Local Landscape

What makes Here… Here

Day Trips in the Dayton Area

Have a day to spend in Dayton? Want something to do, and You’ve already done The National Museum of The United States Air Force. Here are a few day trips you can take.

History of Dayton

  1. Carillon Historical Park – Website – The historical Museum of Montgomery County. A great place to learn about what made Dayton a worldwide name. Well worth a visit.
  2. Woodland Cemetery – Website – Where all the most famous citizens of Dayton are laid to rest.
  3. Pine Club – Website – The best steakhouse in the area. Has an old school feel. Does not take reservations, and is cash only, but is worth it.

The Birthplace of Aviation (Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park)

  1. Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center – Website – The starting point of the National Park. Tells the early life and times of the brothers and the area. Has a recreated Bike shop next door.
  2. Paul Laurence Dunbar House – Website – The house of famous poet and friend to the Wright Brothers.
  3. Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center – Website – teaches about the field in which the Wright Brothers perfected flight.
  4. Huffman Prairie Flying Field – Located on an Air Force Base and can be closed at times – The field where the Brothers made flight a reality and the oldest flying field in the world.

Sports!

  1. Wegerzyn Gardens Metro Park – Website – a neat garden with many things to do and see
  2. Triangle Park – Website – Site of the First ever NFL game.
  3. Taqueria Mixteca – Website – A very authentic Mexican Joint
  4. Fifth Third Field – Website –  Home to the Dayton Dragons. The only field that has sold out ever game it ever has had (over 1400).

The Arts

  1. Dayton Art Institute – Website – celebrating the visual arts in Dayton for over 100 years. A great place to take kids
  2. Dayton Metro Library – Main Branch – Website – A really big building dedicated to educating the community. Has great art, books on art, and a little bit more inside and all around.
  3. The Benjamin and Marian Schuster Center – Website – Dayton’s largest theater in the preforming arts district. Almost always something to see.

This is only a small idea of things to do in Dayton. As with most all in Ohio there is way more to do than can probably be done in a week.

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Dayton Metro Library’s New Branches

Locations: http://www.daytonmetrolibrary.org/locations

http://www.daytonmetrolibrary.org

We previously mentioned that the Dayton Metro Library has a plan to change and update all of its branches. But how has that plan turned out?

The Main Public Library:

The new main branch from the outside seems completely different. As if the old building was torn down and a new one built. This is mostly the case. The main structure was saved but the building was rebuilt. The building was enlarged to almost 4 times it’s previous size. Administrative offices and services for the entire system were given their own building freeing up even more room. The difference is very noticeable.

Parking was always a problem in the busy downtown area around the library. A new underground parking garage was added and eliminated a lot of the problem. From the garage, or the street, patrons now enter into a large open “lobby”. Where as the old branch had an entrance / checkout area, the new branch has a large 3 story entryway with an inviting staircase topped by a new art installation. The entryway is the first taste patrons will get of the much more open design.

“Fractal Rain” an art instillation at the Dayton Metro Main Branch

The open design is also evident in the shelves themselves. With the new focus on community space, and less on physical media, the materials the library offers are integrated into the openness without being any sort of a focus. Somehow they feel both hidden and easy to find at the same time. The collection shares space with the technology available for use. The computers, digital microfiche machines, seating, and tables all take up space through out the building with no single dedicated space.

The new building is not just one open space however. On the first floor are two exhibit rooms. They are used to show of community works, traveling exhibits, or any of a variety of other things. There is also is a multi-use lecture hall, The Eichelberger Forum performance space . Where the old buildings hall and spaces were hidden, the new building makes them a focal point. One wall of the Forum can be opened for an inviting space, or closed for a more formal hall. Upstairs there is a black box theatre, a green screen room and the technology to use it, a Dayton History room, and a quite outdoor patio with nice views of the city.

Through out the branch are space for the community to come and interact, or to be alone. There are many small group rooms, each equipped with a large monitor / TV, a desk, and comfortable seating. These reservable spaces can be used as a meeting space for professional or recreational use. There is a large quiet reading room to get away from the noise. Like to cozy up to a fire and read a good book. They have a few of them with plush seating too.

