This Southwest Ohio destination offers ample outdoor fun to fill a day trip. Don't miss the Donut Trail.

If you’re running out of ideas for places to take the kids on an outing that combines social distancing with enough activities to keep them interested, a day trip to Butler County might fit the bill. Tucked between Cincinnati and Dayton, Butler County is only 1.5 hours from Columbus. It is home to Miami University as well as a variety of adventures suitable for all age ranges, including a delicious Donut Trail.

“With so many opportunities to spread out, see the beautiful fall colors and tons of new places to explore, both kids and parents will enjoy a quick trip to Butler County,” says Tracy Kocher, vice president of marketing and communications for the Butler County Visitors Bureau. 

The area’s expansive open spaces make it ideal for packing a picnic and spending a day enjoying the outdoors. One of the natural highlights is the Great Miami River, which is popular for kayaking and surrounded by paved trails for walking and biking. Some activities have space limitations or require advance reservations due to COVID-19 safety procedures, so it is best to call ahead before planning a trip.

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Nation Road Horse Rental

6486 Morning Sun Road, Oxford; 513-255-5752

Hours: Varies seasonally, but operates 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays in September and October

Cost: Trail rides (ages 8 and older) are $25 to $60 depending on difficulty and length of ride, pony rides (ages 3-8) are $10; all rides are by appointment only.

Explore the forested trails in Oxford on horseback with a guided trek at Nation Road Horse Rental. The family-owned business offers trail rides ranging from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours to accommodate varied skill levels, including those who have no experience riding. Each person is matched to a horse. There are also parent-assisted pony rides for younger children, giving them a 15-minute experience on horseback in a smaller saddle.

BAABs Kayak & Livery

2401 Carmody Blvd., Middletown; 513-217-7070

Hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, closed Wednesdays

Cost: $35 for an adult kayak, $60 for a two-person canoe and $25 for a youth boat (ages 12 and younger)

Paddle along the Great Miami River on 4-, 6- or 8-mile stretches with a rental from BAABs Kayak & Livery. Pick up some snacks from the general store and go for a scenic trip down the river. The kids can watch for the bald eagle that is frequently seen along the routes. Call ahead to reserve a trip.

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum

1763 Hamilton Cleves Road, Hamilton; 513-868-1234

Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays

Cost: $8 for adults, $3 for children ages 6-12, free for ages 5 and younger

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum offers lots of room to roam. The 300 acres of rolling landscape have more than 80 outdoor sculptures along with gardens and meadows. Art Carts are available for rent so you can drive directly to the sculptures and reduce the amount of walking for young children. Rentals, on a first-come, first-served basis, are $20 for the first hour, $15 each additional hour.

Wake Nation

201 Joe Nuxhall Way, Fairfield; 513-887-9253

Hours: Operates seasonally, but is open noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 11 and 1-4 p.m. Oct. 12-25

Cost: Two-hour tickets start at $32. Youth tickets (younger than age 15) are $20, and equipment rental is extra.  

Though Wake Nation’s inflatable aqua park is closed for the season, families can still enjoy cable wakeboarding on weekends at this water sports complex near Cincinnati. Riders on wakeboards are pulled across the water by an overhead cable. It is the only cable wake park in the Midwest.

StreetSpark Murals

Various streets throughout Hamilton; 513-863-8837

A great free activity is having the kids search for the 11 StreetSpark murals that decorate the streets throughout the city of Hamilton. StreetSpark is a community arts initiative to add visual appeal to the city and highlight local artists. The extra-large murals are fun backdrops for photos and represent a variety of themes and designs. Download the mural map online.

Holiday Auto Theatre

1816 Old Oxford Road, State Route 130, Hamilton; 513-929-2999

Hours: Evening shows through early November

Cost: $9.25 for adults, $5.50 for children ages 4-11, free for ages 3 and younger

If you aren’t planning an early return trip home, you can treat the kids to an old-fashioned drive-in movie experience at the Holiday Auto Theatre. Movies are a mix of new releases and old classics running in double features. There is a concession stand, but you can also purchase a permit ($5) to bring in your own food and have a dinner picnic as you watch a movie.