12 museums you must explore in Dayton

Looking for a new way to explore the Gem City? Get to know Dayton's museums.

Outstanding archives and collections have enabled Dayton to offer the community many ways to explore its arts, culture, history and heritage.

Take your pick from aviation to local history and beyond, it can all be found here.

When you're visiting Dayton or if you are new to Dayton, one of the first recommendations you'll hear from Daytonians is to visit the the Dayton Art Institute. The museum has an impressive permanent collection, a great area for kids and an eclectic mix of special exhibitions and special events. You can’t miss it, as you’re taking tours of the city. If you’re a lover of art of all genres, the DAI as we like to call it, is where to go.

Want to go? 

WHAT: Dayton Art Institute 

WHERE: 456 Belmonte Park North, Dayton
COST: Suggested donation:

  • Adults: $8
  • Seniors (60+), Active Military and  Groups: $5
  • College Students (18+ with ID): Free
  • Youth & Children (17 and under): Free
  • Members: Free
  • Special exhibits may carry additional fee

HOURS: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 12-5 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday 

INFO: WebsiteFacebook | 937-223-4278 

>> 4 reasons Dayton moms love the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

2. Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

Known for interactive science and learning experiences that enrich the lives of children and adults, the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is just plain cool. The museum combines learning and fun on topics including anthropology, geology, paleontology and biology. No matter what, there is a collection here designed to promote deeper understanding of the world. And don't forget the animals. The museum has its own mini zoo with beloved animals, including some river otters with some serious personality.
Want to go?  

WHAT: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery 

WHERE: 2600 Deweese Parkway, Dayton
COST: Adults $14.50, Seniors (60+) $12.50, Children (3-17) $11.50, Children (under 3) Free 

HOURS: 9 a.m.–5  p.m. Monday-Saturday, 12 p.m.–5 p.m. Sunday  

INFO: WebsiteFacebook | 937-275-7431 

>> These are some of our favorite indoor play places

3. Carillon Historical Park 

If you yearn to learn more about how Dayton became such an amazing city, then there's plenty to learn at Carillon Historical Park. The park is located on a 65-acre campus and you simply can't miss Dayton's landmark, Carillon tower that overlooks the Great Miami River. Inside the museum at Carillon Park, you will have a chance to immerse yourself in Dayton history. The museum includes exhibits that showcase the original 1905 Wright Flyer III,  the 1835 B&O steam locomotive and the first automobile self-starter, not to mention an expansive collection of old NCR cash registers. You can also enjoy a nifty carousel ride that pays homage to Dayton History.

Want to go?  

WHAT: Carillon Historical Park 

WHERE: 1000 Carillon Boulevard, Dayton
COST: Adults $8 
Seniors (ages 60 and over) $7 
Children (ages 3-17) $5  

HOURS: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Sunday, 12 p.m.-5 p.m. Sunday  

INFO: WebsiteFacebook | 937- 293-2841

4. Dayton International Peace Museum

Hear from folks at the Dayton International Peace Museum about nonviolent strategies Dayton has used to achieve peace. The peace museum is all about telling the stories of peace heroes who’ve helped make the world a better place by shaping a culture of goodwill.

Want to go?  

WHAT: Dayton International Peace Museum 

WHERE: 208 W. Monument Ave., Dayton
COST: Free 

HOURS: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday  

INFO: Website | Facebook | 937-227-3223 

5. Paul Laurence Dunbar House

Schedule a tour of the former home of Paul Laurence Dunbar, an African-American poet who published an extensive post-Civil War collection. His work details the many challenges facing African-Americans amid cultural conflict and social-racial unrest after the war. See famous artifacts and more here.

Want to go?  

WHAT: Paul Laurence Dunbar House 

WHERE: 219 N. Paul Laurence Dunbar St., Dayton
COST: Free 

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday  

INFO: WebsiteFacebook | 937-224-7061 or 937-225-7705

>> 11 things you don't know about America's Packard Museum  

6. America’s Packard Museum 

Credit: Photos by Lauren Rinehart

Credit: Photos by Lauren Rinehart

Automotive buffs, what do you know about the Packard Motor Car Company? If you're interested in expanding your knowledge about the industry, then the Packard Museum is a must. This museum is dedicated exclusively to the Packard Motor Car Company, and educating you about its products and philosophies.
Want to go?  

