Spring is here. The weather has finally turned warmer. The sun is out. And, for schoolchildren, this week and next mark Spring Break. That means many Cincinnati seniors are looking for things to do with their grandkids.
Luckily, there are plenty of family-friendly places to visit and wonderful things to see right here in the Queen City. Here are a few grandparent- and grandchild-approved ideas.
1. The Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati
Museums are a typical go-to for family days, and there are lots of kid-friendly museums beyond Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal. Ever been to the Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati? It's one of the Tristate's best-kept secrets.
Opened in an historic turn-of-the-century firehouse in 1980, the Fire Museum has been thrilling kids and adults alike for over 30 years. Dedicated to telling the story of Cincinnati's best and bravest fire and rescue personnel, the Fire Museum features antique firefighting equipment — including an 1884 Ahrens-Fox Steam Pumper — and other artifacts that help children to understand the development of the first professional, paid fire department in the United States (the Cincinnati Fire Department) and of firefighting techniques in general.
It's a simple, fun and educational trip. And, let's be honest: What child isn't dazzled by shiny, red fire trucks?
The Fire Museum is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at 315 West Court St., downtown, 45202. Admission for seniors 65+ and for children 7 – 17 is $6. Children younger than 7 are admitted free with an accompanying adult.
2. Tri-State Warbird Museum
Speaking of local museums full of historic equipment sure to capture a grandchild's imagination, the Tri-State Warbird Museum in Batavia (located next to the Clermont County Airport), is a 22,000-square-foot, working restoration museum dedicated to the preservation of World War II-era military and auxiliary aircraft.
Open since 2004, the museum is run by an all-volunteer foundation that seeks out classic warbirds and restores them.
But these planes aren't restored just to become static ground displays. The distinguishing feature of the Warbird Museum is that it endeavors to restore all its aircraft to flight capability. Several of its planes are already gracing the skies, including its P-51D fighter, Cincinnati Miss, and its B-25 Mitchell bomber (the same type that was used in the famous "Doolittle Raid" against Japan in early 1942).
When you arrive, one of the museum’s volunteers (many of whom are veterans) will show you and your grandchildren an engaging video about the museum’s history, its planes and the men (and, in some cases, women) who flew them. Then, the volunteer will lead you on a tour of the hangar, including stops at the restored planes (kids can even climb up into the B-25), at some of the planes currently undergoing restoration and the organization's parts fabrication room.
The Warbird Museum is just 20 minutes from downtown on State Route 32, at 4021 Borman Drive, Batavia, 45103. It's open two days a week: Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m., or Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Admission for students and veterans is $7 (although World War II veterans and all veterans in uniform are admitted free). Regular adult admission is just $12. All proceeds go toward operation of the museum and aircraft restoration efforts.
3. The Loveland Castle (Chateau LaRoche)
What granddaughter has imagined herself living as a princess or queen in a romantic castle of old? What grandson hasn't imagined himself a knight in shining armor, or a jouster charging forth on his trusty steed? What if we told you there was an actual castle in the Cincinnati area, and that it was open to the public?
It's true! Out in suburban Loveland, along the scenic Little Miami River, stands Chateau LaRoche (also known as "The Loveland Castle," where you and your grandkids can live out fantasies of the chivalrous days of yore.
Built by a somewhat eccentric, genius World War I veteran named Harry Andrews between the 1920s and 1970s, Chateau LaRoche is a fully functioning replica of European-style fortresses. Assisted in its construction by members of a local Boy Scout troop (they used milk cartons as brick molds and clay mud from the river as substrate, in addition to slabs of local limestone, in its building) Andrews lived there until his death in 1981.
Today, the Castle is maintained by a volunteer group called the "Knights of the Golden Trail." It's open for tours Saturdays and Sundays in March from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and, beginning in April and lasting throughout the summer, Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for visitors 13 and older and $3 for kids 12 and under.
And, after touring a real castle, you could swing by downtown Loveland for medieval-inspired roller skating fun at Castle Skateland!
There are plenty of activities for seniors and their grandkids in Cincinnati. These inexpensive ideas will get you off the beaten path to see things that many people miss — and that will help you to make lasting memories with your grandchildren this Spring Break.
In addition to visiting these lesser-known local attractions, don't forget to do your own exploring. Use the internet to seek out other opportunities and activities to plan. You'll enjoy spending time with the kids, and they'll love seeing you. Get out and about this spring!