NATURE & WILDLIFE

Behind-the-scenes experience at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden (Photo: DJJam Photo)
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden (Photo: DJJam Photo)

From April through October, your family or small group can schedule intimate 30-minute sessions to experience the work of a zookeeper. Most experiences are for children ages 5 and up with an accompanying adult. Explore It’s a Bug’s Life, Friends on the Farm, Wild & Wonderful Wallabies, and Gentle Giants: Private Giraffe Encounter, among others. A portion of the cost goes toward conservation projects and is tax-deductible. Participants must wear close-toed shoes and may want to bring a change of clothes. $250 for groups of 2, $500 for groups of 3–5.

International Butterfly Show at Krohn Conservatory

International Butterfly Show
International Butterfly Show

Did you know there are 24,000 butterfly species worldwide? See some of them at the 2018 International Butterfly Show: Butterflies of Madagascar, from March 24 through June 17, 2018. The show features thousands of free-flying butterflies flittering among the trees and flowers unique to Madagascar. Become “citizen scientists” to observe which flowers or nectar-feeding stations attract the most butterflies, and record the results in your field journal. Also, learn how to create a backyard habitat for butterflies and other pollinators. Check the calendar for after-hours, adults-only events or family pajama parties. $7 adults, $4 youth (ages 5–17), $2 field journal.

Tour Red Wolf Sanctuary

This 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Rising Sun, Indiana, operates under the premise that all species are vital to maintain a healthy ecosystem. It shelters North American animals like wolves, black bears, foxes, bobcats, coyotes, and elk on 452 acres. Some animals are full-time residents because they are too dependent on humans to return to the wild. Others, like injured raptors or baby mammals, are rehabilitated and released. The property is also a natural habitat for nesting Bald Eagles, beaver, and otter. You may interact with the wild animals, like getting the wolves to howl, but only volunteers and employees can be in with or touch the animals. Tours are tailored to age and interest, last 2–3 hours, and are recommended for groups of 4–6 people with kids ages 5 and older. $20 adults, $10 teens, $5 children, by appointment only; call 812-438- 2306 to schedule a tour.

Penguin Encounter or Backstage Animal Experience at Newport Aquarium

Kroger Penguin Palooza at Newport Aquarium
Kroger Penguin Palooza at Newport Aquarium

Waddle across the Ohio River for a Penguin Encounter, where you can spend 20 minutes with an Animal Experience Specialist and the African penguins backstage in the Penguin House. Observe the penguins’ antics up close, take pictures, and perhaps touch a penguin. Because their native climate is temperate, dress for the indoors. Or try a Backstage Animal Experience tour, featuring behind-the-scenes information about the many animals that thrive in the aquarium’s one million gallons of water. Recommended for children ages 4 and older. Penguin Encounter: $26.99 per person, plus general admission ($24.99 adults, $16.99 children); Backstage Animal Encounter: $14.99 per person, plus general admission.

Trammel Fossil Park 

Trammel Fossil Park (photo: Terri Weeks)
Trammel Fossil Park (photo: Terri Weeks)

Open since 2003 to amateur and professional paleontologists alike, Trammel Fossil Park features 10 acres of undisturbed layers of limestone with an abundance of Ordovician-period fossils. Bring your own tools and containers to dig, dust, and extract fossils or fragments for your personal collection. Identify fossils using on-site signage and displays. The area is in full sun; wear close-toed shoes for the steep slopes and loose rock. FREE.

Ark Encounter

Ark Encounter
Ark Encounter

You can see live animals while exploring the 510-foot-long, 85-foot-wide, and 51-foot-high timber frame representation of Noah’s Ark, as described in The Book of Genesis. The animals, including kangaroos, ostriches, and Tibetan yaks, spend their time outside at Ararat Ridge Zoo. At the petting zoo, visitors can feed animals like llamas, goats, alpacas, and sheep, and those ages 2 and up can take a donkey or camel ride. Nearby, purchase a bag of dirt for $10, and then pan the dirt at the mining sluice for fossils like horn coral, shark teeth, amber, or petrified wood. $6 donkey ride, $8 camel ride, plus general admission ($40 adults, $31 seniors, $28 children ages 5–12).

HISTORY & ART

UnMuseum at Contemporary Arts Center

Contemporary Arts Center, UnMuseum
Contemporary Arts Center, UnMuseum

This is a family-friendly, intergenerational space where innovative art is presented in an interactive design with themes suitable for all ages. You will find an art-making space with countertops at varying heights, materials, supplies, and washing stations, as well as art you can hear, smell, and touch crafted by local and nationally acclaimed artists. Check the calendar for events like MakerSpace or early childhood education Thursday Art Play. FREE.

