Dayton, Ohio has a rich history of entrepreneurs who have changed our country and the world.
Some of Dayton, Ohio’s famous residents include the Wright brothers and George Huffman, of Huffy Bicycle notoriety.
You can connect the dots of both Dayton’s history of aviation and bicycles on this bike-themed itinerary.
This is a fun adventure whether you choose to drive to the locations, ride a bike, or do a combination of the two.
On this adventure we rode the Buzz Charter F (folding) Electric bike and the Buzz Centris Fat Tire Folding Electric bike. This article is written in partnership with Buzz Bicycles.
I love riding my Buzz E-bikes on local adventures and they are easy to travel with when I explore out of town destinations. The Buzz E-bike pedal assist can help you visit the following locations shared below with ease.
Fun fact: Buzz Bicycles are a brand owned by the same company that owns Huffy Bikes.
(You’ll learn more about their connection to Dayton along the way)
Aviation Appreciation at the National Museum of the US Air Force
1100 Spaatz St, Dayton, OH
We started our adventure at the National Museum of the US Air Force. You could easily spend all day here and not see everything!
For this specific bike- and aviation-themed adventure we spent less than an hour inside the museum because we were on a very specific mission.
The beautiful part is that admission is FREE so you can always come back at another time to explore the museum more, or even stretch this into a a 2-day itinerary.
Fair warning, you do enter and exit through the gift shop, in case you have kids with you.
What’s the connection with the world’s largest and oldest military aviation museum and bicycles?
Two Words: Wright brothers… or should I say two people, who changed EVERYTHING!
Who Were The Wright Brothers?
Most notably, the Wright brothers were pioneers of aviation and credited with the first successful powered airplane flight in 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
The Wright brothers owned several bicycle shops in Dayton. Those bicycle shops helped fund their aviation experiments.
A bicycle-type chain drive was used by the Wrights in their early airplanes.
Even though their flight was in North Carolina, their roots were in Dayton, Ohio, where they were born and raised.
In fact, they grew up only 7 miles from the location of the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
Inside the Early Years Gallery of the museum there is a Wright bicycle on display.
Next to the bicycle is a replica of a wind tunnel that the Wrights built in 1901 to test airfoil designs.
You can read more about their flights and see several items on display that were used during their flying experiments.
After you visit the Early Years of Aviation exhibit, I would recommend checking out a few of the other hangars to see the big picture of how aviation has evolved over the years. There is even a flight simulator if you are feeling extra daring.
The National Museum of the US Air Force has more than 360 aircraft and missiles on display.
Wear comfortable shoes because the museum has 19 acres of indoor exhibit space to explore. It is also one of the lesser known space museums in the US covering the evolution of air AND space travel.
Start the Bike Riding Portion from Carillon Brewing Company
1000 Carillon Blvd, Dayton, OH
Next stop, we drove to the Carillon Brewing Company parking lot to begin the biking portion of our adventure. I’ll share more about the brewery in a bit.
If you’re realistically going to bike to a few locations, I would suggest making the brewery your reward at the end of your biking adventure to assure that you’ll complete all the stops.
The e-bikes’ ability to fold made it possible to fit two bikes in the back of an SUV. This is a great option for easy and secure transport if you don’t have a bike rack for your vehicle.
Carillon Brewing Company is part of Carillon Park, which is located very close to the Great Miami River Recreational Trail, making it a great place to jump on the trail.
Ride on the Great Miami River Recreational Trail
The Great Miami River Recreational Trail boasts 32 miles of bikeway through Miami County. The bikeway system connects to even more bike trails throughout Dayton and beyond.
The Miami Valley region boasts the nation’s largest paved trail network.
If you want to take your bike off-road, Huffman MetroPark features more than 9 miles with mountain bike trails for all skill levels.
Discover Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
(Part of the National Park Service)
16 S Williams St, Dayton, OH
The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park encompasses 5 historical sites focusing on the lives of the Wright brothers and Paul Laurence Dunbar:
- Historically refurnished Wright brothers’ printing office at the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center (Free Admission)
- An original Wright brothers’ bicycle shop at the Wright Cycle Company Shop (Free Admission)
- See the Wright brothers’ third airplane at Carillon Historical Park’s Wright Brothers National Museum (Admission fee)
- Follow Wilbur and Orville’s footsteps at Huffman Prairie Flying Field (Free Admission)
- Hawthorn Hill (The Wrights’ mansion) (Admission Fee)
- Paul Laurence Dunbar’s last home (Free Admission) (temporarily closed) Famous poet
There are no entrance fees for the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center and there is a convenient bike rack in front of the museum.
