January’s here and so are the colder temps. But we’re living in COVID times, and outside remains the safest place to be. So bundle up and embrace the cold — here are 10 outdoor attractions in Cincinnati perfect for exploring this winter:
Quite possibly our favorite on the list, Pyramid Hill is a true hidden gem – it’s tucked away in Butler County off a rolling country road. But to be fair, nothing about Pyramid Hill is “hidden;” this outdoor sculpture museum is big and bold. A bright red sculpture stands at the entryway; and from there, the hills and valleys of Pyramid Hill’s 300 acres are covered with larger-than-life sculptures that demand to be seen (and admired).
Highfield Discovery Garden is quite possibly the most magical place in Cincinnati. This straight-from-a-fairytale Great Park is full of secrets, mystery and wonder, and will absolutely get your kids excited about the great outdoors. Winter admission to this Great Park is just $2.75/child — but you’ll want to check the park’s schedule before you go; it’s closed Mondays and Tuesdays through March.
French Park is a true hidden gem; a dreamy natural oasis in Amberley Village. You’ve never been to a Cincinnati Park quite like this. The park features rolling hills and a kid-friendly creek that’s perfect for little explorers.
4: Cincinnati Art Museum Art Climb
The Cincinnati Art Museum’s Art Climb is a splendid work of art that marries form and function through an artfully arranged nine-story staircase. The Art Climb is 164 carefully laid steps that connect the Cincinnati Art Museum to its neighbors. It’s the perfect outdoor activity for families.
5 & 6: Mt. Airy Treehouse + Arboretum
We love Mt. Airy so much, it took two coveted spots on this roundup:
As a whole, Mt. Airy Forest is Cincinnati’s largest park — coming in at almost 1,500 acres. It was established in 1911 out of several unproductive farms, and was the first municipal reforestation project in America.
Mt. Airy Treehouse is 14 feet tall and connected to 12 trees within the forest. It has whimsical, fairy-tale features, such as a winding (and wheel-chair accessible) ramp, a swirly, shingled roof, and windows with crooked branches as windowpanes. It’s magical.
Mt. Airy Arboretum is a magnificent collection of trees, foliage and flowers, tucked inside the eponymous Cincinnati Park. While Mt. Airy Forest is known for its hiking and treehouse, the Arboretum is perhaps its greatest attribute. The Arboretum features the “best of the best” in terms of foliage and plant life. It reminds us just how glorious and beautiful Cincinnati truly is. This hidden gem is worth exploring this summer with your kids.
Arlitt Playscape is the very definition of a true hidden gem. It’s literally located in the middle of the campus; yet, once you’re in it, you don’t feel at all like you’re at the center of our city’s largest school. The playscape is completely enclosed by a fence, so you can truly let your kids run wild in this little piece of urban paradise. There are trails winding through the playscape, like a labyrinth, connecting the various areas together. Dubbed an “outdoor research laboratory” by education scholars at UC, Arlitt Playscape is proof kids don’t need a bunch of bells and whistles to have fun.
Boasting 1,600 acres and 20 miles of trails, Cincinnati Nature Center is the largest member-supported nature center in the country. For kids, the main attraction is the outdoor PlayScape — plants, soil, and water can be touched and manipulated, creeks stomped in and logs built with.
Heritage Village Museum is one of Cincinnati’s most unique hidden gems. It’s a well-preserved glimpse into Ohio’s rich history and heritage, just waiting to be explored. Located inside Sharon Woods, Heritage Village is an outdoor history museum with real buildings from the 1800s. The buildings are from various locations around Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky, and include churches, log cabins, homes, a barn and old train station.
10. Cincinnati Zoo
Going to the Zoo during the winter is utterly delightful. You’ll get to see animals you probably never noticed in warmer months, like the Arctic fox and penguins. You’ll skip the crowds and enjoy a more relaxed experience. And if you go on a weekend before Jan. 17, you’ll also get an extra helping of holiday cheer with the Festival of Lights.