15 Best Day Trips from Dayton, Ohio

While this small town is home to a variety of activities and sights to see, you may burn through your list rather quickly and find yourself looking for other places to venture out to. Lucky for you, Dayton’s convenient location opens up a world of opportunity for day trips galore. 

Here is a list of 15 places you don’t want to miss on your next adventure through Ohio!

Table of Contents

1. Columbus

The capital of Ohio has activities for the whole family, with highlights revolving around parks and recreation. 

Explore the 88 acres that make up Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, and admire the flowers, butterflies, and fish ponds. 

Whetstone Park, also known as the “Park of Roses”, is home to over 11,000 roses in a variety of colors, trails to walk, and open fields that are perfect for a game of soccer. 

For a unique park experience head over to the Scioto Mile where you’ll find a massive interactive fountain playground, one of the country’s largest outdoor climbing walls, and the 120-acre Scioto Audubon for birdwatchers. 

The Topiary Garden is a lovely park with unique sculptures made from yew trees perfectly placed along its trails. 

If you’d like to see a 35-foot waterfall surrounded by endangered plants, take the boardwalk to the overlook at Hayden Falls Park.

2. Logan

If you like to spend your time in the great outdoors, you will enjoy a visit to Logan, Ohio.

With over 25 miles of trails, Hocking Hills Park is a great place to spend your day exploring. The number one attraction at the park is Old Man’s Cave, which is known for its easy access and picturesque waterfalls and gorge.

Ash Cave is another fan-favorite, with multiple trails and different scenic views. The most appealing of the trails is the one that takes you to the cave floor. There you’ll see the pool of water formed by the waterfall up above. 

Cedar Falls may not be the region’s tallest waterfall, but it’s definitely the widest – and the hike here is a little under a mile. 

After a day of adventure, head over to Millstone BBQ and enjoy some delicious smoked meats.

3. Sharonville

Established in 1962, Sharonville is a hidden gem for museum lovers and nature enthusiasts. 

As one of the oldest parks in the state, Sharon Woods is rich with history and outdoor activities to keep you busy for days. The visitor center has exhibits that you can walk through to learn about the park’s past as well as the wildlife that resides there. The 2.6-mile trail around the lake is popular for joggers and bikers looking for their daily dose of exercise. 

Located within the park is the Heritage Village Museum where you can learn about Ohio’s first settlers and take guided tours. 

Trammel Fossil Park, named after the family who donated the 10 acres to the state, is one of the very few places open to the public for avid fossil diggers. Spend the day hunting for unknown artifacts. 

4. Newark 

Overflowing with charm, Newark is a real eye-pleaser with art scattered around the town in all different forms.

Explore the Ohio Center for History, Art, and Technology and see the best of what central Ohio has to offer as you hop between the 13 buildings.

Admire one of the world’s largest geometrical earthworks at The Newark Earthworks, originally created as a collaboration of a cemetery, temple, and observatory. 

Dawes Arboretum is a wondrous outdoor museum made up of exquisite trees,12 miles of trails and a driving trail for those who’d prefer not to leave their vehicle.

At the National Heisey Glass Museum, you can see the remnants of glass art pieces that were created between 1896-1957. 

Renovated to recreate its original look from 1928, the Midland Theatre is an active theater; Travel back in time while you sit to watch the latest blockbusters. Tours are also available for history buffs. 

The beauty doesn’t stop here. Check out the Cherry Valley Hotel, even if you don’t plan on spending the night, to appreciate its splendor.

5. Olentangy Indian Caverns

Formed over a million years ago thanks to an underground river, the caverns are said to have once been used as a shelter by the Wyandotte tribe. At the entrance of the caverns, you can see the initials of J.M. Adams who rediscovered the caves in 1812. You can choose to go on a guided tour of the caves or go under and explore on your own.

Surprisingly, there is more to Olentangy Indian Caverns than just exploration. Visit the Richard F. Leitch Museum to learn more about the history of the caverns and check out the bones of an Ox that fell to its death in 1818. Some family-friendly activities include a treasure hunt maze, a petting zoo, gem mining, and a mini-golf course.

Stop by the gift shop before you leave to buy a keepsake to remember your trip. 

6. Ludlow Falls

The village of Ludlow Falls actually hides a stunning 15-foot waterfall that spills into a vast river. The crest of the waterfall is about 60-feet, making it one of the widest of its kind in the state of Ohio. 

The best time to visit the falls is at the beginning of spring -when the winter snow has begun to melt and the waterfall is at its fullest. 

To see more of what the town has to offer, head over to the Brukner Nature Center for an afternoon stroll.

There are two easy-going hikes here, averaging at about 2 miles, that take you through thick woods, around bodies of water, and gives you a chance to mingle with the wildlife. 

Finish up with a tasty dinner at Laura’s Country Diner, and be sure to try their fried chicken!

7. Muncie, IN

Nicknamed “Little Chicago” in the 1920s, Muncie was once a hotspot for gambling and liquor during the prohibition era. Since then, the city has gained a reputable status for its growing development of museums.

Bring the whole family and head over to the Muncie Children’s Museum where kids can learn about trades including how to build a house and repair a car. 

Grab lunch at the former grocery store, Cammack Station, for a delicious selection of fried foods and the fan-favorite root beer float. 

You can easily spend your entire day exploring the Minnetrista Cultural Center and its local history, splendid gardens, exquisite art and connection to nature. The museum revolves around 5 mansion-like homes that were once owned by the Ball Brothers in the late 1800s. 

