Cincinnati Family Magazine

Your # 1 Hometown Family Resource

October 24, 2021

It’s Playtime! Activities for Indoors or Out

Play is the best way for kids to learn and grow. Here are some of the best places and spaces for kids to engage in safe, interactive play!

(Featured photo: The Nature Playscape and playgrouat Summit Park in Blue Ash, Oh.)

Indoor Play

If you’re looking for safe, indoor play on a rainy day, here is what’s open and ready for business. Be sure to call before you go for the latest health and safety information and more.

CINCINNATI ART MUSEUM; 953 EDEN PARK DRIVE, CINCINNATI, OH; 513-721-2787; CINCINNATIARTMUSEUM.ORG
Browse more than 67,000 works of art, special exhibits, and through April 25, visit the Rosenthal Education Center for it’s new exhibition exploration, Terence Hammonds’ Everything is Everything. You can check out their to-go art kits for at-home fun, too! Visit CAM’s website for special member hours and to make a reservation.

CINCINNATI MUSEUM CENTER; 1301 WESTERN AVE., CINCINNATI, OH; 513-287-7000; CINCYMUSEUM.ORG
The Duke Energy Children’s Museum may be closed right now, but there is still so much to explore at the CMC – the Cincinnati History Museum, the Omnimax, Museum of Natural History and why not explore their virtual programs or Programs-on-Wheels that brings the fun to you?

TAFT MUSEUM OF ART 316 PIKE ST., CINCINNATI, OH; 513-241-0343; TAFTMUSEUM.ORG
Explore new exhibits in-person or online, and experience the Taft at home with their Virtual Family Fundays, perfect for all ages! Looking ahead, get your kids excited about their Summer Art Camp in the making!

LAZER KRAZE; 7082 COLUMBIA ROAD, MAINEVILLE, OH; 513-339-1030; LAZERKRAZE.COM
Currently only offering private laser tag session extravaganzas and birthday parties. For now, just you and your small group of five players or more can have all of the Indoor Trampoline Park fun, a huge arcade with redemption and video games, Time Freak, a snack bar and more to yourselves. Be sure to book in advance!

AMERICAN SIGN MUSEUM, 1330 MONMOUTH AVE., CINCINNATI, OH; 513-541-6366; AMERICANSIGNMUSEUM.ORG
It’s a sign! The kids love exploring 20,000 square feet of super cool, preserved historic, American signage. Currently they are offering virtual tours for your event!

KIDS FIRST SPORTS; 7900 E KEMPER ROAD, CINCINNATI, OH; 513-489-7575; KIDSFIRSTSPORTS.COM
If you need a safe space for your kids to get moving on a rainy day, you’ll find a class, event and camp for your high-energy kid! Tumble Bees, the new FLY Kids Ninja + Parkour Academy, swim lessons, Abrakadoodle classes, the Learning Center, their upcoming Camp-a-Palooza summer camps, monthly events and more; indoor fun never got more exciting.

YMCA OF GREATER CINCINNATI; VARIOUS LOCATIONS; MYY.ORG
Among their many locations in Greater Cincinnati, the Y offers classes and options for the whole family to get moving and healthy. Match your kids’ interests, swim classes and camps.

RUN JUMP-N-PLAY; 5897 PFEIFFER ROAD, STE. B, CINCINNATI, OH; 513-771-7529; RUNJUMPNPLAY.COM
Play on swings, slides, giant inflatables, trampolines, shoot some hoops and more at this 30,000 indoor play area. The toddler zone is perfect for tots with a soft and safe area for them to play on equipment built for tiny hands.

THE PLAY LIBRARY; 1306 MAIN ST., CINCINNATI, OH; PLAYLIBRARY.ORG
Helps solve the toy boredom problem. Rotating toys is ideal for endless new-to-you toys, and they do just that! For $15 a month, you can borrow up to three items at a time and take them home with you! When you’re all done, bring them back, then exchange them out for new toys and activities. And why not stay and play! Get a one-time pass or a $12 monthly Playtime membership (playtime is also included in the monthly Play & Borrow membership).

ENTERTRAINMENT JUNCTION; 7379 SQUIRE COURT, WEST CHESTER, OH; ENTERTRAINMENTJUNCTION.COM
Imagination Junction is a 5,000 square foot railroad-themed play area designed just for kids. Kids can crawl through tunnels, shovel coal, climb the giant play structure and tons more. Every month offers new themes and excitement, and when the weather calls for it, take a ride on the outdoor railroad system!

Outdoor Play

Outdoor play is all around us and always right outside your front door. Help your kids build some creativity at one of these fun nature spots!

PLAYFUL WANDERINGS; GRAILVILLE RETREAT CENTER, 931 O’BANNONVILLE ROAD, LOVELAND, OH; 513-526-5076; PLAYFULWANDERINGS.COM
Youth programs, family programs, horseback riding lessons, camps and everything nature! Ages 3 to teen can explore the world around them through activities, games and exploration time.

