April showers bring May flowers. Or, if you’re a parent, April showers bring cranky, stir-crazy kids. What’s a Cincinnati Parent to do during these wet, soggy days? Head to one of these indoor spots, that’s what!
We rounded up 35 (yes, 35!) of our favorite indoor places for our Cincinnati Rainy Day Fun Guide:
The American Sign Museum is an under-the-radar museum that’s as accessible to kids as it is to adults. Kids will love the spinning signs, flashing lights and pop culture imagery. Definitely schedule your visit around one of the Museum’s daily tours; you’ll learn so much about the history of this awesome art medium. TIP: Get FREE tickets to the American Sign Museum with the Library Discovery Pass!
Four floors of interactive exhibits and displays highlight Northern Kentucky’s rich history. Be sure to hit up each of the Museum’s “Top Ten Picks,” which include a drive-in theatre and train display with interactive crawl space.
After a four-month hiatus following a nail-biting will-they-won’t-they search for a new owner, the beloved Oakley bookstore reopened in April as the Blue Manatee Literacy Project (BLMP). Led by start-up “junkies” and childhood literacy supporters Kevin Kushman and Amanda Kranias, BMLP intends to help address the gap in reading readiness and proficiency among Cincinnati’s underserved children, aged 4-8, that results in up to 40% of rising kindergarteners starting school at a disadvantage. The BLMP will include familiar story times, author/illustrator visits and in-store events all Cincinnati parents know and love. The BLMP will also, of course, sell books, hands-on “unplugged” toys and unique gifts, with 100% of profit directed towards the BMLP mission. Welcome back, Blue Manatee 2.0!
With a Great Green Room, train table and library-level selection of kids’ books, Blue Marble Books is a magical place to spend an afternoon.
The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery in Dayton is more than a museum of science and natural history, it’s also a zoo, aquarium and planetarium. You’ll find all the answers to your kids’ biggest questions at Boonshoft.
This Oakley art studio offers a range of classes for artists, adults and children of all skill levels, using glass as the main medium. Check out Brazee’s toddler-friendly story times, which are geared especially for kids 3-6.
Go around and around on this unique Cincinnati attraction by Smale Riverfront Park. Glass doors allow for easy access into the carousel building, making this indoor carousel accessible year-round. (While you’re downtown, splurge on a spin on the SkyStar, which is only in Cincinnati until June!)
Go retro on the next rainy day by lacing up your roller skates for a family skate date! Castle Skateland boasts the largest skate floor in the Tri-State, and provides a bright, clean, safe and friendly atmosphere for the family.
With Baby Tours, First Family Saturdays and Wee Wednesdays (all FREE), the Cincinnati Art Museum makes visual arts accessible and family friendly. The Rosenthal Education Center is an interactive space for families to discover the Cincinnati Art Museum’s collection in a fun, immersive, hands-on and kid-safe manner.
There are many reasons to visit COSI, but right now their Mythic Creatures exhibit is the main attraction! The eponymous dragons, unicorns, mermaids do not disappoint – and Harry Potter fans will be thrilled by the larger-than-life griffin on display. COSI has designed the exhibit with kids in mind, and there are several interactive touches to keep kids engaged and excited. The “create your own” dragon at the end is an especially nice touch, as is the “Mini Mythic” area with soft toys, pretend play and craft activities.
The Cincinnati Museum Center is back! After a two-and-a-half year renovation that closed down many of the museum’s beloved attractions, and starting last May, we’ve seen the reopening of the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, Public Landing, OMNIMAX and Cave; the debut of the all-new Dinosaur Gallery and Science Interactives Gallery; and the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts to ever show in the US has made its first stop at the CMC! There are so many reasons to visit the Cincinnati Museum Center, but #1 is that it’s just plain fun.
Cincinnati’s premier indoor go-karting centers. With 2 locations to serve families looking for some racing excitement. We have karts for ages 3-93, our karts are designed to provide age-appropriate racing action. In Tri-County and Florence.
Joseph-Beth is known for its story times – and working parents can celebrate that both Cincinnati and Crestview Hills now offer Saturday story times! The Kids’ Area at Crestview Hills is a CP favorite and definitely worth a trip.
Entertrainment Junction is always a hit for railroad enthusiasts young and old: it’s 25,000 square feet of model trains (that’s half a football field!), and includes over 2 miles of track, 90 G-scale locomotives and 1,000 cars. There’s also a kids’ play area, railroad museum, Expo Center and approximately 1,346 train tables.
It’s no secret we love IKEA – and this Swedish superstore is absolutely a fun place to browse on a rainy day! The Kids’ Department features activity tables, cars and trucks, play tunnels and play mats, making it basically the coolest playroom ever. (Be sure to go on a Tuesday for story time and IKEA’s Kids Eat Free promo!)
