Quick Family Staycations in Ohio

Quick Family Staycations in Ohio

- in 2014 Editions, July 2014, Magazine

Quick Family Staycations in Northeast OhioSqueeze in a quick weekend trip by heading to one of Ohio’s many great family destinations. Each of these cities has its own unique vibe and things to do.

Northeast Ohio Parent has rounded up the top three family destinations for each city so all you need to do is pack your bags.


Brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright began hatching their plans to construct airplanes while living in Dayton. Today, the city is considered the birthplace of aviation in a nod to the brothers who invented the first successful airplane in the world.

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

Delve into the history of early aviation at this park that’s made up of five sites including the Huffman Prairie Flying Field where the Wright brothers tested out some of their flying machines. Free and paid admission, depending on the site.

 National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

With over 360 aircraft to see, this ­expansive museum is one of the largest of its kind. The museum houses planes, fighter jets, presidential planes, bombers and more. And the best part — admission is free. July 19 is Family Day at the museum and will include special demos and activities.

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

This children’s museum includes a variety of hands-on exhibits and a space theater. Admission is $13 for adults, $10 for ages 3-16, free for ages 3 and younger.


Hugging the shores of Lake Erie, ­Sandusky has become a family playground home to one of the country’s top amusement parks and waterparks ­galore.

Cedar Point

Sprawled among its 364 acres, Cedar Point boasts some of the fastest, highest thrill rides around. Try this season’s newest rides — the Pipe Scream, which whisks you along 300 feet of track at over 40 mph, and the Lake Erie Eagles, an updated version of a classic thrill ride. Admission is $49.99 for adults and $34.66 for youngsters when purchased online. Waterpark entrance costs extra.

Kalahari Waterpark

Spend a day — and night — at the largest indoor waterpark in the country. Kalahari houses rushing raft rides, water roller coasters and a 12,000-square-foot wave pool inside. Admission to the park is included when you stay overnight at the resort. Lodging packages available online.

Great Wolf Lodge

With lodge-themed rides like Totem Towers, Otter Run and Big Foot Pass within the 33,000-square-foot complex, your kids are sure to find a favorite. Admission to the park is included with an overnight stay.


As the state’s fourth-largest city, Toledo boasts all of the perks of an urban center while still being manageable for parents with kids in tow.

Toledo Zoo

Start your visit by making some 9,000-pound friends. The Toledo

Zoo includes several animal exhibits like the Hippoquarium, where you get an underwater, up-close view of hippos. This year three new bird-themed exhibits opened, highlighting the world of penguins, flamingos and parakeets. ­Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for children under 12, free for ages 2 and younger, ($1 online discount per ticket); parking is $7.

Imagination Station

Just north of the zoo, the Imagination Station begs kids to touch, explore and discover with more than 250 hands-on exhibits. Admission is $10 for ages 13-64, $8 for ages 3-12, free for ages 2 and younger.

Mud Hens Baseball

A trip to Toledo during the summer isn’t complete without going to a Mud Hens game. The minor league team caters to families by offering plenty of activities during games. Tickets start at $10 per person.

Where to stay: The Maumee Bay Lodge is tucked into a 1,850-acre state park with views of Lake Erie. You can explore the hiking trails or playground on the property; guest rooms and cabin lodging are available.


In the far western corner of the state and just across the river from Kentucky, Cincy has a wide range of cultural and ­entertainment activities.

The Beach Waterpark

Escape to the tropics with this 35-acre waterpark that’s designed to feel like the islands with live palm trees and real sand underfoot. Your kids will probably be more interested in the rides — don’t miss the Big Kahuna, a water roller coaster. General admission is $28.99, $19.99 for children under 48”, and free for ages 3 and younger with a paying adult.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

As the second oldest in the country, this zoo has a long history of providing visitors a chance to see monkeys, gorillas and big cats up close. Daily animal shows feature cheetahs and birds. Admission is $15 for ages 13-61, $11 for ages 2-12.

 National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

This museum’s goal is to inspire and educate visitors about both past and present struggles for freedom. Admission is $14 for adults, $10 for ages 3-12, free ages 3 and younger.


As our state’s capital, its largest city, Columbus also happens to have some of the best family attractions around.


The exhibits at COSI intrigue both children and adults by making science accessible — and fun. Check out the special International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes going on through September. Admission is $17.95 for adults, $12.95 for ages 2-12 and free for ages 2 and younger; additional fees for special exhibits and shows.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The sprawling zoo is already a kids’ haven with various animal exhibits and even a waterpark. New this summer, the zoo has added 43 acres for the Heart of Africa area where visitors will feel like they’re experiencing the savanna. Admission is $14.99 for ages 10-59, $9.99 for ages 2-9 and free for ages 2 and younger; additional fees for Zoombezi Bay.

North Market

This is the place to feed your hungry crew. Purchase your food on the lower level then sit on the second to enjoy your meal. Choose from Indian or Vietnamese food, Polish or Japanese, barbecue or deli — it’s all here. Coming up: The161st Ohio State Fair takes place July 23 through August 3. The multi-day event will feature concerts, rides and amazing food. See ohiostatefair.com for more.


Greater Cleveland Aquarium

Walk underneath sharks and reach out and touch sea creatures at this aquarium located right downtown. Admission is $19.95 for adults, $13.95 for ages 2-12 and free for ages 2 and younger; additional fee for parking.

Great Lakes Science Center

Your kids can venture into space, pilot a steamship and more at this popular kids’ hotspot that includes educational exhibits that will have your kids begging to learn more. Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for ages 2-12 and free for ages 2 and younger; additional fees for special exhibits and shows.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

If it’s been awhile since you’ve been to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, it’s time to visit again. In May, the zoo opened the new Circle of Wildlife Carousel where kids can take their pick from 64 hand-carved animals to ride. Admission is $13.95 for adults (12 and older), $9.25 for ages 2-11 and free for ages 2 and under; additional fees for special exhibits and rides.

For a complete listing of Ohio’s premiere locations that your family can explore, please click here. 

About the author

I’m a freelance writer, recipe developer, and—most importantly—mother of three. My work has appeared in KIWI, Parenting, Parents, Relish, USAA Magazine, BabyZone.com, BettyConfidential.com, and Yahoo Shine!. I’m currently a contributing editor for MetroParent magazine, the regional parenting publication of the greater Detroit area.

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