Summer and playgrounds go hand in hand. Thankfully, Southwest Ohio is home to some amazing places to play – from state-of-the-art playgrounds to children’s gardens to natural playscapes, here are a few of our favorite places to spend a summer day!
West Mehring Way, Cincinnati
Smale Riverfront Park has several gardens, parks and trails that are great for adults and families. For kids, there are four main attractions: the Main Street Fountain, Heekin/PNC Adventure Playground, P&G go Vibrantscape and, of course, Carol Ann’s Carousel. Bonus: The Main Street Fountain and P&G go Vibrantscape are at the top of our list for summer fun water play.
4335 Glendale-Milford Road, Blue Ash
Summit Park in Blue Ash is arguably the most innovative playground in the city. This large park is constantly adding more and more exciting features, most recently opening an epic playscape with both land and water features. The creative playground and paved walking trails provide fun for everyone – and be sure to bring your bikes for the various trails!
4764 West Fork Rd., Cincinnati
West Fork is unlike any other playground in the city. It more than meets the accessibility guidelines put in place by playground experts and it is truly a place space for everyone. It has so many unique features, including a large infant/toddler play area with two imaginative play houses, a colorful maze that also has texture to its walls for those children with sensory issues, a 14-foot mega tower with plenty of chances to climb and slide, and perhaps the best feature – a zip line!
221 N. Main St., Centerville
The park includes an all-access playground area with wide ramps, large swings, belt swings, infant swings and benches that sway, allowing children of all abilities to play side by side. In the summer months, the sprayground, a zero-depth splash pad with fun features that spray and dump water, is the perfect place to cool off.
4949 Tealtown Road, Milford
Imagine a labyrinth of trails, giant logs, kid-sized creeks, rocks, trees and mud. Everything is connected and contained… and your kids can touch, feel and manipulate to their hearts’ content. That’s the Cincinnati Nature Center PlayScape. Also, two words: Mud Zone. Your kids will LOVE this East Side gem! (Note: admission to the PlayScape is free for members and included with daily admission for non-members.)
3600 Observatory Ave, Cincinnati
One of Cincinnati’s best-kept secrets, this East side gem features separate playgrounds for little (ages 2-5) and big (ages 5-12) kids, ensuring fun for the whole family! Picnic tables and walking trails make Ault Park Playground the perfect place to spend a summer afternoon.
1301 E Siebenthaler Ave, Dayton
This Dayton MetroPark has a Children’s Garden unrivaled by any other, featuring lots of sensory play areas, different animal habitats and even a learning garden where kids can get hands-on experience. We especially love the musical garden (which features large, outdoor musical instruments) and the sandbox (because what kid doesn’t love a sandbox?)
7256 OH-48 Springboro
There is something for everyone at this park: multiple playgrounds (for big and little kids), soccer fields, sand volleyball court, tennis courts, walking trails 1-Mile paved walking loop, disc golf course (9 baskets with 18 different tee boxes), a pond with catch & release fishing allowed and much more!
2380 Kemp Rd., Dayton
Tucked away near the suburbs of Dayton, this is a true hidden gem! You won’t find metal slides or chain-link swings at this camouflaged nature playscape. There are no brightly colored monkey bars or jungle gyms. This play area is made almost entirely of natural elements — and it is the perfect place to let your kiddos imaginations run free. They’ll find obstacle courses, climbing walls, tunnels and wooden playhouses to explore. Dig in the sand, build your own structure or scale the tangled rope webs.
2100 E. Centerville Station Rd., Dayton
Forest Field Park is an arboretum as well as a community park. It’s a great place for kids to burn off energy with tons of climbing obstacles. The playground got a fresh overhaul in 2018 and state-of-the-art play equipment sits adjacent to a natural play area. (pictured)