Cincinnati winters can be the worst. Lots of rain and ice, not a lot of snow, and generally gray and dismal weather. For kids (and parents!) being cooped up at home is just not an option. And while every Cincinnati Parent loves a good indoor playground, going to the same places over and over definitely gets old. So today I’ve put together a list of my favorite under-the-radar indoor playgrounds.
Check out these 5 Under-the-Radar Indoor Playgrounds in Cincinnati:
As if Entertrainment Junction weren’t fun enough — so.many.trains! — there’s an incredible indoor playground. Imagination Junction is a 5,000 square-foot railroad-themed entertainment center with colorful, innovative play structures with dozens of challenging elements. In addition to the huge play structure where kids can climb, slide and crawl through tunnels, there’s a kid-sized train where kids can shovel coal and several train displays kids can interactive with. Imagination Junction also has an entire play area devoted to Thomas, with video screens and several train tables.
Whenever we go to the Cincinnati Museum Center, we always visit The Woods first. The Woods is easily the most unique indoor play area in Cincinnati; the three-story area has hollow climbing logs, rope bridges and a horizontal climbing wall, as well as areas for discovering fossils and the animals that live in the nooks and crannies of the woods. The recent renovations gave The Woods a new slide and new lighting, which makes the Woods seem more shaded and… woods-like. (Think of the way the sunlight filters through the trees during the summer… that’s what it feels like!) The Woods is designed for kiddos 8 and older, but younger kids are encouraged to explore with an adult (and in fact, the bouncy spider web is just for younger explorers!). The Woods is FREE with CMC admission.
Adventure Station is one of those places my kids are always excited to go. Designed for kids 2-12, there is a special play area just for kids 5 and under in one corner. Adventure Station is two stories tall, with caves to explore, trees to climb and birds’ nests to investigate. In addition to these natural wonders, you can kick things up a notch by sending your kids on a scavenger hunt. Pick up cards as you enter Adventure Station, then let your kids loose to find the various items on that day’s list. Admission to Adventure Station is $3/kid ages 2-12 and good all day — your kids will get a stamp on their hand for re-entry.
Liberty Center’s indoor playground is a lifeline for parents. (If you’ve ever attempted to take multiple kiddos to the mall, you know how draining it can be.) The Cincinnati Children’s Discovery Center is an amazing indoor play area where kids can get their energy out while parents watch on. Located in the Foundry, the Discovery Center is designed for kids aged 2 to 12 to run, climb (inside a huge Flying Pig) and slide (down the Pigtail Slide)! Kids will delight in sending foam balls zipping on a journey they create in the gigantic Magnetic Ball Maze. This mall play area is a genius idea and needs to be incorporated by every shopping center! Oh — and it’s FREE.
The Cincinnati Fire Museum isn’t an indoor playground, per se, but this hidden gem offers lots of interactive activities that really allow kids to step into the role of a fire fighter. There’s a fire pole young fire fighters can slide down, a smoke house where kids can “escape” out the window, an old-fashioned water pump for kids to try their hands at; and the pièce de résistance: a full-sized E-One Pumper Cab where kids can run the lights and sirens, just like real fire fighters.
Bonus: LEGOland Discovery Center
LEGOland Discover Center is basically one giant playground for LEGO lovers, but there are two areas specifically devoted to indoor play. For younger tots, there is, of course, a Duplo playground with large, soft bricks, blown-up animals for climbing and even a playset and slide. (Have your kids slide into the soft bricks — it’s so fun!) And for the older crowd, the LEGOLAND Discovery Center is the ultimate indoor (LEGO) playground — the three-story LEGO City play space looks like a larger-than-life version of your kids’ LEGO fire station, construction and police station sets. (This Columbus gem is absolutely worth the drive!)
For a complete list of indoor playgrounds in Cincinnati, be sure to check out our guide here!