On both sides of the Ohio River, there are plenty of family friendly things to do this summer. Whether your children crave amusement park rides, water slides, animal encounters, or special events, there is something for everyone.
The Beach Water Park
The Beach Water Park, located at 2590 Waterpark Drive in Mason, re-opens for the new season on May 23. Its attractions include 12 water slides, a heated wave pool, and an interactive kids’ play area featuring multiple slides and a 600-gallon dumping bucket. The park has 2,600 tons of white sands, more than 150 live palm trees and more than two million gallons of water. Kids can soar across the wave pool on a zip line, or enjoy the indoor arcade. This year The Beach Water Park introduces Riptide Racer — a new four-lane racing slide (pictured top of page). Season pass prices start at $84.99 and include multiple benefits, including discounts on food and retail purchases, early entry, and weekday specials. Visit thebeachwaterpark.com.
The Behringer-Crawford Museum, located at 1600 Montague Road in Devou Park in Covington, is a regional museum celebrating the history of Northern Kentucky. Thursday nights from June 4 to August 13, the Museum will present outdoor summer concerts. On the third Tuesday of every month the museum offers Tot Tuesday, an hour of crafts, music and storytelling for parents and their preschoolers. The Behringer-Crawford Museum will also host several summer camps this year: “My Doll & Me – 1940” for girls ages 5 – 14 interested in American Girl dolls on June 11; an American Indians Grand Discovery Camp on June 18 and 19, which teaches about the Native Americans who once lived in Northern Kentucky; and a Wildlife Habitat Grand Discovery Camp on July 28 and 29 which teaches about animals native to Northern Kentucky. General admission to the Behringer-Crawford Museum is $7 adults, $6 seniors, and $4 ages 3 – 17. Find out more at bcmuseum.org.
The Cincinnati Zoo
The Cincinnati Zoo, found at 3400 Vine Street, premiered in 1875 and is the second oldest zoo in the United States. It is one of the largest zoos in the nation, and features more than 500 animals and 3,000 plant species. Families will definitely want to take multiple trips to the exhibit Africa, which affords the opportunity to get up close and personal with lions and cheetahs, and some pretty playful giraffes. The Zoo has several special events planned for the summer, including Zoo Babies in May; Macy’s Kids, Cultures, Critters & Crafts Festival on July 22; and Visitor Appreciation Days on August 21, 22 and 23. On August 30, children and adults can both partake in the annual Cheetah run, a 3.1-mile run and walk through the Cincinnati Zoo. Basic Zoo admission is $18 adults, and $12 for children and seniors, with discounts available online. Visit cincinnatizoo.org.
Coney Island, located at 6201 Kellogg Avenue, opens for its 129th season on May 23. The park is famous for Sunlite Pool, the largest flat-surface pool in North America, and its rich history. Coney Island also features water slides, classic rides, mini-golf, and shows. This year, Coney Island will introduce two new rides: a children’s bumper car ride and a swinging-pendulum family thrill ride. The swinging-pendulum ride swerves in a back-and-forth, 360-degree pendulum motion, while the ride carriage spins in a clockwise rotation over 35 feet in the air. The kiddie bumper cars are a smaller version of the popular Dodgems cars. Coney Island hosts several events this summer including the 46th Annual Appalachian Festival from May 8 – 10; Summerfair on May 29 – 31; Paddlefest from June 18 – 20; and the ever-popular 16th Annual LaRosa’s Balloon Glow on July 3. Season pass prices start at $89.95 (payment plans are available), while daily Pool & Rides Combo tickets, which can be purchased online for a slight discount, range from $12.95 for ages 2 – 4 to $25.95 for ages 5 and older. Parking is $8 per vehicle. Visit coneyislandpark.com.
The 43rd season of Kings Island is underway. The 364-acre theme park has more than 80 rides and attractions including 14 roller coasters, Soak City Water Park, Planet Snoopy kids’ area, and “Dinosaurs Alive!”, populated by mechanical dinosaurs. This year, Kings Island introduces two new family rides, Woodstock Gliders and Snoopy’s Space Buggies, as well as Snoopy’s Petting Farm to Planet Snoopy. Woodstock Gliders is a classic flying scooter ride featuring eight two-person planes that glide 28 feet into the air. The planes rotate and fan out over a large area, while each plane has a stationary rear wing and a moveable front wing, which enables the riders to steer the flight and control the intensity of the ride. Snoopy’s Space Buggies is designed for children to experience with their adult caregivers. The ride has six four-seat vehicles, which bounce up and down while rotating in a circle. Snoopy’s Petting Farm opens this month and will feature more than 100 farm animals for guests to interact with. Six-month payment plans for season passes begin at $15 and go up to $33. Discounts for daily tickets can be found when purchasing online. Kings Island is located at 6300 Kings Island Drive in Mason; head to visitkingsisland.com.
The Newport Aquarium
The Newport Aquarium, located at One Aquarium Way at Newport on the Levee, is a 72-degree, climate-controlled facility, which is home to nearly 5,000 animals spread across more than 90 exhibits. In April, the Aquarium introduced Shark Bridge, the first suspension bridge in North America where guests can walk just inches above nearly two dozen swimming sharks. It is a 100-foot-long, V-shaped rope bridge suspended over the waters of the Shark exhibit’s 385,000-gallon tank. “Shark Bridge will be a completely new way to experience sharks and a truly one-of-a-kind attraction available nowhere but Newport Aquarium,” says Eric Rose, executive director. “Our diverse collection of sharks is the cornerstone of our more than 90 exhibits, and guests will now be able to experience them like they never have.” The Newport Aquarium will also get some new residents this year — extremely rare scalloped hammerhead sharks. They will live in the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit with 17 other species of shark including sand tiger, zebra, sandbar, blacktip, whitetip and nurse sharks. While you’re there, be sure to check out the Aquarium’s other newest exhibit, Canyon Falls, featuring adorable Asian small-clawed otters, and Thunder, the 100+-year-old snapping turtle. General admission is $23 for adults, and $15 for ages 2 – 12, while annual passes are available for $45 for adults, $29 ages 2 – 12, and $40 for seniors. Visit newportaquarium.com.
Planning a Summer Party?
- The Beach Water Park has three birthday packages: Kamikaze ($199), Cowabunga ($169) and Kokomo ($149). Each package includes eight party guests, two adult admission passes, one decorated party table, one slice of pizza per guest, and goody bags, snacks and party invitations. All packages allow for additional children and adults for additional fees.
- Behringer-Crawford Museum hosts wedding ceremonies, receptions, rehearsal dinners, luncheons, parties, meetings and corporate events. Contact Marilyn Maxwell at 859-491-4003 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Coney Island Park no longer offers birthday party packages, but does offer group rates for groups of 15 or more, which people can use if they would like to bring a party to Coney Island.
- Kings Island offers birthday parties for up to 15 guests including use of the party room for an hour, two slices of pizza per guest, juice boxes and cupcakes, a special visit from one of the park’s characters and parking passes. Parties are $299 and do not include park admission, which is available for $32 per person. Add-ons like party bags or face painters are also available.
- Newport Aquarium does not offer birthday party packages, but it does offer group discounts for 10 people or more.
Find more birthday party ideas in “All About the Birthdays.”