Summer adventures await in southwestern Ohio

From amusement parks to museums to music festivals and sporting events, southwestern Ohio continues to be a draw to visitors both in and out of state. The number of activities, attractions and things to do in southwestern Ohio is long and impressive and something to be celebrated regardless of the week. Here are some of the southern Ohio attractions that are worth considering planning a trip to see this summer.

THEME PARKS
Kings Island and Soak City Waterpark
6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason (Warren)
513-754-5700
Kings Island closed "Les Taxis" antique car ride in 2004. Guests who remember it should expect to feel a healthy dose of nostalgia when they visit this year thanks to the park’s latest attraction, "Kings Mills Antique Autos," which features automobiles inspired by the 1911 Ford Model T. The attraction is near the Racer roller coaster. Kings Island's 16th roller coaster, Mystic Timbers, debuted with its wooden tracks in 2017 and is still drawing massive crowds, as is the entire rest of the park, which continues to see record attendance. The amusement park’s popular Soak City water park is included with park admission.
Admission: $70 at the gate, or $44 for senior citizens and children; parking $17. Online discounts available.
Information: visitkingsisland.com

Coney Island
Coney Island, 6201 Kellogg Ave., Cincinnati (Hamilton)
513-232-8320
Cannonball Cove, a new dive-pool feature, is part of Coney Island's Sunlite Water Adventure this season. The area includes two 1-meter diving boards and one 3-meter diving board with a 12-feet-9-inch dive depth. For 133 years, Coney Island has been a family fun destination. Sunlite Water Adventure 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 waterslides. And then there's that full-service tiki bar that screams summer fun.
Admission: $21.95, or $12.95 for children 2 to 7, $19.95 for senior citizens
Information: coneyislandpark.com

The Beach Waterpark
2590 Waterpark Drive, Mason (Warren)
513-398-7946
Southern Ohio has its fair share of water parks. In addition to Kings Island's Soak City waterpark and the park at Great Wolf Lodge, there's The Beach. Situated on 35 wooded acres, this family friendly destination offers a packed calendar of events this summer. The Riptide Racer — a multi-person slide that is a race to the finish line for bragging rights — launched in 2015, and Reggae Sundays and the World's Largest Swim Lesson are just a few other things on the docket as you look to cool off this summer.
Admission: $28.99 at the gate or $23.99 for children and $19.99 for seniors. Online discounts available
Information: thebeachwaterpark.com

Jungle Jim’s International Market
5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield (Butler)
513-674-6000
If there were a theme park for food, it would be Jungle Jim's International Market. This is so much more than just a grocery store. It's a food adventure with more than 200,000 square feet of kitschy, entertaining shopping space and over 150,000 products to look at from all over the world. If you haven't been to Jungle Jim’s before, this is unlike anything you've ever experienced. Trust us. A second location can be found at 4450 Eastgate South Drive in Cincinnati.
Admission: Free
Information: junglejims.com


CONSERVATORIES / BOTANICAL GARDENS / ZOOS
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
3400 Vine St., Cincinnati (Hamilton)
513-281-4700
Fiona isn't just one of Shrek's favorite names, it's also a favorite of Southern Ohio’s. The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden's most famous resident — a hippo born in 2017 — has been voted the No. 1 Cincinnatian for the second year in a row in CityBeat's 2019 Best of Cincinnati Reader's Poll. The second-oldest zoo in the country has more than 500 animals and 3,000 plant species; it is internationally known for its research and conservation efforts on its more than 70-acre campus. 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: From $15, or $9 for children 2 to 12 and seniors 62 and over; parking is $10.
Information: cincinnatizoo.org

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum
1763 Hamilton Cleves Road, Hamilton (Butler)
513-868-1234
Hamilton's Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park is a hidden treasure and one worth seeking out. This 265-acre sculpture park and outdoor museum focuses on monumental pieces of sculpture in an environment of meadows, forests and various gardens. There's also a 10,000 square foot Ancient Sculpture Museum displaying Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Etruscan sculpture if you want to head inside for a bit. This is the perfect location for a family adventure or an amazing date. Pack a picnic and soak in art and the great outdoors all at once.
Admission: $8, or $3 for children 6 to 12
Information: pyramidhill.org

