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WEDDINGS AND EVENT RENTALS: Got an event coming up? Give it a fun-loving, outdoor boost by hosting it at a Cincinnati Parks shelter. The best weddings are held at Cincinnati’s parks, too. That, thanks to a photogenic array of arbors, gazebos, and pavilions, all located in picturesque floral settings. / Image: Phil Armstrong
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11 Ways to Experience the Wonders of Spring at Cincinnati's Parks

Our city is spectacularly beautiful in spring. And there’s no better place to take it all in—whether you’re hiking, seeing a concert, or just out there lazing about—than at one of our world-renowned parks.

Here are 11 tantalizing ideas to get you started:

1. ARBOR DAY CELEBRATIONS

Cincinnati Parks has planned a whirlwind weekend of events for Arbor Day 2019, all surrounding the causes of conservation and public education. Who knew trees could be so interesting and important? They are, and here’s where you celebrate them:

  • Kick-Off Celebration: Help reforest Mt. Storm by volunteering to plant, mulch, and install deer protection around 50 trees. Programming and a special proclamation will be held at 10 a.m. Event 9 AM to noon on Friday, April 26 at Mt. Storm Park. To join, contact Parks volunteer coordinator Christyl Johnson-Roberts by email (christyl.johnson-roberts@cincinnati-oh.gov) or at 513-321-6070.

  • Tree Plantings: Head to Hopkins Park or Eden Park to plant a tree and receive your own tree seedling to plant at home! 9 AM to noon on Friday, April 26. To join, contact Parks volunteer coordinator Christyl Johnson-Roberts by email (christyl.johnson-roberts@cincinnati-oh.gov) or at 513-321-6070.

  • Planting Demonstration: Learn the proper techniques of how to plant a tree from a Cincinnati Parks horticulturalist at Smale Riverfront Park. Then get in on the family-friendly scavenger hunt or experience the animals from Cool Critters vendor. 10 AM to 1 PM on Saturday, April 27.

  • Spring Fest: Join Cincinnati Parks in celebrating the arrival of spring at this free, family-friendly event. Attractions include live music from the Dancing Pigs Band and Jay Swanson, edible cooking demonstrations, animal encounters, arts and crafts, and activities for kids. Experts will be on site to answer questions about native plant conservation and habitat restoration. You can also take a guided tour of Burnet Woods! 11 AM to 2 PM on Saturday, April 27 at the Trailside Nature Center in Burnet Woods.

2. BUTTERFLY SHOW

Cincinnati Parks presents the Butterflies of Ecuador sponsored by Macy's at Krohn Conservatory in beautiful Eden Park. 12,000 butterflies fly freely through the conservatory’s lush, verdant rooms. The butterflies are mesmerizing and diverse, owing to the several climatic conditions of their home country; Ecuador is a little bit Amazon, a little bit Andes, and a little bit coastal, with a dash of Galapagos Islands for good measure. Open daily 10 AM to 5 PM from March 23 to June 16, 2019. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for ages 5-17, and free for children under 5.

3. KIDS TO PARK DAY

For the second year in a row, Cincinnati Parks is celebrating the National Park Trust’s Kids to Parks Day (KTP Day.) The Explore Nature! staff will host a variety of free activities for families and kids. Go canoeing at Burnet Woods, explore creek critters at California Woods, or have some Harry Potter-themed fun at LaBoiteaux Woods. 11 AM to 2 PM on Saturday, May 18. Full program details can be found here.

4. MT. AIRY AROBRETUM

An arboretum, in case you didn’t know, is basically a large plot of land with a vast array of plant species, be they trees, shrubs, flowers, grass, or whatever. Mt. Airy’s 30-acre arboretum comes with specialty gardens, gazebos, and picturesque lakeside views. It often serves students, gardeners, and homeowners around Cincinnati as a testing and observation area. All tolled, it contains more than 5,000 plants representing 1,600 botanical species, including conifer, ash, azalea, birch, cherry, dogwood, juniper, magnolia, poplar, willow, and so much more.

