Not all children’s museums are created equal. There are a few that outshine the others in terms of creative learning and experiences. One of those is the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. Located roughly an hour from Cincinnati this is an ideal attraction if you are looking for something different to explore with your family. It was easy to see why the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is a Dayton family favorite and a perfect day trip from Cincinnati.
Know Before You Go
- If you have a membership to the Cincinnati Zoo or Cincinnati Museum Center you get half-off admission to the museum. Be sure to bring your membership card and photo ID.
- They do not have a cafe at the museum so packing a lunch is recommended. They do offer snacks and drinks in their gift shop and on the second floor in their vending machine area.
- The museum sits in the middle of a park, so there are plenty of great picnic spots on nice days. Keep your receipt so you can get back in. There are good restaurants nearby if you wish to go to lunch and return.
- Parking is free.
- The planetarium is an extra charge and they have set showings throughout the day. Check their daily schedule for show time.
- The bathrooms have changing areas, lowered toilets for kids and lowered sinks with stools for handwashing.
Hall of the Universe
Don’t bypass the Hall of the Universe located right next to the planetarium. This exhibit is included in the price of admission and is quite astonishing. Future astronauts and space explorers get a glimpse into our solar system from the Sun to Pluto. Through interactive displays, objects, and tools this exhibit explains how the universe operates and what methods scientists use to make theories about space. Little ones will enjoy the board books based around space, puzzles and dressing up like an astronaut. Older children can gaze at the sun safety, work a telescope and discover infrared radar. These are just a few of the interactive
Children under four will enjoy this area designed just for them. From exploring houses full of sensory activities to splashing around in the water-table you may never get to leave this area. During our visit, they did not have water smocks available so proceed with caution or an extra change of clothes. Kids Place is not a huge area and it is not enclosed, but it kept Sophie busy for a solid half hour.
The hands-on science displays were unique and intriguing. The children were fascinated with magnets, balance boards, and the nanoscience exhibit. There is even a huge climbing tower that takes kids up to the second floor! Join a live science demonstration in the Science Theater or perform an experiment in the Do Lab. Both the Theater and the Lab are only open during program times.
The second floor lets little imaginations come to life as they can go from serving up a slice of pizza in the Pizza Kitchen to becoming a vet at the Discovery Zoo hospital. The vet was a popular area for us as you not only get to dress the part, you also get to pick the animal you are going to care for. Let’s just say Sophie’s frog was well cared for during it’s visit to the vet. Another favorite was the Landfill and Recycling Center in which she got to help operate a recycling truck. After a stop in the Shape Shop to go shopping and ride in Boonshoft Truck we were ready for a much-needed snack!
An indoor zoo is always a great option on rainy days or actually any day. While you won’t see a rhino or an elephant at this zoo you will come face to face with a sloth, meerkats, river otters and more. The majority of the exhibits are all at levels where little ones can observe the animals. Owls, ducks, foxes, and skunks were popular crowd pleasers while I enjoyed the sloth in a box. The zoo isn’t terribly big and can get crowded during busy days. We just loved that we got to experience a fun little zoo during our visit. The entrance to the zoo is to the right of the pizza parlor or you can enter in through the vet.
Even More Exhibits
I could go on and on about the endless exhibits the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery has for kids of all ages. Be sure to swing by their tidal pool to touch real sea stars, build endless structures in the Strickly Briks exhibit. Don’t forget to swing into their Main Exhibit Hall to see what special exhibit is on display. (Hint: the next one is dinosaurs). If that isn’t enough, take your little adventurer through the Sonoran desert or ancient Egypt before wrapping up with a visit to the Treehouse. Note that the Treehouse is only open during summer months and lets visitors view local flora and fauna in the neighboring woods.
I personally enjoyed the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery more than the Cincinnati Children’s Museum. Not only did I find it more interactive with more educational opportunities I found it cleaner. Exhibits were in good shape, neat and engaging. Being only an hour from Cincinnati, I plan on making the trip up here a few times a year. If you are coming from Cincinnati make it a day trip by adding in a visit to the Wright Patterson Airforce Museum. Stay the night and incorporate a visit to Yellow Springs and Young’s Dairy for a great family getaway.
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