Piqua, a small city in Miami County located north of Dayton, Ohio, began as an important trade center and settlement for Native Americans.
Established in 1807, Piqua’s history dates back much longer to 1749 to an earlier settlement called Fort Pickawillany, where Piqua was developed nearby in the following years.
Piqua settled as two separate villages in 1780 and was occupied by the Shawnee tribe, a North American group of people originally from the east after several wars broke out, such as the Battle of Pickawillany, the French and Indian War, the Battle of Piqua, and the Northwest Indian War.
European settlers arrived in 1798 after the end of the Northwest Indian War, and by 1807 the village was named Washington, which later changed to Piqua in 1816.
The word 'Piqua' is thought to have originated from a Shawnee language phrase: Othath-He-Waugh-Pe-Qua, which means "He has risen from the ashes," according to the local legend.
Piqua earned the name “The Atomic City” as it owned the first nuclear power plant operated municipally from 1962 to 1966.
Piqua is currently a small city with a traditional American lifestyle, as well as many of the cultural amenities of a larger city, including a good number of attractions, museums, and events in and around the area.
To know more, here’s a list of interesting places and the best things to do in Piqua, Ohio:
Tour the Johnston Farm and Indian Agency
The Johnston Farm and Indian Agency is a 200-acre farm located at North Hardin Street.
John Johnston, an Irish-born who moved to Pennsylvania with his family during his younger years, worked in the mercantile trade and began transporting supplies to various forts.
He laid eyes on his future home in Piqua and bought the land in 1804.
His significant contributions as a Federal Indian Agent, a public servant, and a farmer to the early growth of Ohio are reflected through the farm’s beautiful setting.
Johnston Farm and Indian Agency is home to the Johnston Farm Museum, his 1815 three-story brick farmhouse, 1808 double-pen barn, 1815 springhouse, and 1828 cider house.
After the tour, visitors can ride General Harrison, a 70-foot-long replica of a canal boat commonly used to transport cargo and passengers during the 17th century, with costumed guides to give guests a more authentic experience.
Johnston Farm and Indian Agency allows visitors to see and experience how farm life was in Pique during its early days.
Read and Research at the Piqua Public Library
Book lovers will enjoy their time at the Piqua Public Library, where reading, learning, and exploring can be fun.
Situated in Fort Piqua Plaza at West High Street, the library is controlled by a Board of Trustees assigned by the Piqua Board of Education.
The Piqua Public Library has over 110,000 books, 6,000 volumes, and 1,400 microfilms, funded by the State of Ohio.
The library contains a huge and unique collection of Piqua and Northern Miami Valley-related materials, welcoming visitors who are in need of research.
It also hosts exciting children's events such as storytime, puppet shows, and a summer reading club.
Oversee the Great Miami River at the Lock Nine Riverfront Park
Lock Nine Riverfront Park and its surrounding area played a significant role in the formation of Ohio’s history, as many notable events in Piqua and the Great Miami River Valley took place here.
Located along East Water Street, Lock Nine Riverfront Park is an observation point offering a panoramic view of the Great Miami River Valley and the levee lock.
It spans one acre and is the entry point towards Linear Park.
Completed in 1837, the lock served as a gateway to Cincinnati and Toledo through the Miami and Erie Canal.
The lock was used as a source of water power by industries where products such as flour, flannel, and flax seeds were produced.
German immigrants from Cincinnati traveled through the canal and settled within five blocks of the lock.
Lock nine remained part of the canal until it was destroyed during the Great Flood of 1913, which made a huge impact on Piqua’s landscapes, as well as the lives of the whole community.
Driving and walking tours about Piqua’s history of transportation are available and start here at the Lock Nine Riverfront Park.
Hike the Linear Park Trail
Connect to the great outdoors in stunning and exciting ways with hundreds of miles of trails and paths winding through Piqua’s railways, river paths, and nearby areas within Miami County.
Linear Park runs over 12 miles of paved paths and was built over an abandoned railroad bed from the east to the west point of the city.
