If you’ve lived in Cincinnati more than a minute, you probably know that it is a great place for families. We have an amazing zoo. The Museum Center has something for everyone. Our libraries are some of the best and busiest in the nation. You can find a festival or professional sporting event nearly every weekend of the year.
Even with all of that, there are some exciting adventures you may not know about (or think about) that are hiding in plain sight. I know because they were a mystery to me too before we started home schooling last year. Some of the most interesting, unique, and educational places, I either didn’t know about or never had a reason to visit. But now that I know, I’m going to share with you why you might want to go too.
Taft Museum I had heard about the Taft Museum, of course, but I didn’t really know what was there or why I would want to go until we visited for a home school field trip last year. The museum offers school and group tours of permanent or temporary exhibits led by a docent who explains the exhibits and helps kids understand their significance.
It often include a hands-on, interdisciplinary activity as well. If you can’t arrange for a group to tour, plan to visit on the third Sunday of the month. Not only is admission free, but there are performances and hands-on, family-friendly activities to enjoy.
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company Have older kids? Nothing makes literature come to life like a live performance. CincyShakes performs several of the Bard’s works every season, as well as several other plays as well. This season includes As You Like It, Julius Caesar, Cyrano de Bergerac, Death of Salesman, Emma, and several other plays.
Students in middle and high school will appreciate their literature class more (and not be quite so frustrated with that challenging Shakespearean vocabulary) after an evening seeing it on stage. Plus, the rest of the family will have a good time too. My younger kids (ages 8 and 10) enjoyed seeing Romeo and Juliet at one of the free Shakespeare in the Park performances this summer.
American Sign Museum You know the old song: “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign. Blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind.”
Signs are everywhere, but do we really notice them? Kids do! My kids always seem to be asking me about signs I’ve overlooked or ignored—what does that say, what does that mean, what are they talking about? See this fascinating collection of signs old and new, and be sure to take the guided tour that’s included with admission to get the most out of your visit.
Behringer-Crawford Museum I don’t know any kid who doesn’t get excited at the mention of fossils! The BCM takes an in-depth look at the history of the region, in particular northern Kentucky and the Ohio River, from 500 million years ago to the present. Kids can learn what a paleontologist does and then go on a hunt for fossils. What if you your kid is more interested in planes, trains, boats, and cars? Well, they won’t be disappointed either! Everyone is sure to find something fascinating to explore here.
Northside Farmer’s Market Cooking Classes Have a budding chef? Want your kids to eat more fresh vegetables?
Twice a month, the farmer’s market in Northside offers a cooking class for kids ages 7-11 (though they did let my 12 year old join in). First, the teacher and kids shop the market for the fresh items they will need, and then they prepare a healthy dish to share. Kids get to practice slicing, chopping, and mixing, earn about vegetables and herbs they may not have tried before, and maybe find a new healthy recipe to love. My kids tasted (though didn’t love) ratatouille, but they insisted we recreate at home the tomato and basil bruchetta they made in class.
Cincinnati Observatory If you have an aspiring astronomer or astronaut at your house, don’t miss the Cincinnati Observatory. Considered the “birthplace of astronomy,” the Observatory houses the oldest working telescope and hosts a multitude of events every month.
On Thursdays and Fridays, adults and children can enjoy a look through the historic 1845 telescope and hear presentations on a variety of topics. The Observatory also hosts the free Stargazes event at Stonelick State Park, where amateur astronomers are happy to tell share their knowledge with you while you take a look through their telescopes.
If you think you have explored every corner of the city, think again! There are so many things to see and do all around our amazing city, I doubt we will get to it all before my kids head off to college. These six places are really just the tip of the iceberg. If you do a little digging and ask around, you are sure to find a local treasure to visit to inspire and excite your kids too.