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Carol Ann's Carousel | © Tony Alter / Flickr

The Best Family-Friendly Activities to Do in Cincinnati, OH

Picture of Laura Dorwart
Updated: 20 February 2018

Cincinnati, Ohio, is a family-friendly city with dozens of activities that little ones will love. From riverfront parks and nostalgic, old-school amusement parks to famous zoos and aquariums, the Queen City has a wide variety of kid-friendly fun.

Smale Riverfront Park

Smale Riverfront Park offers a gorgeous view of Cincinnati’s famous skyline. Kids flock to Carol Ann’s Carousel, a historic merry-go-ground housed within a glass building inside the park. There, kids can ride on animals famous for their relationship to Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Zoo, and the carousel’s paintings feature historic scenes from Cincinnati culture. You can also take little ones to swing at the Duke Energy Garden, picnic at the Castellini Esplanade, climb on the rope bridge at the Heekin Family/PNC Grow Up Great Adventure Playground, or play in the fountains at River Play.

Smale Riverfront Park, 100 Ted Berry Way, Cincinnati, OH, USA, +1 513 352 6180

Newport Aquarium

The Newport Aquarium sits on the Cincinnati-Kentucky border and is home to the world’s first Shark Bridge, where intrepid kids can hike over a massive tank filled with dozens of sharks for an immersive, bird’s-eye view of ocean animals. A variety of interactive stations are especially well suited to kids and families, including a close encounter with seahorses, a tide pool touch station, and an underwater tunnel kids can crawl through to see stingrays and other sea life.

Newport Aquarium, 1 Dave Cowens Dr., Covington, KY, USA, +1 859 261 7444

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens

The 75-acre Cincinnati Zoo lies close to downtown Cincinnati. The zoo, which opened in 1875, is the second oldest one in the world. Today, it’s home to hundreds of animals, including tigers, polar bears, sea lions, alligators, and cheetahs, including many others. Get up close and personal with live animals or take a train ride around the zoo’s entire perimeter. The Botanical Gardens have a butterfly garden and a stunning annual tulip display.

Plus, the world-famous baby hippo Fiona is here!

Cincinnati Zoo, 3400 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH, USA, +1 513 281 4700

Cincinnati Art Museum

The Cincinnati Art Museum is nestled in Eden Park, one of the city’s most beautiful parks. It houses over 67,000 works of art and hosts dozens of classes and special events for children throughout the museum and at the Rosenthal Education Center. You can take baby-friendly museum tours designed to stimulate your baby’s growing brain. Summer camps, family tours, preschooler-friendly sensory activities and storytimes, puppet shows, and Family First Saturdays are all specially designed for children and their families. Best of all, admission at the Cincinnati Art Museum is completely free to everyone!

Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Dr., Cincinnati, OH, USA, +1 513 721 2787

Cincinnati Museum Center

The Cincinnati Museum Center offers days of possible activities for the whole family. Centrally located at Cincy’s Union Square, the Museum Center is home to the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History and Science, the five-story Robert D. Lindner Family Omnimax Theater, and the Cincinnati History Museum. While all of the museums are fun for kids, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, in particular, offers several interactive, hands-on exhibits for preschoolers and elementary-age children.

Cincinnati Museum Center, 1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati, OH, USA, +1 513 287 7000

Cincinnati’s Coney Island

The biggest summer attraction at Cincinnati’s Coney Island, an old-school amusement and water park, is the massive Sunlite Pool, which features multiple diving boards, a full acre of shallow swimming for younger swimmers, and water slides. Tried-and-true traditional amusement park rides like airplanes, the Tilt-a-Whirl, and bumper cars are always kid favorites. If you’re an outdoorsy family, Coney Island also has opportunities for canoeing, paddle boating, and mini golf.

Coney Island Amusement Park, 6201 Kellogg Ave., Cincinnati, OH, USA, +1 513 232 8230

Cincinnati’s Kings Island Amusement Park

Kings Island Amusement Park, located 24 miles (38.6 kilometers) northeast of Cincinnati in Mason, Ohio, is one of America’s most popular theme parks and the biggest amusement park in the Midwest. From roller coasters like the Beast—the world record-holder for the world’s longest wooden roller coaster—to live shows, roving characters, games, and train rides for the kids, Kings Island has an activity for every member of your family.

Soak City Water Park is Kings Island’s 33-acre water park and features adrenaline-pumping thrill rides along with lazy rivers to float on and water slides for kids. The park is adjacent to indoor resort Great Wolf Lodge and offers discount packages if you combine your stay with a trip to the park. Be sure to check out WinterFest, the park’s transformation into a winter wonderland, in November and December, and the family-friendly Great Pumpkin Festival in October.

Kings Island Amusement Park and Soak City Water Park, 6300 Kings Island Dr, Mason, OH, USA, +1 513 754 5700