Nature Lover or History Buff?

Museums or wildlife observation?

Which do you prefer? On a visit to Ohio you can enjoy both if you choose. With Cuyahoga Valley National Park in the North and The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park in the south it makes for the best of both worlds.

Cuyahoga Valley, like all the National Parks, is a place unlike any other. It was decided by the citizens of Ohio that it needed to be protected for future generations to enjoy. It has taken some time to get it to it’s current condition, but with the return of the beaver and otters, it proves that nature is a powerful force.

The history of the canals and the cultural influence it had on the area make this place unique. It was great to see so many people enjoying it from the surrounding areas. We hiked along the most popular trail, the Towpath, that leads to the beaver marsh. Environmentalists are very surprised at how quickly nature has taken back this location that was once filled with trash and debris.

Travelers Tip: In Cuyahoga take your bike on the Towpath and when you are ready to return, hop on the train to get back for only $3 per person!

A covered bridge makes for great photos and a nice hike too

The kids enjoyed walking down by the river where we saw signs of many different animals that also frequent the river. We met a man that comes to sit by the river everyday where he enjoys watching the otters and beaver at work and at play. He seemed to know everyone that walked past.


There is so much to see and do in Cuyahoga Valley that we only got a small glimpse of what it has to offer. Our kids really enjoyed the Junior Ranger Program especially the scavenger hunt. We all got to learn something at the Canal Exploration Center where they have some great hands on displays for kids young and old. It is a place that the people of Ohio really seem to enjoy and I think it will only get better.

The Wright Brothers were from Ohio and even though they had their first flight in North Carolina they did most of their research and later testing in their home state. There are several places to explore in the Dayton area, with plenty of information about these two amazing brothers. I highly recommend a visit to the Wright Cycle Company Complex where they have many wonderful displays about the life of Orville and Wilbur Wright.

It is hard to imagine a world without flight

It is also hard to imagine seeing the first flight all the way to a rocket fly to the moon in one lifetime. Only one of the Wright brothers got to experience this, but wouldn’t it be amazing!


Travelers Tip: There are multiple sites for the Wright Brothers. If you want to go in order start at the Cycle Company. Also if you visit the Air Force Base they allow civilian access to several hangers with aircraft in them.

Most of us probably take flight for granted these days, but a visit to these sites will really make you appreciate this incredible invention. The kids were able to earn some really cool badges and a patch for completing the Junior Ranger books at the flight test site at Huffman Prairie and the Cycle Company site as well. Our oldest son, Miles, really enjoyed the parachute museum in the Wright Cycle Company Complex visitors center. Both the Huffman Prairie Flying Field and the bicycle shop sites have free parking and no entry fees so they are definitely a great place to visit if you are in the area.

So whether you want to be out in nature or learning about some amazing American inventors Ohio is great

A visit to Cuyahoga Valley may not wow you like the Grand Canyon, but if you take the time to explore and learn about this place you may find yourself pleasantly surprised. Learning a little bit about the Wright brothers and the process of getting a heavier than air machine off the ground for the first time will definitely give you a better appreciation for this amazing invention. Check out this article for some inexpensive places to stay while you’re there.


If you have been reading our articles, you might have noticed that we are often wearing our Hydration Packs. They are one of the items we highly recommend for any traveling family. We wear ours in museums, visiting National Parks, hiking, and in the city. The only place we don’t take them is to the beach because we all know sand gets everywhere. Normally we are super frugal, but I am so glad we spent the money to buy these packs!

These links are affiliate links, by clicking on them you support this website and it doesn’t cost you anything extra!

Here are some picture galleries of the places we visited:

The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park

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 Cuyahoga Valley National Park

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If you want to check out the video of the Science Museums we visited while in Ohio, they are on our You Tube channel Statebystate and you can click here to watch it.

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14 thoughts on “Nature Lover or History Buff?”

  1. I am not really much of a museum person, I like the outdoors and wildlife! I do like the idea of a hike on the covered bridge 🙂 Cuyahoga Valley National park looks pretty cool, I can see the kids had a great time!

  2. Isn’t it wonderful that wherever you go, there are fun things to explore and discover? I love to do both: enjoy the outdoors AND history, so the Wright Brothers sites and the canyon would both be favorites of mine. My kids are grown now, but they would have really enjoyed these places, too. I do remember taking them to the Erie Canal in New York, and they were fascinated with the boats and history we experienced there.

    • When we were here, we crossed the Erie Canal and had to turn around from a low railroad crossing while towing our trailer! Everyone was still excited to cross the canal, since we had been learning about the canal systems.

  3. Nature is definitely more my thing, otters are one of my favourite animals so I adore seeing them in the wild. I’ve never seen a beaver, I’m from the UK so we don’t have them, I would love to see one going about its beavery business here!

    • We still haven’t gotten to see an otter in the wild. They are real shy and early morning is the best time to see them, tricky with 3 kids. When we were in Acadia National Park we got to within a few feet of a large beaver working! It was amazing.

  4. You and your children seem to have lot of fun there. The junior ranger program sounds interesting. We are hard core nature lovers but learning along with nature will be fun at Ohio. Great pictures.

  5. I would definitely go for wildlife viewing. I love wildlife but then again I like to experience new things as well so I would love to have the option. This seems like a good palce for a family.

  6. I’m more of a nature lover than a history buff, but to learn the historical significance gives us a better appreciation of a particular place. I’m glad you can have them both at Cuyahoga Valley NP. To learn about the Wright brothers and their pioneering works are an absolute must! So one should be aware of their great contribution to mankind. I’m glad you’re imparting these learning experiences as well as a strong sense of adventure to your children.

    • After seeing the place where they actually took off for the first time in Kitty Hawk, we just had to see the Wright Brothers Cycle Co. Crazy to think one of the brothers lived long enough to see the moon landing!

  7. I enjoy both activities and cant wait to teach my daughter all these things when she is a little bit older. Also I have to admit I am a sucker for old covered bridges in the New England area during fall, I love taking photos of them.

  8. Wow.. Sounds like an amazing place to visit for kids! Personally, I’d love to visit a wildlife observation facility more than a museum, but if I can have both that’ll be pretty awesome!

    Your kids look like they had a lot of fun. Such a cool way to understand nature and its wildlife. The Junior Ranger Program sounds pretty exciting. Were there any workshops for the kids?

    • No, but for their Junior Ranger program they did have to do a scavenger hunt, which was fun. Sometimes there are ranger led programs it just depends on when you visit.

  9. That’s such a hard call. I love both an try to incorporate a little of each when I travel. The best places offer both. Such a cool covered bridge.I’ll have to check out the Wright Bicycle Company Complex the next time I’m in Ohio.

  10. I enjoy both activities but where I need to make a choice, it’d probably be the wildlife viewing, unless the museum was an exceptional one. I love regional architecture and history too, so the covered bridge (kissing bridge?) would appeal too.


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