10 Best Spots in Dayton to Take Kids Right Now

Top-rated Recreation Destinations for Kids and Grown-ups to Enjoy Together

dayton reflected on the water at sunrise


Madeline Elston


Jan 21, 2021

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Say you’ve got some spare time today with the little ones. Or maybe you’ve got a birthday coming up for a special kid who deserves to go out into the city and have some real, memorable fun. Sometimes we make plans for our kids that just don’t seem to work out when we get there; either the activity wasn’t designed with a child’s imagination in mind, or you show up and the little guy or gal just isn’t into it. Well, we’re here to help eliminate that problem. How? We’ve curated a list of the top ten highest-rated attractions and activities all over Dayton that have proven to be a blast for countless families and kids. Whether you’ve got a ton of time to plan, or you’re feeling spontaneous today, you can go out into the city and take advantage of any of these top-rated venues right now!

10: Beaver-Vu Bowl

Tables and chairs in front of bowling lanes and brightly lit display screens
Beaver-Vu Bowl has 64 lanes and plenty of meal and snacking options. Image courtesy of Shubham Patil

Show your kids some good, old-fashioned fun with the timeless tradition of bowling. This top-rated bowling alley is right in the center of town with a ton of fun to occupy your whole family. This huge complex houses 64 bowling lanes, a restaurant/bar, a concessions stand, and an arcade section to ensure your kids have a good time from the moment you walk in. To learn more about Beaver-Vu Bowl, check out their website here.

9: Build-a-Bear Workshop

Display window of Build-a-Bear Workshop and front entrance inside a shopping mall
Since its first establishment in 1997, Build-a-Bear Workshop has sold over 160 million bears and plushies. Image courtesy of Bruce Parsons

Right outside of Dayton in Beavercreek Township, a trip to BABW is a classic experience for parents to share with their kids. Shops like these are a great way to spend an hour or two with your little ones because the experience yields a fun memento to take home! Make some memories as your kids pick out a new plush friend, watch as it is made, and pick out special outfits and accessories for the toy. The cash spent on the toy comes with the added fun of the assembling process, making BABW a unique way to get a new toy that will have your kids entertained for countless hours long after the trip is over. Check out hours and detail about the Beavercreek location here.

8: RiverScape MetroPark

Dayton skyline over Miami River at sunset
A perfect solution for parents and carers looking for a wholesome day out with the kids that won’t break the bank, RiverScape MetroPark is an expansive, well-maintained public park in downtown Dayton. Image courtesy of RiverScape MetroPark

For parents looking for a simple, budget-friendly afternoon out, look no further that the RiverScape MetroPark along the Miami River. Walk along the Miami River on a paved pedestrian sidewalk with views of the downtown skyline on one side and the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the other. In a world full of screens offering endless hyperstimulation to kids’ forming brains, a long walk is a great way to get kids active, burn off excess energy, marvel at ducks and wildlife, and appreciate the local architecture. And the best part: for absolutely free! Check out the park’s website here.

7: Greater Dayton Recreation Center

Yellow water slide splashes into indoor swimming pool
The indoor pool at the Greater Dayton Recreation Center is open to the public for only a few dollars per admitted child or adult. Image courtesy of GDRC

As summer turns to fall and the weather cools down, kids still have the opportunity to have fun swimming in Dayton. The Greater Dayton Recreation Center has a large indoor pool with a curly slide, deeps and shallows, and a lifeguard on duty. Going swimming in a safe environment is a great way to spend a few hours with kids. Even better, the GDRC only charges a few dollars per person for entry to the pool, so no matter your budget, you and your kids can have a great time at the Greater Dayton Recreation Center all seasons of the year. Learn more about the Recreation Center here.

6: Scene75 Entertainment Center

Arcade games and bar in large warehouse
Check out the Scene75 Entertainment Center has a large variety of arcade games and sporting activities to keep your family occupied and smiling for hours at a time. Image courtesy of Natalie Curtis

For a thrilling, action-packed day out with kids, look no further than the Scene75 Entertainment Center on the outskirts of Dayton. This place is fun for all ages. Check out classic thrills like go-carting and arcade gaming for older kids and grown-ups, as well as active play and learning zones for toddlers. Learn more about everything Scene75 has to offer at their website.