Begin at the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center
16 South Williams St, Dayton, OH
One stop within the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park is the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center where you can learn more about the lives of the Wright brothers and Paul Laurence Dunbar.
Fun Fact: Wilbur and Orville actually started their careers as printers, not bicycle shop owners.
You’ll learn more about their early career as printers in the location where the Wright brothers edited and published newspapers.
This site was also the printing location of The Dayton Tattler that was written by Paul Laurence Dunbar.
Visit the Wright Cycle Company Shop
22 S Williams St, Dayton, OH
At one time the Wright brothers owned 5 bicycle shops in Dayton within a relatively close proximity.
This Wright brothers’ bicycle shop is the only remaining building that’s still at the original site from their business from 1895 -1897.
The Wright brothers knowledge of bicycles connected and translated to flight experiments testing balance and control.
Inside the shop, you’ll see several exhibits including a variety of bicycles on display.
The park ranger onsite is available to answer any questions that may come up during your time in the bike shop.
Visit the Original Site of The Wright Family Home
7 Hawthorne St, Dayton, Ohio
This is the location where a lot of dreaming and planning took place for the world’s first airplane.
The Wright brothers resided in Dayton with their sister and father until Wilbur’s death in 1912.
You can see the outline of the perimeters of the family house and envision the house with the help of the marker by the fence.
Where did the Wright Family House go?
The Wright’s family home, along with one of the Wright bicycle shops, was moved to Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village complex in 1937 in Dearborn, Michigan.
Greenfield Village is open to the public and takes you through 300 years of history and innovation on 80 acres.
Relax at RiverScape MetroPark
Enjoy the views along the banks of the Great Miami River on the bike path at RiverScape Metropark. The Great Miami River flows into the Ohio River at Shawnee Overlook in Hamilton County.
This is a nice area to stop and relax to enjoy the scenery with seating nearby.
The RiverScape Metropark offers year-round activity. During the colder months there is a large ice skating rink at the Pavilion and during the warmer months, The Five Rivers Fountain of Lights operate for 10-minute intervals at the top of the hour.
Take a Picture at the Birthplace of Aviation Mural
400 E. Third Street (on the side of the All Tune and Lube building)
This mural features Dayton native, former U.S. Air Force pilot and astronaut Charles Bassett II. Charles tragically died while training for his first spaceflight when his airplane crashed.
Fun Facts About Ohio’s Connection to Space Travel:
- 25 Astronauts came from Ohio
- 78 Space flights
- 3 Trips to the moon
- 32% of Ohio astronauts have flown on the shuttle 4 times
Stop for a Drink at Warped Wing Brewing Company
26 Wyandot St, Dayton, OH
The name “Warped Wing” is a nod to the Wright brothers’ innovation of their invention called “wing warping.” The patented technique drew inspiration from the way that birds flap their wings to create lift in flight.
For the non-beer drinkers, there are Warped Wing soda pop options made with cane sugar and other real ingredients.
If you are visiting with kids you’ll be happy to learn that their soda pops are caffeine-free, gluten-free and alcohol-free.
Explore the Huffman Historic District
Located 1 mile east from downtown Dayton, you’ll see a blend of Victorian homes in different stages of restoration and rehabilitation.
The historic neighborhood dates back to the late 1800s. William Huffman’s vision was for this community to be a blend of economically diverse residents including artisans, politicians and factory workers.
The diversity is also reflected in the wide range of architecture that you will discover including small homes to Queen Anne and Victorian mansions.
Take a Self-Guided Walking Tour of the Huffman Historic District
If you love history make sure that you download the audio tour or use the print format for the walking tour to learn more about the architecture and previous residents of these historic homes.
It’s recommended that you allow 90 minutes for the tour.
Davis-Linden Building Site of Former Davis Sewing Machine and Huffman Manufacturing Company/Huffy Corp
400 Linden Avenue, Dayton, OH
Dayton, Ohio is the hometown of the Huffman Manufacturing Company that dates back to 1892.
