Staycation for the Cincinnati Family with Little Ones


Staycations are amazing for several reasons. Sometimes you just can’t afford the big fancy vacation, sometimes you just don’t want that added stress, and sometimes, it is just downright more relaxing to take some time off without leaving home.

Lucky for us, Cincinnati is an incredible city for staycation planning.

This series is designed to give you some excellent suggestions to help you plan your staycation. Feel free to follow the themes or mix and match between them!

It has been said that taking a vacation when you are a parent is really just parenting in a new place. Staycations can be super appealing to those with little ones because you can maintain a routine, don’t have to pack, and can soak up this city through the eyes of those little ones.

Staycation for the Cincinnati Family with Little Ones

Day One

Play as a Family

We know that when your kids are younger, you are tied to the house a bit more with naps and a lower threshold for stimulation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun!

Check out a local play cafe, storytime, or park program.

  • Learning Through Play Cafe – Daily crafts for the kids and coffee for you makes this a win-win
  • Blue Manatee Literacy Project – Check their website for details on storytimes and activities
  • Pogo Play – Great for when you have a mix of ages at hand
  • Highfield Discovery Garden – This one gets you outside which is great for those little ones! They start the morning with a planned event and then you can play in the whimsical space until naptime. (Mom Tip: This is part of the Hamilton County Park district so you do need a park pass to enter and the park itself is also an additional entry fee, but family memberships are reasonable and you will want to go again anyway.)

Or if time isn’t a concern for you, spend the entire day at the Cincinnati Museum Center. The children’s museum alone is good for hours of fun, but the renovation is almost over now as well!

Day Two

Look for Animals

You don’t have to look far in our city to find some critter related fun.

  • The Cincinnati Zoo – If you have a membership and go all the time, make it a point to check out exhibits you don’t always go see.
  • The Newport Aquarium – Shark tunnels… enough said.
  • Parky’s Farm– Located in Winton Woods, this is a fun place to explore for the day. You can check out a large variety of farm animals in addition to spending some time in the play barn. We recommend packing a picnic lunch.
  • Cincinnati Nature Center – Before or after playing in the Naturescape (completely fenced, making it perfect for the smaller ones), stop by the visitor center to see some reptiles and step, do some bird watching, and then head out back for some cool nature finds including nests, fossils, and hives. 

Day Three

Sensory Family Fun

As a mid-week break, we recommend spending some time at home.

Nothing is worse than an over-tired toddler, so here are some awesome activities which should be tons of fun for everyone.

  • Toddler Safe Play Sand. Grab some small toys, your water table or a basic bin and get “dirty” in the sand you can easily make and it safe to eat!
  • Shaving Cream Bath Paints. Turn your kiddo into Picasso. This can be done in the tub, pool or just outside. And the best part is that after you get all messy, it washes right off!
  • Sensory Rice. Once dyed, this container can be pulled out again and again. The Dollar Store is a great place to get containers and toys to throw in.

Day Four

Picnic at the Park

Take advantage of the fabulous green space Cincinnati has to offer.

Some of our favorites for little kids come with pint-size play spaces in addition to large open green space… perfect for those new crawlers, walkers and a delicious picnic lunch.

  • Juilf’s Park Located in Anderson Township, this park has play equipment designed for small children as well as the older ones. In addition, there is a ton of green space, walking trails for the strollers and a seasonal splash playground.
  • Alms Park Located in Columbia Tusculum, this park overlooks Lunken Airport and has a pretty awesome concrete slide. One of the best features of this park, however, is its shade!
  • Smale ParkLocated downtown, the large porch swings, fountains, and carousel make this a fun destination for families with little kids. The area has something for everyone, including Mom and Dad. And if you don’t feel like a picnic, you can hit up any number of local eateries that are around.

Day Five

Try Something New

There are few spots around town, which are lesser known or frequented.

Or parents of younger children don’t realize that there are actually things that appeal to younger children there.

  • Cincinnati Art Museum – The art museum is admittedly not the place you first think of when planning an outing with small children. However, nestled back on the first floor is the Rosenthal Education Center which is a very kid-friendly room where small hands can play and explore art themed exhibits. This is a fabulous (free!) option is you are a family with a range of ages to entertain. (Bonus: The Burning Man Exhibit is being held there through the summer of 2019.)
  • Krohn Conservatory Between the exhibits, the waterfall, the plants, the overall grounds and the proximity to Eden Park, this destination is one that is sure to please.
  • Pyramid HillWhat a fun place for a family walk. If you haven’t been… you are missing out. Essentially, an outdoor museum, there is something new to see just about everywhere you look. (Their light display at Christmas is amazing as well.)
  • Contemporary Arts Center – Located downtown, admission is free and if you take the elevator to the very top, you will find an engaging art space designed just for children.


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