Thanks to several major tourist attractions, southwest Ohio is poised to entertain a plethora of visitors during the summer season.
Kings Island in Mason, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, the Cincinnati Museum Center and the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden are among the highlights, sure, but there’s a lot more to see and do in this part of the Buckeye State.
Here are some of the attractions worth considering this summer:
Kings Island and Soak City Waterpark
6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason (Warren County)
Kings Island’s 16th roller coaster, the wooden Mystic Timbers, made its debut in 2017 and was voted “Best New Ride in the World” by Amusement Today. The 109-foot-tall coaster boasts 3,265 feet of track and reaches speeds up to 53 mph.
Riding coasters at the park is bound to work up visitors’ appetites. James Major, two-time winner of the Food Network’s “Chopped” reality-TV cooking contest, has opened Bar B Que, a new restaurant serving smoked St. Louis-style ribs, pulled pork, rotisserie chicken and Queen City Sausage, along with a fresh selection of side dishes.
And water lovers have plenty of ways to chill out at Soak City Waterpark, which offers more than 50 water activities. Even better? Admission to Soak City is included with Kings Island admission.
ADMISSION: $69 at the gate, or $43 for senior citizens and children; parking $20. Online discounts available
INFORMATION: visitkingsisland.com, 513-754-5700
6201 Kellogg Ave., Cincinnati (Hamilton County)
For 132 years, Coney Island has been a popular destination.
Among the highlights is Sunlite Water Adventure, which offers the opportunity to splash the day away at one of Typhoon Tower’s 73 interactive play stations, cannonball off the diving boards into the world’s largest recirculating pool, or race down one of the park’s 130-foot water slides. And then there’s the full-service tiki bar that screams summer fun for the adults.
This historical spot continues to find ways to deliver family fun.
ADMISSION: $51.95 for children 8 and older, $20.95 for those 62 and older, $13.95 for children 2 to 7
INFORMATION: coneyislandpark.com, 513-232-8230
The Beach WaterPark
2590 Water Park Drive, Mason (Warren County)
Situated on 35 wooded acres, this family-friendly destination offers a variety of water slides, a wave pool and a zip line, plus a packed calendar of summer events. Riptide Racer — a multiperson slide — pits riders in a race to the finish. And that is just one of many slides and opportunities to take a break from summer’s heat.
Reggae Sundays (through Labor Day weekend) and the World’s Largest Swim Lesson (June 21) are just a few ways to chill out this summer.
ADMISSION: $28.99, or $23.99 for children under 48 inches tall. Online discounts available.
INFORMATION: thebeachwaterpark.com, 513-398-7946
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
3400 Vine St., Cincinnati (Hamilton County)
The second-oldest zoo in the country has more than 500 animals and 3,000 plant species, and it is internationally known for its research and conservation efforts on its 70-plus-acre campus.
If you haven’t heard about the Cincinnati Zoo’s new superstar Fiona, then it’s time to get acquainted. The hippo has become an internet and social-media darling. In addition to getting a glimpse of the zoo’s most popular new resident, there are other babies joining the zoo’s ranks this year.
It’s a beautiful facility to walk through, thanks to gorgeous plantings. Between the animals and the surroundings, there’s no shortage of things to see.
ADMISSION: $28, or $22 for those 62 and older and children 2 to 12. Online discounts available.
INFORMATION: cincinnatizoo.org, 513-281-4700
1501 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati (Hamilton County)
“The Butterflies of Madagascar,” running through June 17 celebrates the exotic biomes of this unique African country.
Giant baobab trees, remarkable stone forests and illustrious lemurs of Madagascar set the stage for the thousands of bright, beautiful butterflies flying amid the striking collection of fiery-orange bidens, vivid red celosia, purple salvia and punches of lime-green ipomoea.
Or visit the rainforest waterfall and exotic plants on permanent display in the Palm, Tropical, Desert and Orchid houses as well. Built in 1933 at the height of the Art Deco era, this is a truly special place to enjoy more than 3,500 plant species from around the world.
ADMISSION: $7 or $4 for children 5 to 17
INFORMATION: www.cincinnatiparks.com/krohn, 513-421-4086
Bunbury Music Festival
Sawyer Point and Yeatman’s Cove, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati (Hamilton County)
This pair of side-by-side parks on Cincinnati’s riverfront offer great views of the Ohio River. The parks also are host to great events during the summer, including one of Ohio’s largest outdoor music festivals — Bunbury.
