|Nature will make your kids do this.|
I recently blew my “Mama on a Budget” budget with a family vacation to Portland and Seattle. While there, we had some incredible family experiences (intermingled with a number of typical “are we there yet” family moments). However, one of the most amazing things I did was climb Mt. Rainier as a family. And by climb, I mean walk up the path with baby strapped to dad’s back, climbing equipment not required. However, the views were incredible, even from the low-altitude climb we did. Whilst staring at a snowmelt formed waterfall several thousand feet up, I realized that I too often take for granted the natural beauty with which we are so fortunate in this country, even in our own backyard of the Greater Cincinnati area.
With that in mind, we spent part of our Labor Day weekend hiking the beautiful trails in the Cincinnati Nature Center. The Nature Center (http://www.cincynature.org/), located in Milford about 25-30 minutes from Fort Thomas, boasts 1,025 acres, 16 miles of trails of varying difficulty, 65 acres of old growth forest, and natural play areas for kids of all ages.
We spent time on the turtle and whitetail deer trails, an easy 0.72 mile and 1.22 mile trail. The trails were such an easy level that both kids walked nearly the entire way, across 7 different bridges, along a wooden path through a pond, to a stream overlook, and under dense forest cover. The day we went it was over 90 degrees but in the shady, old growth forest, it felt cool.
After our walk, we headed into the Visitor Center. Unfortunately, the day we went was right after some heavy storms and the power was out so we were unable to spend much time in the visitor center but I could tell it had some neat exhibits on wildlife and vegetation, an aviary overlook, and a gift shop.
Finally, we headed over to the “Natural Playscape” which is an enclosed area for children to experience free-play in a natural setting. They have a creek (ironically man-made and pumped by an electric pump which was also down due to power outage- I guess nature can only do so much) and forest that can be touched, climbed on, manipulated, and played with in a natural way.
In our day’s trip we were able to see only a small portion of what the nature center has to offer but we experienced enough to know we will certainly be heading back. In fact, September 28 and 29 is the 10th annual Great Outdoor Weekend (www.GreatOutdoorWeekend.org). That weekend 50 different parks and outdoor play areas (CNC being one of them) open their proverbial doors to the public, free of charge, across 8 counties in the Greater Cincinnati area. I encourage you and your family to take advantage of this free preview of the beauty in our surrounding area and also to go back and visit, and pay (CNC costs $8 per visit) and support the amazing natural conservation areas.
Share your favorite story about a local park or your favorite local hiking spot in the comments below for a chance to win our free giveaway- a one-day family-pass for the Cincinnati Nature Center. Winner will be picked Friday September 6th.