Local Branches:

The new local branches are just smaller more community centric versions of the Main branch.  Instead of cookie cutter branches the Dayton Metro Library built unique places that reflect the spirit of the local area, while delivering to the needs of that community. Each building is adorned with art work inspired by pieces of art, selected by the community, from the Dayton Art Institute’s collection. They have a 24 hour lobby with self check in and hold lockers. No longer does a late night worker have to worry about the branches hours to get and return items. The local branches also all have computers, laptops, tablets, and more available, with friendly staff to assist any needs. Like the main branch the focus has turned away from the physical collection and more to the community. The shelves are smaller and more tucked away, but still easy to navigate. The extra space has been given to small group study areas, quiet reading rooms, fireplaces and comfy chairs, and a single large Community Room. The community rooms even have outside entrances for after hour use.

The Dayton Metro Library’s goal in the system wide update has changed the feeling of the branches from grab and go to a place to stop and relax. All this has been done while they have been able to meet the needs of each community, from a need for more computers in some areas, to more community space in others.

As this is written more and more branches open. Not all branches are finalized and we are excited to return sometime and see how the new ones look. 

Dayton Metro Library’s History of Change

Locations: http://www.daytonmetrolibrary.org/locations

http://www.daytonmetrolibrary.org

The first library in the Northwest Territory was a small library Israel Putnam started at Belpre in 1795. In the early days patrons paid a fee to use the library. Many libraries came and went with the needs, and economy, of the area. Eventually taxes were used to fund more permanent libraries and in 1901 The Brumback Public Library in Van Wert, Ohio, was dedicated as the first county library system in the nation.

Dayton’s first library service was founded, in 1805, not long after the city. This library was not to last and all the books were sold in 1820. in 1847 a new library was founded. It was housed in “two rooms of the second floor of the Steele Building on Main Street“. In the 1880’s a permanent building was needed. A plot of land deeded by Daniel Cooper as a park to the citizens of Dayton was used. In the 1960’s, almost 100 years later, a new building was built. During that time many of the local branches had been built.

Fast forward to the present. Few new branches had been built and many of the older branches were showing age and straining to keep up with the advances in technology and population growth. The main branch was crowded and falling apart. It still had bomb shelters from its cold war days. With the advent of digital technologies, the internet, and home video, libraries around the world had changed. More than just an upgrade to the buildings was needed.

Around 2008 The Dayton Metro Library decided to upgrade everything, not just renovate buildings with more abilities. This plan, called Facilities For Results, was to be a renewal of the entire system. The old libraries were small and as more technology and materials were added they became cramped. All buildings were to be rebuilt or expanded, some relocated to nearby spaces with more room. Some where closed and the branches realigned.

With the use of paper reference materials, books and encyclopedias, giving way to the ease of access and speed of updates provided by the internet, libraries have less need for shelve space and more need for open / multi use areas. The new branches have more space for computers, digital technologies, reading spaces, and dedicated youth areas.  Instead of being just collections of books, they are dedicated to meet all informational needs of their communities.

No longer just dedicated to giving they are now places for makers to make, groups to meet, and the community to be a community. Each branch sits in and serves a different community and the Library has taken this to heart. What might work in one place, might not bee needed in another. Each branch is designed for the area it serves. Locations with more youth have larger children and teens sections. Some have more need for computer space, some for quiet reading areas.

Because of the work the Library took to plan not just for each branch but for the system as a whole, the Dayton metro Libraries new branches are a welcoming, innovative, and unique space  ready to change with and meet the needs of its patrons for years to come.

 

Dayton’s Black Box Theaters

Dayton has had an active arts scene since the end of the Civil war, probably since the first human stepped foot in the area. While the bigger Schuster, Victoria, or Loft get all the praise, the city has many, many little theaters too. The smaller theaters are sometimes just black rooms with an area for the audience to sit and an area for the performers to perform.  These little spaces are known as Black Box Theaters.

Bassani Theater off Third
http://www.daytonmetrolibrary.org/locations/main

This theater is housed inside the Dayton Metro Library’s Main branch. It was Built during the Major renovation (stay tuned for more on that) of the Main Branch. Almost not a theater, it is a large room with lights, space, and great views of the city. This one is more a multi use room than a dedicated theater. When they do have show they are mostly free, being a library and all.

The Caryl D. Philips Creativity Center
https://www.humanracetheatre.org/about/philips-center

This 54 person seat is run by the Human Race Theater Company. They mostly make it available to be rented. It is a good place to stage a one person show or other experiential work. While small it is large enough and has a lighting rigs and a good sound system. Shows are intimate but if designed for the space can be amazing.

