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Deeds Carillon sings a welcome song to park visitors.

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Visit Carillon Historical Park

A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Destination in Dayton

Right off I-75, only about 30 minutes from West Chester, sits Carillon Historical Park. Home to over 35 historical buildings and three million artifacts, this open-air museum has something for everyone. From interactive, experiential learning to eclectic stories about inventions that connect Dayton to your everyday life, Carillon Historical Park is well worth the short drive. 

“Carillon Historical Park has something for everyone,” says VP of Museum Operations Alex Heckman, who has worked there for 20 of the park’s 75 years. “You can spend as little or as much time as you or your group wants.” 

Deeds Carillon, a stunning limestone musical instrument with 57 bells, is Ohio’s largest carillon and welcomes visitors to Carillon Historical Park when the bells ring every 15 minutes. The scenic tower and its surrounding grounds are a popular wedding, event and concert venue.

Orville and Wilbur Wright were two self-trained American engineers who invented, built and flew the world’s first successful airplane. The Wright Brothers National Museum in Carillon Historical Park houses the original 1905 Wright Flyer III, the only airplane that is a National Historic Landmark.

“Every year, people come from all over the country and the world to visit the Wright Brothers National Museum,” says Heckman. 

The Carillon Park Railroad is a large-scale railroad that takes up to 120 people at a time on a mile-long, narrated ride around Carillon Historical Park. This realistic three-foot gauge train allows passengers to see every angle of the park's buildings. Miniature train rides, run by railroad volunteers, are available on special days during the year.

Another family favorite attraction is the Carousel of Dayton Innovation. On the carousel, 32 hand-carved icons tell the story of Dayton’s history. Unlike most carousels, where guests sit on horses or other animals, the Carousel of Dayton offers guests a seat on an Esther Price box of chocolates, a bag of Mikesell’s potato chips or an NCR cash register. The carousel is a creative way for the museum to connect kids with history.

The 4-D animatronic theater inside the Heritage Center of Manufacturing & Entrepreneurship is a must-see exhibit. Realistic robots portray five famous industrialists who tell the history of industrial Dayton and notable inventions with a “splash” of special effects. 

The Carillon Historical Park Print Shop is a large-scale, operational letterpress from the 1930s. Volunteers run the printing production with the letterpress from start to finish, while visitors watch and may have the opportunity to touch machine parts or paper. 

“The Great 1913 Flood Exhibit tastefully explains the worst natural disaster in Ohio’s history,” says Heckman. It features an American flag that one Dayton resident took down and used to stay warm during the flood, among many other meaningful artifacts. Visitors learn the story of the disaster and about the city coming together to help one another. This exhibit includes the creation of the Miami Conservancy District (MCD), which is a system of dams designed to prevent future floods.

Many visitors enjoy the climbing tower, which has 120 steps that lead to a viewing platform with a historic clock above. Make sure to take advantage of the binoculars! You can use them to see two nesting American Bald Eagles, Orv and Willa, named in memory of Orville and Wilbur Wright.

Break for a historical lunch or conclude your day with a history-rich dinner at Carillon Brewing Company, the only brewery inside a museum in the US. Inside, brewers costumed in 1850s-style garb make beer that is produced and enjoyed on-site. Kids can try a root beer or cream soda. The brewery menu features a German soft pretzel, various Wurst choices, kids' options and more. Plus, you don’t have to visit the museum to dine at Carillon Brewing Company or the other onsite restaurant, Culp’s Cafe.

“You can’t go a day without Dayton,” is the motto of Carillon Historical Park, based on the many impressive inventions that were born in Dayton: pop-tops on cans, electric car starters, receipts and liquid crystal display (LCD) that creates images on screens were all invented in Dayton.

Visit Carillon Historical Park to experience history and special events any day of the week. The Antique Fire Apparatus Show coming on August 31 is a family-friendly day with 40 antique fire apparatuses on display. On September 15, attend the Dayton Concours Car Show to see 150 classic and antique automobiles and motorcycles.

If you are looking for a fun day trip or mini adventure with your family or a group of all ages, head north to Carillon Historical Park. You won’t be disappointed! 

Carillon Historical Park, 1000 Carillon Boulevard, Dayton

937.293.2841, DaytonHistory.org

“You can’t go a day without Dayton,” is the motto of Carillon Historical Park, based on the many impressive inventions that were born in Dayton.

  • Deeds Carillon sings a welcome song to park visitors.
  • Gem City Letterpress
  • Wright Flyer III at Carillon Historical Park in Dayton, Ohio. Copyright, Dan Patterson, 2018/FlyingHistory.com.
  • Carillon Park Railroad
  • Carillon Brewing Company staff.