Kid Stuff

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Drake Planetarium

Photograph by Anna Knott and Nathan Kirkman

Intro to Astronomy: Drake Planetarium
Sure, plopping a $15 telescope in the backyard can scratch your child’s astronomy itch for a few days. But for a real introduction to infinity and beyond, head to the Drake Planetarium on the top floor of Norwood High School. Open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays as well as for field trips, the 70-seat planetarium offers four different astronomy programs sure to engage cosmic-crazy kids of any age. Explore everything from the constellations visible in your own backyard to the very edge of our solar system. Far out, dude. 2020 Sherman Ave, Norwood, (513) 396-5578

Video Game Arcade: The Place
With The Fixx and other ’80s pop on the stereo and classic video games on the floor, this family run arcade tucked along Galbraith Road is as much fun for you as it is for your kids. Asteroids (no joystick!), Ms. Pacman (grab those cherries!), and Donkey Kong (jump the barrels!) sit alongside other games you fed your allowance to back in the day. Bonus: They have Wii and Playstation. High score: On Friday nights, $20 lets your whole family play until closing. 4069 E. Galbraith Rd., Deer Park, (513) 745-0803, theplaceretroarcade.weebly.com

Kid Race: The 26th Mile of the Flying Pig Marathon
All of the fun but a whole heckuva lot less pressure—that’s the Kids’ Marathon portion of the annual Flying Pig. Junior will still run all 26 miles, but the first 25 are completed in increments, several months ahead of time; there’s even an online “hog log” to help kids document their mileage. Come race day, they’ll complete the 26th mile, untimed, at the event itself and get to cross the actual Flying Pig finish line—just like Mom and Dad! We think we’ll sign up for this race next year instead.…flyingpigmarathon.com

Rainy Day Toddler Play: OZO Play Café
Parents of toddlers have all faced it: the rainy day. No matter how safety-proofed your house, you and your kid/s just want to get out. That’s what OZO Play Café is for. The indoor play-and-learning space is designed specifically for the 6 and under crowd. It’s a safe and comfortable place where kids can try out new toys, while the caregiver basks in the freedom from mess and fear of breakage. Relax and enjoy it—OZO turns a rainy day into a vacation. 10004 Montgomery Rd., Montgomery, (513) 834-9459, ozoplaycafe.com

Live Animal Interaction: Cincinnati Zoo’s Penguin Parade
Mr. Popper isn’t the only one with parading penguins: In January and February, the zoo’s King brood takes to the streets twice daily, and you’re invited to waddle along on the route between the children’s zoo and the birdhouse. Stick around following the afternoon stroll to watch them forward flop back into their tank. Plus, zoo admission is half-price these months, and there’s no extra fee to join, watch, or incessantly photograph the parade. 3400 Vine St., Avondale, (513) 281-4700, cincinnatizoo.org

Kid Shop: Arietty
Owner Etsuko Adachi has stocked a little bit of everything—toys, books, games, stuffed animals, party tchotchkes. But the real treasures are handcrafted—kid’s skirts and smocks made from vintage fabric by local makers HaloMiner; embellished tees and screen-printed onesies; and lovely lunch bags and totes created by Adachi herself. The merchandise is in the Japanese tradition of zakka crafts—small, stylish, slightly kitschy treasures. Which means you should check out the handmade Advent calendars. 323 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, (513) 751-1500

Treehouses That Don’t Stress Trees: The Canopy Crew
Django Kroner builds treehouses in Red River Gorge—and now in a backyard near you. Here’s the story, in his own words: ON THE ORIGIN: I moved to the Gorge at 19 to pursue rock climbing and build cabins for a company called Red River Gorgeous. I wanted to live in a treehouse, so I built one and lived in it for three years before moving back to Cincinnati to get an education in tree health. ON DESIGN: Trees are the only limitations. If it’s a single trunk, you can be pretty creative. If you’re fitting the treehouse into a tree’s canopy, there are a lot of branches to work around—but that’s the fun part. The best way to provide for a larger group is multiple treehouses connected by bridges. I put as little stress on the tree as possible, allowing room for growth and not affecting the nutrient flow. ON COST: It’s comparable to normal construction, but you have to factor in height, access to electricity, and vehicle access. I built one that was 45 feet up in the air. The construction part was easy—but getting a 200-pound beam that high up, that’s the hard part. ON THE FUTURE: I have a sense there’s about to be a treehouse explosion. I’m designing two that should be built in Cincinnati this winter, and then we’ll be doing more building on a treehouse village in the Gorge once I get the funding together. ON MOTIVATION: The canopy is the destination; the treehouse is the vehicle. It’s about being up in a tree and having that unique perspective of the forest. There’s a whole world up there that no one experiences when they’re on the ground. (513) 284-3338, thecanopycrew.com

Unexpected Kid Thrill: Viewing Windows
Stave off your mini’s meltdowns by including these distraction-worthy spots in your errand itinerary:

AAA Auto Wash
The only thing more fun than riding in a car during a car wash is a front row seat from AAA’s viewing window. 5215 Madison Rd., Oakley, (513) 271-1145, rainbowcw.com

Holtman’s Donuts
As if donuts weren’t enough of a good time, you actually get to see the magic happen. Try not to lick the glass. 1332 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 381-0903, holtmansdonutshop.com

Dewey’s Pizza
Waiting for a table? Sidle up to the kitchen window and watch the line cooks twirling pizza dough like they do in the movies. deweyspizza.com

Working Train Station: Lebanon, Mason & Monroe Railroad
Imagine your tiny Thomas fan all lit up when he or she gets a glimpse of a life-sized Thomas train. The Lebanon, Mason & Monroe Railroad, located in historic downtown Lebanon, offers scenic train rides in Warren County throughout the temperate months. Special seasonal events include an Easter Bunny Express, the Civil War Train, the North Pole Express, and the outrageously popular Day Out with Thomas. Even Sir Topham Hatt puts in an appearance. 127 S. Mechanic St., Lebanon, (513) 933-8022

Kid Resale Shop: Once Upon a Child
Sometime into your first kid’s first year, you get over the need to buy everything new. Once Upon A Child (the one that’s hidden in a strip mall off of Beechmont Avenue) has wrangled a small army’s worth of gently used onesies into neatly organized double-hang rows. Look around and you’ll find everything from newborn sleepwear to pre-teen tees, along with gear like swings, bathtubs, and dollhouses. Our favorite items? Kiddie parkas. Because paying $50 for something they’ll wear for three months is not even funny. 8550 Beechmont Ave., Cherry Grove, (513) 474-5105, onceuponachild.com

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