Unless Greater Cincinnatians have a tie to the Miami Valley, they might not be aware that the area surrounding Dayton is filled with art, history, festivals and fun. Fall is a great time of year to drive north (you don't have to go far) to see something a little bit different.

Dayton Art Institute

A day in Dayton is always enhanced by a trip to the Dayton Art Institute, the Italian Renaissance building perched on a hill hard by the Miami River overlooking downtown.

Two exhibits take center stage this month. "Emmet Gowin and His Contemporaries" (through Nov. 4), is a look at rarely seen photographs from the museum's permanent collection. Gowin, who was an instructor at the institute, studied with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind and counted Walker Evans and Ansel Adams among his colleagues.

"Stephen Knapp: Lightpaintings" (Oct. 6-Jan. 6) explores the intersection of painting, sculpture and technology to create abstract art that appears to be painted, but in reality is actually light and glass.

Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park North, Dayton. (937) 223-5277 or www.daytonartinstitute.org.

Air Force Museum

Even more than 35 years since the Vietnam War ended, there is still widespread fascination about the event that threatened the very fiber of the country.

Time has healed many of the wounds and perhaps allowed people to look at what occurred with an analytical eye.

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson near Dayton has updated its exhibit on one of the most powerful weapons from the era in "Destruction from High Above: The B-52 Stratofortress in Southeast Asia" now in the museum's Southeast Asia War Gallery.

"The Boeing B-52 is one of those special aircraft that resonates with visitors of all ages," according to museum historian Dr. Jeff Underwood.

"It has served with the U.S. Air Force for over half a century, and it will continue serving long into this century."

The Boeing-manufactured plane, which was developed to deliver nuclear weapons, flew its first combat mission in 1965 when it dropped conventional bombs on enemy forces in South Vietnam.

In later years, the B-52's range expanded to attack sites in Cambodia, Laos and North Vietnam.

Meanwhile, the museum recently welcomed the Space Shuttle Crew Compartment Trainer 1 (CCT-1), one of three shuttle mockups that NASA used to train astronauts from the first shuttle mission in 1981 until the program ended in 2011.

CCT-1 was modeled on the space shuttle Columbia and built in 1979 by the Rockwell Corp.

More than 300 astronauts learned their skills in CCT-1 from missions STS-1 through STS-132.

National Museum of the United States Air Force, 1100 Spaatz St., Wright-Patterson AFB (six miles northeast of downtown Dayton). (937) 255-3286 or

Yellow Springs

The Greene County village has always been a bohemian haven, so its idea of The Street Fair might be a little different from the expected. But you can count on the Oct. 13 event to be interesting. As a matter of fact, our sister publication, Ohio Magazine, has named it the best place to people watch.

The festivities begin at 9 a.m. with vendors lining the streets with a wide array of offerings including fine arts and crafts, fair-trade items, massages, plus food that can range from Vietnamese shish kebab to Thai wraps to Mexican empanadas and All-American hot dogs. Street performers, plus music on two stages, will provide non-stop entertainment.

Downtown, Yellow Springs. (937) 767-2686 or www.yellowspringsohio.org.

If you can't make it to the street fair but are intrigued by the hamlet, the annual Fall Farm Pumpkin Festival is Oct. 6-7 at Young's Jersey Dairy, one of the great family owned-and-operated dairies in the state. This festival is geared toward families, with plenty of games and activities for the kids.

Young's Jersey Dairy, 6880 Springfield-Xenia Road, Yellow Springs. (937) 325-0629 or http://youngsdairy.com.

Johnston Farm & Indian Agency

If early Ohio history sounds interesting, drive about 25 miles north of Dayton to visit the Johnston Farm & Indian Agency in Piqua for a glimpse of what life looked like during the early years of the 19th century.

The three-story Federal farmhouse of John Johnston was a unique structure on the state's frontier, acting as both a family home and the only Federal Indian Agency in Ohio. 

A modern museum, built in the blockhouse style of Fort Piqua, General Anthony Wayne's 18th century supply post, traces the history of the area for more than 2,000 years.

On Oct. 13, the museum will offer two rides along its restored section of the Miami and Erie Canal. The General Harrison of Piqua, drawn by mules just as it was in 1845, will give passengers the same view that people of that era saw as they traveled 4 mph on the water.

Johnston Farm & Indian Agency, 9845 N. Hardin Road, Piqua, OH. (937) 773-2522 or www.johnstonfarmohio.com.

Champaign County Barn Quilt Tour

What, you might ask, is a barn quilt?

It is just that: a framed 8-by-8-foot painted patchwork quilt design hung on the side of a barn. The concept started as a way to celebrate the agricultural heritage of the area around Urbana, as well as to promote the folk art of quilting. Now in its seventh year, the event will be held Oct. 13-14, which should give visitors the bonus of lovely fall colors as they drive on rural roads.More than 70 farm buildings in the county display quilts, and each year a number of them are designated for the tour. Stops have included working dairy farms, a working maple sugar camp, a raspberry farm and historic buildings.

For a $10 ticket that's good for both days, visitors can enter these buildings to see special displays and take part in activities.

Tickets are available on tour days in downtown Urbana or in advance from the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce, 113 Miami St., Urbana. (937) 653-5764 or www.ChampaignCountyBarns.com.