Krohn Conservatory
1501 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati (Hamilton)
513-421-4086
Cincinnati Parks’ nationally recognized showcase includes a permanent collection with desert plants, tropical specimens, Bonsai trees, rare orchids, carnivorous plants and exotic fruit trees.The 2019 Butterfly Show “Butterflies of Ecuador” that runs through June 16 focuses on Ecuador, referred to as “four worlds in one,” represented by different climate zones: Amazons, Andes, Coast and the Galapagos Islands. Be sure to seek out the famous 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 visit and enjoy.
Pricing: $10, or $7 for children 5 to 17
Information: cincinnatiparks.com/krohn

OUTDOOR MUSIC
Bunbury Music Festival
Sawyer Point and Yeatman's Cove, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati (Hamilton)
May 31-June 2
This pair of side-by-side parks on Cincinnati's riverfront offer great views of the Ohio River. They also are host to great events over the summer including one of Ohio's largest outdoor music festivals — Bunbury. This year's Bunbury Music Festival features headliners Fall Out Boy, Greta Van Fleet, The 1975, Girl Talk and Run The Jewels. Other acts include NF, Machine Gun Kelly, AWOLNATION, Stone Temple Pilots, Sublime with Rome, Dashboard Confessional, Clutch, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, lovelytheband, Blue October, Bayside, Streetlight Manifesto, The Aces, Poppy, Joywave, Jeremy Zucker, Jukebox the Ghost, Flora Cash, Reignwolf, Witt Lowry, Lauren Sanderson, The Clarks, SHAED, HALFNOISE, Great Good Fine Ok, The Blue Stones, The Candescents, Common Kings, bülow, Tropidelic, You vs Yesterday, Taylor Janzen, RADATTACK, The Orphan The Poet, and TRIIIBE.
Admission: $79 for single-day pass; $189 for 3-day packages and $450 and up for 3-day VIP packages
Information: bunburyfestival.com

Fraze Pavilion
695 Lincoln Park Blvd., Kettering (Montgomery)
937-296-3300
This popular outdoor amphitheater near Dayton features 4,300 seats. Upcoming concerts include: Michael Bolton, May 23; Lake Street Dive and The Wood Brothers, June 15; RAIN - A Tribute to the Beatles, June 27; Little Big Town, June 29; Weird Al Yankovic, July 3; Diana Ross, July 6; Sheryl Crow, July 10; Uptown Funk tribute to Bruno Mars, July 11; Charlie Wilson, July 20; Brian Culbertson and Average White Band, July 21; Tribute to Billy Joel and Elton John, July 25; Jake Owen and Gretchen Wilson, July 27; Joe Bonamassa, Aug. 6; Happy Together Tour, Aug. 8; Double Vision Revisited featuring Bob James, David Sunburn and Marcus Miller with Billy Kilson and Larry Braggs, Aug. 16; Get the Led Out, Aug. 21; Umphrey's McGee, Aug. 25; and Dave Koz and Friends, Sept. 6
Admission: varies.
Information: fraze.com

Riverbend Music Center / PNC Pavilion
6295 Kellogg Ave., Cincinnati (Hamilton)
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: The 1975, May 12; Rob Thomas, June 3; Vampire Weekend, June 15 (sold out); Travis Tritt and the Charlie Daniels Band Outlaws, June 2; Young the Giant and Fitz and the Tantrums, June 18; Third Eye Blind, July 17; Tedeschi Trucks Band, July 19; The Righteous Brothers and the Temptations, July 26; moe. and Blues Traveler, July 28; Jon Bellion, July 31; Jonny Lang and JJ Grey & Mofro, Aug. 8; Beast Coast, Joey Bada$$, Flatbush Zombies, Aug. 17; Why Don't We, Aug. 25; and The Head and the Heart, Sept. 8
Performances at Riverbend Music Center: Rascal Flatts with special guests, May 16; Dierks Bentley with special guests Jon Pardi and Tenille Townes, May 30; Ozzy Osbourne, June 6; Luke Bryan with special guests Cole Swindell and Jon Langston, June 8; Dave Matthews Band, July 2; Peter Frampton, July 12; Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson, July 13; Jimmy Buffet and the Coral Reefer Band, July 18; Hootie and the Blowfish, July 20; Brad Paisley with special guests Chris Lane and Riley Green, July 21; Alice Cooper and Halestrom, July 23; Train and Goo Goo Dolls, July 24; Heart, July 27; Florida Georgia Line with special guests Dan + Shay, Morgan Wallen and Hardy, Aug. 1; Beck, Cage the Elephant, Spoon, Wild Belle, Aug. 2; Breaking Benjamin, Chevelle, Three Days Grace, Aug. 7;  Thomas Rhett with special guests Dustin Lynch, Russell Dickerson and Rhett Atkins, Aug. 9; Santana, Aug. 10; Iron Maiden, Aug. 15; Korn and Alice In Chains, Aug. 18; Jason Aldean with special guests Kane Brown, Carly Pearce and Dee Jay Silver, Aug. 22; KISS, Aug. 29; and Kid Rock with Hank Williams, Jr., Sept. 28
Admission: varies
Information: www.riverbend.org

