The Nature PlayScape at Cincinnati Nature Center Lets Kids Be Kids

Embrace the mess—and the mud—at Cincinnati Nature Center this spring.

Photograph by Sarah McCosham

There’s a popular poem by E.E. Cummings wherein he celebrates spring as being “mud-luscious” and “puddle-wonderful.” Spring in Cincinnati is indeed both of those things, with an emphasis on the mud—especially if you’re a parent. However, I’ve learned to embrace the mess and let my kids just be kids, because reveling in the splendor of the seasons (mud and all) is one of life’s greatest pleasures. And at the Cincinnati Nature Center’s Nature PlayScape, this is exactly what you’ll get to do.

Imagine a large labyrinth of trails, flower gardens, gentle creeks, and kid-sized bridges, rocks, and logs. Everything is connected and contained, and your kids have free rein to touch, feel, and make a mess. That’s the Nature PlayScape at Cincinnati Nature Center, a delightful place that feels like a real-life fairy tale.

Photograph by Sarah McCosham

The creek is shallow yet stomp-able. There are rocks and boulders perfect for climbing and manipulating; wildflowers and lush foliage alive with sounds and sights of spring; and inviting little bridges and tunnels for hiding (and seeking). There’s a forest enclave that’s flat and full of logs, branches, and sticks, making for a larger-than-life game of Lincoln Logs.

Photograph by Sarah McCosham

But perhaps the most delightful feature here is the Mud Zone. This area is exactly what it sounds like: a space for messy, muddy play! There are dishes and utensils for mud-pie mixing. There’s a giant hose for making mud. There are stumps for sitting on while kids scoop out wet, muddy milkshakes. No kid can resist this area. So lean into the mud! Bring a change of clothes for everyone (especially dry socks), and if you really want to embrace it, visit on an already rainy day.

Photograph by Sarah McCosham

There’s so much beauty this time of year—messiness and all. But that’s life, and it really is just puddle-wonderful.

Cincinnati Nature Center, 4949 Tealtown Rd., Milford, (513) 821-1711

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