Splish, Splash: Best Bets for Boating & Swimming

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July is the perfect month for zipping around a lake, camping under the stars, and more. Enjoy!

Listen. The only way to take on smoldering July heat is to EMBRACE IT. Dig in to FAMILY TIME. Find the closest body of water and get IN IT — fast!

   Luckily, you don’t have to spend big bucks on a motorboat or buy airlines tickets to the coast to find a beach. Take the family for a short drive to one of the lakes in our area and you’ll find all the water fun you can ask for.

   Here are some of the coolest — and closest — parks you can go to and feel like you’re away on a family vacation. Most of the lakes’ boat rentals include kayaks, canoes, stand up paddleboards (SUP) and pedal boats. We’ve got splashpads here, too.

 

LAKES

MIAMI WHITEWATER FOREST HARBOR

9001 Mt. Hope Road

Crosby Township

513-367-9632

greatparks.org/parks/miamiwhitewater-forest/miamiwhitewater-forest-harbor

Rent a boat and spend the day out on a stunning 85-acre lake. Stop at the stocked snack bar to wrap up a fun-filled summer day.

 

SHARON WOODS HARBOR

4631 E. Kemper Road

513-769-4326

greatparks.org/parks/sharonwoods/sharon-woods-boathouse

The park, boat rentals and picnic area are all close together, so work up an appetite and take advantage of the snacks, ice cream and beautiful lake all at once.

 

LAKE ISABELLA HARBOR

10174 Loveland-Madeira Road

Symmes Township

513-791-1663

greatparks.org/parks/lakeisabella/lake-isabella-harbor

Grab your fishing gear, rent a rowboat and head out to the lake. No fishing gear? Rent gear and bait when you get there. No fishing license required. Day or season passes are available at the boathouse.

 

LITTLE MIAMI CANOE RENTAL

219 Mill (S.R. 123), Morrow

225 Corwin Road, Oregonia

513-899-3616

littlemiamicanoe.com

Looking for a little more adventure? Little Miami Canoe has two locations: Oregonia, OH, closer to Dayton, and Morrow, OH, only a 10-minute drive from Kings Island. Choose between a 2-, 4-, 8-, 10- or 12 mile canoe trip, or give a raft or tube a whirl down the Little Miami River. There are more water excursions where that came from. One-day river trips are also available for larger groups.

 

EAST FORK STATE PARK

1535 Clough Pike, Batavia

513-732-3888

bataviatownship.org/parksrecreation/eastfork-state-park/

The lake has a 1,200-foot beach, swimming and boat rentals. Have a boat? Pick from one of the six boat docks along the lake, and end the day with a picnic lunch at one of the large picnic areas.

 

CAESAR CREEK STATE PARK MARINA

8574 E State Route 73,

Waynesville • 513-897-1092

parks.ohiodnr.gov/caesarcreek

Park your boat at one of the five boat docks at the marina stocked with boat equipment, supplies, bait and more, and visit the snack bar. The new South Shore Marina (6850 Corwin Avenue, Waynesville) offers boat rentals as well. Then grab the kids and build sandcastles along the 1,300-foot-long sandy beach or park your boat at one of the boat and swim areas.

 

COWAN LAKE

1750 Osborn Road, Wilmington

937-289-2656

parks.ohiodnr.gov/cowanlake

Swim at the 1,000-foot long beach, go sailing or practice your kayak and canoe skills with a certified instructor. Want to amp up your family’s water adventures? Contact sarah.blair@dnr.state.oh.us to sign up for one of the Family Outdoor Adventure series and learn some tips and tricks.

 

VOICE OF AMERICA PARK

7850 VOA Park Drive, West Chester

yourmetroparks.net/parks/voiceof-america-metropark/wheelhouse

Walk to the little wooden Wheelhouse Outdoor Adventure Center, rent a boat or two and head to the snack bar. You can even launch your own boat for a small fee.

 

WINTON WOODS

10245 Winton Road

513-931-1849

greatparks.org/parks/wintonwoods/winton-woods-harbor

Explore the 156-acre lake by boat and grab a snack and fishing gear at the boathouse. Use the dock for your own boat, or book a 30-minute boat tour on the Winton Queen to learn more about the park’s history.

