Five Rivers MetroParks in Dayton; RiverScape, Wegerzyn Gardens, Second Street Market & More

Ohio has a program called Five Rivers MetroParks with initiatives all around the state’s southwestern region, and it is named after the five distinct waterways flowing into it.

This blog is specifically about the public park system that Five Rivers MetroParks has created in Dayton, and will exclude the many additional and wonderful sites in other cities.

Five Rivers MetroParks began in the 1960s when Dayton was booming and residents wanted to deter some of the urban sprawl that was taking up its green space. You can learn more in depth history here.

My two personal favourite parks are RiverScape and Wegerzyn Gardens.


RiverScape is the essential, ideal downtown waterfront park.

It is accessible by Monument Avenue and runs along the Miami River, eastward to the confluence of the Mad River under the Webster Street Bridge, and continues along the Mad River Trail.


This park hosts free concerts, an ice skating rink, community events and festivals, and you can also rent bikes or kayaks.


Several water features, art installations, and seating areas can be found around the park.

The Dayton Inventors River Walk has several different “invention stations” that celebrate some of Dayton’s most famous inventors and their work.


There is also a memorial plaque dedicated to Paul Laurence Dunbar, Dayton’s beloved poet and writer. Some of his famous poems are carved into the top of the stairs on the west side of Riverscape.


Wegerzyn Gardens
My second favourite FRM Park is Wegerzyn Gardens. It is located in north Dayton and runs along the Stillwater River.


There are several different stylized gardens in the park, including the English Garden, Federal Garden, Memory Garden, Victorian Garden, Arbor Garden, Children’s Discovery Garden, Victor Ries Memorial Garden, and Woodland Garden.

Additional spaces include the Garden Green, the two North and South Plazas, and the Arbor Lawn.


The English and Victorian Gardens were the most attractive gardens for me.


I love the sculpted wooden archways, manicured shrubs, and labyrinthine patterns.



Memory Garden was a sweet and delicate garden. Even in the fall, its pastel pinks and yellows shone through.


The best part of Wegerzyn Gardens is the Swamp Forest Boardwalk Trail. It is perfect for people like me who love being out in the woods but are super clumsy walking over branches and stones, and who never wear appropriate shoes for hiking.


Follow the boardwalk about 0.6 miles through the swamp forest and watch out for all kinds of birds.


The Marie Aull Trail is another beautiful route, making a one mile loop directly on the forest floor.


I was impressed by how lush and green the gardens were even in late October.


I found some comical things too, like stubborn trees growing around support beams.


I do not know the back story of this demonic snake in the grass, but I’m here for it.


The Dayton Playhouse is adjacent to and accessible from Wegerzyn Gardens, with an entrance near the Administrative office and far end of the parking lot.


Other Five Rivers MetroParks in Dayton include Deeds Point, Sunrise, Island, Carriage Hill, Wesleyan, Huffman, Possum Creek, Eastwood, and Cox Arboretum.

Eastwood Metro

The Eastwood MetroPark is a 440+ acre park in north Dayton along the Mad River and Eastwood Lake. Click here to view a map, brochure, and list of activities available at Eastwood.

Eastwood Metro1

Cox Arboretum is in south Dayton, closer to Kettering. The forest and gardens span nearly 175 acres, and includes a children’s maze. Learn more about Cox Arboretum here.


Slightly outside of Dayton is the Hills & Dales MetroPark in Kettering.


Read my blog about the cool monuments, abandoned water tower, and witchy Frankenstein castle I found at Hills & Dales.


I also enjoyed my visit to the Rentschler Forest MetroPark in the nearby city of Hamilton.



Last but not least, the Germantown MetroPark in Germantown, Ohio was a gorgeous scenic drive.


One exceptional Five Rivers enterprise that is NOT a park is the Second Street Market in downtown Dayton. It is like an indoor farmers market and local artisan fair combined, with street performers and live music and food vendors all under one roof.


I anticipate many returns to Dayton to visit the rest of the MetroParks, so stay tuned.

In the area for a while? Follow me to some of Dayton’s historic neighbourhoods including the Huffman District, St. Anne’s Hill, South Park, the Fire Blocks District, and the Oregon District (in progress).

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