I’m a nature nut. I’m the kind of guy that wants to roll around in the grass like a dog in spring. Fresh air to me has the same effect as a shot of bourbon does to others. Strolls in the park with someone I’m trying to holla at are better than the whole “long walks on the beach” game that people get to play on the coasts. After all, who needs a beach when you can take in a view of the most beautiful skyline in the country? Certainly not the people of Cincinnati.
Sure, the winds of winter bring a frost that keeps a lot of people from going outside, and that’s true with almost every city that gets cold when the seasons change, but once spring comes and the flowers start to bloom, it seems like everyone and their brother is out and about at one of the local parks. With over 100 parks and greenspaces encompassing 5,000 acres in total, there’s more to explore than even the most avid park-goer can imagine, and the city has invested a lot of time to make sure that these parks stay nice, too.
Having personally hiked every hiking trail within the Cincinnati Park family, I can assure you that there’s more than enough variety to keep you occupied throughout every season of the year. Whether it’s being a kid again by taking the adventure to the tree house in Mt. Airy Forest on the Westside or finding peace in the quiet woods of California Woods Nature Preserve off of Kellogg Avenue, there are literally hundreds of options for those wanting to get a little up close and personal with nature.
But I get that not everyone wants to go hugging trees and listening to the sweet, sweet sounds of singing birds. The good news is that there are a ton of options for those simply looking for the classic park feel without having to rough it through trails. With places like Washington Park and Smale Riverfront Park right in the heart of the area, they’re both prime for anyone looking for a day in the park without having to travel too far, and a lot of work has been done to beautify the parks over the past few years.
The best example of this is, in fact, Washington Park, where it seems like there’s something going on every day of the week. From free yoga to kickball leagues, it’s a place where both young professionals and families alike seem to flock. My personal favorite thing to do at this park is to grab one of the local drafts that they have on tap and enjoy one of their free cinema nights on weekends throughout the summer. Free entertainment and local beer is a combination that I can always get behind. You can keep up with the schedule of events here.
To top it all off, Smale Riverfront Park has definitely become the crown jewel of the parks in the queen city. As the banks project has progressed, I watched one of the biggest eyesores of the city’s waterfront become one of the most beautiful areas in town. One of my favorite things to do these days is just sit on one of the swings down at the park and watch the barges go up and down the river while talking to a few good friends about life in general, and it seems like every time I have old friends come through town they always look at the park with amazement. It’s truly a testament to everything our city has accomplished in regards to growth over the past decade.
The truth is that I could share an individual story from every single park within the district, but that would take forever. Even the photograph from my bio below was taken at one of Cincinnati’s Parks and I’ve had more first dates in these parks than I should probably admit, but that just goes to show you how ingrained they are in my history. I feel safe in saying that these parks are a part of everyone’s history that lives in the city in one way or another, and seeing how they continue their growth and mission to beautify the entire area, I have a feeling that people will be making memories in those same parks for generations to come.
I have a feeling that there will be thousands of first dates and proposals in Ault Park, thousands of walks through Washington Park with friends before hitting the bars in OTR, and thousands of memories made in the various other parks in the area. Because, at the end of the day, these parks are who we are, and we’re only getting better with each passing year.