Huffy produced its first bicycle in Dayton in 1892 while originally operating as the Davis Sewing Machine Company.
In 1923 the Davis Sewing Machine Company was forced to close its doors. The former sewing machine factory site became the location of Huffman Manufacturing Company, which is now known as the Huffy Bicycle Company.
The Huffy Factory moved from this location to Celina, Ohio in 1955.
Explore Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum
118 Woodland Ave, Dayton, OH
The historic 200 acre cemetery and arboretum dates back to 1841.
Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum is also the final resting place for 110,000+ people, including Paul Laurence Dunbar along with a several other well-known Dayton citizens.
This is very popular place to walk because of its beautiful scenery with over 3000 trees throughout the cemetery.
It might sound odd but I actually enjoy walking in cemeteries, especially historic ones with arboretums because they are so beautiful and peaceful.
Lookout Tower within the cemetery has a nice view of downtown Dayton as it is one of the highest points in the city with an elevation of 738 feet.
The steep incline on the way up to the viewing area was a breeze to bike… thanks to the pedal-assisted power of my electric bike.
Otherwise, I probably would’ve done the walk of shame, walking my bike up the hill.
Who is Buried at the Huffman Family Mausoleum?
The lawn crypt belongs to William P. Huffman and 19 other family members.
Huffman family members were either entombed in the mausoleum or interred on the monument lots in front of the mausoleum between 1854 – 2006.
William P. Huffman (George’s grandfather) was a Dayton businessman who built the first stone house in the city.
Torrence Huffman (William’s Grandson) owned Huffman Prairie during the time when the Wright brothers tested and flew their “Flyer” in 1905.
George P. Huffman (founder of Huffy Bicycle Company) was born September 6, 1862 and passed December 31, 1897.
Which Wright Family Members are buried at Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum?
- Milton Wright (father of the Wright brothers) – November 17, 1828 – April 3, 1917
- Susan Wright (mother of the Wright brothers) – April 30, 1831 – July 4, 1889
- Wilbur Wright (Co-Inventor of Powered Flight ) – April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912
- Katharine Wright Haskell (sister of the Wright brothers) – August 19, 1874 – March 3, 1929
- Orville Wright (Co-Inventor of Powered Flight) – August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948
Why are there coins on cemetery markers?
Coins on a headstone are a sign of respect and remembrance.
There is a reason for laying coins on the headstones of those who served in the military: they let the family know someone stopped by to pay their respects to the deceased soldier.
Each coin has a different meaning and gives insight to how the person knew the deceased:
- Penny = visited the gravesite
- Nickel = trained in bootcamp together
- Dime = served with the soldier
- Quarter = present when the soldier was killed
Another point of interest in the cemetery is The Chapel, featuring one of the most magnificent original Tiffany windows in the country.
Walk Through Carillon Historical Park
1000 Carillon Blvd, Dayton, OH
Learn about the history of the Dayton area at Carillon Historical Park, a 65-acre open-air history museum.
There are bike racks located outside of the entrance to Carillon Historical Park.
See the One Millionth Bicycle made of 14-Karat Gold by Huffman Manufacturing Company
The 14-karat gold plated bicycle is currently on loan from The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.
The golden bicycle was the company’s one millionth bicycle and was built on May 13, 1947.
This bicycle definitely got a few more upgrades than the typical bike during that era including a fender-mounted headlight and faux fuel tank inspired to look like a motorcycle.
You’ll continue to connect the dots of your day’s adventures when you see a sewing machine from the Davis Sewing Machine Company on display.
Wright Bicycle Shop
Located within Carillon Historical Park, you’ll find this bicycle shop which is a replica of the fifth bicycle shop that Wilbur and Orville owned that was located at 1127 W. Third Street in West Dayton.
Guests can get a glimpse of what the shop would have looked like in 1901 between mid-October-December.
The exhibits help you visualize what it would have been like for the Wright brothers to build and repair bicycles within the shop.
Carillon Historical Park also has bragging rights displaying 2 of the 5 bicycles built by Orville and Wilbur Wright remaining in the world! Both bicycles are Van Cleve models.