5: Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt

Multi-colored frozen yogurt in cups with various toppings
This serve-yourself frozen yogurt chain has a variety of soft-serve flavors and toppings at every location to make each family member with individual tastes satisfied. Image courtesy of Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt

A great way to grab a treat but also engage kids in a creative activity is to check out the serve-yourself yogurt spot Orange Leaf just south of Dayton in Kettering, Ohio. This fun, affordable spot is a great way to kill some time and feed your sweet tooth doing it. By giving your child the initiative to choose their own flavors and toppings, you can give them the opportunity to be creative and make something all on their own. Put the fun of simple, quasi-cooking into the hands of your child at Orange Leaf. Check out details about this location here.

4: Earthship, OH

Short house with large windows with enclosures in front lawn made of logs
This unique, environmentally-friendly venue is sure to fascinate people of all ages and educate kids about ways to live a more sustainable life. Image courtesy of HER, REALTORS®

Down for a road trip? The 2-and-a-half-hour drive to Blue Rock Station from Dayton is more than worth it. This sustainability-focused location is made of salvaged parts. Take a tour of the house, check out rare-breed chickens in the coop out back, and learn all about the recycled materials that built this unique, stunning venue. Learn more about everything the Earthship has to offer here at their website.

3: National Museum of the US Air Force

Large warehouse filled with people and aircrafts, plane reads U.S. Air Force
The warehouse-style show room pictured is just part of the NMUSAF’s showcase, which in total exhibits over 400  planes and missiles. Image courtesy of Miles Montgomery

For the imaginative, curious, or precocious child, the National Museum of the United States Air Force is an absolute must-visit spot. Just a 12-minute drive from the center of town, this sprawling national museum is a point of pride for the Dayton community. This isn’t any ordinary drab history museum. The self-guided nature of the layout and great interactive elements make the Air Force Museum a great place to excite and educate children about history, technology, and national defense. One look at a full-size model plane suspended over their head, and your kid will remember this museum forever. For more details visit the museum’s official website.

2: Trails Miniature Golf Course

Man-made waterfall splashes down next to greenery and mini golf course in forest
The huge water feature is just the beautiful centerpiece of the spacious, stunning putt-putt golf course surrounded by greenery and nature. Image courtesy of Trails Miniature Golf Course

Mini golf is an American staple for children and adults alike. Just south of Dayton in Kettering, Ohio is this beautiful outdoor gem that takes miniature golf to the next level. With the surrounding forest scenery and grand well-maintained water feature, playing 18 holes of mini golf at Trails is a more-than-memorable experience. Learn more about Trails Miniature Golf Course at their website.

1: Decoy Art Center

A painting studio filled with clay pots and shapes
The Decoy Art Center hosts walk-in painting for families and individuals, but they also can provide a variety of private art experiences for those interested in making a reservation. Image courtesy of Muhanned Qasim

Ready for some serious bonding time with the kids? Ready to stimulate creativity in your child and yourself? A little out of the Dayton town center in Beavercreek Township, this fun, dynamic painting and pottery studio accepts walk-in painters during open hours for those spur-of-the-moment trips with the little ones. For groups of six or more, Decoy recommends calling ahead. It’s also important to note you can schedule a formal party for older kids to actually learn to mold the clay into pottery yourself! Learn more about walk-in hours and reservations at the Decoy Art website.

No matter the weather, the time of day, or the interests of your child, the great city of Dayton has plenty to offer for families looking to get closer to each other and the city. When in doubt, find a way to let the child drive the experience and open up their own creativity as a means to have fun. Every kid is different; the best places to make memories are places where their uniqueness can shine and grow. Whether you’re looking to play or create, learn or explore, Dayton and its community businesses have got you and your family covered.

September 27, 2019
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