoy holiday meals there! Make sure you arrange it far in advance though because it fills of quickly! It's a great educational, fun way to spend the day with the kids.
18. Honorary Mention: Charleston Falls Preserve
Charleston Falls Preserve is technically not in Dayton and is a little bit of a further drive, but oh my goodness, what a lot of fun! My favorite time of the year to see it is in winter, when it's frozen. My gosh, it looks gorgeous! I mean a frozen waterfall! It's also lovely in the late spring/early summer- especially when the blackberries are blooming. There's a huge field just full of blackberry bushes so it looks like a cloud has landed! Incredible! The leaves are lovely in the autumn, but the falls are most likely to be dry so don't go expecting a waterfall then. Late summer has the same problem, but you can still go on hikes in the surrounding area.
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Also on Charleston Falls: Edison The Elephant Visits
19. Honorary Mention: Glen Helen Nature Preserve
Glen Helen Nature Preserve is also not technically in Dayton- it's in lovely Yellow Springs (visit there! It's such a cute town!) Pretty much everyone I've known in Dayton has gone at least once a year to Glen Helen though. It's a fantastic place to hike any time of the year.
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