Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Sidney, OH

  • Published 2023/03/30

The city of Sidney is located in Shelby County, Ohio, about 36 miles outside Dayton.

After the Ohio General Assembly decided on a permanent site for the county seat, a new town was formed on 70 acres of farmland donated to the council.

It was subsequently named after an English poet and patriot, Sir Phillip Sidney.

The area around the newly formed town was once a hunting ground for the Shawnee and Miami Native Americans.

When the Miami-Erie Canal opened in the 1840s, Sidney was connected to major trading centers in Ohio, and the influx of immigrants followed.

As a recipient of the All-America City Award, Sidney is famous for its architectural treasures.

These buildings include the 1881 Second Empire Sidney Municipal Courts, the Civil War-era Monumental Building, and the People’s Federal Savings and Loan Association.

Here are the best things to do in Sidney, Ohio:

Cross the Iconic Covered Bridge at Tawawa Park

Located on Tawawa Drive, Tawawa Park is a 220-acre wooded area with shelters, campgrounds, and playgrounds.

The park was named after Tawawa Creek, which runs through the grounds.

Two lakes—Tawawa and Amos—are located within the complex, providing fishing opportunities for visitors with valid fishing licenses.

Both lakes have largemouth bass, common carp, smallmouth bass, and rainbow trout.

“Big Rock,” an Ice Age glacial rock, is inside the park, attracting tourists who’d like to take photos on top of it.

Also located inside Tawawa Park is the iconic William Ross Covered Bridge, built in 1974 and dedicated to William Ross, Jr.

Ross served on the Sidney Recreation Commission from the late 1950s to the early 1970s.

Roll a Strike at the Bel-Mar Lanes

Located on West Russel Road is the bowling alley Bel-Mar Lanes.

The 12-lane bowling center is a go-to spot for families and friends wanting fun while unleashing their competitive sides over a bowling game.

Though the bowling alley doesn’t have the latest equipment, its atmosphere will take you back to the good ol’ days.

Bumper lanes for your kids are designed to keep the bowling balls out of the gutters.

On select nights, Bel-Mar lanes have Cosmic Bowling, where you play with lights down, special effects lighting, and great music turned up.

Grab snacks between games at the Snack Bar, which offers French fries, fried calamari, other finger foods, and ice-cold beer.

Enjoy Date Night at Auto Vue Drive-In Theatre

Located on 4th Avenue is Auto Vue Drive-In Theatre.

The drive-in movie theater opened in 1953.

It has screened 1st-run double features in a classic setting for decades.

Set against a scenic mountain view, the outdoor cinema plays family-friendly movies on select nights during the season.

There is a concession booth on the grounds where you can buy a bag of fresh popcorn, funnel cakes, hot pretzels, mozzarella sticks, and more to munch on while watching a movie.

Outside food is allowed on the grounds, provided you purchase a food permit at the ticket booth upon entering.

Live out your rom-com dreams by watching a movie at Auto Vue Drive-In Theatre.

Enjoy Craft Beverages at Murphy’s Craftbar + Kitchen

Murphy’s Craftbar + Kitchen is a bar and grill on E Poplar Street.

Established in 2019, the restaurant is known for its wide selection of beer on tap, cocktails, burgers, and other bar food favorites.

Choose from the 48 draft beer selection and pair it with a small plate.

One of the best-sellers is the Hangover Burger, aptly named because of the beer cheese topped on a layer of braised beer, fried egg, and beef pan sauce.

The Pulled Pork Nachos topped with house-made pico de Gallo and queso cheese sauce perfectly complement an ice-cold glass of hard seltzer.

Other must-tries include the Nashville Hot Boneless Chicken Chunks and the Street Tacos.

Murphy’s Craftbar + Kitchen also serves cocktails on the rocks, including gimlet and mojito, and frozen cocktails like the strawberry daiquiri and pina colada.

Catch a Show at the Historic Sidney Theatre

Located on West Poplar Street is the Historic Sidney Theatre.

The performing arts theater hosts adaptations of classic musicals like Sleeping Beauty, Phantom of the Opera, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show starring local artists.

First opened in 1921, the theatre was constructed for full-stage productions and silent films, hosting a touring show of Robin Hood in its inaugural showing.

Over the years, the Historic Sidney Theatre has undergone renovations and changes in ownership.

It split into two theaters at one point and became a movie theater before its closure in 2004.

A non-profit organization, Raise the Roof for the Arts, took ownership of the theater in 2009 and returned it to its original roots as a performing arts venue.

It was carefully restored to its former glory and now serves as a cultural and historical gem of Shelby County.

Enjoy an 80s Party at Rolling Hills Skate

On East Russell Road, Rolling Hills Skate is a roller-skating rink that will transport you back to the 80s.

The family-friendly recreational facility has a well-maintained rink decorated with colorful lights.

A cordoned-off space with a few arcade game machines is on one end of the skating rink.

Beside the rink is a colorful snack bar with plenty of tables, seats, and more arcade games.

Rolling Hills Skate hosts several rolling skate sessions each week open to the public and skate parties, birthday parties, fundraisers, and other special events.

You can join skating lessons to learn basic skills if you’re a beginner skater.

Play Golf at the Moose Golf Course

Located on Broadway Avenue is the Sidney Moose Lodge, which has a nine-hole golf course.

The par 35 golf course is open to the public, so give this course a try if you feel like practicing your swing.

Moose Golf Course has four sets of tees strategically laid out to challenge players of all skill levels.

The naturally hilly terrain of the area adds a different dimension to the course.

The facility boasts well-manicured greens and lush trees that give shade to players.

If you want to improve your game, Moose Golf Course has a PGA-member golf director who offers personalized lessons for adults and junior golfers.

