We are lucky to live close to so many great experiences in this city, but sometimes it’s hard to find the time to truly enjoy them.
Devote a staycation weekend to these incredible family-friendly places in Cincinnati:
Explore Art Downtown
The Cincinnati Ballet has a full calendar of stunning and family-friendly performances this winter. Amenities include booster cushions to help your little dancers see these world-class performances. Tip: Call the box office to learn about sensory-friendly performances, which are offered for some shows and often at a lower price than the regular nights.
Create an art-filled day at the Contemporary Arts Center in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. Be sure to check out the UnMuseum on the top floor, which is free and encourages littles to touch and create art.
Can’t get enough visual art? Also downtown, but not on the streetcar line, is the Taft Museum of Art, which features the fairyland like outdoor sculpture exhibit “Entwined at the Taft” by Patrick Dougherty and Free Family Fundays the third Sunday of every month.
Murals are big in downtown Cincinnati! Bundle up this winter and take a mural tour with ArtWorks Cincinnati. Many of these stunning works of art showcase Cincinnati history, making this activity both educational and perfect for Instagram.
As part of your artsy staycation, explore local architecture by strolling to Fountain Square, which is often bustling with special events and ice skating through the winter season, or take a trip up to the observation deck of the stunning Art Deco masterpiece Carew Tower.
Where to eat:
All these activities are an easy walk or streetcar ride to countless great Over the Rhine restaurants. For a cozy but kid-friendly atmosphere, check out Quan Hapa, which features anime on multiple screens, hearty ramen and a cauliflower pancake (it’s delicious and kid approved!) that will warm you right up. If you want a little more room to spread out, Taft’s Ale House is a classic brew pub in a 19th century church.
Or grab a multicultural feast at Findlay Market. While you’re there, keep an eye out for some stunning street art, including some left by the renowned street artist Swoon.
Where to stay:
For an art-filled overnight, book a stay at the 21c Cincinnati. Be sure to ask for the Kid’s Exploration Package, which includes guided gallery tours, milk and cookies, and in-room camping complete with tent!
Just a little east:
Visit the Cincinnati Nature Center near Milford, OH. Those suspicious of hiking in winter should consider these two words, “No bugs!” As the Swedish say, there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. Bundle up and enjoy a bug free time hiking on 17 miles of trails or exploring creative play options at the Schott Nature PlayScape. Learn about rehabilitating birds of prey at nearby Raptor Inc, which hosts open houses the last Sunday of every month.
Also in Milford is Recreation Outlet. They sell recreational equipment, but their expansive indoor showroom doubles as an indoor, year-round playground wonderland. Prices vary by day; check out their charitable play days for an extra discount on play that supports charities.
Feel Lucky in Northern Kentucky
Just across the river lies the Newport Aquarium, where you can buy a bonus package to pet a penguin, or pet the sharks and starfish for free. The million gallons of water are seemingly filled with as many beautiful specimens to wonder at. Conveniently located on Newport on the Levee, which has other great winter activities like bowling and a movie theater.
The Behringer-Crawford Museum is in a historic mansion and full of interactive local history exhibits perfect for burning off energy while you learn. If the weather is nice, be sure to explore Nature Play, an innovative playscape that features kid-sized log cabins, caves and flatboats. The museum is located at Devou Park, which has many stunning vistas of the Cincinnati skyline. Some of the best views are at Drees Pavilion.
Where to eat:
The Gruff showcases brick oven pizzas but has something for everyone. Stroll down historic Mainstrasse Village in Covington and check out local favorites like the creative dishes with a casual vibe at Frida 602 or farm to table at Bouquet.
Head for the Hills
Perfect North Slopes in Lawrenceburg, IN, is less than an hour from Cincinnati. Enjoy skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing, or take lessons if you are a beginner. Relax after a day on the slopes in the beautiful ski lodge and you’ll think you’ve traveled a lot farther than Indiana!
Or travel a bit north to Hueston Woods Lodge, rent a cabin in the woods and enjoy beautiful hikes through this state park, and fun splashing in the indoor swimming pool.
Camp Washington isn’t usually considered the trendiest tourist neighborhood in Cincinnati, but it has a couple treasures worth exploring, including The Swing House, surely one of the most unique places to stay in all of Ohio! This art exhibit/house/giant swing is open to the public the second Saturday of every month, but you can reserve it all to yourself to stay overnight.
Just a few blocks away, the American Sign Museum is a glowing treasure trove of American pop-culture history. It doesn’t take long to skim, but you can spend a lot of time exploring (and Instagramming) this visual history of signs, sign-making and design.
Not far away is the Cincinnati Museum Center. The new space exhibits are phenomenal and immersive. You could spend a few days exploring all the newly opened exhibits and admiring the stunning architecture, but don’t forget to check out the Cave, a replica cave so authentic and winding you’ll be blinking in surprise when it ends and you realize you are still in a museum!
Where to eat:
If you don’t choose to eat at one of the many new restaurants at the museum center, including the Rookwood Ice Cream Parlor, which allows you to gaze at dinosaurs while enjoying famous Graeter’s ice cream, you could easily head to nearby Over the Rhine and its many trendy options. However, consider traveling up the hill to the Incline Pub House. View the expansive rail yards that are still active around this historic transit hub from above. This classic pub style restaurant has a great kids menu, but best plan to eat early to avoid long wait times.