7 things you need to do at Smale Riverfront Park

Smale Riverfront Park is every Cincinnati kid’s dream: part water park, part playground, with a carousel thrown in for good measure. But the water park at Smale is unlike any other splash park in the city, as is the playground.

It’s easy to spend an entire day at Smale; between the different playgrounds (P&G go Vibrantscape, River Play, Heekin Family/PNC Grow up Great Adventure Playground, Fath Fountain), always-happening events and endless green spaces perfect for eating and relaxing, this is a Cincinnati Park that just oozes playdate appeal. Smale has been a regular on our summer parks rotation, and there are several things my kids have to do each time we visit.


Here are 7 things you need to do at Smale Riverfront Park:

Walk across the rope bridge

This rope bridge is pretty epic, taking kids over a large portion of the Adventure Playground! It’s best for older kids and those who aren’t afraid of heights (like me).

Play a giant game of checkers

Under the shade of the Roebling Suspension Bridge, you’ll find larger-than-life board games. Trying to explain the game of checkers to my crew was a lost cause; however, they are very intrigued by the game and love moving the giant pieces around.

Conquer the Flying Pig

The rope bridge is good practice for the famous Flying Pig, which requires a confident climber to maneuver the rope ladder into the Pig. This is like a kid-sized helicopter, as kids propel the wings up and down for a bouncy, turbulent ride!

Play the piano

You know that scene in Big where Tom Hanks kills it with the toe tap piano? You can totally reenact that scene at Smale Park. This piano is huge, and kids will absolutely love running up and down the keys.

Spin the water auger

My kids absolutely love this feature, and they’re not alone: there are always kids at this giant machine! Kids especially love standing in the water while turning the auger around and around.

Ride the carousel

Speaking of going around and around: a whirl around Carol Ann’s Carousel is a requirement when visiting Smale! Kids must be dry to ride, so have them run around one of the dry playgrounds first.


Admire the bridges, cityscape and river

Smale’s location really makes you fall in love with Cincinnati. It’s a city park, but its riverfront location makes it feel expansive and open, and offers some of the most beautiful views of our bridges, cityscape and river.

Smale Riverfront Park (website) is the picture-perfect way to spend a summer day in Cincinnati. I always park at the lot on Mehring Way; it’s directly across the street from the Playground and on the same side as Carol Ann’s Carousel. Rates are reasonable, the lot is super convenient and my car stays nice and cool! For more information on Smale Riverfront Park, visit the Cincinnati Parks website.

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