African pups and Fiona at the Cincinnati Zoo

Fiona the hippo at Cincinnati Zoo (photo: Betsy Decillis)
Fiona the hippo at Cincinnati Zoo (photo: Betsy Decillis)

There are lots of new faces at the Cincinnati Zoo including the African painted dog Imara’s newest litter of 11. The species is one of the most endangered carnivores in Africa, with fewer than 5,000 wild dogs. Only 52 percent of painted dog pups survive, so a healthy litter like Imara’s is a boon for the species. The Zoo’s black rhino, Seyia, also gave birth to her first calf this summer. And of course, don't miss a chance to see baby hippo Fiona in Hippo Cove (temperature must be above 50 degrees)!

Music Hall

Music Hall
Music Hall

Be sure to plan to visit to Music Hall, a National Historic Landmark that underwent an extensive renovation and reopened in Fall 2017. Official tours of backstage and beyond are scheduled through January. Visitors can also get a firsthand look and listen of the venue during Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops, May Festival, and some Cincinnati Ballet performances. 

Ark Encounter 

Ark Encounter
Ark Encounter

This life-sized model of Noah’s Ark opened in the summer of 2016, and since then the attraction has made some exciting additions: the Ararat Ridge Zoo (with camel and donkey rides and a petting zoo) and Screaming Eagle Zip Lines (an adventure park boasting 24 zip lines—one a 2,100 footer that’s among the longest in the Midwest—an aerial ropes course and four free-fall jumps). After a day of Ark Encounter activities, grab some Sidewinder Fries or Noah’s Chili and Cheese at Emzara’s Kitchen, a two-story casual eatery off the bow of the Ark. 

MusicNow Homecoming Festival

Smale Riverfront Park (photo: Cincinnati Park Board)
Smale Riverfront Park (photo: Cincinnati Park Board)

Hosted by members of the band The National, the MusicNow Homecoming Festival will be held at Smale Riverfront Park on April 28 & 29, 2018. The festival will feature a variety of world-class contemporary classical, electronica, folk, and alternative rock concerts, with special exhibitions and talks throughout the festival weekend. Headliners include The National, Father John Misty, Feist, Future Islands, Lord Huron, The Breeders, Moses Sumney, Julien Baker, Alvvays, and Big Thief.

Brewing Heritage Trail

Cincinnati Brewery Tours
Cincinnati Brewery Tours

Cincinnati was once a booming brewing center, with a per capita consumption of beer outpacing that of any other U.S. city. The Brewing Heritage Trail is a celebration of that heritage, an urban walking trail weaving through Cincinnati neighborhoods and past (and into and under) dozens of historic breweries, illustrated along the way with a mix of public art and digital experiences. Download the informative free smartphone app for augmented reality, interactive learning experiences and self-guided tours to further enhance the experience. Guided Cincinnati brewery tours are available year-round.

Mystic Timbers at Kings Island 

Mystic Timbers at Kings Island
Mystic Timbers at Kings Island

Kings Island has added its 16th roller coaster—Mystic Timbers, a 3,200-foot-long wooden coaster that weaves through the forest on the edge of the park and boasts 16 airtime hills. The amusement park is no stranger to epic wooden coasters: It’s home to the world’s longest, The Beast, which has earned recognition from the Guinness Book of World Records and American Coaster Enthusiasts.

Ring of Fire at Newport Aquarium

Visit the Newport Aquarium this spring to meet the mysterious Giant Pacific Octopus, Moon Jellyfish and Japanese Spider Crabs who dwell along The Ring of Fire where volcanoes and deep ocean trenches line the Pacific Ocean. The exhibit features three zones that focus on each of the species and special light and sound effects will transport visitors to the depths of the ocean where these shape-shifting and color-changing creatures make their home. Opening March 2018.

Stingray Hideaway at Newport Aquarium

Stingray Hideaway at Newport Aquarium
Stingray Hideaway at Newport Aquarium

Newport Aquarium is open 365 days a year and showcases thousands of aquatic animals from around the world. The attraction has added a 17,000-gallon stingray touch pool where visitors can experience what it’s like to pet the majestic creatures as they glide through the water. The pool is set inside the inlet of a rocky Caribbean coast, so guests can also venture underneath the water’s surface to see the stingrays in an underwater viewing area.

Written by: Baihley Grandison. Updates made by: Amber Potter and Julie Brock