This year’s festival, which will take place June 1-3, features headliners Jack White, the Chainsmokers, blink-182, Post Malone, Incubus and Foster the People, among many others.
ADMISSION: $79 for single-day pass; $179 for 3-day packages and $450 and up for 3-day VIP packages
695 Lincoln Park Blvd., Kettering (Montgomery County)
This popular outdoor amphitheater near Dayton features a variety of entertainers, including Alison Krauss (June 15), Tony Bennett (June 21), Neal McCoy (June 24), Black Violin (June 28), Michael W. Smith and Matthew West (June 30), Roger Daltrey performs the Who’s “Tommy” (July 2), Dave Koz & Friends (July 20), O.A.R. (July 24), Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Tippin, Collin Raye and Electric 90s Throwdown (Aug. 10), Earth, Wind and Fire (Aug. 23), Culture Club and Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey (Sept. 5) and Ringo Starr (Sept. 11)
INFORMATION: www.fraze.com, 937-296-3300
Riverbend Music Center/PNC Pavilion
6295 Kellogg Ave., Cincinnati (Hamilton County)
This 20,500-seat outdoor amphitheater along the Ohio River and 4,100-seat pavilion have a full slate of concerts scheduled this summer.
Performances at PNC Pavilion at Riverbend Music Center include: Steve Martin and Martin Short (May 27), Jackson Browne (June 5), Primus with Mastodon (June 12), Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle and Dwight Yoakam (June 20), Barenaked Ladies (June 23), YES (July 2), Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, (July 18), Tedeschi Trucks Band (July 22), Yanni (July 27) and Jason Mraz (Aug. 22).
Performances at Riverbend Music Center include: Dierks Bentley (May 31), Dead & Company (June 4), Dave Matthews Band (June 7), Poison and Cheap Trick (June 10), Jack Johnson (June 13), John Fogerty and ZZ Top (June 14), Steve Miller and Peter Frampton (June 21), Willie Nelson and Family (June 22), Foreigner and Whitesnake (June 26), Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers (June 27), Jimmy Buffett (July 10), Kesha and Macklemore (July 11), Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town (July 13) Chris Brown (July 24) and Keith Urban with Kelsea Ballerini (Aug. 19).
Rose Music Center at the Heights
6800 Executive Blvd., Huber Heights (Greene County)
This covered, 4,200-seat seasonal venue is set for its fourth concert season. Performances include: Gin Blossoms, Tonic and Vertical Horizon (June 13), the Monkees (June 15), Kenny G (June 28), Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang (July 11), Air Supply (July 14), Patti LaBelle (July 15), Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (July 17), Stone Temple Pilots, Bush and the Cult (July 22), Ted Nugent (July 24), Hank Williams Jr. (July 29), George Thorogood and the Destroyers (Aug. 7), Trombone Shorty (Aug. 24), Dee Snider with Dokken, Warrant and Downtread (Aug. 25), Alice Cooper (Sept. 2), 311 and the Offspring (Sept. 4) and Ian Anderson presents Jethro Tull (Sept. 5).
INFORMATION: www.rosemusiccenter.com, 937-610-0288
Tecumseh!, June 8-Sept. 2
Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheatre, 5968 Marietta Road, Chillicothe (Ross County)
Galloping horses. Battle sequences choreographed with artistry. An evening under the stars. History comes to life every summer with “Tecumseh!,” the outdoor drama that tells the life story of the legendary Shawnee leader who fought to defend his homeland in the late 1700s.
More than 2.5 million visitors have seen the professionally produced drama since its debut in 1973. Enjoy the mini-museum on-site and turn it into a camping adventure in the wilderness at nearby Great Seal State Park.
Performances take place at 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, with a special closing-night show on Sunday, Sept. 2. Special engagement: Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” on Sunday, July 29 at 8 p.m. (Free admission but tickets required.)
ADMISSION: $24, or $14 for children 10 and younger. VIP upgrades and group ticket packages available.
EXTRAS: Tours are available for $5. Eat dinner before the show at a special buffet on-site from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. with items including fried chicken, ham, mashed potatoes, corn, salad and dessert. Buffet cost is $15.95, or $8.25 for children 10 and younger.
INFORMATION: 1-866-775-0700; tecumsehdrama.com
National Museum of the United States Air Force
1100 Spaatz St., Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton (Greene and Montgomery counties)
The world’s oldest and largest military aviation museum underwent a major expansion in 2016, adding more than 70 aircraft in four new galleries exploring aircraft that touch on presidential, research and development, space and global reach.