Open Saturdays and Sundays, Happen’s Toy Lab is a must for little inventors. Kids can create their own, one-of-a-kind toy from colorful bins of broken donations (how’s that for upcycling?) for just $10. (All the proceeds go to fund the art classes at Happen Inc. — all of which are completely free!)
It’s always spring in Krohn Conservatory – and their seasonal shows are something you can’t miss! This year’s Butterfly Show, The Butterflies of Ecuador, is a surefire cure for the rainy day blues.
With laser tag, video games, trampolines and virtual reality games, Lazer Kraze offers varied experiences that can cater to many different interests and keep your kids engaged and entertained! Got little kids? We recommend checking out Lazer Kraze on a Saturday morning during Munchkin Madness: kids 12 and under can play unlimited laser tag for $15 for those two hours!
The mall is always a tried-and-true rainy day activity, and Liberty Center makes it infinitely more fun with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Discovery Zone. The playground has a “flying pig” theme, which can be found in everything from the walls to the massive, pig-shaped play structure. It’s free to visit, and across from the play area, the MidPoint library recently opened a full-service branch, making Liberty Center a satisfying afternoon for kids and parents.
For the 6-and-under crowd, this new indoor space in O’Bryonville is a must! The sign is bright green; the space is sunny and light, with natural-colored play structures and lots of soft, inviting spaces. Kids will love the indoor rock wall, natural wood play structure, and whimsical wheely bugs. Parents will love Lily Pad’s clean environment, daily classes and welcoming staff.
This unique attraction is for children and adults and guarantees hours of fun and excitement. The “main event” at Main Event is bowling: black lights, lasers, music and more will keep your kids entertained frame after frame.
With a button maker, 3D printer, MP3 recording room, sewing stations and even a self-publishing book machine (!), the Main Library MakerSpace is a place to let your imagination run wild. Bonus: most activities are either free or a (very) nominal fee!
This brand-new indoor climbing center is amazing. Memberships, classes, camps — Cincinnati climbers of all ages will love Mosaic Climbing!
Newport Aquarium is filled with a wide variety of creatures to watch, learn about and even (in some cases), touch. We love Stingray Hideaway, where you’ll get up-close and even touch two different species of stingrays. Then, enter their world as you journey through kid-friendly underwater tubes where stingrays soar above and all around you! This exhibit epitomizes what the Aquarium does best, as it allows for up-close, hand-on exploration
Ice skating in the spring? Why not? Northland Ice Center is a year-round indoor rink offering lessons, all-ages hockey and open skating.
Trampolines, a basketball court, and rows and rows of giant, indoor playground equipment. Recreations Outlet is an absolute favorite place on a rainy day. Family owned and operated for over 30 years, they know how to BUILD FUN into your day!
It’s baseball season, so what better way to spend a rainy day than at the Reds Hall of Fame Museum? Plenty of interactive areas for kids are available, including a booth where kids can don headsets and practice their Marty and Joe skills!
Now this is a true indoor playground: wall-to-wall swing sets, slides, monkey bars, rock walls and trampolines offer loads of rainy day fun. Centrally located in Blue Ash (right off 1-71), Run, Jump-n-Play is the perfect indoor solution for kids who just want to run around at the playground!
Go-karts, virtual reality, mini bowling and lazer tag – Scene 75 is a destination for year-round indoor fun! Located in Dayton and Cincinnati, both locations have been named Top 3 Family Entertainment Centers in North America and Dayton’s holds the title of #1 Family Center in North America.
The Sharon Center is sure to be a big hit on a rainy day. There are animals, story times, crafts and an entire indoor play place housed at this Great Parks gem. (Please note a Great Parks Vehicle Permit is required for park entry – at $10/year, it’s a total steal!)
Silverlake’s new 55,000 Sq. Ft. Active Entertainment Center is unlike anything else in the Tristate. Ropes courses, rock walls, ziplines, duckpin bowling, a trampoline park and more make Silverlake a unique and fun place to spend a rainy day. Silverlake does require a membership, but you can check it out with a free day pass!
If we had to describe the Taft Museum in one word, it would be delightful. In addition to a series of ever-rotating displays, this art museum boasts lots of kid friendly activities, including Third Sunday Funday, Taft Jr. classes and free admission every Sunday. Definitely stay for lunch in the café – there are several kid-approved options and the staff is super friendly.
Totter’s Otterville is set up in sections, each having a theme to encourage creativity and cooperative play. It’s geared toward children through age 10 and has a little something for everyone.
The Silver Diva offers a fun, kid-friendly alternative to the typical craft time experience. Kids ages 6 and up can hand stamp their own necklaces, bracelets, rings or keychains.
Did you know Cincinnati is home to the only indoor trampoline, zipline and rock wall park on earth? Zip City Cincinnati is 50,000 square feet of adrenaline-pumping, energy-burning, kid-approved fun!