LET'S GO FLYERS: the National Museum of the United States Air Force
Tom Uhlman/Alamy

Dayton, Ohio, is making a name for itself, not only as the BIRTHPLACE OF FLIGHT but also as a destination.

No place celebrates the history of flight like Dayton, Ohio, the home of aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright. But there’s so much more to taste and see in this town, tucked away in the corner of the Buckeye State.

An ideal landing spot is the Oregon Historic ­District. Over the past three decades, urban pioneers have resurrected Dayton’s first neighborhood and turned it into a vibrant and thriving community. Restored Victorian homes grace tree-lined streets, attracting an artsy crowd seeking funky neighborhood bistros and vintage retail spots.



The Oregon Express

Press Coffee Bar

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park and Wright Cycle Company

National Museum of the United States Air Force

Omega Music

Recreate Shop

Feathers Vintage Clothing

Inn Port D’Vino

Inn Port Guesthouse

EAT: A restaurant blending French, Mediterranean and Peruvian influences may not be the first thing that comes to mind in Dayton, but it can be found at Salar, where chef Margot Blondet artfully mixes the flavors of her native Peru. A crowd favorite is the cebiche of sliced halibut macerated in spicy lime juice and topped with Peruvian fried corn. For a taste of authentic Dayton, roll over to The Oregon Express. Housed in a century-old building abutting the railroad tracks, it’s the place to listen to live blues music while munching on spicy Hawaiian pizza.

DRINK: Iced coffee has never surpassed iced tea in thirst-quenching popularity, but that’s changing at Press Coffee Bar with the emergence of the Filtron Cold Brew Iced Coffee; it’s cold-brewed for 24 hours from a blend of Dogwood Neon Espresso and their “scientific H20.”

DO: Frequent flyers usually have an abiding interest in flight, and Dayton is where it all began. Visit stops along the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park to follow mankind’s conquest of the skies from the first ideas sketched out in the Wright Cycle Company to the ­Huffman ­Prairie Flying Field; historians consider it the world’s first airport, yet there’s hardly a luggage carousel or reservations desk in sight. Along the way, stop in at the National Museum of the United States Air Force; at 17 acres, it’s the largest museum devoted to military aviation.

SHOP: Urban treasure hunters get their retro kicks in the Oregon Historic District. Break out your turntable and load up on vinyl records at Omega Music. If that old-school sound gets you in the mood to channel your inner rock star, then head over to Recreate Shop for a lovingly restored vintage Fender guitar. And what better way to re-create the era of The Ramones and The Bee Gees than to look the part? Shop for the right threads to go with that 1970s vibe at Feathers Vintage Clothing. It’s like rooting through your Aunt Tillie’s attic, but without all the dust and cobwebs.

STAY: If you’ll be shopping and dining in the ­Oregon District, why not give your feet a rest and stay only a few short steps away? The Inn Port D’Vino offers accommodations in the heart of the district. As the name suggests, it’s decorated to make guests feel as if they just strolled in from the vineyards. If your tastes run more to parrots and palm trees, sleep easy at the Inn Port Guesthouse, with its tropical motif evoking a serene Maui beach.

American offers seven peak daily flights to and from ­Dayton (DAY): four between Dayton and Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and three between Dayton and ­Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW).
US Airways offers 15 peak daily flights to and from Dayton: six between Dayton and Charlotte (CLT), five between Dayton and Philadelphia (PHL) and four between Dayton and Washington Reagan (DCA).