In addition to the exhibitions that have helped elevate this expansive museum to one of the top 10 most-visited attractions in the state, you can now board a space shuttle, walk through four presidential aircrafts, step inside cargo planes and enjoy new STEM educational opportunities that will help expand your mind. The best part is a visit comes with free admission and parking. The Air Force Museum Foundation’s new suite of simulator rides, some of the first in North America, feature an exclusive space voyage experience.
ADMISSION: free; fee for theater and flight simulators
INFORMATION: nationalmuseum.af.mil, 937-255-3286
Cincinnati Museum Center
1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati (Hamilton County)
The center, at Union Terminal, is home to the Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History & Science, the Robert D. Linder Family Omnimax Theater and the Cincinnati Historical Society Library. Three museums. One building.
The museum is in the middle of a $212 million restoration — the first in the Art Deco building’s 85-year history. The children’s museum, which recently reopened, features eight educational and themed play areas, including two specifically designed for preschool-aged and younger.
Restoration work continues at the museum complex and is expected to wrap up in the fall. The Cincinnati History and Natural History museums remain closed, as is the OmniMax. Planning a trip to this former train station will be worth it just to see how they are bringing this very unusual building back to its former glory.
ADMISSION: $10.50, or $9.50 for those 60 and older, $8.50 for children 3 to 12, $5.50 for children 1 to 2; free for children younger than 1; special exhibits and Omnimax theater extra, parking is not included
INFORMATION: cincymuseum.org, 513-287-7000
Cincinnati Art Museum
953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati (Hamilton County)
Among the highlights this summer: “Terra Cotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China.” The exhibit, which runs through Aug. 12, features about 120 individual objects including terracotta figures of warriors, arms and armor, ritual bronze vessels, works in gold and silver, jade ornaments, precious jewelry and ceramics. The artifacts are all drawn from the collections of art museums and archaeological institutes in China’s Shaanxi province.
ADMISSION: free, special exhibition admission is $16, or $8 for those 65 and older, college students and children 6 to 17, free for children 5 and younger
INFORMATION: www.cincinnatiartmuseum.org, 513-639-2995
The Dayton Art Institute
456 Belmonte Park N., Dayton (Montgomery County)
The museum’s encyclopedic collection of 27,000 works spans 5,000 years of art history, including important Oceanic art, Asian art, European art and American fine- and decorative-art collections. The museum will open “Yousuf Karsh: American Portraits” on June 23, featuring iconic portraits of many of the 20th century’s most influential men and women from fields as diverse as business, medicine, entertainment, politics and the arts.
ADMISSION: $8, or $5 for those 60 and older, active military and groups, free for students and children. Admission to special exhibitions: $14, or $11 for those 60 and older, active military and groups and free entry for children 6 and younger.
INFORMATION: www.daytonartinstitute.org, 937-223-4278
Great American Ball Park, 100 Joe Nuxhall Way, Cincinnati (Hamilton County)
Located within walking distance of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Yeatman’s Cove Park and other downtown Cincinnati attractions on the banks Ohio River is Great American Ball Park — the home of the Cincinnati Reds, baseball’s first professional franchise. The next home games include June 5-7 versus the Colorado Rockies, June 8-10 versus the St. Louis Cardinals and June 19-20 versus the Detroit Tigers.
INFORMATION: www.mlb.com/reds, 513-381-7337
Fifth Third Field, 220 N. Patterson Blvd., Dayton (Montgomery County)
The Cincinnati Reds’ Class A affiliate boasts a beautiful home with top-notch amenities. The Dragons’ next home games include: May 29-31 vs. the West Michigan Whitecaps, June 1-3 vs. the Lansing Lugnuts and June 8-11 vs. the Bowling Green Hot Rods.
ADMISSION: $9 for lawn seating; $17 for stadium
INFORMATION: www.daytondragons.com, 937-228-2287
WESTERN & SOUTHERN FINANCIAL GROUP MASTERS & WOMEN’S OPEN
Lindner Family Tennis Center, 5460 Courseview Drive, Mason (Warren County)
Described as “the Grand Slam of the Midwest,” fans will see stars from both the Women’s Tennis Association and the Association of Tennis Professionals tours playing on adjacent courts.
