Day Trip,  Midwest,  Travel,  Weekend Trips

What’s Inside the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery?

Spread the love

(Updated for 2023) Rich with science, history and art, the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery provides an incredibly immersive experience for visitors of all ages.

Whether you want to explore the sciences, uncover history’s secrets, or enjoy art, this museum has something for everyone.

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery: A Dayton Family Favorite
Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

In this article, we’ll go into detail about the different exhibits and activities to be found, the educational opportunities available, and why the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is a must-see. With interactive exhibits, a discovery zoo, and a massive planetarium, the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is a one-stop shop for all your learning and entertainment needs.

Climbing Structure at Boonshoft Museum of Discovery
Climbing structure at Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

How much Does It Cost To Go To Boonshoft Museum of Discovery? 

The current admission price is as follows:

Children (3-17) $11.50
Adults $14.50
Seniors (60+) $12.50
Children (under 3) Free
DSNH Members are FREE


Because The Dayton Society of Natural History is affiliated with the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC), the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM), and the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), other accredited organizations offer our members special admission opportunities.  Our discount for having a membership to the Cincinnati Museum Center gave us 50% off admission tickets.  Take advantage of these discounts by checking out other museums throughout the United States. 

Super Science Saturdays 

 Each year, the Museum will host four dates that will offer FREE admission from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. These special learning days include access to our Special Exhibitions, Space Theater Shows (limited seating available), and public programming.

children museum's in Ohio
Create your own pizza

Where is the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery? 

The museum is at 2600 DeWeese Pkwy. Dayton, OH 45414. It is a part of the Dayton Society of Natural History. A free parking lot is available to guests of the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. 

Know Before You Go 

  • Expect to spend 3-4 hours exploring the museum with older children; 1.5-2 for younger ones. 
  • The least crowded time at the museum is from 9:00-12:00 pm on the weekdays. Sundays tend to be the least crowded day during the weekend. 
  • Outside food and drink is only permitted in the Eco Eatery or you can purchase food from the Eco Eatery. 
  • The Museum grounds are a Living Museum, which includes a walking trail through the Werthner Woods
  • Public Programs run daily.  Check the Calendar for the daily schedule. 
  • There is a quiet room located on the first floor. 

Hall of the Universe

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery From Cincinnati

Don’t bypass the Hall of the Universe next to the planetarium.   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 safely, work a telescope and discover infrared radar. 

Caryl D. Philips Space Theater

As one of the few planetariums in Ohio, a show at the space theater is not to be missed. There are different shows aimed at different ages, so check the schedule to see which would be the better fit for your group. The incredible shows highlight Dayton’s night sky, showcasing constellations and planets. It feels as if you are truly in space! 

Caryl D. Philips Space Theater
Caryl D. Philips Space Theater

Pro Tip: Guests can get a little queasy with the massive screen and movements. Close your eyes if you feel nauseous or proceed to the nearest exit. 

The Space Theater can be scary, dark, and loud for little ones, so come prepared to make a hasty retreat through the exit if things don’t go as planned. 

Kids Place

Sensory Area at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

A great children’s museum will always have an area with a water table and so does Boonshoft.  During our visit, they did not have water smocks available, so proceed with caution or an extra change of clothes.  

The Kids Place has a variety of activities for kids of all ages to play with, small houses to explore, and even a giant light bright! 


New this year, the Eco-Eatery is on the 2nd floor giving guests the option to purchase lunch and snack options. The Eco-Eatery has a nice selection of snacks and quick bites available.  Seating is plentiful, and the prices are reasonable. 

Eco Eatery At Boonshoft Museum of Discovery
Eco-Eatery At Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

Science Center

Oscar Boonshoft Science Central is where kids can get hands-on with science.  The children were fascinated with magnets, balance boards, and the nanoscience exhibit. Even a huge climbing tower takes kids up to the second floor! Join a live science demonstration in the Science Theater or experiment with the  Do Lab.  Both the Theater and the Lab are only open during program times.

Spark Imagination

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery: A Dayton Family Favorite
Picking Your animal at the Vet

The second floor lets little imaginations go wild 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, but you also get to pick the animal you are going to care for.   Let’s say Sophie’s frog was well cared for during its visit to the vet. 

Another favorite was the Landfill and Recycling Center, in which she got to help operate a recycling truck.  All the different themed areas are a fun way for children to learn while playing. 

Discovery Zoo

Discovery Zoo at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

An indoor zoo is always a great option on rainy days or 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 friendly animal faces. 

Most exhibits are at levels where little ones can observe their collection of live animals.  The River Otters, Owls, and the turkey vulture were popular crowd pleasers, while I enjoyed the sloth in a box. 

The museum’s indoor discovery zoo isn’t big and can get crowded during busy days.  The entrance to the zoo is to the right of the pizza parlor, or you can enter through the vet.

Even More Exhibits

Be sure to swing by the Bieser Room of Wonders for a collection of unique artifacts.  Don’t forget to venture into their Main Exhibit Hall to see what special exhibit is on display. 

Dayton's Mummy
Dayton’s Mummy

 If that isn’t enough, take your little adventurer through the Sonoran desert or see an actual mummy at the ancient Egypt exhibit. There is even a mummified cat! 

Stop In The Mead Treehouse 

There is a treehouse that takes guests into the treetops to observe the local birds. Feeders hang around the treehouse, enticing birds to stop by for a quick snack. For guests that practice patience, they may be rewarded with a glimpse of the resident woodpecker! 

Mead Treehouse
Mead Treehouse

Binoculars hang throughout the treehouse, along with identification cards for the species that call these parts home. 

Look For Their Special Programs 

The museum will host various special events and programs for guests to enjoy throughout the year. Look for teacher workshops, toddler times, and fun adult events after hours.  You can find all their upcoming programs on the web site. 

Final Thoughts

I personally enjoyed the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery more than the Cincinnati Children’s Museum. It is a true gem for the Dayton area.  Not only did I find it more interactive with more educational opportunities, but I also found it cleaner. Exhibits were in good shape, neat and engaging. 

Discovery Zoo
Discovery Zoo

The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is only an hour from Cincinnati, making it the perfect day trip. You can add to your day trip with a visit to the Wright Patterson Airforce Museum, the Forest Trolls at Aullwood Audubon, or the Sunwatch Indian Village. 

 Make it a weekend trip by incorporating a visit to  Yellow Springs and Young’s Dairy for a great family getaway.

Looking For More Great Things To Do In Ohio With Kids: 

A Local Mom’s Guide to Planet Snoopy at Kings Island 

40 Awesome Weekend Getaways from Cincinnati 

35 Fun Things To Do With Kids In Cincinnati 

Pin it for later:

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery: A Dayton Family Favorite

things to do at the boonshoft museum of discovery
Boonshoft Museum of Discovery: A Dayton Family Favorite
Why you need to visit the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery