Queen City Getaway!
While the Bluegrass has so much to offer, sometimes you just have to get away…travel is just plain good for the soul!
However, families on a budget in a challenging economy can’t always consider the exotic and far flung…..so we have found that the short one tank trip / 3-day weekends can do wonders to hit your fun quota and deliver rejuvenation from more than a few rough work weeks….
We are so fortunate to have so many wonderful cities within a short drive….Cincinnati and Louisville are just an hour+ out….expand the drive another 2 hours and Nashville, Columbus and Indianapolis hit your radar….and of course, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are must do!
We try to take at least two or three of these mini vacations a year…..and this past weekend, the Queen City, Cincinnati, was our target……because it was close and affordable, certainly, but mostly because it is so family friendly! We were celebrating our youngest son, Harrison, turning the big 3…and everybody hit the jackpot on this trip, including my parents, who came along for the fun…its not easy keeping a group of people ages 3 to 76 happy, but “The Nati” (as my co-anchor Lauren Gawthorp calls it) always delivers!
We decided home base was going to be the amazing Great Wolf Lodge….this massive indoor water park resort is a kid’s paradise! Ideally located next door to Kings Island just north of Cincy, Great Wolf had us up and active day and night…..it was water park nirvana in the mornings and evenings, and midday was reserved for excursions into Cincy. Perfect!
Our room was styled to feel like a northwest log cabin adventure….the kids even had a private “wolf den” enclosure in our suite with a bunk bed for our 7 and 3 year old boys to rule…. Each room comes with the indoor and outdoor water park passes included, which helps the wallet out considerably!
The indoor water park was an engineering marvel…..wave pool, lazy river, kids areas, and seemingly endless lightening fast water slides…..…..Our boys were waterlogged prunes by the time they got out each night….and boy, did they sleep well! Throw in multiple restaurants, a huge arcade game room and entertainment….Great Wolf is definitely a family pleaser! Check out their site and keep an eye out for specials and discounts. www.greatwolflodge.com We found their customer service and attention to the kids experience to be outstanding….what hospitality!
One of our days was dominated by a visit to the former Union train terminal. This stunning art deco 1930’s era building is a wonder in itself…….let alone the multiple museum attractions inside! Now known as the Cincinnati Museum Center, visitors can explore a world class children’s museum, cincinnati history museum, a natural history museum, OMNIIMAX theatre, special exhibits and more. We spent half a day there and only managed the Childrens and Cincy History museum….just too much to see and do! Got to plan an entire day for this monster! Our train loving kids went nuts over the 1920’s era Cincinnati street car and the huge scale model of downtown Cincinnati from 1900 to the 1940’s. Lyssa and I really enjoyed the “Cincinnati goes to War” exhibit, and the full size recreation of an 1860’s riverfront street complete with “docked” paddlewheel boat was overwhelming! This museum truly rivals anything I’ve seen in DC, NYC, London, etc…..I’m talking world class! Check it out at www.cincymuseum.org
Next on the list was to find penguins. Yes, penguins. We found 'em and a whole lot more at Newport Aquarium. Again, another attraction the quality of which challenges anything I’ve seen anywhere. Millions of gallons of water showcasing thousands of animals and fish…..standouts this round were the Shark encounters, and of course, Mighty Mike….a 14 ft long alligator just hanging out on his own creepy Florida bayou dock…..this guy is a site to behold! As expected, the penguins stole the show and we must have watched their antics and explored their exhibits for at least 90 minutes. This is simply one of the best aquariums in the country. Stunning layouts and visually appealing for the kids while being totally engaging for Mom and Dad, as well. Only an hours drive north! www.newportaquarium.com
Before we knew it, we were heading for home….but Cincinnati has so much more to give….A Reds Game, The Freedom Center, The Cincinnati Zoo, Kings Island, Coney Island…the list goes on and on! There will definitely be a sequel to this road trip…
Till next time, brave weekend warriors!