The boys and I were lucky enough to fit an extra getaway into our trip this month. Thanks to our host, Visit Cincy, we were set with a great itinerary to explore Cincinnati that the whole family would love.
Southwest Airlines recently added direct flights from Baltimore to Cincinnati, making the trip even easier for us Marylanders. In fact, my mom just took this flight in June for my niece's birthday.
WHERE TO STAY
I've never stayed in Cincinnati, so I had no idea where to begin. I'm thrilled that Visit Cincinnati knew exactly where to put us!
The Westin Cincinnati is located in central downtown and overlooks the historic Fountain Square.
We were on the 14th floor and the view was awesome! Fountain Square seemed to have something going on all the time and the boys enjoyed watching the party before bed.
With restaurants, a heated indoor pool, a fitness room (you can even borrow workout gear for a small fee), big comfy beds, and convenience to area attractions, The Westin Cincinnati is a fantastic place to stay with the family!
We were able to walk just about anywhere we needed to go, but if that's not your thing there are plenty of options for getting around Cincinnati. We used the Southbank Shuttle to get to Newport, KY and just paid $1 (kids ride free) for the three of us. The shuttle picked up right outside of The Westin across from Fountain Square.
WHAT TO DO
Fountain Square: There are several restaurants (and Graeter's Ice Cream) around Fountain Square. During the summer, it seemed there was an event each evening with a different theme every night. With plenty of tables and food trucks, you can spend some time here hanging out by the fountain for some chill down time.
Duke Energy Children's Museum: If your kids are about 10 or under, they'll love the Children's Museum at Cincinnati Museum Center. There are all kinds of activities from water play and LEGO building to a giant tree house and art. One of the kids favorite places to play was The Woods – a fantastic place to climb and explore.
When we visited the Cincinnati Museum Center there was a special exhibit, Star Wars and the Power of Costume. Charlie was definitely interested in this one, so we enjoyed it together.
Newport on the Levee: Just across the river from Cincinnati is Newport, KY. This giant entertainment center has both inside and outside retail areas to explore. Although Newport Aquarium is a huge attraction, Newport on the Levee is also home to a movie theater, bowling alley, retail stores, and several national and regional restaurants. We also enjoyed a little train ride on the Newport Express around the area overlooking the river.
Purple People Bridge: If you're at Newport on the Levee, you're right at the Purple People Bridge! This pedestrian-only bridge connects Newport, KY and downtown Cincinnati. The boys and I walked across and back, enjoying the views and the little activities along the way. There is even a special section where you can attach and admire love locks!
Smale Riverfront Park: Located at Cincinnati's historic riverfront, Smale Riverfront Park offers a ton of fun for the kids! Play areas that use sound, water, light and movement inspire “irresistible play leading to inadvertent exercise” for kids of all ages.
The boys really loved the giant foot piano and the climb and slide areas. Charlie really liked the Flying Pig, but Owen got scared and I had to climb up to rescue him with the help of some kind strangers. I absolutely loved seeing so many people interacting and playing together with no barriers.
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden: Have you heard about Fiona the hippo? She's the new baby hippo at the Cincinnati Zoo! There was a huge crowd hoping to catch a glimpse and we were lucky to sneak a peek ourselves!
The Cincinnati Zoo is huge! We were able to feed the giraffes, check out the elephants, get up-close and personal with a baby ape, learn about flamingos, and even take a ride on the Safari Train! We were here 6 hours and still didn't see everything!
WHERE TO EAT
Ingredients: Located just downstairs from the Westin lobby, we were able to start our day with a great breakfast! The boys shared a breakfast quesadilla and I enjoyed an omelet, made just the way I like it. They also have fresh fruit, smoothies, juice, coffee, and pastries.
Revolution Rotisserie: What started as a simple food tent is now a Cincinnati favorite. While there's no “kids menu”, the boys loved the bottomless tots and Shirley Temples during happy hour. And let's not forget about the delicious rotisserie chicken and that mac and cheese!
Taste of Belgium: If you're a Chicken and Waffles fan, you need to visit Taste of Belgium! We had dinner outside before heading to play at Smale Riverfront Park at Taste of Belgium at the Banks. We tried a several different dishes, but my favorites were the Chicken and Waffles and the Beltucky Hot Brown! Yum! The Mac and Cheese was also pretty amazing!
Graeter's: We could see Graeter's from our room at The Westin Cincinnati! As soon as we checked out our room, I knew we had to go! Graeter's Ice Cream is made right here in Cincinnati. My favorite is always the Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip and the boys opted for Double Chocolate Chip.
Tom + Chee: I've heard some amazing things about Tom + Chee, but had never been. We ate a quick lunch here while at Newport on the Levee. If you're not familiar – Tom + Chee is kitchen slang for Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese. There are over 25 different sandwich creations on the menu and what seems to be an endless amount of specials. They have a fantastic kids menu here because let's face it, this restaurant is for the kid in us all! Don't forget a grilled cheese donut!
There are so many amazing things that we did not get to see, do, and eat while in Cincinnati this time. I cannot wait to return! If you're planning a trip to Cincinnati, I'd love to hear what you're planning!