Kids love to rifle through bowls of colorful glass to create their fused art pieces at Brazee Street School of Glass. Parents love to have a craft memento that isn’t destined for the bottom of the recycling bag. Brazee offers dozens of classes for kids at its open, airy Oakley studio. Two perennial favorites let kids create their own robot or self-portrait in glass. “The portrait class is great because it’s open for the kids to explore,” says kids’ program director Emily Repp. Oakley, brazeestreetstudios.com
Just when all baby showers seemed catastrophically clichéd, enter the urban-loft oasis punctuated by shabby chic accents and artisan knick-knacks that is Redtree Art Gallery and Coffee Shop. The spacious seating and milling room accommodates up to 75 guests, yet feels comfortable with 20. Rotating art exhibitions provide ample conversation pieces, and they have crave-worthy catering options, but feel free to bring your own bites, too. Plus, your own personal barista whips up made-to-order café creations. A decaf pumpkin-peppermint-coconut latte for the mommy-to-be? Coming right up. Oakley, redtreegallery.net
Thoma & Sutton’s optical shop in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s E building offers patients a terrific selection of stylish frames that can really take a licking. Colorful rubber glasses for infants would be all the rage at DAAP if offered in adult sizes; and lines like Eye Funk and LaFont are trendy enough to satisfy little fashionistas (and their parents!). Optician Alan Alfieri can also fit kids with special needs. One line he carries, Erin’s World, offers frames designed for children with Down syndrome. Plus Alfieri makes prescription swim goggles and Rec Specs sports glasses. “They’re designed to take a hit,” he says. “It’s still going to hurt, but your glasses won’t break.” Clifton, (513) 636-4693
Merrell? Check. Geox? Yes. Sperry? Of course. The children’s shoe department at Nordstrom carries well known brands you’ve trusted for years, as well as fun twists on new classics like fuchsia Uggs, glittery Tom’s for toddlers, Yo Gabba Gabba Vans, and sneakers by Japanese label Tsukihoshi. Add to all this a rainbow of Crocs, rain jackets and boots, a coloring station, a fish tank, and a balloon with purchase and you have the place where shoe divas are born. Kenwood, (513) 699-4190
Once Upon a Child stores are bright and orderly with clothing arranged by size and gender so you can pick, rather than dig. Gear like bouncy seats, Pack ’n Plays, and play equipment is always clean and sturdy. Since the price-to-use ratio for most baby things is way out of whack, OUAC is a great place to recycle gently used shower loot. Junior hates the turbo-charged swing from Aunt Shirley? Swap it for cash and pick out a Jumperoo instead. onceuponachildcincydayton.com
Look—do you see it? There’s a minuscule Coke glass on the wee counter in the mini ticket booth of the 1/12-scale Russell Theater. Tiny treasures are everywhere at the Kathleen Savage Browning Miniature Collection in the Kentucky Gateway Museum. Any girl (or boy, or grownup) who’s fascinated with exquisite little slices of life will be smitten by the displays: elaborate mansions, historic vignettes, and fairy tale settings crafted by some of the world’s foremost miniaturists. Carve out an afternoon to visit the 3,200-square-foot exhibit hall. And look—look close. Maysville, Kentucky, kentuckygatewaymuseumcenter.org
Head to the Cincinnati Art Museum on the first Saturday of the month, when they have an all-ages program featuring performances, hands-on art activities, scavenger hunts, museum tours, and more. No reservations needed and best of all, it’s free. Who knows—they might start talking more about Joan Miró and less about Justin Bieber. Mt. Adams, cincinnatiartmuseum.org
Not since the days of Lewis and Clark has traversing a babbling brook by foot been so entertaining. Little expeditioners-in-training get their feet wet—literally—in the lost art of water wandering as Hamilton County Park District naturalists lead your pack to the banks of Sharon Creek, where the anticipation of fossilized treasures and squirmy creatures lurks under every rock. Nets are provided, but it’s BYOA (bring your own adventurousness). Sharonville, (513) 521-7275
From tricycles to coasters to BMX and trail bikes, you’ll find the perfect fit for your little pedalers at one of Montgomery Cyclery’s six locations. They’ve got a big selection of great brands—Giant, Specialized, Haro, Cannondale, and more—in sizes starting at 12 inches. Plus, they can hook you up with helmets, baskets, and all the bells and whistles (well, horns) you’re looking for. Assembly is free, an added bonus for those who want to get rolling. montgomerycyclery.com
Fat Suit? Check. Strawberry costume? Check. Pink Lady jacket, Elvis jumpsuit, Civil War uniform, and eagle mascot head? Check, check, check, and check! You know a costume store is great when clients are lined up five deep on a random Saturday in early September. Thespians and costume partiers in-the-know always find what they need in the Costume Castle’s 10,000-piece inventory (and that number doesn’t even include accessories like wigs, hats, and masks). Loveland, costumecastle.com
Playground: Twin Lakes playground at Eden Park
Newly opened in the spring, Twin Lakes playground at Eden Park features equipment that echoes the look of native trees and logs. Situated high above the Ohio River, near Krohn Conservatory, the views offer something for grown-ups as well. cincyparks.com
Bouldering: RockQuest Climbing Center
Kids build strength and confidenceat RockQuest Climbing Center as they scramble up and over the 12-foot free climb boulder. They can take the internal stairs back down and go again and again. rockquest.com
Eurobungy Dome: Coney Island
Safely harnessed, kids can jump more than two stories high on these super trampolines at Coney Island. coneyislandpark.com
Carousel: Cincinnati Zoo
The animals on the Cincinnati Zoo’s beloved carousel never hibernate. And it’s open 11–3 weekdays and 10–5 weekends, weather permitting. cincinnatizoo.org
Indoor Forest: Duke Energy Children’s Museum
Climb through a trunk and traverse the treetops on rope bridges, before sliding back down to the forest floor at the Duke Energy Children’s Museum. Repeat. (513) 287-7000
Please note that the information listed in this section was accurate at the time the issue went to print in 2011 and that addresses, menu items, company status, etc., may have changed. Please contact the companies to confirm details.
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