5. EVERYTHING ELSE AT MT. AIRY FOREST

As incredible as it is, the arboretum isn’t the only reason to visit Mt. Airy Forest. First up, we have the hiking and bridling trails, where you can walk or ride the park’s 1,459 acres. Then there’s the enclosed dog park, the disc golf, and Ohio’s only wheelchair-accessible public treehouse. What's more, it has two forest lodges, three picnic areas that can be reserved, and 23 picnic areas at large.

Mt. Airy Forest has an interesting history, too. The park is said to be the first municipal reforestation project in the country and it's still one of the nation’s largest municipal parks. More than one million trees were planted across the park by conservation-minded Cincinnatians in the early 20th Century.

6. VOLUNTEER

Our city’s parks are world-renowned not just because of the professionals who manage them, but also thanks to the volunteers. Your contribution can help maintain that status. Register for an upcoming service day here. Or you can register for ongoing assignments here, including work as a Carol Ann Carousel event volunteer, youth summer service counselor, horticulture helpers, and administrative assistants. For more information, contact Parks volunteer coordinator Christyl Johnson-Roberts by email (christyl.johnson-roberts@cincinnati-oh.gov) or at 513-321-6070.

7. TRAILS AND HIKING

Those Mt. Airy Forest trails we mentioned? They’re just a tiny fraction of the 65 miles of trails featured at parks around Cincinnati. They go through old growth forests and trundling woodlands, past shady bowers and grassy furrows, across hills and surging streams. If you like, they also feature some of the most breathtaking Cincinnati architecture you can find, not to mention some killer views of the city. Explore all that and more here.

8. FARMER’S MARKETS

Farmer’s Markets are the best way to get fresh produce while supporting local farmers. Cincinnati Parks hosts markets at Stanbery Park (Saturdays 10 AM to 2 PM beginning May 4), Castellini Esplanade at Smale Park (Sundays and Wednesdays beginning May 12), Northside (Wednesdays 4 PM to 7 PM beginning May 8), Hyde Park (Sundays 7:30 AM to 11 AM beginning May 19), and Sayler Park (Tuesdays 3:30 PM to 7 PM beginning May 7).

Remember, the early bird gets the fiddle-head ferns!

9. NEIGHBORHOOD CONCERTS AND EVENTS

Cincinnati’s warm-weather months are invigorated with tunes and things to do thanks to our incredible parks department. Events include:

  • Ault Park Music Festival: beginning with Gen X on June 20
  • Friday Night Fun Nights at Stanbery Park: beginning with Zak Morgan on May 3
  • Concerts at Rapid Run Park: beginning with Push Play on May 5
  • Concerts at Oden View Park: beginning with Swan on June 1
  • Play in the Park at Kennedy Heights: Wednesdays beginning in June
  • Acoustic Lunch at Piat Park: Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning in June
  • Friday Night Happy Hour at Alms Park: beginning with the Comet Blue Grass All-Stars on May 31
  • River Fest at Mt. Echo Park: beginning September 1

Visit the Cincinnati Parks event calendar for more info.

10. SAWYER POINT SUMMER CONCERT SERIES

Still, when it comes to summertime music, you know where you want to go with friends and family. That’s right, the Sawyer Point Concert Series. The fun begins May 17 from 6 PM to 10 PM with the folk/Americana stylings of Buffalo Wabs & The Price Hill Hustle and the Comet Bluegrass All-Stars. Concerts continue on June 14, June 28, July 12, July 26, August 2, August 9, and August 30.

Visit the Cincinnati Parks event calendar for more info.

11. EVENT AND WEDDING RENTALS

Got an event coming up? Give it a fun-loving, outdoor boost by hosting it at a Cincinnati Parks shelter. Covered areas protect you from the weather. Amenities include picnic tables, swings, volleyball nets, horsehoe pits, restrooms, grills, and more. Your guests will thank you. Shelters and pavilions are available for rent April 15 through October 15. For more information, go here.

The best weddings are held at Cincinnati’s parks, too, thanks in large part to a photogenic array of arbors, gazebos, and pavilions, all located in picturesque floral settings. The Hinkle Wedding Gazebo in Eden Park is a particular stunner among the blooming Magnolia trees, as are the Brumm and Rose gardens at Ault Park.

For more information, go here.

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Visit cincinnatiparks.com to find out more about all the incredible springtime activities Cincinnati’s parks have to offer.

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