We had family in town for this beautiful Easter weekend, and thought we’d take them to our fabulous Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens. Of course, I think everyone else in Cincinnati had the same idea (great for the Zoo but not so great for all of us). After sitting in traffic and slowly inching our way to the Cincinnati Zoo’s new parking entrance, we knew that luck was not on our side when we saw the big red….”Lot Full” sign flashing at us. We then had to readjust our strategy as well as appease our girls who were looking forward to visiting the animals.
We ended up heading to Eden Park near Mt. Adams and I have to say it was the best last minute decision. We parked close to Mirror Lake and for the first time, we walked around the lake. People were sunbathing, having picnics, walking their dogs, jogging and flying kites. My girls really loved seeing the large fountain in the center of Mirror Lake but wondered why they couldn’t get in. I’ve been to Eden Park many times but we’ve always parked at the attraction we were visiting so I’ve never actually walked the trails. We decided to walk from Mirror Lake to the Krohn Conservatory and we headed up the paved Hinkel Trail path. It was great being outdoors and seeing other visitors enjoying the park. One group that suddenly came up behind us was a group of tourists on Segways. They offer Segway tours of Eden Park which includes a 90 minute tour and a guide for only $50. How fun is that? I’ve always wanted to try one of those Segways so I may have to return one day sans kids and give it a go.
After, letting the Segways bypass us, we emerged to the most gorgeous setting. The magnolia trees were in full bloom and they were stunning. Plus, the whole park smelled wonderful. If you can get there soon, seeing these trees in all their glory is worth it. It’s called the Hinkel Magnolia Garden located just south of the Krohn Conservatory. After the walk up the hill, my girls decided it was time for a breather in the covered gazebo so we stopped and had a snack and a drink (lucky for me I remembered to bring our snack bag with us).
Following our pit stop, we finally made it to the absolutely amazing Krohn Conservatory. The Krohn had lots of volunteers outside planting flowers, and getting the Krohn ready for their annual Butterfly Show (opens April 17). The Krohn is the perfect place to get some fabulous photos. We were lucky to see all the beautiful spring flowers in full bloom – the Easter lilies were gorgeous. My girls love running walking quickly through the rainforest as well as strolling through the desert and seeing all the cacti (please don’t touch, ouch!). One thing that makes the Krohn so family-friendly is that it is free but after visiting, I know you’ll want to leave a donation at one of the donation boxes at the front entrance. Thank you to the Cincinnati Parks for maintaining such a treasure for all of us.
Normally, after seeing Mirror Lake, taking a small hike and seeing the Krohn, we would have called it a day, but since we had out of town guests we were in the “we need to see as much as we can” mode so we drove up to the Cincinnati Art Museum (another free attraction – parking is $4). I knew the girls were a bit tired so as our guests toured the museum, we visited the onsite Terrace Café (if you are a museum member you can get a 10% discount to the Terrace Café as well as free parking). We got to sit outside and enjoy the Alice Bimel Courtyard. We ordered some iced teas and lemonade and got the girls a decadent chocolate mousse which they devoured in no time flat. I wish we were hungry since their lunch menu looked delicious and I had some major food envy after seeing the other diners’ meals. The courtyard was also the perfect distraction for my girls – I let them take photos and tour the enclosed courtyard while we sat and enjoyed our cool drinks. After our “beverage break”, I took the girls up to see some of the museum. Of course, they were more excited about walking up the steps in the Great Hall then taking in all the art. But, we did get to see Marc Chagall’s, The Red Rooster after just learning that my Mom named my brother after this artist (never knew that little tidbit of family history).
The Cincinnati Art Museum is phenomenal and they really want to get families involved in art. Every first Saturday of the month, they have Family First Saturdays which is a great way to introduce your kids (best for ages 6 to 12) to the art museum. They have scavenger hunts, storytelling, entertainment and art activities and best of all, it’s free. They also have free programs for preschoolers and their families during Wee Wednesdays and they offer many other family- friendly programming throughout the year.
So even though, we missed out on seeing the Cincinnati Zoo, I think our day turned out to be one of the best ways to showcase some of what Cincinnati has to offer. Eden Park has even more to see with additional walking trails, Playhouse in the Park, a refurbished outdoor amphitheater, Twin Lakes, and festivals and events throughout the year.