Introducing guest blogger Jenn from Those Johnson Boys
Looking for fun things to do with kids in Dayton Ohio?
While we love to travel the world, my family of 5 spends most of our weekends in our hometown of Dayton. So, I have plenty of kid-approved, family-friendly things to do in Dayton Ohio for you.
Whether you’re ready to explore nature, learn about history, enjoy a sweet treat, or just have some good old-fashioned fun, this list has something for everyone. Let’s jump into it.
This post is part of our Explore My City series – come and visit cities around the world through the eyes of locals
National Museum of the US Air Force
If you’re passing through and looking for things to do in Dayton, Ohio, the National Museum of the US Air Force is a must-see. Not only is it open 7 days a week, but admission is free.
This museum has been around for over 100 years and has grown into the largest military aviation museum in the world.
Spanning over 20 acres, you’ll get to see hundreds of aerospace vehicles and missiles. Plus, you’ll even get to walk through the airplanes that were used by past US Presidents.
Tip: arrive early in the day to avoid the crowds.
Carillon Historical Park
Dayton, Ohio, is known as the birthplace of aviation. And there’s no better place to learn all about that (and the rest of Dayton’s history!) than Carillon Historical Park.
Home to the Wright Brothers National Museum, you’ll be able to see the first practical airplane that Wilbur and Orville Wright built in 1905.
Carillon Historical Park also offers train rides and a carousel, making this a great place to find plenty of kids’ activities in Dayton Ohio.
Boonshoft Museum of Discovery
Looking for things to do in Dayton with toddlers? While the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is fun for kids and adults, children under 3 years old are free. And this museum is full of hands-on exhibits and play areas, as well as a small zoo, keeping even your littlest ones entertained.
In addition to that, the museum offers daily educational programs and has a planetarium. With such a wide range of activities, your kids will stay busy for hours.
Aullwood Audubon offers one of the more unique things to do in Dayton: hunting for giant trolls!
For a fee (children 3 and under are free), you’ll have access to the nature center, farm, sanctuary, and trails.
Along the trails, you’ll be able to experience “The Troll that Hatched an Egg” exhibition by Thomas Dambo, an internationally renowned recycling artist. The exhibition includes three giant troll sculptures made from locally sourced materials.
To complete the full trail, plan for about 90 minutes. If you’re visiting with a baby, make sure to bring a carrier, as the trails are not stroller-friendly.
Five Rivers MetroParks
If your family loves the outdoors, you’ll be happy to know that there are a ton of options in the Dayton area for you. Five Rivers MetroParks is a region-wide park district that protects and manages 18 parks across the Dayton area, adding up to over 16,000 acres of land.
Visiting the MetroParks is one of our favorite things to do with kids in Dayton Ohio. We are huge fans of beautiful scenery, and these parks do not disappoint. Here are some of our favorites:
Englewood MetroPark is home to three waterfalls that you’ll come across as you hike through the park. If you’re visiting with young kids, you can’t miss the nature play area by Patty Shelter. Nearby, there’s also a small creek to splash around in.
Fun fact: my husband and I got married here (well, legally anyways…our actual ceremony was in Aruba)! The grounds of Cox Arboretum are picture-perfect, filled with walking paths, ponds, gardens, and gazebos.
During your visit, make sure to climb up the 81-step tree tower to get panoramic views of the area. And if your little ones haven’t gotten enough energy out by running around the gardens, they can have some fun in the children’s maze.
RiverScape is located right in the heart of downtown Dayton. Even though this park has a more urban landscape, it’s still surrounded by the beauty of nature, as the Great Miami River flows right alongside it.
In the summer, kids can play and cool off in the interactive fountains. And in the winter, your family can go skating at the ice rink. This park is also home to community festivals throughout the year.
While there are plenty of formal gardens to enjoy at Wegerzyn Gardens, there’s no shortage of fun kids’ activities here, too.
This MetroPark is home to the Children’s Discovery Garden. This area allows kids to get up close and personal with nature by exploring the sensory garden. There are also sandboxes, a music maze, a fossil cave, and water play areas.
Dayton Dragons Game
If you visit Dayton in the summertime, go cheer on our local minor league baseball team, the Dayton Dragons. The games provide a fun atmosphere for kids and adults of all ages.