Rosenthal Education Center (REC) at Cincinnati Art Museum

Cincinnati Art Museum
Cincinnati Art Museum

Visit for free rotating activities related to the permanent collection, special exhibitions, art, or world culture. Located just off the Great Hall, the REC not only features opportunities for coloring, collage, and sculpture building, but also interactive activities for caregivers and children. In the spring, the REC’s theme is the technological progression of art. Kids under 6 will enjoy a giant Lite-Brite, a pop art soft space, and a magnetic block city landscape activity. Older children can check out the zoetrope animation station, screen-printing simulation, 3D printer, 16th century camera obscura, and an interactive paint recipe. The REC activities transition in May to an “Arts of Asia” theme, coinciding with the special exhibition Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China. FREE; special exhibitions: $10 adults, $5 children 6 and up, students, and seniors.

Neusole Glassworks

Neusole Glassworks (photo: Terri Weeks)
Neusole Glassworks (photo: Terri Weeks)

Head north for various workshops for adults and children at this hot-glass studio. Children ages 5 and older are permitted in the hot shop, where they can learn to make floppy bowls, paperweights, and suncatchers. They can also work in the flat shop, crafting fused-glass nest bowls, wind chimes, or picture frames. Children 12 and older can work in the flame shop to make beads. Classes last one to four hours; large groups can schedule a hands-on demonstration. Note: Glasswork is not available for same-day take home. $85–$225 per class.
 

Rosa Parks Experience at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Rosa Parks Experience at National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Rosa Parks Experience at National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Start with a tipping point in civil rights history and add advanced virtual reality technology. The result? A first-person simulation that allows you to experience a historic moment firsthand. Tailored to those ages 9 and older, this exhibit features Samsung Gear virtual reality headphones and goggles that fit over prescription eyewear, and augmented bus seating, so you can see, hear, and feel what it was like on that crowded bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in December 1955. $5 per person plus general admission ($15 adults, $10.50 ages 3–12, $13 seniors).
 

CULINARY

Food Tours

Cincinnati Food Tours
Cincinnati Food Tours
Adults and children ages 14 and older can experience the area’s culinary variety with a food tour—an easy to moderate walking tour of unique restaurants, offering samples of food and drinks along with dashes of history and culture. Riverside Food Tours offers a Mainstrasse, Roebling, or Madison Avenue tour of Northern Kentucky, as well as a Streetcar or Over-the-Rhine tour in Cincinnati. Cincinnati Food Tours features Findlay Market, Walnut Hills, and Streetcar Tours, or choose between the Signature or Sweet Stroll Tours in Over-the-Rhine. Cincinnati Urban Adventures offers an Over-the-Rhine Sights & Bites tour and the Porkopolis BBQ & Brew. Tours last between 90 minutes and three hours. Some involve stairs. Cincinnati Food Tours $20–$50; Riverside Food Tours $59–$69; Cincinnati Urban Adventures $45–$69.
 

Class at Avril-Bleh Meats

With a nod to Cincinnati’s Porkopolis heritage, sign up for a sausage-making class at Avril-Bleh, a family-owned meat market since 1894. For four hours, you learn not only how to grind, link, season, stuff, and smoke your own sausages, but also how to eat them (with sauerkraut, of course). The class includes detailed instruction, demonstration, participation, a T-shirt, and lunch. In addition, each person takes home 15–18 pounds of artisanal sausage varieties made that day. Students will also see (and hear) the “Silent Cutter,” a giant food processor manufactured 100 years ago by Cincinnati Butcher Supply. The class is offered one Sunday each month. While the class is geared toward adults, the results will feed the whole family. $125 adults.
 

Classes at Macaron Bar

Macaron Bar
Macaron Bar
Bring your aspiring baker to the Macaron Bar for a Macarons for Kids class, where children ages 8–12 and their accompanying adult master the basics. First lesson: Macaron is pronounced like “mac-a-RAHN,” or like “macaroni” (without the “-i”), but not like mac-a-ROON. No matter how you say it, these colorful almond meringue cookies with a flavored ganache center taste amazing. After this 2.5-hour class, bakers take home as many macarons as they make. Children over age 12 might prefer the three-hour Introduction to Macaron Making class, though anyone under 15 still requires an accompanying adult. $65 children or $95 per person. Downtown or Loveland locations.
 
Written by: Kara Garrod