CINCINNATI -- Kids around the Tri-State are enjoying spring break trips to Florida. Mexico. Europe. However, what if all the fun they need is a break in routine right here in the Queen City?
Here are some ideas for kids of all ages for small staycations that will be (almost) as exciting as the beach.
For those itching to go swimming, Cincinnati boasts a significant variety of waterparks that don’t require any sun at all. Make a multi-day getaway at the famous Great Wolf Lodge or a shorter day trip to Splash Cincinnati (formerly Coco-Key) Water Resort.
Splash Cincinnati (11320 Chester Road, Sharonville) boasts an palm-tree-lined indoor water park that’s 84 degrees year-round. It features four-story-high water slides, a lazy river and an arcade. Located next to Ramada Plaza Cincinnati Sharonville, it can make a great one- or two-day getaway for locals. Passes start at $15 (without the hotel stay, of course), with free entry for children under age 2.
Great Wolf Lodge (2501 Great Wolf Drive, Mason) has some unique offerings such as hot springs, cabana rentals, and Fort Mackenzie, a large water fort treehouse. The lodge’s website is organized by age group, allowing parents to easily navigate the best options for their children. As promised in the name, the hotel rooms feature lodge-style decor, in hopes that you can feel like you are both in the mountains and at the beach during your staycation.
The Highfield Discovery Garden in Woodlawn (10397 Springfield Pike, Woodlawn) consists of 12 acres of seven small, themed zones, or gardens. Main features include a 25-foot-tall “discovery tree”/playhouse, an oversized model train and multiple gardens, including a vegetable garden and “wizard” garden. This park is not free even with a Hamilton County Parks motor vehicle permit: There’s a $5-per-person fee, but children under age 2 are free. (The per-person fee is only $2 until the end of March, for those who don’t mind braving crisper temperatures.)
Andrea Granieri, a local mom of a 4- and 2-year-old, said she enjoys taking her kids to Juilf’s Park (8249 Clough Pike, Anderson).
“There’s a nice variety of equipment for different ages, a cute farm theme and it has a fairly scenic, short walking path. It’s tucked back from the road, so I don’t worry as much with two young kids running in two different directions,” she said.
For those who are more realistic about the weather, a few matinees or movie nights may be a tried-and-true spring break pastime, especially for teens. MoviePass is a $9.95-per-month subscription service that allows you to see one movie per day at certain theaters. As the Washington Post has noted, this movie pass costs less per month than a single movie costs at most theaters. Click here for a full list of pros and cons about this subscription. To find out if your local theater participates, search here.
Zoo Blooms, the spring festival that the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden has dubbed “tulip mania,” features one of the largest tulip displays in the Midwest. The festival features more than 1 million flowers including tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, flowering trees, shrubs and spring bulbs, according to the zoo’s website.
Running from April 1-30, spring breakers will be able to catch the beginning of these blooms. Granieri and her kids also attend Zoo Blooms each year, she said.
“I think Zoo Blooms is good for all ages. I think I enjoy the flowers more than the kids, but they like the zoo anytime. Also, they're super excited the train and carousel are open again,” she said.
If your kids can sit still for a few minutes, Zoo Blooms also makes for some beautiful spring family photos.
The Butler County Donut Trail
What would kids rather do on spring break than eat doughnuts? Ditch the breakfast cereals and scrambled eggs and make a new tradition of exploring each stop on Butler County's Donut Trail. As Food and Wine said in a recent article, “Yes, it’s a real thing that exists, and it’s lovely.”
Located in Butler County, this 80-mile stretch of sugar has more doughnut shops per capita than “almost anywhere else in the country,” according to the article -- and with 12 stops, the fun can continue even after spring break.
“Travelers” can obtain a passport at the Butler County Visitors Bureau or any of the shops along the way. Get at least 11 of 12 locations stamped and then mail or bring in your passport to receive a T-shirt. The shirts change each year, so it could become a new yearly spring break tradition for your family.
For the full map, directions, and information, go to www.gettothebc.com/donut-trail .