INFORMATION: www.cincytennis.com, 513-651-0303
FESTIVALS AND FAIRS
Dayton Celtic Festival
Riverscape MetroPark, 111 E. Monument Ave., Dayton (Montgomery County)
Celebrate the sights, sounds and tastes of the Celtic heritage. Presented by the United Irish of Dayton, the Dayton Celtic Festival, from July 27-29, is a summer staple. The music lineup includes Gaelic Storm, Scythian, Rory Makem, Socks In the Frying Pan, the Fitzgeralds, We Banjo 3 and Heron Valley.
INFORMATION: www.daytoncelticfestival.com, 937-372-9788
Annie Oakley Festival
Darke County Fairgrounds, 800 Sweitzer St., Greenville (Darke County)
For the 55th year, Darke County will pay homage to Phoebe Anne Moses — better known as Annie Oakley. The event will feature shooting contests, a car show, fast-draw competitions, melodramas, historical tours, a pilgrimage to Annie’s grave, special displays at Garston Museum and more. And you might want to mark your calendar for Aug. 17-25 for the Great Darke County Fair (http://darkecountyfair.com).
INFORMATION: www.annieoakleyfestival.org, 937-467-3160
Taft’s Ale House
1429 Race St., Cincinnati (Hamilton County)
The way Taft’s Ale House markets itself says everything you need to know — witty, playful and fun. “Enter Taft’s Brewing Co., 49,000 square feet of high-quality sud-soaked wizardry with 50 barrels ready to pump out enough flavorful brews to satiate many a great state. Located in the old Cincinnati Car Company Factory, the building will continue to transport the hardworking heroes of this grand city — but this time to a fresh pint brimming with Taft’s signature drinkability.” This place is worth a visit for the building alone.
INFORMATION: taftsalehouse.com, 513-334-1393
1910 Elm St., Cincinnati (Hamilton County)
Rhinegeist translates to “Ghost of the Rhine” and refers to this popular brewery’s spot in the historic Over-the-Rhine Brewery. Built within the skeleton of the old Moerlein bottling plant (1895), this is a newer brewery that has ties to Cincinnati’s rich brewing heritage. If you like IPAs, try their Truth, made with Amarillo, Simcoe, Citra and Centennial hops.
INFORMATION: www.rhinegeist.com, 513-381-1367
Carillon Brewing Co.
1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton (Montgomery County)
The Carillon Brewing Co., featuring food and unique beers, is nestled among the trees of Carillon Historical Park. The park is a delightful backdrop for this 1850s-style brewing operation that reproduces historical beer and European comfort-food recipes, with staff serving in period costumes. The 65-acre open-air history museum includes nearly 30 historical buildings and thousands of artifacts that tell the story of the settlement of Dayton and its rich history. Park admission: $8, or $7 for those 60 and older, $5 for children 3 to 17
INFORMATION: www.carillonbrewingco.org, 937-910-0722
Joyce Park, 201 Joe Nuxhall Way, Fairfield (Butler County)
For an unforgettable adventure, head to Wake Nation, the only cable wakeboarding park in the Midwest and a great place to learn how to wakeboard, water ski, kneeboard and wakeskate. The 10-acre lake offers an opportunity to practice and hone boarding skills without a boat. The main lake is capable of towing up to six riders at a time, whipping them through a course of optional slides and rails. It’s as much fun for those riding as it is for those observing, and it gets the whole family outdoors.
ADMISSION: $32 for two hours, $37 for four hours or $42 for an all-day cable ticket; free for spectators; equipment rental available
INFORMATION: www.wakenationcincinnati.com, 513-887-9253
The Ohio Caverns
2210 Rt. 245 E., West Liberty (Champaign County)
The largest of Ohio’s caves, with more than 2 miles of surveyed passageways ranging from 30 to 103 feet in depth, tours leave about every 20 minutes, so it’s an adventure into the Earth that you could do on a whim. The caverns remain a steady 54 degrees year-round with air that’s cleaner than what you can find above the ground.
The largest and most famous formation in the Ohio Caverns is Crystal King — one of the largest and most perfectly formed stalactites in any cave. Nearly 5 feet long, weighing an estimated 400 pounds and estimated to be over 200,000 years old, it drips once every seven to eight minutes.
ADMISSION: $17, or $9 for children 5 to 12
INFORMATION: www.ohiocaverns.com, 937-465-4017
MORE THINGS TO DO AROUND OHIO THIS SUMMER