Once you've seen all that the Bluegrass has to offer — horses, history, bourbon and unrivaled scenery — you might want to opt for a trip up Interstate 75 to the Queen City.
Cincinnati offers a rare combination to families looking for just the right vacation spot: a city with attractions that appeal to both adults and children. For starters, there's the Cincinnati Zoo (3400 Vine Street, 1-800-944-4776, hours vary seasonally, $7.95-$12.95), ranked by Zagat as one of the top U.S. zoos. On beautifully landscaped grounds, some 500 animals roam, including the famous white Bengal tigers and Sabu, a 10-foot-tall, 10,000-pound Asian elephant. It also has a botanical garden with more than 3,000 plant species.
Few plants are more beautiful than those at Eden Park's Krohn Conservatory (1501 Eden Park Drive, (513) 421-5707; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, free). A 20-foot waterfall is the centerpiece of the exotic collection of 3,500 plant species showcased in separate exhibits such as palms, orchids, desert and tropical.
While you are in Eden Park, plan a visit to the Cincinnati Art Museum (953 Eden Park Drive, (513) 639-2984; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue., Thu.-Sun., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Wed.; free). Parenting Magazine ranked it "the top art museum for families" — which means that while Mom and Dad are admiring the European Old Masters (heavy on Van Dyck, Rubens and Titian), the kids can get hands-on experience with the museum's visual arts and architecture programs.
While you're in museum mode, check out the Cincinnati Museum Center (1301 Western Ave., (513) 287-7000; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun.; $5.25-$7.25). Five museums — the Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children's Museum, Museum of Natural History and Science, Omnimax Theater and the Cincinnati Historical Society Library — are all under the Art Deco roof of the historic Union Terminal Train Station.
By now, if your kids are overdosed on culture and looking for some good rambunctious fun, don't worry. The Cincinnati area has plenty of attractions to make even the most blasé kid jump for joy. Some 20 miles north of the city is the amusement park Kings Island (6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason, Ohio; (513) 754-5700; hours are seasonal; $49.99 with discounts for children and seniors). Situated on 364 landscaped acres, this award-winning park was voted most popular seasonal theme park in the nation last year. No wonder, with its myriad attractions. There's Boomerang Bay, an Australian-themed water park, live entertainment, shops and restaurants, and a 10,000-seat outdoor amphitheater.
At heart, however, Kings Island is an amusement park and it doesn't disappoint, offering 40 thrilling rides. There's Flight of Fear, Invertigo, the old-fashioned Racer and the Beast, the longest wooden coaster in the world (7,400 feet). Scheduled to open in April 2009 is Diamondback, a 230-foot-tall, 80 mph steel coaster.
Looking for something a bit less adrenaline-boosting? Check out one of the area's newest attractions: the Duck Boats Newport (1 Aquarium Way, Newport, Ky.; (859) 815-1439; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. daily (seasonal); $10-$13). These amphibious vehicles, modeled after those used in World War II, take visitors on exciting land/water adventures on both banks of the Ohio River. The Ducks travel the river and the city streets of Cincinnati and Newport, taking in such sites as the Great American Ball Park (home of the Cincinnati Reds, baseball's first professional franchise), Paul Brown Stadium (home of the Cincinnati Bengals,) the World Peace Bell, Newport Aquarium and Covington's Historic Riverfront.
New Orleans has the French Quarter, New York has Greenwich Village, San Francisco has Fisherman's Wharf, and Cincinnati has Mount Adams. Atop one of the city's seven hills, overlooking the river, Mount Adams has been a commercial center for two centuries. Today, it is a combination residential and recreational area, with chic bungalows and stylish condos sharing space with specialty shops such as The Gilded Age (1120 St. Gregory Street, (513) 421-6122); atmospheric bars such as The Blind Lemon (936 Hatch Street, (513) 241-3885), Monastery Wine Bar (1101 St. Gregory Street, (513) 241-9009) and Yesterday's Old Time Saloon (930 Hatch Street, (513) 421-9998); and specialty restaurants such as the Mt. Adams Fish House (940 Pavilion Street, (513) 421-3250) and Longworth's (1108 St. Gregory Street, (513) 651-2253). Also worth visiting is the party deck of Mount Adams Pavilion (949 Pavilion Street, (513) 744-9200), with its spectacular view.
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