In the city of Cincinnati, there are more parks than you could possibly imagine. In fact, they span almost 7,000 acres of the city, about one-seventh of the entire area. So much more than just green space, Cincinnati parks are some of the best in the United States. When you head to a park, you can enjoy a wide variety of entertainment venues that will delight your family and fill an entire day (or more!) of outside fun.
Near the University of Cincinnati, Burnet Woods offers just about everything imaginable in a park. From fishing to golf, hiking trails to playgrounds, plus an old bandstand, you can spend a day (or several) enjoying all that Burnet Woods has available. When you are done, head to the Trailside Nature Center to see its nature library, or to look at some astronomical sights in the Wolff Planetarium.
Buttercup Valley Preserve
If you long for something a bit more challenging, take on the hiking trails at the Buttercup Valley Preserve. These two hikes are on a much steeper incline, one of which leads you to a meadow. The other hike ends in a clearing, from which you can see a local cemetery. In this park, you can imagine the region as it was hundreds of years ago — wooded, with trees that are hundreds of years old.
California Woods Nature Preserve
For a little variety in both flora and fauna, you should take the opportunity to see the California Woods Nature Preserve. The preserve has an impressive 53 species of trees and hundreds of types of plants. Get out your binoculars and start on one of the many trails to see great horned owls, pileated woodpeckers and kingfishers. In the water, you will find mallards, snapping turtles and beavers.
Cincinnati Nature Center
Sometimes, you want a place for the kids to play that is not just a regular playground. The Cincinnati Nature Center in Rowe Woods has just what you have been looking for. Let your children splash in the creek or use logs to build their own historic cabin. Take a self-guided hike or bird walk and see all of the local trees and animals you can find.
If you want a park that is ideal for a family gathering or just for some good biking or running, Fernbank Park is it. The park runs for a mile along the Ohio River, with a great deal of flat space perfect for picnics. Rent a pavilion to host a party, or bring your poles for some great fishing opportunities. Send the kids over to the playground and enjoy watching boats drift down the river.
Located in Amberley Village, French Park is a little bit of history that you can walk through. Take one of the hiking trails and glimpse wooded dells with lazy little creeks. Plan to visit French House, a structure built in the early 1800s that has been expanded several times and is now available for private functions. Bring a picnic to sit and eat in comfort in a meadow or a tree-covered hillside.
Do your kids love the idea of woodland fairies? If so, hie thee hence to the Highfield Discovery Garden at Glenwoods Gardens. This playground is so much more than just a space to run around. With a delightful treehouse, goldfish ponds and other play areas, your children can imagine they have been whisked away to a world where fairies and talking animals are real. The park itself also has a number of stroller-friendly trails and walkways.
Hyde Park Square
If you come to Hyde Park Square, the first thing you will notice is the spectacular Kilgour Fountain. Built in 1900, the fountain is the work of Cincinnati native Joseph Cronin. This sitting park provides many beautiful vantage points for the fountain, which features lovely bronze sculptures in a classical style.
Located on the western end of the city, LaBoiteaux Woods is a great opportunity to see many local land animals in action. If you are quiet and quick, you might snap photos of foxes, raccoons or white-tailed deer. Even if the animals are in hiding when you come, you will thoroughly enjoy the blazing color of the native wildflowers almost any time of the year.
Mt. Airy Forest
Bring your horses and set off on one of the trails at the 1,459-acre Mt. Airy Forest. If horses are not your style, check out the treehouse, which is wheelchair-accessible. There is so much to see that you cannot get it all in one day. Bring the meat and fresh vegetables and use one of the many picnic venues for an unforgettable barbecue. While you are there, visit the Arboretum to explore the latest experiments in plant-growing in Cincinnati.
Mt. Storm Park
In the place where stands Mt. Storm Park, there used to be a grand home owned by Robert Bowler. Bowler, a wealthy entrepreneur, had a mansion surrounded by 17 greenhouses. These days, all that is left of this once grand estate is the lovingly-maintained “Temple of Love,” a gazebo that you can visit while you are at the park. With its 57 acres, Mt. Storm is a pleasant place for a walk or for sledding in the wintertime.
Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park
Let’s face it. Sometimes you just need a place that is completely off the wall. In this case, Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park may be just the ticket. Don’t think that it is all look and no touch. Your kids can get all over some of the 60 sculptures in the 335-acre park. It is not all modern architecture, however. Head to the Ancient Sculpture Museum to see exhibits from cultures that existed thousands of years ago.
Sawyer Point Park & Yeatman’s Cove
At Sawyer Point Park & Yeatman’s Cove, you will understand the awesome power of the Ohio River and its effect on Cincinnati’s history. Have fun with the kids at the Plaza, or visit the Flood Column to learn more about three historic floods that ravaged the city. Walk through stately and green Yeatman’s Cove, for a day that fills you with both fun and remembrance.
Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park
As a city with world prominence, Cincinnati wanted to display its dedication to international unity. In 2003, the city unveiled the Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park, designed in the style of a friendship bracelet. In this park, near downtown, you can see plants from five different continents, with mosaics and architecture to suit anyone.
If you have not had a chance to go to Washington Park since it was renovated in 2012, now is a perfect time to make a visit. Park planners have made such efforts to renovate and restore historic buildings, with a view to making the space comfortable and useful for a modern audience. One of the most popular venues is the Washington Park Fountain. Your kids can play in the water while you enjoy music of all different genres.
Enjoy the Cincinnati Summer
The summer is calling to you, and it speaks in the form of a gentle breeze through the trees or the sound of a babbling brook. The animals could talk to you, too, if you are there to listen. Hear their message, and come to see some of these fabulous Cincinnati parks. The undeniable joy of the outdoors is waiting for you if you just take the first step.