Designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas: What is a DORA, and what are the regulations?

Many cities now have implemented a “Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area.,” allowing adults to carry alcoholic beverages in part of a city’s downtown or entertainment district.

According to the Ohio Department of Commerce, while in a DORA, those 21 and older are able to purchase drinks that must be in a special DORA-labeled cup. These cups may be found at participating vendors.

This program is still in its infancy, and some may still have questions. Here are a few to consider:

May outside drinks be brought into the DORA?

Only drinks in a special DORA-branded cup are able to be carried in the area. Drinks purchased outside of the DORA must still comply with Ohio’s open container laws.

Can I take drink into other businesses inside the DORA?

Participation in a DORA is decided by each individual business. says guests should “be mindful of signage that they [businesses] may post informing you if you can bring your drink inside or not.” The site also recommends guests finish their drinks before entering another alcohol-serving establishment.

Where might I find a DORA near me?

Ohio’s Department of Commerce website has a map that allows Ohioans to discover what cities have a DORA in the area. Each listing also has a link to the corresponding city’s website.

How did DORAs come to be?

The history of DORAs goes back to a law passed by the Ohio General Assembly in 2015. This law amended the state’s regulations on liquor “to allow municipal corporations and townships with a population of more than 35,000 to create outdoor refreshment areas, to exempt persons within an outdoor refreshment area from the open container law.”

The first of these DORAs was created in Middletown for New Year’s Eve 2015. Since then, nearly 150 of these outdoor areas were created across Ohio.

Dayton’s Oregon District started participating in the program in 2020, and has expanded the boundaries throughout downtown Dayton several times, most recently in June 2023.

Can a city have multiple DORAs?

The number and size of DORAs in a particular city depends on the population. states that cities with a population less than 50,000 may have up to three DORAs, which may be up to 320 acres each.

If the population of a city is more than 50,000, the total number increases to six, with a limit of 640 acres each.

While cities such as Dayton may have only one DORA, places such as Cincinnati and Canton both have two each, with more in the surrounding towns.

When are DORAs in effect?

The time DORAs are in effect can vary between cities. The website for each DORA will have information for when it is in effect.

One example is downtown Dayton’s DORA, which is in effect every day from noon-midnight. Another DORA — Hyde Park in Cincinnati — is in effect 6-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Will there be a DORA at any Ohio festivals?

Festivals and events within DORAs are able to participate in that DORA. However, this only applies to drinks purchased within the event itself.

Drinks purchased within the DORA but outside of the event cannot be brought inside. This means that any event within a DORA makes that DORA smaller. An article on says, “The larger footprint of an event, like a concert with a liquor permit, the smaller the DORA is for other patrons to use.”

What else should I know about DORAs?

Each city will have its own additional regulations regarding DORA districts. For instance, downtown Dayton’s DORA requires a guest only has only one DORA cup at a time.

It is recommended that anyone interested in visiting a city’s DORA check its website beforehand for information.

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