Last week marked a significant milestone for Ohio — playgrounds reopened! I have four kids under nine, so when we go to playgrounds, I look for places that will appeal to everyone. And that’s no easy feat — finding inclusive areas that cater to toddlers, preschoolers and grade-schoolers… plus kids with special needs.
Through countless hours of field research (my kids have a rough life!), I’ve compiled the following guide to the 10 Best Inclusive Playgrounds in Cincinnati:
The Anderson Township Park District has created a playground at Beech Acres Park where all children can play and learn together. For children ages 0-5, there is a Tot Lot complete with a train and train station, plus swings, a sand play area, playhouse. and mini-mountain. For older kids, there are larger-than-life climbing boulders and a massive fort-like play unit. For everyone, regardless of age, there is a riverboat Shelter, a seasonal water play area and a Sway Fun glider. **Read COVID-19 safety guidelines/news here.**
This Sharonville gem truly has something for everyone — a recently updated big-kids playground with a rock wall and inviting, multi-level play structure, and a sizable tot lot. The park is located across from the Sharonville library (score!) and surrounded with a fence to keep kids contained as they play. (The fence opens at a few spots, but it’s easy to keep an eye on your kiddos.)
Great Parks has two universally accessible playgrounds: Francis RecreAcres and Winton Woods – Harper Meadows. Both boast wide wheelchair-accessible ramps, sensory friendly equipment and rubber safety mats beneath the equipment.
We live in Montgomery and frequent this playground year round (this park has an epic sledding hill!). Montgomery Park also features a handicapped accessible playground for kids ages 2-12, including new tandem swings for babies and kids!
Dubbed “Everybody’s Treehouse,” Mt. Airy Treehouse is as charming, unique and accessible as the Queen City herself, and is worth a visit with your family. It’s 14 feet tall and connected to 12 trees within the forest. It has whimsical, fairy-tale features, such as a winding (and wheel-chair accessible) ramp, a swirly, shingled roof, and windows with crooked branches as windowpanes. The views from the treehouse are breathtaking. There’s also an amazing playground just across the street that kids of all ages will love.
Located at the Rec Center, this playground is, in my opinion, one of the best and most unique in the city. If you don’t know, “1000 Hands” playgrounds are just that: community playgrounds built by hundreds (even thousands!) of volunteer hands. Pleasant Ridge’s playground was built in 2000 by more than 3,000 volunteers and renovated in 2013 to be even better and safer.
Every Child’s Playground was created by hundreds of volunteers as part of a 1,000 Hands Project. The playground is in the shape of an old fashioned riverboat. There are slides, swings, a music area and a special play village that allows not only physically disabled children to play, but includes children with cognitive disabilities as well.
This one is my favorite and we visit literally every week (rain or shine, snow or heat). The playground is divided into an area for 5-12 and an area for 5 and under, and my youngest two have taken their first steps in the little kids’ playground. There is a nice ramp parents and kids can walk up, and lots of soft playground turf and “grass” that takes the danger out of falling. (When your kids have tired of this playground, head over to the Nature PlayScape and let them climb, zip and dig to their hearts’ delight!)
The half-acre, 18,000-square-foot, fenced-in children’s playground has features based on historic Cincinnati structures, created to symbolize the rich heritage of the Queen City. Features include a play castle, climbing wall, sandbox, dual slides, a canal boat in a stream and musical instruments – all creatively integrated into a safe and imaginative play environment for children of all ages.
West Fork Park (pictured)
This new playground is worth the hype, as it’s truly for everyone — and visually stunning, to boot! There is a section dedicated to toddlers and even babies, but other areas are great for them, too. Big kids will love the large play structure and zip line. The colorful maze is entertaining for everyone, but easy to see inside — and the entire park is covered in squishy and fall-safe playground turf.