Cincinnati, Ohio and parks are two ideas that will forever be linked in my mind. One of the first things I did when I found out I was being relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio was turn on my computer and type “Cincinnati” into a search engine. I expected the usual information like population and weather, but I also got the unexpected. It read, “138 parks covering more than 5,000 acres.” The only two things I knew about Cincinnati before were one, they have unusual chili and two, the six months of the year were most likely going to be cold there. My interest was peaked and I have spent the last two years enjoying the many outdoor havens offered by the Cincinnati Park System.
Closest to my new home in Cincnnati, Ohiois Ault Park. This is the fourth largest park in the city, covering 223 acres. Like many parks, it offers jogging trails, bike paths and recreational equipment for the kids. At the heart of this park is the Italian-style pavilion, elevating this park to a beautiful outdoor sanctuary. It is common to see weddings here almost any weekend during the spring and summer months. Beautiful flowers and scrubs fill the park, making it an obvious choice for the annual Flower Show. Most of Cincinnati turns out to view what their dream gardens could be. Each year the park hosts a Fourth of July celebration with some of the cities best fireworks. The show is free to the public. Come early to get a good seat and to beat the traffic. Roads surrounding the park become congested as time for the fireworks to begin approaches. Other park activities include free concerts and Dancing in the Park. Located on Observatory Avenue in Cincinnati, visitors can check out their website at www.aultparkac.org to view all the current activities.
Mt. Airy Park, a giant of the Cincinnati Park System, is seven times the size of Ault Park. Sheer land mass makes this an unequalled setting. Offering 14 miles of hiking trails, 16 miles of horse riding and cross country skiing trails, the only dog park located inside city limits and an area dedicated solely to weddings, this is a nature lover’s paradise. Visitors can find an arboretum located near a pond full of ducks waiting to be fed. Shady areas here are the perfect setting for a romantic picnic or a night of stargazing. Mt. Airy’s dog park covers two acres and is an ideal place to take you pooch when he or she has been cooped up all week while you were at work. This is a great place to socialize after you have been cooped up all week too.
Eden Park, a crowning jewel of the Cincinnati Park System, offers a vast array of both indoor and outdoor activities for park goers of all ages. Home to the Cincinnati Art Museum, Playhouse in the Park, and Krohn Conservatory, the park offers indoor culture and education as wells as vast areas of outdoor greenery. Visitors can find natural trails established by other hikers throughout the 183 acres of the park. Sunbathers can lounge near Mirror Lake, while their pets take a quick dip. Local rock climbers have even turned Eden Park Wall into a chance to practice repelling! Eden Park also offers an educational experience with its Presidential Grove. Beginning in 1882 a tree has been planted for every American president. A walk through the grove would be a great way to learn all the presidents for students of any age
Sharon Woods is the oldest park in the Cincinnati Park System. This is a park is a great place for children of all ages to spend a day outside. An ice-age themed wet park cools visitors on even the hottest days. A baby mammoth sprays water out of its snout while water runs down a manmade creek bed. The park hosts tours of the natural wildlife of the region and educates visitors on prehistoric fossils found in the park. Playgrounds abound here, as do picnic areas and parking. Visitors can find canoe, paddleboat and bike rentals to explore the park in. Sharon Woods is also home to the 44-acre Heritage Village Museum. Historic homes from Southwest Ohio have been preserved here and offer a kid friendly and hands-on way to experience the past. Guests are encouraged to play with the toys and other contents of the homes.
French Park may be the way to go if you are somewhat new to the outdoors thing. At the center of this 275-acre park is the French House. Built in 1805, today this home hosts events ranging from weddings and art events to fundraisers. Mostly though, this is dog lover heaven. Although there is no dog park here, locals throng here with their four legged children. Miles of easy trails offer enjoyable exercise for dogs of all varieties and their two-legged owners. It is not uncommon to find fossils while taking a walk along the trails here. Even if you don’t find an ancient treasure a natural one can be found by merely looking up.
Alms Park is an oasis away from some of the Cincinnati Park System’s more populated locations. If you are looking for a quiet outdoor setting to commune with nature, Alms Park is probably the place. There are no hiking trails or paddle boats. However, there are magnificent views of the Ohio River and the hills of Kentucky. There is also plenty of shade for an afternoon spent relaxing outdoors. Picnic areas with grills and tables are provided if hunger should arise. There is also a playground for children to entertain themselves on. If you are up for a stroll, there is quite a bit to explore. During the American Civil War the land served as a vineyard. Visitors can still see the entrance to the wine cellar. Wide open green hills cover the 93.7-acre park and invite visitors to walk along and take in the wildlife, plant life and even insect life. Monarch butterflies populate the park, which is part of the Cincinnati Park System’s Wildlife Habitat Improvement Area.
Mt. Echo Park takes the cake for best view of the city of Cincinnati. The main attraction of this park is its lookout point. An unequalled view of the city can be seen from its wrought iron framed viewing area. The Ohio River, Great American Ball Park, Paul Brown Stadium, Kentucky and Cincinnati’s skyline can all be seen. Once you peel yourself away form the view you will find many amenities provided by the Cincinnati Park System, including basketball courts, playgrounds, a pavilion, grilling and picnic area, tennis courts and a horseshoe ring. Mt. Echo is a busy and active park. If you plan to view the Labor Day fireworks over the Ohio River from this prime location you should arrive early and bring your own chair!
Mt. Storm Park in Clifton is a romantic get away only a short car ride away. This 57-acre park is home to the Temple of Love. Merely a piece of beauty today, the temple frames beautiful views of the west side of Cincinnati. This park is less manicured than some other parks in Cincinnati ark System. The grass is a little taller, giving visitors a feeling that this park is more of a naturally occurring outdoor oasis. The park offers shade in its open-air pavilion as well as a limited number of picnic and grilling areas. Just like at Alms Park, there are no planned hiking trails, instead the park offers open areas of greenery where park goers can relax and play. Mere words do not do justice to the full natural beauty of this park.
Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park is last on this list of parks, but definitely not least. This park is completely unique from all other parks in the Cincinnati Park System. It opened in 1996 to rave reviews by critics throughout the country and the citizens of Cincinnati have deemed it a success too. Pyramid Hill is a 265-acre sculpture park. 39 modern sculptures dot the landscape like giant dancing fantasies. The purpose of the park is to visually relay the history of sculpture. Although the park is not completed, plans for more sculptural pieces are in the works, the park is amazing. The park transcends it Southern Ohio location, making guests wonder what wonderland museum they have fallen into. Pyramid Hill is designed so that all the sculptures can be seen from the comfort of your car, making this park enjoyable and more user friendly to handicapped and older patrons. I highly recommend making the trek on foot if you are able. Other points of interest at the park are an ampitheater, a 19th century pioneer house, numerous lakes and a mini garden. This park is a must see in a city full of outstanding parks