25 Cheap (or Free!) Indoor Options for Family Fun

Sometimes it’s raining too hard to be outside, too hot for even the splashpark, or too (insert whiny toddler adjective here) for whatever place you’d planned on going to.

I’ve been there. I’ve so been there.

In an effort to help you out, I’ve hand-picked a list of 25 inexpensive, indoor, insanely fun options for you. Read it, share it, and save it for the next (metaphorical or real) rainy day:

  1. A free kids movie at the Esquire/Kenwood/Mariemont theatre (free every Monday and Wednesday at 10:30 all summer long!)
  2. The Main Library’s Children’s Learning Center (free, except for parking)
  3. Go mall walking at Kenwood Towne Center. Hit up the Lego Store, Disney Store and Food Court! (free, except for that $4 you spent at Starbucks) Make sure you check out the (free) LEGO Americana Roadshow, an all-LEGO exhibit of ionic American buildings and landmarks, on display at Kenwood Mall July 4-19.
  4. The indoor play area at the Sharon Center — there’s a ball pit! ($2.50 per child 2-12 with your $10 annual Hamilton County motor vehicle permit)
  5. Do an art project at Happen, Inc. (free; donations accepted)
  6. Make a toy at Happen, Inc.’s Toy Lab (toys are $10 each and all creations get posted to the online gallery!)
  7. Go to story time at Joseph Beth (free)
  8. Sign up for an “ActivAtee” at blue manatee (prices vary; some are free, some are a few dollars per child)
  9. Look at toys at King Arthur’s Court (free — unless you buy something. But, “like” them on Facebook and you’ll get access to coupons and promotions!)
  10. Hit up the Play Cafe at the Cincinnati Family Enrichment Center (first visit is free; after that it’s $3 per visit or $15/month. The CFEC also offers kids’ and parents’ classes all year round!)
  11. Go to Tower A at Union Terminal (free, non-members must pay $6 for parking before 4:30 pm; after 4:30 pm, parking is $4)
  12. Cincinnati Art Museum (free always! Parking is $4 per vehicle)
  13. Go to Union Terminal for free (free admission on select “Free Fridays”)
  14. Sign the kids for a Kids Can Cook Too cooking class at Whole Foods (free).
  15. Take the kids to Pogo Play (if you bring a canned good on Wednesday, you’ll get a discount on admission: $2 off kids over 3; $1 off kids ages 2 and under).
  16. Take the kids to the Humane Society to interact with the animals (free; call ahead of time to coordinate)
  17. The Behringer-Crawford Museum (kids 4-17 are $4; adults 18-59 are $7. An annual household membership costs $55).
  18. Volunteer somewhere (free!)
  19. The Taft Museum of Art (free every Sunday)
  20. Totter’s Otterville ($8.95 per kid over 1; $2 coupons available on website)
  21. Head to EnterTRAINment Junction for the day (tickets are $9.95 for kids 3-12 and $13.95 for 12-64. BUT — check out Groupon or Amazon Local — there is usually some sort of discount available!)
  22. Wander around Findlay Market (free)
  23. Parky’s Playbarn at Winton Woods — an indoor play area that used to be a real barn! ($2.50 per child with your $10 annual Hamilton County motor vehicle permit)
  24. Contemporary Arts Center (free on Wednesdays from 5-9 pm)
  25. Go bowling at Strike & Spare Western Bowl (free — register your kids online for 2 free games of bowling every day this summer!)

Bonus: Take a few rides on Carol Ann’s Carousel, Cincinnati’s brand-new, indoor merry-go-round! ($2/ride, plus parking)

So, bookmark this list — and you’ll be able to combat those rainy-day blahs with an inexpensive, indoor day of fun!


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