It connects midway to the Great Miami River Trail and is a part of one of the country’s largest networks of paved off-street trails, the Miami Valley trail system, spanning over 330 miles.
Some significant features of the trail are a tunnel passing through Sunset Avenue, a bicycle bridge that spans College Street, passing along Echo Lake and Frantz Pond, and scenic views, including the 2,000-foot remaining wall in the levee of the Great Miami River.
The whole trail is open for bikers, joggers, runners, and rollerbladers, with tons of access points in the city, including French Park, Lock Nine Riverfront Park, Troy-Sidney Road, and the Municipal Government Complex, and the City’s Water Plant.
Go SightSeeing at Fort Piqua Plaza
At the heart of Piqua is the beautifully renovated Fort Piqua Plaza.
Known previously as the Fort Piqua Hotel, this architectural gem was transformed into a multifunctional facility.
Inside is a grand marble staircase with spectacular skylights and stained-glass windows, which visitors can enjoy.
It houses an art gallery, the Piqua Public Library, and the Local History Department office.
On its fourth floor is a state-of-the-art banquet facility center offering six beautifully furnished rooms, providing the perfect setting for special events.
Bike the Great Miami River Trail
Follow along the paths of the Great Miami River and Miami and Erie Canal as it winds through Piqua, Troy, and Tipp in Miami County, to Dayton and Middletown, with segments in Sidney, Fairfield, and Hamilton.
The 93-mile trail follows the Great Miami River almost its entire route, connecting small towns and big cities over four counties in southwest Ohio.
The Great Miami River Trail offers something for everyone, from urban cityscapes to stunning river views.
The trail passes through beautiful museums, historic and quaint downtowns, picnic areas, natural parks, and rolling terrains overflowing with scenic wonders, making it the perfect trail for cyclists, skaters, and runners.
The Great Miami River Trail was named the best bike trail in Ohio in 2019 by Ohio Magazine.
Spend Time in Nature at the Farrington Reserve
Farrington Reserve is a 27-acre property located on West Peterson Road with 2,500-foot access to the Great Miami River.
Acquired in 2009 by the Miami County Park District, this reserve offers vital habitat for migrating birds, food sources, and wildlife migration.
Farrington Reserve has close access to the Great Miami River Recreational Trail for bicycling and hiking activities.
It also provides excellent opportunities for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, seeing wildlife, and educational programs all year.
Visitors can pass by the scenic 7-foot Farrington Reserve Falls along the trails, where a deep pool can be found at its base, a wonderful spot to cool off during a hot day.
Taste Good Food at the Piqua Farmers Market
The Piqua Community Farmers Market, a project of Mainstreet Piqua, Inc., aims to bring the community together through good food.
This event promotes fresh produce and the importance of where food and ingredients are sourced.
The Piqua Community Farmers Market is held in front of the Piqua Public Library on West High Street and runs every Thursday for 19 weeks from May to September.
They make it extra fun and exciting by hosting friendly competitions, including Strawberry Jam Contest, Chocolate Chip Cookie Contest, Cupcake Decorating Contest, Salsa Contest, Biggest Tomato Contest, and Apple Pie Contest.
Come drop by and interact with local vendors, residents, and visitors while shopping and eating locally sourced goodies to your heart’s content.
Listen to Live Music at Fountain Park
Fountain Park is a 35-acre park divided into two by a hydraulic canal.
The park’s divisions are called the Upper Fountain and the Lower Fountain, located at Fountain Boulevard, Forest Avenue, and Echo Lake Drive, respectively.
The hydraulic canal that connects the Upper and Lower Fountain offers a quiet strolling path as well as fishing opportunities both on and off the bank.
Other park features include Hardman Field baseball diamond, tennis courts, a basketball and a volleyball court, playground, picnic shelters, and grills.
Within the area also is the Fountain Park Dining Hall which can accommodate up to 125 persons, as well as the Hance Pavilion, where a variety of concerts are held every summer.
See a Military Site at the Forest Hill Cemetery
Sitting along Route 66 is the Forest Hill Cemetery, a Civil War shrine constructed by the Grand Army of the Republic.
