Getaway: Review of Cincinnati Museum Center
Plain and simple, there is something for everyone! We spent the entire day at the Cincinnati Museum Center and we all walked away with our favorites, but it was hard to choose.
The Cincinnati Museum Center was very easy to access from I-71 following the directions from their website and the signs displayed along the roads. We parked in the lot in front for $6 (cash or credit). We entered the old train station building that they have turned into the museum. For us parents, we thought this was just so interesting and well done. The interior is very attractive and clean; so spacious. We decided to let the kids explore the Children’s Museum first and took the elevator downstairs.
My son entered the children’s area and just took off. He dabbled in some of the things right by the entrance but was really amazed when he found the big tree house area in the back. He stood in shock and was wary at first because the kids were all over the tree house climbing and sliding but finally he jumped right in and it wasn’t 30 seconds before he broke a sweat and was up in the net tunnels and zipping down the slides. And, his more timid sister waited and watched him and then soon enough, she was up there too. It had so many levels, 2 slides, stairs, interesting climbers and all around, it was awesome. It was my favorite area because it was so unique and every single kid was having an absolute ball.
After all of the physically activity in the tree house, we explored the rest of the children’s museum level. There is pretty much a mock area for anything you can think up. They cured animals in a vet center, loaded rocks using an excavator and shovels in a construction area, played songs with a variety of musical instruments in an area that explored world cultures and then shopped at a pretend Kroger. We also spent time at a nice train table, which is always good for some fun, and in the netted ball area that was very cool. In the ball area, kids loaded balls onto belts or in bins that they had to use pulleys or bikes to control, among other things. I have been to many children’s museums and I felt like this one had a great variety and we didn’t even do everything! They also had a tot area for kids 4 and under, a special art project running while we were there and an elaborate water play table. It’s also nice that there are bathrooms right there in the middle of the Children’s Museum.
We went back upstairs and chose to go to the Museum of Natural History and Science next. When we entered, we were greeted by a big skeleton that made the kids “oooo and ahhhh”! My kids are 5 and 3, so they quickly went through the exhibits of artifacts that they really didn’t grasp were important. Then, we stumbled upon the cave area. You can choose to go down via stairs or a walkway. With the younger kids and since it was dark, we went down the walkway and it was so funny to hear my kids saying “WOAH” and “This is so cool” since it was dark and their first “cave” experience. After the cave, we went to the hands-on area for kids and walked through, touching and looking at the “old stuff” like cash registers, phones, water pumps and gears until they found the sandbox and shoes came off and digging began. What a nice surprise to find that sandbox!
After the sand play, which was a nice chance for my husband and I to sit down, we headed to the Cincinnati History Museum. Directly on the left when you enter there is a very large exhibit called Cincinnati in Motion and it is very impressive. It is an elaborate model display that depicts the city in different time periods in history. There are trains running constantly throughout and my son found every one! My husband was simply impressed with how big it was and how much detail it had. Then, we browsed more of the history museum and the next spot we really liked was the big steam/paddle river boat and western town. The kids were in shock that there was a “big huge boat” in the museum in “real water”! And, just when we thought all of the “kid” activities were over, we found a plastic river with little boats and blocks for loading to ship down the river. There were activities and exhibits for just about every age in every part of the museum center.
During the day, in between museums, we sat in the atrium to have a snack. You can purchase snacks or you can bring them and eat there. You cannot eat throughout the museums, understandably, but there is plenty of space in the atrium for a snack or lunch and with your tickets, you can exit and re-enter museums to go to the atrium.
We will definitely be back because as my children grow up, they will appreciate the exhibits in different ways. I just love that there was so much to do in one place without having to get back in the car! They also have exhibits that change, continuously evolving programming and movies! It is $6 to park, $12.50 for adults, $11.50 for seniors, $8.50 for kids 3-12 and $4.50 for toddlers 1-2. It will take under 2 hours to get there and you can easily spend the entire day to get your money’s worth.
I have always heard of families traveling up to the Cincinnati area to go to the Newport Aquarium, but not so much about the Museum Center. I absolutely recommend that everyone plan a day trip to explore this place. It is among one of the best out-of-town days I have had with my family!