Rose Music Center at the Heights
6800 Executive Boulevard, Huber Heights (Greene)
513-232-6220
This covered, 4,200-seat seasonal venue is set for its fourth concert season. Performances for the 2019 season include: Sammy Hagar and The Circle, May 20; Live on Mars - A Tribute to David Bowie, May 25; Travis Tritt and the Charlie Daniels Band Outlaws, June 1 (sold out); Buddy Guy and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, June 11; Big Head Todd and the Monsters and Toad the Wet Sprocket, June 12; Collective Soul and Gin Blossoms, June 13; Brett Eldredge, June 15; Brian Wilson presents "Pet Sounds: The Final Performances", June 18; Robert Cray Band and Marc Cohn, Featuring Blind Boys of Alabama, June 19; Michael McDonald and Chaka Khan, June 20; O.A.R., June 22; Styx, June 29 (sold out); 311 and Dirty Heads, July 2; Amos Lee and Bruce Hornsby, July 16; Sugarland, July 19; Tedeschi Trucks Band, July 20; Los Lobos and The Mavericks, July 23; The Righteous Brothers and the Temptations, July 25; Air Supply, July 26; Sarah McLachlan, July 30; Tesla, Aug. 6; Jonny Lang and JJ Grey & Mofro, Aug. 9; John Butler Trio+, Aug. 10; Foreigner, Aug. 12; Stray Cats, Aug. 14; Live and Bush, Sept. 4; and REO Speedwagon, Sept. 27
Admission: varies
Information: rosemusiccenter.com

MUSEUMS
National Museum of the United States Air Force
1100 Spaatz St., Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton (Greene and Montgomery)
937-255-3286
The world’s oldest and largest military aviation museum had a major expansion that opened last year, adding more than 70 aircraft in four new galleries exploring aircraft that touch on presidential items, research and development, space and global reach. In addition to the incredible 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 aircraft, 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. Be sure to mark your calendars for June 22-23 when the annual Vectren Dayton Air Show (daytonairshow.com), one of the nation’s premier aircraft events in the country, is set to happen and make it an aviation weekend.
Admission; free; fee for theater and flight simulators
Information: nationalmuseum.af.mil
Cincinnati Museum Center
1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati (Hamilton)
513-287-7000
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 went through a  $228 million restoration — the first in the Art Deco building's 85-year history — last year. Be sure to plan a trip to this former train station to see “Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs,” which runs through August 18.
Admission: $14.50 for pass to all three museums, or $10.50 for children ages 3 to 12, $5.50 for children ages 1 to 2, and $13.50 for senior citizens; special exhibits and Omnimax theater extra.
Information: cincymuseum.org

Cincinnati Art Museum
953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati (Hamilton County)
513-639-2995
“No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man” runs from April 26 through Sept. 2. The exhibition promises to transport audiences to the annual event in the Nevada desert by including room-sized installations, films, costumes and even “mutant art vehicles.” A second exhibition, “Kimono: Refashioning Contemporary Style,” will run from June 28 to Sept. 15 and celebrate the influence of the kimono on fashion.
If you haven't been before, plan time to take a stroll through scenic Eden Park where the museum resides.
Admission: free, special exhibition admission is $12, $6 for those 65 and older, college students and children ages 6-17. Children 5 and younger are free.
Information: cincinnatiartmuseum.org
 
