What is there to do in Dayton after dark?
Not everyone in the world keeps “normal” first-shift hours, of course. First responders, factory workers, nightclub employees, and other occupations keep their workers up all around the clock. Then you always have your insomniacs who just can’t sleep no matter the lateness of the hour. But when you ask your average local resident about available late-night activities in the Miami Valley, many get a perplexed look on their face.

“Late-night? You mean like, after midnight?”

“Well, there’s...um… what time do the nightclubs close, anyway?”
“Not me, I have to get up for work in the morning. I’m always in bed by 11.”

The truth is, if you’re not a night owl yourself then you might be surprised at the number of late-night options available to Dayton-area residents who, for one reason or another, aren’t in bed by midnight. There are the obvious choices, of course—Walmart, Meijer, and many Kroger locations are open 24 hours per day, seven days per week, including holidays, and their gleaming lights draw pasty insomniacs to their doors like moths to a porch light. If shopping, people-watching, or just wandering the aisles looking for that certain item to satisfy a late night-craving is your passion then all of those big-box retailers and grocers happily remain open past 3 a.m. to fulfill your shopping needs.

Shopping can make a body hungry, though, and you should know that many local restaurants and diners remain open all night as well, with servers dishing up breakfasts, sandwiches and smiles to weary folks on their way home from a club or a second-shift job. While the Denny’s at 1136 S. Main St. in Dayton—a long-time destination point for hungry late night customers for decades—closed two years ago, you can still satisfy your craving for a Grand Slam if you’re willing to make the 43-minute drive to its Jeffersonville location. Closer to home, there are still a number of other chain restaurants right here in town, such as Steak ‘n Shake, IHOP and Waffle House, that are all open and happily serving customers around the clock.

“I still love going to Waffle House late at night,” says Sidney resident Jeff Callahan, who worked in Dayton bars for many years. “When I was working as security in the local clubs me and my co-workers would hit the Waffle House on Needmore all the time on the way home. You’d be surprised how busy they get after the bars close.”

But perhaps waffles and hash browns scattered, smothered and chunked aren’t your style. How about a nice fresh doughnut and maybe a cup of coffee to keep your stomach from growling in the middle of the night?

A doughnut mecca that has been successfully drawing the faithful away from their beds since 1960 is Bill’s Donut Shop, located at 268 N. Main St. in Centerville, a local favorite that is also open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Bill’s was named the No. 2 doughnut shop in the country by BusinessInsider.com in 2017 and has also been recognized for its culinary expertise by such media giants as USA Today and HuffingtonPost.com.

But it’s inevitable—what do you do when all of those late night doughnuts and pastries start adding unwanted inches to your waistline? You go hit the weights at your local 24-hour fitness center, of course.

“It’s definitely becoming more common and more popular for fitness centers to be open 24 hours,” says Kyle Schoenherr, the owner of Anytime Fitness on North Dixie Drive in Dayton. “As more members realize that option is available they’re definitely attracted to it. Especially with so many people now on less-than-traditional work shifts—they might work in a restaurant or a hospital or a hotel or whatever the case might be.”
Anytime Fitness, as the name implies, is a 24-hour health and fitness club. The company currently operates over 3,000 franchised locations in more than 20 countries, and the gym facilities are open 24 hours a day, 365 days out of the year. Schoenherr, who was a fitness enthusiast prior to purchasing his own gym, says that the around-the-clock availability of his fitness center and workout equipment attracts clients who might be up late or just keep odd hours.

“Their hours are different and they realize that there are places like this that are open, where they can go work out anytime, and that’s pretty convenient,” the gym owner continues. “We were the pioneers in terms of the key fob 24-hour access while also adding reciprocity, which means that if I’m the customer and my membership is here in my hometown then if I’m on vacation or commute to work or travel for business if there’s an Anytime Fitness nearby then my key fob will work at any location 24 hours a day 365 days per year.”

Whether staying in shape, eating doughnuts or ordering waffles, late-night options abound in the Dayton area for restless souls who simply can’t find their way into bed at a decent hour.

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