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Dayton Family 168OHDaytonKIdsVacation Ideas – Airplanes, Stargazing and SunWatch. Only in Ohio’s bucolic Miami Valley is it possible to canoe on an ancient river, relive the days of early settlers, and be thrilled by Wilbur and Orville Wright’s dream of flight. Go stargazing; participate in science; see an ancient Indian village; hike, bike, swim, sleep or read a book in the shade. Miami Valley family vacation days can be easy paced yet packed with memories.  
The city of Dayton is known as “The Birthplace of Aviation” and its moniker is well earned. Wilbur and Orville Wright would be impressed with the ways in which the area pays homage to powered flight and showcases the rich natural beauty of the area. Review the vacation action list and learn why.  

See ways to take flight. The grand daddy of aviation museums, the United States Air Force Museum on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is one of the world's oldest and largest. More than 300 aircraft as well missiles nourish the experience. The galleries of the museum include exhibits and displays featuring aviation history, Air Force One, and the Korean War. Bonus points: The National Aviation Hall of Fame is also located in the museum. More than 150 space and aviation leaders, including Amelia Earhart, William Boeing and Neil Armstrong, are honored at the museum.  Need to know. It is open daily (excluding major holidays) at no charge to the public. (The United States Air Force Museum 1100 Spaatz Street Dayton OH  45433-7102. (937) 255-3284 or

Remember the Wright Brothers? Long before Kitty Hawk, the Miami Valley provided space to prove their theory of flight. The amazing story is told at the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center and Aviation Trail Visitor Center and Museum. An orientation film frames the story and guided tours explain the details. See a restored Wright brothers' print shop, and the restored Wright Cycle Company building. The Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center, located at Wright Brothers Hill, also shows a film and showcases exhibits depicting the Wright brothers' continuing experiments onsite.  Junior Ranger programs allow kids to build a sled kite, read a Goop Tale, and learn about the area’s earliest inhabitants. Bonus points: On select days during the summer national park rangers lead bike tours throughout the area. (Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park 22 South Williams Street Dayton, OH USA 45402. (937) 225-7705 or  

Time travel with your kids. 168OHDaytonCarillonLocated south of downtown Dayton, Carillon Historical Park presents the story of transportation and settlement in the Miami Valley.  In a park like setting the 65-acre outdoor museum, more than 25 buildings depict life as it was more than a century ago along the Great Miami River. Throughout the year visitors may enjoy living history demonstrations depicting pioneer life. Watch a black smithy and see butter being churned; observe bread baked over an open hearth and listen to a fiddle. Bonus points: See the 1905 Wright Flyer III – the first practical airplane. (Carillon Historical Park 1000 Carillon Boulevard Dayton, OH  45409. (937) 293-2841 or   

Experience an American prairie. Aullwood Audubon Center & Farm Come has an education center and organic farm in addition to woods, streams, ponds, meadows, and tall grass prairies. The center maintains habitats for indigenous wildlife and works to revive native flowers and grasses. Within this safe natural haven plants, dragonflies, butterflies, birds and reptiles thrive. The man-made focal point is a barn that was built in the 1800s. Today its residents include sheep, rabbits, chickens, turkeys, cows and horses. The Discovery Room within the barn has more than 50 hands-on exhibits to be enjoyed.  From the barnyard trails weave throughout the natural habitat including pathways to both the butterfly and the hummingbird garden. Bonus points: Aullwood has three unique prairie areas which change with each season and often sustain grasses measuring nine feet by the end of summer. (Aullwood Audubon Center & Farm 1000 Aullwood Rd. Dayton, OH 45414. (937) 890-7360 or
Share amazing discoveries. Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is a reason to get in your car and drive to Dayton. To say that the facility is interactive is an understatement. They maintain an atmosphere of learning, sharing and fun supported by more than a million artifacts and items.  Exhibits topics include biology, archaeology, live animals, geology, paleontology, astronomy and a planetarium. Permanent exhibits include the Bernouilli Blower, Explorers Crossing, the Water Table, the Color Wall, a pioneer cabin, and more than 60 animals native to Ohio as well as a three-story climbing tower and slide, a tidal pool, Sonoran Desert area, Vectren Glowing, African Room, with a mummy,  Mead Tree House, and the Hall of the Universe. Stop at the “Do Lab” and participate in a variety of experiments. Watch live science demonstrations in the Science Theater. Bonus points: The best part of any visit is the ever-changing daily programs which include puppet shows, a polar animal talk, a mummy talk, bat chats, butterfly talks, and each Friday afternoon story time in the Mead Treehouse.  (Boonshoft Museum of Discovery 2600 DeWeese Parkway Dayton, OH 45414.  (937) 275-7431 or

Look into space. 168OHDaytonTelescopeBoonshoft Museum is also the home of the Caryl D. Philips Space Theater. The awesome planetarium complex includes the Hall of the Universe with its galactic music, lighting and outer space ambiance plus an extensive meteorite, several lunar samples and a specimen from Mars. In addition to daily astronomy programs featuring the mysteries of our sky, the Space Theater also offers a family laser show in which music is synchronized with laser lights and special digital effects.  Bonus points: This is a reason to stay up late. On Friday evenings – weather permitting- the Apollo Observatory and/or the Junior Observatory are open free to the public. Guests are invited to look through a telescope an observe craters on the moon, count the rings of Saturn or find a favorite constellation. (Boonshoft Museum of Discovery 2600 DeWeese Parkway Dayton, OH 45414.  (937) 275-7431 or

Go to a dig. The Miami Valley was populated hundreds of years before Mr. Columbus stepped ashore. SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological Park showcases the evidence of life at the site of an 800-year-old village built by the Fort Ancient Indians. SunWatch Indian Village is a reconstruction of the settlement based on artifacts discovered onsite. Any visit begins at the interpretive center which displays found objects and explains their meaning to the location. The village itself contains five lath and daub structures, a native garden, portions of a stockade, and indigenous prairie plants. Unique posted believed to be astronomical alignments may be seen at the center of the village. Cool idea: Want to dig yourself? The Museum's Summer Lore program provides teens a chance to work on archaeological excavations during the summer months and younger children are welcome when accompanied by a parent. (SunWatch Indian Village/ Archaeological Park 2301 West River Road Dayton, Ohio 45418-2815. (937)268-8199 or
Content researched and posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel with images provided by Boonshoft Museum of Discovery and Carillon Historical Park. Updated copyright 2016.
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