I know: it’s another list of parks, etc. around town.
I also know that the warm weather is waning, and you and your kids are a little bored of the same old haunts and looking for new things to do.
This summer’s isolation, play place closures, and lack of playdates have sparked my creativity (desperation?) in finding new sites to explore. When the lockdown was in full force, the time we spent beyond our yard consisted mainly of drives around town. We’ve expanded our outdoor options in recent months while still doing our best at social distancing.
As I tuned into what activities yield the biggest smiles and squeals from my boys, I discovered they are happiest when splashing in water, digging in dirt, or watching a machine 10 times bigger than themselves.
Here are a few hidden gems that fit the bill:
Gower Park (Sharonville). I’m always on the hunt for parks with shade. This one has a playground surrounded by trees, with climbing, sliding and swinging options for all ages.
The highlight for us was the creek bed running alongside the play area. Stone steps lead down to a sandy stretch of rocks and shallow pools of water, where my boys relished in splashing their feet, tossing rocks, and fishing for water gliders.
Alms Park (Columbia Tusculum). This is a bit of a drive for us, but totally worth it. The park overlooks Lunken Airport on one side and the Ohio River on the other.
We parked along the loop around the playground and then headed for the Lunken side. My 3-year-old was over the moon watching the small planes take off, circle above his head, and land.
Montgomery Park (Montgomery): Two words – sand and diggers. A large sandbox on the playground has mini excavators built in for kids to dig and dump to their heart’s content. This park also has ample space to run out some energy and a hill perfect for rolling down to view a small creek.
Glendale & Lebanon Train Stations: After crowdsourcing trainspotting locales, I got a tip that trains run through the quaint town of Glendale a couple times an hour. We hit the jackpot when we heard the train’s whistle upon pulling up to the historic train station. My son jumped out and stood awestruck as the train roared down the tracks just 30 feet away.
In Lebanon, we ambled alongside the trains sitting idle near the Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad station, and that was all the entertainment my young ones needed that morning.
Symmes Township Park (Loveland): Here is another creeking option, with a trail that winds through the woods to a wide bed of rocks and babbling water. This park also has two playgrounds, with one that includes a zipline. We recently visited and found puddles perfect for jumping and splashing on an otherwise rained-out day.
Kenwood Construction Site: If you have kids with a love for excavators, cranes and dump trucks, check out the Gallery at Kenwood development underway next to Jewish Hospital. We parked across the street in the mall lot, rolled down the windows, and watched the machines at work. I don’t think my son stopped talking and gawking the whole time we were there.
What are your favorite hidden gems for free outdoor entertainment?