 

KENTUCKY KINCAID LAKE STATE PARK

565 Kincaid Park Road, Falmouth

859-654-3531

parks.ky.gov/parks/recreationparks/kincaid-lake

Loaded with scenic views, peace and quiet, the lake has all of that including boat rentals and fishing. After a long day of boating, cool off in the lake side swimming pool.

 

CAMP ERNST LAKE

7615 Camp Ernst Road

Burlington • 859-334-2117

boonecountyky.org/departments/parks/camp_ernst_lake.aspx

Bring a picnic and overlook the 22-acre lake, or launch your boat off the boat ramp and cast a line. Fishing license is required.

 

BOONES LANDING

14036 Boat Dock Road, Union

859-384-0504

booneslanding.com

Explore the Ohio River by canoe, coast on a pontoon boat or go fishing. The marina is also available if you’re looking to dock your own boat.

 

INDIANA BROOKVILLE LAKE

15179 Old State Road 101

Liberty • 765-458-7431

brookvillelake.com

Put your sailing skills to the test at this 17-mile lake. Brookville is great for tubing, and for bigger crowds, they have boats for that, too. Large speed boats, pontoons, sailboats, Hurricane deck boats and fishing boats are available to rent depending on what kind of water adventure you and your family are looking for.

 

SPLASH PADS

Let the little ones run and splash up an appetite at one of these local splash pads for free or for a small fee. Kids love it because no one will tell them to stop splashing!

 

WASHINGTON PARK

1230 Elm St.

 

SHARON WOODS HARBOR

4631 E. Kemper Road

 

MIAMI WHITEWATER FOREST: PARKY’S PIRATE COVE

9001 Mt. Hope Road, Harrison

 

WINTON WOODS: PARKY’S ARK

10245 Winton Road

 

WOODLAND MOUND: PARKY’S WETLAND ADVENTURE

8250 Old Kellogg Road

 

LOVELAND HOME OF THE BRAVE

11605 Lebanon Road, Loveland

 

SMALE RIVERFRONT PARK

West Mehring Way

 

SAWYER POINT AND YEATMAN’S COVE

705 East Pete Rose Way

 

OVERNIGHT CAMPING

Overnight camping is a great way to relax and enjoy nature without too much hassle or planning. Most of the campgrounds here have availability during the week, but are limited on the weekends for the summer. Contact the park to see what is available for your family’s summer campout. Some of the campgrounds also have swimming and playgrounds nearby.

 

LAKE ISABELLA CAMPGROUND

513-791-1663

greatparks.org/parks/lakeisabella/lake-isabella-campground

New tent-only campground. Fridays and Saturdays only; Sundays during holiday weekends.

$21.50/night

 

LITTLE MIAMI CAMPING

Reservations: 513-724-6521

littlemiamicanoe.com/Camping.html

Two-day canoe plus one night camping packages. Canoe/Camping

Rates from $25/night

 

EAST FORK STATE PARK

Reservations: 513-734-4323

parks.ohiodnr.gov/eastfork

Standard electric: From $28/night

 

CAESAR CREEK CAMPGROUND

Reservations: 937-488-4595

parks.ohiodnr.gov/caesarcreek

July 4th Camp Out, July 4 – 8: Canoeing, kayaking, SUP and camping for the family. Standard electric: From $28/night

 

COWAN LAKE

Reservations: 937-383-3751

parks.ohiodnr.gov/cowanlake

Cowan Lake Fest, July 21 – 22: Sailing, fishing, boat races and overnight camping on the beach. Standard electric: From $28/night

 

BIG BONE LICK CAMPING

Reservations: 859-384-3495

parks.ky.gov/parks/historicsites/big-bone-lick

Standard electric: From $25/night

 

KINCAID LAKE CAMPGROUND

Reservations: 859-654-3531

parks.ky.gov/parks/recreationparks/kincaid-lake

Campers get $1 off swimming admission. Standard electric: From

$25/night

 

BROOKVILLE CAMPGROUND

Reservations: 765-647-2657

Standard electric: From $23/night

Amanda Hayward is a freelance writer from Cincinnati, Ohio, and a military wife and mom of two. She is also a group fitness instructor and loves running and cooking up healthy recipes in her spare time.

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