Cincinatti with Kids: A Perfect Family Day

by Julie Wainscott, an AOL Travel ContributorPosted Sep 9th 2010 06:36 PM

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Cincinnati with Kids: A Family Vacation

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A fun-filled day in Cincinnati, Ohio, is exactly what you and your children need. With all of the activities here, the city is virtually a big playground that you and your family must explore. I have lived in this area for three decades and have experienced life here as both a child and a parent, so read on for an insider's guide to the perfect family vacation day in Cincinnati with kids. Insider tip: The Westin Hotel (21 East Fifth St.; 513.621.7700) in downtown Cincinnati makes a great home base for a family on the go. It is centrally located near almost anything you want to do and is in the heart of the city overlooking Fountain Square. The Westin offers the most wonderful "Heavenly Bed," and you will all be so well rested and ready to start your family travel in Cincinnati.


Morning

When on a family vacation with kids in Cincinnati there are a few things you just have to do. Start by grabbing some fresh doughnuts, a coffee cake and pastries from Graeter's in Fountain Square (511 Walnut St.; 513.381.4191) You might want to keep Graeter's in mind for later in the day as well for an ice cream, sundae, or smoothie to cool off with after a hot day in the sun. Graeter's is an award-winning bakery and ice cream shop, and Oprah Winfrey has even raved about them on her show! Graeter's is open Monday-Friday 6:30AM-10PM, Saturday 7AM-11PM and Sunday 11AM-7PM.

The Cincinnati Children's Museum at Union Terminal (1301 Western Ave.; 800.733.2077) is the perfect way to get those kids out of bed. There are so many things for them to do. They can crawl through an overhead "tree house," run their own restaurant in the play area, and do all kinds of experiments. It is consistently ranked among the top 10 children's museums in the country. The Cincinnati Children's Museum has much to offer adults as well. Your whole family will love trekking through the cave and seeing the underground waterfalls. The model of the city is something adults and children will love, not to mention the old steamboats and landing. The museum is open Monday-Saturday 10AM-5PM and Sunday 11AM-6PM. Tickets are $8.50 for adults, $7.50 for seniors 60+ and $6.50 for children 3-12.


Afternoon

A Cincinnati favorite for lunch is Skyline Chili; (1007 Vine St.; 513.721.4715). Here in Cincinnati, we all love chili -- and if you don't, it's just not natural. A couple of favorites from the menu include the cheese coney, which is a steamed bun with mustard, diced onions, their secret recipe chili and a mound of shredded cheddar cheese. If you prefer spaghetti, their three-way is steaming spaghetti, covered with more of that secret recipe chili, cheddar cheese, and oyster crackers.

Insider tip: There is also a Skyline Chili inside our next stop at the Cincinnati Zoo, but for the whole menu and experience, I suggest you visit either the Vine Street location or one of the many other locations throughout town.

After your morning indoors, head outside to The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden (3400 Vine St.; 800.94.HIPPO). If you are lucky enough to come in the spring, you will see the most beautiful assortment of flowering trees and flowers, including over 80,000 tulips. It is truly a sight to see and a great photo opportunity for families. We are so lucky to have such a unique place like the Cincinnati Zoo to offer our children. Your children will squeal with delight when they get the chance to feed the giant giraffes in the impressive new exhibit. The polar bears are also a favorite for all of the young kids, who can crawl into a cave and see them swimming around from a whole new perspective. The zoo offers train rides, carousel rides, face painting, movies, great gift shops and so much more! If you forget your stroller, rentals are available. There are plenty of picnic tables to stop and rest or eat. On a hot or rainy day, the manatee house, bat or cat house, and bird house all offer air conditioning and a chance to get inside. With so many different things to do, plan on spending at least half the day here – it's a great place for family travel in Cincinnati. The zoo is open daily from 9AM-6PM except Christmas Day. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for children 2-12 but are discounted when ordered online.


Evening

When on a family vacation with kids in Cincinnati, any local will tell you the best place to go for dinner is just across the Ohio River at The Greyhound Tavern in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky (2500 Dixie Highway; 859.331.3767). You might want to make a reservation, because it's a very popular spot. On Monday and Tuesday nights, they serve their award-winning family style fried chicken dinners. Everyone gets a 1/2 chicken and more green beans, mashed potatoes, biscuits, and coleslaw than you have ever seen. They have award-winning fish, onion rings, and hot browns as well. The children's menu offers chicken strips, burgers, and pizza, and everyone will walk away happy. If you happen to be starting your day out on a Sunday morning, Greyhound also has a delicious brunch, with yummy favorites such as eggs, bacon, salads, veggies, desserts, and freshly carved meat. The Greyhound Tavern is open Monday-Thursday 11AM-9PM, Friday-Saturday 11AM-11PM, and Sunday 10AM-9PM.

Now, let's play ball! If you're visiting between April and October, a family vacation in Cincinnati with kids wouldn't be complete without seeing a baseball game at the Great American Ball Park (100 Joe Nuxhall Way; 513.381.REDS). For decent seats, plan on spending between $22 and $42 a ticket. There is a family section (with no alcohol allowed) so if that interests you, those tickets are $22 each. If you're a big fan of the Reds, splurge for the premium tickets which get you right down in the game! They have tons of promotions and giveaways for kids throughout the season, including t-shirts, backpacks, and bobble heads just to name a few. They sell ice cream in mini souvenir Cincinnati Reds hats that are always a hit with the kids. After the game, you can walk the few blocks back to The Westin, but after a long day, taking a cab might be a better option!

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