Admittedly, it has been a while since I had a toddler in the house. As friends and I were discussing area attractions for the younger set, though, it was nice to know that some old Warren County faves are still big hits with the 3 foot and under set. There were also a lot of, “gee, I wish that had been around when my son was younger…” moments. So, based on personal experience, observation, and feedback from friends, here – in no particular order – are what I consider to be Ohio’s Largest Playground’s Top 5 for Toddlers:
This was a personal fave for my family when my son was younger. As train fans, we rode just on normal weekends for something different to do. Then when they introduced their fall pumpkin and Santa rides, we just had to do those as well. And when Thomas the Tank and Clifford the Big Red Train pulled into the Lebanon, Ohio station, we were there ready and waiting. The seasonal rides – Easter Bunny Express, Pumpkin Patch Express and North Pole Express – are still popular attractions and offer a nice old-fashioned way to enjoy the holidays. The character trains can change from year to year. Recent specialty trips have featured Curious George, Clifford the Big Red Dog and, of course, Thomas the Tank Engine. A nice bonus is the fact that the train rides both start and end in Historic Downtown Lebanon, Ohio.
Sure, there are a few well-known amusement/theme parks in Florida, but it’s Kings Island in Mason, Ohio that is home to the kids area voted best in the U.S. Planet Snoopy features an array of PEANUTS-themed rides, attractions, and shows along with meet-and-greet opportunities with Snoopy, Woodstock, Charlie Brown, and the rest of the gang. For several years now, admission to Kings Island has also included entry to the adjacent Soak City Waterpark (no need to move the car, as a train takes you back and forth from each park – that’s right, a train!). Soak City has some awesome areas just for the little ones, and I always loved knowing my son had his own little place to play without worrying about the older kids.
Little Miami Scenic River
We have always enjoyed the peace and tranquility that a day of canoeing brings. Once we started taking our son along, we started noticing the wildlife more. He was fascinated by seeing the rows of turtles sunning on logs in the water. On one trip, a beautiful Heron was flying just in front of our canoe. He seemed to land and wait for us to catch up before taking flight again. It was as if we had our own tour guide leading us down the river. There are several canoe liveries along the river which, by the way, is one of just 156 American rivers designated by the U.S. Congress or Secretary of the Interior as a National Wild and Scenic River. Each offers a different assortment of canoes, kayaks, and rafts and all have various sizes of life jackets to keep everyone safe.
I will let you in on a little secret – once upon a time, Bonnybrook Farms wasn’t located in Warren County. In fact, it was literally across the street from my home in adjacent Montgomery County. To say I am a bit familiar with them would be an understatement! Several years ago, the move was made to Clarksville, Ohio on the southeastern edge of Warren County – a move that also paved the way for more activities and features. Seasonal activities include their very popular Chuck Wagon Dinner Rides in the summer, and Fall Farm Days and Lantern Light Wagon Ride & Corn Maze in the autumn. A trip to Bonnybrook Farms is a great break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, especially for city dwellers. Farm animals, Clodhopper Golf, Giant Slingshots, an 80’ underground slide, a fishing pond, and wagon rides are just a few of the farm’s family-friendly attractions. The list truly goes on and on!
Great Wolf Lodge
So this is one of those places that I wish was around when my son was younger. Simply put, Great Wolf Lodge is amazing! I am a Disney fanatic and tend – much to the chagrin of my family and friends – to compare everything to the Disney standard. The first time I walked into the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio I said, “wow, this is Disney quality”. That statement was made based on the incredible themes, cleanliness, and attention to detail I observed, as well as the wide variety of family-friendly activities. Most people, I think, are familiar with the waterpark aspect of the Lodge, but I was surprised by the incredible room decor, arcade, MagiQuest, bowling, mini golf, and special lobby activities as well. Did I mention there is a spa just for kids? The lodge is truly a getaway in and of itself, but should you want/need more, Kings Island is right next door. Other inclement weather alternatives in Warren County include nearby LazerKraze and Jump Stop Safari.