Five Rivers MetroParks
Dayton is home to an extraordinary park system. The Five Rivers MetroParks offers nearly 16,000 acres of green space across 25 facilities. This includes 18 parks, conservation areas, and the 2nd Street Market. Each park offers great outdoor experiences and its own unique activities for guests to enjoy. From kayaking, hiking to horseback riding, there is something for everyone. Did I mention that there is no cost to enter any of the MetroParks?! With so many great options it was hard to narrow down which parks we would visit during our Scenic Route Road Trip.
Hills and Dales MetroPark
Situated along the picturesque hillside, Hills and Dales MetroPark is filled with trickling creeks, beautiful woods, and tons of history. The park was a gift from John Patterson (co-founder of the National Cash Register Company) in 1918. The Patterson Monument can be found in the heart of the park overlooking the town. A stone tower dating from 1940 still stands guard through the forest. Another historical portion of the park is the Old Barn Camp, which was home to two shelter sites back in the day of Patterson. All that remains of Old Barn Camp are the chimneys but the area is now a picnic site.
Those with children will want to venture down to White Oak Camp. Here families will find a nature scape play area in addition to a traditional playground. Parking, picnic shelters, restrooms, and a trailhead can all be found at White Oak Camp. Take a stroll along Dogwood Pond and discover why this is a local favorite. Chairs and benches line the pond allowing guests to relax and enjoy the peace and serenity found here.
Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark
There are six major areas of discovery, including woods, wetlands, prairie, geology, backyard fun, and Skeeter’s Garden. Little ones will love crawling through a cave, following animal footprints, playing in the sand and getting lost in the music maze. This is only the beginning of what there is to discover here. Take a stroll through the sensory garden, get up close to pond life or simply find a nice bench to take in the sights and smells of the garden. The formal gardens are full of brilliant flower displays and a stroll through them is truly a delight.
A unique feature to Wegerzyn Gardens is that they offer a Community Garden to those who may not have enough space to put in a garden at home. Plots can be rented and community members help grow and care for the garden plots.
Carriage Hill MetroPark
Step back in time by discovering what life was like on the farm during the 1880s. Carriage Hill has done a tremendous job in providing great exhibits and preserving the history of this historic farm. Start your journey with a visit to the Visitors Center. Inside is a children’s interactive center that allows for hands-on play and learning. Exhibits highlighting farm life in the 1880s, A Country Gift Store and more can all be found within the Visitors Center.
Follow the gravel pathway down to the historical farm. The original log house still stands along with the other historical farm buildings that accompanied it. Staff and volunteers tend to the livestock and offer century-old technique demonstrations. The farm animals tend to be a hit among the little ones, however, keep in mind petting and feeding them are not allowed.
Carriage Hill MetroPark also offers Horseback Riding. The Riding Center offers camps, guided trail rides, and pony rides. There are hiking trails and horse trails available. Cedar Lake is another highlight of the park as many enjoying boating, fishing or strolling the boardwalk.
Glen Helen Nature Preserve
This 1000-acre nature preserve is home to beautiful waterfalls, ancient trees, and the famous Yellow Spring that the town is named after. A great trail that takes in all the sites is the Inman Trail. This trail is a little over a mile long and passes sites of interest such as the Old Dam, the Grotto, the Yellow Spring, and the Cascades.
The Trailside Museum is the welcome center for Glen Helen. Hands-on displays and exhibits give children an opportunity to get an up-close with nature. Ensure to stop by to discover more about the trails and wildlife you may encounter during your hike. For a rare experience swing into the Raptor Center to visit the injured hawks, owls and birds of prey in rehabilitation. The Raptor Center rehabilitates the birds and releases them back into the wild. Discover all the great programs and things to do at Glen Helen here.
Keep in mind that parking is $5.00 (cash or check) at the preserve and is to help fund the park as it is privately funded.
Young’s Jersey Dairy
A trip to Young’s Dairy is a staple during any visit to Yellow Springs. While known for its superb ice cream, Young’s Dairy offers tons of great family entertainment. Udders and Putters are two mini-golf courses that families will love playing. Take a few swings in the batting cages or on out on the driving range. Little ones will enjoy the Kiddie Corral while older children will hop aboard the Moovers and Shakers for a fun barrel ride around the farm. Don’t forget to swing in the barn to feed the goats or watch the cows get milked. We visited during the Fall Farm Pumpkin Festival which included even more great events and activities such as a hayride, fall games and a big pumpkin patch.
A visit to Young’s Dairy is not complete without a stop to The Golden Jersey Inn. They are serving up some of the tastiest cheese curds you had the pleasure of eating. Try the buttermilk chicken or one of their many sandwiches but whatever you do, save room for ice cream!
Where To Eat
Great food is abundant in the Dayton and the Yellow Springs area. One of our favorite spots was Table 33 located in downtown Dayton. With a focus on locally-sourced products and high quality, it is no surprise that this is a staple on any trip to Dayton. Salmon with bacon and mouth-watering burgers made us one happy family. Keep in mind that kids eat free with the purchase of any adult entree and drink.
Yellow Springs is full of great eateries and coffee cafes. We had excellent coffee and pastries at the Spirited Goat. Looking to grab a great local brew? Look no further than Yellow Springs Brewery. An added bonus is that they often have a tasty food truck right outside.
Where To Stay
The SpringHill Suites is a great family lodging option. We opted to stay at the Springhill Suites in Beavercreek which is strategically located between Dayton and Yellow Springs. The Beavercreek area has lots of restaurants, shopping and a Walmart nearby. Springhill Suites offered a separate living room area that was ideal for our little gal. The room offered plenty of space, comfy beds and a big bathroom complete with a bathtub. An indoor pool is always a hit with children and a spacious lobby offered plenty of room to spread out.
Rainy Day Options
If rain is in the forecast there is plenty of great indoor activities to keep the good times rolling. The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is a great children’s museum that even includes a mini zoo! Those looking for a little more can visit The National Museum of the US Air Force. This museum is open to the public at no cost. It is the oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world with an impressive display of over 360 aircraft and missiles on display. This is worth a visit even on a non-rainy day!
The Scenic Route
Ohio is full of natural wonders that are beautiful year-round. Start planning your Ohio Scenic Route Road Trip today! Check out these great stops along the Scenic Route that are bound to fill your itinerary with adventure.