Although the homes are reserved for special events, you can admire the architecture as you walk through the gardens that surround them. You can explore the grounds free of charge, but if you would like to enter the museum there is an admissions fee. 

Every trip to the museum is different with an ever changing display, so you’ll get a completely new experience each time you visit.

8. Cumberland 

Take a trip to Africa without ever leaving the state of Ohio at Cumberland’s number one attraction, The Wilds. With over 9,000-acres, this open-air safari tour gives you the authentic feeling of African exploration at an affordable rate. 

The Wilds was created to help with animal preservation and to educate about Africa’s different species and their importance.  The two hour tour will take you through a grassland of endangered species like cheetahs, African painted dogs, zebras, and more. 

Arrive for your tour about thirty minutes early and walk through the Discovery Field Station until it is safari time. For an even more exciting adventure, opt for the Zipline Safari Tour to check out the grounds from a birds eye view.

When you stop at the Carnivore Conservation Center, grab a quick lunch from the Terrace Café

9. Salt Fork State Park

With over 20,000 acres and tons of outdoor activities, there’s something for everyone at Salt Fork State Park. Home to one of the largest inland beaches in Ohio, the park is the perfect place to spend the day swimming, boating, and bathing in the sun.

Within the park is the Salt Fork Golf Course, which is popular amongst golfers for its extensive greenery and stunning views. 

There are 13 hiking trails to enjoy,  ranging from easy to moderate, each with diverse views and a chance to see thriving wildlife. 

The park is a birdwatchers dream with songbirds like the scarlet tanager, cardinal, and Kentucky warbler. 

Visit the Stone House Museum to learn about the land’s plentiful history and take in the view of the beautiful lake. 

10. Cincinnati

Known as the “Queen City”, Cincinnati is located right on the north bank of the Ohio River and surrounded by rolling hills. Stunning views isn’t the only thing the city has to offer. It’s growing economy makes it a cultural hub with a fast growing social scene. 

Established in 1990, the Cincinnati Museum Center is home to the Cincinnati Union Terminal, and is made up of three exquisite museums:

  • Cincinnati History Museum
  • Duke Energy Children’s Museum
  • Museum of Natural History and Science

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens is a full day experience with the iconic Bengal tigers and gorillas, one of the largest insectariums, access to rides, a 4D theater and ever changing animal encounters and shows. 

Make a stop at the Fountain Square, the heart of Cincinnati, before branching off to one of the nearby restaurants, cafes and bars. 

11. Kings Island

Making the cut in USA Today’s top 3 parks in all of the country, Kings Island is jam packed with thrill rides and fun for the whole family. 

With over 100 rides to choose from, you can spend your day riding the 15 epic roller coasters or relaxing on some kid friendly rides – while enjoying some quality family time, every step of the way. 

With so many roller coasters to choose from, it’s not surprising Kings Island is home to one the country’s wildest rides, Orion, with a record breaking height, length and speed.

Enjoy a variety of different shows that take place throughout the day all across the park grounds.

Get the best of both worlds with access to the Soak City Water Park which includes over 50 water activities and 36 waterslides. 

12. Indianapolis

Hop on over to Indiana and visit the state’s capital where you won’t be disappointed; there are a variety of things to do and places to see. 

Start your trip by paying your respects at the Monument Circle, located in the center of the city, which honors the soldiers and sailors that have served our country.

Stare in awe as you walk through the 54,000 pieces of artwork that make up the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Take a stroll down the White River State Park, and stop for a picnic along the pristine waters. 

Check out the largest group of orangutans in all of North America at the International Orangutan Center in the Indianapolis Zoo.

Relieve some stress with a session of axe throwing at Bad Axe Throwing which, unlike its name, is a totally awesome experience.

The list of things to do goes on and on. You’ll have to see for yourself!

13. Yellow Springs

If you are looking for a day of laid-back adventure, adorable cafes, and shopping galore, Yellow Springs is the place for you. 

Start your day at Dino’s Coffee and choose from a large selection of coffee styles and delicious pastries. 

Once you have caffeine in your system, make your way to the Glen Helen Nature Preserve and walk through the 20 miles of trails available – and get ready to see some glistening waterfalls.

Grab lunch at Wind’s Café and enjoy a delicious meal from the seasonal menu on the outdoor patio.

Partake in afternoon shopping at stores like Urban Handmade and Super-Fly Comics & Games.

Before you leave, stop by Young’s Jersey Dairy for some freshly made ice cream – and don’t forget to thank the cows for their contribution. 

14. Ohio Caverns

Known as “America’s Most Colorful Caverns”, Ohio Caverns is the largest in the state, boasting with picture perfect scenes. 

According to Ohio Caverns, Ohio’s Outstanding Natural Wonder, the caverns were accidentally discovered by a 17 year old boy back in 1897.

There are over 2 miles of passageways to explore that go as far down as 103 feet. The guided tours are usually about one hour in length and teach you about the wonders of the cave and how it came to be. 

The caverns are open year round, so there is no wrong time to come and enjoy. But, if you come during the warmer months, you can stop by the park above the caverns for a picnic. 

15. Powell

Powell may be a small town, but its main attraction is bound to keep you entertained all day long. 

Repeatedly ranked as the number one zoo in the country, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is fun for the whole family, with a zoo experience like no other. 

There are 650 different species – over 9,000 animals – within the zoo, and its nonprofit status means a visit here helps support over 70 conservation projects worldwide.