Cincinnati is less than 2 hours from Columbus and is FULL of things to do with kids. If a bigger vacation isn’t in the budget this year, head to Cincinnati for a weekend and check out a few of these fun attractions. You’ll find fun activities in Cincinnati for the whole family at a variety of price points. Leave time to stop at Jungle Jim’s International Market on your way in or out of town – you could spend a whole day browsing this store!
NOTE: Due to a large restoration project, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum is the only museum currently open in the center. The rest are expected to reopen at the conclusion of restoration in Fall 2018.
One of the last great train stations, built in 1933. Includes 3 museums (Children’s Museum, Cincinnati History Museum, and the Museum of Natural History), OmniMax Theater, Terminal tours, art exhibits, original control tower, whispering fountains, and ice cream parlor. Most experiences are free (excluding museums, OmniMax Theater, and a few others). On-going renovations and may limit access to certain areas. COSI members may get free admission; verify before you go.
- Duke Energy Children’s Museum: Hands on fun, 8 educational and themed play areas. $5.50-$10.50,
- Museum of Natural History and Science: (closed for renovations: see details) Experience a world of science, history and nature through interactive exhibits and amazing artifacts. Hands’ on experiments, spelunking, mummies, spacesuits, caves, Ice Age, dinosaurs and more.
All Museums Passes will be available once the other museums open. These include admission to the Children’s Museum, Cincinnati History Museum, and the Museum of Natural History.
- Newport Aquarium: Experience the ocean without the sand, sunburns, and shark attacks. Touch turtles and sharks, encounter animals, and explore exhibits and sea life from all over the world in a million gallons of water. $17.99-$24.99 (if you intend to go more than twice a year, buy a membership -you’ll also receive discounts at other attractions including the Columbus Zoo). Columbus Zoo members get 20% off admission. During Summer Family hours, get one free kids’ admission with each paying adult. Other discount options here. Additional experiences are available for purchase, including Penguin Encounters and Backstage Animal Experiences.
- Hamster Water Balls at the Outside Riverwalk Area: Climb inside a giant 6.5 foot ball and make like a hamster in these giant Hamster Balls. Try to control the ball while floating in the shallow pool. $8, ages 3 and up.
Rated one of the top Zoo’s in the country, you’ll find lots to explore at this Zoo with over 500 animal and 3000 plant species. Tickets are $13-$19 (save $1-2 by purchasing online); parking is $10. Kroger, military, and AAA discounts are available. Columbus Zoo members should receive 50% off; verify with Zoo before your visit.
Check out these discounts for Cincinnati Zoo for Summer 2018
- Twilight Tuesdays: Every Tuesday in July the Zoo will stay open late, until 8pm. Zoo admission will be half price starting at 5pm.
- July 18th is our Macy’s Kids, Cultures, Critters and Crafts Festival and Zoo admission is only $1!
- August 18 & 19 is Visitor Appreciation Days and admission is half price both day.
Beautiful bookstore geared towards children’s enjoyment with fun activities and story times.
You’ll find over 3,500 plant species from around the world, plus special exhibits. Admission prices vary according to the seasonal show. Through June 17 enjoy the Butterfly Show: Butterflies of the Caribbean; $4-$7. From June 30-August 19: “Apothecary Soul Garden”; $2-$4.
Beautiful downtown parks featuring the Serpentine Wall, fountains and splash pads, playgrounds, and lots of festivals and events.
Located along Cincinnati’s downtown riverfront, park features include splash grounds and water play areas, playground, picnic area, Carol Ann’s Carousel, Moerlein Lager House and more. West Mehring Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202
- Carol Ann’s Carousel: Come and take a ride on one of 44 whimsical Cincinnati-centric characters that make up Carol Ann’s Carousel. The carousel is an amazing work of art featuring original artwork by Jonathan Queen with panels depicting animal characters playing in one of the numerous Cincinnati parks. Additional panels celebrate the many historic landmarks of Cincinnati. The carousel is housed inside a glass building so it can operate year-round. Check hours before you go. Ride tokes are $2 each, with discounts for multiple purchases. Located at 8 East Mehring Way, just across the street from the new P&G GoVibrant Playscape next to the Roebling Bridge and immediately west of the new Pichler Fountain off of Rosa Parks Drive
- Heekin Family/PNC Grow up Great Adventure Playground: This playground next to the Roebling Suspension Bridge contains a rock climbing canyon, log climbers, twin racing slides, a rope bridge and a mist feature.