See the 1905 Wright Flyer III at the John W Berry Sr Wright Brothers National Museum
(Located in Carillon Historical Park)
The Wright Brothers National Museum is extra special for the following reasons:
- It houses the only airplane designated a National Historic Landmark (1905 Wright Flyer III, which was dubbed the first practical flying machine and considered to be the Wright brothers’ most important aircraft)
- It contains more Wright artifacts on display than any other place in the world
- Orville Wright’s last major project before he died was to help design Wright Hall to preserve the 1905 Wright Flyer III (Orville passed away in 1948 before Carillon Park opened in 1950)
Take your time as you walk through the exhibits of the museum. There are more Wright artifacts on display in this building than any other place in the world!
As you exit the museum, be on the lookout for the statue in honor of the Wright brothers.
Evolution of Bikes at the Dayton Cyclery
(Located Within Carillon Historical Park)
The Dayton Cyclery building will give you an appreciation for how far the bicycle has come both in function and style.
The Huffy Corporation was the world’s largest producer of bicycles in 1977 and continues to be an innovator and trusted brand today.
An example of early innovation is the 1955 Huffy Radiobike as it had a radio built into the tank! The bike also had an antenna and battery pack on the rear of the bike on the carrier platform.
If you learned how to ride a bike using training wheels you have the Huffman Company to thank as the creator of the world’s first training wheels.
Their original training wheels could also be used for another person to stand on while the rider pedaled the bike.
Climb Brethen Tower at Carillon Historical Park
If you want to get some extra cardio in, climb the 120 steps to the top of Brethen Tower.
As you climb the stairs you’ll also get a closer view of the historic Callahan Clock that was formerly on Dayton’s first skyscraper, the Callahan Building.
From the observation deck you can enjoy views of the Great Miami River and a bird’s eye view of the Carillon Historic Park from 100 feet in the air.
Enjoy a Drink at Carillon Brewing Company
1000 Carillon Blvd, Dayton, OH
If you are looking for a unique craft brewery experience, Carillon Brewing Company is a must!
The brewery shares the same parking lot as Carillon Historical Park, which makes it a great option before or after your visit to the park or trail ride.
What makes Carillon Brewing Company unique is that it’s the only US brewery replicating the historic brewing process AND it’s the nation’s only production brewery in a museum.
Brewery guests can enjoy flavors of authentically prepared food and drink from 1850s-era Dayton.
In fact, during your visit, there is a good chance you will witness some of the historic brewing or bread making techniques in action while you drink and dine.
Recreate our Bike Itinerary
Want to retrace our bike route?
Check out the map of our day pictured above.
During our ride there was a mix of bike paths, bike lanes, roads and sidewalks.
The distance was easy for our Buzz electric bikes and we still had plenty of battery power left when we concluded our ride.
Extend Your Aviation- and Bike-Themed Adventures in Dayton
You can add another day to your aviation- and bike-themed itinerary with the following stops:
Visit the Wright Brothers Memorial at Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center
2380 Memorial Road, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Highlights at the Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center include:
- Location where the “Wrights truly learned to fly and perfected flight”
- Exhibits that focus on the Wright brothers’ development of the world’s first practical airplane at Huffman Prairie in 1904 and 1905
- Wright Brothers flying school that started in 1910
- Accomplishments of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
- Wright Brothers Memorial overlooking Huffman Prairie Flying Field
Go for a Bike Ride on Wright Fairborn’s Wright Brothers-Huffman Prairie Bikeway
The bikeway is part of the statewide Buckeye Trail linking downtown Fairborn with the Huffman Reserve MetroPark. The bike path passes the Wright Brothers Memorial Park.
Need a New Bike for Your Next Adventure? Save on a Buzz Electric Bike
Adventure Mom readers can save $125 on a Buzz Electric Bike using the discount code “ADVMOMBUZZ100.“
This was the longest e-bike ride my friend had ever taken and compared it to driving her dad’s corvette, saying “You just don’t realize how much power it has until you hit the gas!”
1 thought on “Explore Dayton’s Aviation History on a Bike-Themed Adventure”
Great Post! My niece is very interested in history, and she enjoys places like these. After reading your article, I think it will be the perfect place to take her. All the places and activities sound super fun, and I hope she will enjoy this too. I have bookmarked your post and I will be sharing this with her to see if she is interested in this. Thanks a lot for sharing your experience, you have given me a great place to bond with my family.