WHAT: America's Packard Museum  

WHERE: 420 Ludlow St., Dayton

COST: Adults $6
Seniors $5
Student: free

HOURS: 12-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, 1-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
INFOWebsiteFacebook | 937-226-1710  

>> 5 reasons to visit the Air Force Museum soon

7. National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

One of Dayton's biggest tourist attractions is the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. This spectacular destination includes an aviation museum with some pretty amazing planes, a flight simulator, a 3D theater, war-themed exhibits and more.

Want to go?  

WHAT: National Museum of the U.S. Air Force 

WHERE: 1100 Spaatz St., Wright-Patterson AFB
COST: Free

HOURS: Open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 

INFO:  WebsiteFacebook | 937-255-3286  

>> Plan the perfect picnic in Dayton: where to go

8. Mound Science and Energy Museum 

Learn about energy, nuclear power and more. The Mound Science and Energy Museum showcases dedicated scientists and workers who have spent over 50 years researching the world's energy use and development. Check them out on Tuesdays and Saturdays or schedule an appointment.

Want to go?  

WHAT: Mound Science and Energy Museum 

WHERE: 1075 Mound Road, Miamisburg
COST: Free 

HOURS: 1-3 p.m. Tuesday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Saturday and by appointment 

INFO: WebsiteFacebook | 937-353-4457 

>> PHOTOS: Take a look inside Dayton’s new Funk Museum

9. The Miami Valley Military History Museum

Learn about and support the veterans of our Armed Forces past, present and future. The Miami Valley Military History Museum is all about helping you preserve the memory of those who've fought for the nation by providing you with special artifacts, research materials and literature centered around our nation's military. 

Want to go?  

WHAT: The Miami Valley Military History Museum 

WHERE: 120 Ohio Ave., Building 120, Dayton  

HOURS: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday 

INFO: WebsiteFacebook |937-267-7629

>> This hometown cafe has some INCREDIBLE history -- and a menu of comfort food, to boot

10. WACO Historical Society and Air Museum

Credit: Jim Witmer

Credit: Jim Witmer

The WACO Historical Society works at providing you with the important history about local aviation history. See the planes and learn the history of how this region became the birthplace of aviation.

Want to go? 

WHAT: WACO Historical Society and Air Museum
WHERE: 1865 S. County Road 25-A, Troy
COST: Adults $6
Military (with ID) $5
Students $3
Under 6 free
HOURS: 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 12-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
INFO: Website | Facebook | 937-335-9226

>> Dayton’s funk museum is now open, and even the legendary Bootsy Collins is excited about it

11. Dayton Aviation Heritage

Learn about Dayton heroes, the Wright Brothers and Paul Laurence Dunbar. The Dayton Aviation Heritage Museum preserves and interprets the history and legacies of these extraordinary men through artifacts and education. 

Want to go?  

WHAT: Dayton Aviation Heritage 

WHERE: 16 S. Williams St., Dayton
COST: Free 

HOURS: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Sunday 
INFO: WebsiteFacebook | 937-225-7705

 >> 5 things you must experience at Sunwatch’s Pow Wow 

12. Sunwatch Indian Village

Sunwatch Indian Village works in conjunction with the Boonshoft Museum mentioned above. So, you know they're good!  Explore the actual Indian Village and Archaeological Park aimed at supporting and protecting the cultural remains of the Sunwatch National Historic Landmark.

Want to go?  

WHAT: Sunwatch Indian Village 

WHERE:  2301 W. River Road, Dayton
COST:  Adults $7
Seniors (60+) $6
Student (6–16) $6
Children under 6 and members are free 

HOURS: 9 a.m. - 5  p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 12-5 p.m. Sunday, Closed Monday  

INFO: WebsiteFacebook | 937-268-8199    

About the Author