- Labyrinth (Inspired by Barr Foundation):This serene path is a place to walk in peace and meditation.
- P&G go Vibrantscape: Talking tubes, exercise pipes, a giant foot piano, a flying pig, and water pumps and channels that can be activated to flood a granite relief map of the park.
- River Play: Fountains for children and families to enjoy and play in, and meandering rocks for hopping across the water.
- Rosenberg Swings: A series of shade pergolas, each containing two porch-size swings, are positioned along the upper river walk with great views of the river. Sets of swings are found on the east side of the park at the Duke Energy Garden and above the great lawn on the west side of the park.
- Pichler Fountains & Plaza: The steps aligning with Vine Street are flanked by water cascades, and a plaza containing a fountain, a reflecting pool, water curtains, and glass balconies.
Themed gardens within the garden on 12 acres. Lots of educational programs. $5 admission, 2 and under free. Themed gardens appeal to kids of all ages! 10397 Springfield Pike, Cincinnati, OH 45215
- Frog & Toads Garden – Look closely between those lily pads and you’ll see they are surrounded by frogs.
- Wizard’s Garden – Pass the purple hat, don’t wake the dragon and take the bouncy bridge to the fairy garden.
- Trolley Garden – Four small scale trains run on tracks surrounding some of your favorite storybook characters.
- Vegetable Garden – Raised beds will put you eye level with common and not-so-common vegetables.
- Grandma’s Scent Garden – You’ll be surrounded by smelly plants for your pretend tea party in this garden.
- Morph Garden – The caterpillars in this garden are huge!
- Butterfly Garden – This garden is shaped like its favorite resident.
Home of the world’s largest indoor train display and A-Maze-N Funhouse: The Greatest Funhouse on Earth, you’ll find lots of fun with the Imagination Junction children’s play area, imaginative railroading museum, and from Memorial Day thru Labor Day you can engineer your own locomotive around a track in a hand-cranked railroad car or ride the narrow gauge train ride. Admission is $9.95-$13.95; Funhouse is an additional $9.95.
Pools, slides, rides, and more. No admission for the park or live stage show, children’s playground, or Coney’s Mining Town. Bring a picnic! Tickets for pool, slides, and classic rides are $6.95-$21.95 in advance, depending on chosen activities. Extra fees for Miniature Golf, EuroBungy Dome, and the Arcade. Discounted pricing after 4 pm. Parking $9. 6201 Kellogg Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45230
Catch a Major League Baseball game at the beautiful Great American Ball Park through the beginning of October. Seats start at just $5. Check out the game promotions here.
Options a short drive from Cincinnati:
Wave pool, waterslides and ride, beaches, and a zipline will keep you entertained on 35 acres. Admission $19.99-$24.99 online. (30 min NE of Cincy)
Largest Amusement and Waterpark in the Midwest with roller coasters, ride, attractions, Soak City Waterpark, Peanuts-themed Kids’ Area (rated one of the best in the World), Dinosaurs Alive, and more. Tickets start at $32 online (for after 4 pm admission) to $44.99 (single day), plus several other options available. (30 min NE of Cincy):
The state-of-the-art 75,000-square-foot museum brings the pages of the Bible to life, casting its characters and animals in dynamic form and placing them in familiar settings. There’s also Ziplines, a Planetarium, Botanical Gardens, Petting Zoo and Camel Rides, exhibits and more (some activities cost extra). Tickets are $15-$35, or get a combo ticket for Creation Museum and Ark Encounter (45 minutes apart). $5 parking. (25 min SW of Cincy)
Ark Encounter is a one-of-a-kind historically themed attraction that presents a number of historical biblically themed events in an entertaining, educational and immersive way — centered on a full-size, all-wood Ark, will be the largest timber-frame structure in the USA. Spanning 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high, this modern engineering marvel amazes visitors young and old. Tickets are $15-$48, or get a combo ticket for Creation Museum and Ark Encounter. $10 parking. (40 min S of Cincy)
Learn to climb trees and then play up in the top with a 1.5 hour guided introductory tree climb. All equipment and instruction included. $40 per climber. (20 min SE of Cincy)