Cincinnati Museum Center

Cincinnati Museum Center

We finally made our inaugural visit to the Cincinnati Museum Center as a family, and at a good time too. I was able to secure a week off work and use it to visit all the local summer attractions that I normally make on the weekends. Basically a “staycation”, we thought we’d spend time visiting the Cincinnati Zoo, Kings Island, and Silverlake Pool. But after some really hot days, we threw in CMC as a last minute option. I’m glad we did!

With this being our first stop since the renovation, I’m glad to report that the iconic Union Terminal building looks terrific. I’m in love with the architecture and history here, as so many others are, and I was glad to see they kept much of it intact. I know there was a lot of clean up on the facade and some much needed internal repairs “behind the scenes” to save the structure for future generations. I think the citizens of Hamilton County made a good decision passing a tax levy to fund this construction. I’m of the mind that the only way mid-size, non-coastal cities can attract investment in a time when a handful of cities reap the majority of the rewards requires a more deliberate strategy. First, celebrate what makes your city unique. Second, make it an amazing place to live. Both are served by investing in cultural amenities. Relying on “entertainment districts” composed of chain eateries and boutique shopping isn’t going to cut it.

When you first walk inside Union Terminal, you’ll notice that the iconic murals lining the Grand Rotunda look brighter now. Step inside the original cafeteria and see the work done to freshen it up and bring back some of the original luster. I was especially interested in exploring the Scripps Howard Newsreel Theater. I have always been curious about this space as a kid, so it was exciting to finally see inside of it after decades of being shuttered (this is the double door entrance on the left next to the Cincinnati History Museum).

As far as exhibit spaces, we were really impressed with the Children’s Museum. There was much that our sons enjoyed doing. Our oldest loved the craft center and working through the art project the staff were leading at the time. As an aside, what’s done here changes day to day so there’s lots of variety depending on when you visit. This makes multiple visits worthwhile if you’re considering a family pass.

Besides an entire play village complete with a post office, grocery store, and veterinary clinic, there was also a tree-house play area that our oldest loved. We had to pry him away so we could see more of the museum (we actually came back after lunch so he could do it all over again). Our one year old enjoyed the toddler play area as he climbed around on play mats and rode one of the small kick scooters. He also showed an affinity for the fossil/biology area where he could pick things up with his hands. As the day progressed, we found ourselves a little hungry. For lunch we tried the Bean Sprout Cafe, and liked the kid friendly and healthy meal options we purchased there.

We found the Natural History Museum interesting and we liked seeing the dinosaur bones and touring the cave area. I was astonished at how much of the latter reminded me of our visits to Mammoth Cave. I am looking forward to the CMC’s future expansions because, as I’ve conferred with others, there needs to be more things to see and do in this space. Overall there was enough to keep my son entertained for two hours, however, I think older kids (and adults) might get bored quicker. We also visited the Cincinnati History section and toured the riverboat landing, and my son really liked it too. However, combining all of this together (excluding the Children’s Museum) could be done in four hours or less.

After our visit we hit up the iconic Rookwood tiled Graeter’s restaurant with some ice cream and headed home. It was a great day!

NOTE: Check out the Neil Armstrong exhibit and see a piece of the moon rock. I took our youngest through while he napped. This is really cool if the Apollo missions interest you at all.

Dinosaur Bones at Union Terminal
Dinosaur Bones at Union Terminal
Children's Museum Play Area
Children’s Museum Play Area
Children's Museum Energy Zone
Children’s Museum Energy Zone
Children's Museum Learning Area
Children’s Museum Learning Area
Scientists at Union Terminal
Scientists at Union Terminal
Children's Museum Art Area
Children’s Museum Art Area
Children's Museum Art Area
Children’s Museum Art Area
Scripps Howard Newsreel Theater
Scripps Howard Newsreel Theater
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