Here in Cincinnati, we are so lucky to have many topnotch museums right in our backyard. Several of these are right within the city limits, but if you drive just north to Dayton, you’ll find the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force (website) – one of the best museums around. If you’ve never been, or have never been since becoming a parent, I highly recommend planning a day trip to this incredible museum that is filled with history, awe-inspiring exhibits and plenty of family fun.
We checked out the museum on a Friday, taking our four-year-old and two-year-old on a little over an hour drive from Northern Kentucky, north to Dayton. It was an easy drive (we could avoid the bridge traffic!), and the museum itself is incredibly accessible with free parking and free admission. You are not allowed to bring in food or drink, but there are cafes within the museum and plenty of spots for a picnic outside if you choose to pack a lunch.
The museum is divided into four massive buildings, each housing a different time period of the history of our Air Force. There are countless planes, engines, models, missiles and even space shuttles, spread out throughout the space. Our son was immediately impressed and must have said, “This is AWESOME!” at least 100 times. Both kids were thoroughly entertained the entire time, as there was plenty of space for riding in the stroller or walking around to get up close to the displays.
While you’re not allowed to touch most of the aircraft, there are still opportunities for hands-on learning and fun. Our kids especially loved the “Kid Pioneers” touch screen computer games and stories, getting inside actual aircraft (with plenty of buttons to push) and they thought it was amazing to be able to walk underneath the wings – it’s the simple things. I enjoyed the history – especially getting to go inside the actual Presidential airplane that brought JFK back to Washington D.C. after he was assassinated and was the spot where Johnson was sworn in as President.
I can’t say enough wonderful things about this museum. Dayton is known for its ties to America’s aviation history and the Air Force Museum is its crowning jewel. The museum is perfect for all ages – from babies in carriers to grandparents – it’s easy for strollers, spacious for antsy kids and family friendly with plenty of restrooms and a nursing room. If you’re looking for something different to do with your family, this is it.
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is located at 1100 Spaatz Street Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433. The museum is open every day of the year from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Admission and parking are free. For more information, check out their website here.
A native Cincinnatian, Andrea has experienced life in all four corners of this city. After growing up on the west side, she headed north to attend Miami University, then moved east to Hyde Park and now lives in Northern Kentucky with her family.
When she’s not playing trains and doing the “hot dog dance” as a stay-at-home mom to her two toddlers, Andrea is busy writing for Cincinnati publications and brainstorming ideas for her next children’s book! With a newfound passion for fitness and overall health, she spends a lot of time at her family gym and loves to play outside.
Andrea worked in education for several years and has a special love for children’s literature. She loves showing her children all our city has to offer and enjoys sharing her finds with other parents. Her favorite spots include the Cincinnati Zoo (although she steers clear of the bird house), her local library and any playground.