Southwestern Ohio offers a wealth of options for affordable summer escapades made for family fun.
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The area is home to one of the state’s biggest theme parks, a major-league baseball team that plays alongside the banks of the Ohio River, a zoo with America’s most beloved baby hippo and museums that celebrate the region’s historical contributions, including powered flight.
Here are 10 of the many family-oriented attractions that are worth a day trip or more this summer:
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE
1100 Spaatz St., Dayton, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (Montgomery and Greene counties)
The world’s oldest and largest military aviation museum recently underwent a major expansion, adding more than 70 aircraft in four new galleries.
In addition to the exhibitions that have helped make the museum one of the 10 most-visited attractions in the state, visitors can now board a model space shuttle, walk through four presidential aircraft, step inside cargo planes and enjoy new STEM educational opportunities.
A new suite of simulator rides, some of the first in North America, provides an exclusive space-voyage experience.
Admission and parking: free; flight simulators and museum theater tickets are an additional charge.
Information: 937-255-3286 or www.nationalmuseum.af.mil
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6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason (Warren County)
Forty-five years ago, the park’s iconic Eiffel Tower, the Racer roller coaster, the Woodstock Express roller coaster for children and the Kings Island and Miami Valley Railroad made their debuts. Joining the lineup this year is Mystic Timbers — the park’s 16th roller coaster and fourth wooden coaster.
Among the many attractions: Banshee, a thrill-inducing roller coaster; and the award-winning Planet Snoopy area for children.
Admission also includes Soak City, a 33-acre water park. Soak City boasts more changing rooms, spray misters, shade structures and deck space, helping to double the number of chaise lounge chairs.
Admission: starting at $42 (children under 48 inches tall) to $67; consider a combo ticket for Kings Island and Cedar Point in Sandusky for use in 2017 for $68; parking: $15.
Information: 513-754-5700, www.visitkingsisland.com
6201 Kellogg Ave., Cincinnati (Hamilton County)
For 130 years, Coney Island has been a destination in southwestern Ohio. This year, the park has made updates with a new bath house, a tiki bar and more at its Sunlite Water Adventure.
Coney Island also offers rides and miniature golf, is home to the largest hydro-storm (that drenches patrons with 1,300 gallons of water from a 33-foot tower) and recirculating swimming pool in the world.
Admission, including rides and water-park access: $12.95 (children ages 2 to 7) to $21.95; parking: $9.
Information: 513-232-8230, coneyislandpark.com
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2590 Water Park Drive, Mason (Warren County)
Situated on 35 wooded acres, this family-friendly destination offers a packed calendar of events this summer, including Reggae Sundays with live music to create an island vibe, the world’s largest swimming lesson at 2 p.m. June 22 (in hopes of breaking a world record), plus everyday thrills and chills.
Top attractions include Riptide Racer (a multi-person slide), the Cliff (with a five-story drop), the Banzai Blast (side-by-side racing slides), a heated wave pool, a zip line and a lazy river.
Admission: $19.99 to $28.99, free for children 3 and younger with paying adult; parking: $8.
Information: 513-398-7946 or thebeachwaterpark.com
CINCINNATI MUSEUM CENTER
1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati (Hamilton County)
A massive renovation of Union Terminal, which houses the museum center, has forced the closure the Cincinnati History Museum, the Museum of Natural History and Science and the Omnimax Theatre until fall 2018. But the Duke Energy Children’s Museum remains open, and the big, new happening this summer is a special exhibition of costumes from “a galaxy far, far away.”
“Star Wars and the Power of Costume,” a Smithsonian traveling exhibit, will bring more than 60 of the costumes featured in the “Star Wars” films to the museum, including the robes of Jedi masters Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker; the dark outfit that Darth Vader is so well known for; the yak-and-mohair costume of Chewbacca; and many more.
Admission for “Star Wars” exhibit: $16 (children ages 3 to 12) to $24; Duke Energy Children’s Museum (which includes interactive play): $5.50 to $10.50; combo tickets available; parking: $6.
Information: 513-287-7000, cincymuseum.org
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CINCINNATI ZOO & BOTANICAL GARDEN
3400 Vine St., Cincinnati (Hamilton County)
In case you hadn’t heard, the zoo has a new superstar: Fiona.
Fiona, a hippo born prematurely at the end of January, has become an internet and social-media darling. She is too young to be seen by visitors right now, but zoo officials will announce when she is ready to go outside.
In addition to catching a glimpse of the zoo’s most-popular new resident, other zoo babies may be seen, including an okapi, a takin, three Malayan tiger cubs, 11 painted dogs, two giraffes and a three-banded armadillo.
Admission: $13 to $19; parking: $10
Information: 513-281-4700, cincinnatizoo.org
GREAT AMERICAN BALL PARK
100 Joe Nuxhall Way, Cincinnati (Hamilton County)
Located on the banks Ohio River, within walking distance of other downtown Cincinnati attractions, is the home of the Cincinnati Reds — baseball’s first professional franchise.
Nothing says summer like taking in a baseball game, so why not treat your family to a day at the ballpark?
Upcoming Reds’ home series include June 2-4 vs. the Atlanta Braves; June 30 through July 2 vs. the Chicago Cubs; and July 14-17 vs. the Washington Nationals (check website for complete schedule).
Admission: $5 to $255, free for children 3 and younger if sitting on an adult’s lap; parking: $10 to $20.
Information: 513-381-7337 or cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/cin/ballpark
SAWYER POINT AND YEATMAN’S COVE
705 E. Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati (Hamilton County)
This pair of side-by-side parks offer great views of the Ohio River plus gorgeous landscaping, a performance pavilion, concessions, a world-class playground, spraygrounds and more.
The parks also host great events during the summer, including one of Ohio’s largest outdoor music festivals — Bunbury.
The Bunbury Music Festival, bound to appeal to music lovers of all ages, will take place June 2-4, and will include Wiz Khalifa, the Shins and Death Cab for Cutie on June 2; Tech N9ne, Hayley Kiyoko and Bassnectar on June 3; Muse, the 1975 and Thirty Seconds to Mars on June 4.
Admission: $79 and $89 for single-day pass; $189 for 3-day packages and $399 and up for 3-day VIP packages; parking: $10 to $20.
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FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT’S WESTCOTT HOUSE
1340 E. High St., Springfield (Clark County)
Budding architects will be inspired by a visit to Springfield’s meticulously preserved Westcott House — one of only 11 Frank Lloyd Wright homes in Ohio and among about 260 in the world. This is a great destination for anyone who enjoys unique buildings.
The Westcott complex consists of the main house, a garage, a pergola and a perennial gardens.
While in the area, stop by the Hartman Rock Garden just a few miles away at 1905 Russell Ave. to see some unique rock artwork, including meticulously crafted replicas of the White House, Independence Hall and other well-known national landmarks that were crafted out of small stones by H.G. “Ben” Hartman during the Great Depression (admission is free).
Admission: $12 to $15, includes a 1-hour docent-guided tour; parking: free.
Information: 937-327-9291, westcotthouse.org
201 Joe Nuxhall Way, Fairfield (Butler County)
Adventure-seekers won’t want to miss Wake Nation, the only cable wake-boarding park in the Midwest.
The 10-acre lake is a great place to learn how to wake board, water ski, knee board and wake skate. All skill levels are welcome.
For added fun, check out the Aqua Glide water park (part of the Wake Nation complex), which offers trampolines, slides and inflatables.
Admission: wake-boarding passes start at $30, plus equipment rental fees; Aqua Glide passes start at $10; call or visit website for more information; parking: free.
Information: 513-887-9253, www.wakenation.com