Summer is here, and while we love all the extra time with our kids – there’s all the extra time with our kids. Have no fear: there are plenty of family-friendly activities this summer to take advantage of, and many of them are free!
Before your kids can say “I’m bored,” check out our list of 10 Cincy “Must Do” Summer Activities:
1. Smale Family Days (pictured)
June 7, July* (*date TBD), August 2 at Smale Riverfront Park
Smale Family Days are perhaps one of the most under-the-radar events in Cincinnati. Featuring games, puppet shows, live concerts and tons of kids’ activities, Smale Family Fun Days are the epitome of good, old-fashioned summertime fun. The best part? This event is free!
June 22 through August at various locations
Did you know Cincinnati has one of the largest free outdoor Shakespeare programs in the nation? Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is one of our city’s best gems, and their free Shakespeare in the Park program is a great way to introduce kids to the Bard! This year, A Midsummer Night’s Dream opens June 22, with Romeo & Juliet following in July and Julius Caesar in August. Check their website for a full directory of shows, which take place at various venues throughout the tristate.
3. Kids Bowl Free
Now through August at several Greater Cincinnati bowling alleys
Who doesn’t love bowling on a hot or rainy summer day? The Kids Bowl Free program is back again this summer, with more participating Cincinnati locations than ever. Kids Bowl Free has partnered with select bowling centers around the country to offer two free games every day to registered kids. So get signed up and hit the alley!
4. Great Parks Free Entry Days
June 3 and July 17
At the Great Parks of Hamilton County, guests can experience 78 miles of trails, over 17,500 acres of natural habitat and wildlife, lakes and river access, playgrounds, dog parks, golf courses and more. On Free Entry Dates, visitors get admission to all of the Great Parks for free – no car permit required!
5. The Cincinnati Zoo’s Macy’s Kids, Cultures, Critters and Crafts Festival
July 18 from 10 am – 6 pm
Who says $1 can’t buy anything? On July 18, get into the world-renowned Cincinnati Zoo for just a buck as part of the Macy’s Kids, Cultures, Critters and Crafts Festival. Come for a day of live music, parades, entertainment, special animal encounters and kid-friendly activities. Please note: parking is still $10, so go green and carpool with a friend!
6. The Cincinnati Museum Center
Just in time for summer break, the Cincinnati Museum Center is up and running. This beloved favorite is back and better than ever – and makes for a fun and stimulating afternoon during those “dog days” of summer. The newest exhibit, Mission Aerospace, features over a dozen experiments, puzzles and activities sure to inspire your kids to reach for the stars.
7. Free movies
Various locations around town
It’s showtime! Several local communities host free outdoor movies. Try Free Summer Movies for Kids at the Kenwood, Esquire and Mariemont Theatres; and CMX Cinemas Free Summer Movie Escape at the CMX Liberty Luxury Cinema in Liberty Township.
8. Visit a new-to-you playground
No matter what neighborhood you call home, there’s likely a fun playground right around the corner. Some notable playgrounds to check out: the brand-new Ziegler Park in OTR, West Fork Playground (an all-inclusive playground in Green Township) and Blue Ash’s Summit Park, which is unveiling a new playscape this summer!
9. Go berry picking
May through July
Here in Cincinnati, we have several U-Pick farms for a fun day of berry picking. (While Blooms & Berries unfortunately won’t have their U-Pick berry crop this year, the Loveland Farm has opened its Playground for the summer, is hosting a ton of fun events and has the most amazing, kid-friendly Garden Center that all make for a memorable family experience.)
10. Hit the road
While big trips to faraway destinations are great, sometimes a shorter adventure is all you need. Cincinnati is just a short distance from the world-class Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, horse heaven in Lexington and outdoor adventures galore in Appalachia. Check out our guide for a few road trips to pencil in over break.
Bonus: 11. Cincinnati Parent’s 2018 KidsFEST!
August means many things: end of summer, back to school – and, of course, Cincinnati Parent’s KidsFEST! Back for its third year at Coney Island’s iconic Moonlite Pavilion, KidsFEST is the must-attend family festival of the summer, and features face painting, character meet-and-greets, pony rides and tons of booths with giveaways, drawings, activities and more. This year’s KidsFEST also features the return of our popular Cover Kids Contest, which is totally, 100% FREE to enter! Want to see your cute kiddo on the cover of an upcoming Cincinnati Parent issue? Bring them to Cincinnati Parent KidsFEST! The date for 2018 KidsFEST is still TBD; be sure to follow us on Facebook for the details!
Embrace the season and make this summer a truly magical time with your family. And be sure to visit cincinnatiparent.com for our epic roundup of 100 Awesome Things to do This Summer in Cincinnati!