Are you heading to the Midwest this summer? Cincinnati offers lots of really great outdoor activities so you can play in the (mostly) fresh air! Yes, we live in the valley of the Ohio River, so yes, it can get a bit humid. I suggest a June visit for cooler weather. My hometown rocks, as you learned in a recent blog, so supplement that information with this list and you will have enough to do for at least a week!
Here are my top ten for outdoor fun, in no particular order. I won’t go so far as to suggest lodging options, but you can’t go wrong staying either on the river in Kentucky (Covington or Newport) or downtown for easy access to highways, lots of dining choices, and proximity to the nightlife in Over the Rhine (Ohio side) or Newport. Fair warning…those establishments considered bars and not serving a full food menu still allow smoking in Kentucky. So if you have a sensitive side, call to ask first! And if you are heading to Kings Island, check out the Great Wolf Lodge.
1. Rent a Canoe or Kayak
174 Karl Brown Way Loveland, OH 45140 Make it a bike and kayak day, it’s right by the trail! (see below)
Located east alongside the beautiful Little Miami River, 4595 Round Bottom Rd. Cincinnati, Ohio, (513) 576-9000. Check the website for hours and pricing.
10465 Suspension Bridge Rd in Harrison, OH 45030, northwest of Cincinnati.
5701 State Route 350 Oregonia, Ohio 45054, north off I-71. This is not far from the Ft. Ancient Indian mound builders historical site, if that sounds like something you would love to check out!
The largest amusement and water park in the Midwest, there are 9.2 MILES of roller coaster track here! The Beast debuted in 1979 as the tallest, longest and fastest wooden coaster in the world. It remains my favorite coaster of all time, and I have ridden a ton of coasters! Click that link above for a video of the full ride (without screams!) sitting in the front. It’s truly a “Classic Woodie”! The park is located about north of Cincinnati off I-71.
3. Visit the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens
When my children were small years ago, this was a fantastic place to escape, be with nature, and enjoy learning. Always in the top tier of US zoos, you will not be disappointed if you take the time to visit! You can check the hours and details of special exhibits here.
4. Enjoy Our Local Parks
It’s a very long list, folks! Did you know that Mount Airy Forest is listed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places?
“Planned in 1907 by landscape architect George E. Kessler but established in 1911, the Mount Airy Forest in Cincinnati, Ohio, covers an impressive 1,471 acres and includes natural areas, planned landscapes, buildings, structures, and landscape features. The numerous hiking trails, bridle paths, walls, gardens, pedestrian bridges, and various other improvements within Mount Airy Forest reflect the ambitious park planning and development that took place in Cincinnati in the early to mid-20th century. Conceived as the nation’s first urban reforestation project, the park has developed over the years—especially during the Depression and post-World War II period- into a park with a variety of areas, spaces and structures designed to accommodate recreational, social, and educational activities.
Other Cincinnati area parks of special interest include Smale Park along the Ohio riverfront downtown, Ault Park gardens in Hyde Park, and Alms Park Overlooks. What’s your favorite? Across the river in Kentucky you might enjoy the Devou Park overlook, too!
How about this for a great way to get some history and fresh air at the same time!
“Guided walking tours sponsored by the Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Preservation Association are scheduled from May through October, highlighting downtown and Cincinnati neighborhoods. Tours are approximately two hours and two miles long. Special tours are also available year-round and are customizable.” Call 513-421-4469 for more information.
6. Take a Bike Ride on the Loveland Trail, AKA Little Miami Bike Trail
I have a loop just around the bend from my home, and this paved trail is mostly flat, wide enough for safety, and it is fun to start and end in Loveland (rentals available if you don’t want to lug yours!) for the great dining and adult beverage options there. Check it out! Trail maps available if you have someone willing to do a drop and pick-up. Mile markers on the trail.
“Affectionately called the “Loveland Bike Trail” it is the Little Miami State Park and it is 70 miles long with connections to well over 100 miles. Free parking, picnic tables, rest rooms, easy access, coffee, ice cream shops, restaurants and entertainment have made Loveland, Milford, Newtown, Miami Township & Lebanon excellent staging areas.“
7. Attend a Concert at Riverbend
It’s great fun to buy a four pack of lawn tickets and invite some friends along! This is one of my favorite places to see a concert and you will love both the acoustics and the views of the Ohio River valley beyond. (Psssssst, don’t tell anyone, but if you park for free in the grassy lot across from the entrance to Coney Island, you can do a little tailgate before the show without any hassles.) See ya there! Here’s the schedule for the rest of 2017.
Sunlite is the world’s largest recirculating pool! There are also some fun kids and thrill rides at what we locals refer to as “Old Coney”, so make a day of it. You might also check to see if there is a band playing at Moonlight Gardens, an outdoor dance venue. Or head in the evening down the street to the casino if you are feeling lucky!
Well, you can’t leave without at least TRYING our chili. A Cincinnati tradition, the “Three-Way” is not what you think! A base of short spaghetti noodles on an oval plate, topped with a uniquely spiced boiled ground beef mixture, followed by a hug mound of yellow cheese. Served with oyster crackers and doctored with hot sauce, you’ll be considered a local in no time. You can add beans or onions for a 4-way, or be brave and go all the 5-way! Grin. Let me know how you like it. It’s one of those love-or-hate food experiences, I believe. I love it, but it doesn’t love me, so I do mine as a bowl of plain chili.
Experience this urban renewal area by visiting Washington Park (you can park underneath in the garage) to see our beautiful and historic Music Hall, then check out the neighborhood and perhaps do a bit of beer/bar-hopping? You can ride our trolley to get around easily and it’s great fun! Don’t miss Findley Market for fun with food, shop in the unique boutiques, and perhaps even schedule an underground brew tour.
I hope you enjoy your visit, and if you give me fair warning, perhaps I can join you for some of this fun outdoors!