The Lodge also has a Pro Shop to check out some of the latest gears and equipment.

Check Out the Exhibits at the Gateway Arts Council

Located on North Miami Avenue is Shelby County’s premier art organization, the Gateway Arts Council.

The non-profit aims to provide Shelby and its neighboring counties with quality art, entertainment, and cultural experience.

The Council hosts different events throughout the year to showcase the talent of local artists.

A rotating exhibit of works can be expected in the museum, including oil and watercolor paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs, and many more.

Locals can even put in their artwork for the whole county to see.

The Gateway Arts Council also holds occasional voice lessons for aspiring singers of all ages, musicals, plays, and other performances.

Learn Local History at the Shelby County Historical Society

Located on North Main Avenue is the Shelby County Historical Society.

Housed in the two-story William A. Ross, Jr Historical Center, the Society aims to preserve and present the county’s local history for future generations.

The Society was first formed in 1946 after calls for establishing a new organization to compile and preserve historical materials relating to the county and its people.

It took a brief hiatus and was revived in the 1960s, only to be inactive again after the 1970s.

It was not until 1993 that an effort was made to revive the council permanently.

Today, the council has become Shelby County’s premier historical society.

The Shelby County Historical Society has a collection of artifacts, documents, photos, and journals from as far back as the 1800s.

Grab a Steak at the Bridge Restaurant

Located on West Poplar Street is an iconic Sidney restaurant, the Bridge.

Offering fine dining at the heart of Shelby County, the Bridge prides itself on using only the freshest premium ingredients.

It promises an exquisite dining experience in a casual and relaxed manner.

One of the crowd favorites is the Filet Mignon, which is cut to order so you can be assured of fresh beef every time.

The 14-oz. ribeye is also a must-try, featuring beautiful marbling that locks in all the flavors and juices to the meat.

At the bar, you can order the house-made Rail Car Chips layered with buffalo chicken or beef and generously topped with a blend of cheeses.

Get a Slice of Pie at Spot Restaurant

On South Ohio Avenue, Spot Restaurant is a classic American diner serving breakfast, burgers, and pies.

Upon entering the restaurant, you’ll return to the past with its old-fashioned interior, retro stools and booths, and a jukebox machine on display.

The Spot opened in 1907 as a chuckwagon food truck parked at the corner of Court Street and Ohio Avenue.

To bypass city ordinances, founder Spot Miller removed the wheels of his wagon and added some awnings to create a permanent restaurant.

Don’t miss the Old Fashion Cream Pie and the Strawberry Pie baked fresh daily.

They also offer homemade sandwiches, including the best-selling Tenderloin Sandwich and BLT.

Savor Hibachi Steak at Fuji Japanese Restaurant

On West Michigan Street, Fuji Japanese Restaurant is a sushi and steak house offering various authentic Japanese food.

The Kyoto-style Japanese restaurant is best known for its sushi and sashimi combo made with fresh tuna.

The Hibachi Filet Mignon is one of its most famous dishes.

Hibachi is a traditional Japanese teppanyaki grill where the filet mignon is cooked usually in front of the customer.

Hibachi meals at Fuji Japanese Restaurant are all served with fried rice, onion soup, fresh grilled vegetables, salad, and two pieces of jumbo shrimp.

They also have a vegetarian option.

You can also go for the Bento Box, which includes chicken and vegetable tempura, shrimp shumai, California roll, soup, salad, and rice.

Marvel at the Monumental Building

Located on South Ohio Avenue is the state’s most important Civil War-era structure, the Monumental Building.

Built in 1875, the Gothic masterpiece is dedicated to the men who fought in the war.

The iconic facade contains the statue of local hero Sgt. Baker, representing the soldiers’ patriotism in the war.

An opera hall once occupied the third floor.

Today, the Monumental Building houses the local police and fire departments, the Sidney and Clinton Township offices, a public library, and several charitable organizations.

Other Things to Do Nearby

See Rare World War II Aircraft at the National Museum of the US Air Force

People in the National Museum of the US Air Force

Andreas Stroh /

A 42-minute drive from Downtown Sidney will lead you to the National Museum of the US Air Force on Spaatz Street, Dayton, Ohio.

As the biggest and oldest in the world, the military aviation museum houses some of the rarest and most essential aircraft in history.

The museum is divided into different periods of military aviation, from the Early Years Gallery to the Space Gallery.

Plane crash exhibit in the National Museum of the US Air Force

Andreas Stroh /

Almost 400 aircraft and missiles are displayed at the National Museum of the US Air Force, including the Apollo 15 Command Module Endeavour.

The museum is also home to several presidential aircraft, including the SAM 26000, which John F. Kennedy used on the day of his assassination.

Exhibit in the National Museum of the US Air Force

Wirestock Creators /

See Spectacular Crystal Formations at the Ohio Caverns

Waters in the Ohio Caverns

Rosamar /

Thirty-nine minutes from Sidney is the Ohio Caverns on East State Route 245, West Liberty, Ohio.

The show cave is popular among tourists for its crystal formations.

Discovered in 1897, the Ohio Caverns was previously an aquifer containing melted glacier water.

Interior of the Ohio Caverns

Rosamar /

The water eventually receded and exposed the cave system.

The Ohio Caverns are open all year round, with guided tours taking you on an educational exploration of the cave and its stalagmites and stalactites.

Formations in the Ohio Caverns

Rosamar /

Final Thoughts

The city of Sidney is every history geek’s dream destination.

From its heritage buildings, retro-style diners, and old-school theaters, visitors will feel the nostalgia in every corner of this city.

So, if you feel like returning in time, try the best things to do in Sidney, Ohio, on your next adventure.

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