PYRAMID HILL SCULPTURE PARK & MUSEUM; 1763 HAMILTON CLEVES ROAD, HAMILTON, OH; 513-868-8336; PYRAMIDHILL.ORG
With a combination of art and nature spanning over 300 acres of woodlands, kids get education and outdoor enjoyment all in one. Check their website for upcoming family events, and stop in the gift shop for a fun and challenging scavenger hunt; find all of the listed sculptures and get a prize!

CINCINNATI NATURE CENTER; 4949 TEALTOWN ROAD, MILFORD, OH; 513-831-1711; CINCYNATURE.ORG
Rowe Woods is a perfect spot for family hiking located in Milford, Ohio, spanning more than 1,000 acres with 16 miles of hiking trails; and Long Branch Farm & Trails, located in Goshen, Oh, has about 800 acres of forest and farmland with five miles of hiking trails that only members have access to. Currently all of the fun nature programs for all ages require advanced registration, they offer events this month including Hootin’ in the Holler (March 5); Wildflower Stroll with Noel (March 7 and 21); Get to Know Rowe Woods Hike (March 13 and 27); Mini Log Cabin Building in the Playscape (March 13); and so much more!

SUMMIT PARK BLUE ASH; 4335 GLENDALE, MILFORD ROAD, BLUE ASH, OH; 513-745-8644; SUMMITPARKBLUEASH.COM
Events year-round including fitness programs on the green and farmer’s market, kids also love just exploring the Nature Playscape and playground open year-round for pure enjoyment. Check out the park’s many walking trails, too, to take in the lovely scenery and get moving with the kids!

THE BLUE ASH RECREATION CENTER; 4343 COOPER ROAD; BLUE ASH, OH; 513-745-8500; BLUEASH.COM
Year-round programs including fitness class, martial arts, climbing, Abrakadoodle classes and more; yearly events, including Cincinnati Family’s Summer Adventure Camp Fair April 10 at the Blue Ash Nature Park located right outside the rec center (4433 Cooper Road). The Nature park also offers trails and a Nature Park StoryWalk kids love!

CINCINNATI PARKS; VARIOUS LOCATIONS; CINCINNATIPARKS.COM
Their Explore Nature programs include Summer Camps, hike series, yoga, virtual nature programming, story walks and
more!

GREAT PARKS; VARIOUS LOCATIONS; GREATPARKS.ORG
Nature, shared-use, fitness, horse and mountain bike trails spanning 78 miles of Hamilton County, playgrounds, athletics and more. The outdoor recreation goes on, plus be sure to check out Parks@Home with loads of nature activities.

BOONE COUNTY PARKS VARIOUS LOCATIONS; BOONECOUNTYKY.ORG
Hit one of their fitness stations while enjoying the many walking trails at Giles Conrad Park and England Idlewild Park. Or take the kids geocaching or take advantage of over 185 miles of mountain biking trails; and tons of family programming.

Benefits of Nature Play

Exploring the outdoors gives kids more than just vitamin D and a breath of fresh air. Here are five reasons the kids should head outside more often!

1) HELPS REDUCE ANXIETY

If your little one is overwhelmed or stressed with how things are going lately, a little sunshine and outdoor play can actually help reduce stress and anxiety, says Amy Roell, Great Parks director of Education & Events.

“It improves your mood, ability to focus, ability to think clearer for people of all ages, not just children,” she explains.

2) BUILDS CONFIDENCE AND GROSS MOTOR SKILLS

The feeling of, “Oh wow, I can climb over that rock,” is all it takes to build a little confidence in your growing kid.

“Outside play and activity can help children develop fine and gross motor skills,” says Roell.

“It can build confidence [they climbed over that rock, the uneven aspect of the ground helps with balance]. It improves and diversifies the sensory input their brains, and senses receive and process.”

3) INCREASES ACTIVITY LEVEL

Simply going outdoors to play can also increase their activity level and help them interact with other people, Roell continues.

4) BUILDS CREATIVITY

Creativity can be built simple through unstructured play – more of an open-ended play concept, allowing kids to be more creative with no specific learning objective.

“Unstructured play is best,” explains Roell. “It helps them use and improve their creativity. It enables them to try new things and learn from the result, ie. jumping off of a
big rock may make them fall, so the next time, they try jumping off a smaller rock and gain success and try again with the larger rock.”

5) PROBLEM SOLVING

Whether you see it or not, your kids’ social-emotional and cognitive development is growing every minute they spend playing outdoors.

“When playing outside, kids learn valuable problem solving skills, as well as imaginative skills that boost creativity,” says April Kandil, director of campus based programs at The Children’s Home. Imagination is key when playing in nature. Thinking, running, jumping, digging, climbing or using natural
materials to build results in good, quality outdoor time, and right now, kids are spending less and less time outside.

“The amount of time kids are choosing to play outdoors continues to decrease due to increased access to technology,”
says Kandil. “Children are missing out on opportunities like gym and recess to get moving which makes parents getting their kids outdoors more important than ever.

About the Author

Amanda Hayward

Amanda Hayward is editor of this publication. She is from Cincinnati, Ohio, a military wife and mom of three. If she's not writing for Cincinnati Family, you'll find her running, juggling kids, teaching group fitness classes and cooking up healthy recipes.