PNC Arts Annex
https://victoriatheatre.com/venues/arts-annex/

The 200-seat theatre and Studio space is the newest arts venue in town. It is located across the street from the Schuster and the Arts Parking Garage. The space was built to take advantage of the unused property in the heart of Dayton’s “Theater District.” This space is used for more experimental productions, smaller local companies, and other events and productions. The space is more intimate than the Broadway style theater whose shadow it lives in, but has more equipment than the other Black Box theaters of the region.

Mathile Theatre
https://victoriatheatre.com/venues/schuster-center/

A “56’ x 36’, 150-seat black box” in the heart of the Schuster Preforming Arts Center. The space is used as a rehearsal space mostly. It is then rented out of private events, like wedding receptions and the like. Due to the location, and the forethought of the Victoria Theater Association,  it can actually be used along side the large Mead theater. Like the Bassani Theater off Third, it is mostly just a multi use room. However this one is backed by one of the best theater groups in the state.

 

 

Victoria Theatre

Victoria Theatre

138 N Main St, Dayton, OH 45402

https://victoriatheatre.com/venues/victoria-theatre/

Theater has a long history in the Buckeye state. in the early days it was preformed in city halls, churches, and living rooms. After the Civil War there was an explosion of theaters across the state and the country. The industrial revolution had made cities larger and with more people came more need for entertainment. Dayton was no different. In 1866 the Turner opera house opened.

After a few years it burned down and was rebuilt. This new theater lasted changed names a few times but lasted into the 20th century. In 1913 heavy rains flooded the city and the Victoria Theatre. The theater was rebuilt but only 5 years later a fire gutted it. After rebuilding again the theater found fame. Housing plays, orchestra concerts (even creating The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra in 1930), and movies, the theater was in its prime. With the spread of the suburbs in the late 1960’s the theater, and downtown Dayton, faced economic decline. In 1970’s it was scheduled to be torn down. Dayton citizens, with their history of saving classic old buildings, found a way to save the building by founding the Victory Theatre Association. In 1988 the Arts Center Foundation acquired the theater and after $17.5 Million in renovations opened it as the Victoria Theatre. The organization did so well in bringing theater back downtown that it was able to open the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Center across the street.

The Victoria Theatre is one of the state’s classic old theaters. Updated slightly, and modernized with new equipment, the feel is still that of the 1988 renovation, which harked back to the original look of the place. The lobby houses a small bar / concessions area and restrooms. At the end of the lobby are the doors to the main floor of the theater and the stairs to the upper lobby and balcony. Inside the theater the seats are comfortable and the view decent. The older style seating can lead to obstructed views depending on the people sitting in front of one. The 1154 seats themselves are comfortable and not to small. The balcony has a steep rise and most seats have a good view from it. The stage is large enough to not feel out of place in the venue.

The theater is smaller than some of the other venues in the state. While the Broadway touring productions have moved across the street to the large Schuster Center. The intimate size is not as well suited for the larger productions any more, as the shows get grander and grander. The venue is great for the smaller shows the theater preforms. Small musical groups, one man shows, and family theater are housed there and do quite well. The theater even returns to it’s movie palace heydays in the Summer with the Cool Film Series.

From its early days after the Civil War to its revitalization to its modern use, The Victoria Theater has become a main stay of the Dayton, and even Ohio, theater scene.

 

Summer in the Cedar Bog

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980 Woodburn Rd, Urbana, OH 43078
http://naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/cedarbog

Cedar Bog, located just outside of Urbana, is a 450 acre nature preserve dedicated to Ohio’s wetlands. Cedar Bog is mistitled. It is actually a Fen. The difference between a fen and a bog is a simple but confusing one. A bog receives water from precipitation. A fen receives water from the local watershed, like underground water table or surrounding rivers.  With over a mile of trails the Bog is a great way to see the wetlands. While this sounds like a walk through a swamp, Cedar Bogs main trail is a boardwalk above the fen. This allows for a nice dry walk even after a recent rain.

The mile long trail runs through tp09-03-16_13-51he forest, in to open areas, and loops back to the main entrance. While it is a short walk the abundance of plant and animal life on the trail makes the walk take much longer.

