Staycation Ideas for Summer Fun in Dayton

If gas prices have you staying close to home, then here are some fun things to do here in Dayton that will not break the bank. You can also check out Becky's ideas for Cincinnati and  Bargain Briana for Indianapolis.  Also, I will be updating this list weekly and adding specific events and dates into the Dayton Savings Calendar.

Dayton's Best Staycation Ideas

Kids Bowl Free

Rave Motion Pictures: Free Summer Movie 2012

Splash Parks/Pads & Interacting Fountains

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

This is a great place to take the kids to learn all about Science in a fun environment. Some of our favorite activities include:

  • Water table
  • Looking at the stars in the planetarium
  • Watching wildlife through binoculars in the Tree House
  • Touching the Starfish in the Tidal Pool
  • Visiting animals in the Discovery Zoo
  • Digging for fossils
  • Working on Cars, Go to the Grocery Store in the Pretend Play Area

Admission for Adults is $8.50, Seniors $7.50, Kids ( 2-12)-$7.50 and Under 2 are Free.  Family Memberships start $79 and also include free admission to the , Sunwatch Indian Villiage, and Fort Ancient in Oregonia, OH.

If you choose to purchase a  Membership, check out the reciprocity list for hundreds of museums and zoos throughout the country.  You will receive Free admission to the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and Science.  However, you can visit COSI in Columbus, Columbus Zoo and the Cincinnati Zoo for Half Price Admission.

They have a picnic tables and vending machines on site.  If you would like to get outdoors, you can visit nearby Wegerzyn Gardens.

Wegerzyn Gardens

Wegerzyn Gardens is one of the Five Rivers Metroparks that are we are blessed with in Dayton.The kids can eat lunch, play in the water and spray area, walk through the gardens, plant flowers, play in the playhouse and so much more.

The best part is that you can visit for Free.  We may several trips with friends during the summer.  We typically visit the same days that we go to the Boonshoft to cool off on a hot summer day.

Ohio Caverns

The Ohio Caverns are located about an hour northeast of Dayton in West Liberty, OH.  My boys loved visiting a real life cave and all the beautiful formations formed beneath the earth.  They really liked it when the turned the lights out for  a brief moment and it was pitch black.

You can try mining for gemstones, fossils, and arrowheads when you purchase a bag of mining rough from the gift shop.  They retail for $4.5-$9.00 for 3-5lb bags.  My boys had a blast mining their treasures while waiting for our turn for the tour.    They have picnic tables and shelters if you would like to pack a lunch.

Adults are $14-$19.50, Children 5-12 are $8-$14, and Kids under 4 are Free.  Adult Annual Pass is $35 and Kids are $20.

Young's Jersey Dairy Farm

Located in Yellow Springs, you can spend the entire day with the family. You can choose from two courses to play 18 holes of miniature golf at Udders and Putters, practice your swing at the driving range or the batting cages and a fast slide.  They have the Moovers and Shakers rides for the kids, a petting zoo, and Cowvins Kiddie Corral for kids under 48 inches.

To maximize your fun at Young's Dairy, you can purchase a Young's Family Fun Pass.  You can choose between the 3-Tab for $11.50 or the 5-Tab for $16.50, which is the best value depending how much time you have for your visit.  You can even go hiking or camping at John Bryan State Park, or bike at the nearby bike path to Xenia.

National Museum of the US Air Force

This is affectionately known as the Airplane Store since my boys were very small.  My boys love looking at all the military planes,helicopters and especially the guns and bombs.  They love the hands on activities in the Space Hall of Fame, especially trying to land the plane on the aircraft carrier.  You can also get your picture taken in a Space Suit.

The Air Force Museum is Free to all visitors.  You can pack a lunch and eat outside on picnic tables or upstairs in the cafe.  You can purchase food if you would like as well.

You can view an IMAX show during your visit.  You can purchase tickets as you walk in the museum doors.  Tickets for Adults-$6.75, Active Military $6, Students and Seniors-$5.25, and Kids (3-7) $4.

Adventure Reef Water Park

This waterpark is located at the Kettering Recreation Complex and it will open June 3rd @ 4pm.  The waterpark was just redesigned and updated  for this season.  It will have the following attractions:

  • Leisure Pool with Water Playground
  • Interactive Splash Pad
  • Fast Waterslides
  • 2 Waterslides that empty into a Splash pool
  • Waterfall Pool

This is a great waterpark to take the family close to home and it is not expensive.  Admission to the park for residents of Kettering for Adults is $3.50 and Kids (3-17) is $3.  For non-residents Adult admission is $7 and Kids (3-17) is $6.  Spectators are only $1.

Check the Reach Magazine, May 2011 for a B1G1 Free Coupon.  It is valid for June 5-26th.

Dayton Art Institute

The Dayton Art Institute is a gem near Downtown Dayton.  As you walk into the rotunda, you are amazed by its beauty and this place is a personal favorite of mine.They have art from the American, African, Asian, Photography and so much more.  You can spend hours walking through the quiet halls looking at all the beautiful artwork.  You can even see Monet's Waterlilies on display when you visit, which is my favorite.

They have the Experiencenter for the kids.  They can touch, play, and experience art in this space.  Currently, Trash Look Again in on display where they can see art created from recycled or what we may think is useless material.

The museum is Free.  However, they do have suggested ticket prices for Adults-$8, Seniors and Students-$5, Kids under 17 are Free.  Special exhibits do have an admission fee and will include admission to the permanent collection.

Dayton Dragons Family Nights

We love to take the kids to a Dayton Dragons Game every year.  We love to watch the baseball game and their mascots, Heater and Gem, along with entertainment between innings.  The McDonald's Family Night tickets are $11 for Lawn Seating and$15 for Stadium Seating and include the following:

  • Dragons Ticket
  • McDonald's Extra Value Coupon
  • Dayton Dragons Hat

You can choose from the following dates this season:

  • Monday, June 27
  • Wednesday, July 20
  • Sunday, August 28

For General Ticket information, check out the Dragons website.

Please let me know if you have something that I should add.  It is going to be one fun summer.



  1. Lindsey Whitney on May 23, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Great post. Thanks for all the ideas! We’re hoping to meet some friends half-way in Dayton (they are from St. Louis) this fall — any suggestions on a inexpensive place to stay? We’ll both have 3 month olds with us (and our family has a 2 year old as well). Thanks!

  2. Erin R on May 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    We’re local Daytonians, but I have never made the trip to the Ohio Caverns. I think this might just be the summer to start visiting! I think my 3 year old would love it! Thanks for the idea.

  3. Skirnir Hamilton on May 24, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    My family is from the Dayton area, so a few years ago we visited and went to the Air museum. It is a nice place with lots of interesting things. ICBM mocks, and airplanes. My son had to sit in the cockpit and have his picture taken, etc. And all for free!

  4. Beth on July 10, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    We love everything on your list. For some inexpensive family outdoor fun, I’d add a trip to some of the area state parks- Houston Woods or Caesars Creek are good choices.

    We also like Possum Run Metro park- farm animals and lots of space for walking, fishing, and picnicing.

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