Enjoy these unique and lesser-known experiences with the kids - all on a minimal budget.
During my research for activities that I had not tried before that I thought would not be as well known, I found out about
Lawn Bowling offered at a Hamilton County Park. It turns out that Cincinnati is the only city where you can lawn bowl within a 250-mile radius! I knew I had to try it. Lawn Bowling also fit perfectly with my weekend budget of $50 because the first two times you visit, your game is FREE.
My kids had football practice that morning so my dad joined me for the Saturday morning game at the Little Miami Golf Center in Newtown. Lawn Bowling has some similarities to Bocce Ball but should not be confused with its cousin.
Players roll the "bowl" on the mat with the goal of reaching the jack (white ball) at the other end of the green. There are two dots on the sides of the ball, one large and one small. The ball will turn in the direction of the smaller dot on the ball when it is rolled. The closest bowls get the points and you play in teams.
The game is played on a sand-based 120-square-foot putting green.
Lawn Bowling has bowls that are rolled on a mat vs. throwing them down the court.
Lawn Bowling also has a special rake that collects all of the bowls at the end of an inning. Sometimes the competition gets close and you need to bust out the special tape measure to make it official.
Lawn Bowling was a lot of fun and something that I defintely want to try again. The Cincinnati Lawn Bowling Club has been around for almost 100 years and the season runs from May until the end of October.
You can try Lawn Bowling at the
Little Miami Golf Center in Newtown. If you want to stay at the park longer, you can play a game of mini golf, a game of golf or take a ride on the bike trails. Open Lawn Bowling is usually available Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays May through October. Recommended age for Lawn Bowling is 13 or going into the eighth grade because players need to be able to roll a three-pound bowl, the size of a grapefruit, 75-100 feet. Check out the Cincinnati Lawn Bowling Club website for more information.
After our game, we went to the nearby city of Mariemont to take a FREE tour of the Mariemont Carillon Bell Tower. Our tour was given by Richard, who is a volunteer and has played the bells for 50 years. There are an estimated 200 carillon bell towers left in the U.S.
Mariemont Carillon Bell Tower
We climbed the spiral staircase to the first level. Then, we climbed more stairs to the next section where the controls for playing the bells are. The technology has been updated since the bells were orginally installed which helped preserve the bells for future generations.
After listening to Richard play for a few moments, we stepped up another staircase to see the bells up close.
Mariemont Carillon Bell Tower
The tower was built in 1929 and has 49 bells with the smallest weighing 19 pounds and the largest weighing the amount of an elephant. After checking out the bells up close, all of us got the opportunity to play the levers that are connected to them in the control room. It was really interesting to listen to the sounds as the music was created. My kids were a little timid in the beginning, but eventually warmed up to trying to create their own sounds.
We really enjoyed our tour and want to come back to the park to hear one of Richard's concerts.
You can hear The Carillon Concerts weekly throughout the year on Sundays. Private tours of this historic World Class Carillon can be arranged by contacting Mr. Richard D. Gegner at (513) 271-8519. Tours typically last about 15-20 minutes. For more information about the Carillon Tower check out
T he Village of Mariemont's website.
After our tour, the kids played on the playground next to the tower for a bit before we headed over to the downtown Mariemont area. The city of Mariemont is very beautiful with an old European-style charm. We treated the kids to
Graeter's for their good behavior on the tour.
While in Mariemont, you can choose your own adventure if you decide to stay longer. You can pack a lunch or take advantage of all of the nearby restaurant options. There is also a movie theater and you can take your own free self-guided historic walking tour .
Our final choice for our $50 budget was a visit to
Lazer Kraze in Erlanger, Ky. It was a great option for a rainy evening. We called ahead to find out what the specials were and took advantage of the $10 unlimited laser tag missions that night. This was a great way to stretch out our experience. The missions are normally $8 each. We had so much fun playing, and it's a great experience at any age.
My mother-in-law ended up joining us and tried laser tag for the first time after some persuasion. She was hooked after the first time and even got top scores on some of the missions. She could not believe how fun it was! This adventure is not just for kids! It's so much fun at any age! You can check out Lazer Kraze online for the current special and locations.
I hope that these three ideas gave you inspiration to check out another part of town and look for creative ways to stretch your budget and meet new people. There are so many incredible gems in our city to discover if we are open to looking for them.