The Dayton Art Institute
456 Belmonte Park N., Dayton (Montgomery County)
937-223-4278
Celebrating 100 years in 2019, 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. Exhibitions this year include “Our Century: Dayton Area Collects,” which opens June 29; “Dorothy Height’s Hats” (through June 23), “Monet and Impressionism” (May 11–Aug. 25); and “The Moon Museum” (June 29–Sept. 8).
Admission: $8, or $5 for those 60 and older, active military and groups; free for students and children. Some special exhibitions may carry an additional fee.
Information: daytonartinstitute.org

American Sign Museum
1330 Monmouth Ave., Cincinnati (Hamilton)
513-541-6366
The American Sign Museum, dedicated to the art and history of commercial signs and sign making, is the largest public museum dedicated to signs in the United States. Covering more than 100 years of American sign history in 20,000 square feet of indoor space, the museum is a walk through the ages of technology and design. Take a trip down memory lane at this hidden gem located in the Camp Washington neighborhood of Cincinnati as you take in hand carved wooden signs, gold leaf, electric light bulbs, and neon (all from 1870 through 1970).
Admission: $15, or $10 for those ages 65 and older, college students and children ages 13 and older. Up to three children ages 12 and younger are free with paid admission.
Information: americansignmuseum.org

SPORTING EVENTS
Baseball
CINCINNATI REDS
The Great American Ball Park, 100 Joe Nuxhall Way, Cincinnati (Hamilton)
513-381-7337
Located within walking distance of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Yeatman's Cove Park and other downtown Cincinnati attractions on the banks of the Ohio River is The Great American Ball Park — the home of the Cincinnati Reds. There's nothing that says summer like a baseball game. Grab food before or after at the Moerlein Lager House and enjoy a very special day on foot before or after taking in a game featuring the oldest professional baseball team. The Reds play home games May 3-6; May 14-19; May 27-29; May 31; June 1-2; June 14-19; June 28-30; July 1-4; July 6-7; July 18-21; July 26-31; Aug. 5-6; Aug. 8-11; Aug. 15-21; Sept. 2-8; Sept. 20-22; Sept. 24-26.
Admission: varies
Information: mlb.com/reds

DAYTON DRAGONS
Fifth Third Field, 220 N. Patterson Blvd., Dayton (Montgomery)
937-228-2287
The Cincinnati Reds’ Class A affiliate boasts a beautiful home with top-notch amenities. The Dayton Dragons have averaged 8,360 fans per game and are celebrating 20 years in 2019. They have led the Class-A level in attendance in every year of their existence, and have finished first among all teams below the Triple-A level for 13 straight years from 2006-2018. In 2011, they broke the record for most consecutive sellouts by a professional sports team, selling out their 815th consecutive game, breaking the record formerly held by the Portland Trail Blazers. The Dragons play home games May 6-11; May 20-23; May 28-31; June 1-2; June 7-13; June 20-23; July 2-3; July 6-8 July 10-15; July 24-26; July 30-31; Aug. 1-6; Aug. 10-12; Aug. 21-23; Aug. 31-Sept. 2.
Admission: varies
Information: daytondragons.com
 
Pro football
CINCINNATI BENGALS
1 Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati (Hamilton)
866-621-8383; 513-621-8383
The NFL team was established by the legendary Paul Brown and began play in 1968. Preseason home games have not yet been announced, but will happen in August. Check the website for details or to sign up to be notified when the schedule is released.
Admission: varies
Information: bengals.com
 
Tennis
WESTERN & SOUTHERN FINANCIAL GROUP MASTERS & WOMEN’S OPEN
Lindner Family Tennis Center, 5460 Courseview Drive, Mason (Warren)
513-651-0303
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 Aug. 10-18.
Admission: varies
Information: cincytennis.com


FESTIVALS AND FAIRS
Taste of Cincinnati
Downtown Cincinnati on 5th Street from Race Street to Broadway (Hamilton)
513-579-3187
One of the country's longest running food festivals is back for another Memorial Day weekend featuring food, live entertainment and more food. More than a half million people are expected to attend the May 25-27 weekend. Bring cash, come hungry and be prepared to wait. The event, which began in 1979, it is now the nation's longest running free culinary arts festival. Be sure to stop by Fountain Square and enjoy the view.
Admission: Free
Information: tasteofcincinnati.com

Riverfest
Cincinnati Riverfront (Hamilton)
The Sunday before Labor Day — Sept. 1 this year — Sawyer Point plays host to a giant celebration at the end of summer. Live music, family activities and plenty to do during the day wraps up in the evening with the Western & Southern/WEBN Fireworks. It's quite the show complete with a WEBN soundtrack.
Admission: Free
Information: webn.com

