Friday, September 27, 2019

365: Tourism Day

September 27 is Tourism Day. For years, I have said that I wanted to spend a day being a tourist in Cincinnati. I kept putting it off and putting it off. I am so glad this holiday gave us an excuse to fall in love with Cincinnati all over again. In honor of this holiday, I present to you, 5 budget friendly, toddler friendly activities in Cincinnati.

The prices are based on 2 adults and 1 child under 2.

Street parking near the Freedom Center: $6

Stop One: Carol Ann’s Carousel ($4)

Beautiful and Cincinnati themed, Carol Ann’s carousel paints a beautiful picture of some of the most notable spots in the Queen City while allowing you to ride on quirky carousel animals. We put Jude on the flying pig to make it authentically Cincinnati, but there were beetles, gorillas, and a Cincinnati Reds horse that were top contenders.

Stop Two: Sing Queen City Sign (free) 

The Sing Queen City sign has been up since 2015. It is a line of a city-wide collective poem named, “Seven Hills and a Queen to Name Them”. The line is part of the last stanza which reads, “Sing the Queen City/Say home/Coast the long cut/Cross that Bridge”. The sign can be seen as you’re entering Cincinnati from the Roebling Bridge. 
Jude and I took some time to pose by it. Its bright color is visually pleasing to the younger crowd and the sculpture is easily climbed on (just keep a watchful eye because it’s base is concrete). Behind it is the SkyStar Ferris Wheel, which makes for a beautiful photo op. 

Stop Three: Roebling Bridge (free)

We stopped and took some pictures at the Roebling Bridge. The Roebling Bridge was the predecessor of the Brooklyn Bridge, and it’s an icon in Cincinnati. Occasionally, they will close it down for photographs, but since it was very much open when we were there, we opted to just take a photo. 

Stop Four: Cincinnati Bell Connector ($4/all day pass)

The Cincinnati Bell Connector is a streetcar that does a 3.6 mile loop around downtown. It hits spots like The Banks, Findlay Market, Washington Park, and the Contemporary Arts Center. It costs $2 for an adult for an all day unlimited rides pass. Jude is under 35", so he was free. The cars are air-conditioned and have free wifi.

Jude enjoyed waving to people getting on and off. We also got to see a lot of beautiful murals and buildings from the comfort of the car. Best of all, we were able to use it multiple times and it cut down on the walking from location to location. Before the streetcar, I never would have gone to The Banks and Findlay Market on the same day. 

Stop Five: Findlay Market ($6)

Findlay Market is the oldest continuously operated market in the state of Ohio. It is a colorful, partially enclosed, partially open air market with over 40 indoor vendors alone. Findlay Market has been open since 1855.
It was fun to walk around and check out the different vendors. This part of our budget friendly adventure can be as budget friendly or not as you would like it to be. We had already eaten lunch at home, so we just picked up snacks. Jude and I each had a pickle. Hanna chose Dojo Gelato, one scoop of sea salt caramel and one scoop dutch chocolate. While we were snacking, we just walked around and took in the hustle and bustle of the market. People watching is such a fun activity for the under 2 crowd, and Findlay Market is the perfect place to do that.

Stop Six: Washington Park (free)

Our last stop of the day was Washington Park. Washington Park is a free park in the middle of the city. Events are regularly hosted there, and they have stands that sell local beer and other refreshments daily. The play area is fenced in and mostly shaded. There is a little stream that you can play in, so bring a change of clothes if your little one is going to play in it.
Jude spent his time climbing the big hill in front of the castle and swinging. We did walk around the whole area and played some music and looked at the sand area as well.
Before we left, we took some pictures in front of Music Hall. Music Hall is one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in the city, and Hanna and I enjoyed pointing out the parts of the building to Jude.

We hopped back on the streetcar and it brought us right back to The Banks where we started. It cost us a total of $20 for about 3 hours of exploring. We easily could have spent another 5 hours exploring some of the places on the streetcar route. I'll include a short list of places you can add to your trip below.

1. Smale Park (The Banks) - free
2. Great American Ballpark - prices vary, times vary
3. Contemporary Arts Center - free
4. Hamilton County Library Main Branch - free (their MakerSpace is worth checking out!)
5. Fountain Square - free

If you are not local to Cincinnati, I suggest taking a day to explore the city closest to you. It's easy to not appreciate the beautiful of the city you see everyday, and becoming a tourist for a day will help you reconnect with your city! 

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