I have four kids under eight, 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 babies, toddlers, preschoolers and grade-schoolers… plus kids with special needs.
Through a lot of research and playdates 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.
This Loveland farm doesn’t just have the best u-pick berries and seasonal festivals — it also has an amazing play area. The Sound Garden is interactive and accessible, and there are lots of activities that any kid can do: farm games, animals and more. This area is open seasonally and throughout the summer; follow Blooms & Berries on Facebook for updates!
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 brand-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 recently (in 2013) revamped 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 — then renovated in 2013 to be even better and safer. (In fact, this Cincinnati Recreation Commission playground was also expanded to include a water-park worthy spray ground.)
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. Read the description of a local parent.
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 new Nature PlayScape and let your kids climb, zip line and dig to their hearts delight!)
The half-acre, 18,000 square foot, fenced 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. The play area is programmed with free activities for all families to enjoy.
We’ve raved about this new playground recently here, and it is definitely ideal for little ones. There is a section dedicated just to toddlers and even babies, but other areas are great for them, too. The colorful maze is entertaining, but easy to see inside, and there is zero mulch for eating and throwing (or is that just my kids?). There is also a nice restroom if you are in the middle of potty training, and a shelter for picnics.