Best of the City: Kids

→ Kid Lit
Letters Are For Learning By Andrew Neyer
Local designer Andrew Neyer is known for his quirky home goods—see: Yoyo light and Cactus Catchall—so it was just a small pivot toward cuteness that made way for his children’s board book, Letters Are For Learning (blue manatee press, 2015). The concept is simple: Each letter is assigned an animal that does some activity starting with that letter. But look closely for the inside jokes: “J is for Juggling” shows a jellyfish juggling jacks, jewels, jellybeans, jigsaw puzzle pieces, and a Jell-O mold. Those fun-for-parents bits are a relief, ’cause you know you’ll be reading this book a lot. andrewneyer.com

Letters Are For Learning, by Andrew Neyer
Letters Are For Learning, by Andrew Neyer

Photograph by Aaron M. Conway


→ Kids’ Museum Experience
American Sign Museum
Turns out an industrial building full of old neon signs is actually educational: The guided tour at the American Sign Museum manages to incorporate history, design, and science into one highly colorful hour. The venue is set up like a vintage Main Street, encouraging visitors young and old to meander around. Children under 12 get in for free. Camp Washington, americansignmuseum.org


→ Free Family Fun
Air Force Museum
Like the Smithsonian Institution, it’s hard to believe this museum is free to the public. Multiple hangar-sized galleries span the entire history of aviation and space exploration, with extensive documentation of Wilbur and Orville Wright’s flight experiments at nearby Huffman Prairie, a dizzying array of NASA artifacts, full-sized missiles, and Air Force One planes used by eight Commanders in Chief. Dayton, nationalmuseum.af.mil


→ Laid-Back Public Pool
Mt. Adams Pool
It’s not the biggest, it’s not a water park, and there are no concession stands. But it is a bit of a secret. The whole pool is shallow, and there’s a separate wading pool (and a swim lesson program), good for new swimmers. For the parents: It’s not always crowded, so you can chill and cool off in a lovely location for a mere $2 ($1 for kids). Mt. Adams, cincyrec.org


→ Root Beer On Tap
Lehr’s Prime Market
Growler stops aren’t just for grown-ups anymore. Lehr’s Prime Market in Milford answered the unspoken plea of every 8-year-old who was tired of missing out on the brown glass jug phenomenon. Stop into the meat market and order a growler- or a howler-full of Wisconsin-proud Sprecher Brewing’s root beer for $10 or $6, respectively. The creamy, old-fashioned soda is made with honey fresh from the comb, pure vanilla, and other assorted aromatics in a gas-fired kettle. When only the best will do for your little—and discriminating—root beer fan. Milford, lehrsprime.com

Root beer on tap from Lehr's Prime Market
Root beer on tap from Lehr’s Prime Market

Photograph by Aaron M. Conway


→ Bilingual Training Grounds
World Of Spanish
The folks at World of Spanish understand deeply that the secret to getting kids to absorb a second language is to disguise learning time as playtime. Their approach isn’t about rote memorization; instead they bring children to a space where culture and language intersect. (Their Hispanic culture camps are outstanding.) They offer classes around town both before and after school, and provide context—through food, holidays, and music from various regions. worldofspanishllc.com


→ Child Play Area
Bloodline Merchants
What happens when parents of three young boys open a carefully curated antiques shop? Plenty of elegant items and gracious living must-haves, for one. But also a first-floor kiddie lounge. Littles can chill with Legos and games, leaving parents free to shop leisurely, so the only stress is whether to spring for the 19th-century sideboard, the vintage meat safe, or the candy shop scale. Linwood, bloodlinemerchants.com


→ Climbing Wall For Kids
RockQuest
Experienced belayers offer security and gentle encouragement to kids who may gulp at the sight of a vertical climb, but there’s plenty here for the adventurous climber too. For harness-free scrambling, kids love to go up and over the bouldering structure in the center of the gym. Plus, there’s bound to be someone climbing along the ceiling, which makes for good downtime entertainment. To climb higher: RockQuest also offers belaying classes, summer camps, and birthday parties. Sharonville, rockquest.com


→ Rainy Day Play
The Red Balloon Café + Play
If you’ve ever been stranded with a toddler during inclement weather, then you know all about rainy day retreats. Or you should. Red Balloon is a low-stakes hangout where your kid can bum around on a cool, custom play structure and you can enjoy a nice hands-off sit (within reason). The charge is $8 for 2- to 6-year-olds, there’s a $2 discount on each additional child, and anyone under a year old is free. Ten bucks gets your kid unlimited play and a lunch from the totally decent on-site café. Bonus: Red Balloon is also good for those lovely August afternoons when Cincinnati is a burning hellscape. Pleasant Ridge, redballooncafe.com

Red Balloon
Red Balloon

Photograph by Jeremy Kramer


New Parent’s Best Friend
Kidd Coffee
Your sweet babe has (finally!) nodded off in her car seat. You’re about to do the same unless you caffeinate, stat. Roll up to Kidd’s drive-thru window for a Nutella latte or a Red Eye (a shot of espresso in brewed coffee). They serve their iced coffee with frozen cubes of coffee, so your last sip is as flavorful as your first. Kidd stays open until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, so head back in the evening for a globe of pinot or pint of Rivertown and celebrate another day done. Hyde Park, kiddcoffee.com


→ Roller Rink
Western Rollarama
Like most roller rinks, Western Rollarama is nothing to look at from the outside. But walk through the doors and you’ve entered a time capsule of good, clean, all-American fun—rodeo style. The name isn’t just a nod to their west-side location; Western Rollarama makes you feel like you’re on the set of Destry Rides Again. Teenagers tend to hit the rink on Friday nights, so if you’re looking for a family skate, try Saturday instead. Covedale, western-rollarama.com

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