The World’s Largest Aviation Museum in Dayton, Ohio

The National Museum of the US Air Force is the world’s largest aviation museum!

Dayton, Ohio is home to the National Museum of the United States Air Force. This museum is the largest and oldest aviation museum in the world!  I’ve had the pleasure of visiting and can assure you, it is massive definitely worth the full day’s visit! We spent an entire day exploring aircraft, engines, space, missiles, and more. The National Museum of USAF is great for adults and children of all ages!

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There is plenty to see here with more than 19-acres of indoor exhibit space!  Exhibits contain aircraft and thousands of historical items from the Wright brothers’ early years, World War I and II, the Korean War, the Southeast Asian War, and the Cold War. There are also galleries that highlight Space, Missiles, Presidential aircraft, and special exhibits. Outside you’ll find an Air Park, featuring aircraft exhibits and a playground, and Memorial Park (featuring over 500 memorial displays).

There are several hands-on activities for both kids and adults.  Some of these include:

  • Self-Guided Scavenger Hunts for kids. They are available for pick up near the entrance to Building 4 from 9 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • Homeschool STEM Days are free and available for children ages 3-18, and their parents.
  • Touch and Guided Tours are offered for those with special needs.
  • Walk onto a full-size representation of a NASA space shuttle payload bay in the Space Gallery.
  • Hands-on computer games and interactive exhibits throughout the museum.
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In addition, the aviation museum has a collection of rotating exhibits that are temporary, traveling, and new.  You can see these exhibits here.


One of the most somber exhibits at the National Museum is the Prejudice & Memory: A Holocaust Exhibit. It features photographs, artifacts, and memories of people (concentration camp survivors and their families, liberators and “righteous Gentiles” {non-Jews who helped Jews during the Holocaust}) who live in the Dayton, Ohio area


Admission is FREE. That’s right, free for the entire family. The parking & Wifi is free too! The flight simulators and Air Force theatres do cost extra.  This is such a great, affordable outing for families (and one of our favorites!).

Although the Air Force operates the museum through government appropriated funds, the Air Force Museum Foundation operates the Museum Store, Digital 3D Theatre and simulators including Interactive Flight Simulators, MovieRide and Virtual Reality Transporter as well as the Valkyrie and Refueling Cafés. Proceeds are used to support museum activities and to remodel or expand museum facilities. “Friends of the Air Force Museum,” created by the foundation in 1978, is an organization of aviation enthusiasts who support the museum. For an annual fee, members receive a quarterly Friends Journal, discounts in the Museum Store and other benefits. (Copied from the National Museum of USAF website)

Food and drinks are not allowed in the museum (although you may keep them in your car). All visitors will have to go through a metal detector at the entry, and bags may be subject to a search and scan through an x-ray machine (backpacks are not allowed but you may bring purses, diaper bags, and camera bags). All weapons are prohibited, including pocket knives. Photos and videos are encouraged (tripods are allowed).

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The National Air Museum is open seven days a week, from 9 am – 5 pm (and 8 pm on the first Thursday of every month). (Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Years Day)

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is located at 1100 Spaatz Street, Wright-Patterson AFB OH 45433


We usually pack our lunch and eat in the car or in the museum’s outdoor picnic areas. However, they do have dining options available for breakfast and lunch! The Valkyrie Cafe and Refueling Cafe both offer muffins and danishes for breakfast, and a variety of options for lunch such as pizza, hot dogs, burgers, soups, salads, snacks, and drinks.


  • Children under age 14 need to be under adult supervision, but children aged 14-18 may tour the museum without supervision.
  • There is a limited number of free strollers available, but they are available first come first serve.
  • Free guided tours are offered daily and are 1 hour and 15 minutes in length (registration is not required).
  • If you have issues with small spaces, you may want to avoid going inside the aircraft in the Presidential Gallery.  Some of the spaces are very tight and once you inside the only way out is the exit at the other end of the plane.

Interested in visiting Cincinnati, Ohio?  It’s only an hour from Dayton!  Check out our Weekend in Cincinnati for things to do! 

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  • Reply Kelly January 28, 2020 at 4:18 pm

    I’ve only ever driven through Dayton. Next time I’m that way, I’ll have to stop and check this museum out.

  • Reply Hayley January 29, 2020 at 9:09 am

    This sounds so cool!! I have a masters in museum studies so I love learning about all museums close to Indy!

  • Reply Jessica Young January 29, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    This has been on our list to visit. Thanks for the tips! I think my boys will love it!

  • Reply Kate Stump January 30, 2020 at 11:27 am

    Adding yet another thing on our list of places to visit! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Erin February 13, 2020 at 9:52 am

    I live in Michigan and have traveled through Ohio countless times, but I never knew of this museum in Dayton. Will definitely keep this aviation museum in mind for future trips! Thanks for sharing!

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