Explore: Dayton, TN
Dayton was settled in 1820 as Smith’s Crossroads; in 1877, the town was renamed after Dayton, Ohio. This historic town is famous for hosting the Scopes Trial – also called the Scopes Monkey Trail – in July 1925 at the Rhea County Courthouse. The trial began when a Rhea County high school teacher, John T. Scopes, was was accused of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act, which made it unlawful to teach human evolution in state-funded schools. Truth be told, the trial was actually deliberately staged in order to attract publicity for the small town of Dayton. Each July, the town highlights its storied past with professional productions and live music events that celebrate both the past and present.
Today, Dayton’s charming downtown features antique stores, boutiques and restaurants that make for a fun day on the square. The historic Rhea County Courthouse hovers over the downtown and is home to the new Scopes Trial Museum. Main Street Dayton hosts events throughout the year to highlight all that this charming community has to offer.
Dayton is also considered the #1 Bass Fishing Destination in the Nation. Located on Chickamauga Lake, a reservoir of the Tennessee River, Dayton continues to shatter largemouth bass records.
What to do in Dayton, Tennessee:
Spend some time hiking, rock-hopping and cooling down in blue holes at Laurel-Snow State Natural Area.
You can’t go wrong stopping for lunch or dinner at Monkey Town Brewing Company with their great selection of craft beer and fabulous food. Next door, enjoy freshly made pizza and desserts and then peruse interesting books that line the walls at 1st Avenue Pizza & Books.
While downtown, stop by the Scopes Trial Museum and Rhea County Courthouse to learn about the famous Scopes Monkey Trial, which took place in the heat of July 1925.
Just off Hwy. 27, stop by Ponds & Plants, a unique venue that is part botanical garden, part pet store, part zoo, part playground, part wildlife refuge and part sculpture garden.