The Tristate is full of activities and attractions for all ages, giving families plenty to see and do. Parents and kids alike can learn about our nation’s history, delve into the arts or have an adventure in nature, all without leaving the Tristate. We’ve compiled a sampling of the fantastic family-friendly things to do, so prepare for a memorable year.
Fountain Square may well be one of the most iconic locations in downtown Cincinnati, but it’s its many events that make this a great place for families. While summer at the square is known for the PNC Music Series and its festivals, February offers opportunities to ice skate, as well as a chance to take in a broomball game.
Washington Park is also full of events, but it has plenty of ways to play when nothing is scheduled, too. The 18,000-square-foot playground and 7,000-square-foot water play area will keep everyone occupied throughout the summer.
Families looking to enjoy the arts can find almost everything they’re looking for in Eden Park. Home to the Krohn Conservatory, Playhouse in the Park and the Cincinnati Art Museum, it’s easy to find something the whole family will enjoy. Make sure to save some time to explore the park itself, as well; don’t miss sites such as the Hinkle Magnolia Garden, Bettman Fountain and Twin Lakes.
Another place to explore downtown is the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s Main Library. The system contains almost 9 million volumes, making it the 13th largest library system in the country. The downtown branch is also the busiest library in the entire country, loaning out nearly 6.6 million books, ebooks, DVDs and more in 2012. While checking out the newest DVD release or the latest bestseller, look over the library’s schedule to find the times for its many programs and special exhibits.
If your family is looking to get out of town and reconnect with nature, Adams County is full of opportunities to do just that. Adams Lake State Park is a great place for non-powered boating, fishing, picnicking and hiking thanks to its large lake that was originally built to provide drinking water to West Union. The Edge of Appalachia Preserve System is a 16,000-acre nature preserve that offers summer camps and workshops for nature enthusiasts. And the Great Serpent Mound, the largest serpentine mound yet discovered, offers something for history enthusiasts.
Butler County is great for those looking for all-day entertainment. Take in the world’s largest indoor train display—clocking in at 25,000 square feet—at EnterTRAINment Junction. Kids of all ages will enjoy watching the trains in action, as well as playing in the interactive play area and journeying through the A-Maze-N Funhouse.
The WEB Extreme Entertainment is another entertainment destination in Butler County thanks to its four separate attractions. Adventure-seeking families can play laser tag, drive go-karts, compete against each other in a game of mini golf and try out mini bowling.
More than 3,000 acres of outdoor play space is also in Butler County thanks to the Metroparks of Butler County. With 10 different parks open on a daily basis, including Voice of America Park in West Chester, there’s always one nearby. The park system also has a fun-packed calendar of events. Try the Winter Adventure Camp or the Salamander Adventure for a walk on the wild side.
The Clermont County Park District is another destination for outdoor fun, covering a total of 520 acres with its six parks, three nature preserves and five greenspaces. In February, make sure to stop by Pattison Park to learn how to make maple syrup with special lesson days.
Clermont County is also the home to transportation-related museums you may not have previously visited. The Tristate War Bird Museum has several World War II-era restored airplanes as well as a Link ANT-18 Trainer, Willys-Overland Jeep and even a barracks.
The Cardboard Boat Museum is located in New Richmond, which is the site of the annual Cardboard Boat Regatta on the Ohio River. Visitors to the museum will get the chance to see such boats including the Bat Boat, a 10-foot guitar boat, and a coffee cup boat. The museum even offers classes on how to build your own cardboard ship.
Hamilton County is full of traditional family favorites, as well as a few surprises. Cincinnati’s iconic Union Terminal is more than an art deco masterpiece; it’s also the home of the Cincinnati Museum Center. The center has three separate museums—the Cincinnati History Museum, the Museum of Natural History & Science, and the Duke Energy Children’s Museum—and a five-story OMNIMAX theater. With touring exhibits regularly rotating in and out of the museum, there’s always something to keep every member of the family entertained.
For those looking for even more time outdoors, Great Parks of Hamilton County offers plenty of trails, play areas and lakes. The system’s largest park, the Miami Whitewater Forest, includes a dog park while Sharon Woods features the Heritage Village Museum, a recreated 1800s community.
Coney Island is gaining two more classic, family-friendly rides for the 2015 season. The pendulum-type ride and kiddie bumper cars bring Coney’s classic ride total to 26, which, along with the Sunlite Pool, will keep the family entertained all day.
When it comes to something different, the quirky American Sign Museum contains 19,000-square-feet of space filled with signs from all over the country. The neon-filled museum also includes a working neon shop, allowing visitors to see how these signs are made.
Warren County isn’t dubbed Ohio’s largest playground for nothing, thanks to its many large attractions.
Kings Island will be even more family-friendly this year with the addition of two new rides to Planet Snoopy, the park’s kids’ area. The first, Woodstock Gliders, features airplanes that “fly” as they rotate above the ground. The second, Snoopy’s Space Buggies, consists of vehicles that will bounce up and down, giving riders the feeling of walking on the moon.
Families don’t have to wait until the summer to enjoy The Beach Waterpark. Until the end of February, families can snow tube on the specialty-built tubing area with real snow. But make sure to return in the summer—that’s when more than a dozen of the park’s rides and attractions will reopen.
The Warren County Park District’s 1,600 acres of parks and natural areas offer outdoor fun all year long as well. Many of the parks have softball and soccer fields along with nature trails. Kayakers should also take a look at Clint Fultz River Park, which has river access and a launch ramp on the Little Miami River.
Take a trip to the other side of the river to another entertainment destination: Newport on the Levee. The home of the Newport Aquarium, Axis Alley, GameWorks and more, the Levee makes it easy to find something that pleases everyone. During the summer, stop by Thursday evenings to take in the free summer concert series.
Northern Kentucky is also home to Big Bone Lick State Park, a state historic site. The area is known for the many ancient bones of mastodons and bison that have been discovered there. Along with 40 acres of picnic grounds and a 62-site campground, the park has an indoor/outdoor museum that features collections of bones found in the park.
If your family feels the need for speed, the Lawrenceburg Speedway is the perfect place to take in some dirt racing. In business since 1950, visitors can even buy pit passes for a chance to meet the drivers.
If you need one more chance to take in the snow, Perfect North Slopes in Lawrenceburg is open through early March. The ski destination offers hills for skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing, as well as lessons for beginners. If you’re feeling competitive, Perfect North Slopes also features both youth and adult race programs.