Make sure to check out the promotions for each game. On select nights, promotions may include “kids eat free & run the bases” or special fireworks shows.
The Ohio Caverns are the largest caverns in the state, and are known as “America’s most colorful caverns.”
When you visit the caverns, you will be taken on a guided tour to different areas ranging from 30 feet to 103 feet below ground. Lasting about one hour, you’ll see areas of the cavern just as it was first observed back in 1897.
The caverns are open year-round, making it one of the fun things to do near Dayton Ohio no matter when you visit.
Historic Clifton Mill
Historic Clifton Mill was built in 1802 and is one of the largest mills of its kind still in existence. When you visit, you can tour the mill to see how it works, enjoy the restaurant on site, do a little shopping in the mill’s store, or just take in the beautiful scenery, including a 90-foot covered bridge.
If you come to Dayton Ohio during the holidays, you can’t miss the Christmas light display at the Historic Clifton Mill. This award-winning light display is complete with over 4 million lights, fun holiday decorations, and even a visit from Santa.
Young’s Jersey Dairy
Spending some time at Young’s Jersey Dairy is one of the best kids’ activities in Dayton Ohio. This working dairy farm dates back to 1869 and has grown into something much bigger over the years.
At the farm, your kids will love meeting the animals, playing miniature golf, riding on the barrel train, going down a huge slide, and of course, enjoying homemade ice cream.
If you’re an amusement park lover and thrill seeker, make sure to spend a day at Kings Island. This theme park has attractions for all ages, including an entire Snoopy area for younger children. And if you visit during a hot summer day, you can also enjoy the water park.
While there are several attractions that do not have height requirements, you’ll get more bang for your buck if your little one is at least 36” tall.
Rip Rap Shake Shack
The Rip Rap Shake Shack is known for their “Monster Shakes,” which is a very fitting name because these milkshakes are huge. There are often limited-time Monster Shakes offered, so there’s always a new one to try. And I can personally say I’ve never had a bad one!
Plus, if you’ve gone to Disney World and fallen in love with Dole Whips, you can also find those right here in Dayton, Ohio, at Rip Rap Shake Shack.
Dixie Twin Drive-In
From early spring through Thanksgiving, you can take a step back in time and enjoy a movie at this drive-in. The theater plays 4 movies 2 to 6 nights per week (depending on the time of year), so check out their website to view their schedule.
While you can pack your own snacks, there is also a concession stand that offers all the standard movie theater food and drinks.
FAQ: Visiting Dayton, Ohio
What is Dayton Ohio known for?
Dayton, Ohio, is the hometown of the Wright brothers, who are known for inventing, building, and flying the first airplane. Because of this, Dayton is known as the “birthplace of aviation.”
Is Dayton a walkable city?
While the downtown Dayton area is walkable, you will need a car to visit the surrounding areas.
What are winters like in Dayton Ohio?
You can expect winters in Dayton, Ohio, to be cold with the potential for snow and ice. The coldest months are usually December through March.
What are summers like in Dayton Ohio?
Dayton, Ohio, has 4 seasons, and you can expect summers to be hot and humid. You’ll find the warmest months in Dayton to be June through August.
Is Dayton Ohio near Cincinnati?
Dayton, Ohio, is located less than an hour’s drive north of Cincinnati, making it an easy day trip.
Wrap-Up: Best Things to Do with Kids in Dayton Ohio
Dayton, Ohio, may not be a prime vacationing spot, but if you find yourself here for a visit, there are plenty of family-friendly things to do in Dayton. No matter what time of year you’re passing through, there’s always something to do in “Gem City.”
About the Blogger
Hi! I’m Jenn, the blogger behind Those Johnson Boys, a family travel blog on a mission to give parents the confidence to travel with their kids. I love sharing travel itineraries, trip inspiration, and all the tips you need to know to make your next family vacation stress-free.
We’re a family of 5 from Dayton, Ohio. And when we’re not running between work (I’m a physical therapist!), school, and sports, we love to get out of our Midwest bubble to see this great, big world. For more travel with kids tips (especially if you’re looking for Disney World tips), follow along on:
With thanks to Jenn for her contribution to our guest series. You may also like to read about Fun Thing to do in Columbus, Ohio With Kids, or take a tour around the fabulous Hocking Hills With Kids for an outdoor adventure.
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