May 2010 issue
Queen City Green
What do farmers markets, butterflies and Shakespeare have in common? You can find them all at Cincinnati’s parks.
You could spend every day this summer exploring a different Cincinnati park and you still wouldn’t be able to visit them all. Between the city of Cincinnati and the Hamilton County parks systems, the Queen City offers more than 150 green spaces, including nature preserves, conservation areas, botanical gardens, an arboretum and a conservatory.
Of course, there’s always a reason to visit your favorite park, but reasons abound for trying out a park that’s new to you. A host of summer events beckon. Whatever outdoor adventure you’re in the mood for — from a peaceful walk in the woods to a fun-filled evening at a free concert — you’ll find it at a Cincinnati park. Read on for a sampling of what’s to come this summer, plus compelling reasons to return.
Suds and Supper
For a taste of more than 20 lagers, ales, porters and stouts from around the world, head to Winton Woods
for a TGIF beer-tasting event on Friday, June 11. Mingle with brewmasters and mix and match your own pack of beer to take home. Registered guests will receive a complimentary pilsner souvenir glass.
Why return? So the kids can splash at Parky’s Ark wet playground, for horseback riding lessons at the riding center, or for bike and boat rentals.
Woodland Mound in Anderson Township will offer three Murder Mystery Dinners
where guests can play whodunit. The full-course dinners come complete with engaging story lines and audience participation. Themes include Magical Mystery Murder, Saturday, June 19; Country Chaos, Saturday, July 17; and Murder at the Music Awards, Saturday, Aug. 21. Seats fill up fast, so purchase tickets in advance.
Why return? For golfing, either the traditional way at the Vineyard golf course, or with your favorite disc at the 18-hole Frisbee golf course.
For the second year, three city parks will feature farmers markets weekly throughout the summer. For fresh seasonal produce from local growers, visit Sayler Park along the Ohio River on Tuesdays, 4–7 p.m. (May–October), Hoffner Park or the North Presbyterian Church in Northside Wednesdays, 4–7:30 p.m. (year-round), and Stanbery Park in Mt. Washington Thursdays, 3–7 p.m. (June–October).
Arts in the Parks
On Sunday, June 6, wander through Glenwood Gardens in Woodlawn where regional artists will display their works at the Trillium Art Fair
. You’ll find a variety of mediums including watercolors, oils, acrylics, glass, wood turning, jewelry and more. Top off the day with lunch at the outdoor art cafe.
Why return? To check out Highfield Discovery Garden, which offers kids a whimsical spot for playing and learning, with a tree house, model train, fairy garden, frog pond and more. (Special admission fee applies.)
Experience an evening of classic literature outdoors with Cincinnati-area performances of Shakespeare in the Park
, running through July and August at various city parks, including showings at downtown’s Lytle Park. Pack some snacks and get ready for drama and comedy as only Shakespeare can deliver it. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Hamlet” are scheduled this summer.
For a full Shakespeare schedule, visit cincyshakes.com/shakespeare-in-the-park.html
For a picnic lunch followed by an afternoon of creek walking and tree climbing, French Park in Amberley Village
is the place to go. Its long, winding and shallow stream is perfect for hopping from rock to rock and examining creek life. Really dedicated explorers might even find a fossil. Two trees with strong branches just a couple feet off the ground invite young kids to test their climbing skills.
Why return? For a quiet hike, with just the birds and wind as company.
A trip to Ault Park
in the Hyde Park/Mt. Lookout area will allow you to almost entirely forget about the noise and bustle of the city surrounding it. Breathe in the trees on a hike that you can make either easy or invigorating; take the kids to a shaded, hilltop playground; or stroll through the beautiful and well-kept gardens where you’ll find a stunning collection of roses.
Why return? For family photos, senior pictures or wedding-day shots at the park’s picturesque pavilion.
Get a new perspective on trekking through the woods with a night hike at Sharon Woods
on Saturday, May 15. A naturalist will guide you through the park, share information about some of the area’s nocturnal animals and lead games that test the senses.
Why return? To fish, go paddle boating or get the kids moving on a rainy day at the Adventure Station indoor play area in Sharon Centre.
The west side’s Mt. Airy Forest
features Ohio’s only wheelchair-accessible public treehouse. The 1,500-square-foot treehouse was built by volunteers, stands 14 feet high and is supported by 12 living trees, making tree climbing available to just about anyone.
Why return? There are nearly 1,500 acres to play and relax in, including gardens, miles of hiking and bridle trails, a scenic lake and a dog park.
The ever-popular Butterfly Show at Krohn Conservatory in Eden Park
returns this year from April 17 through June 20 with Butterflies of Japan. Special butterflies and insects will be brought in from Japan for the first time. You’ll be surrounded by butterflies, some friendly enough to light right on your hand.
Why return? For an evening walk around Mirror Lake, which features a large fountain; duck-watching at Twin Lakes; a Segway tour; or the Big Ole’ Bar-B-Que & Line Dancing event on Saturday, July 3.
For one of the most dramatic overlooks in a Cincinnati park with views of both Ohio and Kentucky, head to Mt. Echo Park
. Tucked back in East Price Hill, this urban hideaway offers a vista stretching all the way from Union Terminal to Mt. Adams and beyond. Its Italianate pavilion dates to 1928.
Why return? To watch the WEBN fireworks at Riverfest on Labor Day weekend.
In Columbia Tusculum, climb up hill after hill and eventually you’ll reach Alms Park
, a peaceful escape with the Ohio River Valley serving as its backdrop. In addition to river views, the park looks out over Lunken Airport, where children and lovers of aircraft delight in watching planes take off and land.
Why return? To try out the concrete slide, a hit with kids of all ages.
Running along the Ohio River for more than a mile, Fernbank Park in Sayler Park
offers plenty of views of Kentucky’s beautiful hills across the river. A paved path and nature trail lets runners and walkers watch the passing riverboats before leading them into the woods.
Why return? For great bird watching with many species nesting on the riverside.
When You Go …
To enter all Hamilton County parks, a valid motor vehicle permit ($5 annually or $2 daily) is required. Both Cincinnati and Hamilton County parks systems have a full calendar of events on their Web sites. Some of the events listed require preregistration and/or an admission fee. Call or go online for details.
Hamilton County Parks