Summer
With flowers blooming all over the place, birds flying over head, and plenty of Plestiodon (skinks with a blue tail).  The summer is a great time to see the wildlife that comes to graze in the shaded forests of the fen. The flowers blooming in the forest take advantage of the shade to absorb the water from the fen and bloom well into August and later. The abundance of wildlife is also concentrated in the forest. The cool of the morning is the best time to see them. As the day heats up many go to sleep or find a cool place to hide.

One of the main blooms seen is the Mimulus aurantiacus “Monkey Flower”, both the orange and yellow variety. This flower is a host plant for the Buckeye Butterfly which can be seen all over the fen. The forest seems to explode with color. The trees are also full of foliage and make for a great shade in the heat of the day. The difference between the “deep” forest and the fields is striking. The creek at the edge of the trail is full of moss and other growth and seems smaller than during the spring. The flow of water is feed by the large underground water system that makes the bog possible. Even during the hottest month of the year the creek flows nicely. This is a good place to find wildlife taking a quick drink. Most reptiles and amphibians will be in this area of the reserve.

While the bog and forest are cool during the summer. The nearby prairie is not.  The contrast to the wildness of the forest is striking. The sun scorches the land and dries out the area. The prairie in this area has been around since before the settlement of Ohio. The plants in the Prairie trail are use to this and can survive, if not thrive, in the heat. Many of the blooms are yellow and blend in to the color of the grass. The prairie is a great place to see butterflies and insects not found in the forest. Early in the day some wildlife can be seen taking advantage of the grass before the heat of the midday sun.

The summer will be warmer so take some water and go enjoy the nature in one of Ohio’s more diverse and unique trails.

Tip: The bog cost to enter, but is included in a Ohio History Connection Membership. Visiting once a season, with a guest, can pay for the membership.

The Stuart & Mimi Rose Music Center at The Heights

6800 Executive Blvd, Huber Heights, OH 45424

https://www.rosemusiccenter.com

The Dayton area is no stranger to outdoor concert venues. Since 1991 there has been the Fraze Pavilion. Last year Levitt Pavilion in downtown opened for free concerts. The largest by far is the The Stuart & Mimi Rose Music Center at The Heights.

The Rose Music Center is located north of town in the city of Hube Heights. The venue opened in 2015 and is the first in a group of building being developed in the area. It is right of the highway and very easy to spot standing by itself in a field. It also is one of the largest buildings in the area, which doesn’t hurt.

The Center has plenty of parking and is well suited for the crowds that it attracts. The interior is just a row of concession stands restrooms and the performance area. The concessions are standard concert venue far with hot dogs, sandwiches, and plenty to drink. Offerings are the same across the entire pavilion. No need to walk far distances for something special. The area around the center is also full of many options for a bite before the show, with more being built in the future. The restrooms are large and right next to the entrance of the seating area. They handle a lot of people and tend to back up very little at busy times.

The actual performance area is the main draw of the center. Unlike the Fraze all seats are covered. This roof covers the seats but is high enough not to block any views and to allow for ventilation on the hot summer nights. Containing 4,200 seat, it is one of  larger venues in the county. The seating area is wide and deep angling toward the decently sized stage. Some of the back seats can be a little far from the stage, but are not too far to be able to enjoy the show. The back section is angled steep enough that views are not blocked too much. There are video screens and a good sound system to help make sure everyone has a good time, not just the people in front. The seats are comfortable without being anything to special. The Rose Center is located along a major highway (I-70). This makes for easy access to and from an event. This also means that during busy times some of the noise from the road will bleed into the venue. Any performance will usually drown this out.

The selection of acts are very similar to the ones at the Fraze. From well known new acts to older bands, The Rose has a little bit of something for everyone. While the Greater Dayton area seem too small to support two large venues, the differences between the more intimate feeling Fraze and the grand scale of the Rose set them apart enough for both venues to be supported and loved.

As the weather heats up so do the summer tours and The Stuart & Mimi Rose Music Center at The Heights is a great place to see a loved band or find a new favorite.

Ohio Theater (Columbus)

model of Ohio Theater

39 E State St, Columbus, OH 43215

https://www.capa.com/venues/detail/ohio-theatre

All large cities in Ohio, and some smaller, have a live show venues.  One of the states major venues is the Ohio Theater located in the heart of downtown Columbus. Just across the street from the Statehouse, and using the same parking garage, the theater blends into the taller buildings surrounding it, but somehow stands out.