Annie Oakley Festival
Darke County Fairgrounds, 800 Sweitzer St., Greenville (Darke)
540-207-4403
For the 56th year, Darke County will pay homage to Phoebe Anne Moses — better known as Annie Oakley. The event scheduled for July 26-28 will feature shooting contests, a car show, fast draw competitions, melodramas, historical tours, a pilgrimage to Annie’s grave, special displays at Garst Museum, a Saturday parade, antique market and concessions. Honoring Darke County’s most famous daughter is the center of this party's mission and giving a turn of the century vibe is all part of it. If those July dates don't work mark your calendar for Aug. 16-24 and head to the Great Darke County Fair (darkecountyfair.com).
Admission: Free
Information: annieoakleyfestival.org

The Ohio Challenge Balloon Festival
Smith Park, 2301 Wedekind Drive, Middletown (Butler)
513-435-6361
Hot air balloon races, fireworks, professional skydivers, live music, a classic car show, arts and crafts, food vendors, airplane and helicopter rides ... this festival, happening July 19-20, really does have it all.
Admission: $5; 12 and younger are free.
Information: ohiochallenge.com

BREWERIES
Moerlein Lager House
115 Joe Nuxhall Way, Cincinnati (Hamilton)
513-421-2337
Located near The Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, the Moerlein Lager House is a special place to visit with great views of the river. You can also visit the Moerlein taproom in Over the Rhine if you have time and like the beers.
Information: moerleinlagerhouse.com

Rhinegeist
1910 Elm St, Cincinnati (Hamilton)
513-381-1367

Rhinegeist translates to "Ghost of the Rhine" and refers to this popular brewery’s spot in historic Over-the-Rhine. 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 IPA's, try their Truth, made with Amarillo, Simcoe, Citra, and Centennial hops.
Information: rhinegeist.com

Warped Wing
26 Wyandot St, Dayton (Montgomery)
937-222-7003
This full-scale production brewery is located in the heart of downtown Dayton at the former site of the Buckeye Brass & Iron Foundry (circa 1938). They brew, keg, can, bottle and distribute beer to local restaurants, bars, grocers and retailers in the Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus market. This cool warehouse space has a tasting room with a full slate of beers that can get very flavorful and creative depending on what you order. The Spent Grain Grill inside the space is a great place to grab food to pair with your beverage of choice.
Information: warpedwing.com

OUTDOOR ADVENTURES
Wake Nation
Joyce Park, 201 Joe Nuxhall Way, Fairfield (Butler)
513-887-9253
For an unforgettable adventure, head to Wake Nation, the only cable wake-boarding park in the Midwest and the best place to learn how to wakeboard, water ski, kneeboard and wake skate. The 10-acre lake in Butler County offers an opportunity to practice and hone water 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 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: wakenation.com

The Ohio Caverns
2210 State Route 245 East, West Liberty (Champaign)
937-465-4017
For those looking to venture below the water table, a trip to The Ohio Caverns near West Liberty might be in order. This is the largest of Ohio's caves, with over 2 miles of surveyed passageways ranging from 30 to 103 feet in depth. Tours leave about every 20 minutes and last about 45 minutes, so it's an adventure into the Earth you don't necessarily need to plan ahead for. 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 the Crystal King — one of the most perfectly formed stalactites in any cave. Nearly five feet long, weighing an estimated 400 pounds, and estimated to be over 200,000 years old dripping once every seven to eight minutes.
Admission: $19, or $10 for children ages 5 to 12
Information: ohiocaverns.com

Ozone Zipline Adventures
5291 State Rt. 350, Oregonia (Warren)
800-255-5376
If it's an adrenaline rush you are looking for, southern Ohio has a wealth of adventure options willing to help make it happen. There are five major zip line canopy tours throughout the state — Hocking Hills, Loudonville, The Wilds Safari Park, Columbus, West Liberty —  but one of the most breathtaking views can be had at Oregonia's Ozone Zipline Adventures, which stretches across the Little Miami River offering transportation for guests at heights of up to 200 feet. For those who think they've seen it all, the program offers night zipping once-a-month on a Friday and Saturday closest to the full-moon.
Admission: from $55; reservations required
Information: campkern.org/ozone