Fuel up for a day of museum hopping with local pastries and organic coffee from Caffeine Carl’s at the open-air 2nd Street Market. Then immerse yourself in masterful artwork from ancient China to modern-day Wyeths at the Dayton Art Institute.
For lunch, swing by Olive, an Urban Dive, one of the city’s retrofitted white-enameled diners, for ground ahi burgers and perfectly sweet-and-salty fried leeks.
Seventeen acres of airplane hangars—featuring everything from vintage bomber jackets to spy planes—await you in the afternoon at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
When you’re ready to relax, head to the up-and-coming Oregon District, a historic neighborhood lined with leafy gardens and intricate, New Orleans-style wrought-iron fences. Monthly evening art hops called First Friday take place amid the district's bars, shops and galleries.
Stroll one block north to the main drag, East Fifth Street, for dinner at Roost, a "modern Italian" restaurant featuring items such as lamb, ricotta and mint crespelles.
The District’s Inn Port D’Vino, with a lobby wine bar, provides a comfortable bed in an Italian-themed suite (or check in to the recently renovated Crowne Plaza in the heart of downtown for a luxurious stay).
Dig in to free-range eggs and French toast kabobs at the adorable Butter Cafe, near the University of Dayton.
Continue your tour of Dayton's aviation history with a stop at Wright Cycle Company Complex. Helpful park rangers answer questions about the Dayton Aviation Trail, and you'll find an overview of the Wright brothers' lives and the quirky Parachute Museum on the second floor.
Have a fiesta of a lunch on the colorful glass-roofed patio at El Meson, then spend the afternoon exploring Carillon Historical Park, a 65-acre indoor-indoor museum. Walls of vintage cash registers dazzle inside (courtesy of Dayton-born NRC Corp.), while outside a re-created village features Dayton-centered historic artifacts, from the original Wright Flyer III to a circa 1924 Sun Oil Station.