The Ohio Theater originally opened in 1928 as a Loew’s showing movies and some live entertainment. Eventually the competition from television caused the movie house to close in 1969. The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts was formed to save the historic building. 50 years later the organization and the Ohio Theater are still going strong. While somethings have changed and been modernized, the original fell and look of the building is still intact. It has also been expanded to accommodate it’s role as the “official theater of the state of Ohio.” Many of the cities major preforming arts organizations, including “Columbus Symphony, BalletMet, and Broadway in Columbus,” use the building as their home venue.

The theater is very easy to find. The entryway is light up by a large marquee. Inside the lobby is a little small for the size of the theater and can become crowded. The lobby has a large bar taking up a bit of the space, and lines from it can get in the way at times. The loge too has a balcony for extra space which over looks the main lobby, and a separate bar. The decor of original building is the same as it was in its heyday as a movie place. The expansion on the side, however, does a nice job of adding the extra space that is needed. This is where a coffee bar and small snack bar are located. It is in a modern style and fells like the second building it is.  Access to the theater is easy to find with the friendly staff ready to help. The upper sections are a little harder to find. Being an old movie house the restrooms are smaller and can get very busy at peak times.

The theater itself is nice. Seating is comfortable. The sight lines to the stage are good from most seats. The sound has been upgraded over the years and is well balanced. It does not feel as if it is being projected from speakers but as if the performers are just louder. The stage is large enough to be able to hold almost any production. From concerts to plays to movies, The Ohio theater is a great place to see a show.

Tip: Located on across the street from the State house the Theater is in a well used part of town. Before the show there are a lot of places to eat and drink, but they can become very crowded with the downtown crowds. Make sure to arrive early. Parking at the Statehouse has one of the best show rates in the state. 

 

 

The hills of Hocking County Region and what to do.

In the southwest corner of Ohio, about 1/4 of the way up the map is the region surrounding the county of Hocking. The county has less than 30,000 residents. The region is in a part of the state crisscrossed with back roads and no interstates. Yet despite it small size and out of the way location millions of people visit it each year. The big question is what do all these people do in Hocking County and the surrounding region?

Museums:
For such a lightly populated place the region has a large number of museums. From the small museum with a great point to the giant washboard and its museum and factory  How about the birthplace of a famous Civil War General, or a glass hot shop and museum. Like art? The region has many art museums too. A good list is available at http://www.explorehockinghills.com/things-to-do/indoor-activities/arts/museums/

Outdoor Activities:
Paddling on the Hocking River or Lake Logan is always a popular option. They even have a water jetpack adventure. Biking, both mountain and road, are a good way to get exercise. Golf, both mini and big, is offered in the region. The area is known for its large forested hills and state parks. Hiking and simply enjoying nature seems to a very popular.

Shopping:
The region does not have many large big box chain stores, but makes up for it in the many little art studios and mom and pop shops dotting the region. A quick search on the internet, or with the help of the friendly staff at the regional welcome centers, will bring up a large list of places to find that unique item or gift.

Free Stuff:
The amount of free stuff to do in the area will make it a sure draw for people from all over the state. We tried to put a list together but found this one covered more than we could even imagine. http://www.explorehockinghills.com/things-to-do/free-fun/

Or one could just visit  the State parks with ravines. They always seem to be a popular option.

Special thanks to Hocking Hills Tourism Association. Their Website is overflowing with things to do in the region. Their Welcome Centers are a must stop for the beginning of any tour of the area.

 

Cantwell Cliffs

Address: State Route 374, Logan, Ohio 43138

Websites: http://parks.ohiodnr.gov/hockinghills

https://www.explorehockinghills.com/recreation/cantwell-cliffs

This is going to be a short review of Cantwell Cliffs. Cantwell Cliffs is part of Hocking Hills State Park. This park is 17 miles from Old Man’s Cave, so it is not as well visited as other parks of Hocking Hills State Park. This makes the place less crowded. The trails in Cantwell Cliffs are 1 to 2 miles. These trails are listed as difficult by the park’s website. This is very true as the trails are full of steps and inclines. There are two main trails. One on the rim of the cliffs is easier and less rocky. The lower trail is more of a challenge.  Both are relatively short and can be done in one day. Getting between the two can be an adventure in itself.

 

This woodland park is full of waterfalls (even though one website says there are none), steps, cliffs, waterways, and other natural beauty. The park might not be accessible by everyones ability level, but it is a very nice change to the other parks in the area. So, if you able and willing for a challenge, this park’s natural beauty will amaze.