Free Things To Do With Kids In Cincinnati
Cincinnati is a family friendly city. Most visitors know about the Zoo, Kings Island, Newport Aquarium, the Children’s Museum, Entertrainment Junction and various fun zones.
But it may come as a surprise, that there are quite a few free things to do. My husband Mike and I own Riverside Food Tours. We live downtown and have 9 grandchildren. Here’s a list of free and low cost favorites that all will enjoy ~ young and old.
- Take a ride on the free Cincinnati Streetcar. It’s a 3.6 mile loop so you can’t get lost. It’s clean, safe and stops at 18 stations throughout the city. You can begin at Station One at the Banks (of the Ohio River) to Stop 11 just north of Findlay Market. The streetcar arrives on the platform every 15 minutes. Get off, explore and hop back on!
- Visit the New The Creativity Center in the Contemporary Arts Center, 44 East 6th Street, Cincinnati OH (streetcar stop #17). Visitors of all ages are invited to explore, play, and create art! It’s free and is open Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday it’ll be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Visit the Carew Tower, 441 Vine Street, Cincinnati OH 45202. This 49 story ‘city within a city’ built in 1930 is like stepping back in time. Once a bustling arcade full of shops, eateries and offices, it still retains its art-deco beauty. Walk under the Rookwood Tile arches that grace either end. Take the stairs or elevator into the lobby of the Netherland Hilton Hotel and experience what it felt like to be a visitor to the Queen City in the 1930’s. Take a peek into the Palm Court, adjacent to the lobby. See the beautiful Rookwood fountain and hand painted murals all for free.
- Eat at Hathaway’s Diner, inside the Carew Tower. Show the youngsters what a restaurant looked like in the 50’s. This diner has been operating non-stop for close to 70 years. it’s a blast from the past with photos lining the wall to prove it. The menu is retro too. I recommend the pancakes and hand-dipped shakes.
- Visit Fountain Square at the corner of Fifth and Vine Streets (streetcar stop #18). The Tyler Davidson Fountain is the centerpiece of the Square. The fountain was a gift to the city by Henry Probasco and Tyler Davidson in 1871. This fountain was created in Munich Germany and shipped across the ocean to Cincinnati. The lowest figurines still dispense filtered drinking water!
- Visit Smale Park and ride Carol Ann Carousel. Ride the streetcar south to the Banks Neighborhood (streetcar stop #1) and walk south to the Ohio River. The riverbank hosts 3 parks! Smale Park is the newest with trails, playgrounds, family swings and splash pads. Walk east to Sawyer Point and the Serpentine Wall onto Theodore Berry Park. You’ll see barges and maybe a riverboat floating by. Carol Ann’s Carousel is a fun way to see 44 whimsical Cincinnati-centric characters. The carousel is housed inside a glass building so it can operate year-round.
- Walk across the Ohio River. You can’t miss the magnificent Roebling Suspension Bridge. This beautiful blue suspension bridge is pedestrian friendly on both sides. If weather permits, walk across to the shores of Covington Kentucky. Once you reach the south shore, to your right, you’ll see the Roebling Murals. Eighteen 2-story outdoor murals depict the history of Covington Kentucky. On your left is Historic Riverside Drive. Take the ‘Riverwalk Statue Self Guided’ tour for a short history lesson.
- Shop at Findlay Market, 1801 Race Street. Findlay Market is a foodies paradise (streetcar stops #10 and #12). The Market House is home to multiple local businesses featuring meat, fish, poultry, produce as well as specialty products like gelato, spices, bakeries, ethnic food stalls and even a vegan deli. The market is surrounded on 4 sides by brick and mortar shops featuring home goods, handmade gifts, wine, tea, honey, coffee, chocolate and more. Kids would enjoy a stop at Ugo Gelato or a sweet treat at Taste of Belgium , Bouchard’s Bakery or Gibbs Cheese and Fudge. On summer weekends, shop for local handmade items at the farmer’s market in the rear lot and stop by Mama Made It for fresh kettle popcorn.
- Visit the free playground at Washington Park (streetcar stop #8 and #14). Washington Park has a nice size play area with a fort to climb on, fountains to run through and even a park for your doggie to visit! Pack a picnic lunch or a get a drink at the Porch. The park has historic artifacts like a canon, mosaic bench, and nice walking paths under huge shade trees.
- Visit the Macaron Bar at 1203 Main Street – (streetcar stop #6). Right inside the door is a display case filled with a variety of French macarons. Birthday cake is the favorite! Visit Goodfellas OTR Pizzeria across the street at 1211 Main Street, Cincinnati. Goodfellas offers NY style pizza by the slice! Kids can choose cheese and you can have the works. Another favorite is their huge soft breadsticks with cheese or marinara sauce for dipping. Climb the stairs to the third floor for a cozy spot with leather sofas or eat outside on one of their decks. One more stop for kids is Al’s Delicious Popcorn, 1202 Main Street. Choose from over 60 flavors to sample. Kid flavors include Rice Krispie treat, cookies and cream, cotton candy and s’mores!
Riverside Food Tours’ Cincy Top 10 Sites and Bites is a 3 hour streetcar tour through downtown Cincinnati. It’s the perfect Family Food and Culture tour and is offered every morning Mon-Fri at 10:00am.
Riverside Food Tours offers 3 hour tours 7 day a week year round. For more information call Laura 513-289-0035.
Published December 2022 by Laura Noyes