Forest Hill is a great example of a memorial from the second half of the nineteenth century.
Grave markers are topped with simple domes supplied by the government for the veteran burials.
The burial markers from the 1880s and 1890s include a mix of white and African-American veterans, making this memorial interesting.
Since 1968 when the Forest Hill Union Cemetery was created, Forest Hill Cemetery has over 28,000 monuments and 31,000 burials.
Go on a Downtown Walking Tour
Explore Piqua’s vibrant downtown area at your convenience.
A self-guided walking tour called "A Time of Change-Downtown Piqua 1890" is available at the Piqua Public Library's local history department or the Mainstreet Piqua office.
The first stop of this tour is in North Main Street’s 500 block.
An approximate 1 to 2 hours can be spent on this self-guided tour.
Grab lunch and discover hidden gems through restaurants, cafes, and historic buildings across downtown.
If you fancy a guide while touring, you may check with Mainstreet Piqua for available guided tours.
Play Golf at Echo Hills Golf Course
Echo Hills Golf Course is a public golf course owned and managed by the city of Piqua.
Located at Echo Lake Drive, this 18-hole, 72-par, the 6,048-yard golf course opened in 1949.
Golfers will enjoy its spectacular scenery dotted with thick trees and lakes, with well-kept Bluegrass greens and fairways.
Bunkers and water hazards provide a challenging yet friendly course to accommodate any skill levels.
Echo Hills Golf Course is a great place to play golf regularly or as a new destination for you and your friends when visiting Piqua.
See Wild Flowers at the Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary
The Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary sits on a 100-acre park with 0.7 miles of boardwalk trail.
Located at East Statler Road, the Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary is a wildlife observation park with virgin beech-maple forests, wildflowers, and a rare community of plants.
Due to delicate plant life, pets are not allowed on the boardwalk trail.
J. Scott Garbry and his family-owned this land for 130 years until 1981 when they deeded it to the Miami County Park District.
Every year, flower displays are held during spring and autumn, with most of the plants and trees labeled so that visitors can easily identify them.
The Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary also hosts educational programs and events by the Miami County Park District.
Set Up a Picnic at the Garbry Big Woods Reserve
The Garbry Big Woods Reserve is a separate area from the Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary, although they are located nearby each other.
Situated at North Casstown Sidney Road, the Garbry Big Woods Reserve is bigger than the sanctuary, with 272 acres of natural features, including fishing and wildlife ponds, woodlands, and a 2.2-mile hiking trail.
The reserve offers picnic shelters, where mowed areas can be used for picnics, games, and relaxation.
The reserve’s special feature is the arboretum of native Ohio trees in different varieties, allowing visitors to learn how to distinguish these trees through their barks, buds, and leaves.
Visitors can go fishing in the stocked pond requiring no fishing license or play archery in the outdoor archery range.
The Garbry Big Woods Reserve also hosts education programs and events by the Miami County Park District, such as Discovery Night Hike, Beginning to Advanced Archery,Garbry Big Woods Trail Run, and Dog Social.
Indulge at Chocolates at Winans Chocolates + Coffees
Indulge yourself in the world of handcrafted chocolates and coffee at Winans Chocolates + Coffees.
The Winans family has been in the baking and candy business since the early 1900s.
Winans boasts of their use of fresh, whole, and sustainable ingredients to deliver only the best and high-quality products, as well as their dedication to green business practices and environmental efforts.
Various tours are available where guests can visit the candy factory, witness how the chocolates are made the same way they’re handmade for generations, learn how the coffees are sourced, and get a sampling of their delicious coffee and confectionery!
They have two locations in Piqua, Spring Street and Looney Road, and have about 20 branches with plans to expand in Central and Western Ohio.
Piqua is well-balanced with rich cultural history, urban development growth, and outdoor exploration, making it an ideal destination for every traveler.
Whether you’re a history lover, a bookworm, a foodie, or a health enthusiast, Piqua has all you need for a fun day out or a longer stay to explore.
Add Piqua to your bucket list and have fun with our list of things to do in this beautiful, quaint city in southwest Ohio.