A First-Timer’s Guide to the Cincinnati Children’s Museum

It’s the end of June — and we may already be a little tired of the humidity. My February self will roll my eyes at this comment, but it’s nice to have a place to escape with the kids where they can still be active… and there’s air conditioning. We recently visited the Cincinnati Children’s Museum; and, if you’ve never been, summer is the perfect time to go! Union Terminal and the museum are undergoing major renovations, but the Children’s Museum will remain open — and believe me, there is plenty of fun to be had! Without further ado, here’s a first-timer’s guide to the Cincinnati Children’s Museum.

To my three-year-old son, the museum will always be the “train station,” and although he was a little disappointed to not get to see the train display and visit Tower A, he was thrilled with the variety of activities. That is my personal favorite part of the Children’s Museum — the variety.  Everywhere you turn there are opportunities for creativity, movement and imagination and it’s all cleverly hidden in the different sections of the museum. Your kids will never even know they are learning (wink wink)!

museum collage 1

When you enter the Children’s Museum, which is located at the bottom of an escalator or elevator, it’s difficult to decide where to begin. We usually head to the right first and check out the fish tank (the turtles are a hit!) and the big cave. My kids aren’t too into this section yet, but if you have slightly older children they will love this area. We then work our way to the left, hitting up the water play section (more on that below!).

Little Sprouts Farm is located right next to the water play and is where we typically spend a lot of time. Both of my kids are under four, which is the target age. I love that it’s not usually very crowded and it’s separately closed off so my little wanderers are contained. Other favorite sections include the construction zone, the grocery store and the Legos.

museum collage 3

When you decide to visit the museum for the first time, I have a few suggestions:

Locate the restrooms when you arrive

The largest restroom is located right next to the “Energy Zone” near the entrance to the Children’s Museum. There are also family restrooms right there, along with stroller parking.

Bring an extra pair of eyes

museum collage 2
If you have more than one mobile child, I would highly recommend going with more than one adult.  The museum has a lot of sections and can be crowded, especially on field trip days and weekends.

Pack a lunch

The museum will continue to sell a few food items during renovations, but it would probably be best (and less expensive!) to just bring your own.

Nurse away


There are plenty of places to sit and nurse your baby, but if you prefer, there is a nice private room located in the Little Sprouts Farm area.

Bring an extra shirt

The water play area is so fun…and so wet. There are smocks for the kids to wear, but my kids always manage to get soaked anyway. The fun is totally worth it though.

Play WITH your kids!

water table

I have to remind myself of this one. It’s easy to just have a seat and watch them enjoy the museum but the set up is perfect for you to interact and play right along with them.  My son loves when I fill his cart with rocks in the construction zone and my daughter gets so excited to “grocery shop” with mommy.

We are so lucky to have the Cincinnati Museum Center and the Children’s Museum right in our own backyard.  It’s a great place for our kids to grow up learning and creating. If you haven’t visited before, consider spending a day there this summer to cool off and play like a kid again!

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