I can’t go for a walk with my kids without constantly nagging them to “stop.”
“Stop pulling up grass!”
“Stop picking the neighbor’s flowers!”
“Stop grabbing sticks!”
“Stop!” (No really — Stop! Because there’s a car coming.)
I’m sure you can relate. Kids are naturally curious and want to explore and touch everything. And most of us live in a suburban world where that’s just not possible. But, I really want to be able to just let my kids be kids. Which is why the Cincinnati Nature Center PlayScape is so brilliant.
Imagine a large 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 Marge & Charles Schott Cincinnati Nature Center PlayScape.
As you enter, there are trails weaving through the woods, connecting the various Cincinnati Nature Center PlayScape components. You’ll hear the sounds of nature — birds, cicadas and the babbling water.
The creek is shallow yet stomp-able. There are tons of rocks for climbing and skipping. I dressed my kids in their slip shoes and they happily splashed and stomped. (I wore my rain boots so I could play, too!) The water was only a few inches deep in most areas — perfect for kids.
Next we ventured over to the “Lincoln Logs,” as Julian calls them. This is an open, room-like enclave that’s flat and full of logs, branches and other large sticks for kids to build with. My kids love to build, and eagerly got to work dragging logs to construct a fort. (In fact, this activity awakened something in them, as they’ve been playing Lincoln Logs at home nonstop since our visit!)
We took a trail walk afterwards, stopping again at the creek and noting some of the wildlife: a red cardinal, yellow finch, brown-speckled butterfly.
We saved the best for last: the Mud Zone. This area is exactly what it sounds like: a space for messy, muddy play! There are dishes and utensils for mud-pie mixing. There’s a giant hose for making mud. There are stumps for sitting on while kids scoop out wet, muddy slop. Your kids will absolutely love this!
I’ll be honest — this went against every bone in my Type-A body. But I just had to take a deep breath and embrace it. Because they were having so much fun — and where else can your kids freely play in the mud?
Afterwards, we walked to the bathrooms, where there’s an outdoor area to wash off. I brought clean clothes for my kids, and was able to get them changed and cleaned up pretty quickly. My advice? Bring a change of clothes — and lean into the mess!
My kids had so much fun — we will definitely be making the Cincinnati Nature Center PlayScape a part of our regular routine! We have an annual pass to the Cincinnati Nature Center (a total steal at just $75/year!), but if you don’t, admission is $9/adults, $4/kids ages 4-12 and free for kids 3 and under.