In 2013 we moved up to Ohio from Raleigh, North Carolina. It’s so hard to believe it’s been that long! One of the things that we have had to adjust to is being so far away from a big city with lots to do. We live in a small community, and there isn’t a lot to do around here. So, when we have a family day and need something to do, we tend to wander into Dayton.
Overtime, we’ve discovered some great family-friendly places! So, in case you live around here, or you plan on being near Dayton for a visit, here are some great places that you can take kids of all ages!
Carillon Historical Park
Price: $12 Per Adult | $8 Per Child (3-17) | Children under 3 are free
Carillon Historical Park was one of the first places we visited when we moved here, and we’ve been back multiple times since. There is so much to see, and there’s such a wide variety of things that it appeals to many ages. The neat thing about Carillon Park is that everything has to do with the history of Dayton.
There is a museum, kids area with a functioning carousel, a real old schoolhouse, plus buildings full of things like cars, bicycles, and full-sized trains. Also, on certain dates, they have small ride-on trains that the Carillon Park Rail and Steam Society runs. It only costs $1 per person. Be sure to check here for their schedule.
One of our favorite things is Culp’s Café, located on-site. It’s a cute little place to eat, and we almost always have lunch there while visiting the park. They also have specific hours so check here for their schedule and the menu. The fun thing about Culp’s Café is that you can eat here without having to pay to go to the park.
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is by far one of Logan’s favorite places to go. It is four hangers worth of airplanes. They cover everything from the Wright brothers all the way to modern-day planes. Also, they just opened a new section a year ago with Presidential Airplanes that you can walk through as well as a section about NASA and space. Just a fair warning, if you don’t like airplanes, this is not the place for you. That is all there is, but we’ve always enjoyed visiting here, especially since it’s free.
There is a restaurant inside, and the food is pretty good with quite a few options. It is a little pricey, though.
Keep in mind that this place is huge and you may not be able to get through it all in one day. I know the last time we visited about a year ago, we didn’t even get through half of it. I’m okay with that though since there is no cost to get in. It’s a perfect place for those cold or rainy days.
The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery
Price: $11.50 Per Child (3-17) | $14.50 Per Adult | Children under 3 are free
The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is a fun place! It was a lot bigger than I expected when we visited the first time this past fall. I think that Logan may have been a bit young at the time for some of the things they had, but he still had lots of fun. Boonshoft is a great place for kids to go and run off energy plus learn as they go. Logan refers to it as the space museum because they had a fantastic space section that he loved.
They have a planetarium, but we did not go in there because we just didn’t feel like Logan would have sat through it. This children’s museum is suitable for a broad range of ages, and even I had fun going through it.
One thing to keep in mind, which we didn’t realize when we went, is that there’s no cafeteria or restaurant. They have a vending machine area, but it didn’t have much to offer besides snacks. So I would advise bringing a lunch or be prepared to leave to eat lunch and come back.
The first time we went to the Wegerzyn Gardens, it was summer time, and it was a perfect way to spend a few hours. They have an amazing children’s section that has a man-made creek and waterfall that kids can play in. Thankfully I knew about this before we went and came prepared with Logan’s swimsuit and a towel.
There are also tons to see and do in the kid’s section. There are all kinds of little nooks and crannies with fun little things like musical instruments or a canoe tucked in them. Plus there is a huge sand table area as well as picnic tables to stop and enjoy lunch.
When we went during the summer with just Logan, we didn’t get a chance to explore the rest of the gardens. So, this past fall, we took my parents and stopped to check out the park. It was incredible, even in the autumn. There are trails to walk on and lots of flowers. I hope to get back there this spring to see how beautiful it looks with everything in bloom.
It’s just all around a great place to have some family time and run off some energy. Plus, it’s all free! And as we discovered, it’s great almost year around. I can’t say it’s great in the winter because hello, this is Ohio we are talking about and it gets pretty cold. But the rest of the year it’s a great place to visit.
Young’s Jersey Dairy
Price: VARIES | Check website for up-to-date activities and prices
The first time I visited Young’s Jersey Dairy was with my cousin, his wife, and three girls. They were visiting from Colorado and invited Logan and me to go with them. It was fantastic! It probably helped that it was the middle of the week in June. The weather was perfect, and there were not many people there. Then, the second time I went was with Shadrach, my parents, and Logan and it was crazy busy. However, it was the Saturday before Labor Day, so that might explain the crowds.
There is so much to do here that is geared to the whole family. There is a play area for younger kids, a huge potato sack slide, batting cages, a petting barn with sheep and goats, as well as a restaurant and a well-known ice cream shop. Then on top of all of this, there are seasonal activities and different events. It seems like there is always something going on. There is a cost for the activities so be sure to check their website or call ahead of time to find out prices. Also, one more thing, Young’s isn’t in Dayton, it’s about 30 minutes northeast of Dayton but trust me, it’s worth the trip.
2nd Street Market
Price: Free to walk around
2nd Street Market is our most recent find. This past weekend I stumbled across their website and convinced Shadrach we needed to go check it out. I’m so glad we made the time Saturday to stop. The sad part is we got there 40 minutes before it closed but that was enough time to get an idea of what is there and know that we will be making another trip back very soon.
It is an indoor farmers market. There are little vendor booths set up inside a historic freight house. The food vendors looked amazing! There were a lot of food options for lunch, but sadly we didn’t have time to stop and eat. It all smelled and looked so good, though.
During the summer they also have an outdoor area. So, hopefully, we will be able to head back down there and check it all out. If you live close by or are visiting Dayton, this is a great place to check out for sure!
Brukner Nature Center
Price: $2.50 Per Person or $10 Per Family | Sunday’s are FREE
One thing we enjoy but don’t do a lot of is hiking. A while back we had heard about this place and thought it might be fun to check out. There is a small cost involved, but if you head there on a Sunday, it’s free!
There is a little bit of everything at Brukner Nature Center. There’s a museum, or I think it’s what they consider the nature center. Inside of it are some displays, a bird-watching room, and even some small rescued animals.
Outside there is a whole section with bigger rescue animals and birds. Plus there are multiple short trails that you can hike. We only did one that went around a pond but Logan was only three at the time, and it was the perfect length for him. Much longer and he might have lost interest or ended up asking us to carry him. All of the trails are pretty short which means you can hike a few, or if you have little ones, one might be just right. I think the longest trails are 1.1 miles, which is ideal for a casual hike.
There is also picnic areas, but there are no restaurants close by. So come prepared with your snacks and lunch. Now, one thing is that this place is also not exactly in Dayton. It’s about 30 minutes north of Dayton, but if you are looking for someplace that gets you out of the city and makes you feel like you are out in nature, this will do that for you. I can’t wait for things to warm up a bit more so that we can do a bit of hiking.
More to Come…
Well, these are seven of our favorite family-friendly places around Dayton. Hopefully, as the weather warms up, we can do some more exploring. I already have an extensive list of locations that we haven’t been to yet, all in and around Dayton. Have you ever been to any of these? Or better yet, have you ever been to Dayton? If you have any places, you can suggest I’d love to hear about them!