Yay! Summer is here and it’s time to explore! This week I will feature local parks, but even if you don’t live in Cincinnati, you can still find a park near your home. Better still, come for a visit to our town!
- Go on a nature walk/hike. Take along a notebook and find a spot to stop and draw something is of interest. It can be a plant or an animal such as a bird. Pack some identification books to help you with unknown plants and animals.
- Play on a new playground. Tired of the same ol’ playground in your area? How about finding a different one to take the children to play? It will seem like a mini vacation, but you’ll be home in time for dinner. 🙂
- Exercise! Pull the plug on the video games and electronics and go for a bike ride or a long walk. Both of the Hamilton County Parks I have listed below also have horse trails if you feel adventurous.
The Cincinnati Parks Foundation has three amazing parks along the Ohio River that are family friendly and give your children the chance to run and play. Not only is there a playground along the walkway, but there are a few large water fountains that your children can play in, and a carousel you can pay to ride. The Waterfront Parks system consist of three major Cincinnati Parks: Theodore M. Berry International Park, Sawyer Point & Yeatman’s Cove and the Smale Riverfront Park that is by the Great American Ballpark so you can go and catch a Reds game after you are finished playing.
Hamilton County Parks has done a fantastic job of providing green space in the greater Cincinnati area. There is a motor vehicle fee to get into the park and you may either purchase a day pass for $3.00 or an annual pass of $10.00 that will give you access to all of the county parks and includes discount coupons to use throughout the park system.
Parky’s Farm has a fully functional farm with horses, goats, chickens,sheep, and bees. There is a garden for children to see and trails to meander along. The barn and outdoor pens allow children to see the animals up close. If you take some extra money with you, your children can take a horse ride or play in the indoor playground. Parky’s Farm is a part of Winton Woods that has an outdoor spray park and playground. Bring along a fishing pole to cast your line from either shore or a rental boat. There is also a pontoon boat to take a cruise along the lake. If you’d like to spend the night, there is also a camp site or small cabins to rent.
Miami Whitewater Forest is beautiful and is the largest park in county. While it does have an amazing lake with fishing and boating, and a beautiful golf and frisbee golf course, it has something that no other county park has that is quite so nice. It has a 7.8 mile hike/ bike path that meanders through the countryside (where I grew up) and has spurs off it as well so you can extend your biking experience if you like. If your children are not able to go on the long bike trail, there is a shorter inner trail that is 1.4 miles long.
My friends have a bike shop called West Trail Bikes and it is a quick jaunt off the bike path to their place on New Haven Road. You can rent or purchase a bike if you would like something different than the rentals that are offered at the park. There is a quaint country shop adjoining their shop and a little grocery store (that I worked at when I was in college) where you can get an ice cold drink and a snack. You can hop back on the bike trail at several points from the town of New Haven.
If you have never been to Miami Whitewater Park, make a day of it. Pack a picnic lunch, your swimsuits for the spray/ water park, and a pair of binoculars for wildlife watching while you are hiking the many wooded trails. I don’t think you will be disappointed!
Metro Parks of Butler County has 10 great parks, but the newest park called Voice of America MetroPark is the one with which I am most familiar. There is a nice playground that is next to the air conditioned Wheelhouse, which has bathroom facilities and a vending machine to get snacks and drinks.
There is a nice sized lake and a walking/biking path along it. Fishing is allowed in certain areas and there are benches along the way to stop and rest or just enjoy the nature you will see. During the winter there is also a sledding hill, so be sure and visit then too!