Nestled along the banks of the Ohio River, Cincinnati, Ohio is the perfect destination for a quick getaway trip with your family. Cincinnati is conveniently located where the borders of Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio meet. You can actually see Kentucky just across the river when visiting Downtown Cincinnati. Today we have Christa from InsomnoMom sharing what to do in Cincinnati with kids. She even laid out the perfect Cincinnati itinerary to help you plan.
Fun Things to Do in Cincinnati with Kids
Though you could spend weeks exploring Cincinnati without running out of things to do, a weekend trip to Cincy will give you a nice sampling of the rich experiences southwestern Ohio has to offer families with kids of any age.
Day 1: Cincinnati, Ohio with Kids
When you arrive (or before you go), purchase tickets for an afternoon game at Great American Ballpark. Seeing an afternoon game gives you plenty of time to get settled into your hotel and relax a bit that evening. You will want to be well rested and get an early start the following morning.
Lunch – Gold Star Chili
Grab lunch at a Gold Star Chili on the way to the baseball game. Gold Star’s Cincinnati-style chili is a must-try. The cheese coney dogs are simply the best with their finely shredded cheese. There are Gold Star restaurants all over Cincinnati. You shouldn’t have trouble finding one no matter which way you enter the city. It’s better to eat shortly before entering the stadium because food vendors in Great American Ball Park have much higher prices.
Cincinnati Reds Game at Great American Ball Park
The Cincinnati Reds are one of the oldest teams in major league baseball. Whether the Reds are winning or losing, it’s always a blast to watch a pro baseball game in person. Great American Ball Park on its own is worth a visit. There’s a view of the riverfront from the stadium that is breathtaking. The old stadium during my childhood was actually called Riverfront!
Families will love the stadium’s large playground for antsy kids who have trouble sitting through the entire game. There are some other fun activities for children like a run of the distance from home plate to first base, an opportunity to clock pitch speed, and others.
There’s a misting station above centerfield where you can go to cool off under the big fans on hot days. The concession stands are required by Ohio law to give you free cups of ice water as well. Not all seats in the stadium are covered, so it can be toasty on sunny, summer days.
TIP: I highly recommend you bring a cooler. You are allowed to carry in non-alcoholic drinks in sealed plastic bottles. Your cooler must be soft-sided and meet certain dimension requirements to be permitted. Security does look through all bags and coolers at the front entrance.
Bringing in your own drinks and snacks will save you from spending an absurd amount on concessions. Definitely, bring your own bags of peanuts too. For a splurge, don’t miss the chocolate malt or frozen lemonade from the vendors.
Evening Relaxation at Hotel
After the game head to your hotel. I always let the hotel know at the time of booking that I will be arriving later in the evening. Once you’ve settled and unpacked, send someone to pick up LaRosa’s pizza or have it delivered.
*A note about Cincinnati hotels: Downtown Cincinnati hotels are much pricier, so our family has always booked accommodations on the outskirts toward Mason, OH or the Blue Ash area. We try to book a hotel that provides a complimentary breakfast, but if that is not cost effective, we just pack easy breakfast foods.
Supper – LaRosa’s Pizza
LaRosa’s began in the Greater Cincinnati area in the 1950s. There are now LaRosa’s Pizzerias all over Ohio and a few more in Indiana and Kentucky. LaRosa’s is a great place to feed a large family at a reasonable price. Ask about their specials when ordering. They usually have a great deal for pizzas at around $7 each if you buy three.
The LaRosa’s pepperoni pizza is classic, but the Chicken Bacon Ranch is my favorite. LaRosa’s also serves an amazing family-sized antipasto salad.
Day 2: Cincinnati, Ohio with Kids
Kings Island Amusement Park
You simply cannot get a good feel for Cincinnati without a visit to Kings Island. This 364-acre amusement park has been welcoming guests since 1972 and is constantly evolving with new rides and attractions. There’s something for everyone – from thrill seekers to small children to those who just want to see the shows.
The Soak City waterpark at Kings Island is included with general admission and might be the best feature of Kings Island. Years when we’ve had season passes, we’ve often spent an entire day at the waterpark without ever going into the rest of the park.
There are plenty of options for food in the park. You are not allowed to bring in coolers unless you have a medical reason, but you may leave the park and reenter as long as you get your hand stamped at the gate. To save on the cost of food, we usually meet at our vehicle for lunch and have sandwiches from a cooler. Then we buy supper from one of the food venues. There are certain snacks we share throughout the day as well.
You must try the blue ice cream in the kiddie area and the fresh cut fries at Potato Works near the train station! The refillable mug is a good value. You can get lemonade and tea if you aren’t a fan of soft drinks. The Coca-Cola Freestyle Café in Rivertown lets you choose from 100 different beverage options.
Kings Island also offers an all-day dining plan that allows you to enjoy a meal every 90 minutes. We have purchased this a few times in the past but only for the members of our party who eat the most. It would be way too much food for the rest of us.
Day 3 in Cincinnati, Ohio with Kids
Chateau Laroche Loveland Castle
Loveland Castle is by far Cincinnati’s best-kept secret. The opportunity to see a castle in the United States is alluring enough, but the story behind this amazing architectural feat built almost entirely by one man is nothing short of miraculous. An entry fee of only $5 per person makes Chateau Laroche my favorite Ohio attraction.
You can find a much more detailed description of the Loveland Castle in my post Cincinnati’s Best Kept Secret: Chateau Laroche.
Lunch – Mio’s Pizzeria
After touring the castle, find one the many Mio’s Pizzerias scattered throughout the Greater Cincinnati area. Mio’s has the best calzones of any pizza establishment I’ve tried. Their special garlic dipping sauce is superb.
Jungle Jim’s International Grocery
You must make Jungle Jim’s International Grocery your last stop before leaving Cincinnati because you will find items you want to buy that need refrigeration before too long. Hopefully, you brought a cooler.
Jungle Jim’s is divided into sections by country. You will see foods you can’t pronounce and foods you never knew existed, but this grocery store is an amusement all its own. Definitely, stop by the bakery and pick out a couple of different flavors of pretzel bread.
You will also find every flavor of pop imaginable at Jungle Jim’s. We like to try something unique every time. Bacon Soda is not one of our favorites! You will also find every variety of cheese on the planet.
Additional Cincinnati Attractions for Kids (if you have more than 3 days)
You could spend ages in Cincinnati without running out of new and interesting adventures. I like to leave room for downtime and venturing off the itinerary, so I didn’t want to cram too many outings into a quick Cincinnati weekend getaway.
If you have additional time, you may want to check out:
Newport Aquarium (actually across the river in Kentucky)
IKEA (If you’ve never visited an IKEA, you need a couple of hours here.)
Grab a Chocolate Malt from any United Dairy Farmers
About the author: Christa Ellis is the mother of four and holds a B.S. in Elementary Education. She’s been married since the age of 18, lives on a small hobby farm in rural Indiana, and blogs as InsomnoMom at The House That Never Slumbers. The House That Never Slumbers chronicles the sometimes hectic life of a large family – covering ideas for frugal living, DIY, family travel, homesteading, redneck outdoor adventures, food, genealogy, and product reviews.