20 things to do with the kids before school starts

It's hard to believe, but summer break is about to come to an end for Dayton-area children and teens.

It's definitely not too late to create summer memories. But don't waste a single moment!

We have 20 ideas for fun things to do with the children before they pack up their backpacks and head to the bus stop for a new school year.

Share your summer fun photos with us on Instagram with the hashtag #daytonsummer

  1. Spend an afternoon at Carillon Historical Park. Bridge that gap from entertainment mode to learning mode while doing a little bit of both. Ride the Dayton Carousel of Innovation, experience pioneer history and tour the Patterson Homestead. While you're there, be sure to grab lunch and a delicious milkshake from Culp's Cafe -- a retro diner that kids of all ages will enjoy. 
  2. Take a family biking adventure. With 75 miles of trails, the Great Miami River trail  is the perfect place to take a bike ride. Plan your route with stops through downtown Dayton, Riverscape, museums and several monuments. While you're at Riverscape, admire Daytonian inventions at Riverscape Inventor's Walk.
  3. Check out some super-cool planes. The National Museum of the United States Air Force has some pretty impressive planes that you'll want to see with your own eyes. Whether you've been to the museum a zillion times, or never, now's the time to grab the family for an all-day airplane extravaganza. Make learning fun!
  4.  Enjoy a Buckeye milkshake from Young's Jersey Dairy. Enjoy the most delicious milkshake quite possibly ever. If you don't love peanut butter and chocolate, there are plenty of other flavors to choose from. Find more tasty frozen treats here. While you're there, be sure to stop by and feed the goats, say hi to the cows and test your luck at the batting cages.
  5. Take on one of the Dayton area's meanest putt-putt holes. What better way to get back into the competetive mindset for the classroom and fall sports than a game of mini-golf with the fam? Make it a little more interesting with a family bet. A little friendly wager never hurt anyone.
  6.  Play and discover at the Boonshoft. No matter your age, you will simply fall in love with the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. Check out some fun animals up close, dance in front of a magic wall, go birdwatching in the tree house, watch an array of laser shows and meet some sea creatures at the tidal pool.
  7. Have a picnic at the park. With 19 MetroParks in the Dayton area, you have plenty of options. Pack a picnic and take a hike. Need some inspiration? Here are more than 20 ways to experience all our MetroParks have to offer.
  8. Travel back in time at Sunwatch Indian Village. Step back in time to about 800 years ago and see how the Fort Ancient Indians lived. You'll get to see reconstructed structures and villages, found artifacts and more.
  9. Spend a day at the county fair. Support your local county fair or visit another one closeby and immerse yourself in funnel cakes, animals, rides and the heat of the summer.
  10. Go butterfly watching. The butterfly house at Cox Arboretum is one of our favorite places. After you visit it, you'll see why.
  11. Catch a Dayton Dragons game. America would not be America (and summer would not be summer) without its favorite pastime. Whether you're a sports nut or not, there's plenty for everyone to enjoy at a Dragons game. The lawn seats are a super deal for families. Here's a guide to making the most of your Dragons experience. Don't forget to have your picture taken with Heater and Gem!
  12. Go kayaking. Rent a kayak at Riverscape and paddle out to the fountains, or check out other great places to paddle (and what to know before you go).
  13. Gaming adventure. Head to Scene75 and challenge your friends in video-game contest, laser tag, mini-golf, go-karts, bumper cars, and mini-bowling.
  14. Take a mini road trip. The possibilities are endless. Check out THE famous Yellow Spring, or head underground to the Ohio Caverns. Zipline at Camp Kern or see the Devil's Bathtub at Hocking Hills. Plan your day trip or short trip with 7 must-see sights in driving distance of Dayton.
  15. Plan a girls day. If you have a daughter, why not spend a day filled with a little pampering, eating and shopping. Head to The Greene in Beavercreek. Some ideas: get a mani and pedi at The Venetian Nail Salon, eat lunch on the patio at The Cheesecake Factory, grab a delicious iced coffee from Winan's, pick out a new book at Books & Co. and accessorize at Charming Charlie.
  16. Visit the Children's Discovery Garden. One of the best parks for children around Dayton is Wegerzyn because of its interactive garden.
  17. Ride a roller coaster or two. Or more. Get your fill of thrills just a short drive away at Kings Island. The amusement park in Mason includes a water park, children's area and plenty of thrills for all-ages. It's the perfect day trip.
  18. Spray parks. With more than 14 spray parks lining the Dayton area, there's always a place to take the kiddos on a hot summer day. They can splash. You can relax or snap endless adorable photos to share to Instagram and Facebook.
  19. Looking for a day surrounded by water that's just a little more adventurous? Visit one of these 7 waterparks close to Dayton to make an even bigger splash. Wave pools, gigantic slides and lazy rivers await.
  20. Go see a movie at the drive-in. Take the whole family to see a double feature at one of the area's retro drive-in movie theaters.
Have more ideas for Dayton end-of-the-summer fun? Tweet your ideas @michellefong76

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