Visiting Cincinnati with a Toddler
Cincinnati, OH (and Newport, KY) has lots of interesting and fun activities and experiences for you and your toddler! You can fill your trip with toddler-friendly activities, and still find ways to relax and take it slow.
Last month, my husband and I took a couple of days to have a short getaway with Camden. We didn’t want to drive too far with him, and Cincinnati is only about 4 hours away from us. Plus, they have a great aquarium, and both my husband and son are obsessed with marine life, so it seemed perfect.
The nice thing about traveling with a toddler is that they’re pretty content to do small activities. You don’t have to have too many big (read: expensive) things planned to keep them entertained and happy.
Where We Stayed in Cincinnati/Newport
We stayed at the Aloft Hotel at Newport on the Levee. The reason we chose to stay here was threefold: it was within walking distance of the aquarium, it had a pool, and it was priced reasonably.
Staying on the Newport on the Levee property was a great choice. When we got there the first day, we were able to put Camden in the stroller and go walk across the Purple People Bridge that crosses from Kentucky into Ohio. Camden loved walking across and looking out at the water. I loved the easy access to getting fresh air.
We were only a few minutes walk from the aquarium, which was awesome. When we got there on the second day, Camden got really tired after only 30 minutes, so we were able to take him back to the hotel for a nap, and then go back to the aquarium afterward.
There’s a ton of restaurants right there as well, a movie theater, a GameWorks arcade and a bowling alley.
Where We Ate in Cincinnati/Newport
We ate at three different restaurants.
We had lunch at Tom and Chee’s, a gourmet grilled cheese shop. The last time I was here was 6 or 7 years ago. And, although the setup and menu had changed quite a bit, it was just as delicious as I remembered! Andrew, Camden and I shared the Crunchy Garlic Chicken Grilled Cheese, the Flying Pig Grilled Cheese, and – of course – a Grilled Cheese Doughnut for dessert! I’m going to have to make some copycat recipes at home soon, because the sandwiches were so good and we don’t have one near us.
The restaurant was kid friendly (it’s grilled cheese, so duh!), and they had lots of high chairs for toddlers and babies too.
Dinner one night was at Brother’s Bar and Grill. We actually have one of these close to where we live, but we’d probably never choose to go there at home. So we decided to try it out. Here’s my opinion: If you’re into the bar part of the place, it’s probably your kind of place. But the food was meh. The kids’ menu only came with french fries as a side choice (no fruit/applesauce/cottage cheese option), and since I didn’t think Camden needed a less-than-healthy entree (like mac and cheese or mini corn dogs) and a terrible side choice (where are the healthy options??), he just shared my black bean burger with me. Also, the restrooms were disgusting. I don’t like to feel like I’m bashing a restaurant, but Camden desperately needed a diaper change, and after I checked out the restrooms, we actually packed our food up and walked next door to Barnes and Noble to use their changing table – the restrooms at Brothers’ were so gross, I wasn’t about to change my baby there.
The restaurant wasn’t awful; it just wasn’t anything special.
And on the last night, we had the German restaurant, Hofbrauhaus Newport, deliver food to our hotel so we could swim and just eat dinner in our room. That way Camden was free to play instead of being stuck in a high chair for the entire dinner experience. It was a genius idea; I recommend at least once on your weekend trips just eating at the hotel if you have a toddler!
We ordered: pretzels and bier cheese, the bratwurst platter, cold German potato salad, and spaetzle noodles. Every bit of it tasted amazing and there was so much food! We had leftovers to eat the next day for lunch as well.
What We Did in Cincinnati/Newport
The Purple People Bridge
We wandered across the Purple People Bridge a few times. This bridge is the country’s longest pedestrian bridge and it goes from Cincinnati, Ohio into Newport, Kentucky. There’s great views on the bridge, bright plants, benches and lots of people and dogs to watch. Camden loved walking on the bridge and riding in the stroller and just looking around.
The Newport Aquarium was our main reason for going to Cincinnati. Andrew and Camden both love fish and aquatic life, and this aquarium has been named one of the best aquariums in the U.S.! I’m not going to say a whole lot about the aquarium here, because I’m working on another post that is just about our aquarium experience. I will say this: it is absolutely worth going to, and your admission is good to come and go all day. So if your toddler needs a nap, you can walk back to your hotel and come finish your aquarium visit later.
On the last day, we drove about ten minutes to the Behringer-Crawford Museum. This was a last minute decision; originally we had planned to go to the zoo or Children’s Museum. But it was raining, so the zoo was out, and we just didn’t feel like paying the expense of the Children’s Museum. I’m so glad we chose the Behringer-Crawford Museum instead! It was so fun! The museum is set up on a high hill and it features Kentucky area history.
There’s a cable car the kids can climb up and look in, there’s a huge model train set that you can see inside (there’s 4 trains that run on it), or you can walk outside and see it running through part of the track out there as well. On the top floor, there’s a kindergarten school set up, with all kinds of things for the kids to play with. Camden had a great time with the musical instruments and a giant bear. On the next floor, there’s also a boat where the kids can fish or play inside of it. The second level has a convertible that you can sit in and pretend to be at a drive-in, a train table and more!
There’s also lots of history for the adults to enjoy. We enjoyed it, and Camden had a great time. I’d definitely take Camden back there to play and hang out again!
The Pool at the Hotel
The hotel had a nice (albeit chilly) indoor pool, so we took Camden swimming two different times. When you have a toddler, I can’t recommend a hotel with a pool enough. It’s a free activity that is bound to wear your toddler out, and you can come and go as you please since you’re at the hotel.
What We Didn’t Do (But Wish We Would Have Had Time to!)
The Cincinnati Children’s Museum – I know Camden would have had a blast here!
GameWorks – this is an arcade right at the Newport on the Levee, but Camden is a little too young for games like this. In a year or two, though, they have games he’d love to play!
The Cincinnati Zoo – we were supposed to go, but it was raining. I know we would all have enjoyed it, though!
Parky’s Farm – Next time we go to Cincinnati, this is our first stop! This is a park in Cincinnati that has over 100 acres with playgrounds, a garden, an orchard and a petting zoo!
Have you visited Cincinnati or Newport? What other activities would you recommend for a family with a toddler? Any other amazing places to eat? Let me know!